Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, March 6, 2014: Lakers lose historically; Spurs put out the Heat


Yeah…an ass whuppin’ it was.

There is absolutely no need to comment. My goodness.

TNT’s NBA coverage continues Thursday, March 13, at 7 p.m. ET with doubleheader action featuring the Houston Rockets @ Chicago Bulls followed by the Los Angeles Lakers @ Oklahoma City Thunder at 9:30 p.m.


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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by
Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Grant Hill

Hill on [Heat forward] LeBron James’ 61-point night earlier this week: “He has become that kind of guy that can go off and have big nights. He enjoys passing and facilitating, but when he gets it going there is no one that can stop him.”


Smith on the Miami Heat’s increasing intensity as they head towards the playoffs: “This is the time of year when LeBron and the Heat start to move the motor up. They’re going for [the top seed]. I don’t think they were going for it earlier in the year. They were just playing hard basketball, but now that they see it’s within reach, they could possibly get the best record [in the Eastern Conference].”


Barkley on where the Indiana Pacers stand in the Eastern Conference: “This thing is going to come down to the wire. The Indiana Pacers made a big mistake [this season] being concerned about home court advantage. If you’re going to win the Championship, you’re going to have to win on the road. [The Pacers] have to start playing better, interject [Pacers center] Andrew Bynum and [Pacers guard] Evan Turner in some capacity and get back to playing Pacers basketball.”


Barkley on his disappointment with Pacers forward Paul George stating his interest in being mentored by LeBron James: “Paul George, I like you. You’re a great player, but you can’t say you want to be mentored by LeBron James. That’s wrong. I love Michael Jordan like a brother, but I would never ask [Jordan] for advice on how to beat him. Same with Larry Bird. I admire and respect him, so I would never ask him for advice. You should want to beat your friends more than anybody.”


Hill on the tendency to underestimate the Spurs: “We keep underestimating this team. Every year you think their run is over, and last year they got to The Finals. Now they have everybody healthy and the playoffs are around the corner.”


Barkley on the best teams in the Western Conference: “The two best teams in the Western conference are the Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder…in that order.”

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Miami Heat (87) at San Antonio Spurs (111)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Greg Anthony (analyst) with Craig Sager (reporter)


Anthony on Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard: “He is the only next-level athletic player [the Spurs] have that gives them a chance to play out of space. He’ll be important for them when matching up with [LeBron] James.”  
Anthony on the efficiency of the Spurs offense: “It’s a treat to watch San Antonio offensively. They play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”


Anthony on how this year’s Spurs team compares to last season’s group: “[Spurs head coach Gregg] Popovich feels like this is a better basketball team. They’re just getting back in terms of continuity and health, but he really likes this group.”


Anthony on the Heat’s ability to get to the basket: “The ability to get to the cup, in terms of the penetration by [Heat guard] Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, is what separates the Heat from a lot of other teams.”


Anthony on Spurs veteran Tim Duncan: “Tim Duncan looks terrific physically. His energy is as good as you could imagine for a guy at this stage of his career.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, Smith, Hill


Hill on Spurs point guard Tony Paker: “Historically, Tony Parker has been one of the top players for scoring in the paint. His penetration really ignites their offense.”


Barkley on where the Spurs stand in the Western Conference: “They are the third best team in the Western Conference. If they get a bad first round matchup [in the playoffs], like the Houston Rockets or the Golden State Warriors, they’re going to lose in the first round.”

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Anthony on the importance of having a pair of great leaders on a team: “The Spurs have [Tony] Parker and [Tim] Duncan and the Heat have [LeBron] James and [Dwyane] Wade. When you have two great players it makes the game so much easier for everyone else, especially when those great players are unselfish.”


Anthony on Heat forward Chris Bosh: “Sometimes you forget how great of a shooter Chris Bosh is.”


Anthony on Spurs point guard Patty Mills’ improved play: “He can score the basketball. His minutes have gone up because of injuries, but also because [Spurs head coach] Popovich trusts him more as a basketball player.”


Anthony on the Spurs taking great shots: “They live by turning a good shot into a great shot, something more teams should try to implement. They are not a team that looks to isolate the basketball.”


Anthony on the importance of Kawhi Leonard to the Spurs: “There is no one player who is going to stop [Heat forward] LeBron James, but Leonard gives you the ability to at least make LeBron have to work over the course of the game to get everything that he earned. That’s vital for the Spurs. [Leonard] is their most important player. They’ve been pretty successful without [Tim] Duncan, [Tony] Parker or [Spurs shooting guard Manu] Ginobili, but they’ve struggled without Leonard. He gives them that athleticism and defensive minded toughness.”


