Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the NBA Playoffs – Tuesday, May 26, 2009: “I don’t think there is any question that (LeBron James) doesn’t trust (his teammates) quite as much, that’s human nature when he’s got to bear the brunt of the winning and losing.”

(AP Photo/John Raoux)

TNT’s exclusive coverage of the Eastern Conference Finals continues on Thursday, May 28 with pre-game coverage beginning at 8 p.m. ET, followed by Game #5 of the Orlando Magic @ Cleveland Cavaliers at 8:30 p.m. ET.

TNT NBA Tip-off presented by

Announcers: Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller and Kenny Smith

Smith on someone other than forward LeBron James needing to be a star for the Cavaliers:  “Someone on Cleveland’s team has to commit to being a star other than LeBron James. In that locker room I don’t think it’s selfish to want to be a superstar on this stage. I’ve seen Mo Williams come off pick and rolls and if he’s not wide open he’s not taking a shot.  In playoff basketball you have to create shots to become a star because everyone knows your offense and everyone knows your defense.”

Barkley on the Cavaliers needing guards Mo Williams and Delonte West to step up: “This game is going to come down to Mo Williams and Delonte West. No disrespect to the Cavaliers bench, but they don’t have anyone on their bench who is capable of getting 20 points, that’s just the fact of the matter. One or both of those guys need to step up or those guys (the Cavaliers) are in trouble.”

Nuggets head coach George Karl on a play in which Nuggets guard Dahntay Jones tripped Lakers guard Kobe Bryant: “Dahntay (Jones) plays an important role for us. He’s our poor man’s Bruce Bowen, or maybe our Duke Bruce Bowen. And he’s not a dirty guy, he just gets in you and that’s how he has to play to be successful. He’s competing against one of the greatest players of all time (in Kobe Bryant) and contact’s going to happen. He’s going to get blown for a lot of whistles, but we’re not going to tell him to stop playing.”

Miller on the Lakers’ toughest players being their guards : “The physical nature of how Denver is playing L.A., that’s why they have the advantage. They have so many players who are going to bump and grind and hit and clinch and trip.  Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza and Derek Fisher, those are the three toughest guys (for the Lakers) and they are guards. That’s never good.”

Smith on why the Lakers mental toughness allows them to win games: “A lot of people don’t understand the difference between physicality and mental toughness. You can not be a physical team but be a mentally tough team and win basketball games, you don’t have to bump and grind all the time. Pau Gasol is one of the most skilled big men we have in basketball. Lamar Odom is probably one of the most skilled players in basketball. So they might not bump and grind, but if you have a mental toughness it doesn’t matter how much (your opponent might) push, how much they shove and how much they trip if you have mental toughness and you fight through in fortitude. So I still say the Lakers can win the series and win without having a physical presence because they can still be mentally tough and that wins ball games too.”

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Cleveland Cavaliers (114) @ Orlando Magic (116) in Overtime – The Magic lead the series 3-1.

Announcers: Marv Albert and Doug Collins; with Craig Sager reporting

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Magic guard Rafer Alston before Game #4 of the Cavaliers @ Magic.

Alston on why the Magic will not guarantee a series win over the Cavaliers:  “We don’t want to put that type of pressure on ourselves, this is a league where it’s already tough to win as it is and they are a good team with one of the best players to ever lace up a pair of shoes. We just want to come out and compete hard and hopefully we will get a win.”

Collins on whether Cavaliers forward LeBron James has lost trust in his teammates: “I don’t think there is any question that (LeBron James) doesn’t trust (his teammates) quite as much, that’s human nature when he’s got to bear the brunt of the winning and losing. He had 49 and 41 points in their two losses.”

Collins on the Cavaliers moving better without the basketball allowing forward LeBron James to pass the ball: “Cleveland is moving better without the basketball. They are not standing and watching LeBron, they are moving to open areas and he’s rewarding (them), he loves to pass.”

Collins on Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu: “(Hedo) Turkoglu is making great decisions with the ball, you can say, ‘oh that screen roll’ all you want, but your guy has to make the right decision and he’s making the right plays.”

Collins on Magic center Dwight Howard needing to get more involved in the paint: “I think the foul trouble is bothering (Dwight Howard), but he’s only got one tonight. He’s got to be more aggressive and he’s got to control the paint, (which is) a big part of his success. He’s the Defensive Player of the Year.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Cavaliers guard Mo Williams at halftime.

Williams on how his early morning at shootaround helped him gain confidence for Game #4: “Just a rhythm. I got game shots up, running off the screens just like you saw me shooting some shots today running off the screens, getting some in the break and I’m just making an effort to push the ball on the floor and keep them on the heels and play my type of basketball. The first three games I’ve been sitting back and playing off LeBron, I’ve got to initiate and be a threat on the floor.”

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T-Mobile Halftime Report

Announcers: Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller and Kenny Smith

Miller on Cavaliers guard Mo Williams having a strong first half: “I’m glad (Mo Williams) was aggressive, that was the key. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but getting to the three point line six times and going six for six. He took a few bad shots, but putting the bulls eye on your back when you’re going to guarantee a win, you’ve got to be the guy to come out and somewhat set the tone. You know LeBron James is going to be the one to finish, especially in the second half, but I liked how Mo came out and was looking to be aggressive offensively.”

