March 3rd, 2012
Game Preview: Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Staples Center March 04, 2012 12:30pm
On Sunday, March 4 2012, the Miami Heat are scheduled to travel to the Staples Center to take on the LA Lakers. Of course, the first thing that comes to the minds of fans is the fact that LeBron and Bryant will be playing against each other.
LA Lakers felt that way when they had the pleasure of meeting Kobe Bryant, and fans of the Miami Heat felt that way when the team acquired Dwayne Wade. Any time these two teams meet on the court, there is electricity in the air and sparks around the basket.
That leads to an argument that will go on for a long time: Kobe or LeBron? This past weekend, Kobe Bryant took a hit to the face from Dwayne Wade as he went in for a layup. Bryant somehow was able to finish the game and break Michael Jordan’s record for the all-time all-star scoring title. Unfortunately, because of Dwayne Wade, he broke his nose as well. The team doctors are being very careful with Bryant’s status, and have him listed as day-to-day. On top of sustaining nasal fractures, he suffered from a concussion as well. Bryant will undoubtedly be ready to play against the Miami Heat on Sunday. Will the other members of the Lakers be prepared to step up and teach Miami a lesson?
When the Lakers have Kobe Bryant in the lineup, they are automatically considered a dangerous team. Which is why the team should do everything they can to back the all-star up and protect him from hard fouls. Wade said that he apologized for the foul he had on Bryant, but it is still unacceptable to foul someone so hard in a game that means nothing. As a result of Wade’s thoughtless action, Bryant now has to go through a long process of check-ups and examinations in order to get back on the court. As the PTI crew said earlier today, it should be expected that the Lakers will not be welcoming to the Heat on Sunday.
How will the “big three” of the Miami Heat respond to the scrutiny that they are now under? Will Kobe or LeBron have the better game? Will aggressive personalities like Ron Artest retaliate against Wade? Is this the beginning of a more heated rivalry between the two teams? Perhaps this is the surge or spark the Lakers need in order to start winning.
Any game against Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and the Heat is meaningful for the Lakers. This one took on added significance after Wade mugged Kobe Bryant on a drive to the basket during the All-Star Game, causing some serious damage to his noggin.
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February 26th, 2012
Friday night the NBA hosted a number of events, none more interesting than the 2012 Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game (5 p.m. | ESPN) and BBVA Rising Stars Challenge (7 p.m. | TNT).
Back in my day All-Star Friday night would be a place where they’d just talk to the All-Stars on camera, live, and get Karl Malone mad. The Celebrity Game and “Rookie” game have both gone through a number of changes over the years. This year in the Celebrity game they augmented the rosters with some former NBA-All Stars (passed their prime), and one WNBA notable (Tamika Catchings). The coaches for the two teams (somehow separated into “East” and “West”) were Orlando Magic Dwight Howard and Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant respectively. I really had no idea who the celebrities in the celebrity game were except for the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Kevin Hart.
There were even more changes in the Rookie game. This year they put all the rookies and sophomores into a pool, and had Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley alternate picks to fill out the two teams. The rosters used to only be 8 players strong, but because Jeremy Lin is a huge story right now, they increased the roster size to 10 players. In the older format it was very rare for the rookie team to beat the sophomore team. This way seems a bit more interesting though; you know, provided that the people making the picks actually know what they are doing. Ex Los Angeles Lakers Shaq’s first two picks, LA Clippers Blake Griffin and Jeremy Lin, both hardly played at all during the game. On the other hand, Chuck’s first two picks dominated when they were in the game. Early on DeMarcus Cousins was dunking on everybody, and his first pick Kyrie Irving won the MVP of the game (He went 8-8 from downtown). Also the two teams had every uneven coaching. Shaq’s team was coached by an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls and Steve Kerr (TNT). The Chicago Bulls assistant was coaching in a game where no one played defense, so he was wasted; and Kerr was a GM but never a coach. On Charles’ team the two coaches were Maurice Cheeks (Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach), and Mike Fratello (TNT). Mo Cheeks and The Czar were both NBA head coaches — and Mike was totally into the game actually coaching.
