Monthly Archives: December 2008

15 Footer 12.31.08: I’m Late, I’m Late, I’m Late

My bad, I’m a little late with this. You’re all probably already drunk by now.

REASONS TO WATCH THE GAMES OF THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION TONIGHT:

REPENT! And Thou Shalt Be Saved (Orlando at Chicago):

This game is on, like, right now. NBA schedulers, you are truly a wacky bunch. I know just how incredible Derrick Rose is and is becoming, but all I can think about is the following: 1) how infuriating Nocioni is, 2) how underwhelming Luol Deng is, 3) how Ben Gordony Ben Gordon is. Not to say that the team’s unwatchable, but the aforementioned three always seem to distract me from the meaningful action. Also, since I’m a recent convert to the church of Jameer Nelson, I was told that I still need to do some unsolicited praise to make up for my past transgressions against the tiny point guard deity. Jameer is fair and just, and he does no wrong. All hail the midrange jumper.

Ripless in New Jersey (New Jersey at Detroit):

Watching Pistons small-ball feels like pouring acid in my eyes. It’s not that I don’t like the players. More likely, deep down inside, I find Tayshaun Prince playing starting power forward deeply disturb to an almost unspeakable level. Dude’s a 3. He’s a skinny 3. And though his shift to the 4 isn’t exactly to blame for Detroit’s fall from grace, I’ll be plenty relieved if the whispers of Amir’s full-time return prove to be true. In the meantime, they’ll fine tune and spin their wheels against the Nets. Jersey has been impressive for stretches, but the Pistons are still the Pistons. Kind of. Still, give ‘em the benefit of the doubt, even if they do lay an egg against some powerful weak teams.

Let the Corpse of the Spurs Stand as Foreboding Evidence (Milwaukee at Houston):

Evidence of what, I’m not so sure. I was completely oblivious to the delightfully odd streak of success the Bucks have had at the expense of the Spurs, until Graydon’s cohort Tim Varner at 48 Minutes of Hell was kind enough to point it out to all of us. Last night, Tim either jinxed the sh*t out of the game or simply laid forth a convincing argument, because SanAn fell short once again. Be afraid, Rox. Be very afraid. (Actually, don’t. Seriously. This one’s going to be a breeze.)

I’m Going On Strike (Denver at Toronto):


No more Nuggets. I am so convinced that this team is supposed to not be good, that I refuse to talk about them anymore. Chauncey Billups has rocked my world in a way that I’m not ready to embrace. Toronto…is just a constant reminder of the ways in which I will always be wrong. I so thought that this team was ready to overcome their depth issues. Instead, Chris Bosh plays like a superduperstar for one minute, and a middle of the pack all-star the next. Meanwhile, Jose Calderon is so efficient he’s invisible, but so unimpressive that his additions to his team aren’t enough to balance for the weak bench. Jermaine shows up every other game, which apparently is not enough. So basically what I’m saying is: find your own damn preview because one of these teams is dead to me and the other only represents my deep-seeded fears of actually being wrong.

There’s Beauty in the Breakdown (Golden State at Oklahoma City):

Gotta love these. The Warriors may not be the wonderful cesspool of anarchy they once were, but they may just be woefully wonderful in an altered state of anarchy. Call me crazy, but the team has been infinitely irritating, and though they frequently get demolished, they occasionally wreak a level of havoc (to both themselves and other teams) that is unparalleled. But while the success (or lack thereof) of the Warriors reads like a seismograph, the Thunder have been remarkably consistent. Consistent in their own unique brand of suck, consistent in their inability to pull out close games, consistent in their subpar level of talent. The Thunder fight, and they fight hard, and so do the Warriors…sometimes. The contrast is as interesting as it is awesome. Can’t wait.

