Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the NBA – Thursday, April 2, 2009

Notes from TNT’s Thursday Night Coverage of the NBA – Thursday, April 2, 2009

TNT’s NBA Coverage Continues Thursday, April 9 at 8 p.m. ET featuring the Philadelphia 76ers @ Chicago Bulls followed by the Denver Nuggets @ Los Angeles Lakers.

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith

Former NBA player and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson joined the pre-game show.

Kevin Johnson on his job as mayor of Sacramento: “I’m living the dream.  Every day I can’t wait to get out of bed and get to City Hall and make a difference for my hometown.  Being the mayor of the town I grew up in is very significant. I’m enjoying it, it’s a real responsibility.”

Kevin Johnson on elevating the profile of Sacramento: “Part of my job is to elevate the profile of the city.  I spent a lot of time with Governor (Arnold) Schwarzenegger in California, and I certainly spent lot of time in Washington with President Barack Obama.  We want to put Sacramento on the map. We are the state capital of California, which is the seventh largest economy in the world. A lot of people, when they describe Sacramento, they describe it as the halfway point between the Bay Area and Lake Tahoe.  We want to make it a destination city.”

Kevin Johnson on what aspect of being mayor is similar to playing the point guard position: “You can’t make everybody happy no matter what you do.  On my team I had Charles (Barkley), Wayman Tisdale, Danny Manning Dan Majerle…there was only one basketball, I couldn’t make them all happy!”

Barkley: “You shot most of it and I had the rest of it, forget those other guys.”

Johnson on a clip showing him stealing the ball from Charles when they were opponents: “Chuck, you were like the Titanic, you couldn’t change direction and that was the problem.”

Kevin Johnson on having Barkley as a teammate in Phoenix: “(Charles) was awesome to play with, worked his tail off. We got very close by getting to the NBA Championships and just came up a little short.  It was one of my biggest thrills, playing with Charles. He was as entertaining on the court and off the court as he is up here today.  He’s got a big heart and we, as teammates, did not realize how fortunate we were to have him as a teammate.”

Barkley on a comment from Ernie Johnson regarding Barkley’s past: “Ernie, you insinuated that I’ve got some skeletons in my closet.”

Smith: “The scary part of that is your closet door is open.  I’d rather it be closed.”

Kevin Johnson on Cavaliers forward LeBron James: “(LeBron James is) 24 years old, a triple-threat every single time he goes out on the court.  For him singlehandedly to turn that franchise around, it’s something we all have to appreciate. We have to appreciate him not just as a basketball player. He’s handled his success with such maturity.  I’m just really amazed, I’m proud of him with what he’s doing and he’s a great ambassador with what he’s doing.”

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Cleveland Cavaliers (101) @ Washington Wizards (109)
Announcers: Marv Albert, Reggie Miller and Mike Fratello; David Aldridge reporting

Fratello comparing a move by Cavaliers guard Mo Williams to that of legendary guard Magic Johnson: “Mo Williams pulling one out from the playbook, looks like Magic Johnson coming across the lane.”

Miller: “Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Magic Johnson, who is probably in Detroit getting ready for his Michigan State Spartans in the Final Four, is rolling over in his grave right now.”

Fratello: “(Johnson) knows I was thinking about him at least, that sweeping hook shot against the Pistons.”

Miller: “Don’t you ever put Mo Williams and Magic Johnson in the same sentence.”

Fratello: “I meant it in a nice way.”

Miller on the season going faster for the Lakers and Cavaliers and slower for the Wizards: “When you look at the Lakers and this Cleveland Cavaliers teams with this 82-game schedule, the way they’re playing it really feels like a 62-game schedule.  If you’re the Washington Wizards with the second worst record in the league, it almost feels like 102 games because on a nightly basis you’re getting beat by 20 or 25 points and the season can’t get over quick enough.”