I’m having difficulty finding an actual Box Score of the game, but Gordon Hayward finished the game with 14 points, a pair of blocks, and countless nice passes. His outside shot was still missing; however he got to do a little bit of everything and he looked like he was having fun. I was particularly impressed with his defensive rebounds — which he snagged due to his length and athleticism, I would like to see more of that for the Jazz. Derrick Favors also added 14 points, in 14 minutes according to John Hollinger. He made pretty much all of his shots, including all of his free throws — and he was the only guy out there on Chuck’s team who failed to convert his thinking into “Exhibition Game Mode”. In a way, he was the analog to Shaq’s team’s dour blue collar bigman Greg Monroe. They both played back to the basket, had some dunks, but many more of their finishes were fundamentally sound. And they both played post defense, instead of just letting people dunk it. Monroe, of course, stole the game and the highlight of the game when — in super-duper garbage time, actually disrupted a potential John Wall Jam, and turned it into a full court assist with seconds left on the clock.
Both of our guys played well off the bench, and seem to be enjoying themselves. Hopefully they can get more playing time together in the second half of the season. I think the last time I watched the rookie game was when Andrei Kirilenko was a sophomore, and he was the only guy playing defense for his team. Nice to know that few things have changed for the mentality of our players.
February 24th, 2012
NBA All-Star Weekend 2012 officially kicks off Friday in Orlando. Here’s a schedule of all the top-tier All-Star Weekend events.
Usually known as the Rookie/Sophomore Game, the 2012 edition of the Rising Stars Challenge is different because TNT analysts Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley selected the rosters from a pool of the top first- and second-year players. Reigning Rookie of the Year winner Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin headline Team Shaq. Top overall draft choice Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and versatile big-man DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings anchor Team Chuck.
All-Star Saturday Night opens with the Haier Shooting Stars, which pits the defending champion Team Atlanta against Team Orlando, Team New York, and Team Texas.
The next event is the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, in which six of the league’s top point guards battle to complete an obstacle course that tests their dribbling, passing, and shooting ability. Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, the defending champion, will take on Irving, Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets.
The Foot Locker Three-Point Contest follows the Skills Challenge in which Magic forward Ryan Anderson will challenge the defending champion James Jones of the Miami Heat. Other competitors include Mario Chalmers of the Miami Heat, Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City, Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Anthony Morrow of the New Jersey Nets. Durant replaces Atlanta Hawks swingman Joe Johnson, who will sit out the contest due to injury.
The Sprite Slam Dunk Contest concludes All-Star Saturday Night. This year’s dunk showdown features four players who have never before competed; it’s all fresh faces. In addition, the dunk contest will debut a new, one-round format in which each competitor has the opportunity to execute three dunks. The field is Chase Budinger of the Houston Rockets, Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, and Derrick Williams of Minnesota. Evans replaces Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert, who had to bow out of the competition due to injury.
The main event of the weekend finally tips Sunday evening. Magic center Dwight Howard, the leading vote-getter among all players, will start for the East, while Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will tie a record for consecutive All-Star appearances with 14.
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February 23rd, 2012
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
NBA / Western Conference
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
Thursday, February 23rd, 2012. 9:30 PM EST
Analysis of the Los Angeles Lakers
Following a difficult stretch where PF Pau Gasol was slumping and the Lakers looked like they might be in a tough situation, star SG Kobe Bryant called a players-only meeting to correct the issues the Lakers were facing and set the tone for the rest of the season. The 20-13 squad listened and won their next two games, including a win on the road over the defending champion Mavericks. The Lakers, perhaps now the hottest team in the land, will have a tough test on the road in OKC however.