Behold, The Requisite Terrible Game of the Night (Philadelphia at LA Clippers):

For all of their flaws, I still do find some joy in watching Golden State, OKC, and even Toronto. But despite Al Thornton’s best efforts, I hate watching the Clippers. Elton Brand and Corey Maggette each had their own niche of curiosity, but the intrigue this team once had has faded. There’s no more “hey, will this thing work?” with Baron, Camby and Kaman have rarely hit the floor together due to injuries, and Dunleavy refuses to cave to madness and start Randolph, Kaman, and Camby. Keep building those walls, MDSr. Keep building the prison that cages you, your players, and the franchise. In the meantime, I’ll dodge Clips games like the plague, especially when they’re playing a marginally interesting team in the Sixers. Brand’s injured, and even when healthy he had already lost some of the tragic hero mystique that made him so damn interesting. Instead, we’re forced into watching Andre Iguodala’s sometimes successful attempts to salvage the season

19:41


19 minutes and 41 seconds. That is the length of time I just saw J.J. Redick play professional basketball. Is that a world record? I don’t think anyone has seen Redick play basketball in years, much less actually have enough time on the floor to get off 4 3-pointers (and only make 1). Supposedly he is averaging over 16 minutes a game this season, but I don’t believe it. I guess when you take a 16 point lead over the Bulls in the 1st quarter anything can happen.

You know had the best play of the game. This guy:

I’m being completely serious. Benny the Bull hit two behind the back, half-court shots in a row. That is impressive. Oh, and Thabo Sefolosha threw a nasty no-look alley-oop to Tyrus Thomas. Too bad it came with 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter of 19 point loss to a Orlando team that is firing on all cylinders. Is it just me or has the Eastern Conference hit its stride this season?

I Can’t Take It Anymore

Okay, I’m done. I’ve never been good at keeping secrets. I just have to get this off my chest, and I figured this is the best way to do it.

You knew that Matt Moore was taking a little “vacation” away from the blog. Something to do with a real-life relocation or something. That’s not…entirely true. He was relocating, sure. Constantly. The man flew all over the world, visiting spiritual leaders, prophets, guidance counselors, cult leaders, the set of Crossing Over with John Edwards, psychics, and scholars of the supernatural, with just one goal in mind: put a hex on the Jazz. That’s right Jazz fans — we’ve had it in for you all along.

While I never questioned Matt’s resolve to quash all of those who dare challenge HP’s unquestionable rule (or really, hyperbolic hatred of the Jazz), I have to admit that I had my doubts as to his methods. I mean, I’m as COMPLETELY-unbiased-and-yet-still-irritated-by-Carlos-Boozer as they come, but hexes? Well, I’m manning up and admitting that I was wrong. 30 days of globe trotting and hexing has reaped a hobbled Deron Williams, injury complications for Boozer, frequent absences for Memo Okur, an on-the-job accident for Paul Millsap, and the latest: Carlos Boozer suddenly deciding to have arthroscopic knee surgery. Mental note to not get on his bad side.

Other than trying their best to stay out of Moore’s cross hairs, the Jazz will have a lot of work to do. If there is a team in the league that needs home court advantage in the playoffs, it’s the Jazz. Their road record (7-10) rivals the Clippers (5-10) and the Bucks (7-12), and though they certainly are excused for that due to their ridiculous string of hex-caused freak incidents, history serves as a reminder that this team excels at home and struggles to maintain that same high level of play on the road. Take away from that what you will, but this team needs to win every regular season game it can not only to secure home-court in the playoffs (optimistically), but to even make the playoffs. The Suns are trotting along, the Mavs are surging, and the Nuggets refuse to vanish without a trace. Things are going to be ugly for the odd team out come April. If Boozer’s injury struggles persist (or if he his return doesn’t go as swiftly or smoothly as planned) or if the team hits the rough patch, who’s to say everyone’s favorite regular season team won’t be such a great regular season team after all?

Photographic Evidence That Boston Has Actually Been Cheated Out of One Call


6 guys on the court for Portland = referee EPIC FAIL.