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Los Angeles Clippers (142) at Los Angeles Lakers (94)
Marv Albert (play-by-play), Reggie Miller and Steve Kerr (analysts) with Ric Bucher (reporter)

Kerr on the Lakers’ Pau Gasol: “Pau Gasol has a lot of basketball left in him. There was a lot of talk whether he would be moved at the trade deadline; he is a free agent at the end of the season. [Gasol’s] got a few really good years left, but he may need a change of scenery. This has been a tough couple of seasons for Gasol here [in Los Angeles].”


Kerr on Clippers point guard Chris Paul’s return from injury: “[The return of Paul’s shooting ability] is a good sign for the Clippers. He has struggled to get his shot back since his return from injury. The Clippers are a much better team when Paul is aggressive offensively.”


Miller on Clippers small forward Danny Granger: “He’s really going to help this ball club out. Not only being an experienced veteran, but [because of] his ability to shoot the basketball at 6’9.” The three-point shot has really been the only thing missing from this Clippers team.”


Kerr on the unraveling of the Lakers: “It’s amazing how quickly things can slip away from you in this league. One year ago the Lakers got [injured Lakers point guard Steve] Nash, [Houston Rockets center] Dwight Howard and they’re thinking Championship. Now it’s all just falling apart, and it’s onto the next phase. It’s going to be a few years before they can get back to at least a respectable level.”


Miller on injured Lakers point guard Steve Nash: “Once again, father time is showing us that he is still undefeated. I don’t care how well conditioned you are, the older you get it’s that much tougher to play at such a high level. [Nash] is a two-time MVP and one of the most well-conditioned athletes in our game. One little thing and you’re gone.”
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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, Smith, Hill


Barkley on Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin: “The best thing that happened to [the Clippers] was Chris Paul getting hurt. It forced Blake Griffin to be aggressive. He has to dominate his position every night…that’s what a star does.”
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Miller on whether or not the current Lakers roster is motivated to play with so many stars injured: “You’re auditioning. If not to stay here with the Lakers, there are 29 other teams watching you [take advantage of] an opportunity. A lot of these guys would be 11th and 12th men or behind the bench in suits and wouldn’t be playing on other teams. You’ve been given an opportunity to play major minutes for one of the historic franchises in the NBA. You should care.”


Kerr on the struggles of the Lakers: “This is a team that is demoralized. Sometimes you see this in March when a season has already been decided; the care factor goes out the window.”


Kerr on Clippers backup point guard Darren Collison: “He’s best suited in the role he’s in now: a backup, occasional starter. He’s just not a pure point guard. He’s a guard that thinks shot first. That’s fine, if he’s in the role he’s in now.”


Kerr on the potential strength of the Western Conference postseason matchups: “You can go up and down the West and look at the matchups. Right now Memphis wouldn’t even be in and that’s a scary team. I don’t think anybody wants to play them. [Then there’s] Phoenix, playing at such a high level. Every first round matchup would be competitive and fun to watch.”


Miller on the Clippers without point guard Chris Paul: “[The Clippers] are not beating the Thunder or the Spurs [in the postseason] without a healthy Chris Paul. Going against [Spurs point guard] Tony Parker and [Thunder point guard] Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul has to be engaged, focused and healthy to win those series.”


Miller on how the Lakers should react to this historic loss: “This is one of those tapes that if you’re [Lakers head coach Mike] D’Antoni, you put it in a shredder and let it go. Just move on.”
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Inside the NBA presented by Kia
Johnson, Barkley, Smith, Hill


Barkley on the Spurs chances in the playoffs: “The Spurs aren’t going to be able to last three rounds deep into the playoffs. Their older players will not hold up. They’re a great organization and have the best coach in the NBA, but every series is going to be very difficult for them.”


Smith on the Miami Heat heading into the postseason: “Whatever happens in the regular season for the Miami Heat, they don’t worry because no one has proven that they can beat them over a 10-day stretch. They’re right where they need to be: in a top spot, two games out, comfortable playing on the road and at home and they have one thing that everyone else doesn’t have…the atomic bomb. They have LeBron James, and at any time it could detonate and blow up the whole city.”


Barkley on whether the Heat should be worried about the Pacers: “You better be worried about Indiana. They’re not going anywhere. They’re going to be [in the Eastern Conference Finals]. There’s no one else in the conversation in the Eastern Conference. Those two teams are going to have a knock down, drag out fight.”


Barkley on Pacers forward Paul George: “Paul George needs to learn how to be a superstar. He’s too casual with the ball.”


Hill on the Thunder adjusting to point guard Russell Westbrook’s return from injury: “The chemistry is off a little bit, and that’s to be expected. They’re used to playing without Russell Westbrook, but they need him in order to win a championship. It’s going to take some time to get more comfortable with [Westbrook] in the lineup.”


Barkley on potential playoff matchups in the Western Conference: “If I’m at the top of the Western Conference, I would rather play Phoenix than Memphis. Phoenix is a jump shooting team. You can play defense against jump shooters, but when you’ve got big [Grizzlies center Marc] Gasol and [Grizzlies forward] Zach Randolph down there…they’re a handful for anybody.”

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