Analysis of the Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder are what the NBA is all about. Through keen drafting (getting the entire core of their team during the 2007, 2008, and 2009 drafts), and other smart roster moves the Thunder have built a championship-caliber team from the ground up and with little trade help. They’re a small-market team with team-first players (including two time scoring champion SF Kevin Durant) and a win-or-go-home philosophy. There is little doubt that this team, with the NBA’s best record at 26-7, will be a tough team to knock out in May and will at least be difficult to handle during the 2nd half of the year.
Los Angeles Lakers: C Andrew Bynum
The 24-year-old sensation is a first-time All-Star this year and probably the 2nd best center in the league (behind Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic). He has played out of his mind so far in 2012, but will have a difficult test against the stingy defense of centers Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. A night where he can put up his normal numbers against those two is definitely needed for the Lakers to win away from home.
Oklahoma City Thunder: PG Russell Westbrook
Westbrook is the unsung hero of the Thunder. Just 23, Westbrook is a 2-time All-Star and one of the top-5 point guards in the league. He’s often overshadowed by Durant though and is given a lot of flak from fans for losses when, frankly, he doesn’t deserve it. The star is averaging 23 points and a game where he puts up somewhere around 30 against a PG-weak Lakers squad would almost guarantee a Thunder victory.
The Lakers are a decent shot-blocking team (with the combo of Bynum and Gasol you’d expect nothing less), but the Thunder are the best in the country. Averaging a ludicrous 8 blocks each night, the Thunder count on Ibaka to get the majority of these rejections. The Lakers only average 5 blocks, and that 3-block differential could mean a 6-9 point difference in the game favoring the Thunder. With two elite teams like this, those points could mean the game.
The Lakers, while hot, haven’t yet gone up against the Thunder in Oklahoma City yet. There the Thunder have only lost 1 game and the crowd will be there to make sure they don’t make it 2. This matchup is difficult to analyze in that both teams are playing extremely well and both teams are very similar. They have their respective superstars as well as their invaluable role players and the 1 supporting All-Star (Westbrook and Gasol respectively). Ultimately I think this is a coin flip, and I’ll give the edge to the home team.
Prediction = Oklahoma City Thunder: 99 – Los Angeles Lakers: 97
The Lakers return home on February 29th to the Staples Center to face the Minnesota Timberwolves. You can purchase Lakers Vs Timberwolves Tickets now.
February 23rd, 2012
Dallas Mavericks 91 Los Angeles Lakers 96
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 9:30 PM
Location - American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Officials - #24 Mike Callahan, #30 John Goble, #60 James Williams
Attendance - 20577
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LAKERS 96, MAVERICKS 91: Pau Gasol had 24 points and nine rebounds Andrew Bynum had 19 points and 14 rebounds as visiting Los Angeles got past Dallas in the start of a difficult back-to-back trip.
Kobe Bryant had 15 points, but was just 4 of 15 from the field for the Lakers, who are just 6-11 on the road and travel to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. The Thunder are an NBA-best 14-1 at home.
Gasol had 16 in the first half for the Lakers, making their first trip to Dallas since the Mavericks eliminated them in the Western Conference semifinals in 2011.
Derek Fisher came up big for the Lakers late in the fourth quarter and scored 15 points. Matt Barnes had nine points and nine rebounds.
Dirk Nowitzki had 25 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Mavericks (21-13).
Vince Carter appeared to be on his way to a monster game with 18 first-half points, but he scored just two in the second half. Jason Terry scored 16. Brendan Haywood grabbed 11 rebounds.
The Lakers went on a 12-0 run for a 42-28 lead in the second quarter, but the Mavericks stormed back with a 20-6 run to tie the score at 48 at halftime.
