TNT Notes Jan. 10th: The Detroit Pistons Defeat The San Antonio Spurs In Big Road Win
It’s a Wu Friday at The Commission
Last night’s notes. Enjoy. Funny how Barkley’s Sheed comments fit in to our discussion.
Smith on the talent of the Detroit Pistons versus the Boston Celtics: “If you look at the ‘Big Three,'(Celtics Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen) no matter if they are better than anyone they face, they aren’t that much better than Rasheed (Wallace), Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton, and then you add in (Antonio) McDyess and Tayshaun Prince. (The Celtics) are not really more talented than Detroit.”
TNT analyst Reggie Miller joined the pre-game show prior to the Spurs/Pistons match-up.
Miller on whether the Spurs/Pistons match-up is a potential NBA Finals preview: “I’m sure Boston will have something to say about this, and (so will) Phoenix and Dallas in the West, but when it comes to experience you have to go with Detroit for the simple fact they’ve been (to the Finals before). I don’t want to discredit what Boston has done to this point, but I like (the Spurs and Pistons) and I don’t think (the Pistons) have reached the zenith of their potential, even though they are a veteran-led team. They are going to show a lot more as the season goes on…I like (the Spurs and the Pistons to make it to) the Finals.”
Miller on if this will be Pistons’ coach Flip Saunders last season if the team doesn’t make the NBA Finals: “Yes, I believe (that Pistons coach Flip Saunders faces pressure to win the NBA Finals). It’s unfair to Flip, he inherited (the team) coming after Larry Brown when they got to the Finals and won it once. They had the best record a few years back and lost to Miami and came up short-changed to Cleveland last year. Someone is knocking on the door of Flip Saunders.”
Smith on Pistons coach Flip Saunders needing to win the NBA Finals: “If you got money to buy a Bentley (but you) come home with a broken down ‘69 car, there is something wrong with you. You need to get to the Finals and get a Bentley, that’s what Flip Saunders has got to do.”
Barkley on Pistons center Rasheed Wallace leaving the arena without a shower the other night: “That means you’re funky. No matter how bad it is, you don’t ever leave the arena like that.”
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Game 1: Detroit Pistons (90) @ San Antonio Spurs (80)
Announcers Marv Albert, Reggie Miller, Mike Fratello with Craig Sager reporting
TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Pistons coach Flip Saunders after the first quarter.
Saunders on the Pistons match-up against the Spurs: “Our guys look at these guys as the rivalry of the West, they faced them three years ago in the Finals. You’ve got great match-ups- you’ve got (Tim) Duncan against Rasheed (Wallace), Chauncey (Billups) against (Tony) Parker and either (Bruce) Bowen or (Michael) Finley against Rip (Hamilton), so their main players are going against our main players.”
Fratello on San Antonio’s interior defense: “That’s not how (Detroit) built this lead, the way they did it was with four-foot or five-foot shots or lay-ups. I don’t think I remember a team getting that many interior scores against San Antonio’s defense in a long, long time. When you look at the statistics, (San Antonio is ranked) 20th in the league in opponent’s field goal percentages. That’s not the Spurs; they are always one, two, or three. They always have those two shot blockers up there contesting interior play.”
Miller on the Miami Heat not wanting national attention during their losing streak: “If you’re Pat Riley and everyone expected you to be one of the elite teams in the East and you’re in a nine game losing streak, you think you want all these national TV games? The way (the Heat) are playing, with no Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade is battling injuries, he doesn’t want to be on national TV right now.”
Miller on the potential conference match-up between the Celtics and Pistons: “It’s still a two horse race in the East between Boston and Detroit. They are going to be looking at the standings to see what each one is doing, but that is shaping up to be a seven game series.”
TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince in the first half.
Prince on the difference in the Pistons’ start between their loss the night before in Dallas versus their fast start against the Spurs: “In last night’s game we let Dallas be the aggressor first and we started playing catch-up. Tonight we tried to be the aggressor and come out and establish ourselves and we did a great job of that in the first quarter.”
