Monthly Archives: October 2009

15 Footer 10.30.09 – The One Where 26 Teams Play Basketball on Friday Night

Larry Brown Returns to Rooster Town
Charlotte @ New York – 7:00

People in New York hate Larry Brown, mainly because he was part of the Isiah Error Era. So it’s always good times for the family when he shows up to MSG. More importantly, Coach Pringles Face is talking about starting Danilo Gallinari. Some Knicks fans love The Rooster and think he’s the next Dirk. Some hate him and think he’s the next douchebag they will mercilessly boo out of town. Either way, the Knicks suck. As do the Bobcats. But we’re dealing with Seven Seconds or Mess here so possessions will be on a hundred thousand trillion, which will make watching the horrible Bobcat offense repeatedly go against the horrible Knick defense on one end while also watching the the ‘Bockers launch three after three after three after three against a fairly decent Cats D … er … entertaining? Yeah. Entertaining. We’ll go with that.

UPDATE: I was just made aware that I’m a big idiot because this game will occur in Charlotte. (Thanks, @BandwagonKnick) I think I saw “TV: MSG” and presumed that was the building not the network. Jagoff of the Day Award goes to me. I’d like to thank my family, my agent and Jesus for giving me the strength to be so misinformed.

David Stern: “Fine. The Bucks Can Play, Too.”
Milwaukee @ Philadelphia – 7:00

The Bucks are the only team that has not been mathematically eliminated from going both 82-0 or 0-82. In layman’s terms, that means they haven’t played yet. I’m not sure why. Joe Budden was probably involved. Either that or Bogut is just now remembering to set his watch ahead to Not Outback Steakhouse Standard Time. Their opponent, the Sixers, got Hulk smashed the other night by an Orlando three-point blitzkrieg and, honestly, I’ve already written them off for the year. I don’t like Andre Igoudala outside of the dunk contest and Elton Brand is the most boring player in the league. Marreese Speights, however, absolutely went off out of nowhere the other night with 26 points on 11 shots (10/11 from the floor, 6/8 from the line) and, in the process, convinced the intertubes community that he has the chance to make an impact on the league this year other than challenging Walter Herrmann in the superfluous letters in a name per minute category. But who am I kidding, here? We all know I’m lede-burying the real reason you should watching this game: Brandon Jennings. There were some Twitter reports that he might even have dreadlocks tonight. Video cameras are still not yet allowed in the state of Wisconsin (it dates back to an ordinance involving witches) so this remains unconfirmed (i.e., I’m too lazy to fact check it). So you’re just gonna hafta tune in to find out. (That’s how you cliffhanger ‘em, Moore. Take notes.)

Washington @ Atlanta – 7:30

Remember Gilbert Arenas? According to legend, he once took the hoops world by storm, blogging his inner thoughts on everything from shark tanks to black presidents, hitting game winners like Ike hit Tina and even writing the intro to a book called FreeDarko Presents The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac (buy it). Sure, that was a loooong time ago — back in a simpler age when Greg Oden was merely a spry octogenarian missing game-losing free throw attempts on peach baskets. But, guess what? Gilbert is back. And, oh yeah, Atlanta is pretty fun too. Al Horford destroyed the Pacers the other night (24 pts, 16 boards, 4 dimes, 2 blocks). Josh Smith dunks like he’s in a Jet Li flick. And the front office added both Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague to a back court that already featured Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby — something that will either turn out to be an amazing or horrible idea, with little chance for middle ground. And if that’s not enough, this game will probably foreshadow the late-season battle for the fourth seed in the East.

The Flint Michigan MegaBowl
Oklahoma City @ Detroit – 8:00

Quite the role reversal for these two franchises. Just like you in high school, everyone hates the Pistons. And just like me, everyone has Thunder fever. (That’s what these kids call The Clap nowadays, right?) No one knows what Joe Dumars is doing in Detroit, spending a ton of money to assemble a roster that isn’t built to contend now or in the future. These guys have four or five seed upside and three to six playoff wins written all over them for the next half decade. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, Sam Presti has a young nucleus that is the envy of many a fanbase. If I were to use a simple, inappropriate and barely relevant analogy to describe this situation (which I will proceed to do momentarily), the Pistons would be GM, a once proud brand struggling to remake itself in the face of a changing competitive environment, and the Thunder would be WE MAKE GIANT HOMICIDAL FUTURISTIC ROBOTS, LLC, INCORPORATED, a mom-and-pop killer robot boutique.

Guard Your Wallets, Eh
Toronto @ Memphis – 8:00

I like Allen Iverson. A lot. Always have. Always will. So I’m one of the few people looking forward to watching Memphis all year. Rudy Gay isn’t amazing, but he’s interesting. And OJ Mayo might be a stud. The Grizz looked terrible against Detroit in their opener and will probably look terrible again tonight, but I think this team will be fun to watch in the long run. Or at least fun to look at, if that makes any sense. Toronto, on the contrary, is not interesting whatsoever. I probably won’t watch five of their games this season and, yes, that’s mainly cause I think consider all Europeans to be either Nazis or Gypsies. Or Nazi Gypsies.

If This Game Doesn’t Interest You, Kill Yourself
Chicago @ Boston – 8:00

The Bulls and Celtics played the best playoff series of all time last Spring. If you don’t want to watch this game, I don’t know what to tell you. But if that’s the case, here’s what you should do: Put a shopping back around your head and then tie on Joakim Noah’s bow tie as tight as you can. Then go jump in the same Olympic-sized pool where KG rehabbed his knee all summer. Or, better yet, try to recreate the Great Chicago Fire in your apartment while watching Celtic Pride. Either way.

