NBA TV to Present On a Mission: Indiana Pacers on Friday, Jan. 17 at 5:30 p.m. ET

NBA-TV_2004_IDSpecial Program Goes Behind the Scenes with the Team Including a Look at the Growing Pacers-Heat Rivalry

The Indiana Pacers fell just one win short of reaching The Finals last year; now, currently with the best record in the league, many believe they are destined for a return to the Eastern Conference Finals and perhaps more this season. NBA TV goes behind the scenes with the Pacers to see what is fueling them this season with a special program — On a Mission: Indiana Pacers — airing Friday, Jan. 17, at 5:30 p.m. ET.

In this 30-minute NBA TV Originals special, Hall of Famer and TNT NBA analyst Reggie Miller narrates the story of his former team, providing a unique perspective on what is driving them. Sometimes overlooked, the Pacers have proven to be a special blend of President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird, a Hoosier-state icon, and Head Coach Frank Vogel, a New Jersey native and former video coordinator who fuels the team’s underdog approach.

“I really haven’t won anything for Indiana,” says Bird. “I couldn’t win in high school. I couldn’t win in college. I’d like to see this franchise make the step necessary to get back and do whatever they can to win a championship and my life would then be fulfilled. If they can win it, my life would be fulfilled, because I did something for Indiana.”

NBA TV focuses on each of the key team members including Paul George, a 2013 All-Star who has elevated into the upper echelon of the NBA’s elite players. Joining him are fellow All-Stars Roy Hibbert and David West, as well as Lance Stephenson, a former second-round pick who has turned into a steady, key piece of the team.

NBA TV is part of NBA Digital, the NBA’s extensive cross-platform portfolio of digital assets jointly managed by the NBA and Turner Sports. This robust offering includes NBA.com, NBA LEAGUE PASS, NBA LEAGUE PASS Broadband, NBA Mobile, NBADLEAGUE.com and WNBA.com.

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Fans Select Boston Celtics at Miami Heat as NBA TV’s NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint Telecast Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 7:30 p.m. ET

NBA-TV_2004_IDNBA TV’s upcoming NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint will feature the Boston Celtics visiting the Miami Heat on Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 7:30 p.m. ET. The NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint game selection was based on fan voting via NBA.com, the NBA Facebook page, NBA TV’s Facebook page, Yahoo.com, NBA.com mobile web, mobile NBA Game Time App, the NBA Game Time from Sprint App and Twitter.

NBA Fan Night host Ernie Johnson and analysts Chris Webber and Greg Anthony will offer analysis during the AutoTrader.com Pregame Show starting at 7 p.m. Johnson, Webber and Anthony will also provide updates at times during the game telecast, along with halftime and NBA GameTime presented by Kia post-game coverage.

Fan voting for the next NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint telecast – Tuesday, Jan. 28 – will be conducted from Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 8 a.m. through Thursday, Jan. 23, at midnight. Potential game telecasts:

  • New Orleans Pelicans at Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Orlando Magic at Detroit Pistons
  • Boston Celtics at New York Knicks
  • San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets

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Notes from NBA TV’s NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint – Tuesday, January 14, 2014

NBA-TV_2004_IDNotes from NBA TV’s NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint – Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sacramento Kings (92) at Indiana Pacers (116)

Voting is open for next week’s game, via NBA.com, the NBA Facebook page, NBA TV’s Facebook page, Yahoo.comNBA.com mobile web, mobile NBA Game Time App, the NBA Game Time from Sprint App, and Twitter.

Fans can select between the following games:

·         Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets

·         Boston Celtics at Miami Heat

·         Sacramento Kings at New Orleans Pelicans

·         Minnesota Timberwolves at Utah Jazz

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AutoTrader.com Pregame Show

Ernie Johnson, Greg Anthony and Chris Webber

Webber on DeMarcus Cousins:“Without even thinking about it, he’s the best big man in the league, bar none.”

Anthony on Isiah Thomas and Cousins: “One of the advantages they have is those two guys have great chemistry together out on the floor.”

Webber on Cousins: “I’ve been hearing all this Paul George MVP [talk], and the numbers of Cousins are better than his — not that that makes you MVP – because [George is] helping his team win and that makes him one.  It just shows you how good you are if you’re Cousins, and if you’re not on a good team, sometimes it doesn’t matter.”

Anthony on the Indiana Pacers’ defense: “They’re the best individual defensive team in the NBA and that’s where Paul George is, along with Roy Hibbert; those guys have separated themselves because they embrace it. There are good defensive players, but there aren’t many guys at the level of a Paul George or Roy Hibbert who make that the priority.”

 

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Sprint Halftime Report

Johnson, Anthony and Webber

Webber on Lance Stephenson: “You have to love this guy, especially if you’ve seen his development…he’s a stat stuffer…he’s become, really, their point guard, to me, especially when Paul George has to get in his rhythm. You just have to love how he’s controlled the pace, and he’s kept guys involved.”

Anthony on Stephenson: “He competes. I think that’s one of the things that’s been most impressive for me. Early on in his career, a lot of people would’ve thought he wouldn’t have made it. You also have to give the Pacers a lot of credit for having the patience…they took the time to let this young man develop.”

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NBA GameTime presented by Kia

Johnson, Anthony and Webber

Postgame interview with Lance Stephenson

Stephenson on the Pacers’ defense being a point of pride: “We try to play great defense and we try and lockdown every team we play against. We watch film of every team we’re playing against, so we just try to lock them up in what they like to do and make sure they don’t do it.”

Stephenson on his personal improvement: “Last year I felt like I needed to get a little bit better and be that ‘X factor’ and bring something to the table every night and be consistent. I just like to be that energy guy, make something happen.”

Stephenson on what it would mean for him to be an All-Star this season: “It would mean a lot, but my focus is making sure my teammates are happy and winning games every night. If it happens it happens. I’m not really worried about All-Star. I’m just playing hard every night, bringing something to the table.”

Anthony on the Pacers: “They have basketball players. We talk about this all the time. There’s such a difference between a basketball talent and a basketball player. Sacramento has a lot of basketball talent, and they’re trying to learn how to play as a team.”

Webber on the New York Knicks: “The Knicks, if they make it into the playoffs…they would be a team — if I am Indiana, if I am the Heat, if I’m other teams — I can beat them, but I don’t know if I really want to play them because they believe they can win…they have good home court advantage, and you never know what could happen.”

ESPN Men’s College Hoops Roundup: NBA Crossover; Weekend Schedule; Katz Korner & more…

espn-logoNBA & College Hoops Crossover: Bilas Joins NBA Booth for Clippers-Knicks, Van Gundy to Call North Carolina at Virginia

Legler to Call Men’s College Hoops Game: La Salle vs. Temple Saturday

ESPN’s basketball analysts Jay Bilas and Jeff Van Gundy will join forces next week as they share their respective booth space. The unique crossover will begin on Friday, Jan. 17, when college basketball and NBA draft analyst Bilas will join the ESPN NBA team of Mike Breen, Van Gundy and Lisa Salters to provide commentary as the New York Knicks host the Los Angeles Clippers at 7 p.m. ET. Van Gundy will crossover and team with Bilas, play-by-play veteran Sean McDonough and reporter Jeannine Edwards for ESPN’s Big Monday Presented by Verizon contest featuring North Carolina at Virginia at 7 p.m.

“Jeff and Jay are two of the best in the business at delivering direct and knowledgeable analysis that entertains fans. We’ve recognized an on-air chemistry between them during their NBA Draft assignments and have been looking for an opportunity to have them work games together in their respective sports,” said Mark Gross, ESPN senior vice president & executive producer. “One thing a three-person combo of Jeff and Jay with their traditional on-air partners of Mike Breen and Sean McDonough will not be is boring or un-informative.”

Bilas will travel from New York City to the first week of ESPN College GameDay Covered by State Farm – the eight-week Saturday morning and evening college basketball program originating from the site of ESPN’s Saturday Primetime Presented by DIRECTV telecast. The first of the season is a special split-site show that will air live from the historic Palestra in Philadelphia at 10 a.m. ET on ESPNU and continues at 11 a.m. on ESPN. The 8 p.m. show will caravan to the site of the Saturday Primetime game – No. 18 Louisville at Connecticut at 9 p.m. on ESPN. Bilas is joined on GameDay by host Rece Davis and analysts Digger Phelps and Jalen Rose.

In addition to the Bilas and Van Gundy crossover, NBA analyst and La Salle legend Tim Legler will join John Saunders on the call of the La Salle vs. Temple men’s college hoops game at noon on ESPN2. Legler will also join the GameDay crew for a segment featuring the Philadelphia Big 5 – an informal and historic league of five prestigious Philadelphia universities: La Salle, Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova. A member of La Salle’s Hall of Athletes, Legler played at the Palestra venue from 1984-88, leading the team to a NCAA Championship berth his senior year. At the time, Legler played for current Temple head coach Fran Dunphy, who previously served as lead assistant coach at La Salle.

The Saturday college programming is part of ESPN’s “My Home Court” initiative – culminating a week-long celebration of college basketball’s greatest venues.