Johnson, Barkley and Smith
Barkley on the open race in the West: “The Spurs aren’t the Spurs right now. A lot can change between now and the end of the season. I have no idea (who will win) in the West, it’s still up for grabs. I haven’t seen the Spurs be the Spurs and I don’t think the Lakers are for real. Portland is playing terrific, but Utah has disappointed me and Denver has disappointed me. The West is up for grabs.”
Smith on Pistons center Rasheed Wallace’s potential to be the best player in the league: “If (Rasheed Wallace) wanted to be the best player in the NBA he could be. Rasheed Wallace is the X-factor, he has a box game that can create double teams and you still get inside interior scoring. Then all of a sudden he steps out and starts hitting threes and he becomes unguardable. He doesn’t have the mental focus to do it for 82 games, but for a 7-game-series he can be just as good as Kevin Garnett.”
Barkley on Pistons center Rasheed Wallace needing a ‘killer instinct:’ “If you put a Larry Bird, Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan brain in (Rasheed Wallace’s) body, (a guy) who wants to kill the other guy…We’ve never seen a player who’s seven feet tall, can post up and shoot threes, we’ve never had a player like that in the NBA. If he had a killer instinct this guy could be the best player in the NBA.”
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Miller on the calm demeanor of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in the huddle after halftime: “When you’re a four time World Champion like Gregg Popovich, you don’t panic. You understand that is a 48 minute game and you realize that for the first 24 minutes of that first half you didn’t give your best effort. But in this next 24 (minutes) let’s move the basketball, let’s get some good shots and let’s control what we can, which is the tempo. They are gradually getting back in this ball game.”
TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Spurs coach Gregg Popovich after halftime.
Popovich on the Spurs’ play earlier in the game: “We look like we were in the ‘Budweiser League,’ so we’re trying to crawl back from that.”
Miller: “I think he was referring to the Premier Basketball League of which Kenny Smith is the commissioner. I think that’s what he was talking about, because I’ve never heard of the ‘Budweiser League.'”
Miller on the compelling match-ups shaping up in the West in the NBA Playoffs: “Think about if the playoffs started today with Phoenix having the number one seed against Golden State, that’s a compelling match-up. This San Antonio Spurs team going against Denver, there’s history there (between the teams). The two teams that are really surprising are Portland who would go against the Lakers. Could you imagine if the playoffs started today with those matchups in the West? “
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Game 2: Phoenix Suns (86) @ Utah Jazz (108)
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Doug Collins with David Aldridge reporting
Collins on Jazz forward Carlos Boozer whose son recently underwent a bone marrow transplant: “My son has spent 12 years at Duke, four as a player and eight as a coach, and said you would be hard pressed to find a nicer guy (than Carlos Boozer) that has come through Duke and played. Forget about his talent, he’s a wonderful guy and we’re so happy that he’s got his family back. It’s a lonely time when you don’t have your family around and you’re dealing with health issues; it’s nice to see Boozer smiling with his family back.”
Collins on Jazz guard Ronnie Brewer: “(Ronnie Brewer) is a slasher and a cutter and that’s how he does most of his scoring. He’s sixth in the league in steals, he’s very active and is one of the better defenders. He’s not a good perimeter shooter, he’s very streaky, that left arm will fly out on his shot. He’s working hard on his jump shot, that’s going to be his next step to develop as a big guard in this league.”
Collins on Jazz forward Kyle Korver: “Kyle Korver is going to be a welcome addition to (the Jazz). He’s a stable guy, a great team guy in the locker room, he can shoot the ball and throw the ball in the post which is a lost art. He is really going to help this team; a lot of Western Conference teams were very unhappy that Utah was able to make this trade him.”
TNT’s David Aldridge interviewed Jazz forward Ronnie Brewer after the first half.
Brewer on a point of emphasis for the Utah Jazz: “Our defense (has been the biggest difference maker). We’ve been trying to defend and execute our offense and it’s been working out for us so far. (Brewer, panting during the interview) They are a fast paced team!”
Johnson, Barkley and Smith
Barkley on the Suns needing to play their bench players more: “One of the negatives of the Suns is they don’t play enough players. I think they have one of the deeper benches in the league. I think Marcus Banks should get more playing time than he does, but (coach) Mike D’Antoni only plays eight players.”
