I’ll be around for MOST of the day, with the exception of a mid-afternoon groceries run with the Paroxiwife. Might as well make the most of it. I’ll be liveblogging, join in the fun!
11:54- ABC really, really, really needs to do a better job with their promos. You remember NBC’s? They would give you chills. Theirs are bland, and even the voiceover guy sucks.
11:55- Going to be an insane day. Conference tournament finals, including my homeland Razorbacks in the SEC Final (!) and a chance to root against KU. But the NBA still has the best matchups.
11:56- Stuart Scott: Don’t sleep on the Hornets. Thanks for the tip, Mike. Thanks for the tip.
12:00- Tim McGraw and Def Leppard?! Really?! Really, guys?! Jesus. Just give up, ABC. You fail at life.
12:02- No David West. That’s huge. The best way to attack the Pistons is at the PF. They’ve got to get West and Paul healthy.
12:06- Are there any teams that play well in a 1EST start? The Pistons don’t. I just don’t think pro player are adjusted to it. Quick 6-0 start for the buzz.
12:08- Melvin Ely A. has an awesome beard, and B. gets 100% lost in the pick and roll. It’s like watching a kitten trying to follow a lightning bug.
12:10- That Paul-Chandler alley-oop is amazing for how accurate it is. It’s so natural. Pistons rolling multiple post sets, sucker the Hive in, and get Prince for an open three. Nice playoff preview. The Pistons need to get Amir in, they need the energy boost.
12:16- Chandler went to the ceiling to get the alley-oop. All the Chicago/NY escapees are such great stories to root for. Peja grabs a rebound on the other end and tosses it to Chauncey. I know McDyess has been fantastic for the Pistons this year, but seriously, right now he looks like he’d rather be anywhere else. He fouled Ely, fer chrissakes (who, of course, missed both free throws).
12:17- Prince is pretty much the entire Pistons offense right now. 20-9. By the way, in all the blowing of LA and Boston, shouldn’t Byron Scott be considered for coach of the year?
12:21: OH. MY. GOD. Jason Maxiell just ANNIHILATED an attempted alley oop by chandler. Sent it into the fifth row. Tirico called it the block of the year, and it’s definitely up there. Monster elevation on it, too. This is after Maxiell scores when he finds himself in the post against (snicker) Peja. Yeah, might want to avoid that scenario, there, Buzz.
12:26- I love how the Pistons go down by 13, just do their thing, and are back within 3. And then they let Chandler drift to the basket AGAIN for a dunk. Jeez.
12:33- And just like that, the Pistons tie it up. Can’t buy jumpshooting.
12:34- Usuaally I like Pargo, I think he’s a nice set of physical tools and talents. Unfortunately, he’s pretty much the epitome of what the Pistons want to defend.
12:35- White guy alert! Bowen in to ATTACK!
12:42- And Pargo decides to not only fail to recognize the defense, but to welcome them into the corner as he heaves it up in a useless shot.
12:45- The Benches are matching up and you’d never believe it, but New Orleans is losing that fight.
12:46- Melvin Ely with the missed dunk. He’s going for the total mistake game. Chandler coming back in.
12:46- Jarvis Hayes has 13 points. WTF?
12:47- See, they don’t always screw up the music for ABC. I know the whole “Motown” thing is overplayed, but “Second That Emotion” is a great outro song to break.
12:51- Pistons by 8. I can’t really tell you how, they just are. Oh yeah, Jarvis Hayes has 16.
12:57- Ely misses his second dunk. That’s fun. Jarvis Hayes. AGAIN. Apparently if you do play or have ever played for the University of Georgia, you should just go shoot as much as you can.
1:00- Detroit by 13 at the half. Hornets need Paul, and he’s just too banged up to face a team this physical. They should shut him down. Pistons, meanwhile, are winning, despite not having much of an interior presence.
1:11- BTW, I’m very pissed they moved the SEC Tournament to ESPN2. Who gives a crap about the Big 10 tournament? That entire conference is irrelevant. Football, basketball, field hockey, tailgating, there’s nothing that conference does better. Seriously. This is crap.
1:12- We get JVG for the Rockets-Lakers game! Woohoo! If we get JVG withOUT Mark Jackson, it will be a glorious day.
1:19- And we’re back. The Pistons are completely ignoring everybody except Paul and Chandler on the pick and rolls.
1:20- Tirico and Hubie comment that this isn’t the same Chris Paul. Why do these injuries always happen when they’re going to be on national television? Pistons defensive intensity is killing the Hornets right now and exhausting them. Pistons by 13.
