Happy New Year’s Eve! There were lots of games on, and lots of wins and winces. So to start your NYE off right, let’s get to recapping the games of Eve’s eve.Â
Lion Face: Derrick Rose
Itâ€™s like Derrick Rose took every critique Iâ€™ve ever had of his game, put it in a pot, simmered it until all of the misguided hate and skepticism was withdrawn, made an ambered color roux, added the hater broth he just simmered, and reduced it into the most incredible hater gravy.
â€œOh, he doesnâ€™t know how to get his teammates involved early.â€Â 10 assists in the first half.
â€œHeâ€™s not really that efficient of a scorer.â€Â 8-14 from the field.
â€œCan he shoot the 3-ball?â€Â 3-4 from behind the arc.
â€œHe doesnâ€™t get to the line enough, and itâ€™s sad because he should get there like, 10 times a nightâ€Â 10-11 FT
You should try this gravy. Itâ€™s unbelievable.
Lemon Face: Blake Griffin developing bad habits.
Okay, this is being nitpicky despite an incredible offensive performance by Griffin, but I did not enjoy Griffinâ€™s dribbling display, especially during one possession where he had the ball near the free throw line, proceeded to dribble backwards between his legs to the top of the key where he took a contested 20-footer. His play is giving me dÃ©jÃ vu â€“ Kris Humphries used to shoot turnaround fadeaways after a few made baskets. It was the dumbest thing. I love that Griffin is expanding his game, but more than a few of his possessions looked like a needless exhibition of skills he still needs to refine.
Lion Face: Jeff Teague
Having a quick penetrating guard is very, very useful. Teague had himself an efficient game (22 points, 9-12 FG â€“ basically Greg Monroeâ€™s line) that was played entirely in a half-court offense. Watching footage from Synergy Sports Technology, Teague only attempted one jump shot in the game. The other 11 attempts were either layups or runners. The Hawks are still obsessed with the long 2, but Teague appears to be the remedy. And the effects havenâ€™t been this apparent since last seasonâ€™s playoff series against the Chicago Bulls. Oh, he did point guard-y things too, like a sweet dump-off pass to a trailing Josh Smith in transition.
Lemon Face: Rodney Stuckey
Rodney Stuckeyâ€™s 1-11 shooting night in a nutshell: During one possession in the first quarter, Brandon Knight is trapped in a corner with five seconds left on the shot clock. Knight heaves it over to Stuckey, who, with one second left on the clock,Â hadoukensÂ the ball over the backboard.
Lion Face: Andrea Bargnani
Andrea had it going the entire game (30 points, 11-18 fg). The defense has to respect his shot, but also his driving ability because of his sneakily explosive first step. When he initiates that dribble motion, defenses are forced on their heels which gives him just enough space to stop, rise and swish. Despite all of the punchlines regarding his historically terrible rebounding numbers, heâ€™s still a legitimate offensive dynamo. Maybe his skills are God-given, maybe itâ€™s a result of hours in the gym. For me, Iâ€™d prefer to believe itâ€™s all due to Primo Pasta, and his deliciously awkward endorsement commercial.
Lemon Face: The New Orleans Hornets
They took 90 shots to score 78 points. They clanked the rim so many times, their offensive rebound count was a little more than half of Phoenixâ€™s total rebound number. And when they got the rebound, they missed some more. They missed so much, Channing Frye had 16 rebounds. Do you know how hard that is? For Channing Frye? For the Hornets to shoot below 30 percent for the game? This lemon is so sour.
Lion Face: Derrick Favors
Holy crap,Â THISÂ is what you look like when youâ€™re not in foul trouble? Never get into foul trouble again, Derrick! You are relentless! You have a jumper (!!!)! Â You were great! Now letâ€™s work on some consistency, because we can all get used to Derrick Favors that brings home 20-11 every game.
