Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the NBA Playoffs – Thursday, April 22, 2010: Jason Richardson Puts Up a “Jackie Robinson” On the Trail Blazers
Great time to put up 42 points huh? Though Portland is without their star player, the Suns have destroyed the Trail Blazers the last two games. Steve Nash is finding everyone on a dime and Alvin Gentry is not letting up off the throttle.
That Kevin Durant guarded Kobe Bryant in stretches is proof positive his basketball maturity level is rising to one of the top current levels in the game. He’ll downplay the moment because I know how he is, but this will definitely be a snapshot of his young career he can move to his grand kids minds one day. Props to you young fella on leading his very young squad to a win against the top seed Lakers.
Derrick Rose and the Bulls were victorious as well and despite the death of his uncle Pooh continues to show his talent is real, right and exact. Jerold Wells Jr. and I had blackberry messenger convo last night and we both agreed the league is set at point guard for the next 8-10 years and this is a league where John Wall is still on the outside looking in…damn…
TNT’s coverage of the 2010 NBA Playoffs continues on Saturday, April 24 at 1:30 p.m. (ET) with the NBA Tip-Off presented by AutoTrader.com, followed at 2 p.m. (ET) with a doubleheader featuring the Orlando Magic @ Charlotte Bobcats (Game #3) followed by the Phoenix Suns @ Portland Trail Blazers (Game #4).
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“This is why arguable I believe that in three years Kevin Durant will be the best player in basketball.” – Kenny Smith on OKC forward Kevin Durant’s future
“LeBron James is rolling over in his grave. LeBron James is and will be the next best basketball player in the world.” – Charles Barkley’s response to Kenny Smith’s prediction
Game 1: Cleveland Cavaliers (106) @ Chicago Bulls (108) – Cleveland leads the series 2-1.
Announcers: Marv Albert and Reggie Miller with David Aldridge reporting
Miller on Bulls centers Joakim Noah and Brad Miller taking shots from Cavs center Shaquille O’Neal: “If I’m (Joakim) Noah and Brad Miller, welcome to the club. One hundred centers have taken shots to the neck, head, eye, throat from Shaquille O’Neal. That’s just part of the business when you’re going against the biggest man on the planet”
Miller on Cavs guard Mo Williams’ lack of production early in the game: “Mo Williams has yet to take a look at shooting the basketball in nine minutes and has only one assist. This is a guy who is the second leading scorer on this Cavaliers team and had a good Game #1, struggled in Game #2, but they are going to need his offense especially on the road.”
TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed Bulls guard Derrick Rose
Rose on how he is trying to adjust playing against the Cavs: “Just looking at a lot of tape and seeing the things that I’m doing wrong, the mistakes the last few games. Right now I’m trying to hustle and I’m trying to put my team on my back.”
Rose on the impact of Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich in the first half: “He just needs to shoot. He’s a shooter, he always needs to shoot the ball. That’s what we need him to do with this offense. Tonight he’s taking big shots and hitting them, so we just need him to do that all night.”
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Johnson, Barkley, Smith and Webber
Webber on how Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich helps Derrick Rose when he’s scoring: “The key is that Derrick Rose has the ball in his hands so much that he needs someone else in the guard position to step up and (Kirk) Hinrich is the guy that they’ve been looking for to step up. The good think about Hinrich is he’s another point guard on the floor, and when you have a point guard like Rose it’s easy for Rose to switch to the two because he can score. So the more aggressive Hinrich is the better it is for the team when he’s scoring.”
Smith on Cavaliers forward LeBron James playing to the Bulls’ advantage: “You would look at the stats and think that (the Bulls) are doing a great job defending LeBron. They are not doing anything different from Game #1. One, it’s just that he’s not hitting shots and, two, when he stays perimeter he plays great for Chicago because this is where they want to keep him, dancing east to west. When LeBron James, or any great player, goes north to south they are too difficult to handle. When he goes north to south he creates shots for himself and his teammates. When he goes east to west nobody gets nothing. That is the difference.”
Barkley on the reason that the Thunder did not beat the Lakers in Games #1 and #2: “My favorite sport is boxing. (Boxing trainer) Emanuel Stewart says when we get close to beating someone, they’re not close to beating them, they’re just not good enough. I love Oklahoma City, but they are too young, they are not deep enough to beat the Lakers.”
Webber on favoring the Thunder to beat the Lakers in Game #3 of the series: “Oklahoma is going to win this game and maybe win it convincingly. That crowd is going to be crazy. During the regular season Oklahoma City gave it to the Lakers. The Lakers are one of the best teams in the league, but they are going to lose one game in the series and tonight’s the night.”
Smith on the Lakers needing to win Game #3 against OKC: “The Lakers have given me no indication that they are different than last year. Tonight is the indication that you win this and go up 3-0, we are not the team who let the Rockets stay in, we are not the tem who you said disrespected the game and then finally won the championship. We are a team on a mission to shut people down. This is the litmus test on if the Lakers are still ‘Hollywood.’”