Lopez v. Dwight — Not VC v. NJ
Orlando @ New Jersey – 8:00

Dwight Howard vs. Brook Lopez is going to be the best center showdown in the East for at least the next three seasons, and don’t let anyone else tell you different. People love to talk about how well Kendrick Perkins guards Supes, but Dwight isn’t a great scorer to begin with so it’s not like that is particularly compelling television. And Shaq vs. Dwight is going to be much more interesting to the Around the Horn crew than it will be to me. But Brook is a maestro of the pivot. He rocks the block. Dude can score in the post is what I’m trying to say. And Dwight can jump like 35 feet in the air. So on at least four or five occasions this evening, we will get to watch Brook make a nice move to create some space and get off a mini jump hook or some other shot from the paint and then get to see Dwight try to knock it out the damn sky. That will be fun. And, oh yeah, there’s also Vince vs. NJ in the Meadowlands. Whatever. Trying to pretend that Vince is out for revenge on New Jersey is as plausible as me seeking revenge on the state of Ohio for that one time I was there and lost my cell phone. Fact is, I barely recall what that state looked like and am for the first time in ages remembering that that ever even happened — much like Vince’s time in the Garden State.

Tyreke, CP3 and Eight Other Guys
Sacramento @ New Orleans – 8:00

Hardwood Paroxysmers Matt Moore and Zach Harper are having an ongoing The Bachelor-like contest to see who can win the undying affections of Tyreke Evans. I don’t watch NCAA nor preseason NBA basketball, so I barely even know who he is. Still, those guys love Reke so he is worth a gander. I’ve heard he eats souls and is the Rookie of the Year favorite now that Blake Griffin has officially been Clipper cursed. I’ve heard New Orleans also has a serviceable point guard, however, and after the national TV embarrassment the Hornets took the other night against the Spurs, you have to imagine that even a low-firepower offense like NOLA’s will come out hungry. Who will score? I dunno. CP3 will get his and David West is a rock. Other than that, the offense looks like a mess. It will be interesting to see how Emeka fits in and whether or not my man-crush on Julian Wright is based on anything aside from me being an idiot. Please start scoring buckets like I told people you would, Julian.

Bring Down the 25-Point Baskets
Miami @ Indiana – 8:00

I’m a Pacers fan. Don’t waste your time. Indy had 25 turnovers against Atlanta the other night and Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers finished second and fourth in the league last year, respectively, in steals per game. Then again, the Pacers defense is a sieve so Flash might get 50. That would be fun to watch. We also have Jermaine O’Neal once again returning to play in Conseco Fieldhouse. That’s always a joyous occasion, and JO was actually 2004-like production-wise in Miami’s opener, posting 22 and 12 on just 12 shots. Sure, that was against the Knicks. But these are the Pacers. And who knows, maybe Q-Rich will get traded to Indiana at half-time like this was a Rock N’ Jock game. It’s not that out of the question, honestly. Dan Cortese could probably start in the Pacers back court.

OMG!!!11!! ClEveLAnD iSN”T evan GOnna mAKE PlaYOOffSSS!!!11!!!!ONE!!11
Cleveland @ Minnesota – 8:00

The Cavs are 0-2. Shaq and Big Z playing at the same time is comical. LeBron cannot be thrilled. Anthony Parker is Anthony Parker. Still, it’s only 0-2 so let’s all calm down. Although, if Cleveland can’t easy dispatch the TWolves tonight then, yes, EVERYBODY PANIC. For Minny’s part, they looked feisty in the opener as they came back to beat the Nets on the strength of some Jonny Flynn cojones. I like this kid. If the Wolves have any chances of making the playoffs, which they don’t, they will need Flynn to keep this up until at least Al Jeff plays himself back into form. Plus, Kevin Love is awesome on Twitter so it’s always fun to know what he’s talking about after the game.

Beards, Guns and Steel
Los Angeles Clippers @ Utah – 9:00

I don’t care what type of advanced stats you want to use to pick apart Baron Davis’ game; the man has an amazing beard. It’s science. Eric Gordon can flat out score. He has a bowling ball-shaped head and  apparently can’t grow sideburns, but he has a gorgeous jumpshot and can also get to the rack. And Chris Kaman likes guns and explosions. I like the Clippers. Utah has pretty much the same roster it has had for the past four years minus Matt Harpring and plus Eric Maynor, who I like based on no empirical facts other than his VCU team beat Duke in March Madness that one year. Let’s face it: Duke sucks.

Corey Hart Approved
Golden State @ Phoenix – 10:00

Ooooweeee. Run. Lola. Run. This is where dreams are made. Nash is back swimming with sharks, but he’s faster than sharks, so it’s not a big deal. He’s just like you, but 10 times better. The Dubs have America’s darlings in Anthony, Anthony, Stephen and Stephen (Randolph, Morrow, Curry and Jackson, respectively, with Cpt. Jack only included cause I just now noticed that 50% of GSW’s 8-man rotation is comprised of two first names and not cause anyone in America considers him a darling — although he is big in Japan). Golden State put on a great show against the Rockets the other night and have just the right blend of raw talent, inexperience and lineup mismanagement that will probably help turn all of their early season games into roller-coaster rides of enjoyment. Getting back to the Suns, they are running again, but with mainly the same core guys you have seen minus Shaq, of course, and plus Channing Frye. Also, Amaré now plays in sunglasses.

Screw This Game
Dallas @ Los Angeles Lakers

This game. Screw it.

Lemon Face/Lion Face 10.29.09

I know everyone loves the quality of the games on Thursdays on TNT, but God, the late games are murder.

Lion Face: Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose combo, AKA Tango and Cash

You see, because Rose is flash, style, brilliance, Tango. And Hinrich is stubbly, defensive, and workman. Cash. And because I love that movie. Anyway, they were +3 tonight on the floor together, thanks mostly to a late Spurs run when the result was already decided. Rose creates so much, and the ability to put Hinrich on the best perimeter threat while still using Rose on offense is invaluable. Meanwhile, Hinrich is a fantastic perimeter passer, something easily forgotten until you watch him consistently hitting one-touch, no-look passes to open teammates who inevitably brick open threes. Hinrich gives them a veteran who can break the press, Rose gives them a player who can go ISO and get buckets. Tango and Cash may end up leading the league in player pair adjusted plus/minus this season.

