NBA On TNT Western Conference Notes: Kobe Bryant and the Lakers Move to the NBA Finals

(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

I thought this wasn\'t a team?

I thought this was no team?

Smith on the lack of emotion from the San Antonio Spurs after the ‘no call’ following contact on Spurs guard Brent Barry in Game 4: “I’m surprised at the level of acceptance the San Antonio Spurs had in the moment, forget about afterwards. In that moment, they had no emotion about Brent Barry. Maybe because Brent Barry isn’t accustomed to be in that situation so the team said this guy shouldn’t have been in that situation, and maybe they didn’t think it was a foul either. But the level of acceptance surprised me. If you did that in Philadelphia, New York or Detroit, there would have been a riot in here.”

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Game #4: San Antonio Spurs (92) @ Los Angeles Lakers (100) – The Lakers won the series 4 – 1.

Announcers Marv Albert and Doug Collins; with Craig Sager reporting

Collins on Lakers coach Phil Jackson’s impressions on Spurs forward Bruce Bowen: “Phil Jackson was talking about Bruce Bowen and said the guy has quick hands and all kinds of that stuff. But Kobe (Bryant) with 29 shots and no free throws, I think (Bowen) is also an illusionist.”

Albert: “Going up against Bowen (Kobe) is thinking David Blaine.”

Collins on Lakers guard Phil Jackson choosing to leave Kobe Bryant on the bench even when trailing the Spurs: “Most coaches down 17 (points) would say, ‘I’ve got to get Kobe Bryant back in the game,’ and Phil Jackson’s big thing is these guys have got to find a way to play their way out this. It’s one of the ways that he creates confidence in his bench during the course of a season.”

TNT aired another segment of Inside Trax featuring Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Lakers coach Phil Jackson during a timeout.

Popovich addressing the Spurs in a huddle: “They’re in bonus already so we’ve got to be a little bit careful. The most important thing is this lead is not to be milked, it’s to be built upon.”

Jackson addressing the Lakers in a huddle: “They are playing desperation ball, they can play that way very solidly. You guys have got to step it up, get a stop, you’ve got to grab the momentum now.”

Collins on the Spurs’ diminished lead at the end of the quarter: “I’ve talked about finishing quarters and finishing halves. If the Spurs lose this series, one of the reasons is that the Lakers have done a much better job of that (finishing quarters and halves). Derek Fisher, this guy hits big shot after big shot, makes big plays, and more importantly, Kobe Bryant trusts him. They have three championships rings together and (Kobe) knows this guy has always got his back.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Spurs forward Bruce Bowen at halftime.

Bowen on whether he will effectively defend against Lakers guard Kobe Bryant: “Who knows? I can’t read the future. I’m going to do my best to get a hand up on every shot and I understand that if he hits some, he’s the MVP, and if not, I’m sure I’ll hear bad things from you guys.”

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Ernie Johnson, Barkley, Smith and Magic Johnson

Barkley on the Lakers’ bench players: “Phil Jackson is amazing. I was sitting there when (the Spurs) had a 16 or 17 point lead, but he doesn’t panic, he left the bench in the game, their bench is much better than San Antonio.”

Magic Johnson on the lack of energy the Lakers played with to start the game: “I thought they came in complacent, thinking, ‘Ok we’re at home.’ You’ve got to really know how to close a team out and it’s even harder to close a World Champion out. They came in thought, ‘We are at home, the Lakers are just going to get the job done because we are at home.’ But the last six minutes they came back and played like they were supposed to play, the crowd got into it and that’s how the Lakers have to play this San Antonio team.”

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Collins on the Spurs’ offense slowing down in the third quarter: “Have you noticed how the Spurs offense is becoming stagnant? You’re not seeing them quickly into their offense, the ball is sticking, they are getting against the clock and the Lakers are really gearing up their defense.”

Lakers forward Lamar Odom on the championship mentality of the Lakers: “If you look at our coaching staff all you see are rings. From Phil (Jackson) to Coach (Frank) Hamblen, Coach (Jim) Cleamons, Brian Shaw to Kurt Rambis, even our training staff and everyone is always poised. Gary Vitti, our trainer, has been here for 20 years and he’s won rings in the 80s, of course Phil in the 90s and you got Kobe and (Derek) Fisher. It starts to rub off on you and you start to think like a winner and no matter what you just keep yourself together.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Lakers coach Phil Jackson after the third quarter.