Barkley on the Jazz playing a depleted Suns team: “The Jazz don’t blow you out, they don’t want to run and gun. The Suns can hang around, they can’t win the game, but they can hang around.”
Barkley on the Memphis/Sacramento match-up: “When is this going to come out on DVD?”
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Collins on the impact of guard Steve Nash on center Amare Stoudemire: “You miss Steve Nash in a lot of situations. How often have you seen that two-man game tonight? The realization of Nash and how he gets you easy baskets, you just don’t see that tonight. (The Suns) need both (Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash) because they both do such different things. They need Stoudemire’s inside presence and they need Nash to do what he does. I don’t think there is a leader on the team and I think that’s one of the things they struggle with. When we’ve seen championship teams before we’ve know who THE player was and right here are three or four players on the Suns team that are in that position.”
Suns guard Steve Nash on how this season is different than others: “We haven’t had as much fun as we have in past seasons. The toughest thing or the most disappointing thing is that no matter what goes on, it is just a game and a great game and a great challenge and we’ve got to find a way to perhaps put that challenge above all else.”
Collins on the Suns needing to play through adversity: “Right now, this (Suns) team is under the microscope. There (has been) great scrutiny over the past three years (and) there have been a lot of the expectations. In fairness, they’ve had some bad luck in the playoffs with some inopportune injuries and suspensions and they need to find a way to put that chip off their shoulder and play through those things and put themselves in a position to have success come playoff time.”
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Inside the NBA
Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith
Smith on how playing time affects the mentality of a bench player: “Great players don’t need a rhythm because their confidence level and abilities would sometimes overshadow the opponent. A guy like Marcus Banks, a guy that comes (off the bench) into the game, needs a rhythm, he needs to know that every night he’s going to get 12-14 minutes (of playing time) to prepare himself to play. (Critics) will say that he’s a professional; he should be prepared to play, but I think when you are a player of that caliber you need preparation and insight on what you’re going to do (in the game).”
Smith on Sacramento Kings head coach Reggie Theus: “Reggie Theus has done a great job with the amount of injuries and the talent level that he has on the floor to be competitive each night. (Sacramento’s record is) only 14-20, but they are competitive every night.”
Barkley on the San Antonio Spurs: “I’m concerned about the Spurs. They are missing an energy or something right now. There’s a long way to go (in the season) but even though they have one of the best records in the game, they are just missing something, like an energy level.”
Smith on the inconsistent play of Detroit Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace: “The thing that (Rasheed Wallace) can do in the playoff setting, since the games are minimal, is he can focus in on those seven games (in a playoff series). But over 82 games (in the regular season), something doesn’t trigger him to say, ‘You know what, I can dominate (this team).’ He allows his other teammates to say this is their night as well. But great players make it their night first all the time. It’s always going to be (a great players) night. What that does is send a mental message around the league so that when you walk into town, you know that Rasheed Wallace is going to do something to you. That’s the part that he hasn’t grasped (in the regular season). He can grasp it in the playoffs because (the Pistons) can go so far.”
Washington Wizards forward Caron Butler stopped by the Inside the NBA set.
Butler on how the team is dealing with star guard Gilbert Arenas’ injury: “Guys are really stepping up in all aspects of the game. There’s no one particular guy, (Antawn Jamison and myself) are setting the tone, but Roger Mason, Antonio Daniels, Brendan Haywood, he’s having a career year, Andray Blatche, some of the younger guys are stepping up to the forefront.”
Butler on how Wizards head coach Eddie Jordan has handled the team throughout the season: “(Eddie Jordan) set a challenge for us. He’s said it’s not over. A lot of people counted us out and (our) locker room is full of guys who have been counted out their whole life. Whether it’s making it to the league or winning games or going out there performing at a high level, we’ve got to go out there and prove the doubters wrong. A lot of guys are stepping up and doing it.”
Butler on his nickname “Tough Juice:” “Coach Jordan gave me that name. He said I’m a hard-nosed dude and (the nickname) stuck.”
Johnson: “We’ve got fruit juice (Kenny Smith) and prune juice (Charles Barkley).”
Barkley: “It keeps me regular.”
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