And in a five point game, too. Not that the Celtics need any help with defending themselves, but sheesh. To answer your potential questions: yes the play ran without a whistle, and yes, the Blazers scored.

(Hat tip for the picture to the Real GM message boards)

EDIT: Here’s the tape:

Thanks to Inside Hoops.

Doucheceratops No More: Mutombo Returns


He’s baaaaaaaaaaack. Hope you’re ready to sex him.

This acquisition is ridiculous for the Rockets. They already have too much depth at center, their frontline is monstrously tall, and Yao is a sure thing in terms of durability. They don’t need help off the bench guarding the best bigs in the West, and they already have all of the pieces they need to win the title.

Or, everything I said in that paragraph is a complete lie. What? I’ve gotta make this sh*t interesting somehow. An upper echelon team that really only needs time to figure things out just got huge help to buffer one of their only real weaknesses. And, at practically no loss. Yeah, Steve Francis is gone. La-dee-da. Instead, you have one of the best interior defenders of all time (although aged), rested, supposedly “in-shape,” and ready to rock. I will say this: if it came down to Deke going to Boston, San Antonio, or Houston, I’m glad he chose H-town rather than Mordor or Isengard. Good riddance.

It also comes on the same day as some other Rockets news: Tracy McGrady will intentionally miss some games he probably would have missed anyway. Brilliant. Still, I’m fairly frightened of what the Rockets could become and what the Rockets might become, and that’s a damn near unstoppable force if they play their cards right. That’s good and all if you’re into winning ‘ships, but I find the whole “strong, but flawed and lovable” thing much more endearing.

Krstic Heads to the Thunder, Nets Were All Like “Whatever”

Old news by now, but Nenad Krstic has made his triumphantly awkward return back to the States. All signs point to the fact that he wanted to stay in the NBA all along, and perhaps trapped himself into some sort of “Well…then I’ll go to Europe!” ultimatum. Who knows, who cares. The important thing is that he’s back, and in slightly more predictable fashion, the Nets don’t want him.

He’s come full-circle in terms of his importance in Jersey; a weird face-up anomaly that seemed capable of dropping 18 and 7 for the foreseeable future, but apparently insignificant in the name of 2010 flex. I seriously doubt that it’s LeBron or Bust, anyway; how well would LeBron gel in the infant dribble-drive offense that seems to have so much potential when captained by Devin? Harris and LeBron are both improved shooters, but are they really best suited in an offense that functionally enables them to lurk out on the perimeter while the other takes their turn? Now, if you swap out Vince for say, Joe Johnson (via free agency), and net a nice power forward in 2010, that team starts looking awfully sexy. LeBron may be a once in a lifetime talent, but unless Devin revolutionizes his game or Rod Thorn can get full value in a trade for Devin, it could be a weak fit. Not that this really has anything to do with Krstic, but I guess the loose relation of 2010 cap space has me rambling.

Pretty sweet pick-up for the Thunder, though. The team has been ridiculously competitive this season in relation to their laughable record; it seems as though every time I tune in or check a mid-game box score, they’re nursing a tiny lead or facing a manageable deficit. The issue isn’t one of effort, and you’d know as much if you watch the Thunder regularly (the few, the proud). There just isn’t enough talent on the roster for the bunch to be a good team, and Krstic certainly helps there. Dude can play, though he’s certainly not without his flaws. His presence suddenly makes Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith’s expiring deals just that much more expendable, and one can only hope that OKC will get back prospects or picks in return.

15 Footer 12.30.08

Don’t Stand On The Quisy When The Hawks Are Comin’ Through (Hawks at Pacers): Is Danny Granger crazy? Probably a little. He’s certainly crazy about the Hawks. He lit them up for 34 when last they met, including shooting 72% from the field and um, well, lighting the building on fire. The Hawks are rolling, having won 5 in a row. But this is a back to back coming off an 8 game homestand, first game back on the road, last game before New Year’s, and yeah. So essentially what we have here is a recipe for disaster. With Quisy Daniels.