Lemon Face: Spurs conditioning.

I touched on this over at FanHouse, but I don’t give a damn if it is the second game of the season. That’s a reason they should be in better shape. The Spurs have championship aspirations. That means they don’t get to just say “Oh, well, it was a back to back.” You get beat by the Kings on a back-to-back at the end of a road trip? Okay, that’s just an anomaly. But they were flat out outworked tonight in Chicago against a playoff team. They looked slow, confused, and frustrated. They can give this one up. But the Spurs cannot afford to start this as a pattern. The seed does matter. The Spurs need to face Utah or Phoenix in round one, not Portland or Denver. They need to give themselves the best opportunity they can to beat LA, and that means setting up as easy a playoff run as possible. What’s more, they’ve got to prove themselves dominant. This game was fine and understandable for last year’s Spurs. No biggie. But the stakes have been raised.

Lion Face: Taj Gibson

I liked this kid in preseason, I liked him in this game. 6 points, 6 boards in 15 minutes, 3 offensive boards. He’s got great energy, the ability to finish if he can settle, and great length. Taj Mahal is going to end up being a great compliment for the Bulls this season, and I don’t care if he is 24. Like this kid all the way through.

Lemon Face: Spurs’ Frontcourt Additions

Here’s the combined Richard Jefferson-Antonio McDyess powerhouse tonight. 3-10, 10 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, 2 turnovers, 5 fouls. Even ROY candidate DeJuan Blair came back to earth, and looked miserable on defense. The Bulls frontcourt which has been synonymous with consinstent was consistently better than them at every turn tonight. Faster, more athletic, more aware, better. Just a terrible night.

Lion Face: Carmelo Anthony

NOVA. The man was just unstoppable. Carmelo takes the pull-up jumper from something you pray opponents take to something you dread when you see him go for it. It’s insane. He’s simply been dominant the first two games. He fought for hard ones, and abused whoever was defending him. The Blazers really could have used Batum tonight, as lost as he is, he can defend heads up better. The Blazers were late to bring doubles and Melo made them pay at every turn. Kenny Smith talked about Melo for MVP and right now, I can’t argue with the idea’s legitimacy. He’s been simply brilliant.

Lemon Face: Nene

Just a weak ass game in all for Nene tonight. Got murdered on the offensive glass by Oden, who’s becoming a terrific defensive and offensive rebounding player, but still. 7 points on 2-7 shooting, 11 boards, but he was consistently slaughtered in the first half. He also fouled out when the team needed him most. Of course…

Lion Face: Nene’s hook

Just a beastly shot by Nene after Oden rejected him. Having veteran guys like Nene who can consistently come out and attack and know how and when to attack and when to bounce it back is so huge. A fantastic hook shot over Oden.

Lemon Face: Greg Oden

Oden was largely invisible offensively, and he missed the clutch free throws. Yes, several players had a chance at free throws, and yes, Roy probably should have just gone with the pull-up instead of reconsidering, but Oden was still given the chance to win the game at home with a helpful referee crew, and he blew it, and then re-blew it on the free throws. Oden has been so lost in his decision making, you have to wonder if it’s going to improve. The free throws were just shocking, but I’m sure it’s a learning experience and he took responsibility after the game. And he was responsible.

Lion Face: Greg Oden

That said, I’m sold on this guy defensively. He’s a top 10 guy right now, just based on size and ability. He’s learned to cut off the baseline which he struggled with last year, and he’s not going for the weakside highligh blocks as much. He played Nene as well as he could on the hook shot, and his timing is just impeccable. I also think Oden could very well end up winning the offensive rebounding title. I’m liking his defensive game more and more each game, just as I like his offensive game less and less.

Lemon Face: Officials

Dude, whatever happened to “Thank God, the officials are back!” Terrible calls all over the floor tonight, too many, breaking up the flow of the game, too many foul shots, just a poor job overall. Inconsistency and perplexing whistles. Seriously. I’m not sold that we’re in that much better of shape than we were with the replacements.

Super Overreactionizer: Fun, Fun, Fun ‘Til MJ Traded Okafor Away

Bobcats basketball. It’s not exactly a phrase that inspires confidence, much less the rabid cheers typical in the world of fandom. And it’s going to stay that wasy, for a long, long time. Decades. Millennia. Until Michael Jordan fires himself (and we all know that he sold his soul for fame and immortality, just forgot to include the anti-aging bit), every day is going to be one step closer to the franchise collapsing on itself. And even that day will be underwhelming.

59 points. That’s not even three score. And it’s beyond embarrassing that a NBA team is capable of that output, even if it is against one of the best defenses in the league. Here’s what I know: For a series of reasons that are completely beyond my comprehension, the Charlotte Bobcats have played well against the (contending) Boston Celtics. On paper, it would seem like the ‘Cats have few advantages:

  • Rajon Rondo has the length to turn Felton’s bad jump shots into terrible jump shots, and the anticipation to pick off steals like crazy. He also has the quicks to keep pace with D.J. Augustin, and the height to alter D.J.’s looks.
  • Even a healthy Raja Bell would have trouble chasing around Ray Allen, who remains one the league’s preeminent shooters due to having the benefit of a million screens.
  • Gerald Wallace stands as good of a chance of blanketing Paul Pierce as anyone else, but there’s no arguing the Truth comes out in the fourth quarter regardless of circumstance. Wallace also typically doesn’t contribute enough offensively for his scoring output to be significantly better than a limited Pierce. If that were the case, it’d be a wash for the ‘Cats, which isn’t a bad thing.
  • The bigs should be lumped together, because asking Boris Diaw to cover Kevin Garnett is cruel. Each player’s strengths, weaknesses, and roles are pretty well defined at this point, but a big rotation of Garnett-Perkins-Sheed just rocks the Bobcats’ world. Boris Diaw is going to feel Crowded without Emeka’s surprisingly decent scoring relief, and Tyson Chandler isn’t just a ghost of his former self, but an amorphous blob of a ghost that looks less and less like a real basketball player.
  • Intangibles, bench, and just about every quantifiable advantage goes Boston’s way. They’re a championship-level team, Bobcats are not, la-dee-da-dee-da.