Date Time (ET) Game/Commentators Networks
Fri, Jan. 17 7 p.m. Los Angeles Clippers at New York Knicks Presented by State Farm

Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Jay Bilas & Lisa Salters

ESPN / WatchESPN
Sat, Jan. 18 10 a.m. College GameDay Covered by State Farm

Rece Davis, Bilas, Digger Phelps & Jalen Rose

ESPNU / ESPN / WatchESPN
  Noon Temple vs. La Salle

John Saunders & Tim Legler

ESPN / WatchESPN
Mon, Jan. 20 7 p.m. Big Monday Presented by Verizon: North Carolina at Virginia

Sean McDonough, Bilas, Van Gundy & Jeannine Edwards

ESPN / WatchESPN

 

To Tweet this Release: http://es.pn/1a2MK63

Men’s College Hoops: Three of Top Five in Action including No. 2 Syracuse against No. 22 Pitt, No. 25 Oklahoma at No. 12 Baylor

contact: [email protected]

This week’s men’s college basketball schedule will include three of the top five ranked teams on Saturday, Jan. 18, and two matchups between ranked teams. Highlights:

·         ESPN will televise five games on Saturday, Jan. 18, including three with ranked teams beginning at 4 p.m. with No. 22 Pitt at No. 2 Syracuse at 4 p.m. on ESPN. Syracuse and Pitt, former foes in the BIG EAST conference prior to beginning play as members of the ACC this season, are currently the top two teams in the conference. The day will close with No. 3 Wisconsin against Michigan in a Big Ten showdown at 6 p.m. and No. 18 Louisville at Connecticut in the Saturday Primetime telecast at 9 p.m.

·         Two of ESPN2’s three games on Saturday, Jan. 18, will include a ranked team beginning with No. 25 Oklahoma at No. 12 Baylor at 2 p.m. Oklahoma is coming off a victory over previously unbeaten Iowa State on January 11 while Baylor’s only two losses on the season have been to undefeated Syracuse and one-loss Iowa State. The following matchups at 4 p.m. will showcase undefeated No. 5 Wichita State against Indiana State.

The schedule is also highlighted by the conclusion of the week-long “My Home Court” (Twitter #MyHomeCourt) initiative celebrating some of the best and most historic venues in the sport. Telecasts from Monday, Jan. 13, to Saturday, Jan. 18, feature vignettes and discussion about the venue. Topics include the arena’s history, notable moments, great athletes and coaches who appeared there, a look at the past and present, records made and broken in the facility, best and most unique seats in the building, and notable and passionate team fans who attend games.

Thu, Jan 16 7 p.m. Connecticut at No. 17 Memphis
Dave O’Brien & Jay Bilas
ESPN
  Missouri at Vanderbilt
Rece Davis & Bob Knight
ESPN2
  Kennesaw State at Lipscomb ESPN3
  USC Upstate at Florida Gulf Coast ESPN3
  Belmont at Eastern Kentucky
Rich Hollenberg & Adrian Branch
ESPNU
  8:30 p.m. Niagara at Fairfield
Doug Sherman & Rob Kennedy
ESPN3
  8:45 p.m. Lamar at New Orleans ESPN3
  9 p.m. No. 11 Ohio State at Minnesota
Joe Tessitore & Sean Farnham
ESPN2
  BYU at San Francisco
Roxy Bernstein & Corey Williams
ESPNU
  10 p.m. Cal-State Fullerton at UC Irvine ESPN3
  11 p.m. Long Beach State at UC Santa Barbara
Kanoa Leahey & Bill Herenda
ESPNU
Fri, Jan 17 7 p.m. Wisconsin-Green Bay at Wright State
Jim Barbar & Malcolm Huckaby
ESPNU
  9 p.m. Canisius at Iona
Doug Sherman & Tim McCormick
ESPNU
Sat, Jan 18 11 a.m. Toledo at Akron
Dan Gutowsky & Sean Harrington
ESPNU
  Noon Boston College at North Carolina
Carter Blackburn & Sean Farnham
ESPN
  Temple at LaSalle
John Saunders & Tim Legler
ESPN2
  SMU at UCF
Mike Patrick & TBD
ESPNEWS
  1 p.m. Missouri State at Northern Iowa
Mitch Holthus & Tim Welsh
ESPNU
  2 p.m. Alabama at Missouri
Mark Jones & Jimmy Dykes
ESPN
  No. 25 Oklahoma at No. 11 Baylor
Jon Sciambi & Fran Fraschilla
ESPN2
  3 p.m. Dayton at Richmond
Bob Picozzi & Bob Valvano
ESPNU
  4 p.m. No. 22 Pittsburgh at No. 2 Syracuse
Dave O’Brien & Doris Burke
ESPN
  Indiana State at No. 5 Wichita State
Rich Hollenberg, Mark Adams & Len Elmore
ESPN2
  Longwood at Radford ESPN3
  Houston Baptist at McNeese State ESPN3
  5 p.m. No. 19 Cincinnati at USF
Adam Amin & Brooke Weisbrod
ESPNU
  Mercer at Lipscomb ESPN3
  6 p.m. Michigan at No. 3 Wisconsin
ESPN: Bob Wischusen & Dan Dakich
Radio: Marc Kestecher & Will Perdue
ESPN & ESPN Radio
  7 p.m. Penn State at Purdue
Mike Couzens & Darrin Horn
ESPNU
  New Mexico at Fresno State
Trey Bender & Bill Herenda
ESPN3
  Utah State at Boise State
Peter Young & Blaine Fowler
ESPN3
  7:30 p.m. East Tennessee State at Florida Gulf Coast ESPN3
  9 p.m. No. 18 Louisville at Connecticut
Dan Shulman, Dick Vitale & Shannon Spake
ESPN
  Vanderbilt at LSU
Tom Hart & Jon Sundvold
ESPNU
  11 p.m. Washington at Stanford
Beth Mowins & Jon Crispin
ESPNU
Sun, Jan 19 6 p.m. Virginia Tech at Notre Dame
Carter Blackburn, Jay Williams & Allison Williams
ESPNU
  Hofstra at SMU ESPN3
  8 p.m. Oregon at Oregon State
Roxy Bernstein & Corey Williams
ESPNU

To Tweet this release: http://es.pn/1a2MqUR

Season Debut of Katz Korner Tuesday on ESPNU

Weekly Show Analyzes the On-Going College Basketball Season

The second season of ESPNU’s weekly Katz Korner men’s college basketball show will make its season debut Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 1 p.m. ET. The three-hour program hosted by veteran ESPN basketball reporter Andy Katz provides an all-encompassing look at the college basketball landscape. The ESPNU show will air every Tuesday at 1 p.m. throughout the college basketball season.

Each week, Katz will interview coaches and players of various college basketball programs. Highlighting Tuesday’s season premiere is a sit-down with North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams. The Tar Heels are 10-6 on the season, but 0-3 in ACC play.

Other weekly elements include:

·         Journey to the Tourney: Bracketologist Joe Lunardi elaborates on his NCAA Tournament projection and  provides a report on mid-major programs

·         Freshmen Focus: Examination on the nation’s top freshmen

·         Coaches’ Film: ESPNU’s college basketball analysts join Katz to evaluate game tapes

·         Wooden Award: An update on the top players around the nation who are vying for the College Basketball Player of the Year award

·         Roundtable Discussion: A dialogue on hot-button topics

ESPNU college basketball analysts scheduled to join Katz Korner this season include Bruce Pearl, Adrian Branch, Tim Welsh, Sean Farnham, Dino Gaudio, Paul Biancardi, Darrin Horn and LaPhonso Ellis. ESPN college basketball reporter Jeff Goodman will also join the program during the year.

Katz joined ESPN.com in 1999 as the national college basketball writer. While still contributing regularly for ESPN.com, his role on-air has continued to grow over the last 14 years which now includes hosting Katz Korner, and a college basketball podcast with analyst Seth Greenberg among other specials. Occasionally, Katz hosts ESPN’s award-winning Outside the Lines. Additionally, he provides analysis and reports from various college campuses and, every March, the White House.

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Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, January 9, 2014

nba-on-tntTNT’s NBA coverage continues Thursday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m. ET with doubleheader action featuring the New York Knicks @ Indiana Pacers followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder @ Houston Rockets at 9:30 p.m.

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com
Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith

Barkley on injured Knicks center Tyson Chandler: “He’s one of the most underrated players. He’s one of my favorite players in the NBA. He has to get every rebound and has to play defense for everybody else. Without him, [the Knicks] are a no-defense, jump-shooting team.”

Barkley on the Knicks: “The Knicks aren’t a good team.”

Johnson: “Are they getting better?”

Barkley: “They can only get so good.”

Barkley on Knicks’ J.R. Smith: “He would drive Dr. Phil nuts.”