The teams stayed even throughout the third quarter and deep until the fourth before Fisher’s 25-foot 3-pointer and drive to the lane gave the Lakers an 89-82 lead. Bynum made it 93-86 but Terry made a deep 3-pointer and Nowitzki tipped in a shot with 27.1 seconds remaining. Matt Barnes made two free throws and Fisher added one for a 96-91 lead.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Former Laker Lamar Odom missed the game with what coach Rick Carlisle said was an excused absence to attend to a family matter in Los Angeles. Carlisle said Odom would rejoin the Mavericks after the All-Star break. … Dallas owner Mark Cuban has no sympathy for the Lakers, but said he does miss Phil Jackson. “Phil was smart,” Cuban told the Los Angeles Times. “He was fun to mess with, knowing that he’d come right back, return volley, and I’d return volleys like a good tennis match. The volleys went on and on. They got more intense. I really miss that. … You don’t often find the perfect bucket boy.” … Dallas was just 8 of 32 on 3-pointers.
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February 21st, 2012
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks
NBA / Western Conference
American Airlines Center, Dallas TX
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012. 9:30 PM EST
Analysis of the Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers, currently 19-13 and trailing the Clippers in their division, were a tough team to read in the first half of the season. They started out well, winning 9 of their first 13, before dropping 4 of their next 5. The emergence of C Andrew Bynum has been offset in many respects by the slumping play of PF Pau Gasol. Star SG Kobe Bryant helped set up a players-only meeting this past Monday with the intention of making the 2nd half of the season a much more consistent (and better) effort than the 1st half, and they showed what they were capable of with a convincing win over the Trailblazers later that night.
Analysis of the Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks are a hot team right now, winning 7 of their last 8 with the only loss at an even hotter Knicks team. During that time they’ve taken down the Clippers, 76ers, and Celtics and, following a questionable start to the season, have established themselves as one of the elite squads out West. The Mavs (21-12, second in their division behind the Spurs) have a tough 2nd half of the season to look forward to however and must keep their winning ways going if they want a favorable seed in the playoffs. We stock Dallas Mavericks Tickets for all American Airlines Center games.
Los Angeles Lakers: PF Pau Gasol
The Lakers live and die by Kobe Bryant each night, but without a steady effort from Gasol and Bynum they’d be on the outside looking in playoffs-wise. Gasol will have an especially important game here as he’ll be matched up against Dallas’s star PF Dirk Nowitski. Gasol is averaging a double-double now with 17 points and 11 boards each night, and he’ll have to both match those numbers as well as limit Dirk’s if the Lakers are going to win.
Dallas Mavericks: SG Jason Terry
Terry is a fantastic scorer and is a threat every night to put up 20 or more points if left unguarded. When he’s on the floor he’ll have to try and slow down Kobe, something that is a whole lot easier said than done. A couple big 3-pointers from Terry and a couple big defensive stops on Kobe will be crucial for the Mavs to win on Wednesday.
The Lakers two big men, Gasol and Bynum, anchor the best rebounding team in the league (averaging almost 46 rebounds every night). While the Mavericks are also a decent rebounding squad (pulling down 43, 7th in the league), the Lakers will try and crash the boards as much as they can knowing it’s one of the few areas where the have an advantage. If the Mavs can limit the Lakers’ rebounds they’ll easily secure a win at home.
Kobe Bryant created a few shockwaves this past weekend with some remarks about the rumors the Lakers were considering trading Bynum away. While controversial they also let the aforementioned slumping Gasol know that Bryant had his back, and their play on Monday showed that the Lakers of the past few seasons might be emerging again. While the Mavericks on the road will be an extremely tough test for the Lakers, I think they win it with their newfound team confidence.
Prediction = Los Angeles Lakers: 92 – Dallas Mavericks: 86
The Lakers will play the Mavericks at the Los Angeles Staples Center on April 15th, you can purchase Lakers Vs Mavericks Tickets for that game now.