But if you break down that list, only a few things have changed: The injured Raja Bell was replaced by Stephen Graham (which is even worse than it sounds), the Celtics added Wallace, and Emeka Okafor was traded for Tyson Chandler.

Boom goes the dynamite.

Over the last two seasons, the Bobcats and Celtics have met seven times in the regular season. Only once did that result in a blowout, an inexplicable 23-point loss to the hands of the C’s B-Team. But aside from that outlier, the Bobcats have lost by 1, won by 12, lost by 8, lost by 5, won by 8, and lost by 2. I know it’s not a shimmering achievement, but that’s not a bad track record for a sub-.500 team against the cream of the crop.

Chalk it up to opening night rust, but even a decades-old rusty tractor could do better offensively than Charlotte did last night. Nothing came easy (aside from badly missed shot attempts), and Tyson Chandler’s play was painfully reminiscent of his completely ineffective 2008-’09 in NOLA. Somehow, in making that one simple trade, the Bobcats have surrendered their status as a troublesome match-up for the Celts.

One of two things is true: the Bobcats will be bad this year, or the Bobcats will be terrible this year. Against the Celtics, at least. In all honesty, there’s a chance that last night’s game was an aberration. But where does anyone honestly expect the points to come from? Charlotte was struggling to reach the scoreboard even with Okafor’s 14ish PPG. Emeka was a part of the Bobcats top eight 5-man lineups last season, which can’t be said about any other Bobcat. I obviously can’t say beyond any doubt that Emeka was the difference between a competitive game and total annihilation, but I’m going to anyway. Replacing Okafor with Chandler was a terrible, terrible basketball move, and it’s the difference between the Bobcats being a decent team and a miserable one. When you’re a struggling team in a small market, you only surrender your assets at gun point of for draft picks. Cap space means nothing when you can’t even lure DeSagana Diop to your squad, a point which the few remaining Bobcats fans will need to face when a team of D.J. Augustin, the Geralds, and Flip Murray are forced to carry the load.

15 Footer 10.29.09

Hi, my name is DeJuan, but you may call me DESTRUCTIONFACE!
San Antonio @ Chicago 8:00EST

G-Chat conversation with Moore last night (Playing off his remarks that DeJuan Blair cannot possibly be as good as the other HPers imagine – as seen in our G-chat league Preview)

me: oh, btw, dejuan blair cannot be THAT good
i mean, 29 other GMs passed on him and Buford was an  idiot for taking him 52nd, right?
Moore: there’s no way to know he was this good
and hey, look, if he blows out his knee in five minutes, the point still exists
me: IF
Moore: it’s a nice pick for the spurs, but I don’t think you can say the other GMS are idiots
the injury concerns were there
I blame teams for taking obviously bad players, not for not taking injury risks
me: if that reason brings you solace, so be it
Moore: shut up
me: im serious
that wasnt meant as a dig
got the WS score?
Moore: not for you
me: good thing I have internets, you cry baby
wah wah wah, R.C. Buford just boned 29 other GMs
im taking my blog and going home

Judging by that metric (mind you, this happened during the beginning of a 2nd quarter I wasn’t even watching) and by the fact that the Spurs got nearly 100 points from guy NOT name Duncan or Jefferson, it is safe to assume that the Spurs are downright MEAST-LY this season. Sure, who knows what could happen (for all we know, Ty Thomas could slice open Manu’s juggular with a swiftly timed Nike to the neck as he flying from 14ft. out for a monster putback), but last night’s performance was dirty.

The Rose/Parker matchup will be phenomenal, but outside of that, there is little evidence that the collection of mid-level talent and still under-developed potential on the Chicago roster can do more than offer intermittent entertainment and the occasional sick slam for their fans. Wait, cheerleaders on trampolines can do that too. It’s gonna be a long year, Bulls fans.

Legitimately Cool/Interesting Matchup. Zippity!
Denver @ Portland 10:30EST

It’s a shame that the Spurs & Lakers are so dominant in the West, because a team like Denver deserves a lot more rep than it will get this year. Tangentially, Portland’s continued growing pains and poor coaching by Nate MacMillan will reamin overshadowed by the race to #3 in the playoffs.

If a greater power is watching over us, hoop heads tonight will get 15+ minutes of Bayless/Lawson whimsy. It’s early coaches, why not let these two Ferraris burn some rubber all over the court tonight? And poor Oden, having to go up against 2 tall, quick bigs for the second game in a row – the guy just has no chance. It’s far too early to call the Big Chill anything close to a bust, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that Greg may never have the explosiveness he needs to go from real promise to real dominant. Other bigs in the league are getting more agile and athletic, while Oden’s body (and now, his mind) just won’t allow him to unleash the beast we saw in high school and that one year at tOSU.

On the bright side, look for another monster night from Melo and some old school hustlin’ from Chauncey. There’s too much interior D for Denver and not enough firepower from Portland here. But, everytime I doubt Roy, Roy makes me pay. So, tonight, consider my wallet gleefully (hopefully) open for business.

We Now Live in a Post-Damien Wilkins World

I do not come to scare you.

Rather, I come out a of a sense of duty, honor and justice to deliver this stark, necessary and very real message. Today, just two night’s into the full NBA season, our wold has been irrevocably changed and not for the better. We must stay vigilant, recognize our altered atmosphere and remain more committed than ever to win this war in which we have been forced to engage.