O’Neal on J.R. Smith: “Right now, J.R. Smith is an unmanageable character who isn’t putting in the work.”
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Miami Heat (92) at New York Knicks (102)
Marv Albert (play-by-play) and Steve Kerr (analyst) with Rachel Nichols (reporter)

Kerr on J.R. Smith: “He’s so talented and he’s had success in this league…but your career is fleeting. This is a brief moment in your life, maybe eight or 10 years if you’re lucky. You have to take advantage of it.”

Kerr on the possibility of free agent Andrew Bynum signing with the Heat: “I don’t think Miami wants Bynum. As talented as he is, he’s a tough guy to fit in and this team is a machine right now.”
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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Smith on LeBron James: “LeBron James always plays the game the right way.”

Barkley on the Knicks: “This is not a good mix of players on the Knicks. They don’t have any selfless players other than Tyson Chandler.”

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Kerr on the difference between the Knicks last season and this year: “They don’t have the same front court defense on the bench [like last season] nor the same leadership. I think it’s been really apparent…you’ve got to have those calming influences on your roster. If you look at their bench, there’s not much leadership there.”
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Oklahoma City Thunder (88) at Denver Nuggets (101)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Reggie Miller (analyst) with Craig Sager (reporter)

Miller on how Russell Westbrook’s injuries have helped elevate Reggie Jackson’s game: “You never want to say that an injury to a star player is a blessing in disguise…but the emergence of Reggie Jackson during the playoffs last year when Westbrook went down and this year [with injuries]…he has really improved his game at both ends of the floor. He has a chance to be the Sixth Man of the Year in this system.”

Miller on Kevin Durant: “Every single night, he faces a double and triple team. He’s always going to be guarded by the best perimeter player. The defenses are always going to be skewed his way. For him to average 30 points a game, in lieu of all that, shows you the greatness of Kevin Durant.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Barkley on the Nuggets offensive style: “They don’t have a [go-to player like] Kevin Durant or a LeBron so they have to play ‘helter skelter’ type basketball.”
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Miller on injured Thunder guard Russell Westbrook: “They are really missing [Russell] Westbrook on the floor to settle down their second unit.”

Miller on Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw: “Give credit to Brian Shaw and the Nuggets. When you define roles and tell guys exactly what you expect from them and how they perform. Shaw has had his team engaged on both ends of the floor.”
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Inside the NBA presented by Kia
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Barkley on Kevin Durant: “Kevin Durant is the second best basketball player in the world but he needs some help right now.”

Barkley on the Thunder: “They have to find a low-post scorer at some point. Durant and Westbrook can’t do it by themselves. They’ll win a lot of games but they won’t be a championship contender [without a low-post threat].”

Barkley on what Eric Bledsoe’s injury means to the Suns: “It means they’re done. Bledsoe and [Goran] Dragic are the reasons why the Phoenix Suns have been winning. Bledsoe was in the All-Star conversation this season.”

Smith on Andre Miller’s outburst on the bench directed at Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw: “When someone’s pride is hurt for the first time in this type of situation, guys act differently. They act out of character. When you don’t have something, you act out of character and when you’re losing something, you act out of character. It’s those who can remain the same in those two instances that shows a lot of fortitude. He wasn’t able to do that in that moment.”

O’Neal on J.R. Smith: “It seems to me that he doesn’t care. When you’re a winner and you want to play well and you want your team to play well, you have to act like you care. But with the way he’s been playing, it doesn’t seem like he cares. His numbers are down from last year. If he continues not to care, he won’t be around much longer.”

Barkley on Andrew Bynum going to the Cavaliers in the off-season: “I thought he made a stupid decision going to Cleveland because they were not going to win and he was not going to be motivated.”

Smith on Bynum: “When he is counted on, he doesn’t live up to the expectation…but when he’s a subplot, he becomes valuable.”

Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, December 26, 2013

nba-on-tntNotes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, December 26, 2013

TNT’s NBA coverage continues Thursday, Jan. 9, at 8 p.m. ET with doubleheader action featuring the Miami Heat @ New York Knicks followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder @ Denver Nuggets at 10:30 p.m.

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com
Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith

Smith on Rockets center Dwight Howard needing to show consistency: “He’s playing fantastic [now] but it has to be a continuation, it can’t be a 10-game stint.”

Barkley on teams taking hard fouls on Clippers forward Blake Griffin: “I like Blake as a player but he has to stop this…people are disrespecting him. They are just hitting him for the hell of it and at some point, he has to knock the hell out of someone.”

O’Neal on Griffin: “He’s a great player and knows he’s going to take a hard foul…on a break, when he knows he’s going to get a hard foul, he has to make sure…they feel it as well.”

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Memphis Grizzlies (92) at Houston Rockets (100)
Marv Albert (play-by-play) and Chris Webber (analyst) with Craig Sager (reporter)

Webber on the Grizzlies trying to define their new identity: “It’s really hard to define who the Grizzlies are. They have two big guys but they are playing finesse basketball…which is something you never thought you’d see Memphis do. So they’re trying to establish their new identity.”

Webber on Grizzlies center Zach Randolph: “You want Memphis to keep that grind mentality because they have one of the best grinders in the NBA in Zach Randolph.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Smith on the Grizzlies: “They have to get back to playing inside-out if they want to win.”

Barkley on the Rockets needing to get the ball inside to Dwight Howard: “Big guys don’t normally run the floor but if you get your big guys to run the floor, you have to reward them. Dwight is doing a fantastic job of getting up and down the floor; they’ve got to get him the ball.”

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Webber on Rockets centers Dwight Howard and Omer Asik: “[Asik is] an incredible player and to have him and Dwight together on the same team is something that most teams don’t have. They could have the best center in the league [Howard] and the best backup [Asik]. They could be a heck of a combination if they were to stay together.”

Webber on Randolph: “He is a guy you just trust in the paint.”

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Los Angeles Clippers (112) at Portland Trail Blazers (116) in OT
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Steve Kerr (analyst) with Lewis Johnson (reporter)

Kerr on the Trail Blazers: “They are the most efficient offense in the league.”

Kerr on Clippers’ Jamal Crawford: “He’s a natural scorer. He can score from deep or inside. That’s his mentality, to always attack. That’s why he’s suited to come off the bench.”

Kerr on Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan: “He’s taken a big leap this year in terms of his production and his defensive awareness. He has been fantastic for his team.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Barkley on the Clippers: “If the Clippers get into the open court, they are going to be successful. They struggle in the half-court because Chris Paul has to do so much.”

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Kerr on Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum: “He’s a tremendous all-around player. He’s a ball-mover on offense. The ball never sticks in his hand. But when he’s given the ball in a late game situation, he has the ability to break down the defense and create a shot for himself.”

Kerr on the Clippers: “It’s amazing what has happened with this Clippers franchise in the last few years. Between Blake Griffin and his spectacular dunks and Chris Paul and his guard play, they’ve become one of the marquee franchises in the NBA.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia
Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Barkley on the Blazers: “Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews are the two guys that make everything go [for the Blazers].”

Smith on the best team in the Western Conference: “Oklahoma City is playing the best but they are unproven. To me, San Antonio is the best [team].”

Barkley on Zach Randolph: “If you don’t like Z-Bo, you don’t like basketball.”

Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR

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Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, December 19, 2013

nba-on-tntTNT’s NBA coverage continues Thursday, December 26, at 8 p.m. ET with doubleheader action featuring the Memphis Grizzlies @ Houston Rockets followed by the Los Angeles Clippers @ Portland Trail Blazers at 10:30 p.m.

***CLIP OF THE NIGHT***

(Please click the text below to view)

Inside the NBA’s Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson join Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” to discuss the “controversy” surrounding last week’s Chariots of Backfire race

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com 

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith

Barkley on Kobe Bryant’s recent knee injury: “Kobe Bryant shouldn’t play any more this year. [The Lakers] should shut him down. He is never going to be the same again. There is no way you can blow out your achilles and come back and be a great player. He can be a good, solid player, but age has nothing to do with will power.”

Smith on Bryant: “When he left the game he was one of the premier ball handlers in the game. His ball handling ability allowed him to get to areas of the floor that his athleticism did not. When he came back, his ball handling wasn’t as sharp. What he’s missing now is more basketball practice time to get sharp again. That’s what’s going to hurt him more than anything.”

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Chicago Bulls (95) at Oklahoma City Thunder (107)

Marv Albert (play-by-play), Greg Anthony (analyst) with Craig Sager (reporter)

Anthony on Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook: “Russell Westbrook is relentless in everything he does on the basketball court. He’s the kind of guy who hates the other point guards in the league. He is focused on annihilating them, and he brings that kind of attitude to the court. It becomes contagious for their team.”

Anthony on Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha: “When you look at [the Thunder’s] starting five, one of the things that gives them such good rhythm offensively is they have two guys in Perkins and Sefolosha who don’t need the basketball to be affective. [Sefolosha] will knock down open shots and has a good basketball IQ offensively, but he understands his role is to go out and compete against the best offensive perimeter player of that opponent.”

Anthony on Kevin Durant: “He makes the game look so easy from an offensive standpoint…what a luxury to have if you’re a teammate of Kevin Durant.”

