NBA On TNT Playoff Notes: The Pistons Pull Even

Down by ten right before the half. Sheed picked up a tech and the Pistons went on an 11-0 run after halftime

Webber on the lack of intensity by the Detroit Pistons: “(The Pistons) are really nonchalant and that’s why I felt we lost last year (in the Eastern Conference Finals). It sounds crazy, but they could care less. That locker room is crazy, disciplined and unruly. Disciplined because they police themselves, they are all veterans, they know they’ve got to be in bed, they know they’ve got to work hard, I’m not talking about on the court. They come from a coach like Larry Brown, they look at him like the epitome of basketball, and they feel they can wait until the last game or the championship and they won’t lose. I’m not saying it’s right, but that’s how it is.”

Smith on the Pistons costing themselves the series: “That’s obvious from a viewer’s point of view (that they are not intense), you can see in their demeanor and in the decisions on the basketball court, what they do offensively and defensively. You see that arrogance and you see, ‘we can beat this team anytime,’ but when you play good teams or you play LeBron James and he catches fire, the game you gave away all of a sudden costs you the series.”

Barkley on the Pistons not being the best team in the East anymore: “The Detroit Pistons don’t play hard. They got lucky one year, had a great run and won the Championship. They haven’t done anything since then, they coast all the time, they don’t have a great player so everything came together for those guys that year. They don’t play hard, the Philadelphia 76ers play hard. (The Pistons) were much better than everyone in the East a long time ago, but that was a long time ago.”

Barkley on Cavaliers forward LeBron James answering the Wizards aggressive play: “(Washington) got what they wanted. I like the fact that (James) is being even more aggressive, you can always tell if a guy is a coward or not when he gets hit a few (times) going to the basket. (James) just gets more aggressive the harder they hit him, and Washington is not good enough.”

Smith on the mistake the Wizards are making by playing physically against Cavs forward LeBron James: “There are certain guys you can be physical with, but why would you be more physical with Charles Oakley, why would you be more physical with Buck Williams or more physical with Charles Barkley? LeBron James’ game is physicality, and now you’re trying to be physical with him but it won’t work because then he plays better, he’s the best in the business at it.”

Webber on the Wizards not earning the right to trash talk the Cavaliers: “Washington hasn’t done anything to be able to talk junk about. The fact that LeBron (James) and those guys went to the Finals, I know the Soulja Boy comment was taken in fun but it was really honest, why would someone who’s been to the Finals talk about someone who hasn’t even made it out of the first round?”

Barkley on having the right to talk trash: “I’ve always thought if you can’t play, shut the hell up. I’ve been a big advocate of that theory.”

Smith on the report from the New York Daily News that he will interview with Donnie Walsh for the Knicks general manager position: “Those are reports, I haven’t talked to Donnie Walsh personally myself. If it’s basketball, in terms of coaching or a general manager or owning a team, that’s me. If it’s sitting here with you numbskulls, it’s me. Basketball is me. I’m from New York, and that is the epitome of a franchise- the Lakers, the Celtics, the Knicks…”

Johnson: “Will you confirm the newspaper report from Frank Isola that you will be meeting with Donnie Walsh this week?”

Smith: “It’s a good possibility.”

Webber on the Utah Jazz: “This is in Utah’s hands, it’s their series to lose. They are one of the best coached teams, they are like a well oiled machine. Houston plays well and we praise them for being resilient, but Utah gets too many easy baskets, this game is in their control.”

Webber on Rockets guard Rafer Alston: “Me, like a lot of other people, judged (Alston) first. You come in here and play street ball, this is why a lot of cats can’t play right now, they’re traveling, they aren’t passing the ball and they can’t shoot. But he shows you if you work hard on your game, no matter what your reputation is, you can change that and become a true point guard.”

Barkley on the Suns win over the Spurs: “The Suns played great defense today, they were active, they were all over the place. They played with a great sense of desperation, they played so fast, and it was fun to watch.”

TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed Suns guard Steve Nash after the Suns win over the Spurs.

Nash on the strong performance of Suns forward Boris Diaw: “(Diaw) was great, he had his hands in everything defensively, a near triple-double and punished them in the post. I thought the criticism of him was harsh early in the series because he was getting us a lot of good looks with his post-up play.”

Barkley on whether the Suns can win the series: “If you’re asking me if (the Suns) can beat the Spurs four times in a row the answer is hell no. This was a give away game for the Spurs, and the Suns played with great passion. When you’ve got a team down, if you let them get going than anything can happen. The Suns came out more aggressive, but can they go to San Antonio and keep that crowd out of the game? All teams feed on the crowd, they make you do special things during the playoffs.”

Webber on why the Spurs will win the series over the Suns: “In my true opinion there is nothing (the Suns) can do, this game is over. San Antonio are killers, they do this every year at this time. We give everybody else credit, we say everyone else is playing the best right now, and this is the time that San Antonio smells blood and they are going to pounce on them.”

Smith on Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki: “When Dirk has these Dirk moments it’s when someone else is super aggressive. Normally when you have a great player on the team and they’re super aggressive it opens it up for everyone else, for Dallas it’s the opposite- if (Jerry) Stackhouse becomes really aggressive or Jason Terry becomes really aggressive than it opens the flood gates for Dirk. It’s a reverse role, they need a second guy to be aggressive to open it up for Dirk.”

TNT sideline reporters interviewed various players about their respective series.

Magic forward Rashard Lewis on trying to win the series against the Raptors: “We know it’s going to be a tough game, (the Raptors) are going to be scratching and crawling to try to stay in the series and take it back to Toronto. So we’ve got to come more prepared to play than we did the last game. We know that Chris Bosh will come ready to play, and this will probably be the hardest game for us of this whole series trying to close it out.”

Hawks guard Mike Bibby on the Celtics playing under pressure: “There is really no pressure on us, the pressure is all on them, having the best record in the league and (some people) having them going the Finals already, so the pressure is on them. We’ll just go out there and play relaxed like we did last night.”

Nuggets guard Allen Iverson on their disappointing loss against the Lakers: “We didn’t get it done, we struggled on both ends of the floor. Myself and ‘Melo (Carmelo Anthony) we struggled tonight and when we struggle like that it’s going to be tough to win.”

Iverson on sitting out during part of the game: “I didn’t (give up), obviously I had a problem with sitting over there. As far as being a competitor, I think I’m one of the top to ever play this game and it hurt sitting over there and not knowing why. It was a bad feeling, but this is not the young AI, so I’ll just take it on the chin and keep moving.”

Barkley on the Nuggets not playing with a sense of desperation: “You didn’t see that they can’t go down 0-3. They were not aggressive, they did not have great energy. It didn’t seem like there was a sense of desperation. When the Phoenix Suns played today, they were like, ‘we can’t get swept.’ They were playing with so much passion and the same thing with the Atlanta Hawks, they were playing with a sense of desperation and you did not see that the first half of the game with the Denver Nuggets.”

Smith on the Nuggets offense stopping with a few people: “(The Nuggets) don’t execute, I have a term called ball stoppers, and they have a couple of ball stoppers. When the ball moves it stops when it gets to certain people’s hands, and everyone has to stand and watch. If you play against good teams like the Lakers they make you pay for that.”

Smith on the body language of the Denver Nuggets in their loss to the Lakers: “If you’re a competitor, if you’re an NBA professional you never have your legs crossed and your arms folded on the bench. Period.”

76ers forward Andre Iguodala on how they are going to try to beat the Pistons: “We are a young, athletic team, we’ve got a lot energy out there, and we are just learning how to use our bodies to our advantage, we’ve all got long arms and we recover very well because we’re athletic so we are trying to cause some havoc. We’re trying to stay with the same thing. (The Pistons) are a great defensive team, so they are going to try to take away the first option, but my teammate are going to make plays and when they start making shots it’s going to open up for me as well, so we’ve got to continue to do the things we’ve been doing to get wins.”