February 10th, 2012
Jeremy Lin New York Knicks
Odds are if you are a casual basketball fan you have heard the name Jeremy Lin a lot in the last week or so. Let’s be honest though the first time you heard about the new Knicks upstart point guard you had to do a quick Google search on him so you could actively participate in any conversation in regards to him. It is well chronicled by now that Lin came to the New York Knicks by way of Harvard and more recently by way of being cut by the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. All he has done in his 3 games in a Knicks uniform is score 25.3 points per game, dish out 8 assists a game, while logging over 40 minutes in those contests. Jeremy Lin is the perfect blend of basketball talent, guts, and personality that the Knicks and their fan base have been thirsting for going on 10 plus years now. Not to mention that the style of play his coach preaches fits his skill set perfectly. All of these combine to make up the perfect storm that is the Jeremy Lin phenomenon.
Let’s establish one thing, this kid has staying power. He is not a flash in the pan type player. I am by no means saying he is going to average 25 and 8 every night, but he has the talent to be an everyday starter in the NBA. His skill set is such where he will be able to contribute on a consistent basis because his ability to pass, create for others, and shoot make his game much more than someone who may be one dimensional.
To come in and burst on the scene like he has it takes a serious amount of guts as well. It takes a huge amount of confidence in your ability to come onto maybe the biggest stage in the world, New York City, and not back down from the challenge that comes with being the point guard for the New York Knicks. In the short time he has been active he makes players around him better and his love of the game is infectious as evident by the overall energy level increase by the team as a whole.
Lin comes to the Knicks when their loyal fan base needs something to latch onto and to have hope in. They hired a coach whose system heavily revolves around a point guard and the ability of that point guard to penetrate, but were building their team with personnel that did have this essential piece. This was the sort of great frustration for Knicks fans who have been waiting for over 10 years for something to hope for on the court. Overnight it seems as the interest in the Knicks on a local and national level is back again thanks to Jeremy Lin.
Another aspect of the Lin phenomenon that cannot be ignored is the valuable vehicle he has the potential to be for the NBA as a whole. With the retirement of Yao Ming the NBA is desperately seeking another face to promote their product in China and all over Southeast Asia and Lin fits that bill perfectly given he is of Taiwanese decent.
Do yourself a favor if you get the chance and the Knicks are on TV sit down and watch this kid play. He is someone that old school and new school NBA fans can watch and enjoy alike. Hopefully for the sake of the Knicks organization, their fans, and the NBA as a whole the Jeremy Lin phenomenon continues to grip us all.
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February 6th, 2012
With the Kenyon Martin signing done, the Los Angeles Clippers have obtained one more big body to help contend with the L.A. Lakers’ big front court in the future Battle of Los Angeles Now, both teams are seeking to add yet more depth in order to bring home the bacon. The returning players from overseas, like K-Mart, are one possible avenue for each team. Everyday, it seems, the Lakers are rumored to be interested in so and so, or so and so is rumored to be demanding a trade to the Lakers (see Orlando Magic Dwight Howard). Until recently, I cannot ever recall a single player either demand a trade to the Clippers or hope that the Clippers picked them up off of the waivers. However, that has all changed with the formation of Lob City through the acquisitions of Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul, and even Caron Butler, who now has an NBA championship ring. Not only are players hoping that the Clippers might take them in, but are actually dreaming about it. Even Dwight Howard, arguably the best Center in the league, has persistently been rumored, now, to want to end up with the Clippers. While that may or may not be true in reality, the media has crowned the Clippers as the next Big Thing.