1:25- Chandler is hurt after Rasheed hacks him hard. He doesn’t look right. By the way, here’s that Maxiell block which was redonkulous.
1:30- They keep doing all this lip work on Paul, meanwhile his team is down 14 and Chauncey just made everyone on the Hornets look silly. Look, I love CP3 as much as anybody. But seriously. Don’t force feed us.
1:32- Julian Wright has the physical sets that I just love. He’s come a long way this season. He could have used a stint in the D-League to polish some stuff, but he’s putting in meaningful minutes for the Hornets now,which is good to see.
1:40- Clemson getting polished off by the Tarheels, shocker. They had a nice run, but UNC is just loaded with talent. Have I mentioned how much I like UNC to go farther than Kansas?
1:47- Lisa mentions that someone in the West said every game feels like a playoff game when you’re in the West. Thanks for mentioning that to Flip Saunders… who coaches in the East. Good job.
1:48- New Orleans needs to push to start this 4th. They need to get this thing back to even by about 7 minutes remaining or Pistons poise is going to smother them.
1:49- Jarvis Hayes AGAIN! The dude is unconscious.
1:56- And they’re not going to close it by 7 minutes.
1:57- JARVIS HAYES AGAIN! Dear Lord! Someone put a lojack on the dude!
2:00- Paul is forcing alley-oops now. He needs to look for the smart pass instead of the highlight reel. Rafer Alston gets his own pregame shot in the locker room. The world has gone mad.
2:16- I don’t know how much you can take from this with Paul at 70% and West out. I think you can take more away from it on the Pistons side. When these guys man-up for a big game, they’re still Boondock Saints- stone cold killers.
2:32- Okay, this is just bizarre. ESPN2 is airing CBS’ coverage, complete with announcers of the SEC Championship. BIZ-ZARRE.
2:33- Ugh. Mark Jackson is there. Sigh.
2:34- With the mass of injuries the Rockets’ opponents have faced, you have assume there’s Voodoo involved, right?
2:36- Oh, that’s cute, Lamar Odom wants to act like he’s going to bang inside. Blocked by Mutumbo. Booyah. But Mutumbo has GOT to stop the finger wave after every block. Save it for when it’s special, big fella.
2:38- Both teams playing great perimeter defense. Scola just busts his ass on every single play, both sides of the court. 8-2 Rockets early.
2:40- McGrady’s forcing things early. But Rafer’s 2-2 from the arc!
2:42- They’ve actually got Bryant covering McGrady. And it’s working. T-Mac seems intimidated. Two turnovers already for him. Scola’s a little lost on drive passes.
2:43- Scola picks up 3 quick ones, and now Hayes is in. They need to keep energy up. Turiaf is trying to attack the basket. He gets winded usually when he does that. Alston has 3 3s. The Dream Shake can suck it, apparently. God, I wish someone would tell ABC that no one likes the Mark Jackson harrassment of JVG. It’s just not entertaining. Lakers going to the line a lot. Shocking, I know.
2:50- McGrady really forcing it right now. They need better ball movement, but the Lakers are iron clad. Mutumbo gets blocked trying to go up on an offensive board. And then is sluggish on the defensive end and lets Turiaf steal one. I wondered how Big&Old would do against the athleticisim. McGrady with another turnover, Kobe dunk. Lakers within 1.
2:55: Arkansas down 24-9 early. Ugh. I don’t want to hear any more complaints about them having to play so much. That’s a huge part of the reason they’re winning.
2:56- If the Rockets are going to win this game, they have to keep a clamp on Vucacic and Radman. Radman hit a three to tie it. McGrady misses. AGAIN. What did I say? You don’t play McGrady 48 minutes against the Charlotte FREAKING Bobcats two days before you play the Lakers.
2:58- The Lakers go for a full court press, beyond all reason, and Battier makes them pay for it with a dish to Hayes for the and one.
3:00- Just when Alston gets them some breathing room with another three, Farmar answers. Perimeter defense is actually more important than the paint in this game, since it’s a wash with Scola, Hayes and Mutumbo versus Odom and Turiaf.
3:02- Alston with 16. Suck it, Dream Shake.
3:07- And the Lakers do what they do. Hang, play fundamental, lean on free throws, and take the lead.
3:08- JVG (discussing Mike Harris’ 46 point game in China): No offense, but don’t talk to me about no China!
3:09- This one’s becoming a back and forth affair. Someone’s going to have to take a momentum burst. The Rockets are playing better without McGrady. Harris with the dunk, 3 point lead for the Rockets.