Webber on what type of team he expects the Pistons to be tonight: “You’ll see (a Piston team) that’s in control, one that’s confident and maybe borderline arrogant, and one that’s going to walk through and win this game. If they don’t it’s time to quit being too cool.”

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Game 1: Detroit Pistons (93) @ Philadelphia 76ers (84) – The series is tied 2-2.

Announcers: Matt Devlin and Mike Dunleavy with Dei Lynam reporting

Dunleavy on Pistons center Rasheed Wallace: “Rasheed (Wallace) is big, he’s huge, he’s got the ability to win games late for you. He can put up big numbers from the three point line on in, so getting him off early is a big thing for Flip (Saunders) and these Detroit Pistons.”

TNT’s Dei Lynam interviewed Pistons coach Flip Saunders after the first half.

Saunders on his team’s first half performance: “I thought we had more energy, but we missed some open looks. Overall our energy was pretty good, we had a few turnovers, but not like it was the last game. Our biggest thing is we aren’t contesting enough shots, we’ve got to contest more shots.”

Dunleavy on Pistons center Rasheed Wallace needing to focus in order to have an impact: “(Wallace) has as much talent as anyone in the league, he’s got great versatility to his game, but the nights he’s not focused are the nights he doesn’t come through for you. He is a great team player and he loves to share the wealth, but the reality is as a coach some nights you want him to go out there and dominate.”

Dunleavy on Pistons guard Rip Hamilton: “Hamilton is as tough as anyone in this league to guard, he moves so well without the ball and he’s such a pure shooter once he gets opens.”

Dunleavy on a technical called on Pistons center Rasheed Wallace for a foul against 76ers forward Reggie Evans: “Reggie Evans does a great job of flopping. The emotion you didn’t see out of Rasheed Wallace in Game #3, you see it here. You just have to watch out that he doesn’t take it too far and get the second technical.”

TNT’s Dei Lynam interviewed 76ers guard Andre Iguodala at halftime.

Iguodala on the first half of play: “We got high assists and low turnovers which is what we were trying to do. The last three minutes they were more aggressive than we were so the start of the second half, it’s going to be a war.”

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Johnson, Smith, Barkley and Webber

Webber on how to handle Pistons center Rasheed Wallace when he was in jeopardy of receiving a technical foul: “I had a good relationship with him and I would say, ‘do you want to get a tech, do you think you need it, what do you want to do?’ He knows, he’s not going to get kicked out in a game like this, even thought I think it was Game #6 in Cleveland last year that he got kicked out, but he’ll compose himself. He’ll probably calm down a little in the second half.”

Webber on the feeling in the locker room during halftime: “No disrespect to Flip (Saunders), but it doesn’t matter what Flip says, because they take on the personality of Joe Dumars. Rip (Hamilton), Chauncey (Billups), Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed (Wallace) and (Antonio) McDyess are very mad right now, they probably aren’t even talking and they are probably just saying, ‘ok we’re going to go win this game.”

Barkley on why he doesn’t think the Pistons have the personality of Pistons president and legend Joe Dumars: “I don’t know about that. Joe Dumars was a stud, played hard the whole time, and that team coasts. They’ve had the best record in the East for the last four or five years because they were much better than everybody in the East, but now these other teams have gotten better and they haven’t been back to the Finals. Joe Dumars (has) got to be rolling over in his grave.”

Webber: “Joe will come down to the locker room and tell everybody I don’t know what you think you’re doing, I’ll trade everybody.”

Webber on what Dallas should expect in Game #4 against the Hornets: “Anytime I played against a really good team or good players and they had a bad game I expected their best the next game. You expect that Chris Paul and the Hornets will come back and play well because the series could hang on this game, if Dallas gets this game and has that confidence then they have the experience.”