Smith on Cavaliers guard Mo Williams helping forward LeBron James in the first half: “As I said earlier, you’re searching for someone who wants to be a star, that means (Mo Williams) has to be a little more aggressive and you have to try to take some risks on the offensive end and then you will take some pressure off of LeBron James. I thought all in all (James) became a finisher instead of a facilitator in that first half. In all those other games he was more of a facilitator with the ball, dribble, dribble, dribble and giving other people the shot. Today he got the ball from other people.”

Barkley on the inconsistent lineup Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown has chosen to play: “If I’m on the Cavaliers I have to question (Cavs coach) Mike Brown at some point. In one game he plays (Aleksandar) Pavlovic, in the next game he doesn’t play him, in the next game he doesn’t play (Wally) Szczerbiak, and he doesn’t play (Daniel) Gibson. He puts those guys in a very awkward situation. You’ve got to at least make them feel like there’s a chance they are going to play when they come to the game.”

Miller: “(Cavs coach) Mike Brown is searching for answers, he’s taking it game by game. He’s not looking at the series as a whole because every game has taken on a life of its own and I think that’s what they’re looking for from his bench players.”

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Collins on the Cavaliers starting the second half poorly: “So often how teams come out at halftime is so important. Cleveland, up eight, they came out very soft and Orlando is taking advantage of it.”

Collins on Magic center Dwight Howard guarding Cavaliers forward LeBron James: “Dwight Howard is waiting for LeBron James at the rim and he’s got a full head of steam. Dwight Howard has so much space and LeBron is going right at him and rolls off. So you can see why it’s been a nightmare cover for Howard, when you’ve got a guy coming at you with that much speed.”

Collins on Magic center Dwight Howard receiving his sixth technical foul, which will result in an automatic suspension if he receives a seventh: “They (Cavaliers) have tried to get in (Dwight Howard’s) head and get him upset. Now what you’ve got to be concerned about is you’ve got to stay away from a double technical where you get wrapped up with someone and they call two technical fouls or in a game down the road when something like this happens. So this is a very serious situation.”

Collins on the turnovers by Cavaliers forward LeBron James in the second half of the game after he passed into a group of Magic players causing a turnover in overtime: “LeBron James has made some careless plays in the fourth quarter and overtime. I know he’s hit some big shots, but trying to force a pass in there with no place to go…remember, he turned it over when he and Daniel Gibson had a miscommunication.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Magic center Dwight Howard after the Magic defeated the Cavaliers to lead the series 3-1.

Howard on how the Magic won in Game #4: “I had to get myself going, my teammates found me in the right spot to score, but I just kept fighting. I don’t want to lose, I hate losing, especially on my home floor. We just came out ready tonight and we kept it going, we kept fighting to the end.”

Howard on whether he deserves a technical foul for his ‘taunting’ of the Cavaliers after a shot: “I hope the leagues looks at it, I was just so emotional because I made the basket. It wasn’t taunting, I wasn’t doing anything to the other team, I’m just happy because I made the basket. We get emotional out here on the court, but they shouldn’t have given me the technical.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai

Announcers: Johnson, Barkley, Miller and Smith

Smith, speaking from experience after two comebacks from 3-1 deficits in the playoffs, on how the Cavaliers must approach Game #5: “The mentality has to be you change your whole mental process starting tomorrow, saying, ‘there’s no way we lose going home.’ That has to be your logic. There’s no way, you have to have a delusion of grandeur right now. Then you say, ‘you know, what if we win at home?  The pressure’s not on us, it’s on them because if they lose in Orlando again we come back and there’s no way we lose a Game #7.’  So your delusion starts now, it might not be accurate, but that’s the thought process that I know we had two times coming back out of those holes.”

Barkley on the Cavaliers: “The Cleveland Cavaliers, you can paint it how you want to, they aren’t playing well. LeBron James is not getting any help.”

Smith on the Cavaliers without forward LeBron James: “If you took off the best player on every team that’s left in the playoffs, probably the Cleveland Cavaliers don’t have the best talent. But they have played collectively the best basketball (in the first two series), but they are not showing that because they are not being aggressive on the offensive end and they are making LeBron James work entirely too hard on the offensive end.”

Barkley on Magic center Dwight Howard getting dunks during overtime: “You can’t let Dwight Howard get all these dunks. He’s got to make 14 or 18 free throws a game. He dunked the first three plays in overtime that cannot happen. You’ve got to bring it, Ben Wallace, or you got to bring it Joe Smith, you’ve got to grab him.”

Smith on the technical foul given to Magic center Dwight Howard for ‘taunting’: “If that’s a technical, after every basket there’s a technical.”

Miller on whether the Cavaliers will force a Game #6 by winning at home:  “Yes (we will return to Orlando for Game #6). The reason why I say that is the Cavs played fantastic all year, they had the best home record all year, this is really going to show me a lot about the MVP and his team. You look at the look on Mo Williams face and it scares me with the way he’s talking and pausing in between, I worry about that.”

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  1. […] Mizzo is also going with them: 113-108. His Starting Five site, a must stop for me, has a good story with a long title (which I am going to shorten): “Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the NBA Playoffs – Tuesday, May 26, 2009″ […]