TNT got very good ratings for last night’s Cleveland-Miami game, so good that it beat the NFL in the cable overnight ratings. Let’s take a look at what was said during Cavs-Heat and Phoenix-Golden State last night. It seems the nightcap was an anti-climax after the hype for LeBron James’ return to Cleveland.
Notes from TNT’s Coverage of the NBA – Thursday, December 2, 2010TNT’s NBA Thursday coverage continues on December 9 at 8 p.m. ET with an exclusive doubleheader featuring the Boston Celtics @ Philadelphia 76ers followed by the Orlando Magic @ Portland Trail Blazers.CLIP OF THE NIGHT**** **** **** ****TNT NBA Tip-off live from Quicken Loans Arena in ClevelandErnie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny SmithSmith on the big-game atmosphere prior to the Heat @ Cavaliers: “I’ve been in two NBA Finals and I’ve not seen this much electricity in a regular season game ever in my life. I’ve been in basketball for 25 or 30 years and I’ve never seen an electricity in a building or an intensity in a building (like this). It feels like the NBA Finals.”Barkley on how Heat team president Pat Riley should support his head coach Erik Spoelstra: “I think they have done Erik Spoelstra a disservice. He is a good coach and a really good guy. I criticized Pat Riley a little bit because he should come out and say that (Spoelstra) is going to coach this team. He puts the team under pressure and Erik Spoelstra under pressure. Pat Riley has done this team a disservice. He should come out and say, ‘I’m not going to coach this team.’”**** **** **** ****Game 1: Miami Heat (118) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (90)Announcers: Marv Albert, Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller with Craig Sager reportingMiller on Heat forward LeBron James being prepared for his first game back in Cleveland: “There’s no way that you could possibly prepare for something like this knowing that all eyes have been on you since you made that decision (to leave the Cavaliers). You wonder what’s going through his 26-year-old mind.”Kerr on what LeBron is going through in his first game back in Cleveland: “I wouldn’t wish this on anybody. I know he made some mistakes with the way he handled things but I really feel for him because I don’t think what he did was malicious. He probably didn’t know what he was stirring up.”Kerr on Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson playing better without LeBron James on the team: “Ironically enough, (Gibson) is having his best season by far. When a player like James leaves, some players struggle because they’re not getting any easy shots. Gibson has seized the opportunity and expanded his game. He used to be a spot-up shooter. Now he’s taking and making more two’s (point shots).”TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra following the first quarterSpoelstra on the Heat playing together as a team: “We’re in this together. Collectively we have to do it. After all the smoke cleared before the game, that’s what you have…a basketball game.”Kerr on the recent criticism of Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra: “I think you can anticipate some of it but you can’t imagine what it’s going to feel like. I was shocked at the amount of criticism he’s received and I think he’s handled it beautifully. He’s a great guy, he’s a good, young coach and you’ve got to give him time to figure out all the pieces as well.”Kerr on the mismatch in talent between the Cavaliers and Heat: “You get the feeling this is like a NCAA Tournament game with Princeton against North Carolina. Princeton just has to keep it close, lengthen the game and try to make it to the fourth quarter with a chance (to win). There is such a disparity of talent (between the Heat and the Cavaliers).”**** **** **** ****HalftimeJohnson, Barkley and SmithBarkley on LeBron James talking to the Cavaliers bench during game stoppages: “Let me tell you something about the Cleveland Cavaliers…I can’t even say what I want to say. LeBron James is walking over to their bench and laughing and joking with them. I talked to Paul Pressy and said, “dude, are you going to say anything to your players?” LeBron James can’t go to their bench and talk to them as he’s kicking their ass. He’s sitting there laughing and joking during time-outs. I am pissed at (Cavaliers head coach) Byron Scott…I am totally pissed. There’s something about competition and we can be friends after the game but (James) told (the Cavs) they weren’t good enough and after every time-out, he comes to their bench and laughs and jokes with them. I can’t have that.”Smith on LeBron James socializing with the Cavaliers’ bench during the first half: “In the spirit of competition, the one thing that you’ve already established is that the home fans have tried to make him feel uncomfortable. By (the Cavaliers bench) talking, joking and laughing with him, they’ve made him feel comfortable. At the beginning of the game he was bothered and unnerved