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Dunleavy on the final three games of the series: “Now it comes down to a mini series with three games left. Each team has won the next game, nobody has been able to put two together, but with Detroit going home you would expect them to do that.”

Dunleavy on Pistons coach Flip Saunders: “Flip (Saunders) is a terrific coach, you give yourself that opportunity, they got behind in this series but he’s getting ready to even this up and get home and have the home court back in their favor.”

TNT’s Dei Lynam interviewed Pistons guard Rip Hamilton after their win over the 76ers.

Hamilton on the difference between their first and second half play: “We knew we had to take our time, we came out and rushed a whole lot of shots and turned the ball over a lot, so we wanted to come out in the second half and run our offense, stay with the game plan and we got a win.”

Hamilton on whether Pistons president Joe Dumars visited the locker room at halftime: “Not at all. We know what we need to do, we’ve been here before, were a veteran team, we know what it takes to win and we’ve just go to out and do it.”

Hamilton on getting off to a good start in the next game: “We’ve got to be more focused, we’ve got come out and hit first, we can’t wait for them to make a run and then start playing. If we do that, we’re in good shape.”

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Game 2: New Orleans Hornets (97) @ Dallas Mavericks (84) – New Orleans leads the series 3-1.

Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Doug Collins and Pam Oliver reporting

Collins on the technical foul called on Hornets center Tyson Chandler: “It’s one thing to be passionate, but you can’t be too emotional. You’ve got to be on (Dirk Nowitzki’s) left hand and make him go right, but (the Hornets) let him beat them to the left, and if you look at the scouting report that’s a no-no. And the push after, that’s an opportunity for a three point play (by Dallas).”

Collins on Mavs forward Brandon Bass: “(Bass’s) confidence level is off the charts right now, he’s hitting the jump shot, he’s on the board, he’s making his free throws. A terrific start by Dallas, and more importantly, this crowd is in the game, which brings a lot of energy to this team, that’s why they are so good at home.”

TNT’s Pam Oliver interviewed Hornets coach Byron Scott after the first quarter.

Scott on the Hornets’ first half play: “We made so many mental mistakes on the defensive end. Jason Terry got too many wide open shots, they got layups on little basket cuts, our guys are falling asleep, right now we’re almost sleep walking.”

Oliver interviewed Hornets guard Chris Paul at halftime.

Paul on Hornets center Tyson Chandler being in foul trouble: “We need him, we keep talking to him. It’s alright, that’s what the second half is for. I think he’s still got two fouls now so hopefully he can come out in the third quarter and play a little more freely.”

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Johnson, Smith, Barkley and Webber

Webber on the spark given by Hornets guard Jannero Pargo when he came in for Chris Paul: “When (Jannero) Pargo came in it make it easer on the team because he pulled up and made those mid-range jumpers. And he made it easer for Chris Paul to come back in and get his tempo and say, ‘I’m going to do some extra things to get some easy shots for everyone else.’ I really give him credit for Chris coming in and playing well.”

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Collins on having focus in the playoffs: “In the playoffs you’ve got to be so locked in with what you have to do, who you’re playing, who you want to close out on and who you want to force jump shots.”

TNT’s Pam Oliver interviewed Mavericks coach Avery Johnson after the third quarter.

Johnson on the Mavericks third quarter performance: “We’ve got to get better in the half court, we didn’t do a good job on (David) West, he got away from us a little bit. We started off this quarter by settling for too many jump shots, hopefully we’ll show and go a little and get to the basket.”

Collins on what the problems the combo of Chris Paul and Jannero Pargo gives the Mavs: “It’s called speed and Dallas is struggling with speed. It used to be Jason Kidd could handle that kind of speed, but his game has slowed down, obviously he’s a lot older. For him to have to guard either Pargo or Paul, right now gives them (the Hornets guards) a quickness advantage in that situation.”

