Posts Tagged ‘TNT’

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 138) Featuring Inside Stuff Co-Host Kristen Ledlow



HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – For those of you old enough and bold enough to admit it, Inside Stuff was your gateway to the NBA growing up.

Long before NBA TV and League Pass, before mobile apps and smart phones, there was Inside Stuff on Saturday mornings to help feed your insatiable appetite for all things NBA (yes, Ahmad Rashad was the man of the hour on Saturday mornings during our formative years).

Kristen Ledlow, the new co-host of Inside Stuff with Grant Hill, is doing her best to bring that feeling back for the next generation of NBA lovers.

She drops by for her first visit to the hideout on Episode 138 of the Hang Time Podcast, where we discuss everything from  Kobe Bryant‘s return to practice with the Los Angeles Lakers, the work LeBron James is putting in without Dwyane Wade in the lineup for the Miami Heat, the simultaneous meltdowns by both the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, the players’ only team meeting in Cleveland and plenty of news, notes and observations from around the NBA.

You get all of that — not to mention the latest edition of Sounds of The Game and this week’s update of Braggin’ Rights (there is a tie at the top that does not involve Lang Whitaker) — on Episode 138 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring Inside Stuff Co-Host Kristen Ledlow:

LISTEN HERE: LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com, Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business, Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.


Wolves, Wizards On Different Paths




VIDEO: Kevin Love is all smiles after a win over Cleveland

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In an effort to soften the blow, we put our sunglasses on when scanning back at our preseason predictions for this season.

There are so many hits and misses, it helps to have a little shade to work with for the ugly misses. For every prediction we hit out of the park (thank you Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves), there is a prediction that seems to go horribly wrong (there’s that mess in Cleveland and, of course, that wobbly start from John Wall and the Washington Wizards).

The BluBlockers are needed for tonight’s Timberwolves-Wizards matchup tonight in D.C. (7 p.m. ET, League Pass), a duel between teams on very different paths early on this season. Both teams are loaded with young talent and have quality depth. But the results have been vastly different for the two teams that are inextricably linked — Wizards coach Randy Wittman used to be Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman while the boss in Minnesota, Flip Saunders, once coached the Wizards.

While Wall and the Wizards have struggled to an ugly 2-7 start, including their current four-game losing streak, Love and the Timberwolves have shown themselves to be an exciting and aggressive crew.

At 7-4, the Wolves are living up to all of the hype, internal and otherwise. Love, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic, J.J. Barea and Co. have managed to take on heightened expectations and handle them appropriately. Throw in that Chase Budinger is back and practicing with the team and Minnesota is looking even better.

Love is in the MVP mix, coach Rick Adelman‘s got his supporting cast thriving and the roster’s balance and depth is finally paying dividends. The Wolves are in the midst of back-to-back grueling stretches of five games in seven nights, a mettle-testing, early-season grind that will could serve them well months from now.

Tonight’s game kicks off a monster week that will see Adelman’s team face off against the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night at home and the Brooklyn Nets Friday at the Target Center. Then comes a road date in Houston with the Rockets on Saturday and they’ll finish this stretch up in Indiana on Nov. 25.

Happy Thanksgiving!

“I don’t know if [the league schedule-makers] know that we’re almost to Canada and Houston’s almost all the way to Mexico,” Adelman told reporters Monday.

When your team is top three in the league in scoring and set to get another boost whenever Budinger returns to the rotation, none of the teams you are blindsiding will grant you any sympathy.

The Wizards, meanwhile, could use a little sympathy … and anything else they can get right now. When their owner, Ted Leonsis, used every opportunity in the lead up to the season to tout his team as a legitimate playoff contender in the East, he surely did not envision this humbling start.

Signing Wall to an $80 million maximum contract extension in August was supposed to be a sign of the commitment Leonsis was making not only to the young face of the franchise, but to the future. Wall was not only going to be the change agent for the Wizards on the court, his extension was also supposed to serve as the symbolic change in the way the Wizards did business going forward.

