Thursday, February 28, 2008

Who's Not Honoring Me Now? VI

I may have to change the title of my post. Marty Burns is still picking teams from a hat (Rockets #1), and for some reason I couldn't find The Ultimate Hater Meija on CBS. Perhaps he was so consistently terrible they gave the job to this other guy.

I have been checking Sagarin regularly - the Lakers and Pistons have been swapping 2/3 back and forth by hundredths of a point, appropriately.

#3 - Sagarin/
#1 - Schuhmann/
#3 - Crouse/
#1 - dime magazine
#1 - Hollinger/
#1 - Steyn/
#3 - Burns/
#1 - Murphy/
#1 - Ludden/yahoo
#1 - Pincus/

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


This Portland game makes me wonder whether Farmar should take Fishers starting gig. Or, more to the point, Who should finish fourth quarters, Farmar or Fisher? 

Watching Fish make bad decisions on the break, take early shots off his dribble and get torched at will by Steve Blake put all this in my head.  But it is nice watching Jordan lead the second team so decisively. The bench is a real asset. 

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ole, Ole, Ole

Next game, just watch Gasol's "defense" and "rebounding". (Scare quotes = theoretical application of those concepts to that person's game.)

I love his interior passing, his high-post adeptness, his finishing and shooting; I love watching Kwame rack up DNPs with Memphis. But good lord, he plays defense like his guy has Marburg hemorrhagic fever and rebounds like the sole requirement is tallness. Really.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

If The Playoffs Started Today

1. Lakers
8. Warriors

4. Jazz (at)
5. Hornets

2. Suns
7. Rockets

3. Spurs
6. Mavs

To me, that looks tailor-made for the Lakers reaching the conference finals, while the bottom half is a brutal slugfest. Just shows how important positioning will be down the stretch.

Missing from the picture is the Denver "Two All-Star Starters" Nuggets. At 33-22 they would be 4th in the East (where Philly is holding down the 8th spot at 25-32). Maybe the NBA should go to a full 16-team reseed? Could be interesting:

1. Celtics
16. Kings

8. Jazz
9. Rockets

4. Suns
13. Cavs

5. Spurs
12. Nuggets

2. Pistons
15. Blazers

7. Mavs
10. Magic

3. Lakers
14. Raptors

6. Hornets
11. Warriors

First round is a LOT more compelling, that's for sure. And you still get the much hoped for Lakers-Celtics final.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Forecast: 82% Chance of Raining Frogs

So Wednesday brought us the biggest -- and so far the most entertaining -- game of the year, and we don't post about it? What is that, Jimmy? What is that? I'm asking you that.

It was in every way a Big Win: clinched the season series 3-1, tied for first in the Pacific, ruined Shaq's debut. We also got Kobe torching all-NBA-defense prodigy Raja Bell (who was also rung up by a vicious Shaq elbow... have you ever been struck by lightning? It hurts), plus Pau facing up Shaq on the high post and calmly shooting jumpers over him. Oh yeah, and involve Shaq in high pick-and-rolls: where have we heard that before?

Also Lamar in a very comfortable rhythm, Sasha starting to get his game mojo working, VladRad playing with smarts(!), Bynum starting some light running... I have so much love to give, I just don't know where to put it.

So, "at" Clippers tonight, in an odd scheduling quirk that I'm not sure I've ever seen before: back-to-back home games for the Clippers. I thought that was never done? I guess, this is something that happens. Here's hoping they are fat and happy after beating the Jazz soundly last night. Then again as Samuel noted, the Lakes are getting to that level where it's all about them -- doesn't matter who the opponent is or what their game plan might be, oh you're gonna give me that cherry pie sweet mama baby.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tough Love from Chuck

Charles, knocking back a few I assume, gives the Suns some honest and tough criticism.

Most surprisingly he says Nash is past his prime and has started his decline. Not sure I've seen the decline yet. His passing and shooting have been as good as ever and you can't decline defensively when you started out with nothing.

I also don't get all the talk about Shaq making Amare better. This isn't just coming from Sir Charles, I've seen it from multiple sources. How is a guy who never played much D and was a mediocre rebounder for his athletic ability teach these skills? Are they going to sit around and watch tapes of Dennis Rodman together? With the money that Shaq's getting paid it's an absolute cop-out if he himself doesn't perform. Instead of having Amare get better, why not just make up for his deficencies by bringing in a player who fulfils the roles of defense and say Shawn Marion?

I'm sure he'll be fired up on Wednesday, so the Lakers should make sure to play uptempo. When I saw the Warriors pick up the pace on the new look Suns last week they definitely looked a step behind without the Matrix. We can also play Hack-a-Shaq & Hack-a-Mare since neither can shoot unguarded from 12ft.

Monday, February 18, 2008

All-Star Gazing

Some random thoughts about All-Star weekend:

  • The Rookie game was not as exciting this year. Normally zero defense leads to a lot of interesting dunk attempts, but this time it was Boobie Gibson launching 20 3-pointers. I was booing, not Boo-bie-ing. At least Farmar was aggressive and played with energy.