Anthony on Oklahoma City’s development of their young players: “Oklahoma City’s best players are so strong that it allows them to take the time to develop their guys. Their young players don’t come in with the pressure to perform and produce right away, so they can develop at their own rate. Credit [Thunder General Manager] Sam Presti, because he drafts players that fit the system and the Thunder’s style of play and not necessarily guys that are the most talented. That’s what they envisioned from [Thunder center] Steven Adams when they brought him in, a big, strong, physical guy who can consistently finish.”

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Sprint Halftime Report

Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith                                                                                     

O’Neal on which Chicago Bull needs to step up in Derrick Rose’s absence: “Usually when one or two of your guys goes down, the other guy has to step up. That guy has to be Carlos Boozer. He has to get more aggressive if the Bulls want to stay in the conversation.”

Barkley on the Chicago Bulls: “It’s hard to play when the season’s over already. The Bulls are not going to win. [Luol] Deng is a free agent, [Carlos] Boozer is a good player but he’s getting older and we don’t know how Derrick Rose is going to come back. They play hard, but the game is about talent. When you lose a MVP like Derrick Rose it’s very difficult to go out there every night and [feel like] you have a chance to win.”

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Anthony on the struggles of Carlos Boozer: “One of the reasons Carlos Boozer is struggling is he doesn’t have the same amount of space with which to operate. When you don’t have a guy like Derrick Rose out there it really makes it tough for you to get a rhythm when you’re playing in traffic.”

Anthony on Thunder head coach Scott Brooks: “We had a lot of wars against each other in college at Irvine. Scott was a really good basketball player, and has obviously turned out to be a really good coach when you think about how much this team has grown and you look at the development of Westbrook, Durant and Ibaka.”

Anthony on Durant: “He’s just unguardable. You typically don’t see guys that size with that kind of quickness and agility.”

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San Antonio Spurs (104) at Golden State Warriors (102)

Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Reggie Miller (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter)

Miller on Warriors shooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson: “You talk about the presence of Andre Iguodala on the floor, it’s such a luxury if you’re [Warriors Head Coach] Mark Jackson to have Curry and Thompson being able to come off screens via [David] Lee and [Andrew] Bogut. They’re your two best shooters on the team and possibly the NBA.”

Miller on Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s management of minutes for his top players throughout the season: “Coach Popovich is good at looking at the big picture. The big picture is for this team to be healthy, playing and clicking on all cylinders come April, May and hopefully June. I understand exactly what he’s doing.

Miller on the Spurs since their loss to the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals: “If you thought there was going to be a hangover after that Game 6 loss or Game 7, they’re really not focused in on what happened. You’re one free throw, one defensive rebound away from winning your fifth championship, but there’s no time to really hang your head. How about working harder to try and get back to that particular point?”

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Sprint Halftime Report

Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

O’Neal on Warriors forward David Lee: “This kid is just relentless. He needs to make the All-Star game again this year. He’s one of those superstars that you don’t have to call the play for. He just has all the intangibles.  I love this kid. He reminds me of Chris Webber. This guy is a true, bona fide superstar. He just does the simple things and I love him for that.”

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Miller on the Spurs without its big three: “Here’s the problem when you don’t have Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. You’re asking these guys that are role players and only play eight to ten minutes a game to be your closer in the last moments of a ball game. They have to be a little bit exhausted. They’re playing minutes they aren’t used to.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith

Barkley on the Warriors tendency to rely on shooting jumpers: “That Golden State team, they shoot way too many jumpers. They have to do a much better job of getting the job inside. I know the “Splash Brothers” are great shooters, but sometimes you have to be inside-outside, not just outside-outside.”

Barkley on the Warriors’ lack of defensive intensity: “Golden State plays pretty, they live by the jumper and when those jumpers go in it looks really good. But because they lack defensive intensity they’re not good at all. Everything looked good at the beginning of the season but this team is going to be up and down all season. They are going to make those jumpers but they’re not good enough defensively to be a contender.”

O’Neal on the youth of the Warriors: “They have to understand that as a young team you don’t get a lot of second chances, so you have to do everything right. You must beat the teams you’re supposed to beat, be above 500 on the road and be dominant at home. For [Head Coach] Mark Jackson to have to go at them and demand that players play a different way in the second half, it’s not going to work. If you look at the way Coach Popovich does it, he demands it from the beginning and they go out and do it.”

Notes from NBA TV Media Conference Call

NBA-TV_2004_IDNBA TV analysts Grant Hill and Dennis Scott discussed the NBA’s Christmas Day showcase, the network’s first season of NBA Inside Stuff — co-hosted by Hill — and a variety of NBA storylines during today’s media conference call. NBA TV will feature seven games from Monday, Dec. 23, through Thursday, Jan. 2, including NBA Fan Night presented by Sprint on New Year’s Eve.

Conference call participants:

Grant Hill, NBA TV analyst & co-host of NBA Inside Stuff

Dennis Scott, NBA TV analyst

Hill on the atmosphere of playing on Christmas Day: “I was fortunate to play on Christmas a few times, especially the second half of my career during my time at Phoenix and Los Angeles. It’s fun. You know everyone is watching at home and there is an excitement in the arena. As a player, whether you are on the road or at home, you enjoy it and look forward to it. The NBA has done a great job of marketing the holiday games. We [analysts] talk about the games and break it down, but ultimately we’re fans. We love good matchups and good basketball. So to have that opportunity to watch and to really be a fan, it couldn’t be any better on Christmas Day. We all look forward to watching.”

Scott on what makes the Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve games so special: “As a player, you know the whole world is watching. The Christmas and New Year’s Eve [games] have the spirit of happiness. You just opened a bunch of gifts, the kids are running around, maybe they’ve gotten a jersey or two from their favorite player and everyone is watching. So [all the players] try and put on their best performance.”

Hill on being a part of such a nostalgic show as NBA Inside Stuff: “I remember watching Inside Stuff when it first came out and I was in high school and then college. Then I got to the league and I was fortunate enough to be on the show. It was a great highlight for me. What Ahmad Rashad did along with Willow Bay and the various co-hosts, he made it his own. He was a great host and really dove into the stories of the players in our league. I remember learning a lot about guys I played against. It was a great show. It’s been missed and to be a part of it as one of the hosts is fun. It’s a side of players we get to showcase that the public doesn’t necessarily get to see. Because it’s NBA TV and an NBA franchise, it’s safe. We want to show the positive, the humor and all the different dynamics the players have. I’m honored to be a part of it and I hope to do it justice. We have big shoes to fill but we’re excited to be bringing it back.”

Scott on NBA Inside Stuff: “It’s one of my favorites from back in the day. Now, [NBA TV has] brought it back with Grant and Kristen [Ledlow]. I think it’s been awesome. I say all the time that outside of being on NBA GameTime, sitting at the desk and breaking down games every night, one of my favorite things is going out and doing features and learning things like Paul George loves fishing and Tristan Thompson’s decision to switch shooting hands [which you will see on this week’s show].”

Scott on where the Thunder stand as a team at this point in the season: “Oklahoma City is still improving overall as a team. Obviously, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are playing lights out basketball, but slowly but surely Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson are proving they can be the guys [the Thunder] can depend on. [Lamb and Jackson] have to play like this for the Thunder to get deep into the playoffs and possibly to The Finals. I like the development of what they’re doing. If they can continue to make shots and play with confidence, they have a chance to get back [to The Finals].”

Hill on Oklahoma City’s chances of getting back to the NBA Finals: “It’s great to see Russell Westbrook back healthy, playing at the elite level he was at prior to getting hurt last year. Certainly I think because of the injury and all the storylines that have happened since then, people tend to forget they were in The Finals two years ago were probably the favorite to come out of the West last year prior to Westbrook’s injury. We all know Kevin Durant and Westbrook are great players, but the complementary players have to play well. [If they do] their team has a real strong chance of coming out of the Western Conference when it’s all said and done.”

Hill on the showcase of young talent in the league and how they compete with talented veterans: “I have been very impressed over the last few years with the new crop of young players coming in. The talent level and how these young players can come in and contribute right away is very impressive and exciting. A lot of them will be on display Christmas Day. That’s what makes this such a great game. As players fade out, retire and move on, you have a new crop of young, great players coming in. That’s the beauty of the sport.”

Scott on the evolution of basketball: “The evolution of basketball is incredible. When you look at the old black-and-white footage of Hall of Famer Bob Cousy, you see he’s dribbling with one hand. Then you get to the 80s, 90s and the [contemporary] players, you see guys like [Sacramento’s DeMarcus] Cousins come in and they can grab the ball at the rim, go coast to coast with it, be a facilitator or pull up for a three. This lets you know that the game of basketball has evolved into a sport where you never know how good our athletes [actually] are. [This is evidenced by] the way LeBron James is playing right now as a small forward, with incredible numbers.”