Veterans would see that the organization was serious about putting the resources in the right places and taking that next step from playoff pretender to contender. But it didn’t take long for reality to set in. As sound as the plan looked on paper, the Wizards simply didn’t have the right mix.

As talented as Wall and his backcourt mate, Bradley Beal one of a handful of early candidates for the league’s Most Improved Player award — surely are, something is still missing.

As my The Beat colleague and TNT’s own David Aldridge pointed out in The Morning Tip, Wall does not shoulder the burden of the Wizards’ slow start on his own. They’re not the same defensive monster they were a year ago, not with Marcin Gortat taking Emeka Okafor‘s place in the lineup.

A top-10 defensive unit last season, the Wizards are now a top-10 scoring team but falling woefully short on the defensive side. As DA pointed out, the slightest tweak to the Wizards’ rotation and chemistry has altered the product on the floor dramatically:

Nene, whose antipathy for banging in the post was well-known, was especially good with Okafor. The quintet of Nene, Okafor, Martell Webster, Bradley Beal and Wall was one of the league’s best defensive fivesomes last year. It’s not that Gortat is a horrible defender. He tries. But opponents, according to the league’s player tracking stats, are shooting 56.7 percent against him on shots at the rim. (By comparison, opponents are shooting 31.4 and 31.5 percent, respectively, on shots at the rim against New Orleans’ Anthony Davis and Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez.)

“March has done a good job for us,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said Saturday. “No question, ‘Mek was solid back there for us, the last line of defense for us, with his basketball knowledge. I think what March brings, though, is that big guy who can challenge at the rim. He’s also got a very good IQ. Defense is a matter of getting your knees dirty each and every night. It’s not a fun thing, but it’s a valuable thing. That’s where we have to get back to, understanding how valuable that is for us to be a good team.”

A good team?

How about a playoff team?

After all, that’s what we all predicted for the ‘Wolves and Wizards this season. But as of right now only one of these teams is living up to that expectation.

Kia Race To The MVP Ladder: The Clippers’ Chris Paul Takes Over The No. 1 Spot



VIDEO: Chris Paul dominates in Clippers’ victory over Wolves

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Well, that didn’t take long.

After just one week atop the heap on the KIA Race To The MVP Ladder, the two-time reigning MVP has been displaced. Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul takes over at No. 1 this week, replacing the Miami Heat’s LeBron James., whose tumble down the Ladder has more to do with the work of the new faces near the top than it does with anything James has or has not done.

Kevin Love, Paul George, James and Kevin Durant complete the top five of a star-studded list, while Tony Parker, James Harden, Stephen Curry and newcomers Anthony Davis and Eric Bledsoe round out the second half of the Ladder.

Paul is off to a historic start, joining point guard luminaries Magic Johnson and John Stockton as the only players to score 10 or more points and dish out 10 or more assists in the first nine games of a season. And despite being dismissed already as a championship contender by TNT’s Charles Barkley, Paul and the Clippers are right where they need to be at this stage of the season.

Dive in here for more of this week’s KIA Race To The MVP Ladder!

Thursday Night Lights On TNT




VIDEO: Clippers coach Doc Rivers breaks down his team’s loss to Orlando

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If the Los Angeles Clippers are using these early season games as measuring-stick contests to see where they stand against other members of the NBA elite, tonight’s game in Miami against the Heat will serve as the ultimate examination.

In fact, tonight’s TNT double-header — Clippers-Heat at 7 p.m. ET and Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets facing the Los Angeles Lakers at the Toyota Center at 9:30 p.m. ET — should have been dubbed Thursday night lights, given all of the star power that will be on display.

The Howard-Lakers saga has been overcooked for months now and we’ve done our fair share of cooking around here. Howard has clearly tried to move on, while the Lakers are doing their very best to do the same, sans Kobe Bryant, for the time being. Howard needs to get on the floor against the Lakers for the first time since he bolted via free agency to give us all a little closure on the entire mess … at least until they meet again.

Howard will have the home crowd on his side tonight, he can expect a much different environment when he returns to Los Angeles to face the Lakers at Staples Center. But Dwight and the Rocket have moved on and are thriving early on this season.

