Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the NBA – Thursday, November 13, 2008

TNT’s NBA Thursday Coverage Continues Thursday, November 20 at 8 p.m. ET with a doubleheader featuring the Detroit Pistons @ Boston Celtics followed by the Los Angeles Lakers @ Phoenix Suns

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

TNT NBA Tip-off presented by

Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley

Barkley on the Detroit Pistons getting the better of the trade with the Nuggets: “It’s a better trade for Detroit because they are going to have cap space (after the season).  (Rasheed Wallace and Allen Iverson) understand this is their last year in Detroit.  (The Pistons) just signed Rip Hamilton to a big contract.  They aren’t going to give another big contract to another 30-something year-old guy and they are going to get rid of Rasheed Wallace after this year.  The Pistons have to win a championship this year.  That’s why I love the trade for them; it’s a great trade by (Pistons GM) Joe Dumars.”

Barkley on Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James: “The conversation of who is the better player between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant is up for debate.  LeBron James is…the man right now.  I love watching him play.”

Smith on whether or not the Denver Nuggets improve defensively by acquiring Chauncey Billups: “I think the one thing (the Nuggets) have to do is they have to play up-tempo and they have a point guard who can get them in sets and still get them shots.  Are they a better defensive team because of Chauncey Billups?  I don’t know about that but they will play better defense.”

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Game #1:  Denver Nuggets (99) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (110)

Announcers: Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and Reggie Miller with David Aldridge reporting

Fratello on the chemistry of the Nuggets changing after the trade: “One of the most noticeable differences about Denver is the chemistry on this team is different now.  It’s a different makeup, different components together.  One of the things that happens now is that minutes open up for other players.  When Allen Iverson was here, he wanted to play 44-46 minutes a night.  It made rotations much tougher for (Nuggets head coach) George Karl.  This gives more guys an opportunity to play more minutes.”

TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed Nuggets head coach George Karl following the first quarter.

Miller on Cavaliers guard Sash Pavlovic falling out of favor in Cleveland: “Sasha Pavlovic hasn’t played a lot lately and has fallen out of the rotation for head coach Mike Brown.  This is a player who over the last couple of years has played pretty big for Cleveland and has now found himself in the outhouse for the Cavaliers.”

Fratello: “He was a starter and that’s what happens when you wind up holding out and never get back to where you were and he hasn’t.”

Fratello on the Rockets/Suns fight on Wednesday night: “(Suns guard) Steve Nash is joining the WWE tour after last night’s confrontation between the (Suns and Rockets).”

Miller: “Well they’re going to need (WWE wrestler) The Big Show to go against The Big Shaq the way he was throwing everyone around.  (Shaq) was like a big bully protecting his little brother and that’s exactly how it should be.”

TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups following the second quarter.

Billups on the biggest difference between playing for the Pistons and now with the Nuggets:  “Our system and how we like to play is night and day from what we played in Detroit.  We are helter-skelter, we just run up and down.  We try to be hard on defense but it’s hard to be hard when you’re running so fast and trying to speed the tempo up.”

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Johnson, Smith and Barkley

Barkley on the lesser-known player involved in the Pistons/Nuggets trade: “I want to see if Cheick Samb gets in the game.  When they traded him last week, I said to myself, ‘Self, who the hell is Cheick Samb?’ And he still got a DNP (Did Not Play).  I just want to see what he looks like.”

Barkley on how Allen Iverson has changed the Pistons: “Allen Iverson is a great player.  He’s so good that he can get his own shot anytime, but Rip Hamilton has really struggled since A.I. got there.  (Iverson is) never going to be a prototypical point guard.  The Pistons had a great year when they won the championship but that’s over.  They’re not that same team.  They were the best team in the East (Conference) the last few years but they didn’t win (the championship).  They have to start over and this is the first move in starting over.”

Smith on the identity of the Pistons with Allen Iverson: “(The Pistons) are a defensive team, that’s how they win basketball games.  On the offensive end, they have to learn how to implement (Allen Iverson).  They are so used to players playing off each other to score.  Allen Iverson doesn’t need anyone else to score.  They just have to figure that part out.”