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Miller on a shot taken by Bulls center Joakim Noah from Cavs center Shaquille O’Neal: “If this was boxing that might be an eight-count.”
Cavs forward LeBron James on the talking between himself and the Bulls during Game #2: “For the most part, it wasn’t wolfing on a disrespectful level. It was enough to keep me going. All the great competitors try to find their edge, do anything to feel that fire just a little bit more and that’s what happened in Game #2.”
Miller on the Chicago home crowd not intensely booing impending free agent LeBron James in case he considers Chicago this summer: “(The Chicago crowd) are tempering their booing a little bit. They don’t want to go full court press booing in case they get him, is that it?”
Albert: “You have studied elements of booing, I see.”
Miller on a pass by Cavs guard Mo Williams to forward LeBron James: “On the night of the NFL Draft, if you’re looking for a quarterback…if I’m the St. Louis Rams, I’m calling Mo Williams. A nice finish by LeBron James, but a better outlet pass by Mo Williams. Sam Bradford who?”
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Game 2: Oklahoma City Thunder (101) @ L.A. Lakers (96) – Lakers lead the series 2-1.
Announcers: Dick Stockton and Mike Fratello with Marty Snider reporting
Collins on his belief that the Thunder will not get discouraged by the Lakers’ 10-0 start to the game: “The one thing I give this Oklahoma City team a lot of credit for, they are young but they are not immature. They are fighting through a lot of times the Lakers will come out and put this kind of run on you and discourage you. I don’t see Oklahoma City getting discouraged, I think they will hang in there and play tough. (Their resiliency) is a big part from their coach, that is what he has preached and that is who they are.”
TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed NBA Commissioner David Stern who was in attendance at the Lakers/Thunder game.
Stern on the Oklahoma City Thunder and head coach Scott Brooks, who was awarded ‘Coach of the Year last night:’ “It’s a very young team and he’s kept them focused and calm and has gotten them to buy into the program that we’re all going to get better. Not only Scott (Brooks), but (Sam) Presti, Clay Bennett, they are sticking with the plan.”
Stern on why the NBA supported Oklahoma City getting a franchise: “We had to the opportunity to see what they did for the Hornets. Oklahoma City, we all know they felt enormous pain of their own, and they stepped up and took care of their friends from Louisiana at a time of great pain for them. It was so good here because of the community that we began to listen carefully.”
Stern on his impressions of the early part of the game: “I thought it was over, 10-0, but then I forgot, wait a second, this is the NBA. All of a sudden either team can shoot. That’s why we’re playing the game, there is a lot of talent on both of these squads, and Oklahoma City is a little young but it’s very exciting.”
Collins on the value that the rebounding of Thunder forward Kevin Durant brings: “The reason it’s so important for (Kevin) Durant to be a great rebounder, when he rebounds the ball he’s such a good ball handler that he’s turning and automatically it’s a fast break. Everything he’s done has been in a half court against Ron Artest that takes its toll. He’s so excited to get out and run that basketball (tonight) I love that he’s rebounding and pushing the ball.”
TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Lakers guard Derek Fisher at halftime.
Fisher on how he felt playing in the rowdy Ford Center for the franchise’s first home playoff game in history: “After 14 years in this league and four championships, this is what gets the blood boiling right here. This is a fun game to play in. You can’t ask for anything more as an athlete, as a basketball player, to come into this environment and want to compete and want to perform.”
Fisher on whether Lakers guard Kobe Bryant’s offensive takeover was by design: “(By) his own intelligent design. That’s what the design was. When he makes his mind up that he wants to attack and be aggressive, he’s going to do it. It’s our job to support him when he kicks it out, make shots, be physical, play hard and do the little things that we’ve got to do.”
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Johnson, Barkley, Smith and Webber
Barkley on the experience of playing in a intense environment like the Ford Center in Game #3: “That’s an exciting environment, when you go on the road and it’s rowdy. You saw the difference between the Lakers and the Cavaliers. They Lakers came out, they’re a champion, they’re up 2-0 and said, ‘we’ve got to match their intensity. If we get off to a good start we’ll be in good shape.’ The Cavaliers came out like we’re going to win the series at some point. They come out lackadaisical and played uphill all night. This is what a championship team does, they are going to be pumped, the crowd is going to be going nuts and now the game is in their hands.”
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Collins on the resiliency of the Thunder: “What can I tell you about this Thunder team? Resilient, relentless, this young team, you talk about heart. The Lakers keep pushing them away and they keep coming back. The Lakers have to be looking over their shoulder saying, ‘who are these guys?’”