Meanwhile, Clippers coach Doc Rivers continues to vet his team. He has to find out if they have the championship mettle needed to finish the journey while the Heat don’t have to worry about that. They know what’s at their core. Of all the teams on the big stage tonight, the Clippers are the ones with the lingering questions.

They’ve been overwhelmed and worked over twice already this season by teams that were not supposed to be their equal. The Lakers ambushed them on opening night and Nikola Vucevic and the Orlando Magic got them Wednesday night.

Is this going to be a recurring theme for the Clippers, playing down to the competition?

Will Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan continue to get outplayed by guys like Vucevic, grinders who are not wowed by the shock and awe of the Lob City duo’s highlight work?

The Clippers lead the league in scoring (119 points a night) while also leading the league in points allowed (just over 112 points), making them the most exciting and vulnerable team in the league at the same time. Rivers knows better than to allow his team to continue down this path, as he explained to reporters after the loss to the Magic.

“I thought we were very casual in our approach tonight, and that’s me,” Rivers said. “I’ve always got to get them ready and I didn’t … Offense is always fool’s gold. You got to defend to win. The good part about tonight is that it was proof. When we started to get stops, we started scoring. It’s difficult to run when you’re taking the ball out of bounds every time.”

Battling the Magic is one thing. Trading blows with a Heat team that has been on red alert for statement games night after night over the past three seasons will take a colossal effort from Chris Paul and his crew. The world will be watching to see if the Clippers are up to the challenge. The Heat recognize the world is always watching to see if there will be any chinks in their armor that gets exposed by another “contender.”

The fact that we get all of that, with the Howard-Lakers drama as a nightcap, is a bonus for everyone watching.

Thursday night lights on TNT … it has a nice ring to it, no?

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 135) Western Conference Preview Featuring Kevin Ding Of Bleacher Report (Oh, and Shaq!)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — One game doesn’t make a season, not even when it’s a win for the battle of Los Angeles won by the underdog (yes, underdog) Lakers.

But the Lakers’ win over the Clippers was the nightcap of a fantastic start to the 2013-14 season, complete with LeBron James and the Miami Heat dismantling Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls on ring night and Paul George and the Indiana Pacers handling the Orlando Magic in their debut.

While the Heat and Pacers are free from the question marks, the Lakers are not. TNT’s Charles Barkley is convinced the Lakers are going to “stink” this season with and or without the services of one Kobe Bean Bryant, an opinion shared by many (though not anyone else on the Hang Time Podcast crew … we’re not that easily swayed).

While Bryant and the Lakers figured to be something of an afterthought this season, you couldn’t tell by what they did on opening night. They thumped the Clippers and forced us to take a hard look at our predictions on Episode 135′s Western Conference Preview Featuring Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

Maybe the Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves will all battle it out for one of those final playoff spots in the West this season. At the top, however, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the rest of the reigning Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs will fight it out with the new-look Clippers, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder for the top spot.

If our crystal ball is correct, though, that party at the top will be crashed by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, David Lee and the Golden State Warriors and perhaps even Dwight Howard, James Harden, Jeremy Lin and the Houston Rockets.

You get all of that and more on Episode 135 of the Hang Time Podcast, our Western Conference Preview featuring Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report (and that includes some encouraging words of wisdom for us from TNT’s Shaquille “The Big Impersonator” O’Neal).

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

Johnson Working His Baseball Magic





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Whatever it was that took Hall of Famer Magic Johnson away from the game he adores had to be pretty powerful, especially in Los Angeles.

The only brand that could match, or maybe even surpass, the Los Angeles Lakers in the Southland is Dodgers baseball. While Magic was helping the Showtime Lakers to five NBA titles during their heyday in the 1980s, Tommy Lasorda‘s Dodgers were also busy chasing championship glory, winning two World Series titles during the decade.

Magic and the Dodgers coming together the way they did decades later, when Magic joined the Guggenheim Group that owns the Dodgers and helped revive the franchise, seems almost like it was destined to happen.

