NBA On TNT Notes: Jason Kidd Makes Everyone Around Him Better

(Photo:AP/Eric Gay)
Get off me Timmy!

Barkley on Jason Kidd’s impact on the Dallas Mavericks: “It’s too early, because you still have to sit back and wait (and see what he does). Jason Kidd is the best leader that we have in the NBA (and) he makes everyone around him better.”

Barkley on Houston center Yao Ming’s season-ending foot injury: “As a basketball player I felt ill and sick to my stomach when I heard what happened to Yao Ming. He’s a terrific player and a nice man. I physically got ill when he got hurt because that’s just not good for basketball. He is great, I love watching him play and I just felt bad for the Rockets. That being said, they weren’t going anywhere.”

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Game 1: Dallas Mavericks (94) @ San Antonio Spurs (97)
Announcers Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins; Craig Sager reporting

Collins on Dallas Mavericks forward Jerry Stackhouse: “If he’s got fresh legs and is playing well, he’ll make up for the fact that Jason Terry is starting. Jerry Stackhouse can get you 16-17 points off the bench every night.”

Collins in the intensity of the playoff race in the Western Conference: “Charles (Barkley) talked about needing to be the top four seed (in the playoffs), I think you want to be a top two seed if you can. If you’re a three or four seed you’ve got to go through three of these teams rather than two of them. It will be an amazing story if Houston can hold on and stay in the playoff race without Yao Ming, I don’t know that they can. If Houston doesn’t make the playoffs and Portland probably won’t, you could have two 13 game winning streaks in the regular season not make the Western Conference and that’s amazing.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Mavericks forward Brandon Bass at halftime.

Bass on playing with Jason Kidd: “Ever since (Jason Kidd) got to this team, we knew he would be a great asset. I mean, he’s a floor general, he gets us easy baskets and he knows every spot on the court so he makes it easy for us.”

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Barkley on the intensity of the Dallas/San Antonio game: “You can tell this is not a regular season game because anytime you play against an elite team you want to send them a message. This game is played not at playoff intensity, but really close to that intensity.”

Barkley on the temperature of the Miami Heat: “(The Lakers) are playing the Heat…but (the Heat) are more like a sunburn, they’re not hot.”

Barkley on a report that former Clippers guard Sam Cassell has been picked up by the Boston Celtics: “With Boston getting Sam Cassell and (former Bulls forward) P.J. Brown and with Cleveland making those trades…the Eastern Conference is going to be fun. The interesting thing is going to be who is going to play who in the second round of the playoffs.”

Smith on what guard Sam Cassell being would bring to the Boston Celtics: (Sam Cassell’s impact on Boston will be his) leadership. Rajon Rondo, as maligned as he’s been at times, I thought he’s done a great job. (Cassell will bring) leadership down the stretch, when it counts; Sam Cassell is not afraid and will never panic. You’ll never feel your team should panic when the ball is in his hands, and that’s what Boston will have. He’s played with (Kevin) Garnett, he’s played with Ray Allen before, so this is a great situation.”

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Collins on Mavericks guard Jason Kidd’s leadership: “Jason Kidd is a natural, he’s been this kind of leader since he was in high school. He’s going to be a Hall of Fame player (even though) in his career shoots under 40 percent. That says it all.”

Collins on all the recent trades centering on veteran players: “When you look at all the deals these teams are making one of the things that really jumps out at me is that everybody is going for experienced veterans, they don’t want to play younger guys in the playoffs. You see Boston getting Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown. Cleveland picked up three guys in their thirties. We saw in the off-season Boston pick up Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. We see Shaq (O’Neal go to Phoenix) in his thirties and Jason Kidd in his thirties come (to Dallas). The two youngest teams that haven’t made those kinds of moves are Utah and the Lakers. Everybody wants veteran players that they can trust come playoff time when the pressure rises.”

Craig Sager provided a report on Mark Cuban’s interest in Sam Cassell.

