NBA On TNT Playoff Notes: With Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony Gone, What’s Next For Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers?
One down, three to go
Magic Johnson on Pat Riley stepping down as head coach of the Miami Heat: “I’m happy for Pat (Riley). Once he got into the Hall of Fame, I think that was everything for him. He had (new Heat head coach) Erik (Spoelstra) sitting there (as an assistant coach) waiting to become the head coach, (Riley) tutored him. Erik will be ready, good move for Pat and I think everybody will be happy.”
Smith on the Atlanta Hawks needing an athletic point guard: “It surprised me that (the Hawks) got one game but they are a dangerous team because of their length and athleticism. I think the thing they are missing is a guy who is a cross between Mike Bibby and Acie Law. Acie Law can push the ball and push the tempo up and he gets Josh Smith, Josh Childress and Marvin Williams all these easy baskets which they can’t get in the half-court game. They are better when they are running and they really don’t have that in a point guard.”
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Game 1: Boston Celtics (92) @ Atlanta Hawks (97) – The series is tied 2-2.
Announcers: Dick Stockton and Mike Fratello with Cheryl Miller reporting
Fratello on the young Hawks: “Sometimes when you come back home and get a big win like (in Game #3), particularly with a very young team, they forget that the celebration must end and you must move on. (Hawks head coach) Mike Woodson said that they haven’t done anything but win one playoff game.”
Fratello on Celtics’ forward James Posey: “(James Posey) comes off the bench and does a few things. He gives (the Celtics) energy. He gives them defense, hustle plays and he can shoot the open three.”
TNT’s Cheryl Miller interviewed NBA Commissioner David Stern during the 2nd quarter.
Stern on the Atlanta Hawks: “There are so many good, young players (on the Hawks) and they added a couple of veterans like (Joe) Johnson and (Mike) Bibby and anything can happen with (Al) Horford and (Josh) Smith. It’s really very exciting to watch.”
Stern on what constitutes a ‘menacing gesture’ for which the league fined Celtics’ guard Paul Pierce and Wizards’ forward DeShawn Stevenson: “A menacing gesture is something that (NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations) Stu (Jackson) deems to be a menacing gesture. Whatever it may be, we don’t have to get into the etymology of it all but the reality is, we want our players to not talk towards the (opposition’s) bench and make any gestures. Go back to their bench and play ball because they are the best players in the world.”
Johnson, Smith, Barkley and Webber
Magic Johnson on the city of Atlanta embracing the Hawks: “I want to give the city of Atlanta a lot of credit. They have come out and supported this team. It’s been loud and crazy. When I got to the (Atlanta) airport today, everyone was talking about the Hawks. I’m happy to see that.”
Webber on the excitement in Atlanta for the Hawks in the playoffs: “I thought Michael Jordan or Magic was playing tonight. That (used to be) the only time they would fill up the (Atlanta) arena.”
Webber on Hawks guard Mike Bibby: “(Mike Bibby is) a big-time player when it comes to the playoffs. People are on him about missing shots but he’s a point guard and he just had to get comfortable. He likes to free himself up for the shot off the pick-and-roll and once (the Hawks) figured that out they got him some pick-and-rolls and he was able to make shots and convert.”
Magic Johnson on the Hawks: “(Mike Bibby) is showing leadership right now, he knows this is a big game. He’s come out being aggressive and that takes the pressure off the younger guys, especially Joe Johnson. He is setting the tone for the other guys. (Al) Horford and (Solomon) Jones don’t get carried away with the emotion of the game. They’ve got to take good shots, keep the ball in Johnson and Bibby’s hands and crash the offensive boards. Don’t think you’re a playmaker when you’re not one.”
Fratello on Hawks guard Joe Johnson: “Joe Johnson is a spectacular player and he does it in a quiet way. It’s easy, it’s smooth whether it’s a fade away jump-shot or weaving his way through defenders. He makes it look too easy.”
Hawks legend and Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins joined Stockton and Fratello courtside during the 3rd quarter.
Wilkins on the Hawks bouncing back in their first round series against the Celtics: “(The Hawks) can’t worry about those two games because it’s the playoffs and you have to worry about getting back home and taking care of home court. They didn’t play well on the road so now they come home to redeem themselves and that’s what the Hawks have done. It’s really amazing that a young team like the Hawks are able to bounce back after two disappointing losses. To their credit, they did a good job of maintaining a level of maturity.”
Wilkins on Hawks forward Josh Smith: “Josh Smith plays with a lot of athletic ability, once he learns how to play the game on the ground, learning the fundamentals of the game, he’s going to be an unstoppable player in this league.”
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Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers (107) @ Denver Nuggets (101) – Lakers win the series 4-0.
Announcers: Marv Albert and Reggie Miller with Craig Sager reporting
Miller on Nuggets guard Carmelo Anthony’s comments that the team ‘quit’ in Game #4:“You (Carmelo) are pointing the fingers. Let alone it’s hard to win a playoff series, let alone it’s hard to win a playoff game. When you lose your first game back home and get embarrassed on your home court and on top of that you’ve got to deal with Carmelo throwing everyone underneath the bus, there is a time and place to address situations like that. It just sheds a bad light on your team when you’re struggling to get back in the series, it shows a lack of maturity on Carmelo’s part and you can’t have that in playoff basketball.”
Miller on the Nuggets head coach George Karl taking Allen Iverson out in the fourth quarter of Game #3: “For (the Denver Nuggets) to be successful, (Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony) have to start on the defensive end. Those guys are going to have to commit to the defensive end. It’s called coaching in this league and that’s what (Nuggets head coach) George Karl was trying to do…coach this team. They were down by 18 and (Karl) put in an energetic, 3-point shooting team to try to cut the lead. The lead goes to 23…does he embarrass Allen Iverson and put him back into the game? It’s a coaching decision, you have to live with it and you can’t take it personally.”