I am talking about a Post-Damien Wilkins world.

I speak out only because I love this league, its fans, its promise, its hope. But today, against all forces working together to prevent this cataclysmic day from dawning (and you tried, you really really tried, Trey), we must accept our fate. Our NBA Cassandra spoke presciently, but we remained mired in fits of glee about the improbable skill set of Anthony Morrow or the Soul-Glowishness of James Harden’s beard.

We shall never know those joys again, for darker forces have descended upon us. Yet, I encourage you all to take solace in this new begining – not of this nightmare fuel I have just described – instead, think of the many months of potential glory and elation we have ahead. Do not let this temporary setback (and Lord, do I pray that it is temporary) keep you from embracing this NBA season with all your heart and all your humor. I hope, in some small way, that these words have helped.

And so, dear friends, this is the season we have before us. Remain uplifted, embolden your resolve and trust me when I say that is, truly, always darkest before the dawn.

Nichols and Dime: Improvements to my Look at Player Impacts on Teammates’ Three-Point Shooting

In my last look at this subject, I calculated each player’s impact on his teammates’ three-point shooting tendencies (for a description of my methodology, check the article). We often believe certain players create open outside looks for others, and the numbers seem to confirm that.

There was one minor flaw in my calculations, though. Today I’m releasing an updated version of my numbers with some minor improvements. First, only players with 50 three-point attempts or more can have an impact on a teammate’s percentages. Secondly, to account for potentially large discrepancies between on-court and off-court attempts, the new weighting system takes into account the standard deviation of the difference between a player’s on-court and off-court numbers.

With the update, among players not named Aaron Gray (I really don’t know what his deal is), Dwyane Wade is the new leader in impact on teammates’ three-point attempt percentage. Jason Terry is now second, followed by LeBron James in third and Chris Paul in fourth.

You can find all of the numbers here:

There are a few more things I want to do with this data, because stats such as this one may be useful in telling us how players interact with each other. If we can accurately measure and predict player interactions statistically, we’ll know much more about the game of basketball.

Lemon Face/Lion Face 10.28.09

The good, the bad, and the hilarious from around the league.

DISCLAIMER: Yes, it was one night. I’m simply going to try and acknowledge good and bad performances, not project. Except for Blair. Read on.

What is Lemon Face/Lion Face?


I’m a fool. I foolishly tried to defend the decision of 29 NBA GMs, thinking that yes, some of them were morons, but surely there was some valid reason not to grab the kid. I erroneously called out 48 Minutes of Hell yesterday about talking about ROY votes. I wanted to see if he would even get minutes, if he would be able to keep it together against actual regular season competition. And it’s possible his knees could fall off tomorrow. But you look at his college career. You look at his training camp. You look at his preseason, and you look at tonight, 14 points on 7-10 shooting in 22 minutes, with 11 boards. Simply beastly. And it wasn’t just the numbers. He caught no-look passes that most rookies whiff on. He passed out of the post, which I have yet to see Michael Beasley do effectively.  He moved in transition, he bodies up veterans, he slugged it out, got his buckets, and you can tell the team accepts him. He’s Spurs material. I was wrong. Great game.

Lemon Face: Byron Scott

Hmm, what’s that? Oh, I’m facing a terrific defensive squad, my team hasn’t played at full strength for more than a week, my best shooters are so old they’re basically baby boomers, and I have almost no weapons. I know! Let’s take the big, beefy, warrior small guard who can score and rebound and de-activate him! Marcus Thornton would not have been the difference in this game. But there’s no excuse for him not being on hand to get playing time. Did Bobby and Devin Brown really earn 26 minutes of a blowout? The Hornets (and the national networks scheduling them in primetime) need to realize they are not the same team from 07-08. Everyone else has gotten better while they have backslid. It’s time to find something else. I can’t see Peja suddenly breaking out and looking 28 again, same with Mo Peterson. They need weapons. Darius Songaila is not such a weapon.

Lion Face: Brook Lopez

Centaur is at the next level. 27 points on 19 shots, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 (!) blocks. Are you kidding me? That the Nets managed to lose this game is the topic for another time, needless to say it took a perfect storm of Lawrence Frank’s horrible coaching and Damien Freaking Wilkins to overcome Centaur. Lopez isn’t going to reach over and dunk like Andrew Bynum or smother you like Greg Oden, but he’s got a better work ethic than either of those guys. Hustle, touch, and a mean streak. Lopez is going to win games for the Nets this year.

Lemon Face: Don Nelson

Mr. Nelson, I know you’re a busy guy and all, what with destroying the dreams of young men, submarining a once proud franchise and crushing the souls of a loyal fanbase, but could I ask you a favor? When your team blows a ten point lead in four minutes to start the second half, when they can’t buy a bucket, when they’re a young team trying to find their footing against a scrappy veteran crew? Think about throwing them a bone and taking a timeout? I mean, I’d prefer it if you’d just get up and quit right now, but we all know you don’t burn the potato crops because you’re not thirsty.

Lion Face: Andrea Bargnani

Yeah, yeah, only five boards. I hear you. He was facing Shaq, Varejao, Z, and LeBron. Meanwhile,  Bargs defended Shaq well and offensively was a well-oiled machine. And 28 points in 29 minutes on 11-15 shooting, 2-3 from the arc and perfect from the line? Bargnani wasn’t just getting buckets, he was working his tail off and playing smart, efficient basketball. Dragon Man had his range going, but was also slashing, attacking, and finishing. He knew how to make his opponent paid,and he did, no matter the price. Great start for him.

Lemon Face: Charlotte Cats

They don’t deserve the Bob part. There was nothing manly about that. I stuck up for you, Cats. I said you wouldn’t be that bad! There’s simply no excuse for playing like that, even if it’s Boston. Harvey Danger had more hits than them. An Absolutely depressing performance, which shows that their neglect of the offense over the sumer was borderling negligence. They can turn this thing around, it’s only one game, after all, but they’re going to have to come up with some answers about twenty minutes ago.