Sager: “I talked to Mark Cuban and he said that when Sam Cassell was released by the Clippers today he immediately called Sam and wanted to know if he wanted to join the Dallas Mavericks before he made the decision to join Boston. I asked, ‘What would Sam Cassell do for you guys?’ He kiddingly said, ‘He’d make us younger!'”

Collins on San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili: “(Manu) Ginobili is so tough to guard, he’s so awkward and I mean that in a complimentary way. This guy changes speeds and throws his body around, he’s tough to guard.”

Collins on the Spurs: “The Spurs have played together so often in big playoff games under pressure and they keep their discipline and they know where each other are on the floor. It’s such an advantage, that’s why experience matters so much in the playoffs.”

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Game 2: Miami Heat (88) @ Los Angeles Lakers (106)
Announcers Marv Albert, Reggie Miller and Mike Fratello; Cheryl Miller reporting

Albert on the three-point shooting of L.A. Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic: “(Sasha) Vujacic has become such a reliable shooter. In fact, he’s given himself the nickname ‘The Machine.’

Miller: “No, no, no, no, no. You can’t go from being an 11 o’clock a.m. (practice player) shooter to ‘The Machine.'”

Miller on the similarities between Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic and former NBA guard and clutch shooter Steve Kerr: “Sasha (Vujacic) is starting to become that (Steve Kerr) role on this team. Coming off the bench and making wide open shots, very much like when Michael Jordan set (Kerr) up during all those championship years in Chicago. Sasha understands that getting wide open shots and knocking them down can get you some court time.”

Fratello on Lakers forward Luke Walton: “Luke Walton said that he was so sore over the All-Star break that he did nothing for three days but take treatment and lay around just to get his body ready for the second half of the season.”

Miller: “He’s soon to be 28 (years old), are you kidding me? That lets me know that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Miller on Pat Riley historically relying on big men: “What’s lacking on this Miami team is a dominant big man. If you think about the annals of time, (Pat Riley) has had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then he had Patrick Ewing in New York, he comes down to Miami and gets Alonzo Mourning and then Shaquille O’Neal. Now they have Earl Barron running the middle for the Heat.”

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Barkley on Mavericks head coach Avery Johnson’s decision to take Jason Kidd out of the game in the final seconds of the Dallas/San Antonio game: “I love Avery (Johnson), but (taking Jason Kidd out of the game during the final seconds) was a bad decision because there’s no sense in making a Jason Kidd trade if you aren’t going to use him in crunch time.”

Smith: “You make the trade; you make (Jason Kidd) your captain. He’s the best playmaker and he’s your best guy in broken play situations regardless of the situation. You can’t live with him for the first 47 minutes and not marry him on the 48th (minute). You have to go with Jason Kidd, he’s the best playmaker. We love Avery (Johnson), but wrong decision.”

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Miller on Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade: “(Dwyane Wade) is the face of the franchise with Shaq (O’Neal) moving West. If you’re going to lean on him for the next 10 years, he’s got to be healthy.”

Miller on the Phoenix Suns: “I’ve always liked the spacing of the Phoenix Suns. Looking at their last few games, I know how dominant Shaq (O’Neal) has been, but they need more shooting if they are going to have Shaq out there. Grant Hill, as fantastic as he is in the open court, he doesn’t allow them to have spacing and that’s what’s missing for the Phoenix Suns this year.”

Miller on Pau Gasol being an asset to the Lakers: “If I’m Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson, I’m laughing because (Pau) Gasol made this all happen. When you envision (Lamar) Odom, Gasol and (Andrew) Bynum as a front line unit, everyone started to scratch their head, not necessarily panic, but scratch their head.”