Miller on Nuggets guard Allen Iverson complaining about being taken out of the fourth quarter of Game #3: “I understand where (Allen Iverson) is coming from but he is one of the veteran leaders on this team and he should know better than to say something like that. He’s got to know that (Nuggets head coach) George Karl would not refuse to put him back into the game as much as he’s done since coming over from Philadelphia.”
Miller on Nuggets head coach George Karl wanting his players to stay focused in their series against the Lakers: “(George Karl) does not want his Nuggets to check out of the game or the season. He doesn’t want the guys to think about getting their Hefty trash bags to start cleaning out their locker, thinking about their exit meetings with the general manager. (He wants them) to stay in focus and stay in the game.”
Miller on Inside the NBA winning its fourth Emmy®: “I guess Kenny (Smith) getting hit by the car and the dancing Chuck…I guess all those things pay off.”
TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed L.A. Lakers Kobe Bryant after the 2nd quarter.
Bryant on the cheers the Lakers are hearing in Denver: “Yeah, we are surprised (to hear cheers). It feels like home away from home.”
Johnson, Smith, Barkley and Webber
Webber on what’s wrong with the Denver Nuggets: “I think (the Nuggets’) system (is the problem). Their system makes it hard to have great hustle plays…I look at (Marcus) Camby and (Eduardo) Najera and it’s hard to get the crowd involved with an easy dunk or layup because these guys aren’t involved. I think that you have to make sure that you don’t put too much responsibility on guys. You need to let guys get involved to give you great hustle plays. There’s really no energy there.”
Webber on NBA legends staying involved with their teams: “By Magic being a legend with the Lakers, when I went to the Piston, Joe Dumars was there, (the Hawks) have Dominique (Wilkins). I just think it’s a great job that the legends have done because when you get in a position like this, you tend to look back and see who’s been here before. I’m really happy for Dominique for (the Hawks) to turn this thing around.”
Miller on the Lakers toying with the Nuggets: “It feels like the Lakers are toying with the Nuggets. It’s almost like they are just treading water, it feels like they can turn it on at any time.”
Karl on who is making the decision regarding his coaching future: “I’ve told everybody for the last two seasons that I make the decision, too. There’ll be a point where I will go away and spend some time with people that I love and care about and decide if I want to coach next year. It’s on me, too. I don’t have to coach in the NBA, it’s something I love and have a desire to continue to do. I’ve been shocked since I’ve gotten back in that that window of ‘maybe I shouldn’t do this’ is bigger than I ever thought it was.”
Miller on missed opportunities by Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets: “When Carmelo (Anthony) goes back and looks at games one through four and all the chip shots that he missed…they could be leading this series.”
TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed L.A. Lakers Kobe Bryant after the Lakers eliminated the Nuggets from the playoffs.
Bryant on how important it is for the Lakers to sweep the Nuggets and get some rest: “It’s extremely important to get home and relax a little bit. Get some treatment and get ready for the second round.”
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Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Chris Webber
Webber on who can help the Nuggets on the defensive end: “I think they need Deion Sanders, Mike Singletary, Everson Walls…they are in trouble.”
Smith on the Nuggets needing to improve offensively as much as defensively: “(The Nuggets) have scorers, individual one-on-one scorers, they don’t have a team concept on the offensive end. They play one-on-one basketball, and it doesn’t let everyone get involved, it doesn’t let complimentary guys who already don’t get a lot of shots, they get few shots and then they get bad shots and they rush. The continuity on the offensive end is just as important as the defensive end. They have scorers, they have individual one-on-one players and that doesn’t win in the NBA.”
Johnson on the Lakers potential second round matchup against the Utah Jazz: “It’s going to be a tough matchup. Utah executes better than anyone, you’ve got to play defense for 24 seconds and then they have two of the best players in basketball when you think about Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer. So the Lakers are going to have to concentrate on the defensive end and they matchup pretty good. From my standpoint, you’re happy you advance, you’re happy the way the Lakers are playing, the bench is into it, high fiving. Kobe’s leadership this year has been off the charts and we saw that leadership come again in the fourth quarter (against Denver).”
TNT’s Cheryl Miller interviewed Hawks guard Joe Johnson after the Hawks win over the Celtics.
Johnson on winning two times in a row against the Celtics: “We always believed in ourselves, and here at home we’ve done pretty well. The thing I’m most proud of is how the fans have come out and shown us a lot of love and support. We’ve got a little momentum right now, the road hasn’t been great for us but we’ll figure it out up in Boston in Game #5. We’ve just got to bring our ‘A-game’ and bring a lot of intensity and we’ll be alright.”
Webber on the Celtics needing to return to Boston and focus on winning Game #5: “You try to keep the same focus you’ve had throughout the playoffs, but now is definitely not time for friends at the house, definitely not the time to worry about tickets, definitely not the time to worry about any other thing but getting home and getting this game. This game for the Celtics is the series, not that they should be scared but you don’t want to lose this game and have the pressure of a team that supposedly could win the championship be down to one game from elimination.”
Smith on the performance of the Celtics: “I don’t think that Boston played that poorly, Atlanta made some spectacular plays and you’re going to lose some games that way, but in terms of shot selection, in terms of execution down the stretch, they got good shots.”
Johnson on the Orlando Magic: “I like the way Orlando plays, they play hard, they play physical and Coach (Stan) Van Gundy has them playing in a team frame. (Hedo) Turkoglu is unbelievable, he has really improved his game and he’s great at either scoring or passing, he has a triple threat game.”