Scott on the evolution of the three-point shot: “I remember my high school coach saying, ‘No, no, no…good shot.’ That’s when I was shooting the ball from 25 feet and there weren’t three-point lines in NBA or high school at the time. That was the beginning of the outside shot being incorporated into a coach’s fast break. Now you see a guy like [Hawks shooting guard] Kyle Korver with 94 straight games [with a three-pointer], but every scouting report says, ‘Do not give him a wide open look.’ He gets six or seven wide open looks every night.  Being a shooter, it is fun watching guys like him take advantage of that shot.”

Hill on Scott’s shooting prowess: “We grew up in the same town. I used to watch him and he was a great shooter. You didn’t see long distance shooting like Dennis Scott. Before the three-point line, people were trying to get close to the basket. He stood out, because he was such a great shooter even back in ninth and tenth grade. Now, you have a new generation of players in the NBA who have grown up and all they’ve known at every level is the long ball. The quality of shooting overall is better in the league.”

Hill on the league’s biggest surprises so far this season: “There have been some amazing storylines this year. You can look at Brooklyn and New York, after all the activity and the excitement surrounding those two teams [at the start of the season]…I don’t think anybody expected them to be in the situation they’re in. Everybody probably picked Phoenix to be last in the NBA, but they’re playing great basketball. They brought Eric Bledsoe in, have a new coach and really seem to have a good spirit and energy about them. Portland is a big surprise. They were relatively average last season, and they made a few changes that certainly paid off in the offseason.”

Hill on the Celtics and Brad Stevens: “You have to applaud Brad Stevens on the effort he’s done. Certainly the expectations were low with all the changes in the offseason with players, having a whole new team, a whole new identity.  Your leader, your best player from last few years, no longer healthy at the start of the season. To come out and play like they’ve played, I’m sure, whatever internally their expectations were,  they’re thinking about playoffs now. They’re thinking we can win this Atlantic Division; we can get into the playoffs.”

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NBA Christmas Day on ABC and ESPN Media Call Transcript

NBA-on-ESPN-logoEarlier today, ABC and ESPN NBA analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Hubie Brown discussed key NBA on Christmas Day storylines on a conference call with members of the media. Brown will join Mike Breen and Lisa Salters to provide commentary for the first game of ABC’s Christmas Day doubleheader – Oklahoma City Thunder at New York Knicks – at 2:30 p.m. ET. Van Gundy will provide analysis alongside Mike Tirico and Heather Cox for ABC’s second Christmas Day game – Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers – at 5 p.m. NBA Countdown precedes the doubleheader at 2 p.m. on ABC.

ESPN’s NBA Christmas Day action will tip off at 12 p.m. when the Brooklyn Nets host the Chicago Bulls. ESPN will also televise a prime-time doubleheader with the San Antonio Spurs hosting the Houston Rockets at 8 p.m., followed by the Golden State Warriors hosting the Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m.

Here is the replay of today’s conference call.

Q. I have a question about Atlantic Division, more specifically the Celtics, in terms of the direction. Obviously they’re doing better than expected, not great, 12‑15, but how do you play this thing out in terms of when Rondo comes back and the push for the playoffs?  Do you let the guys play?  Also wanted to get your impression of Brad Stevens through his first 27 games in terms of coming from the college ranks?

HUBIE BROWN:  Well, as you step back from it all, I really like what they’re doing by playing the younger players on their starting unit.  I thought having the older guys in the exhibition held them back a little bit starting out.  I like what you have with Green, Sullinger, and then Bass up front, and also with your second unit.  Now that Olynyk is back, I think that solidifies five very young, talented guys that you have at 4 and 5.

Then the development of Crawford at the point guard position is a major bonus where he’s getting close to six assists a game.  Also, when Rondo comes back you’ll be able to have a good, solid, three‑man rotation there if everybody stays intact with Bradley off the ball and with Crawford and Rondo.

So I would say that they’re doing a very good job.  They have some excellent wins on the road at Miami and at Atlanta.  So I think you have to be encouraged with what you’re seeing now.  At home they’re starting to play the tougher teams that they have to beat in close games.

JEFF VAN GUNDY:  For me, I didn’t think they had, with Rondo, out a chance of being this competitive right off the bat.  But like Hubie said, they’ve gotten some excellent play.  I think Brad Stevens is just an outstanding basketball coach with a great demeanor.  I think he’s assembled such a quality staff that they’re tremendously coached right off the bat.  And I think that’s been a huge help in the development and patience of their younger players.

Q. What was your take on the Mike Woodson failure to call that timeout?  Is there any blame on the players in that situation or what did you make of what transpired and how much heat Mike has taken for it? 

BROWN:  Well, the first thing is, you have to know what was covered in the huddle.  In the huddle, if it was covered that you still had the timeouts available and the fouls to give and you were doing those things, then it comes down to the player.  Now if the player, then with his 6.5 seconds to go, ignores what was discussed in the huddle, well, then you get what you received in that situation with the long shot, and a few dribbles over half court.

But you and I have no idea what was covered in that huddle, so consequently who are we to blame anyone other than the fact that it happened.

VAN GUNDY:  What Coach is talking about, these are things that you have discussed and practiced from the time you started training camp – all these late‑game situations.  I don’t think there is a right way or a wrong way either to call it or not to call it. But there should be and I’m sure there is a philosophy about how you want to handle those situations.

But certainly if you’re going to play off the make and not take a timeout, Carmelo Anthony has to catch it a little higher up the court and he has to push the ball up the court with a lot more urgency.  The thing that really irritated me was even if somebody had the opinion that it was a mistake, to then go from it being a mistake to “a fireable offense” is ludicrous.  You don’t cut a player or trade a player because they make a mistake under pressure in an NBA game; nor should there be an overreaction if there was a coaching mistake made.

I think right now everybody has their sights set on what Mike Woodson needs to do better, but what really needs to happen is they need to get their roster intact.  When they’re healthy, they need to play a lot better.

Q. One more question for Jeff not related to the Knicks.  What do you foresee in your future as a coach – maybe next year or the year after?  What is your goal with the head coaching situation for you to get back into it? 

VAN GUNDY:  You know, I don’t really think like that.  I just think about what I’m doing today.  I had three breakfast tacos, I’m going to the Rice game at 11:30 and I’m doing a Christmas game.  I don’t think too far ahead.  There are some aspects of coaching I miss.  The competition, the camaraderie with the coaching staff, but I enjoy what I do very much right now.

Q. The Lakers are often a choice to play on Christmas Day, but in their current state not many are expecting them to even make the playoffs.  Is there any benefit for the Lakers to have this kind of national exposure or is it better for them to stay under the radar as much as possible? 

BROWN:  Well, if it’s on the schedule, they’re going to show up.  But any time a team plays on the Christmas schedule, teams have an opportunity to display their talent – whoever is suiting up for you.  It just seems that teams play, even though they might not be playing to a high, one‑loss record, they will play to their maximum potential because of the audience that is expected to watch the games on Christmas.

Now right now, you’re hoping that by game time maybe that Farmar would be back to help you out with the injury situation.

Unfortunately, with Nash and with Blake also out, it makes it difficult for the chemistry in regards to Kobe Bryant playing the point guard position, and then also your starting players who should be back‑up players.  You’d like to see that your team would be healthy – unfortunately, it’s not.  But the guys that will show up will play and they’ll play to their maximum potential, and that’s what you’re looking at.

Also, with the competition being Miami, LeBron James and Wade and company, well, naturally that adds to the flavor of the game.

VAN GUNDY:  I would just add that I think the Lakers have really maxed out their win total based on the talent at hand and their injury situation.  It’s devastating when you don’t have any of your top three point guards.  I thought Farmar and Blake were playing very good basketball before their injuries.  It’s really a heavy burden coming back from such a major injury.  But the Lakers play with such great offensive energy.  They shoot the three, which if you’re rolling with the three, you can stay in the game with anybody.  That is what you have to try to exploit with Miami against their aggressive pick‑and‑roll coverage. Space the floor, move the ball and try to knock in some threes.

Like Coach said, I expect them to come out and play really hard and well.  Whether it’s good enough, that remains to be seen.  Miami would have to not play as well for the Lakers to beat them.

Q. Just wanted to get both of your thoughts on the job that Terry Stotts has done in Portland.  Things obviously didn’t go his way in Atlanta and Milwaukee.  But wondering if this is exhibit A for a coach – really kind of being able to realize his potential when he’s getting in a spot with the players that fit what he’s trying to do and with a great support structure that he seems to have with Neil Olshey in the front office?

BROWN:  Well, in my opinion, Terry Stotts is doing a magnificent job.  Not only because they’re 22‑5, but because they’re 12‑3 on the road.  Now that takes a lot.  That has to be a combination of coaching staff, game plans, total preparation and then your offense and defense with the players getting the total chemistry that has to be done.

Now we really like – I like – their front line with the addition of Lopez because it has made Aldridge’s job a little easier, And right now he’s one of four guys that are doing 20‑plus points and 10‑plus rebounds.  Last year we had zero guys do that.  This year we have four.  So off and running, Aldridge is doing a good job.

