Thanksgiving. I thought about posting some sort of thankfulness post, just cause it seems like it’s what you should probably be doing on this day every year. But what better way to show thanks as an HP ambassador than to crank out the 15, the very proclamation of thanks for a brilliantly wonderful regular season of basketball?
Enjoy the day everyone, take in some ball (round or foot, whichever you prefer), and, y’know, be thankful.
REASONS TO WATCH THE GAMES OF THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION TONIGHT:
Wiz Fans: Did You Know That Your Interim Coach is Well-Schooled in the Dark Arts?:
Magic at Wizards
After watching the Wiz actually, well, win a game for once, I’ve come to one conclusion: Ed Tapscott is a necromancer. He mosied in to a locker room of lifeless corpses, waved his hands around, spoke in tongues, and now they’re actually playing like they give a damn. No disrespect to Eddie Jordan, but that’s one hell of a magic act. But among the walking dead, the most significant is Caron Butler, who finally put together his first Butleresque performance of the season. He had the efficiency, the scoring, the leadership, and he’s always got the tought juice, and it was nice to see him put it all together. But there’s just a tiny problem: while Biedrins is good, he’s not really equipped or skilled in a way that allows him to dominate a game. I don’t think anyone would say that about Dwight Howard. Wins against teams with good big men are not created equal. But that doesn’t mean we can’t catch a good game of an inspired Washington squad against an Orlando team recovering from a wire-to-wire slugfest with Philly. Could this be the ever elusive win #3 for DC? (No.) Tune in to find out!
8:00 EST, TNT
Two Teams, Both Alike in Dignity, in Fair Denver, Where We Lay Our Scene
Hornets at Nuggets
So maybe there isn’t any star crossing, hemlock, or lyric, but it’s strange that at this juncture Denver and NOLA find themselves in the same boat. Both middle of the pack playoff teams in the West, with Denver’s record far better than it should be and New Orleans’ development arrested. I was talking to Graydon yesterday and we were trying to wrap our heads around what exactly is going on with the Hornets. I’m not sure that there’s a clear answer. The seemingly unstoppable pick and roll game they had established still works, Chris Paul is a magician, and they didn’t lose any significant pieces. But some combination of teams taking Peja out of the game fairly easily, Chandler being hobbled just enough to make a difference, and coaches understanding how to tech against David West after his breakout season. But in spite of all that, they’re still good enough to take down the Nuggs…right? I’m not sold that throwing Chauncey into the lineup suddenly creates order from chaos, Iverson or no. But it’s hard to argue with that win over Boston, and maybe I’m just being crotchety. +1 to everyone who can make it through the second half of this one after stuffing themselves silly, and +2 if it’s a blowout.
This young season has seen the fortunes of many an eye be altered. Thankfully, the wise doctors of the NBA have expounded the virtues of the sport goggle to the afflicted parties. And for that, we thank you.
My only question is: Ron, why would you do this to us when we are in holiday mode and travelling around the country. We cannot give you the justice you deserve. But I totally feel you on them jeans. You CANNOT be wearing them jokers tight.
Go make it rain where they let the sag flow, ya heard.
REASONS TO WATCH THE GAMES OF THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION TONIGHT:
You Can Put a New Hat On a…Err, I Mean You Can Put A New Mask On…Well, You Can Give a Rhino a Rhinoplasty…Whatever:
Warriors at Wizards
Eddie Jordan. Pretty decent coach, even if at times his offense as unimaginative and his defenses were perpetually lacking. But hey, I’m sure part of that comes with the territory. Still, I come to bury Eddie, not to backhandedly insult him. Switching out EJ is little more than a cosmetic exercise at this point, a little shock that’s supposed to light a fire under this team. But until that fire can magically heal injuries, the Wiz are going to be bad. Bad. Sometimes a team will come out strong after their coach is fired in an effort to prove some kind of point, but from what I’ve read and seen, I don’t think most of the the Wizards had any sort of genuine dislike for Jordan. So where other teams might be motivated by revenge or just a “nah-nah-nah-nah-boo-boo” ethic, I think the Wiz will probably just do what they’ve been doing. Y’know, losing.