Out of the available pool of free agents, including those who are currently overseas, who is the best fit for either the Clippers or the Lakers to put either team over the top? Starting with the China-boys, this analysis may become polarizing quickly. First up is J.R. Smith. Two weeks ago he annihilated the Chinese league for 60 points on 14 of 18 treys. Qingdao will probably have to sell their team and give up now like the Seattle SuperSonics did. J.R. Smith, one of the streakiest and most annoying players in the NBA (and its sister-leagues) today, probably set back the Qingdao team a decade with that explosion. J.R. Smith
Not two weeks ago did J.R. Smith remind the NBA of his talents. He exploded for 60 points over Qingdao in the Chinese league, drilling 14 of 18 three pointers in the process. Now, everyone knows J.R. Smith can shoot the ball and shoot it well. Everyone also knows that he can dunk the ball and dunk it well. But his off the court behavior and me-first attitude on the court could end up being more of a burden than a blessing to the team that lands him this coming week. The Lakers want to sign Smith to complement Kobe and finally get someone to hit a perimeter shot. While I love Matt Barnes, he is a far cry form the player who regularly turned it on for Don Nelson in Golden State a few years back. And while I love Ron Artest (read: Metta World Peace), he has always been a chucker and a sort of offensive clunker. He still brings it defensively and is vital to their success, but for as much as a chastise J.R. Smith, I’d still rather have him taking ill-advisde shots than Metta World Peace. The Clippers are also interested but since they’re already defensively inept in the backcourt (largely due to a lack of size), adding Smith would only make them defensively worse. Also, there are likely not enough shots to go around on the perimeter between Cp3, Billups, Foye (a chucker), and Mo Williams (another chucker). What the Clippers need is a real backup SF (or even starting SF). If the Lakers sign Smith, I’d give it a B+ signing (only if Kobe can keep J.R. in line). For the Clippers: C-.
Taking a look at the list of domestic players, the only one who really stands out for either team is Gilbert Arenas. While Larry Hughes’ teardrop tatted beneath his eye does stand out, unfortunately his game does not. Arenas so desperately wants to play for any L.A. team in his hometown that he’s scheduled his own public workout for later in this week. Arenas was last seen sporting an ill-advised beard and a shaky jumpshot in Orlando last year, and the fact that no team has yet signed the enigmatic combo-guard is not a good sign. Last year he played 25 minutes off the bench behind such wonders as Jameer Nelson and Jason and Quentin Richardson. What? If Agent Zero cannot even displace any of those three chuckers, who is to say that he can displace any of the Clippers’ chuckers, who are actually playing at a fantastic level right now (see: Mo Williams). The Lakers could use someone to create offense, but not someone to dribble out the shot clock. I’d give the Clippers signing Arenas a D- and the Lakers signing him a C+.
The last candidate is Wilson Chandler, who may or may not ever get out of his contract in China. Chandler is a young player with a multifaceted game. For some reason, he reminds me of Danny Granger, although he’s never really had the chance to put up Granger-like numbers. Chandler is not phenomenal at any one thing but is pretty good at most of them. The Lakers don’t exactly need another wing to steal shots, but if Chandler could be used to generate legitimate offense off the bench (that does not come from off-balanced three pointers), then he might be a good signing. However, he would likely command too much money for the Lakers. The Clippers could also really use him, as his game would readily remedy a lot of the penetration problems the Clippers currently have (and also move Caron Butler to the bench where he belongs). But Chandler would probably cost too much for them, too. That being said, I’d give each team an A- for acquiring Chandler. In the end, though, the Lakers ought to refrain from acquiring anymore older talent and begin looking at younger talent. Maybe let the Mini-Mamba loose. The Clippers should stand-pat and let the team gel first before acquiring anyone else.
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January 29th, 2012
First meeting of the season. The teams split four games last season, with each winning on their home court.
- November 5th, 2010 in Denver – Denver 111 – Clippers 94
- December 3rd, 2010 in Denver – Denver 109 – Clippers 104
- January 5th, 2011 in Los Angeles – Clippers 106 – Denver 93
- March 5th, 2011 in Los Angeles – Clippers 100 – Denver 94
The Clippers are 10-6 on the season. But of those 16 games, only five of them have been on the road (and one of those was in Los Angeles against the Lakers). Five road games is the fewest of any team in the NBA, and more importantly, the 28 they have yet to play is the most. So there’s that. The fact that the team is 1-4 in those five games is not good, but it’s not a huge concern, given the quality of the opponents in those losses. Unfortunately, that logic doesn’t bode well for tonight, against the 14-5 Nuggets, who are 7-2 in the mile high altitude. There is some good news though. The Clippers should be well rested for this game, coming off two days of rest. There is also reason to believe that the team will be hitting peak form at some point in the near future — they looked great in wins over the Heat and Lakers two weeks ago, before Chris was injured his hamstring. In the two games since his return, Paul has not shot well. Hopefully after a couple of games and two more days of practice, he’s getting the rust off and the team will start firing on all cylinders again. They looked great for a quarter against Memphis on Thursday, but even that was more about hot shooting than super shard execution. So the team’s best basketball is still ahead of them, but hopefully not too far away.