by what was going on.”TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Miami Heat forward LeBron James following the first halfJames on his first game back in Cleveland: “It’s just business. We have to come in here and get a road win. We haven’t played particularly well on the road this season. We’ll use the adversity that’s come with this game and try to build on it.”James on how the fans’ negative reaction to him: “It’s alright, I understand how passionate fans are. I’ve still got a lot of love for these fans here. I’m a Miami Heat player now and we’re looking to get this win.”Barkley on the Cavalier fans behaving themselves: “I think the city of Cleveland should take a bow. The fans were angry, they were upset but there really wasn’t anything profane and no one has thrown anything (onto the court). I have to take my hat off to these Cleveland fans because clearly they are upset and aside from some boos and some signs, they have been very cordial.”Barkley on the Cavaliers playing with much passion in the first half: “I can’t tell you how bad I’ve been on the Cavaliers’ players. These fans were on dead-red but these Cavalier players aren’t playing with any animosity and they don’t have a chip on their shoulder. They are doing a disservice to these fans and themselves.”**** **** **** ****Miller on Cavaliers center Anderson Varajao: “He’s a great role player on a team with a player like LeBron James or Dwyane Wade who can penetrate and set you up. No one on (the Cavaliers) can get into the gaps and set him up.”Miller on a part of LeBron James being hurt by the negative reaction in Cleveland: “There is a part of LeBron where this is obviously business. His performance is showing that. But there has to be a little part of him that understands coming home to his former team, he grew up in Akron (which is) 40 minutes away, there has to be a little part of him that hurts. It hurts hearing the chants and reading the signs.”Miller on Cleveland fans needing to move on from LeBron James: “I agree with Cleveland fans and why they’re upset. You do not go on national television and embarrass us after we tried to do everything for you. But I will say this, get over it. It’s time to move on. He chose somewhere else. You are acting like a bunch of jilted lovers over here. It’s time to move on.”Kerr on the Cavaliers having a hard time against high-scoring teams: “If you’re (head coach) Byron Scott and Cleveland, it’s going to be very difficult to win games against teams that can score a lot of points. They are going to have to find their (wins) against teams that they can match up with and then out-work and out-hustle them. That’s the type of team that they’ve been this year.”Miller on the Heat needing to win more on the road: “(The Heat) are going to have to win more big games on the road. That will tell me if they are ready to take the next step.”TNT’s Craig Sager interviewed Heat forward LeBron James following the gameJames on the Heat’s victory over the Cavaliers: “We came here with one goal, to win a basketball game and we did that. This is most complete game that we’ve had all year from start to finish.”James on his performance against the Cavaliers: “I know this court and I’ve made a lot of shots on this court. I just wanted to be aggressive and keep my mind in the game. We made a run in the third quarter but we were able to get stops and make shots.”James on what the Heat can take away from their victory over the Cavaliers: “We have to continue to get better. We need to know that every night that we go out it’s going to be a hostile environment. We have to continue to get better and it was a good night for our team.”James on what he has to say to the fans of Cleveland: “It was seven great years. I loved every moment from my growth as an 18-year-old kid to a 25-year-old man and we tried our best as a team to bring a championship to the city and tried to play hard every night. I have the upmost respect for this franchise and the upmost respect for the fans. I’ll just continue the greatness for myself here in Miami and get better every day.”James on if he would like to apologize for leaving the Cavaliers and joining the Heat in the off-season: “I don’t want to apologize. I think my intentions weren’t to hurt anyone. My intentions were solely on kids during the whole process. I always say that the decisions I make, I live with them. There are always ways that you can correct them or do them better but at the end of the day, I live with them. I’m satisfied, I’m happy right now.”