Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, March 7, 2013

Nba-on-tntTNT’s NBA coverage continues Thursday, March 14, at 8 p.m. ET with a doubleheader featuring the Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs followed by the

New York Knicks @ Portland Trail Blazers at 10:30 p.m.

***CLIP OF THE NIGHT***

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Shaquille O’Neal celebrates his birthday and talks about playing at Madison Square Garden

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com

Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Dennis Scott and guest analyst Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway

Hardaway on his years playing with O’Neal and Scott in Orlando: “We were special, that’s the first thing that comes to mind. We were the ‘Heatles’ before the Heatles.”

Hardaway on Amar’e Stoudemire: “Amar’e is coming back with a vengeance…the more minutes he gets, the more he is going to put up.”

Hardaway on Thunder guard Russell Westbrook’s style of play: “He is aggressive the entire game. He is one guard that is going to push at you. He is going to force the issue, put pressure on the defense and get easy shots for teammates.”

Hardaway on what Westbrook needs to do to continue to advance his game: “He needs to understand that it is only 48 minutes in the game so he will only play 40 or 42 and that he can get his points at any time and doesn’t have to overshoot; also knowing when to get KD the ball.”

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Game 1:  Oklahoma City Thunder (95) @ New York Knicks (94)

Announcers: Marv Albert (play-by-play), Reggie Miller (analyst) and Rachel Nichols (reporter)

Miller on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant: “I’m not quite sure there has been a more athletic duo, other than Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippen, than these two.”

Miller on Thunder guard Russell Westbrook: “One of our best finishers in the game today.”

Miller on Westbrook’s growth in the game: “This kid plays with so much energy and passion. I love everything about him. I think he is starting to understand and learn his role more with this team in order to do both (a scorer and a playmaker)”

Miller on the Thunder dictating the tempo of the game: “There is such a thing as a controlled tempo. You don’t want to get into a track meet with the Thunder but you have to run at certain opportunities.”

Miller on the resilience of NBA players:  “These guys are durable, night in and night out…they are going to play. Everyone gets dinged. These guys find a way to suit up and continue to play.”

Miller on Thunder guard Kevin Martin: “I’m not sure there is another player in the league that is that good or has a knack for drawing fouls better than Kevin Martin.”

Miller on Knicks forward Kenyon Martin making his second appearance with the Knicks:  “He’s going to give you hard picks, rebounding, toughness, and physical play.”

Miller on Stoudemire’s offensive skill set: “What you do against a good shotblocker? Go right at his chest and that is exactly what Stoudemire is doing on the post.”

Miller on New York’s offensive execution without Carmelo Anthony: “You can not turn the basketball over if you are the Knicks without your premium scorer on the floor to run the offense through. You have to be excellent in your offensive execution.”

Miller on Kenyon Martin’s performance: “I’ve liked Kenyon Martin’s activity on both ends of the floor for a guy that hasn’t played in over a year. You know what you are going to get with him.”

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Sprint Halftime Report

Johnson, O’Neal, Scott and Hardaway

Scott on Amar’e stepping up: “When your main guy is out you have to step up and take the opportunity. Amar’e is a scorer and a go-getter. I’m sure he is going to pick it up in the second half.”

Hardaway on Westbrook: “He is a powerful player. A guard that size getting into the paint with that athleticism, no one can guard him.”

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Miller on Kevin Durant: “His game is only getting better. I think he will go down behind LeBron James this year in the MVP race.”

Miller on the officials reviewing the hard foul from Kenyon Martin on Kevin Durant in the fourth quarter: “I love when the officials have a chance to go huddle. It is smart for the officials to call it a flagrant one so they have time to review it.”

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Game 2:  Los Angeles Clippers (92) @ Denver Nuggets (107)

Announcers: Ian Eagle (play-by-play) and Steve Kerr (analyst) with Craig Sager (reporter)

Kerr on the Nuggets: “This is such an interesting team because they don’t have a superstar, they don’t have great shooters, and they aren’t very good from the foul line yet they are incredible offensively. They find a way to score with their incredible intensity and their ability to run.”

Kerr on Clippers guard Matt Barnes: “He always brings energy…he’s played with more energy and fewer mistakes than he ever has in the past as well.”

Kerr on Clippers forward Grant Hill: “Grant Hill is one of the best weak-side defenders in the NBA.”

Kerr on Nuggets veteran point guard Andre Miller: “He’s ageless and his game is timeless. He knows what to do and he’s the smartest player on the court night after night.”

Kerr on the Nuggets trading Carmelo Anthony two years ago: “It was a great trade and about as good as you would expect them to do. The pieces all fit really well with a coach [George Karl] who is renowned for player development and up-tempo basketball. They did a tremendous job with that deal and they have better team chemistry now because of it.”

Kerr on Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson: “Lawson makes such good decisions in transition. He knows when to attack and when to find a teammate.”

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Sprint Halftime Report

Johnson, O’Neal, Scott and Hardaway

Scott on Chris Paul needing to be a greedier player: “Sometimes you want Chris Paul to be greedier. He dribbles the ball a lot and doesn’t look for his shot. He has to understand that the more he’s in attack-mode and the more he’s in the paint…the more the defense will concentrate on him and he can be the facilitator he wants to be.”

O’Neal on the Clippers having all the pieces but no system: “I worry about the Clippers. They have all the pieces – they have a great point guard [Chris Paul], they have a deep bench, they have an up-and-coming big man in DeAndre Jordan and they have a great power forward [Blake Griffin] but they don’t have a system. They don’t have a set play that, when the game is close, they run when they need a bucket. They are doing too much dribbling and too much pick-and-roll. I’ll tell you for a fact, they won’t beat the San Antonio Spurs or the Miami Heat and they won’t get a championship. They need a system.”

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Kerr on the Nuggets’ struggles in the half-court offense: “When they get in the half-court, they don’t have a go-to guy. They have to execute but they don’t shoot it well enough to get the spacing to execute. That makes it tough.”

Kerr on Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson: “He’s really blossoming into the leader of [the Nuggets]. He still has a ways to go but he’s working hard…I really love watching him play.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai

Johnson, O’Neal, Scott and Hardaway

O’Neal on the overall make-up of the Denver Nuggets: “The thing about this Denver team is they don’t really have a bona fide superstar but they’ve got five guys who play together and make the right play each and every time.”

Hardaway on the effectiveness of the Clippers’ Chris Paul and Blake Griffin against the Nuggets: “I looked at Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and they didn’t have enough shot attempts tonight to win on the road in a big game like this.”

Hardaway on the importance of home court advantage for the Denver Nuggets entering the postseason: “They showed it in tonight’s game – how excited they are as a team and how confident they are at home. Everything they did tonight they were cheering just as much as the fans. They know that they have an advantage at home. If they can get home court advantage, they know they can win there.”

O’Neal on the Nuggets’ chances in the postseason: “They’re going to be a dangerous team once the postseason starts.”

Scott on OKC Thunder guard Russell Westbrook: “Russell has been playing solid basketball since the All-Star break.”

Hardaway on who Thunder forward Kevin Durant reminds him of: “I’m looking at a young George Gervin. That guy is so silky smooth with the ball. He’s made some moves this year that I didn’t know he had. He keeps surprising me every time I watch him.”

Scott on the Thunder needing to get the ball in Kevin Durant’s hands at the end of the game: “In the fourth quarter, late in the ball game, you [the OKC offense] have to go through Kevin Durant more. Tonight they did that and he closed out the game.”

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