They were intertwined, the Lakers star and the famed baseball franchise, during what Lasorda described (in the video above) as the “Golden Age” of LA sports.

Sure, the Dodgers are in a hole right now in the National League Championship Series, down 2-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals. But they are light years away from the drama and turmoil that plagued the franchise in recent years, before Magic and the Guggenheim Group got involved.

As he often did for the Lakers as their star point guard, Magic is already setting the table for Monday’s Game 3 at Dodger Stadium:

When news broke last week that Magic would no longer be a part of ESPN’s NBA coverage, it shouldn’t have come as a complete shocker. He has designs on restoring the Dodgers to the winning and championship tradition they enjoyed during his Showtime Lakers years. And he’ll need to be locked in and focused on that task in order to succeed.

We probably haven’t seen the last of him in an analyst’s role (Magic did guest analyst work for TNT before his stint with ESPN … you never know), but for now, the master of “Showtime” has moved on to the baseball world.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 117) Featuring Steve Kerr

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Steve Kerr understands the importance of every shot, every possession and every games this time of year. You don’t win five championships in your 15-year career and not comprehend the significance of each and every step you take in the middle of May.

That’s why the sweet-shooting TNT analyst was a must-get for Episode 117 of the Hang Time Podcast. With the conference semifinals winding down and the conference finals looming, a sobering dose of perspective was needed here at headquarters. We needed someone to provide a little context and perspective to what LeBron James and the Miami Heat are going through right now, what Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors are dealing with right now and what it all means in the grand scheme of things.

Things are fluid for so many of the teams still alive in the playoffs, not to mention the teams whose seasons have finished and are searching for coaches and eventually players to help them get to the point where they are still play in mid-May. Kerr breaks it all down, and more, including his assessment that Heat star Dwyane Wade is no longer an “everyday superstar” but an “every other day superstar.”

We thought Kerr’s presence might defuse the normal mid-week volcano that is Rick Fox, whose “Get Off My Lawn” rant of the week includes his debunking of the NBA’s great point guard myth (as he describes it only the way he can).

In Rick’s estimation, we might have seen the last of the point guards to win MVP in the The Finals when Spurs point guard Tony Parker did in 2007. He’ll could very well be the last of his kind, according to Rick, to find his way into the company of elite players at his position like Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas and Chauncey Billups, the only PGs other than Parker since 1980 to claim that hardware.

(Sorry Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving and the rest of you, Rick says don’t bother.)

You get all of that and a whole lot more on Episode 117 of the Hang Time Podcast …

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

Miller Time Again At The Garden



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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – TNT knows drama!

And the network known for drama will have it all over the airwaves tonight when the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks lock horns in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET).

Famous Knicks-slayer and Hall of Famer Reggie Miller will serve as the analyst for the game, joining play-by-play man Kevin Harlan and reporter Rachel Nichols some 18 years, to the day, of Miller’s unforgettable Game 1 Eastern Conference semifinal showing against the Knicks.

You might remember that one, the game that saw Miller score eight points in 8.9 seconds to beat the Knicks. I bet Spike Lee, a regular at Knicks games then and now, remembers.

The Knicks are already down a game in this series with the Pacers. They looked listless in Sunday’s Game 1 loss, when the Pacers outworked them, per Knicks’ star Carmelo Anthony. This is the sixth playoff series between the two franchises, but the first for the Pacers without Miller in uniform.

They’ve split the previous matches evenly. The Knicks beat the Pacers in four games in the first round in 1993, in seven games in the conference finals in 1994 (Miller’s 25 points in the fourth quarter of the Pacers’ Game 5 win and taunting of Lee set the rivalry on fire) and in six games in the conference finals in 1999. The Pacers beat the Knicks in seven games in the semifinals in 1995, in five games in the semifinals in 1998 and in six games in the conference finals in 2000.

A trip to The Finals is not on the line this time. But another chapter in this storied rivalry will be written either way. Having Miller around tonight to analyze and witness the affair is just the sort of drama you might expect from this series and, especially, TNT.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 111) The Carmelo Anthony Debate

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Few players divide the room the way Carmelo Anthony does.