Fratello on addition of center Joe Smith to the Cavaliers: “What makes it so good is the fact that (Joe Smith) fits right in with everything else this team is all about, meaning the character and chemistry of this team.”

TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed Cavaliers coach Mike Brown after the first quarter.

Brown on the Wizards always playing the Cavaliers well during the season: “We don’t underrate this team.  The Wizards team is a good team and they beat us last time and I don’t even know who was on the roster at that time. (They are) a good team with a lot of talented players.  Where we’re getting hurt is on the offensive glass, they kicked our behind every single game so far this year on the offensive glass.  They are quick, they’re athletic and they are beating us to those rebounds and loose balls.”

Brown on how the Cavaliers will attempt to fix their lack of offensive rebounds: “Box out. Hopefully.”

TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed actress and Autism Speaks spokesperson Didi Conn in honor of World Autism Awareness Day.

Conn, whose son Danny was diagnosed with autism, on dealing with an autistic child: “The first thing is to not be afraid of the ‘A’ word when you get the diagnosis. Danny was diagnosed almost 14 years ago and there wasn’t as much information or therapies or medications as there are now. There is a great organization called Autisms Speaks, autismspeaks.org, you go on that website, anything you want to know you can find out about. There’s also a book called the Autism Sourcebook.  The main thing is don’t be afraid. I was the queen of denial.  You don’t want anything to be wrong with your child, but sometimes you find out there is something wrong and you got to try to do everything you can. Get the support of your friends and family. My brother, God bless him, got the NBA aware of Autism Awareness. It’s global because we want to partner with research all over the world. Sixty-seven million people are estimated to be diagnosed as autistic globally.  So a lot’s happening all over, and now with the Internet we can access that information.”

TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed Wizards forward Caron Butler at halftime.

Butler on having all the starting Wizards available to play: “I would have loved to have it sooner this season, but we are all out here now and we’re just trying to get a win against of the best teams in the league.”

Butler on why the Wizards are so adept on the offensive boards: “We’ve got active bodies, we’ve got guys who are real versatile, Andray Blatche, Brendan Haywood, Darius Songaila, Antawn Jamison, all of us. We just crunch the boards.”

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Halftime

Johnson, Barkley and Smith

Barkley on the Wizards need to make some drastic changes to the roster in order to improve: “What (the Wizards) should be trying to do is figure out who they are going to have on that team next year. This Gilbert Arenas, (Antawn) Jamison, Caron Butler (trio) is a bad experiment.  They’ve got to trade one or two of those guys and start looking towards the future.  This thinking if they are ever all going to be healthy…first of all, they didn’t do anything when they were healthy. They need to get some big guys, they need to learn to play a lot better defense, they already got one really good coach fired, Eddie Jordan. The notion that this team, when everybody is healthy, that they are going to be good is absurd.  When they were healthy they were still one and done (in the playoffs).”

Barkley on Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas, who recently returned from a season-long injury: “(Gilbert Arenas) is not even playing, he’s out there just shooting jumpers.  He’s not playing because he doesn’t have confidence in his body and his legs. (He told David Aldridge) ‘I got no confidence, I don’t want any contact.’  You see it in the highlight, (he’s) just shooting some jumpers, he’s just breaking a sweat, he’s not playing.”

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Miller on whether the Wizards would have been a playoff team if Gilbert Arenas had not been injured all season: “Absolutely. (The Wizards) are better than Chicago.  Not knowing what turmoil is going to go on with Detroit, I think they are better than Detroit and more solid.  The big three for (the Wizards) have not played together since 2007.  A healthy Gilbert Arenas and this team are definitely in the playoffs.”

Cavaliers center Joe Smith on the team’s fight for home court advantage: “We really are fighting for home court advantage, that’s something we talk about in the locker room, and when we take the floor every night that’s something we’re fighting for.  We’re watching everybody around the league from the Lakers to Boston to Orlando and (we’re) just trying to stay a step ahead of them. It’s real important for us to have the best record, not just for that, but to have home court advantage.”

TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas after the Wizards defeated the Cavaliers.

Arenas on whether the night’s performance is indicative of how the Wizards should look on a regular basis: “We hope so. We play this (Cavaliers) team well, this is our rival. No matter how many players we have on the court it’s going to be a good game. We came out victorious today.  Right now I know I can’t move as I used to, so I’ve been trying to find the open guy.  They’re hitting shots and it’s going as planned.”

Arenas on the rivalry with the Cavaliers motivating the Wizards to play well: “It’s just that rivalry. When you have a rivalry you get pumped for it. Tonight we got everyone back and we pulled an upset.”

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Utah Jazz (104) @ Denver Nuggets (114)
Announcers: Kevin Harlan and P.J. Carlesimo; Marty Snider reporting

Carlesimo on the Jazz’s defense breaking down at the end of the first quarter: “You’ve got to make (J.R. Smith) dribble the ball, he can’t shoot the ball with his feet set.  (On) everybody’s scouting report, ‘J.R. Smith, don’t let him shoot the ball with his feet set.’ Utah wasted 11 minutes and 25 seconds of real good play by being careless in the last 30 seconds.”

Carlesimo on Nuggets guard Anthony Carter: “AC (Anthony Carter) has always been an excellent defender, really aggressive. Sometimes you can get him on backdoors because he’s so aggressive.  George (Karl) loves that aggression, he gets more of that from the second unit than he does the starters.”

Jazz forward Carlos Boozer on trying to play as well on the road as they do at home: “We go to Salt Lake City and it’s like we are on a whole other planet. We play fast, we play great (defense), we’re active. We’re a very good home team. We’ve been trying to bottle that energy and that play and bring it to wherever we go and we haven’t quite figured it out, but hopefully tonight will be the night that we figure it out.”

Carlesimo on the poor defense the Jazz play on the road: “(The Jazz) definitely run more at home, but they don’t defend nearly as well on the road and they just don’t push it as well away from the altitude of Salt Lake City.”

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Halftime

Johnson, Barkley and Smith

Smith on his diagnosis for the Jazz’s perpetual problems playing road games: “Offensively, (the Jazz) have a balanced attack and on the road you usually only have two guys do it. But defensively is what I noticed tonight. They really haven’t stopped the pick and roll and then they really haven’t stopped guys in the low post, and they haven’t really contested the outside shooter. The last part is if you turn the basketball over and you (give) easy baskets on the road, this gets the crowd going.  My conclusion is that the Utah Jazz really don’t have the guy defensively that stops you from taking out one area of your game.  (Andrei) Kirilenko used to be that guy that would have stopped one part, but he doesn’t do that anymore so they don’t take out any area, they play team defense and I think that hurts them on the road.”

Barkley on the Jazz’s failure to adapt to the personalities of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer: “There’s got to be toughness, (that is) what they are missing.  Their two best players are Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, but Deron Williams and Boozer, they have not become that team. It was Michael (Jordan’s) Bulls, (Larry) Bird’s Celtics, Magic (Johnson’s) Lakers…Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, ‘he’s our guy, we follow Timmy,’ the Celtics follow Kevin Garnett. Deron Williams and Boozer are both terrific players but they haven’t put their imprint (on the team). LeBron James has elevated his game this year. LeBron is going to make them play, they have taken his personality. As good as I thought the Utah Jazz are, I’m losing faith in them. I thought they were the only team who really had a legit chance to beat the Lakers, but they have not taken their coach (Jerry Sloan’s) personality.”

Barkley on former Wizards coach Eddie Jordan: “I’m trying to give Eddie Jordan Coach of the Year for getting out of that situation (in Washington). You don’t have to go down with the Titanic. Eddie Jordan, you’re a hell of a coach and you’ll be back soon!”