Jackson on the tougher defense the Lakers are playing: “It’s just getting animated, it all has to with active defensive players. Suddenly passes aren’t so easy, cuts aren’t so easy, we did some things quickly on the defensive end.”

Collins on Lakers coach Phil Jackson playing guard Kobe Bryant at the start of the fourth quarter, a time he normally rests: “Phil Jackson recognizes this is the time to strike for his team, he feels that the Spurs are on the ropes here a little bit and he’s going for the knock out punch a little earlier than he normally would.”

Collins on the energy of the Lakers in the fourth quarter: “(The Spurs) are getting (Tim) Duncan involved where he has to step up and be the helper. Other than Kurt Thomas, they have no rebounders on the floor. We’ve seen this all along in the fourth quarter, the energy of the Lakers, they’re just one step quicker.”

Collins on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant: “I look at Kobe Bryant out there and I think competitor, incredibly skilled, strong willed. But is there a better conditioned player in the NBA? This man takes all this defense and here he is trying to put his team to the finish.”

Collins on the mission of Kobe Bryant: “Kobe Bryant is on a mission, he’s been the MVP of the league, if he goes on to the NBA Finals, which look like that happens, if they beat whoever it is in the East and he gets the MVP and this summer he’s looking at a possible Olympic gold medal. There’s only been one other player to do that and that’s a guy named Michael Jordan. Kobe is looking at a possible fairy tale year, it is unbelievable.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Magic Johnson

Barkley on the Lakers being the new best team in the West: “I’ve got great admiration for the Spurs, but their time is gone for right now. It’s the Lakers’ time, they’ve got the best player in the world, they high jacked Memphis getting Pau Gasol, (Lamar) Odom is playing well, their bench is much better. You’ve got to take your hat off to the Lakers, they are the better team right now.”

Magic Johnson the Spurs and the Lakers: “I want to give San Antonio a lot of credit, they’ve been the best franchise for the last seven to 10 years, they were working on a dynasty. This team was incredible and I love Gregg Popovich as a coach. The Lakers, this year, this time, it’s their time in the West. Give Phil Jackson a lot of credit, he really knew how to mesh the team. The bench got better and Gasol put Lamar (Odom) in his natural position and he’s really happy to be the third scorer.”

Smith comparing Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to NBA great Michael Jordan: “Watching Kobe Bryant down the stretch, that was a special performance. If you’re a basketball fans that’s one you put in and show kids what to do. His composure that he had going down the stretch in the last four minutes of the game, there’s only one other player in the game that in my lifetime I’ve seen do what he did in the last four minutes and his name is Michael Jordan. Now for me, comparisons do start because I’ve never seen anybody be that composed in that stressed environment than him.”

Barkley on good sportsmanship: “We are all in this business together, I do think we should try to kill each other when the game is going on, but when it’s over say good luck next round.”

Magic Johnson on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant being unstoppable: “Nobody is going to be able to stop Kobe (Bryant) right now, he’s in a zone, he’s focused, he’s ready. And he is patient now, he doesn’t take bad shots, he takes all high quality shots, when it gets to that fourth quarter from that five or six minute stretch on to the end, this man knows where he’s going to get his shots, and how he’s going to win the game. You also saw him dish it off to (Pau) Gasol on a big dunk, last year or two years ago he never would have done that, he still would have taken a tough shot. This year he’s trusting his teammates and he’s just having an MVP season and an MVP Playoffs.”

Barkley on Tony Parker’s wife Eva Longoria Parker sitting next to Ernie on the flight to L.A. from San Antonio: “(Eva Longoria Parker) said, ‘Who’s that white guy with Charles and Kenny?'”

Ernie Johnson: “That was the greatest random seat assignment ever.”

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One Response to “NBA On TNT Western Conference Notes: Kobe Bryant and the Lakers Move to the NBA Finals”

  1. michelle says:

    Kobe and the Lakers are clearly the best team in the league.