To some, the New York Knicks’ superstar is a scoring marvel to behold in a league that has always cherished guys who could put the ball in the hole at a record pace. Yet to others, Anthony is an elite scorer but little else and needs to expand the boundaries of his game if he wants to be mentioned in the same breath as friends and contemporaries like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant.

Of course, the right answer is probably somewhere between those two extreme views. Anthony is arguably the best scorer in the game today (he certainly looked the part scorching the James and Dwayne Wade-less Heat for 50 points in the Knicks’ win Tuesday night on TNT).

But if he was a better rebounder, set-up man and finally “won the big one” then we wouldn’t have anything to debate on Episode 111 of the Hang Time Podcast,  where we also debate and discuss the Brittney Griner to the NBA (instead of WNBA … she’s all for it, by the way) drama, the Mike Rice-Rutgers basketball flap, Shaquille O’Neal‘s retirement ceremony, our Final Four picks (GO BLUE!) and a whole lot more.

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.


#Vino Is Out Of The Barrel, Lakers At .500

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Maybe you weren’t listening when Kobe Bryant vowed that the Los Angeles Lakers would not only make the playoffs, but make some noise when they get there.

Bryant was in full Black Mamba mode Sunday night at Staples Center, carving up and then finishing off the Atlanta Hawks late with big play after big play to help the Lakers reach  the .500 mark (30-30), the first time they’ve been there since  Dec. 28, in a 99-98 win.

Kobe scored 11 of his game-high 34 points in the fourth quarter, which also included this not-so-subtle reminder to Hawks forward Josh Smith that he’s still got a few hops left (hey, Magic Johnson, forget about LeBron James. Why not throw that $1 million offer at this Kobe fella for the 2014 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest?):

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With four lead changes in the final minute of the final game of a wild Sunday of action, the NBA kicked off its own version of March Madness. The playoff chase is in full swing in both the Eastern and Western Conferences as teams from the top and bottom of the standings continue jockeying for position.

The Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers all scored big wins on the day before Bryant and the Lakers held off the Hawks, they led by 16 early, in the nightcap.

And truth be told, no team will be under more pressure over the next few weeks than the Lakers, who play 10 of their next 14 games on the road (starting with Tuesday night’s tilt in Oklahoma City on TNT).

But Kobe, who high-fived Hollywood star Jeremy Piven after that retro dunk over Smith, remains the most confident man in the room.

“I have plenty left but you guys are free to criticize and say I don’t,” he told reporters after the game. “Go right ahead.”

He said his mission was simple. “I just wanted to attack. Take the game right to them. Be aggressive, be physical.”

The Hawks tried to guard with Smith and other bigs and it backfired when it mattered most. “They switched with the bigs and when they stay home with the shooters,” Kobe said, “it’s my job to cook ‘em”

Did he ever. He went into his vault in the fourth quarter, particularly down the stretch, going right at Smith, Al Horford and anyone else in his path for the game-winning plays.

“That’s pretty incredible,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I don’t know where he’s getting his young legs from. But the last three or four possessions he just went to the rim and made some incredible shots. The last three or four minutes was all him.”

Smith probably has no idea where Kobe’s lift came from either. But he’ll be forced to relive being on the wrong end of that dunk for a while, as it will no doubt be added to Bryant’s season and career highlight reel.

“He’s been doing it for a long time, so you have to respect what he brings to the table,” Smith told reporters after the game. “He’s an assassin. He wants that moment. But from a defensive standpoint, I love taking a challenge like that and try to step up and try to make it tough for him. It was kind of like a tug-of-war match. We were going back and forth, and they made one more play than we did to win the game. I live for moments like this.”

The best line of the night, however, came from Kobe himself. And it had to do with his new nickname (“Vino” … which is Italian for wine) that connects to his roots and his game, which is seemingly getting better with age.

“I was in my coffin a few years ago … Vino is out of the barrel.”