League Pass reran all the early games between 10 and 11 PM, allowing me to record early games i missed from recording two early. Great, great feature and I hope they keep it past the free preview period. Huge advantage for those of us stuck watching bad games while DVRing who wanted to see different things later on. And by different things, I mean Russell Westbrook. Small hands. Smells like cabbage.

Lemon Face: Drama

Damien Wilkins? That’s who the story is? Really? Good luck, Longhorns.

15 Footer 10.28.09: Busting Open The Newborn Season

A full slate today, so no time to waste.

Power Forwards? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Power Forwards
Rockets @ Warriors 10:30EST (Via the Corndogg)

Don Nelson is now the Governator of Crazytown. With word that Magettee may start at PF and that Anthony Randolph (he of all things holy and good in the eyes of HP) is right back in the doghouse, the season feels comfortably underway. I haven’t see someone try this much inside sabotage since my 8th viewing of “The Departed.”

Meanwhile, the Rockets were rusty and Ariza underwhelmed last night. This is the kind of game they won’t even need to slow down, as Stephen Curry could easily be walking around like Brick Tamland with a pitchfork before the nights over, looking lost – yet hopeful.

(Sorry, wayyyy too many pop culture references in this first 15 Footer for 2009. I’ve been gone too long.)

Nuke the Moon
Kings @ Thunder 8:00EST (Via the Corndogg)

Blowing up La Luna make far more sense than trying to stop Kevin Durant. You Just Cant DO IT! This is the season for KDu and your firearms are useless against him. The Thunder will easily be the team I watch the most highlights of (since I wont ever be able to see them play).

Add to the Thunder mix a revamped Westbrook, a sleeker James Harden and (Trey Kerby fave) B.J. Mullens and this will be the most exciting 32 win team this side of Phoenix.

As for Sacto… you still have the Kevin Martin, or, our used to be favorite guy from a crappy team who scores in unique ways and makes you feel all warm and gooey inside. ‘Reke Havoc will be the new nickname hotness of 09/10.

And, lest ye need more sustenance through this NBA Great Depression – you Sactown(ians?) now have Zach Harper as their official Truehoop Network blogger! And Sean May! I say Rejoice! (That’s 3 !s. Share this moment with pride).

Twin Fails, but Opposite – That makes sense, right?
Jazz @ Nuggets 10:30EST (Via the Corndogg)

It’s hard to really knock on either of these teams, but we all know that failure is assured amongst each fan base. For the Jazz, its because they are the exact same team. Yep, that’s right – the exact team that will get between a 4-7 seed, lose decisively in the playoffs and fail to make any reasonable changes next offseason.

For the Nuggets, we all saw the promies of last year. Focused Melo, Chauncey’s leadership, Birdman’s wingspan and Balkman. Yep, just Balkman. But even with minor tweaks, we’re looking right at a Denver team that will get between a 4-7 seed, lose decisively in the playoffs and fail to make any reasonable changes next offseason.

Edge: Jazz, because at least they don’t have to hope any more. This Denver mixture is just new enough to cause some unwarranted moments of false security, enabling massive spikes in overconfidence and team capabilities – resulting in painful crashes back to reality. Sort of like stopping that 2 week bender with Birdman 1.0. Jazz fans, you keep getting older, but Sloan & Co. just stay the same…

Superman Returns Starring … Andre Iguodala As Lex Luther? (76ers at Magic, 7:00PM EST; by Zach Harper)

The Eastern Conference champs are with Rashard Lewis Canseco and possibly feel slighted for not getting top billing on opening night. Instead, they get relegated to the first game orgy night of the season in which they’re broadcasted on local TV rather than the national spotlight. And do the Magic even get a worthy matchup? No, they have to pretend the Philadelphia 76ers are worthy adversaries and act like their number one ranked defense from last season is afraid of Lou Williams’ court vision and Andre Iguodala’s outside shooting. But they shouldn’t take this Sixers’ team lightly. The boys from Philly will try to out-athleticize (officially a new word) the Magic with Iggy and Thad Young. The plan to shove Kryptonite in Superman’s craw is to body him up with Elton Brand, Marreese Speights, or Samuel Dalembert and then let the long arms of their athletic wings try to confuse and attack with quick double teams and hopefully, quicker rotations. Orlando will counter with a deluge of three-point makes and pull out a sort-of-easy double-digit win.

Oh Jeez… Look At This Dump! Hey Dwyane, You Should Check Out Our Place. (Knicks at Heat, 7:30PM EST; by Zach Harper)

How do you convince Dwyane Wade to leave that dump of a South Beach for the cold winter nights of New York City? Show him how great Danilo Gallinari is! Sure, this Knicks team is going to play at one of the fastest paces in the league and throw up triple digits on the scoreboard most nights but the fact that they could really use a successful implementation of Eddy Curry into the lineup/system shows just how desperate for talent this team is. The highlight of this show is to see just how good and motivated Dwyane Wade is this season. Is he going to be a pseudo-lame duck superstar that goes through the motions on a mediocre team? Or will he unnecessarily try to prove his worth night in and night out by making a valid pitch for MVP? Throw in the first game of Jermaine O’Neal’s contract year campaign and you’ve got every reason to simply watch a quarter of this game to get your fill of Wade before jumping ship to ANY OTHER GAME ON THE SCHEDULE.

