Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, November 29, 2012

TNT’s NBA coverage will continue Thursday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m. with a doubleheader featuring the New York Knicks @ Miami Heat at 8 p.m. (ET) followed by the Dallas Mavericks @ Phoenix Suns at 10:30 p.m.

***CLIP OF THE NIGHT***

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TNT Inside Team discuss Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s decision to rest his players

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com

Ernie Johnson (host), Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Chris Webber

O’Neal on Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich: “We all know that Coach [Gregg] Popovich plays chess…not checkers.”

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Game 1:  San Antonio Spurs (100) @ Miami Heat (105)

Announcers: Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller (analysts) with Craig Sager (reporter)

Barkley on the Miami Heat: “They are the best team in the Eastern Conference by far. LeBron has been playing at an MVP level and [Chris] Bosh has been their second best player.”

Barkley on the Spurs reserves getting an opportunity to play against the Heat: “This is good experience for these guys later in the season and in the playoffs.

Barkley on the top teams in the Western Conference: “The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies are the two best teams in the Western Conference. The Spurs are the third best.”

TNT’s Charles Barkley interviewed Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich following the first quarter

Popovich on the pace of the game: “We have to have a good pace. If we play half-court, their defense is too good. Our only shot is to keep the pace going.”

Barkley on Heat guard Dwyane Wade adjusting his game as he gets older: “The toughest thing for Dwyane Wade [as he gets older] is understanding that he’s starting to lose his [natural] talent and now he has to learn how to play below the basket. That’s the toughest thing when you’re a great player or very athletic, when you can’t jump over a building anymore, you have to learn how to play.”

Barkley on Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra: “I think he’s a very good coach who hit the lottery getting LeBron James down here.”

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Sprint Halftime Report

Johnson, O’Neal, Smith and Webber

O’Neal on players motivated when playing against the league’s stars: “When you’re playing against big name players, your adrenaline flows a little bit more. When I played against C-Webb it was always there, but when I played against Eric Montross…it wasn’t there.”

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Miller on Dwyane Wade: “He’s taken a step back [this season]. He’s the third most important player on both ends of the court [behind LeBron James and Chris Bosh]. Chris Bosh has stepped up his game this year for the Heat.”

Barkley on the Memphis Grizzlies: “Don’t sleep on the Memphis Grizzlies. They are big, physical and well coached by Lionel Hollins. The most underrated player on that team is Mike Conley and he is really playing terrific. Marc Gasol is the second best center in the NBA after Dwight Howard. He is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. Zach Randolph has [also] been terrific this season.”

TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra following the third quarter

Spoelstra on if the Heat suffered a letdown with the Spurs not playing their best lineup: “We can rationalize any excuse you want…we’re much better than this.”

Miller on Heat guard Ray Allen’s ability to find his shots: “You don’t have to run a lot of sets for Ray Allen. You just put him out there and you’ve got LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the floor with dribble-drive penetration, because of the way he is able to shoot the basketball…it’s going to find him.”

Barkley on the Spurs: “A lot of NBA teams could learn from watching the Spurs. If you just play hard, good things will happen.”

Barkley on Heat forward LeBron James being the best player in the NBA: “I love Kevin Durant…but [James] is on another planet.”

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Game 2:  Denver Nuggets (105) @ Golden State Warriors (106)

Announcers: Marv Albert (play-by-play) and Steve Kerr (analyst) with Nischelle Turner (reporter)

Kerr on Warriors forward Carl Landry: “I don’t know where they’d [the Warriors] be without him. With [injured Andrew] Bogut on the bench, Landry has played extended minutes. He is a tough player and a good scorer.”

Kerr on Warriors guard Stephen Curry: “If he can spot up and shoot, he’s as good as anyone in the NBA.”

Kerr on how the Nuggets feed off their defense: “Denver is a team that really feeds off their defense. When they play better defensively, that’s when they can get out and run and they have more aggressiveness to their game. They are not a team that executes well in the half-court [offense]. They really need the pace that their defense provides.”

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Sprint Halftime Report

Johnson, O’Neal, Smith and Webber

O’Neal on Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich not playing his stars vs. the Heat: “Popovich has done this before and he knows what’s best for his team. It’s his job to manage his players and do whatever he’d like. He’s thinking about the big picture…the good thing is that ownership lets him do what he does.”

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Kerr on the impact point guard Ty Lawson can have on the Nuggets offense: “When I watch Ty Lawson play, I’m reminded of [Celtics point guard] Rajon Rondo. Not in the style [of play] but in the impact each can have offensively. Denver needs Lawson to score. When he’s aggressive, penetrating and knocking down shots, it gives the Nuggets a push and a surge that they don’t normally have.”

Kerr on forward Andre Iguodala fitting into the Nuggets offense: “He’s really a play-maker at heart, kind of a point-forward. They can run some offense through him as they get more comfortable with him on the roster.”

Kerr on Warriors forward Draymond Green: “He’s not great at anything but he’s really good at everything. He could be a Jared Dudley-type guy who has a major affect on the game.”

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Inside the NBA presented by Hyundai

Johnson, O’Neal, Smith and Webber

Webber on the Golden State Warriors: “It’s fun watching a Mark Jackson team because they play like him – they attack the basket and pass.”

Webber on Golden State Warriors forward David Lee: “You’ve got to give David Lee some credit. He’s playing really well right now. To have a guy that can keep up on the break and finish the stop for them is really great.”

Webber on Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson and his no-nonsense style: “With Mark Jackson, he holds everybody accountable. It doesn’t matter who’s there or who’s not. It’s like he’s saying, ‘I know y’all can win through hard work.’ I love Mark’s leadership with this team.”

Smith on Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson’s style of coaching based on his playing style: “When you watch the Golden State Warriors, you see the extra pass. Guys are not shooting good shots, they’re shooting great shots.”

Webber on the San Antonio Spurs: “Even though they left those stars at home [Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker], these guys played tough all night. I think Coach Pop [Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich] knew his guys would still come to play. They played their hearts out.”

Smith on the Miami Heat playing against a ‘starless’ San Antonio Spurs: “What it really showed to me was the deficiency of the Miami Heat. They are so good in so many areas. But the one area they’re not good in is size. [Spurs center Tiago] Splitter was able to show their [Heat] lack of size and he dominated them.”

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