  • An interesting reason why the Sophomores always win: at this point most rookies are exhausted because they haven't learned yet how to run the full marathon of an NBA season. Play this game early in the year and it would be a lot closer.

  • Last year's rookies who didn't make the sophomore cut: Randy Foye, Adam Morrison, Marcus Williams. New sophomores who took their spots: LaMarcus Aldridge, Ronnie Brewer, Rajan Rondo. Enjoy your reflected glory, Rondo, because if you were on a bad team no one would know your name. And Adam Morrison... why does that name sound familiar? Is he in the NBA?

  • This just in: Shooting Stars is still poorly designed (spend half your time shooting 5 shots and the rest shooting a half-court shot), and still a complete waste of time.

  • The better event was the half-court shooting contests at the end of the practice sessions. J-Kidd hit three in 60 seconds shooting one-handed underhand lobs. I have no idea why Sheed didn't participate, because my money would be on him. I was also surprised that Kobe didn't insist on participating left-handed.

  • The best moment from the practice sessions was overhearing Laker4Life Byron Scott tell Kobe, "You're stealing my glory!" because he finally gets to coach his "main man" but instead he pulls up injured. Obviously Byron was Kobe's mentor way back when, and you can feel the love. We need to make sure this guy is coaching the Lakers post-Phil.

  • The 3-point contest is so boring that thankfully Charles and Kenny talked about something else entirely during most of it.

  • My favorite dunk was Howard's 1st in the finals: block off the backboard with his left to create a follow up dunk with his right. But then again, I couldn't stop smiling during replays of the Birthday Cake dunk. Howard's first dunk is right up there... his head was behind the backboard! That ain't right.

  • It's early, so I haven't read any news articles about the game yet. I hope someone points out how utterly retarded those uniforms were. I mean, whose brilliant idea was it to have different colors front and back to begin with, let alone having the East back and the West front almost identical? As guys move around you see three different colors on the court... or during a fast break you might only see one. What the hell?!?

  • Only somewhat on display, much less restrained than I expected: the presentation of New Orleans as a city of hapless victims whose continuing problems are a direct result of the greed, racism, and selfishness of the rest of America. Hey, Bob from Cheyenne, why do you hate black people so much that you don't come down here and spend your time and money rebuilding these people's houses? Or demanding that the Feds spend your money doing so on your behalf? What do you mean other areas were hit much harder by Katrina and seem to be rebuilding just fine?

  • I thought it was pretty funny that Reggie Miller advocated Ray Allen as the clear MVP... do nothing all game then hit some key 3s late. Sounds like Reggie ball. They gave it to the right guy (Lebron) instead -- who by the way absolutely demolished Amare on the game-clinching drive and dunk.

  • No Kobe, no win. Simple as that. Take heed Team USA -- we better hope he's available for the Olympics.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tonight was not a good night to be Corey Brewer

Is it worse to have been:

A) Utterly wrecked by a Kobe crossover?
B) Utterly embarrassed by a Coby swat?

'A' is seen by a lot more people through numerous replays on national TV, but 'B' must give you a serious bout of existential angst -- make you think twice about your choice of careers. This is also known as "Weiss's Syndrome."


Someone posted a very nice highlight video from the Minny game. "A" above is at 2:55 or so, "B" is at the 3:37 mark:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Kobe, Gasol power Lakers over Bobcats as road trip nears end

Man, I am digging the Pow Gasol show. Like Erik said, he frees up Lamar to be Lamar, one the league’s best rebounders, a roaming defender and occasional scorer. When Lamars feels the burden of primary scorer, his whole game withers. He's got crazy spring in his step and seems so relaxed.

Gasol is, according to Jerry West (who should know) a high I.Q. basketball player. He sets picks, he rolls, he traps his man behind him in the post, he takes easy 10’ jumpers and, most of all, he dives to the rim whenever he can. Kobe & Lamar look for him around the basket and he’s always there. I saw a lot of that yesterday- he just dives to the rim and Kobe and Lamar find him. Good chemistry with those three (paging Derek Fisher……).

But Okafor was pushing Gasol around like a rag doll yesterday around the rim and in the post. He’ll need Andruw and Lamar’s help against good big men.

Its been a while since I’ve been this excited about the playoffs, just to see what they can do. A lot of this is on Jackson, too. Gasol is not his kind of player, but Jax needs to make it work.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Big Truthiness

Nice article on Shaq.

Wade needs to get Kobe in his 5 so he can get some advice on life after Shaq.

Still a month out for Bynum, but I like the way the kid is thinking. I can't wait to see how this team looks healthy, but I hope we don't rush him back for this playoff run. Our window is just opening and I'd like to ensure we're a healthy in the long term. After all, this is our center for the next decade.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Pop's Tart

Popovich on the Pau trade:
"What they did in Memphis is beyond comprehension," said Popovich. "There should be a trade committee that can scratch all trades that make no sense. I just wish I had been on a trade committee that oversees NBA trades. I'd like to elect myself to that committee. I would have voted no to the L.A. trade."