Nellie has a new toy to play with, which probably means trouble for the Morrow coming out party. Most of the projected lineups feature Crawford and ‘Buike, Jax and Maggette, and of course, Biedrins. Either way, the Dubs were already this season’s guilty pleasure, and just became even more decadent. Adding Crawford is like diving headfirst into a swimming pool of chocolate. You might feel a little disgusting, sticky, Augustus Gloopy, and genuinely displeased with yourself afterwards, but it just sounded too good to pass up. I just hope that adding Jamal doesn’t distract Nellie from some of the more interesting wings on the team, and instead just sucks the life and minutes out of CJ Watson. I’ll raise my glass to that.
Breaking News: David Lee to Leave NYC for Akron, Said Market Is Just ‘Too Big':
Cavs at Knicks
We get it, the Knicks cleared cap space. Now can we play some damn basketball? Everyone wants to talk about LeBron in NY tonight, but nobody wants to listen. We’ve had the discussion, it’s over, and we won’t know more until 2010. Except apparently Jalen Rose is clairvoyant or something.
Al Harrington’s scheduled to play his first game as a Knick (I would assume he’s starting), but there’s no word that the Randolph deal has gone through, yet. Sorry, Tim Thomas fans But while it won’t be fun to hear all the 2010 jibbajabba, it’s always fun to see LeBron go up against a team that has no one that can even try to match up with him and plays terrible team defense. No interior shot blocking. No perimeter defender that can try to stay in front of him. No cohesive team concept that could possibly limit LeBron from scoring 200 in this game. The only way he has a bad night is if he falls in love with his jumper (which he’s been better at avoiding this season) or if the Cavs get out to an early lead and get some rest for the guy. Otherwise, I’ll eat up Q-Rich’s tears with a spoon.
This Game Involves the Thunder. I Think You Know How It Ends.:
Suns at Thunder
Now, this might be a slightly more prototypical “rub it in the coach’s face” game, but the Thunder are kind of terrible. Whereas other struggling teams can seemingly produce a single good game (or maybe even two!) out of nowhere, the Thunder aren’t so lucky. With this roster, in order to get the W, they need a superhuman effort from Durantula (going nova) and/or Westbrook (completely locking down), and a complete breakdown on the part of the other team. That’s a bit much to ask for with the youth that goes from top to bottom on this team, and the general lack of talent. So tonight you pit them against the Suns. Phoenix has struggled a little, dropping embarassing games to the Jazz (sans Deron and Okur) and Lakers. But they looked good against Portland and they’ll look good tonight. I don’t really know what to expect from this game, but it seems pretty obvious who’s going to win.
There Will Be a Game Between the Pacers (VROOM) and the Mavs Tonight. That’s All I’ve Got:
Pacers at Mavericks
I have no idea what to expect. The Mavs are finally looking like a team, finally looking semi-competent on both ends of the floor, but they’ve done so against some pretty weak competition. The Pacers on the other hand, have the capability to blitz teams or to roll over and die. So what on earth are we going to witness tonight? Beats me, man. Beats me. You’ve got the Rick Carlisle/Shawne Williams undercurrents, but again: no one cares. Well I mean, some people do, but they shouldn’t. This team hardly resembles the core that Carlisle coached in Indy anyway, and though his firing still seems kind of strange to me, it’s ancient history. Carlisle and his staff have a long season of trying to figure out a plan of attack, and the last thing they should be worrying about is a walk down memory lane.
This is Exactly Like Enter the Dragon, Devin Harris Style:
Nets at Lakers
“Never take your eyes off your opponent, even when you bow.” Devin starts out at the top of the key, guarded by Derek Fisher. He dives into the lane past Fisher, whose kung fu has frankly been lacking this season. Fisher is wise, but he has lost a step in his age. If he looks away for a mere nanosecond, Devin can blow by him.
“What’s your style?”“You can call it the art of fighting without fighting.” Devin has mastered the art of fighting without fighting, using his speed and agility to dart by, around, and between opponents. He uses his elusivesness to get by his defender, and charges the lane. But now he must encounter the first of two giants, two men of extraordinary size and skill. They will not be dispatched so easily.