Collins on Hornets guard Jannero Pargo reacting to a flagrant foul from Mavs guard Jason Kidd, which was a flagrant one: “Pargo’s got to walk away right now. You’re looking at going up 3-1, you’re 7 minutes and 16 seconds away from winning this game. If you’re New Orleans you don’t want to do anything out of character. You’re in control of this game, you are in control of this series, you’ve got to walk away from it.”

Collins on Mavericks forward Josh Howard taking a lot of shots: “What’s amazing in basketball or any sport, when you lose your confidence that ball always comes to you. Josh Howard is getting all these shots that he normally makes, and his arm is tight, that ball weighs about 100 pounds in his hand and that ball just keeps finding you.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai

Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Chris Webber

Hornets guard Chris Paul joined the TNT studio via satellite after the Hornets win over the Mavericks.

Paul on the importance of winning Game #4 to send the series back to New Orleans: “It’s a great feeling to go up 3-1 knowing that we are going back to New Orleans where I feel we have some of the best fans in the league. We have momentum. We knew that we hadn’t won here since my man (former Hornets point guard) Muggsy (Bogues) was running the point so we wanted to change that.”

Paul on the importance of Hornets head coach Byron Scott’s NBA experience: “Coach (Byron Scott) has been to the (NBA) Finals as a player and a coach. He really has the utmost confidence in us. He never lets us get too high on our horse. After the game (tonight), he let us know how hard it is to close out a team and he stays on us. Most of all, he lets us play, he lets us go out there and make our mistakes and he rewards us when we play well.”

Smith on the questions that surround the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns: “This is an interesting time watching Phoenix and Dallas go down. Two perennial powers in the Western Conference for years and years and years, both teams made big trades (during the regular season). Your mind will tell you that neither of these teams can come back (in their series) and if they don’t, where is the next step for these two teams? What personnel will be there? Do they give it another full year again? Do they blow this whole thing up and start again? Both teams made big additions and subtractions on their team with the short-term goal of winning the (NBA) Championship and that short-term goal hasn’t gotten here.”

Barkley on criticizing the Suns and Mavericks for making big in-season trades for Shaquille O’Neal and Jason Kidd respectively: “(The media) is going to jump on the Phoenix trade (for Shaquille O’Neal) and they’re going to jump on the Dallas trade (for Jason Kidd). But I take my hat off to (Phoenix GM) Steve Kerr and (Dallas GM) Mark Cuban because they had to try something. Everyone can say now that it’s not working and it’s a bad trade but they both had to do something. But the truth of the matter is, the Lakers made the best trade getting Pau Gasol. Shaq has been the man for a long time; he’s obviously on the downside of his career. Jason is going to the Hall of Fame. They’ve both been great players. Everyone is going to say those trades didn’t work but those teams couldn’t stand-pat.”

Webber on the lack of energy that Mavericks have: “This is why I think the series is over, if (the Mavericks) didn’t have more energetic guys coming off the bench (like Brandon Bass) after the way they lost last year to an eighth seed (Golden State Warriors) and they don’t have more passion than a guy coming off the bench who hasn’t played much. I really don’t think they are moving on. Brandon Bass played a great game.”

Webber on the Dallas Mavericks: “No one came over to help (Jason Kidd after his flagrant foul on Hornets guard Jannero Pargo). I wouldn’t want to play for Dallas and be in the trenches and then not have any players watch my back because I think the only players that would come (to a teammates defense) is Kidd and (Jerry) Stackhouse. So I don’t want to take all that heat for the other guys when no one is going to come to my rescue.”

Smith on the Detroit Pistons underachieving: “(The Pistons) are the student in class that doesn’t have to study to get a ‘B’. Then if that student studies, they are an ‘A’ student. So some nights, they say they’ll be a ‘B’ but their opponent, who might be inferior, will raise their game up to a ‘B+’ and you lose games. If they come in early, study more and come in more mentally prepared and they can beat this team easily.”

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