Fratello on why the Memphis Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol to the Lakers: “When the trade (between the Grizzlies and the Lakers) did take place many people questioned, ‘why?’ Why did the Grizzlies give a guy as young and as talented as Pau Gasol, a guy they declared as their franchise player by giving him the contract and the money they offered him, why not build around him for the future? There’re a lot of factors involved, one being that the team has been reportedly for sale for almost two seasons. Pau also expressed some unhappiness about being in the franchise, so maybe they felt that they could get a lot more for him (by trading him) than giving him away.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai

Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley

Barkley on the impact Pau Gasol’s has had on the Lakers: “(The Lakers) are 11-1 with (Pau) Gasol. That’s impressive (because) they threw a new guy into a new system. They started out (playing) on the road (with Gasol) and they didn’t really have a lot of practice time. That’s pretty remarkable. That shows how smart and how good of a player Gasol is. Not only are they winning games, they’re beating the hell outta people.”

Smith on why he doesn’t think the Rockets will make the playoffs after Yao Ming’s season-ending injury: “(Yao Ming) is too valuable in terms of what he brings to the team for the other players, for Shane Battier, Luther Head and (Luis) Scola. (Yao) made the game easier for them. Tracy McGrady can make the game easy for himself. But it’s difficult at times because (McGrady) plays so perimeter-oriented that it doesn’t make the game easy for his teammates. Yao Ming drew double-teams, passed out of double-teams, he rebounded and he made the job easier for his teammates.”

Smith on who the best team in the Western Conference is: “The best team in the Western Conference is the Los Angeles Lakers. The reason being is they’re playing great now and the addition of (currently injured center Andrew) Bynum is going to be positive because of the way he plays. And it’s not going to be on the offensive end, it’s going to be on the defensive end because the lay-up drill against them will be over. They’ll have three seven-foot guys and they’ll be difficult to score against.”

In the latest Timeout with Thompson segment, TNT’s Coach John Thompson interviewed Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Kidd and center Dirk Nowitzki on the late-season trade that brought Kidd back to Dallas.

Kidd on how difficult his last few years in New Jersey have been: “We just didn’t live up to the billing and that falls on my shoulders by being a leader. I accept that responsibility. Now, that time is behind me and I can learn from those experiences and hopefully share with the guys (on the Mavericks) my experience if I’m ever in that position.”

Nowitzki on why Jason Kidd is a good fit for the Mavericks: “I played with Steve (Nash) for so long and I know what it’s like to play with a point guard who can pass. Over the last two years I felt like, and nothing against Devin (Harris) and Jason (Terry), I love those two point guards, but we all know they are scoring guards first. We just needed a change to make the game easier. We had to work so hard to get a shot off, there were (isolations) that made the shots tough. I think that Jason (Kidd) can really help us tremendously in that area.”

Kidd on feeling rejuvenated after joining the Mavericks: “From the outside being considered old or done, then you have the MVP of the league wanting to have you on his team, that just makes me feel young. That excites me because I feel that I can still play at a high level and help the team win. (I can) do the little things to help the team win. I don’t have to score to be effective, (I can) play defense, rebound, get the loose ball and find the open guy. I felt if I got to Dallas, I could do that.”

Kidd on the biggest obstacle the Mavericks face in winning an NBA Championship: “Ourselves. You have to see it, you have to believe it. When times our tough, don’t let go of the rope. Grab it a little bit tighter, hold on and fight through the part when you feel like it’s coming to an end because nothing comes easy. The way the West (Conference) is stacked right now it’s not going to be an easy climb, but if you just hold on, you never know what can happen.”

Smith on the toughness that Jason Kidd brings to the Mavericks: “(The Mavericks) knew what to do down the stretch, but the reason that they couldn’t get over the hump against Golden State (in the 2007 playoffs) and in the past is they (didn’t) have a leader who was tough-minded. We always used to say that Dallas was a soft team; Jason Kidd is anything but soft. He’s tough minded, he’s a tough player and he’s going to make sure you get the shot that you want. You might not hit (the shot) but you’re going to get the shot that you want.”

Barkley on New Jersey Nets forward Stromile Swift: “(Stromile Swift has) a lot of talent. (But) he’s never grown and matured into the player he should be. But (he’s) very talented.”

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