Don’t call it a comeback. After beginning the season stuck in rotation purgatory with the Orlando Magic – he couldn’t break into a consistent role for the first third of the season – Mickael Pietrus was a piece of the deal last week between Orlando and Phoenix. And in just his second game in the desert, Pietrus pumped in a season-high 25 points for the Suns on Sunday afternoon against the Clippers. For someone who was a vital part of a championship contender the past two years, it was odd to find the Frenchman relegated to a garbage-time role earlier this season. Now that he looks to have found his legs in Phoenix again, we caught up with Pietrus to talk a little bit about his on-court style.
Dime: When you’re on the bench at the start of the game or watching before you get in, are you looking for anything in particular?
Mickael Pietrus: From the bench before I get into the game, just trying to see everything, whether the defense is set or what the team needs to do to improve in the second half to win the basketball game. I just try to stay focused on my energy, bringing it both ways on the floor for that team because I know I can do it both offensively and defensively. I have tried to get more rebounds. Other than that, just try to win the basketball game.
Dime: Give me some of your toughest matchups, the toughest guys that you’ve had to cover and what about them makes them so tough.
MP: The first tough cover for everybody I think is Kobe Bryant. My one would be Kobe Bryant. My second would be Carmelo Anthony because he has a bigger body. The third one would be Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Everyone is tough in the NBA, but the toughest matchups are those guys. The MVPs.
Dime: When you are going up against someone like that, do you alter how you play defense at all or do you always have to do the same types of things, the same types of fundamentals?
MP: Nah, you just try to give them different looks. They are great offensive players so they know how to adjust to it when they see the same stuff. So I just try to give them different looks. Defense is from the heart and is what my team asks me to do. I don’t want to get beat and don’t want to get beat by those four guys so I try to do my best to beat them.
Dime: What about a guy like Paul Pierce? A lot of guys say he is extremely tough to guard.
MP: Ah, Paul Pierce. He’s tough to guard too. Ah, I don’t know. He ah…I don’t know. He seems slow…but is quick. I don’t know. He hits you with all of those pump fakes and step backs. But Paul Pierce is a great player and he’s done a lot, not like LeBron, but he is one of the best too. Ray Allen too. Oh my God. Ray Allen is the hardest. You have to get through screens. He has a quick release. He’s hard.
Dime: Do you handle yourself differently depending on the personality you’re playing?
MP: It’s all about playing the game, respecting the game and having a love for each other. It’s all about on the nights we play them, it’s all about “let me compete against you and you compete against me.” That’s the way I take it. Anything about trash-talking or anything like that, I’m not into that. I’m into having fun and the best team is going to win. That’s it. I’m not trying to get into that game with anybody in the NBA.
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