A year ago, the Nuggets starters featured Kenyon Martin, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, and J.R. Smith was the sixth man. Now Anthony is in New York with the New York Knicks, Billups is with the Clippers, Smith is in China and Martin is waiting until February 15th to be a free agent after signing with and then leaving a Chinese team. The Nuggets were built around Anthony for years, and while the made the playoffs in each of the seven seasons he was in Denver, they also lost in the first round in six of those seasons.
Losing streak in Denver. The Clippers haven’t won in Denver in five full seasons. The last time they won a regular season game there was in January of 2006. They also won a playoff game a few months later. But it’s been one empty trip to the Mile High City after another since then.
Hot team. In their last game the Clippers played a Grizzlies team that had won seven of eight coming in. The Nuggets have won six straight and eight of nine. The Clippers just can’t get a break in terms of opponents. Oh, and their next three games after this are against Oklahoma City, at Utah and against these Nuggets again. Sheesh.
Twice in a week. The Clippers and Nuggets face each other twice this week, tonight and then again on Thursday. The Clippers have two games in the interim, the Nuggets just one.
Balance. About that balance: the Denver Nuggets have six players averaging double figures, with the highest being Gallinari at less than 18 a game. In fact, they have 8 players averaging between 8 and 18. Philadelphia has eight players between 9 and 16. Hat tip to citizen d2s4ui1 for catching my mistake there.
Lawson hurting. Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson, their second leading scorer, missed Friday’s win against Toronto with a sprained left ankle. Lawson told Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post that he plans to play tonight.
Billups in Denver. Chauncey Billups will be playing in Denver tonight for the first time since being traded away as part of the Carmelo Anthony deal. Billups is a Colorado native, who played his college ball in Boulder and had wanted to retire as a Nugget. He’ll no doubt receive a very warm welcome upon his return to Denver, where he played four seasons in two different stints. Billups was part of the Denver team that went to the Western Conference finals, they’re deepest playoff run since the mid 80s.
Matchups. It’s hard to figure how the matchups will go tonight. For one thing, you never quite know how George Karl will distribute minutes among the 10 or 11 guys in his rotation. Nene will begin the game defending Blake Griffin, which could give Blake trouble. Caron Butler will need to take the very talented Gallinari as seriously as he would Kobe Bryant. Afflalo is a big guard who will be a handful for Billups, But the key matchup will be Lawson versus Chris Paul. CP3 probably needs to dominate that matchup for the Clippers to win tonight.
Not counting the NBA All Star Game break, they’ll get one more such break the entire remainder of the season, and that one comes in April, between games 63 and 64. Great news for fans who don’t like to wait too long between games. Bad news for tired players and coaches who need time to prep for opponents.
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January 28th, 2012
The year was 2006 and Andre Iguodala threw up a bouncing behind the back reverse dunk during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend Dunk Contest. The dunk was amazing and Iguodala would soon be on the verge of superstardom as Allen Iverson was surely to either be traded soon or retire, as his last days as a Philadelphia 76er waned. However, that night Charles Barkley zeroed in on one particular instance during Iguodala’s dunk: Damon Jones’ bright red coat. Damon Jones? Who is Damon Jones? A career bench player, Jones was never known for anything other than some sharpshooting playing behind starting Point Guards. That is, until Charles Barkley called him out and desensitized NBA Slam Dunk Weekend audiences to the dunks themselves and began a shift in attention away from the dunks and towards the spectacle. Throughout the rest of the night, Barkley would constantly call for the camera to find Damon Jones and his red suit, saying “Please Y’all” repeatedly. In 2006, despite perhaps having the best set of dunks, Iggy would not win the contest. Rather, it was the midget, the 5-foot nothing Nate Robinson who would gradually win over audiences and judges alike by giving them something they hadn’t seen since perhaps Spud Webb in 1986. Granted, Webb and Nate Rob are fantastic dunkers and arguably some of the best athletes in the NBA’s history, but were their dunks more creative and better executed than the others?