**** **** **** ****Game 2: Phoenix Suns (107) @ Golden State Warriors (101)Announcers: Kevin Harlan and Mike Fratello with Cheryl Miller reportingFratello on how the Miami Heat supported LeBron James: “I thought this could be the game that turns around Miami’s season. It was the first time they really rallied together and had (James’) back going into that hostile environment. It gives you a special sense of togetherness. It makes you understand that when you are having a tough night, you come in and you’re a little down, you need the other players on the squad to help you through it and that’s what they did for LeBron tonight.”Fratello on the Suns’ strong bench: “They have some scorers on this second unit. (Hedo) Turkoglu and (Josh) Childress can score. (Alvin Gentry) created two separate units, relied on his substitutes and it gave him some depth. It allowed him to rest Grant Hill, rest Steve Nash and not have to play them 42-minutes a night.”Harlan on the Golden State Warriors: “They are different kind of ball club. (They) are building with young kids. (They have) a tremendous amount of athleticism and a new coach.”**** **** **** ****HalftimeMatt Winer, Kevin McHale and Chris WebberWebber on the Cavaliers’ bench talking to LeBron James during the game: “I’ve gone back to a hostile environment and the worst thing that can happen is the other team encourages you while the fans are trying to boo you. Cleveland’s bench let (James) get into the game. They are some of the softest guys in the NBA. The whole state of Ohio saw you trying to be buddy-buddy with the guy who left you to go play with better people in greener pastures.”Webber on how the win over the Cavaliers brought the Heat together as a team: “I think these guys have heart and nothing brings you together, whether its society or city or state like a common enemy. Tonight, the enemy was Cleveland and it helped those guys in the locker room.”Webber on the Cavaliers’ fans: “The heart of the fans in Cleveland is big.”McHale: “What about the players?”Webber: “They are soft as wet toilet paper tissue.”**** **** **** ****Fratello on Suns guard Hedo Turkoglu: “(Turkoglu) is a guy you really like. He’s an underrated defensive player. He’s hoping that he gets back to how he played in Orlando.”Fratello on teams needing to hear a voice on defense: “You talk about hearing a voice, you always hear coaches talk about hearing a voice on defense. We’ve heard in Miami that LeBron, from day one, is the voice of Miami’s defense. (David) Lee is not afraid to take on that responsibility (with the Warriors).”Fratello on the Warriors fans: “(The Warriors) have a great home court with a great crowd that has stayed loyal to this franchise for all of these years.”TNT’s Cheryl Miller interviewed Suns guard Jason Richardson following the gameRichardson on the Suns being a work in progress: “We’re definitely a work in progress but this is a step forward in the right direction. We did a lot of things right on the defensive end and we’ve got to look at the film and get ready for the next game.”**** **** **** ****Inside the NBAWiner, McHale, WebberTNT’s Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith joined the post-game show from Quicken Loans Arena in ClevelandBarkley on getting past LeBron James’ first game back in Cleveland: “I’m glad it’s gotten to the point where we can start concentrating on basketball. This was a big night in the NBA. I’m glad it’s over. For the most part, the people of Cleveland were great all night.”Smith: “I think there was closure. Being in the arena and (James) seeing the fans, I’m glad that Cleveland didn’t go to Miami first. I’m happy that this game was here the first time that they played. Overall, it was what I expected. There was a little bit more enthusiasm at the beginning of the game but it was what I expected.”Barkley on the difference between the fans of Cleveland and Miami: “In fairness to this whole Cleveland situation, you see the difference between Cleveland, they sell out every game, and Miami who have this glamorous trio (Bosh, James and Wade), they aren’t selling out (games). They’re trying to ‘Fan Up.’ I think there is a difference in the mentality of the fans. Cleveland is a hard-core (fan-base) with the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers. Then you go to Miami, it’s a great city but they’re not sports fans.”Webber on how LeBron James should’ve had 50 points against the Cavaliers: “I’m happy to see LeBron play this well. He came out and played hard and he really should’ve had 50 (points). We were cheated; I wish Cleveland would’ve played harder so he could’ve gotten to 50 in the fourth quarter. (I’m) glad to see him go back and face this. Let’s be honest, he’s a good person, he made what many consider to be a bad decision in how he left. Hopefully this if over now and the NBA can just celebrate how good this guy is.”Webber on Warriors guard Monta Ellis: “(Ellis is) a great finisher. This guy can finish off of one leg or he can get both feet together, take the contact, and finish. He’s one of the quickest guys in the league with the ball.”McHale on Suns veteran guard Grant Hill: “(Hill) had a really big possession where he came down with the ball and made a really slow ball fake. He plays at old man speed, he’s not going fast, he just takes his time and he just tricks all of those youngsters. He really knows how to play the game.”
And that concludes this post.