“A good fight should be like a small play but, played seriously. When the opponent expands, I contract. When he contracts, I expand. And when the opportunity presents itself, I do not hit. It hits all by itself.” Devin’s speed, strength, and body control make him an incredibly unique specimen. But as he counters one giant by changing directions, he finds himself face to face with his final challenge: conquering the mighty helpside shot blocker. He strikes quickly and fearlessly, a fire burns inside him. His feet move expertly, crafting a path to the basket, avoiding contact just enough to get off his layup before being hammered to the ground.
“What are your thoughts when facing your opponent?” “There is no opponent.” You are wise, Devin.
REASONS TO WATCH THE GAMES OF THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION TONIGHT:
Cover Your Kids’ Eyes, This One’s Gonna Be a Bit Violent:
Milwaukee at Orlando
This one can’t be good for the Bucks. As much as Matt loves to sing their graces as an interesting team and a fun team, they’re not built to handle a team like Orlando…especially when their starting backcourt is injured. Sessions/Ridnour have been doing their thang, but can a team of (basically) Sessions, Jefferson, and Mbah a Moute beat the Magic by themselves? CNuv is already getting snubbed in favor of Malik Allen (damn you, Skiles!), Bogut will have his hands full with Superman (Interjection: can we take a mulligan on the Superman nickname? It just seems so derived and ridiculous, especially considering it was kindasortaalreadytaken. Good dunk and all (err, kind of dunk), but I just feel like we could do better.), and the Bucks still look miserable on offense. But they’re trying! And they’re defending! …right?!
Orlando rebounds from their loss against the Rox by wearing down a team that frankly isn’t that good. They’ll look good, hit their shots, and ultimately claim victory by having the least Malik Allen on the court.
When Life Gets You Down, Just Remember: At Least You’re Not the Bobcats:
Sixers at Bobcats
These teams got problems. For serious. No one knows what on earth is going down with the Sixers, where a post-injury Brand looks good-not-great. Iggy is contributing across the board, but hasn’t been the consistent scoring option that this team needs behind Brand. We knew they would be a beast on D, and they have been for stretches. But that hasn’t been nearly enough to account for the terrible offensive output Philly has produced thus far. They rank 8th in pace and yet they’re in the bottom third of the league in scoring, largely due to their 16.2 TOs per, which is good for second in the league. They’re not injured and they’re not even hobbled, really, but this team looks awfully uncomfortable at this juncture. They’re still 7th in the East at this point, but I don’t think being tied with the Knicks should be the claim to fame of a team that looked to contend this season.
The Bobcats are the Bobcats. They don’t have a real center. They lack depth at every significant position except for point guard, where Raymond Felton hasn’t made any real strides in his development. Sean May is still out of shape/injured/whatever. So naturally, it makes sense to strike Jason Richardson down with a bizarre knee injury that doesn’t register as being serious during exploratory surgery, yet noticeably changed his style when he was on the court. The Bobcats have been starting Alexis Ajinca. ALEXIS AJINCA. But they’re fielding a cute little backcourt of Augustin and Felton, who measure up to a combined 12’1”. Okafor is back to his real position at power forward. Annnnd that’s all I’ve got. Hang in there, ‘Cats.
A Looming Presence Over the Miami Skyline:
Rockets at Heat
Yao Ming against a team that plays Udonis Haslem at center. I know he’s injured and I know he’s slow, but you’re going to have a hard time selling a Heat victory. Wade’s incredible (although still turns the ball over like it’s going out of style…I’ll cut him a break on that this season, though) but Marion has been out of his element since hitting Meeyami and Beasley hasn’t impressed the same way the rest of the ’08 standouts have. T-Mac and Crazy Pills are just the frills on the table cloth: this one’s a feast for the big fella.
Just Like a Dreeeeeeeeam:
Spurs at Grizzlies
I still can’t quite wrap my head around the idea that this game will be competitive. The Grizz play hard and keep up with some quality teams on their Dr. Jekyll nights, so let’s hope that team shows up tonight. Not that they need to be fantastic to take down Duncan, Roger Mason, a handful of rookies, some old dudes, the equipment manager, and a guy hanging around the stadium who looked like he might be able to ball, but it would probably rock my world if the Cubs ran over the Spurs in a manner that included (but, by all means, is not restricted to) a May to Gay oop, a flurry of Gasol post-ups from the middle of the lane on well-timed entry passes, and some output from Conley that mimics his play of the other night and does not include more than 2 turnovers. That’s all I ask. That and for Hak to poster Duncan. Pretty please?