Who Would Have Thought The Highlight Of Our Twilight Years Would Be That Tandem Bicycle? (Suns at Clippers, 10:30PM EST; by Zach Harper)

‘Those were the days…”

I really want to be excited about Baron Davis going against Steve Nash in an up-tempo reimagining. And it would have been perfect to see Amare Stoudemire and Amare Stoudemire 2.0 (Blake Griffin) try to match each other highlight for highlight as the two teams dip into the 110s tonight. Actually… you know what? There IS plenty of reason to be excited about this game. We’re going to get to see one of those good old-fashioned run’n’guns in which the two teams care more about getting quick, quality shots than they do about locking down defensively and slowing the pace of this game. Not even Mike Dunleavy can take this one away from us. You’ll be treated to a “Who’s quicker?” contest between Leandro Barbosa and Eric Gordon. Two familiar faces with Grant Hill and Marcus Camby exchanging pleasantries will delight you. You’ll get to see both Griffin brothers watching the game from the bench but for completely different reasons. There’s so much symmetry here!

Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent. Again. Yes, It Follows The Fall Of Our Discontent. Yes, Next It Will Be The Spring Of Our Discontent. Are You Really Not Seeing A Pattern Here? (New Jersey at Minnesota, 8PM EST; by Moore)

Ricky Rubio opens the season against a premier point guard in the league, Devin Harris tonight as… oh. Sorry, forgot about that. Silly me. Let’s all have a laugh together, shall we? Ho ho ho. What mirth.  Anyway, the Wolves B Screwed. No Love. No Jefferson. Rookie point. Gomes is the next best player on the floor, potentially, depending on how Brewer’s feeling. Meanwhile, the Nets are expected to be one of the worst teams, if not the worst team in the league, despite having Harris, CDR, Terrence Williams, Josh Boone, and Brook Lopez. What’s bizarre is tonight? Tonight’s a must win for the Nets. I know I’m insane. First game. But do you want to start a year where everyone expects you to fail by losing to a team without their two best players? It’s okay if you’re the Lakers and you know you’re better anyway. Not so good if you’re not the Lakers and this could spell the beginning of the longest season ever. Plus, the Russian dude is watching, and those guys can be unhinged pretty easy. I think it’s the Vodka.

Taken (For Granted) (Charlotte at Boston, 7:30PM EST; by Moore)

Charlotte plays Boston close, it has for years. Be it overlooking them, matchup problems, injuries, whatever. But tonight you’ve got Tyson Chandler who may or may not play, no Okafor who’s played well against Boston. They’re facing Boston in their home opener. so it’s an opportunity to strut which the Celtics take very seriously. And Diaw versus Rasheed Wallace is not nearly as advantageous as it should be. Meanwhile Rondo versus Augustin and Felton isn’t beneficial. So all signs point to Boston. This game means a lot more for Charlotte than it does to Boston. Charlotte has a brutal schedule to start and grabbing a win against a napping Boston would avoid a panic. Meanwhile, Boston already won the biggest game they have in the first month. We’re going to see just how mediocre the Bobcats are tonight, for good or bad.

Do Not Anger The Bull God (Cleveland at Toronto, 7PM EST; by Moore)

Hey, I’m in full on “Cavs are going to have make significant strides to convince me they’re not paper tigers” mode after last night following the Magic series. But James is not losing two games in a row. Toronto can’t rebound, the Cavs can. Toronto can’t defend, the Cavs can. Even though I think Toronto is more talented 1-5 and a win wouldn’t shock me, I don’t see Toronto being ready to compete immediately with teams like Cleveland. Something to watch tonight is who guards Shaq. Because Bosh doesn’t have the size, and Bargnani will foul out in four minutes. Meanwhile, Hedo guarding LBJ didn’t work well in the Conference Finals, won’t work well tonight. I like the backcourt advantage for Toronto, but barring Bargnani drifting out to 12 feet and downing jumper after jumper, this one could get out of hand and into Cavalier control early, based simply on chemistry and pedigree.

Plus, James might kill a man if they lose. And that man would be Mo Williams.

No One Can Stop Me Now (Because None Of Us Can Stop Anyone) (Detroit at Memphis, 8PM EST; by Moore)

Great opening matchup for both teams. I cannot stress enough how bad both of these teams are going to be defensively. Mayo’s not going to make huge strides, Gay’s useless outside of the passing lane, the Pistons have no size, Ben Gordon is short, and both teams can run, shoot, score, and can’t stop anyone. Over/Under should be the exponent of A WHOLE HELL OF A LOT.

But let’s talk about the matchup you’re all waiting for. Forget Parker/Paul. Forget Billups/Deron. This is the big one.

KWAME BROWN andHASHEEM THABEET star in the major motion picture… YOU CAN ONLY BUST ONCE.

We May Not Be Deep, But We’re Deep Thinkers  (Hornets @ Spurs – 8:00 PM EST, ESPN; by Kyle Weldie)
The storyline of this game is clear. It’s all about DeJuan Blair and his lack of knee cartilage versus the perpetual impending breakout of Ike Diogu. Unfortunately, Diogu is out and the Hornets are dealing with a myriad of nagging injuries to start the season while Blair chewed off a dude’s arm while going for a rebound and is currently under investigation for criminal charges.

Instead, we will go with the arrival of Darius Songaila in the NOLA. Songaila is particularly adept as setting hard picks for PGs up top and then causing defensive fits with the range on his jumper on the pop. Vegas has set the over/under on pick-n-pops between D-Song and Chris Paul at 1.5.

Also, keep an eye on a potential matchup between Songaila, formerly known as the ‘White Knight’ with the Wizards and Matt Bonner, the Red Rocket.

The Spurs and the Hornets split last year’s series at two apiece, each team winning on their home court. Just like last year, if New Orleans scores more than 100 points, they win. Also, whenManu Ginobili scored exactly 17 points, the Spurs lost. When Peja Stojakovic scored exactly four points, the Spurs won.