310- Bobby Jackson takes a three for reasons I don’t understand on a stepback. Great defense and outlet by the Jackson, though, for a dunk. Rockets have a ton of momentum and the Lakers seem to be running out of tricks now that the three isn’t falling.
3:14- For reasons I’m not entirely sure of, Alston is still out. So you play McGrady 48 minutes one night, then bench Alston when he’s got 16 first quarter points? Bryant’s 5 of 13. Turiaf with a great block. Oh, man. Luther Head just drew a three point foul on the floppy haired loser called Sasha. Lakers are starting to wear out.
3:17- Rockets’ bench has scored 19. It pays to be deep baby! Kobe’s slipping into his true form, jacking it, not looking for the open shooter. Meanwhile, the Rockets noticed that the Lakers switched to emphasizing the perimeter on defense and are going to the rack every time and picking up fouls. If they get Turiaf in foul trouble, they can kill these guys later. If Landry was in this game, they’d be up 10 more. They need to get Mike Harris involved more.
3:19- Arkansas is going to need a major turnaround at the half to get back in this thing. Georgia starts to let them in again, but then slows it down. There’s absolutely NO interior defense for the Hogs.
3:23- Odenize sends this on, which, to be honest, is just creepy. I know the coaches want to be personable, but they really just need do the obligatory interview, push the cliches, and get back to the bench.
3:24- They give up on Sasha for a heartbeat and he drains a three. Battier with a great drive and lift. Farmar had enough time to write a novel, and still couldn’t hit. 4 points in the last 2 minutes by Harris! Todl you!
3:26- Gorgeous extra pass by the Rockets results in another jumper by Head high off the glass. Tafoya mentions how drained McGrady is. Yeah, thanks for that update. Jesus, I’m still pissed about that. McGrady has, wait for it….0 points.
3:28- McGrady misses another one… and Scola out-hustles three Lakers to get the bucket. JVG says he’s the rookie of the year. Mark Jackson is (shocker) indignant. I bet Jackson wants Durant. Rockets by 11. You keep waiting for the Rockets to shrink away and start clanging it, and they’re just not. I will say that Kobe is doing fantastic work on the defensive end and has gotten a few assists on some nice feeds down low. We’ll see if he reverts back to jackin’ it.
3:32- McGrady take a cue from Bryant, drives baseline, nice dish, and gets it to Scola for a nice offhand layup for the andone, which he misses the free throw. Kobe answers with a jumper. Here we go. Rockets by 9.
3:34- Oh, good, we have “Kobe’s journey” coming up at the half. Think I’ll skip that one to watch my Razorbacks get blasted. Lakers are very frustrated right now. Watching Kobe absolutely annihilate McGrady with defense is kind of entertaining. Another tech, this time on Radmanovich. Guys, you have to make it to the WCF before you get all the calls on the road.
3:36- So… Bryant, Radman, and Fisher all have 2 fouls, Turiaf has 3. On a team with little bench left. It’s DJ Mbenga time in the second half!
3:37- McGrady admits that he’s got no legs. He’s laughing. Dude, you have 0 points. No laughing until you have points, k? Still, 15 point lead by the Rockets at the half. Whew.
3:43- Arkansas ended the half on a 15-6 run, and start off to get within 8 to start the half. The fatigue is going to start killing the Bulldogs, we’ll see if they can get enough energy to hang. Georgia looks exhausted to start, but Arkansas can’t buy a bucket.
3:45- Georgia’s desperate to slow the game down. Problem is, the Hogs have legs and they’re ready to run. They need Beverly to step up here. Townsend nails a hook, and it’s down to 6. You’re tired, doggies. You know you are…
3:48- What? Kansas is down against a quality opponent in a crucial situation? No! You’re kidding! That can’t be! I’ve said it since the beginning of the year. The Jayhawks will NOT make the Final Four.
3:49- Uh-oh. Now I’ve got the Razorbacks within 6, Kansas within 4, and the second half of the Rockets-Lakers game. Oh, God! Someone get me another TV!
3:50- By the way, the Longhorns always manage to make great plays look effortless. They have such great guard plays and are deep. Just a tremendous squad. Within 2 after a Dorrel slam. Augustin has 20 in this thing. Collins hits the three to give the Jayhawks a one point lead they’ll be losing in the next 5:40.
3:52- Great tranistion three by the Bulldogs. You have to admire the heart on these kids. They’re just fightingwith everything. Back to a nine point lead, Hogs need a bucket.