I Hold One Truth Above All: There is No Way I’m Going to Watch This Game:
Bulls at Jazz
The Jazz have stumbled a bit, mostly due to injuries and Okur’s absence. But the Bulls are the Bulls. This game is in Utah. It doesn’t matter who the Jazz put on the floor, they are going to win this game. Plus, without Deron Williams in the lineup, Utah’s intrigue factor is incredibly low. Watching Boozer can be interesting or funny. AK is always awkward and delightful (even on his terrible nights). But with no player that I feel like I have to watch from the moment he steps onto the court…ehhh, I’ll pass.
The “Dunked On” Debates Continue After Steve Blake Slams One On Beno Udrih:
Sacramento at Portland
I’m looking forward to charting Oden’s progress in terms of his movement, but otherwise this is just an exercise in regular season-ness. No Kevin Martin (still…), probably too much John Salmons, and Brandon Roy being a freaking madman. Although, I’d love to see Aldridge get tough and really stick it to this Kings frontline. He really does have the makings of a dominant big man (on the offensive end, at the very least), but too often he gets taken out of games and pushed off the glass. He will never be that overly aggressive bull in the post, but is it too much to ask for a cow with some attitude?
The Jason Thompson army continues to impress, and I’m still amazed at what Hawes is able to bring off the bench. He’s energetic, he’s blocking shots, and though I don’t think he’s ready to take up that starting role just yet, he’s shown me things in this young season that I surely didn’t expect. Gold star for you, sir.
Slightly Above Average Beats Below Average Every Time…Well Not Every Time, But You Know What I Mean
Hornets at Clippers
But I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the first Zach Randolph sighting in Clipperland!
P.J. gets fired after handling one of the roughest transitions in NBA history with one of the worst teams in NBA history.
The Warriors all of a sudden decide themselves + The Knicks = greatness!
The Knicks put a big sign up in the yards: ” LEBRONMART: COMING 2010!”Â
And now the Wizards mercifully put an end to Eddie Jordan’s tenure. At this point, this is telling someone on the chain gang who’s worked for twenty years trying to get released that you’re just going to shoot him. Yeah, it sucks that he’ll be shot, but at least he’s not diggin’ ditches anymore.Â
Okay, I’m going back to moving-enforced exile, but can someone please, please, please tell me what in the holy hell is going on in the bay? Who’s in charge? Mullen? Nellie? The Dark Sith Lord? Who’s running things up there?Â
Finally, I think I may have hit a new low in obsession when I see the Grizzlies got blown out by a zillion points but I end up exclaming “Conley had 14 and 7!”Â
Watch yourself, NBA. Don’t break anything else while I’m gone.Â
With the Knicks severely understaffed due to their trading players for a chance at LeBron James, Stephon Marbury had his first chance at playing time. A chance to show the league he could still play. A chance to prove that he can be a team player. A chance to garner some good will around the association.
His reponse: nah thas cool man Im good Ima do my thing Steph busy addin patches to sportscoat holla.
Because I’m a curious man, I hired a private investigator to follow Steph’s every move, just to see if he turned down any other handouts. Turns out there are quite a few:
While getting Dish Network installed at his condo, Marbury declines the free DVR that’s included with his package. He says, “I aint tryin a be watchin TV shows durin TV shows Ima gettin caught up in life.”
At Chipotle, Marbury orders a vegetarian burrito, which includes guacamole free of charge. However, Marbury refuses the delectable treat saying, “Man Im bout that green but not that green holla.”
Upon purchasing a new Macbook Air, Marbury turns down Apple’s offer for a free iPod Touch stating, “I got my iRiver I aint need no iPod rivers bigger than pods anyway.”
We should have seen this coming. Upon receiving his $600 stimulus check this summer, Starbury threw it in the garbage proclaiming, “Pay me what you owe me 600 bucks aint nothin to the Mothership Connection aka Young Moolah Baby.”
At Best Buy, Steph heads straight to the video games section to pick up an Xbox 360 bundle. However, he refuses to take any games with him declaring, “I just get games from them high school kids I been running with.”