Line: Spurs by 9 
SA 99, NOLA 89

R-E-S-P-E-C-Try Actually Putting Together A Contender (Pacers @ Hawks – 7:00 PM EST; by Kyle Weldie)
The Pacers want to be respected, but for them to have a chance in this one, T.J. Ford will need to run circles around Mike Bibby and then do a little dance on Joe Johnson’s face. And even at that, the Hawks likely take this one running away. Defensive stopper Dahntay Jones is probably out. Danny Granger is doubtful, questionable, and all of the above. Larry Bird is resting at home in French Lick. And the Pacers cable network is opting to show a rendition of Hoosiers featuring French mimes playing against released Gitmo hostages instead. Indy is effed.

Also … Troy Murphy and Josh Smith are polar opposites.

Math … Josh McRoberts + Jeff Foster = Al Horford / Bill Murray

Line: Hawks by 8
ATL 111, IND 94

Great Exercises in Internet NBA-Related Postings

  • Sebastian over at NAS has hopes for year for Nets fans. Brook Lopez being a double-double machine isn’t a hope, it’s a reality.
  • If you’re like me, you get lost trying to understand Flip Saunders’ system. Luckily, the first episode of the Dagger Report podcast at BF, they’ve got an audio discussion which makes it make sense. Also, some douche named Mahoney is on there.
  • Tim Kawakami is waging a war on the Warriors disaster squad, and lines up how they could start 7-1 and end with 34 wins.
  • McHale is wondering about Thomas-Noah +/-.  The trick with the lineups data over at is twofold. One, the minutes distribution creates a double-edged sword. You can either see the smaller minute rotations as not having a large enough sample size to make any sort of conclusion, or you can see it as curious that the more effective rotations garnered so few minutes. Second, the context of lineups is naturally an issue here. A lineup that is only deployed in garbage time is going to have a much better +/-, just like often times scrubs in blowouts have good +/-. All that said, I’ve been wondering myself if Tyrus Thomas is a good player but not a good fit in Chicago, with the prior regime or the current.
  • Hornets 24-7 is preaching patience with Oak. Gotta say there was a weird vibe in the locker room for the approximate 20 seconds I was in the Hornets locker room the other night, but I concur that the minute Okafor starts ooping the alleys, it’ll be good times again in the Hornets’ locker room.
  • The best preview.
  • True Blue Jazz waves goodbye to Morris Almond. That kid never got a fair shake. He’s way too good of a shooter not to be employed right now. That said, the agent for these D-League guys kill me. If they’re not going to guarantee you a contract, don’t have them go to camp with teams that have no use for them. Morris Almond is a three point shooting specialist. So why in the hell was he in camp with the Magic? It’s like someone trying to set Paroxi-wife up with a balding NBA blogger who won’t do the dishes.
  • Peachtree Hoops provides a fantastic look at the gap between the Hawks and the East 3. I think the gap will be closer this season, though I’m obviously not bold enough to say it will close. What’s weird is how similar the Hawks and Cavs were last season, though the playoff series was so phenomenally uneven. Maybe a similar poles effect.
  • Arnovitz refuses to panic.
  • The best preview, again.
  • Marcus Thorton (swoon!) is officially Lil’ Buckets. Mark it, dude.
  • The problem isn’t just the lack of parity, having good teams and bad teams is good for business. It’s the stagnation in which teams those are and the market-influence on which teams are good and bad that is the issue. It’s fine for LA to have a few years of championship reign, it’s good for business. But we’re looking at 5 titles in 11 years. You gotta spread the wealth, otherwise, what are the other teams’ fans in it for?
  • They really should just rename them the Golden State Facepalm.
  • No, for real, y’all. Tyronn Lue is a coach!
  • Several times last night I saw Shaq try to go for the drop-step hook. He missed very badly each time. Paroxi-wife asked me why he can’t do that anymore. I said “He’s 37.” “Yes, ” she replied, “but why?”  That’s a complicated question about how the body ages and conditioning and physics. This, on the other hand, is a simple guide to what Shaq needs to keep on the sideline to remember what he needs to do.
  • Seriously, the DeJuan Blair Hype has gone bezerk. We’re now talking ROY, apparently. Jesus, it was preseason. Simmer.
  • Personally, I think it’s awesome that VDN is admitting the Bulls aren’t contending for a championship. Be reasonable now, so when you are ready to compete, it means more.
  • The whole gang is back together.
  • In a terrific interview with Philadunkia, Thad Young is talking about going back to the 4. Ruh-roh. His rebounding percentage advises against that.
  • I am very pleased that Derrick Byars (D-League!) made the Bulls. I am very not pleased that Rod Benson did not.
  • I torched Greg Oden on Twitter last night, and I should clarify. BE has a good rundown, Blazers Fans, in case you think I’m just hating. If everyone just says “Oden is going to rebound and be dominant on defense in terms of blocks and affecting shots, until he learns how to properly maintain his responsibilities (INBOUNDSPLAYSINBOUNDSPLAYSINBOUNDSPLAYS), I’d be fine with it. I point out his offensively horrid game last night because he’s spoken of as the next great NBA center. And I have yet to see that from him. He and Bynum are inverse. Oden has natural, amazing defensive ability. On offense, he looks lost and gets confused. Bynum can battle and dunk and has touch and sick athleticism. He’s also dumb as a post on defense, goes for the weakside too much, loses his man more than Jennifer Aniston and pretty much gets bamboozled. Both are good. Just not great. They will be, in time. And when they are, I will say so. I’m just asking for the prediction to not be treated as current reality.
  • An interesting idea for financing a new Kings stadium.
  • Great quote by Kidd about Dirk and the offense: “He would be dead by Christmas if we’re going to let him be the offense.”
  • Check out LaMarcus Aldridge’s first quarter. The fouls and subsequent funk were so disappointing because he was nigh on unstoppable for that first stretch. Likewise, Randy Foye was a +/- machine last night.
  • Stepien Rules is your official home for the paranoid fears most of us have about the Cavs.
  • Interesting look at the Rockets’ stat team, the front line for all that metric analysis that leads to things like everyone going “Wait, what? Chase Budinger is good?”
  • Multiple personalities, the Knicks, and you. And you.