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Fratello on the defensive commitment of LeBron James: “LeBron (James) has been digging down on defense and I think that has to be one of the by-products of Olympic experience this summer.  Kobe Bryant made the (defensive) commitment to (Team USA head coach) Mike Krzyzewski and LeBron saw that.  LeBron saw the commitment that Kobe was willing to make and he brought that back (to the Cavaliers).”

Miller on free agent forward Antonio McDyess deciding where he should play: “(Antonio McDyess) should explore all of his possibilities and options.  I could see him fitting (in Cleveland) with LeBron James and Anderson Varejao.  I could also see him with Paul Pierce in Boston.  He should take his time.  He has talked about going back to Detroit; he should explore his options.”

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Game Break

Johnson, Smith and Barkley

Smith on what guard Mo Williams brings to the Cavaliers: “(The Cavaliers) have a guy (in Mo Williams) that can go to and can actually create his own shot.  Before he came to Cleveland, that’s what Mo Williams did.  He was a guy who can come into the game and score.  When LeBron (James) goes out of the game, (Williams) becomes a scorer and the team still has that confidence going and everyone plays well.”

Smith asking Barkley about a rumor he’s heard: “Are you ‘Big Daddy’ on Atlanta Housewives (the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” reality show)?  I just want to know, that’s what the rumor is.”

Barkley: “I’m glad you asked me that.  I want to personally apologize for anyone who has heard that.  I’m not ‘Big Daddy.'”

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Game #2:  Detroit Pistons (107) @ Golden State Warriors (102)

Announcers: Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins with Craig Sager reporting

Collins on Stephen Jackson emerging offensively with the Warriors: “(Stephen Jackson is) the point forward that (Warriors head coach) Don Nelson has always been famous for.  He has always loved that guy that can create from the top of the floor from the forward position.”

Collins on Pistons center Kwame Brown needing to slow his game down: “(Kwame Brown) is capable if he would just slow himself down.  His big problem throughout his career is he tries to play too quickly and he ends up turning the ball over a lot.  He needs to calm himself down.”

Collins on the Pistons becoming a running team: “The one thing about the Detroit Pistons is they have not been a great running team in the past.  They’ve been very much a half-court team.  With Allen Iverson, you’re going to see him out there pushing the ball and the tempo is going to go up.”

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Johnson, Smith and Barkley

Barkley on the Golden State Warriors: “(The Warriors) are a solid NBA team and they’ve got an outside shot at making the playoffs.  They’re not good enough to win anything.  They are just good enough to have fun and go watch every night.  You can’t be like that.  It’s the same situation as the Dallas Mavericks.”

Johnson: “I think (the Warriors are) better than the Dallas Mavericks.”

Barkley: “Well, you get two ugly girls together it doesn’t matter which one you go out with.”

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Collins on why Pistons GM Joe Dumars traded for Allen Iverson: “I think (Joe Dumars) was hoping that (Allen Iverson) would bring an edge (to the Pistons).  (Iverson is a) guy that can go on the road and throw up a 40 point night for you in a very hostile environment.  The team attack has worked very well for Detroit through the years but Joe (Dumars) felt that one little piece was out of place, they were struggling and are hoping that this mix will work for them.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Warriors head coach Don Nelson after the third quarter

Nelson on defending Pistons guard Allen Iverson: “(Allen Iverson is) difficult (to defend).  It doesn’t matter who’s guarding him or where he is on the floor, he’s a great threat.”

Collins on why NBA teams make trades: “You always make deals when you feel you are close to winning a championship.  Last year the Boston Celtics put (Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce) together and win the championship.  Then Detroit decides they need to shake things up and they bring in Allen Iverson.  It’s going to be fun to see if they can unseat the Boston Celtics as the defending champions.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Pistons guard Allen Iverson following the game.

Iverson on getting into a rhythm with the Pistons: “(Our) chemistry is a little bit better.  It was a tough start when I had to come in here and didn’t know the set (plays).  But we’ve had a chance to get some practices, some shoot-arounds and a couple of games and we’re starting to get a rhythm.”