Their starting unit, I think Lillard is really developing into an outstanding player.  Not only are the assists there, but he can break you down with the shot clock down — that is so important — and get a high percentage shot.  He’s also shooting the three‑ball well.  Then, with the second unit by picking up Mo Williams, I think that’s kind of helped that group of players play with a lot more consistency.  I like the bench now and the starting unit.  But give the coaching staff a lot of credit because the style of play is perfect for the type of talent that you have and then give them a major bonus because of their road record up until today.

 

VAN GUNDY:  I would agree.  First of all, I thought Terry Stotts, both in Atlanta and in Milwaukee, did a great job.  He just didn’t have winning NBA talent.  Oftentimes, when you get your first jobs in this league, you don’t have talented-enough teams that can consistently win.  Last year, I thought they played very well.  You look at the end of their season where, I think, they lost 13 or 14 straight basically because they were trying to get into the lottery or they were trying to get as many ping‑pong balls as they could.  Once it was established that they weren’t going to win or make the playoffs.  I think their record was deceiving.  I love two things about their starting unit.  I love their offensive chemistry that they play with.  They play with great rhythm and flow.  I think Terry has done a masterful job with their offense.

Then, secondly, I love the role acceptance that their starting unit plays with.  Everybody knows the ball is going to go to Aldridge, Willard in pick‑and‑rolls; Lopez does his job of screening and rebounding.  Then the two wing players play both ends of the floor.

I’m a huge fan of Wes Matthews.  I think he is so underrated and undervalued around the league.  But I think he’s had a huge impact on the tenacity of their team and the versatility of their team offensively.

Q. When you look at the Lakers situation, how would you weigh the positives of them securing Kobe Bryant with a two‑year extension and showing the appreciation of what he’s done over the years, versus the negative that his extension allows them to get one more max level free agent the next two years instead of two? 

BROWN:  Well, first of all, as an outsider, I’m not working with their cap, and I’m not a member of their management.  I’m just happy that Kobe Bryant accepted the extension.  It will now depend upon what they’re going to do with Gasol, and where they’re going to end up in the season if they’re out of the playoffs and in the lottery. Because then I think, and I’m not privy to exactly the money that will be available, but I do believe you can keep Gasol.

I do believe that you could get one extra player.  If you didn’t make the playoffs and you got in the lottery and got lucky, you could pick up another player.

Now we know there are other manipulations and trades that you can possibly get due to the fact that you are playing so many young players and you’re developing value there for a combination that could possibly bring you something else.  So you never discount what can happen here in the development of young players because of the fact that so many of them are getting major minutes for you right now.

The major problem is that you don’t have enough size – once you go size with talent – once you go beyond Gasol and Hill right now.  Then you have to hope, like Jeff brought out, the fact that Blake and Farmar were playing so well, and then also the Nash situation.  Does Nash at the end of the year also go into amnesty and then you pick up the money?  Well, that we don’t know because we do not know what Nash’s situation is.

 

VAN GUNDY:  Yeah, and to me, one thing I’ve learned is that the Lakers have a history and Mitch Kupchak has a history of making tremendous moves to reenergize their team and bolster their talent.  When O’Neal left and Kobe Bryant was in his prime, they were stuck for a bit of time at that 42‑win type team, and then they made the incredible trade for Pau Gasol.  So I never discount the Lakers ability when they are in need of injecting more talent into their roster, because they have a history of making the right moves.  It will be interesting to see what their next move is.

Q. Under the current CBA, how realistic is it for teams in the future to adopt what Miami did having the so‑called big three on their roster? 

 

VAN GUNDY:  Well, I think they can have a big three, it’s just how many owners are willing to go into luxury tax and pay the penalties?  The profit margins of these owners in the bigger markets are that they make a ton of profit.  How many of them are willing to reinvest in their teams?  That is the question.  The Lakers, again, have always proven that they’ll pay for elite-level talent.

BROWN:  It always comes back to how much money do you have, not only with the sales of your tickets but your television revenue and whether or not you want to go over the cap, because now with the new formula of the cap moving by the percentage of the dollar going up each year it justifies being a little bit conservative because it can get out of hand quickly.  So that’s a management decision.  The ownership has got to come back and say we owe the people of Los Angeles, because of our television deal and our past history, that we are going to go above the cap.  Then when you go above the cap it quickly multiplies now with the new formula.

Q. Jeff, ever since you got into broadcasting, when a coaching job comes up, your name gets put out there in the media.  The last time the Bulls played the Knicks in The Garden, there was speculation you were going to do the game.  You didn’t do it because you didn’t want to be a distraction.  Can you just clear that up?

VAN GUNDY:  Well, nothing.  That sort of got ramped up a little too much.  I think it was maybe 10 to 12 days before – I’m not sure about the exact timing – I got switched off the game.  I don’t think there was any specific reason.  I’ve had two or three games changed this year on my schedule.  So I didn’t give it much thought.  But I was happy when I saw the game before or maybe it was two games before when my name was brought out.  I was glad the change was made because I really didn’t think it was ‑‑ I’ve coached in that market, as has Coach Brown, and people start talking about your job, and I’ve been hung on the back page of the New York Post, with the Van Gone back page and Back Up the Van and all that stuff, so I know how painful that stuff can be for a coach going through the speculation.

I was glad, whether it was coincidental or not by whoever makes the schedule for ESPN, that 10 or 12 days before I got switched off that game.  It’s not unusual for that to happen, but I was thankful for it when I saw the circumstances.

Q. You guys have been doing this for a long time.  I was wondering if you’d like to see the NBA have more flexibility in their national TV schedule?  You get a team that’s going to be on a lot and they don’t pan out that well.  Would you like to see that be able to be switched on a little bit of a shorter notice? 

BROWN:  Well, we do that.  But I know you’re looking and saying, well, it happens in March and in April as we are making a push for the different slots in the playoffs.  There is no doubt about that.  I guess we have the liberty to do that.  But I do not know what the rules are with the league and with television of how many times we can do that.

I don’t know if they’d ever change Christmas, because Christmas is advertised right from the beginning and the tickets are sold because of who is playing and it’s so close to the beginning of the year.  I don’t know if that could be rectified.

VAN GUNDY:  Yeah, I think there are some limitations on how many times a certain team can be shown.  But certainly like football has the ability to flex out of games, it would be great to have that ability.  I think certainly it should be looked at to make it more flexible for ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV.

But like Hubie said, Christmas is tough because every game is televised.  Those things are done way ahead of time.  You just hope for the best match‑ups.  Unfortunately, the Derrick Rose injury puts Chicago in a tough spot. Brooklyn and New York have not played particularly well, so there are some.  But I still think people will watch.  It’s Christmas Day, and people still care deeply about the Bulls and about the Knicks, even though they haven’t played particularly well of late.

Q. Have the Clippers made a national impact or inroads?  Will they ever have the impact in L.A. and Southern California that the Lakers do? 

BROWN:  I think when you look at what they’re doing right now, they have the fourth best record in the West.  Also, they’re one of three teams in the West that have played 15 road games already.  So if you wanted them to be better right now, you have to look at the fact that they played 15 road games so they have an opportunity to make up a plus three at home.

So as far as when you say you’re all-NBA performers in Griffin and in Paul, you get that notoriety.  Then now that you have Doc Rivers, you get the coaching notoriety.  Then it’s going to come down to where you position yourself at playoff time.  Can you get home court advantage?  And can you disrupt and get to the Western Conference Finals and hopefully into the Finals?

Naturally, when you say the Los Angeles Lakers, people just want to talk about how many championships have been won, how many Hall of Fame players are there, and the banners in the building.  So that is tradition.  Right now you’re on the wave where you’re making headway, and I would say that the only thing that you have to do, you have to wait.  It’s time.

Can they continue to perform at a high level, get home court advantage, and then do damage in the playoffs?  Up until now they’ve not been able to move to get close to that Western Conference Final.  Until you do that, you’re not going to eliminate the mystique of the Los Angeles Lakers.

But, look, I give them a ton of credit because they sell out the building now.  Because we forget, it wasn’t so long ago that the building was never sold out.  Now the consistency is there.  The fan base is there.  All right.  The television ratings are up.  So let’s see them now progress with wins, and then also at playoff time.

VAN GUNDY:  I love the Clippers crowd.  I love doing Clippers games.  I think the enthusiasm, because the winning is still new with the Clippers, there is just a different vibe.

The Western Conference is tough. You can have a great team and lose in the first round this year.  Think about it, the Top 5 seeds, if it stays the same, the Clippers will play Houston in the first round.  Some excellent basketball team would lose in the first round of the playoffs.

I think the Clippers have a chance to really do damage in the playoffs. I love DeAndre Jordan playing more minutes and playing effectively.  I think he should be one of the dominant defensive centers and rebounding centers in the league.  They need to get healthy. They need to see what they think they need to add to.  And I think Doc Rivers being in charge of both the team and personnel, you’re going to see a very tight‑knit organization going forward.  They’ve got a great chance with the building blocks of Paul and Griffin to continue to improve and evolve into a championship-caliber team.

