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/ Nov. 11, 2004

ESPN’s Kia NBA Shootaround, with new host John Saunders and analysts Greg Anthony, Tim Legler and Stephen A. Smith, recently featured discussion on Texas’ best team, the early season impact of Miami’s Shaquille O’Neal, the Sacramento Kings’ surprising 0-3 start and more. NBA Shootaround will have two shows this week – Wednesday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET – leading into ESPN’s NBA game telecasts.

ESPN’s Wednesday night NBA doubleheader will feature LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers hosting Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns at 8 p.m. and Chris Webber and the Kings visiting Ray Allen and the Seattle Sonics at 10:30 p.m. Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs will host O’Neal and the Miami Heat during Friday night’s telecast at 8 p.m.

NBA Shootaround is generally televised Fridays at 7:30 p.m. throughout the season, prior to ESPN’s NBA Friday Coast to Coast doubleheader. Excerpts from last Friday’s show:

On the best team in Texas:

Legler: “San Antonio still has the best team for a variety of reasons. They have one of the two best players in the game in Tim Duncan along with Kevin Garnett. They may be the best defensive team in the league and that’s consistent every single night…and also, they did a great thing in the offseason by adding the one thing they really needed…a stand-alone, spot-up shooter in Brent Barry…and a playmaker. That is the most complete team right now in Texas.”

Anthony: “I can’t really argue with you and say that San Antonio is not the best team in Texas. However, a team that could really dethrone them is the Dallas Mavericks. This is the first time in Don Nelson’s career in Dallas where he has a legitimate team that can go out and defend you every night and (he’s) got a lot of playmakers on that team. Picking up Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse…both those guys coming off the bench…I think that is huge, and then the young players Josh Howard and Marquis Daniels…Dirk Nowitzki taking his game to another level…potentially this team could be the best in Texas when it’s all said and done.”

On the early season impact of Shaq:

Smith: “There’s no question. The thing that strikes me is Shaq. He has not been his usual dominant self. He hasn’t had to be because he was playing against the Nets and Cleveland, but clearly we can (expect to) see Shaq doing a lot better than he has been. He hasn’t had to do much thus far.”

Anthony: “Sometimes to dominate is not to dominate. His presence still dominates a game because he is such a force out there and he’s still trying to work himself back from that hamstring (injury).”

On the stellar play of Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade:

Legler: “They (Heat) have looked very strong and the guy that has looked the strongest has been Dwyane Wade. The thing you want to see in a young player is…after a sensational rookie year and really he emerged in the playoffs of his rookie year…you want to see that guy come back with renewed hunger and not be complacent. Dwyane Wade is showing that…he worked on his jump shot in the offseason. Right now this guy is explosive.”

On the Heat supporting cast:

Anthony: “He (Wade) is explosive. What’s really allowed this team, I think, to have a chance to be special is their forwards. Rasual Butler really has started off and played extremely well. Udonis Haslem gives them a toughness and an athletic presence. Malik Allen, coming off that bench, offers size and athleticism to complement the ‘Big Daddy.’”

On the Sacramento Kings’ 0-3 start:

Legler: “The concerns I have are really with their three best offensive players…the guys that really carry the load every night – Chris Webber, Bobby Jackson and Peja Stojakovic. You look at Webber and still have questions. Is this ever going to be the guy that he was before the knee surgery? Bobby Jackson missed almost the entire year last year. It’s going to take him a while to work off the rust. Peja Stojakovic…Yes, he can put the ball in the hole, but he has a tendency to disappear when it matters most. They have some issues offensively on that team.”

On who is to blame for the Kings’ struggles:

Smith: “I don’t want to hear about the players. They’ve got enough weapons to get the job done. The question is…if they don’t, who’s to blame?...and I’m here to tell you that Geoff Petrie needs to take a strong and hard look at Rick Adelman. This guy hasn’t won any championships and everyone’s trying to treat him like he’s Red Auerbach or something. I know they don’t have Tim Duncan, but still, you’ve got to step up and get these boys to do the job.”

Anthony: “They have four (or) five guys. They have no bench. They have nobody to come off the bench and give them any kind of support. If you want to compete for a title, you have to have depth. For a change, I understand that right now it’s not all on Rick Adelman. I was a big proponent of saying that he had a lot to do with their demise. Geoff Petrie needs to take a little blame because he has not put together a basketball team that can compete for a title. There is no bench on that team.”



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