Lemon Face: Paul Millsap
Just one of them days for Millsap. He was getting good looks; shots he would normally convert. He was just really, really off. The Jazz eek out the win, though, and his struggles were well masked by the two sophomores in Favors and Gordon Hayward.
Lion Face: Ian Mahinmi
Iâ€™m really enjoying these games in which random Dallas big men step up for some seriously good games off the bench. Ian Mahinmi was an absolute monster in less than 29 minutes, going perfect from the field and finishing with five rebounds and two blocks. Reminded me of the first game he played in his second year with the Spurs.
Lemon Face: Brian Cook
Brian Cook played for 17 minutes and had five fouls. He was the primary backup for DeAndre Jordan who was in foul trouble all game. That is the most depressing sentence Iâ€™ve ever written. Chicagoâ€™s depth in the frontcourt was just too much for the Clippers to handle. They need to throw all the money they have in Kyrylo Fesenkoâ€™s direction. The team wonâ€™t last another two weeks with Brian Cook as their backup center.
Lion Face: LeBron to Wade game-winning alleyoop
Lemon Face: Wayne Ellington
Wayne Ellington is terribad. Ellington has no business shooting more than everyone on the team not named Kevin Love. He has no business shooting 13 shots â€“ shooting (and missing) his last five shots with less than seven minutes remaining in the game( including two shots, one at 33 seconds left, and the last shot to win/tie with 4.7 seconds left). But he did. He did.
Lion Face: Greg Monroeâ€™s offense
This was the game we were waiting for. Monroe showed off a little bit of everything in his offensive repertoire last night â€“ a face up jumper, a hook shot, smart cuts to the basket, scoring off his own misses â€“ en route to 22 points on 9-12 shooting. Heâ€™s got great vision for his size, and at this point, it can probably be argued that heâ€™s the best passer on the team. He put it all together against the Celtics, and for those rooting for his next major leap forward, this was a fantastic sign.
Lemon Face: Greg Monroeâ€™s defense
Unfortunately, basketball is a two-way game, and as good as Monroe was at scoring and getting his teammates involved, he was just as bad defending. Jermaine Oâ€™Neal in his sad, sad, old state of existence should not be able to score 19 points on anyone, let alone one of the Pistonsâ€™ centerpieces. Brandon Bass plays a brisk 22 minutes and comes away as the second leading scorer (behind Oâ€™Neal) for the Celtics. Yeah. Monroe might be a defensive liability. Unfortunately, 2004 Ben Wallace isnâ€™t walking through that door — and itâ€™s kind of sad when youâ€™re forced to give 2011 Ben a go because your burgeoning star canâ€™t get it done.
Lion Face: Ricky Rubio
Doubters have taken notice. We are all witnesses to Rubioâ€™s prowess. In only his third NBA game, he was four rebounds away from a triple-double after playing only 30 minutes. We know he canâ€™t shoot, but hey, heâ€™s shooting 61.5% from the field taking shots when he needs to, and making crafty passes when he doesnâ€™t. He made Anthony Randolph look like a competent NBA player against one of the best defenses in the league. That alone says everything you need to know about the guy. He makes his team better when heâ€™s on the court, and doesnâ€™t do very much to hurt it. â€¦Minnesota can live with the terrible shooter shooting infrequently â€“ especially if he maintains his current clip.
Lemon Face: Glen Davis
Big Baby went 3-12. In the same night, Brandon Bass went 7-11. When does this trade start looking fair?
Lion Face: Memphis’ Starting Frontcourt
Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 43 points on 17-22 shooting and 17 rebounds, probably the polar opposite of what happened on their opening game against the Spurs. This is how Memphis is going to win games. Dump it into capable hands in the post, and good things will start happening.
Lemon Face: Wizards Starting Backcourt
John Wall and Nick Young combined for 2-19 shooting, each contributing one made field goal each. Also, Jordan Crawford took 20 shots off the bench and scored 24 points to lead the Wizards in a blowout loss. Of course he did.