Collins on how Lakers guard Derek Fisher is getting help defending Thunder guard Russell Westbrook: “When (Derek) Fisher is playing (Russell) Westbrook, Westbrook obviously has the young legs and speed on Fisher. Fisher, in a lot of situations, is doing team-wise what Phil Jackson wants him to do to influence Westbrook to go to an area where the Lakers’ big men can come over and force a very difficult shot. That’s why you’re seeing a lot of communication between Fisher and the big men of the Lakers. They have to have (Fisher’s) back if he’s going to do what he’s supposed to. (Pau) Gasol, (Andrew) Bynum and these guys have to give him help at the rim.”
TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Thunder coach Scott Brooks after the third quarter.
Brooks on the Thunder’s comeback in the third quarter: “I thought we played the last six minutes defensive basketball. That’s what it takes to beat one of the best teams in basketball. We made them miss shots.”
Brooks on Thunder forward Kevin Durant’s contribution to the game: “I would like him to make shots, but more importantly, he just needs to continue to make winning basketball plays. Tonight he’s getting rebounds for us. His shot’s going to fall. I believe in him, I believe in what he’s done all year. I’m looking forward to the fourth quarter.”
Collins on how the Thunder should respond to their win against the Lakers in Game #3: “If I’m Oklahoma City right now I’m getting my guys together, and I’m saying, ‘we’re young, but we don’t want to make this an accident. So we walk off the floor, act like we thought this was going to happen. Let’s not get too excited. We’ve got a chance to get a 2-2 (series tie), you know you’re going to back to L.A. for a Game #5 now, and you want to be 2-2, not 3-1.”
Collins on the impact the first two games in Los Angeles had on the Thunder team: “The games (Oklahoma City) played in L.A., although they lost, they came back a better team here tonight. To fight through this start was pretty amazing.”
TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Thunder forward Kevin Durant and guard Russell Westbrook.
Durant on his slow offensive start to the game and how he tried to adjust his game: “I just wanted to play hard. I was down on myself after the first quarter, getting two fouls and going zero for four. But I kept at it, my teammates kept encouraging me and I just tried to do other things, play defense and get rebounds. It was a good win for us.”
Westbrook on the home crowd: “They were great. They’ve been great all year long, I’m thankful for them. As long as they stay with us we’re going to keep fighting for them.”
Westbrook on what gives him confidence going into Game #4 against the Lakers: “How competitive we are. Kevin (Durant) came out a little slow, but we had other guys step up, so that’s improvement. I feel confident in the next game.”
Durant on how he was effective guarding Lakers guard Kobe Bryant: “I just tried to make it tough for him, use my limb trying to block some of his shots and my teammates did a great job of helping. It’s not all me.”
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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai
Johnson, Barkley, Smith and Webber
Webber on OKC winning Game #3 against the Lakers: “This is one of the best parts of basketball. I remember being in Sacramento and it feeling like a college atmosphere. I’m really happy for Oklahoma City, their future is bright. That energy there, people have been waiting for such a long time. I know the city is really happy right now.”
Barkley on OKC forward Kevin Durant: “Kevin Durant was really impressive to me because of 19 rebounds. We talk about the reason he is a star. Some nights you don’t make shots. That is what separates him from some young players in this game because some nights you just can’t make shots but he found a way to help his team win.”
Smith on OKC forward Kevin Durant’s future: “This is why arguable I believe that in three years Kevin Durant will be the best player in basketball.”
Barkley: “LeBron James is rolling over in his grave. LeBron James is and will be the next best basketball player in the world.”
Smith on Cavaliers forward LeBron James’ future: “LeBron is a better physical specimen right now for sure, better skilled player right now for sure. But in three years, his improvement will surpass it because he will do other things in the game to help his team win.”
Webber: “In three years, LeBron will be trying to get a triple-double every game.”
Webber on OKC guard James Harden’s old man game: “James Harden has old man game because when he gets older he will still play the same way.”
TNT’s David Aldridge interviews Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose after the game
Rose describing the fourth quarter match up with LeBron James: “I loved it. That was my chance to go at him for once. If anything, it was a good effort tonight. We tried to loosen up on our turnovers and just play ball and play hard the whole night. That was what we needed, play up-tempo ball so we can run.”
Rose on teammate Kirk Hinrich: “I tell him to shoot the ball, I don’t care if you hit or not. Just shoot so you can be a threat out there.”
Rose on focusing on the game after the death of his uncle: “It is tough, man. While I’m out here these three hours, you don’t think about anything but basketball. My teammates are great and my family is very supportive. I’ll think about that later. Right now I’m thinking about the playoffs.”
Barkly on Phoenix Suns General Manager Steve Kerr: “I have to give somebody some credit. Steve Kerr has turned that franchise around. He hung in there with Amare Stoudemire, the (Robin) Lopez kid is playing well. He traded for Jason Richardson. They are playing terrific basketball. Cleary they have Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. They are going to be a dangerous opponent in the next round.”