3:55- Chickenhawks by 1. Hmm… I’m starting to think they might hold on to this one. This is just the kind of game that lets Kansas fans believe their team didn’t sneak out with one beore the pathetic third round elimination.
3:58-Big rebound by Rush with 2:58 for KU. I really like Rush. I think he’s going to make a solid pro. Atchley (AKA White-Out) is back in, and grabs the rebond. Damien James with a bad shot. He’s the weaklink. And a huge dish by Collins off of Abrams to maintain possession. Chalmers with a three, and it’s two possessions. Congrats, KU, you get a weak late season schedule and a homecourt tournament. Have a nice trip home in two weeks.
4:01- Georgia’s got it back to 13. Arkansas has no interest in playing defense today, and the Bulldogs essentially have a homecourt advantage, like KU. That really is crap in the conference tournament, by the way. Wow, Georgia running away now. You have to give it to them, they’re just outhustling the Hogs now, and it’s all heart.
4:03-Five point lead now for the Rockets, they’ve started 0 for 10 to start the third. And what did I say? Don’t let them shoot the three! Fisher gets a big one. By the way, I hate Mark Jackson.
4:05- Ah, Rick Barnes manages to coach his way out of another Big 12 Title. Great recruiter. Mediocre coach.
4:06- I always defended KC having the Big 12 Title game, but it’s really not fair. They should move it somewhere neutral. Giving Kansas this much of an edge is just ridiculous in a title game. The fans are so cute, though, you can see the signs. “No, really! This is the year we don’t completely blow up! Really!”
4:08- McGrady needs to be there for his team right now. I have a feeling he won’t be.
4:10- Ah, I’ve seen this before. Lamar Odom trying to get to the basket consistently. This should last another thirty seconds or so. Scola is falling away from the basket for some reason. And then a crap foul on Scola. I was telling RespectKobe they would give them this one.
4:13- And here comes McGrady. Just in time, buddy. Four point lead.
4:13- Bryant answers. That’s Kobe.
4:17- And T-Mac misses a free throw. Nice, T. We can go ahead and quash that MVP talk.
4:19- Rafer with his 6th 3!
4:22- When you know Kobe is going to shoot with under 10 seconds in the period, do you… RAFER ALSTON WITH ANOTHER 3! DREAM SHAKE! BOW DOWN!.. not realize that you need to seal the lane? Is there a reason you just give him the edge, Chuck Hayes? Moron… great drive by Kobe.
4:25- Georgia with the ball and a 5 point lead, 2 minutes to go. HUGE THREE. And Verne Lundquist is going to have a heart attack. Hope you guys don’t like the bubble teams, because Georgia is winning this damn thing, and I can’t be anything but happy for them. Razorbacks? How about some defense in the first round so we can actually get a win for the first time since 99?
4:27- So, Farmar gets mad extension on an alley-oop, Rafer answers with a three, McGrady gets backed down by Luke Walton… let me say that again. Tracy McGrady gets backed down for a turnaround by Luke Freaking Walton. There’s a steal, and RAFER BLOCKS IT! Huge! 76-72 Rockets.
4:32- How do you know the Lakers have hit the big time? Ronnie Turiaf gets away with steps.
4:33- We have a McGrady sighting. Somebody make a note.
4:36- They’re chanting “MVP.” He has 6 points. Guys. Seriously. Give Rafer the MVP.
4:39- Backside help on the Kobe drives has been tremendous. Too bad the Lakers are already in the penatly with 8 minutes left. Yeah, I’ve seen this before.
4:41- Kobe with a beautiful shot. Rockets by 5. McGrady’s getting warm.
4:42- Shane Battier is putting this one on his shoulders. He’s been insanely good today. Gotta stay away from the line, though…
4:47- Midway through the third, I was jarring with RespectKobe.com. I started tracking free throws. At the time, Houston had 19, LA had 13. It’s currently 26-23, LA. Shocker.
4:48- Kobe with a great floater, McGrady schools Lamar, seven point game.
4:50- Bobby Jackson hits another three! Houston going nuts! McGrady dribble penetration, dish to the open shooter! I love this team!
4:58- Holy Crap, they’re going to do it. Kobe’s sitting. 103-90, Kobe’s done after a mediocre day. Alston does a crossover in Vucacic’s eye, and they get into it. For some reason the ref pulls him off instead of T’ing him up. Bizarre. But man, you have to love this team.
5:01- 104-92. 22 Straight. Book it. This. Is. Awesome. If you’re not on the bandwagon, get on board. Bracket time.