You’re Going To Love Them And Forget Them So You Might As Well Love Them Lots(New York at Charlotte): I feel like Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters… . “This means something.” In the end scene of that film (that goes on for about a half hour), they do that awesome special effect where all the clouds boil together over one place, in that instance Devils Tower. In this instance, it’s Madison Square Garden. This is a perfect storm of oversized combo forwards with no respect towards defense, underachieving shooters, uncoordinated big men, random hustle junkies, and Wilson Chandler. Al Harrington, the DÁntoni edition meets Boris Diaw, untethered from expecations and free to roam. Gerald Wallace versus David Lee. And to top it all off, you have the former DÁntoni favorites Bell and Diaw to mix with the trade rumors linking them towards a reunion. Come inside, come inside.

The Devil Knows You’re Dead (Cleveland at Miami): LeBron vanquished Wade the other night, even though Wade had a more explosive game. So now they meet again, this time in South Beach. Since there’s little chance Riley will get off his ass and trade Marion for the composite pieces he needs to in the next 13 hours, the result should be largely the same. However, you’re not going to find much better of a matchup. The Heat are damn entertaining this year, as expected. The Cavs are efficient and deadly. The big problem for the Heat is they’re simply outgunned at point guard and power forward. They’re second biggest problem is that they don’t have LeBron James. Don’t get me wrong, Wade’s a NOVA machine in his own right, but LBJ has too much raw power for defenses right now. Also bear in mind that Delonte West and Shawn Marion will be sharing a floor tonight. You might as well announce “Paranoia” as a starter.

Look Who’s On A Winning Streak (Washington at New Orleans): There is a basketball-like substance in Washington. Repeat, a basketball-like substance in Washington. Do not attempt to subdue the basketball. The Hornets are either cruising or drifting, and there’s not much to use to decipher which. So it’s entirely possible that the Wizards could pull this thing off, especially with Mike James’ added motivation. Or, probability can show up and, well, the Wizards can lose, lose, lose badly. Unlike the Rockets, the Hornets are capable of actually finding their own asses.

Got Some Bad News For You There, Shaqy-Poo (Suns at Grizzlies): You’re losing tonight, you big, overrated, chemistry-killing, small-guard-hanging-out-to-dry, pain in the ass. I know, spoken like a true Grizzlies fan, right? Look. Nash may not play with back spasms. The Grizzlies lost a nailbiter to the Spurs, then let the Timberwolves slip away. Mayo’s playing like a bomb gone off, and the Suns are overly due for a “Holy Hell, how did they lose that game?”game. A back-to-back for the Suns, on the road, injuries, and OJ Mayo. Goodnight, Moon.

Team-That-Can’t-Win-Playoff-Games, Meet Team-That-Can’t-Win-Games (Minnesota at Dallas): Josh Howard’s pretty good, Dirk Nowitzki is better, the Mavericks will win. Al Jefferson is fun to watch, but after last night, he’s going to be exhausted.

It’s Not A Race, It’s War Of Attrition And The Spurs Are Killing Themselves (Milwaukee at San Antonio): The Bucks are almost as even as they can be in every way. The Spurs have devised a nice pattern. Fall behind for three quarters. Apply pressure in the fourth. Take lead inside two minutes. Coast to victory like you’d always expected it. The Bucks may actually be a more complete team right now than the Spurs. How insane is that? I like the Bucks in an upset, because the Spurs are due for their luck to run out and the Bucks have to catch a break at some point.

Ironmonger, Meet The Ore Mine (Boston at Portland): Both teams are flawed, both teams are discombobulated, both teams need a pick me up. Beating Sacramento does not count. The Blazers have depth, but the Celtics have experience. This is a pretty striking contrast, and honestly, anything could happen and I wouldn’t be surprised.