When told that Wallace had challenged executives to criticize the deal publicly, Popovich replied, "Well, there you go. I'm on the record."

Man I love Gregg Popovich (agape not eros, so stop right there). He is always good for a speaking-his-mind quote, and he's usually right. If I wasn't a Laker fan, I'd be pissed at that trade too. See: Garnett to Boston for a box of spare parts.

I'm Talkin' About The Road

4-2 on The Road Trip after a big win last night, with three to go. I asked for 6-3 trip before it started (actually 7-3 but for some reason I thought the Knick game was on the road) and that looks very possible:

- At Miami on Sunday, with the debut of Maid Marion
- Back-to-back at Charlotte on Monday, against a team that Isn't Very Good
- At Minnesota on Wednesday, an enigma team that shouldn't be taken lightly

Then All-Star weekend where Kobe is in the Dunk Contest Skills Challenge Celebrity Game Shooting Stars Three-Point Shootout. Um, what?

So About Last Night: how about 36 for Kobe and 30 for Pau? I could get used to that. Pau is picking up the triangle faster than anyone I've ever seen, and is thriving in the pinch post, making some nifty passes. You see what he does to inferior talent, like abusing Adonal "He's So Well Spoken" Foyle. Once Bynum comes back and Pau is playing PFs, watch the fuck out.

One thing I really like about road games is hearing the road announcers. Not just because Joel Myers makes me want to puncture my eardrums, but to get a different perspective. Last night was classic: huge homers who couldn't believe a single foul call against the Magic. Howard picked up his 5th via a two-hand-check on a driving Kobe, and even after the replay they were acting like that was ticky-tack. On the plus side, my favorite so far is Steve Smith doing color in Atlanta: good player insight, funny... he should get picked up for national games.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

One Ugly Shot Deserves Another...(or Shaq's FT's vs. Marion's 3's)

So it's true. Shaq for Marion.

The knee-jerk reaction: lolwtf the suns just shot themselves in the foot.

The let it sink in reaction: Did they just trade their best defender for a slower, older, more beat up, less rebounding, can't defend the pick and roll player? Yup, they did. What am I missing?

The reaction from the reactions: I know something must be right in Laker land when Suns fans abandon their fandom as they watch their team "give up" the identity that made them lovable and nearly brought them a championship.

The I read too many hack sports writers today reaction: Does this really give the Suns a great shot at a title? Does Shaq really have one more push to bring this team to the finish line? Wait a second, this is the first time I've seen "He won't stop the fast break since he can be taking the ball out of bounds" line. Is that really a plus?

The I think I've got it now reaction: Kerr is the boss, D'Antoni is on the way out. The locker room chemistry must have been so bad that they needed Shaq to contribute to the reasons they hate Kobe. Good luck with that, don't you know everyone has a Kobe-man-crush!

and your reaction?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Easy Tiger

Let me the voice of caution here. Remember the last time Jax got a talented but soft European? Kuckoc? Slava? Jax can make players worse.

He just beats them up for what they don't do (play D, rebound), screws with their minutes and wrecks their confidence. If he doesn't change his way with Gasol, you're going to see a shell of the former player, a guy struggling to find flow in 20 minutes of action.

Plus, while Bynum had a great 20 games there, it helped that he was an afterthought for opponents. He got points off junk plays. Now he's getting a rep, and will become a point of emphasis for the good teams, especially in the playoffs, and he may not overcome all that newfound attention. That's why guys backslide all the time in this league, they can't take on determined, focused opposition.

Just sayin...

By the way, "Easy Tiger" does not mean what I think it means anymore

Friday, February 1, 2008

Boom, Pau Surprise!

I was in meetings all morning, away from my computer, but knew something was going down when I got several calls and text messages in the space of about 5 minutes.

Ladies and Gentleman, let me introduce your 2008 Championship Lakers:

PG - Derek Fisher
SG - Kobe Bryant
SF - Lamar Odom
PF - Pau Gasol
C - Andrew Bynum

B - Jordan Farmar
B - Luke Walton
B - Trevor Ariza
B - Ronny Turiaf
B - Vlad Radmanovic
B - Sasha Vujacic
B - Chris Mihm
B - Coby Karl

I do find it amusing that part of the trade was the rights to Gasol The Younger, so Memphis keeps their Gasol quotient the same. This is a banner day in more ways than one.

Plus, 2009 is more of the same... most everyone is under contract.

[Morning update: After looking into this deal further, I realized there is one additional winner: Aaron McKie! Because the Lakers didn't renounce their rights to him, they were able to sign him for the veteran minimum and include him in the trade to make the dollars match.

He was working as an unpaid assistant for Philly, so he has to resign, accept a paycheck for $750K, get then waived by Memphis before he can get back to coaching. Not a bad day's work.]