Journalist Pavel Osipov of Sport-Express has interviewed Alexey Shved on the phone after the Russian guard tied Luke Ridnour in scoring with 16 points in Minnesota’s win.
Here’s my translation:
– Even though Minnesota won, it still had the same problem: during the second half, team inevitably struggles on offense. For example, during the third quarter today, Timberwolves couldn’t score for five and a half minutes. Why does it happen?
– We are doing our best, but at one moment it’s just – pow! – and we stall. We have missed a lot of open shots today, even though we executed well. It helped that we defended well, and also managed to recollect ourselves on offense just in time.
– Minnesota got a lot of help from you – those three-pointers were timely. You have made four three-pointers for the game – that’s your best record during the NBA career.
– (Laughing) Actually I don’t track my stats this closely. But of course it’s really good that I made it. It was time for me to start making the shots at last.
– Thanks to what exactly?
– I have started to feel my shot; I have more confidence shooting the ball in general. And maybe I got used to the American three-point arc after all.
– Is it more difficult for you to shoot from behind the arc that is about three feet farther away than in Europe?
– I wouldn’t say so.
– And you have proved it that distance doesn’t make any difference – when you made a shot from almost 30 feet away with less than two minutes to go.
– I have checked the scoreboard right when I received the ball. Also, teammates told me that time was running out. If we had at least five extra seconds then I wouldn’t shoot it from that distance and would try to do something else. But in that situation I had no choice. When you have the ball it your hands with two seconds left, you just have to shoot it anyway.
– You have made 9 of 17 shots from behind the arc during the last three games. Can you say that you managed to find your shot after all?
– Let’s wait for a few more games and make conclusions then. Before that, I had 10 games when I couldn’t make anything. If I continue to make shots, then it will mean that I got used to playing here.
– Do the opponents still doubt your ability to score from the distance, or did they start to guard you closer?
– They are guarding me closer. And they started to jump at my pump fakes too – before, they wouldn’t even move. Actually, it’s good that they are guarding me closer now. It’s much easier to drive to the hoop this way. When you can’t shoot, the defender would step away further and it’s easier for him to defend.
– It’s been a few games since Love, Pekovic and Barea returned. But you still play more than 30 minutes in every game. Did you think you would get so much playing time?
– Without a doubt, Andrei’s absence due to injury in those games affected that. I got some extra playing time. But it was also more difficult to play. Having Kirilenko on the floor helps, I feel much more comfortable playing with him.
Then, another shooting guard, Chase Budinger, is injured.
Of course I’m happy that so much trust is being put in me. And I want to justify it, to help the team as much as I can. Not just on offense, but on defense too. Even though I know it perfectly that I play bad defense.
– Is it harder to play defense in the NBA than in Europe?
– Of course! Take [Juan Carlos] Navarro and [Kobe] Bryant, for example. Both are superstars, but there’s a difference. Playing against Navarro you know that you need to deny him the open shot and his trademark ‘La Bomba’. But how do you defend Kobe, who knows how to do absolutely everything?
– Probably the best recent news for Minnesota is that Ricky Rubio returned to practice.
– Yes, he started to practice with the team and should be back on the floor soon. When exactly it will happen is unknown. But it will be soon. Players, fans and journalists are all waiting for his return.
– Will Rubio’s return affect your playing time?
– I don’t think so. After all, I rarely play point guard – mostly at shooting guard. Of course, we’ll see. But one thing is certain: I need to work hard all the time and earn my minutes, prove that I deserve it. Yes, some really bad off games happen. But coach still trusts me – and, believe me, it’s very important.
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