LA Clippers at Sacramento Kings: A game so terrible it’s not worthy of pithy headlines. Only watch on doctor’s orders.

The Surge Versus The Amalgam Crash: Nuggets at Hawks 12.29.08

Notes from the Denver Nuggets at Atlanta Hawks, December 29th, 2008.

  • Is Marvin Williams human or is he dancer? The most frustrating of all the Hawks young guns is arguably the most important improvement on this Hawks squad. Bibby’s simply living up to his perceived potential, Johnson is the same killer he’s been, and the team synergy is certainly something we’ve seen glimpses of, even if it’s never been palpable like this. But Williams was supposed to be the glaring reminder of losing Josh Childress, the disappointment compounded by inconsistency. But instead, he’s been the Hawk that’s one step ahead of everyone, even his teammates. You notice him making passes his teammates don’t expect, finding cutters where there were none. Several times Horford turned the ball over, surprised to find the ball whipped towards him even when he was cutting. Williams’ points and assists are down this year, but take last night’s line. 16, 8, and 4 with 1 turnover. That’s more than enough, given the way the rest of the team is playing.
  • It’s certain that Billups was the turning point for this team, but I’d argue that Billups was the conceptual shift, the attitude pull that allowed for the Nuggets to embrace their natural identities. If you want the meat and potatoes of why they’re a better team, and simultaneously why they’re still vulnerable, take a look at Renaldo Balkman. His minutes are erratic due to injury and his predictable capacity for vanishing. However, when he strikes it’s like a thunderbolt, and it wakes up the whole team. He blasts through for rebounds, put-backs, and dunks. He’s obsessive on defense tonight, even if his discipline isn’t always in the right place.
  • Kleiza is somehow the de facto redundant player, able to produce offense in spurts, but unable to do anything any coach would rationally want him to do.
  • Mike Bibby is having a killer timer. He’s smiling, laughing, making all the right plays, shooting when he should, passing when he should, playing with poise and aggressiveness. He’s been simply killer.
  • But not as killer as Johnson. The problem Johnson poses is a constant danger. You get lulled to sleep waiting for him to appear. He’s not Kobe, where you obsess over his every movement on the floor. He slips and glides in and out of the offense. He vanishes like a lot of players for minutes. But then he appears like Raiden and blitzes you. You’re overwhelmed by his versatility and explosiveness. He’s got a bigger game coming, and my hope is he’s saving it for April and May. The look teams get when he starts to execute them is some sort of bleakness, like they’ve just been snuffed out.
  • I keep leaning to compare Horford to Duncan, but he’s not nearly as big and way more mobile. Then I lean to compare him to Brand and he’s more workman-like. He’s polished, but not in the new-age, prototypical ballhandling big way. He’s not the best of all worlds, just some of them. The vacation planets, maybe, but ones visited by the working class and with mountains to climb instead of neon beaches and drinks with umbrellas.
  • Josh Smith’s not dead. He’s just biding his time. The energy and ability is coming back to him after the injury, and I would anticipate a detonation and follow through after the All Star Break.
  • Sometime, take a look at the trucker hats and three day scruff on the camera crew and ball boys in Atlanta. It’s like a truck stop on hardwood.
  • The whole idea about Johnson being stymied by Billups made sense, until you started to factor how much Johnson moves without the ball. Early in the third, Billups tried to cheat on the under screen, Johnson had full rotation and nailed a three. It’s not a bad idea, per say, but I feel like the Nuggets would have done better to focus on Bibby with Billups straight up, neutralize him, and let the help defense focus on Johnson.
  • People are coming to games in Atlanta. Ye Gods.
  • Denver focused so much on cutting down on Johnson and Bibby’s perimeter, that they left themselves wide open when Smith sliced in, saved it on one foot, one hand, and found Horford for a huge dunk.
  • Next Wednesday, Hawks, Magic. Be there or be the Spurs.