In 2007, the Contest had perhaps its last great traditional showdown. Nate Rob returned to defend his title and newcomer Gerald Green came in with a monstrous array of dunks, using minimal props, which were allowed for the first time. Dwight Howard did place a sticker at the top of the backboard and Gerald Green did dunk over a box, but more or less, it was a great performance. Green eventually won and in the process, dunked over the top of Nate Robinson. In 2008, Dwight Howard busted out the Superman red cape and Damon Jones returned with a corduroy blazer and a mow-hawk. Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant loved it as well as Kenny “The Jet” Smith who lost his voice screaming his glee aloud, just like Barkley over the infamous red blazer of Damon Jones. Dwight’s Superman dunk, or, rather, non-dunk, since he never actually dunked the ball but rather threw it into the basket while falling far short of the rim, earned him a second straight 50-point dunk, the max score. Dwight’s tip-to-himself-off-the-backboard dunk was amazing and a game changer, but nobody remembers that dunk. They only remember the cape and the non-dunk.
Nate Robinson returned to glory in 2009 as he jumped over the top of Superman Dwight Howard wearing a green outfit, symbolizing his Krpto-Nate persona and again winning the Contest. The part everyone remembers from 2009? It was when Dwight Howard brought out a 12-foot rim, went into a phone booth, and changed into the Superman outfit. Dwight dunked at 12-feet and then made the crew try to raise the rim even higher, but to no avail. Kryto-Nate and Superman D-Howard again raised the bar for the Dunk Contest spectacle in outrageous form. At the end of the night, Lebron himself put his name into the Contest for 2010. However, it was a broken promise and 2010′s Contest would be won again by Nate Robinson and be called one of the worst Contests in memory. There was no grand spectacle that anyone remembers and Cleveland Cavaliers Lebron James did not enter the Contest, thus beginning his official eclipse of Jordan. Sad times for the emergent spectacle.
The 2011 Contest brought back the shock and awe spectacle that David Stern and the NBA seemingly longed for. JaVale McGee arguably made the most out of the props. First he dunked two balls on two different, separate rims. Then, to raise the bar, his own mother brought him a third ball and he dunked three balls at the same time on the same leap. “Air Congo” Serge Ibaka, a high flying big man like McGee and Orlando Magic Dwight Howard before him, dunked from the free throw line, but Dwight did that in 2010 as a big man, too. Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan did one of the most incredibly difficult dunks of all time with his “funk dunk,” but that, too, was not enough to even sniff the winner’s box. Los Angeles Clippers Blake Griffin dunked over a KIA car while a gospel choir sang, “I believe I can fly” in the background. The worst part was not Griffin’s over-the-top setup, but the dunk really was not all that great. He did dunk over the car, but it was over the hood, roughly equivalent to the Gerald Green 2007 over-the-box dunk. Immediately afterwards, Charles Barkley called the dunk out and said “it wasn’t the greatest dunk.” Later, it was revealed that some places had prematurely announced that Blake was the winner of the Contest before it even happened. While this cannot be proven, and is likely false, it raises the question: How will the NBA ever top that? Unless the Contest is moved out doors where more props can be used, it might be all downhill from here. As Barkley would say, “Please y’all…”… bring back Damon Jones and make Lebron James enter the Contest if it is going to survive without the use of gradually more infuriating props.