Q. I wanted to ask how you think Doc Rivers has done so far as their coach, and what he brings to their situation? 

BROWN:  Well, he brings respect.  When a coach walks in the room, the respect factor has to be there.  It’s the image.  He brings a resume.  He brings a resume of current winning, also a championship.  He’s going to make the players totally accountable.  Then when that happens, they understand on a nightly basis that they’re going to have to give their best effort or their time is going to be taken away from them.

So I like what they’ve done.  Jeff made an excellent point with Jordan.  I’m happy to see that he’s getting the major minutes now in that fourth quarter for his confidence because the stats that he was putting up in the limited amount of time were pretty eye-opening.  The defensive opportunity for him is there to make a heavy contribution.

But, Doc Rivers is going to give you a style of play.  He’s excellent after timeouts – coming out of timeouts with either defensive or offensive sets that give you good looks at the basket.  He’s going to force a defensive effort from you as a team.  I think you’re already seeing that.

The major thing for them is, as a team, their key guys have got to stay healthy.  Then also Doc has got to get the second unit to give them somewhat the same type of production that they had a year ago where their bench was one of the best in the league.

Now once they develop that, the total program will be set, but it’s still only December.  You’re only into the season two months, and you have to give the coaching staff a year or so to get this all in place and for everyone to accept the roles.

VAN GUNDY:  I want to second that.  I think Vinny Del Negro did a great job in building that team up to where they played – they had a great, great year last year, a 17‑game winning streak.  I mean, they just had a great year.  Unfortunately, they met another very good team because it’s the Western Conference in the first round and lost to Memphis in a hard‑fought series.

Now Doc comes in and they made a major trade with Bledsoe going to Phoenix, and J.J. Redick, and Dudley coming into the Clippers.  Redick was off to a good start, gets hurt, so now they’re trying to figure out who is going to be that starting two‑guard, so Crawford is now starting.  As Hubie said, that’s weakened their bench.  Now Matt Barnes is out as well.

They’ve had some injury situations, a very difficult schedule.  But I think they’re playing very well.  Is it perfect?  No.  Are they an outstanding team?  Yes, they are.  They have a great coach.  There is going to be no in‑fighting in that organization, because he’s in charge from top to bottom.  He’s a tremendous leader.  And Hubie accentuated his great strengths in leadership and after timeouts – things that are very, very true.

Q. I wanted to ask you about your background with Steve Clifford.  Cliff mentioned to me one thing he got from you and Stan and Tibbs is to go slow in installation.  The first seven weeks they played fairly vanilla defense, but they executed it very well, and he’s starting to do things a little more exotic now.  From your experience, when can you start branching out and doing things that are a little more daring with a young team?  The other question I had for you is as odd as the circumstances are in the Eastern Conference, with a young team like this, what kind of long‑term value would there be in the Bobcats making the playoffs? 

VAN GUNDY:  First of all, I couldn’t be happier for Steve Clifford.  He’s everything you want in a coach and in a person.  You’re not going to meet a finer person.

I think how much you give to your team, and I think Coach Brown would agree, depends on their basketball IQ and their readiness.  You’ve got to try to keep things as simple as you can without being too simple.  You have to have defensive plans for the best players in this league that can’t be guarded with just one guy.

You can’t try to do so many things that there’s confusion.  The more players are thinking, the slower their feet get.  I watch most every Bobcat game.  What I see is a tremendously committed team who just doesn’t have as much offensive weaponry to be a big‑time winner yet.

But their effort defensively, their attention to detail, their defensive discipline, their offensive execution up until they take the shot – because they’re not a good range shooting team – I think they’ve improved light years.  I think it’s very important to those teams to win, to get into the playoffs.  To feel the difference between regular season and playoffs and to get some of their belief back.  Because a lot of those guys have been beaten down with all the losing.

Just because you get a lottery pick doesn’t mean you’re going to get a star.  They’ve had high picks beyond Biyombo, Gilchrist, Walker, Zeller.  There are no guarantees when you get those picks that they’re going to be stars.  So I think it’s important that they win.  I love Kemba Walker’s competitive spirit.  Like the play they ran after the timeout last night after missing four straight free throws, to get a great look at the basket when you only have one second on the game clock and then Walker knocked it in. I think they should be focused on winning and making the playoffs.

I think that’s why they’re going to make the playoffs because they want ‑‑ I think they want to – where a lot of other teams in the Eastern Conference are just as content on days they lose as the days they win.

Q. In the long run, with a team that doesn’t have a whole lot of experience, what do you garner going forward from having experienced the playoffs? 

VAN GUNDY:  Well, I think you see organizationally and player‑wise what you really have and what you really need, because the differences between teams that are lottery teams and teams that make the playoffs, there are stark differences.  But the real differences become between the playoff qualifiers and the royal championship caliber type teams.  And you see firsthand what you need to get to where you want to go.

I think there is great, great value in winning and building a winning culture, particularly after you’ve been beaten down for so many years of losing.

Also, to try to get the fan base back.  When they were the Hornets, back when they came in, I mean, that fan base was rabid, even with all the losing.  They were there every night and they loved their Hornets.  Something has happened.  Many nights you look out and there is no one there.  It is a very empty place.

But when they were playing the Lakers, the building was alive because it was a great product that night.  The game was competitive, and it was hard‑fought.  So you’ve got to win to try to bring your fan base back too and get some sort of home-court advantage.

Q. When you talk to a lot of “old school coaches” there is some uncomfortability with the move towards analytics.  Wondered what your view was on how those two aspects can sort of get along? 

BROWN:  I think everything keeps coming down to the fact that you’re dealing with five people on a string out on the floor.  It’s not like baseball where the analytics – you can go and take all that analysis and go down to balls and strikes, pitchers, all that kind of stuff ‑‑ but in basketball, it’s an individual, right, and the guy is not in a chemistry‑type of movement on every single possession.  So all of us that have been in the coaching profession a long period of time, we have used statistics.  It depends upon how the coaching staff took – and how far they were taking – all types of statistics.

Now you never want to say this is all new because it’s not all new.  It’s just people taking things to a different level.  Can that now relate every night to the five‑guys who are dealing with the chemistry out on the floor?  In my opinion, I like to think that what a lot of coaches have been using in the past that relied on statistics from shooting percentages and then breaking down shots per quarter and also by plays, what you were doing statistically by plays and then also your three best players getting X‑amount of shots on each unit, your first unit and second unit.  You know, there were all kinds of assists being used.  It isn’t like all of this is something new to the game.

VAN GUNDY:  I worked for a year with and for basically the Godfather of NBA analytics in Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets.  I liked his approach in that he didn’t think all of the answers were in the numbers.  He realized, I think, that there was some art to the job of coaching and it wasn’t just a number-based approach.  But I found the numbers that he presented to make you really self‑evaluate.

Let’s say they brought up a scenario, and the numbers said you should obviously do something, and your philosophy was something else. It made you sit there and analyze why you believed what you believed.  I think that’s good.  Now whether you changed your philosophy or not, that’s really secondary.  But it did make you think.

I think the one danger is when management people feel they know more about coaching than coaches who have done this for a long time.  There is a difference between helpful suggestions and overbearing pushing of an agenda.

I think in some organizations like the Rockets, they find the right balance.  In other organizations, I think they’ve made very silly moves based on a coach having a strong personality and a strong set of beliefs.  So it truly comes down to having a respect for knowing what you don’t know, and coaches being open to some numbers, but management also being open to that.  There is more to coaching and more to getting guys to maximize their potential than just giving them a spreadsheet of numbers.

Q. With the rate of successful and talented coaches that have struggled in the NBA game, could you both touch on the early success, and I know it’s early, of Brad Stevens in Boston? 

BROWN:  Well, one thing is that Brad Stevens, Jeff brought it up earlier, he has an excellent presence.  He has a terrific personality for being a teacher and a leader.  Then he has surrounded himself with a nice, solid coaching staff where everyone is on the same page.  Then, anytime that you’re in coaching, you have to understand the difference in high school and in college – you always get all the credit for the wins as the coach.  The players have lost every game at that level.  When you come to the NBA, professional sports, the players win every game, and you, the coaching staff, lose every game.  You have to understand that.  If you don’t understand that, you’re going to have a difficult time.

Now he and his staff have a team right now that is not tremendously talented, but they play hard every night.  They play to their potential on most nights.  They are doing an excellent job.  When you look at them leading ‑‑ you say well, they don’t have a winning record right now, but they are moving towards that, and they have come up with some great wins as of late.

I’ve done two games up there, and the people appreciate the effort that the team is putting out there, and they have experimented with their starting and back‑up players.  Then when Rondo comes back, another adjustment will be made, and then hopefully because it’s wide open for positions 3 through 8 in the playoffs, that they can maintain this improvement from week to week.  This is a very young team up there, and a very young coaching staff.  So they’re learning from game to game, week to week, and month to month.

I expect them to make a really solid move once we get into February in the All‑Star Game from here to the end of the year, because I just feel that they are in the same boat.  Everybody is on the same bus, on the same train because that coaching staff has a good rapport with their players.