Iverson on playing with Rasheed Wallace: “It good to have him emotionally (on the team).  He has a lot of passion for the game and he wants to win so badly and he’s so tough.  He spreads the floor out which helps me out.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai

Johnson, Smith and Barkley

Barkley on the leaders in the East: “(The Pistons) are going to be there in the end.  I look at the East three ways – Cleveland, Boston and Detroit.  I think those are the only three teams that have a chance at winning the East.”

Smith who Antonio McDyess brings to the Pistons: “(The Pistons) need Antonio McDyess back.  He adds size to their lineup because they’re tall enough with Amir Johnson and guys like that, but they don’t have that brute strength underneath that can battle when they play in the Eastern Conference.  They’re going to need a guy like that that can pop out, knock shots in and he knows the system.  To me, that’s the best place to re-sign him.”

TNT’s John Thompson sat down with Detroit Pistons teammates Allen Iverson and Rasheed Wallace.

Iverson on believing every year that he has a shot at the championship: “I feel like I have the opportunity to win a championship every year that I’ve been in the league.  I come into training camp and I feel like, ‘we’re going to win a championship,’ and I’ll never stop feeling that way otherwise I’d leave the game alone.  It’s all I want and I’m willing to do everything that I have to do to accomplish that goal.”

Wallace on whether or not the Pistons became complacent after winning the championship in 2004: “I think there was a little complacency.  We made it to the Finals two years in a row and it was 50-50, we won one and lost one, but I would definitely say that there was complacency.  We thought that we would go into other teams’ gyms and they were just going to lay down, but the joke was on us in the end because we couldn’t get back there.  We made it to six straight Eastern Conference Finals only to get to the Championship two out of the six.  The joke was on us.”

Wallace on the new Pistons team being hungry for a championship: “What makes it different is that we’re focused.  We have a lot more guys on this team who are hungry.  The team before, we’d been to the mountain top and we sipped the juice, but the guys on this team now are hungry and they want it just as much as the next person or the next team.”

Wallace on his family influencing him to calm his temper on the court: “My wife made me sit back and think about it one time.  I got into a whole lot of B.S. and she said, ‘Look, it’s not just affecting you.  It’s affecting me, it’s affecting your boys when they go to school.’  That just made me sit back and go, alright, maybe I’ve got to calm myself down a little bit.”

Iverson on the importance of winning a championship: “I have to win a championship.  A lot of people tell me day in and day out that if I don’t, I still had a great career and I accomplished a lot of things, but I don’t feel that way.  I feel like if I don’t win the championship then everything that I’ve done goes down the drain.”

Barkley on Iverson needing to trust the players around him: “I would like to play with Allen Iverson, I have great respect for his game.  It would be difficult, he’s never really trusted the players around him.  When you’re a great player it’s hard, you can get your shot anytime you want to.  But when you’re a great player you have to realize every guy can’t get their own shot.  I would think, ok, I have to get Mike Gminski a shot, I’ve got to get Dan Majerle a shot, I’ve got to get Martin West an assist or Cedric Ceballos a shot.  When you’re a great player your job is to make the guys around you better.  He’s such a great scorer, I don’t think he’s ever trusted the players around him enough.”

Barkley on Rasheed Wallace: “I like Rasheed Wallace a lot…I don’t think he’s ever reached his potential.  I said last year that he could be the best basketball player in the world, but he’s got so much other crap going on and he gets into with the officials.  I actually don’t mind guys getting technicals, but it affects him and he’s never been consistent night in and night out.”

Barkley on realizing that he would not win a championship during his career: “I played for 16 years and realistically, I probably only had five or six chances to actually win a championship.  (Allen Iverson has played 12 seasons), but realistically he’s never really had a chance to win a championship.  He got to the Finals once and he was fantastic, but it is a team game….Myself, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Elgin Baylor and there’s guys in other sports, Gail Sayers, Barry Sanders (who never won a championship).  It’s a team game and he has to understand that he’s never been on a team good enough to win a championship.  And that has nothing to do with him.  He’s a great, great player and future Hall of Famer.”

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