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Carlesimo on Nuggets guard Dahntay Jones getting a technical foul: “George (Karl) talks repeatedly about this, his team needs to overcome what they think are bad calls or are bad calls, it doesn’t matter. They need to keep their heads. They can’t help the other team.”

Carlesimo on the lack of offense by the Jazz: “Utah has no choice but to (get offensive boards). They are in the low 30’s the way they are shooting the ball. They’ve got no flow to their offense.”

Carlesimo on replacing TNT analyst Doug Collins for the evening, who, along with studio host Ernie Johnson, were nominated for a Sports Emmy on Thursday: “You think anything’s going to rub off on me by sitting in this chair?”

Carlesimo on the Nuggets coach George Karl’s emphasis on playing defense this season: “George (Karl) said it himself, he fell into a trap. He spent more time coaching the offense the last couple of years and he didn’t sell the defense quite as much. So it wasn’t just asking the players to buy in, he felt he had to do a better job. Tim Grgurich, his assistant, talked to him about that as soon as last season’s disappointing playoff loss was over.”

Carlesimo on former Nuggets guard Allen Iverson not being the only one guilty of poor defense: “A.I. (Allen Iverson) was not the Lone Ranger.  The shot selection was not good, Carmelo (Anthony) at times fell into that trap, J.R. Smith, of course.  When you shoot quick and your teammates don’t know what you’re going to do, there is no way you’re going to get back.  Their transition defense was terrible last year and it was caused to a large extent because of poor shot selection.”

Carlesimo on the strange nature of the game between the Jazz and Nuggets: “This is one of those stat sheets that both coaches take a look at, you crumple it up, you throw it and you move on. A very strange basketball game. If Utah could have made a couple of shots between the three and the two-minute mark, they could have gotten this game down to a one possession game.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai

Announcers: Johnson, Barkley and Smith

Barkley on the flow of the Jazz/Nuggets Game: “We kept talking about how big the game was, but you didn’t see that. Sometimes during the regular season there are big games, and both teams are really into it, and I didn’t get that tonight (from Utah).”

Smith on the lackadaisical effort of the Jazz: “Utah’s a marked team, but they don’t realize. They don’t realize that people understand that they have an opportunity to win the Western Conference so when they walk into that building they are no longer that team that sneaks up on you, so people get ready for you.”

Barkley on the Jazz: “I agree with you 100%, they don’t understand that they are one of the elite teams, everybody gets excited to play you, especially on the road. They are going to have to come out with more intensity and play better defense…they have to develop a mean streak.”

Barkley on the importance of home court in the Western Conference in the NBA Playoffs: “The Lakers are clearly the best team in the NBA, and clearly the best team in the West, but Utah, San Antonio and Denver, home court is going to be monumental.”

Barkley on a potential first round match-up between the LA Lakers and Dallas Mavericks: “They (the Mavericks) got no chance against the Lakers…I love Mark Cuban but they (the Mavericks) are not even on the same planet as the Lakers.”

Barkley on the supposed rivalry between the Wizards and the Cavaliers: “I like the way the Wizards call it a rivalry. It’s not a rivalry, you guys.

Smith: “You have to beat them once.”

Barkley on the Cavaliers: “That’s what they need to do more of, run up and down the court.”

Johnson: “Yeah, if they did that maybe they’d have the best record in the NBA.”

Barkley: “They don’t need to worry about all those teams they beat, they need to worry about the Celtics and the Lakers. You don’t dress for the job you’ve got, you dress for the job you want to have.”

Kenny Smith interviewed Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Woodson as part of a series of NBA head coaching interviews on NBA.com

Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Woodson: “Mike has been probably the most important thing to happen to me as a head coach. Without him we don’t make the playoffs last year, without a doubt, he was so instrumental in us making the playoffs and making that run.”

Barkley on TNT’s Nuggets @ Lakers game next Thursday: “That’ll be a big game, the Lakers are going to want to send them a message when they play them down the line.

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