 

VAN GUNDY:  Yeah, and for me, I’ve always rejected the notion that college coaches can’t make the transition.  The single biggest factor usually is that they take over a bad team.  So Cotton Fitzsimmons came from college.  John MacLeod, came from college.  These guys were incredible winners in college.  Everyone talks about Rick Pitino couldn’t make the adjustment.  Hello, did anyone watch his New York Knicks teams win the Atlantic division and bring the three‑point shot into the weapon it was?

So this idea that college coaches are overmatched, I think it’s more a fact of what team you take over; how much your organization is supporting you.  You see, what Brad was able to do was, and what Danny Ainge did was he picked Brad.  Not only did he pick him, he didn’t hedge his bets and say, okay, yeah, we want you because we think you’re great.  But we’re going to give you a contract of two years and an option.  So the first time it gets rough here, we’ll have the ability to cut bait and move on to somebody else we can blame.

No, he went all‑in on Brad and give ownership great credit for giving him the six‑year deal that let everybody in the organization and the players know this is our coach.  If there is a problem, you will be going, not him.  We’re all in behind Brad Stevens.  Then you couple that support with Brad’s basketball acumen, his personality, his staff selection and the players doing a great job of giving maximum effort.  You’ve had a very, very successful run so far.

Q. With your wealth of knowledge in the NBA over three decades, can you just touch on the evolution of the game?  What’s been enhanced during your time?  What you missed the most?  I’m really interested in hearing your insight. 

BROWN:  Well, I think that at one time the game was played at rim level.  But today we are playing at the top of the box which is 11‑feet off the floor.  So everything now is incredible athleticism – the speed, size, and quickness of the player –that when the good teams play, they shorten the width of the court and also the half court situation from sideline to sideline, baseline to half court, because the defenses are so quick and they can trap and rotate and move and cover a great deal of ground.

When people say that shooting today is not as great as it was, they should go back and look at the top 50 guys, who ever played the game, and look at the shooting percentages of the perimeter people, meaning small forwards and the guard situation.  Look at the shooting percentages back then of people that they thought were great shooters, and then compare them with the great shooters of today. It’s no contest.

The great shooters of today shoot a much higher percentage.  Naturally, the three ball didn’t come in until the mid‑80s, but before that, the shooting percentages, the foul shooting, et cetera.  A lot of that has changed tremendously for the good because of the athlete.

But also what we miss is the continuity.  If you coached in the ’70s, and ’80s, you missed the continuity of plays.  You missed the different types of sets, the different types of sets that teams would use and then offer those sets different options to counter what the defenses are doing.  Because when people say what do you think of today’s basketball, I just say to them, take the pick‑and‑roll, pick‑and‑pop out of today’s basketball, what are we seeing?  I think you would say, well, we’re not seeing the same amount of plays, and so forth.  That is something that I miss.  I miss the beauty of the ball movement, the balancing and spacing of the half court, the distribution of shots for three key players.  Then I liked the fact of getting to the foul line was primary, getting into the painted area was primary, and also high percentage shots for your great players.

Sometimes we don’t see that night‑in and night‑out because of the lack of the continuity of plays.

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Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, December 12, 2013

nba-on-tntNotes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, December 12, 2013

TNT’s NBA coverage continues Thursday, December 19, at 8 p.m. ET with doubleheader action featuring the Chicago Bulls @ Oklahoma City Thunder followed by the San Antonio Spurs @ Golden State Warriors at 10:30 p.m.

***CLIP OF THE NIGHT***

(Please click the text below to view)

TNT’s Inside the NBA Studio Team Competed in “Chariots of Backfire: The Tortoise and the Hairless” – a 100 Yard Dash

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com 

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Chris Webber

Webber on Nets guard Deron Williams: “Whether he’s been in shape or hurt, he has to play like an MVP candidate. He’s not having that type of season. He has to put this team on his back.”

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Los Angeles Clippers (93) at Brooklyn Nets (102)

Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Reggie Miller (analyst) with Craig Sager (reporter)

Miller on the Nets: “This team was built for the playoffs; the key is they have to put themselves in position to get there.”

Miller on the impact of Lopez and Williams: “[Kevin] Garnett and [Paul] Pierce are complementary pieces to this team. This team is only going to win and succeed if Lopez and Williams play at a high level.”

Miller on the pace of the game: “You do want to run in transition versus this Brooklyn Nets team…the second oldest team in the league…you want to try and make it a track meet.”

Miller on Deron Williams and Chris Paul playing on different levels: “Early on in their careers, especially when Deron Williams was in Utah, the consensus was Deron Williams was the best point guard. But if you look at the last couple of years and the injuries to Deron Williams, there’s no question that Chris Paul – by a wide margin –  is the best player [of the two] and best point guard in the league.”

Miller on Clippers forward Antwan Jamison: “I don’t care how old you get in this league…if you can score the basketball, teams are going to employ you. For Jamison to be the eleventh [or] twelfth man on this team, he still finds a way to get on the court because of his ability to score the basketball.”

Miller on the Eastern Conference standings: “There really is no race in the Eastern Conference. Really, the race is three through six. You don’t want to finish seventh or eighth. If you finish seventh or eighth, you are going against Indiana (Pacers) or Miami (Heat). For all of these teams, Brooklyn Nets, Toronto, New York… you want to get three through six.”

Miller on his confidence on teams in the Eastern Conference: “I don’t have any confidence with any of these teams except Indiana and Miami. That’s why three through six is so important because you will take your chance to go against those teams in the second round opposed to the first round.”

Miller on Brooklyn’s Jason Kidd and his transition to coaching: “He went right from the floor to the No. 1 seat. To step right in – a year removed from playing – is very difficult.”

Miller on Blake Griffin improving on the offensive end: “Everyone is talking about Blake Griffin, if this Clippers team is going to go to the next level; the evolution of his game is offensively.”

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Sprint Halftime Report

Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith, Webber

Webber on the Clippers: “If you are a team with championship aspirations, you don’t play this way especially on the road.”

Webber on the Nets involving their bench players: “They are going to have to find a way to play their bench players. They have more energy when the bench guys are on the floor. If they don’t play with that energy and passion every day, they will be done.”

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Miller on Clippers forward Blake Griffin: “He’s a dunker, a slasher, but he has to become a better free throw shooter. Once he gets comfortable with that…that is where his game will mostly take off.”

Miller on the Clippers having a target on their back: “They have a target on their back because they have (other than Gregg Popovich) the next best coach in the league in Doc Rivers. They have one of the best point guards in the league in Chris Paul, one of the most dynamic young players in Blake Griffin and a center in Deandre Jordan who is having an unbelievable season for the Clippers.”

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Houston Rockets (104) at Portland Trail Blazers (111)

Marv Albert (play-by-play), Steve Kerr (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter)

Kerr on what the Rockets are lacking: “The thing that Houston misses is that they don’t have a defensive edge, a tough guy.”

Kerr on Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts: “He’s turned into a really good coach. Terry has brought a lot of the Dallas offense to Portland with him. It’s been impressive to watch. These pieces fit very well together in Portland and are always very well prepared by Stotts.”

Kerr on the progression of the Trail Blazers team dynamic: “This team was pretty confident coming into this year. Their starting five was pretty solid.  They added [Robin] Lopez which really solidified the defense. The improvement of the bench was the final piece to the puzzle.”

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Sprint Halftime Report

Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith, Webber

Barkley on Trail Blazers Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews: “[Nicolas] Batum and [Wesley] Matthews play well. Batum is a walking threat. He can do it all but sometimes I think he gets lost in translation.”

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Kerr on the Houston Rockets progress: “A year ago, they were one of the worst defensive efforts. This year they are the middle of the pack. They have changed their strategy and are trying to play more and more like the teams in the league who play big.”

Kerr on Rockets guard Patrick Beverley: “He’s got an edge to him, he’s smart. He’s an excellent pesk… defensively.  He gives them something the other perimeter players don’t have, that sort of defensive toughness.”

Kerr on Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez getting adjusted with the right team: “For a lot of guys in this league, it is just about finding the right fit, the right teammates, the right coach and this is the right fit for Lopez.”

Kerr on the Trail Blazers:“This is a beautifully constructed team. These guys all complement each other. They understand their roles; really nice team that Portland has developed. I should add that Terry Stotts [right now] would be Coach of the Year. They weren’t expected to be great. No one thought they would do this. We knew they were going to be a potential Finals team after taking Miami to seven games last year.”

 

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Inside the NBA presented by Kia

Johnson, Barkley, O’Neal, Smith, Webber,

Smith on the Nets: “I think this is the team that is going to be the third seed.”

Barkley on the Washington Wizards: “The Washington Wizards might be the third best team in the Eastern Conference.  The Wizards are definitely going to make the playoffs. If Nene and [Marcin] Gortat can play big, they may be the third team — record wise — in the Eastern Conference.”

Webber on the Clippers moving forward: “I see Doc Rivers trying to will his heart into them but I don’t see that happening as fast as it should. They don’t play with a sense of urgency all the time.”

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