Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, January 16, 2014

nba-on-tntTNT’s NBA coverage continues Monday, Jan. 20, at 8 p.m. ET with doubleheader action featuring the Portland Trail Blazers @ Houston Rockets followed by the Indiana Pacers @ Golden State Warriors at 10:30 p.m.


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

Barkley on Knicks guard J.R. Smith being benched after a heated confrontation with Coach Mike Woodson: “I like Mike Woodson holding his ground. They have been playing well without him. He has to understand it is not about him.”

Barkley on Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony: “He hasn’t learned how to make other players better.”

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New York Knicks (89) at Indiana Pacers (117)
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Reggie Miller and Chris Webber (analysts) with Rachel Nichols (reporter)

Miller on Pacers guard Lance Stephenson: “He’s been their most versatile player. I know everyone talks about Paul George, but the most consistent player all year has been Lance Stephenson.”

Webber on New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire: “He’s getting back into his rhythm. If he can give a consistent 20 minutes in a game, they will be more than happy.”

Webber on the Pacers’ confidence: “How would you draw up a formula to beat these guys?  Their defense is so great, they play so well. It is really good that they know themselves. They have gone out this year and said this is how we are going to win.”

Miller on how to defeat the Pacers:  “You have to be efficient offensively because they are so stingy defensively.”

Miller on Indiana’s chemistry: “You usually see this in veteran teams. You don’t see this in younger teams. They are so committed to each other defensively.”

Miller on how the Pacers team was built: “This team was built for Chicago; with (Joakim) Noah, (Taj) Gibson and (Carlos) Boozer…they are so big with an inside physical presence, because they are in their division. Miami has the wing players in D-Wade, LeBron and Chris Bosh… I think that’s why Miami is adjusting to Indiana…getting (Greg) Oden. They are trying to get big to match up with Indiana. I think Indiana was trying to match up to Chicago.”

Miller on Pacers center Roy Hibbert: “There are not a lot of teams that have rim protectors that are willing to sacrifice fouls and their body like Roy Hibbert. He doesn’t care about points; all he wants to do is defend the paint.”

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

Smith on Lance Stephenson: “He’s become more efficient, last year he was dynamic but this year he’s more efficient.”

Barkley on Stephenson: “He has a superstar talent.  [Whether he] can he harness it totally is going to be the key.”
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Miller on Stephenson thriving as a system player:  “(He’s successful) on the right team, in the right setting, surrounded by the right players. That’s why he is second in scoring, first in assists and third in rebounding because the players around him, the environment around him allows him to relax and play comfortably. If he goes to a team where he has to be the central star, the focal point, I don’t think he puts up these kinds of numbers.”

Miller on Pacers forward Danny Granger: “It’s going to be interesting to see Danny Granger getting his groove back. Offensively, with him coming off the bench against second-year players, he could be so valuable on this team.”

Miller on Granger bouncing back: “Winning cures all. When you have the best record in the NBA and things are flowing for you, you are going to do whatever you can to be a part of it.”

Miller on the impact and involvement of Pacers team president Larry Bird: “To see Paul George and to see Roy Hibbert and see the way Larry Bird is at practices with them all the time and always talking to these guys…I can only imagine how it is for these guys.”

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Oklahoma City Thunder (104) at Houston Rockets (92)
Marv Albert (play-by-play) and Steve Kerr (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter)

Kerr on the Thunder organization: “What I admire about Scott Brooks and the Thunder is that they always maintain their equilibrium; they never get too high or too low. Their consistency as an organization really gives them a strength and a foundation.”

Kerr on Thunder guard Kevin Durant: “He is just one of those rare players who can just pick and choose when to score.”

Kerr on Durant as MVP: “He’s the only player in the MVP race that you can mention along with LeBron (James). There are other guys that deserve consideration but, in terms of who will actually win the award, it is a two-man race.”

Kerr on Thunder center Stephen Adams: “I love this kid. His strength, his demeanor on the floor, the way he works. [He’s] still really learning…but a massive human being and he moves really well. It is only a matter of time before he is a starter here in place of (Kendrick) Perkins. They really like Adams.”

Kerr on the Rockets: “We forget with Houston that this is still a young team. This is the fourth youngest team in the NBA. These guys have to go through the NBA battles and learn more lessons. I suspect as a team that they are going to have to take some lumps before they are truly championship contenders. There are a lot of interesting pieces and a lot of talent on this roster.”

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

Barkley on OKC: “They are going to be successful in regular season with (Kevin) Durant and (Russell) Westbrook. Andrew Bynum could help this team, but they are going to have to find a guy that can score.”

Barkley on how far OKC can go in the Playoffs: “They are going to be a legit championship contender but they are not going to win the championship until they find a low post scorer to take some of the pressure off Westbrook and Durant.”

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Kerr on the Rockets inconsistency during the regular season: “They have been wildly inconsistent…they have had moments of brilliance.  They have a good record with 26-14 but they’ve lost to some bad teams.  You just don’t know what you are going to get from one night to the next with this team.”

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

Barkley on Rockets forward Dwight Howard getting fouls: “Dwight Howard commits the silliest fouls of any big guy I’ve seen. You can’t help your team by sitting on the bench. He’s been more aggressive, he’s doing a better job of posting up, but you just can’t do stupid stuff.”

Barkley on the Rockets lack of defense: “They are not a good defensive team. I don’t think they are a good enough on the perimeter to be a legit championship team.”

Barkley on Dwight Howard: “He’s a very good player but I thought by now he would be a great player. I don’t think you can build your team around him. He needs a lot of help to get deep in the playoffs.”

O’Neal’s on Howard:“Keep it simple. He does himself a disservice. It’s easy; I broke it down for him last year. He can be a great player, but it’s up to him. You have to want it and say, ‘I don’t care what no one says, I want it.’”
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