NBA Lines of the Night: January 10th, 2012.

January 11, 2012

Gold Award – Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant did a way with any remaining doubts surrounding his bum wrist and it’s hindrance on his shooting ability on Tuesday night as he submitted a vintage Black Mamba performance with 48 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals. The Lakers rolled over the Suns in Hollywood, and Bryant improved his season scoring average to 29.5 points per contest – his highest scoring average since the 2006-07 season. The Kobe System works dammit!

 Silver Award – Nate Robinson

Speaking of vintage performances, Nate Robinson turned in one of his own on Tuesday night in the Golden State’s 111-106 victory over the Heat.  The Warriors got 24 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals off the pine in one of those sporadically fantastic games we’ve come to expect from the diminutive guard. His offensive frenzy also  sent fantasy owners around the globe scrambling to their waiver wires on Wednesday morning when they realized that a) Nate Robinson is once again employed in the NBA and b) he’s still doing Nate Rob type things.

Bronze Award – Al Jefferson

 The Utah Jazz have quietly reeled off five straight wins and the latest victory – a Tuesday evening triumph over the Cavs – can largely be attributed to Al Jefferson’s body of work. He went for 30 points on 13-17 field goal attempts and added 12 rebounds, three assists and two swats to top it all off. I find it fitting that the Jazz (a team flying largely under the radar) are being led by Al Jeff (a player who lies outside the consciousness of most casual NBA fans).

Honorable Mention:

 The Rockets got 12 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks from Jordan Hill in a highly efficient 18 minutes off of the bench… Stephen Jackson broke out of his early season slide with a 34 point, eight assist and one rebound night as the Bucks protected their home court against the Spurs… On the other side, Tim Duncan stuffed the stat sheet with 20 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and a steal… Derrick Rose won his battle with Ricky Rubio and the Bulls pulled away from the Wolves as last season’s MVP scored 31 points, dished out 11 helpers and notched three rebounds, two blocks and a steal… Dwyane Wade wasted little time getting back into the groove as he returned from a foot injury with a 34 point, six rebound, two assist, four steal and one block performance in The Bay… The Thunder won again on Tuesday night after receiving 30 points, six rebounds, four assists and a block from Russell Westbrook.

The “It Was a Matter of Time Before a Raptor Won the Worst Line of the Night” Award – DeMar DeRozan

I launched a theory on Twitter last night that the soul of Andrea Bargnani had actually inhabited the body of DeMar DeRozan during the lockout after watching the Raptors third year guard put up one ill-advised jumper after another last night in the US Capital. DeRozan went 4- 16 from the floor for 11 points,  zero assists, three turnovers as the Raptors secured the dubious honor of being the first team that the Washington Wizards were able to beat.


NBA Lines of the Night: January 9th, 2012.

January 10, 2012

Gold Award – Tyson Chandler

The book on Chandler when the Knicks signed him a month ago was that he was going to provide a much needed boost for the team on the defensive end, but anything you got from him on offense would be considered a bonus. I guess Monday night falls under the “bonus” category, as Chandler scored 20 points on only eight field goal attempts while also adding 13 rebounds, one helper, three blocks and three steals as the Knicks avenged an ugly loss to the Bobcats last week with a narrow victory over them at MSG.

Silver Award – Boris Diaw

I don’t know if playing in front of his old coach Mike D’Antoni helped Boris Diaw awaken the 2006 version of himself or something, but he definitely turned back the hands of time for at least one night. Diaw had 19 points (10-12 FG), 10 rebounds, seven dimes and a steal. Sacre’ Bleu!

Bronze Award – Amir Johnson

Andrea Bargnani (31 points, nine rebounds) will get a lot of the publicity (Well, Canadian publicity at least), but it was Amir Johnson who was truly beasting against the T-Wolves on Monday night. Johnson had 19 points on 7-9 field goal attempts, 11 rebounds,  three assists, one steal and a block in the Raptors victory over Minnesota. He also hounded Kevin Love for most of the night, forcing tough shots and helping him have an uncharacteristically poor offensive night.

The “How Did They Leave This Guy in the Game After He Hit the 1-8 Mark?” Award – Jason Maxiell.

Jason Maxiell played 24 minutes last night. He took 12 shots. Eight of those  shots came within five feet of the basket. He missed seven of them, and went 1-for-12 overall. The fact that the Pistons didn’t have any better options than the guy who couldn’t make a layup speaks volumes about the arc of the 2012 Pistons season. Enjoy Detroit fans.


Rashard Lewis Fights with Sam Cassell Prior to Sunday’s Game; Refuses to Play afterwards.

January 9, 2012

Frank Hanrahan of CSN Washington reports that Rashard Lewis refused to play in the Wizards loss to the Timberwolves on Sunday afternoon after clashing with Assistant Coach Sam Cassell in the pre-game:

The Wizards are off to a franchise worst 0-8 start, and to make matters more troubling a team source tells CSNwashington.com that Wizards’ forward Rashard Lewis got into an argument with Wizards’ assistant coach Sam Cassell before the Minnesota game and Lewis decided he didn’t want to play.

I had Flip Saunders ranked number two in my “Next Coach to Get Fired” Power Rankings at the end of last week but he’s put together the type of weekend that makes it impossible to keep him out of that top spot.  They lost two more games to drop their record to 0-8, but the real misery in Washington isn’t truly appreciated until you get to the many sub-stories that are surrounding the team.

John Wall is playing worse than he ever did during his rookie season. Andray Blatche is being Andray Blatche. They had a ‘players only’ meeting after five games! And now you’ve got Sam Cassell getting in Rashard Lewis’s grill piece before Sunday’s game to the point that he doesn’t even want to take the court. They may as well bring Gilbert Arenas back for the veterans minimum and tell him to bring his handguns with him. It honestly can’t get much worse.

Here’s Flip Saunders personal take on Sunday’s loss to Minnesota:

“Disappointment. Embarrassment. I don’t know if words can explain. My job over the next two days is to try to find five guys who can play the right way and can play with some heart. … It was bad to watch. It was bad to coach. It was bad to play.”

I’m nominating “Bad to Watch. Bad to Coach. Bad to Play” as the official motto of the 2011-12 Washington Wizards.


Tim Tebow May Actually be Jesus Christ.

January 9, 2012

 

From ESPN.com

Tebow, who had done next to nothing in the second half after a 20-point explosion in the second quarter, looked as startled as everyone else. He chased down Thomas and knelt on one knee — Tebowing as it’s known — in the end zone while the crowd was going crazy. Then he pounded a fist in triumph and took a victory lap.

“When I saw him scoring, first of all, I just thought, ‘Thank you, Lord,’ ” Tebow said. “Then, I was running pretty fast, chasing him — like I can catch up to D.T.! Then I just jumped into the stands, first time I’ve done that. That was fun. Then, got on a knee and thanked the Lord again and tried to celebrate with my teammates and the fans.”

Behind Tebow’s season-high 316 yards passing, the Broncos (9-8) are heading to New England for a second-round game against the top-seeded Patriots (13-3) on Saturday night.

Alright Tebow, I give in. You’ve proved your point. Throwing for 316 yards (Tebow 3:16) and pulling out the victory when every NFL pundit had you dead in the water two weeks ago is one thing. Getting your buddy God to drop a fucking halo over Mile High as you do it all is another matter all together.

Seriously, is there any doubt that these two are in cahoots now? Unreal. I wonder what the pair of them have planned next week in New England.

(Props to Barstoolsports for the picture)


NBA Lines of the Night: January 8th, 2012.

January 9, 2012

 

Gold Winner – LaMarcus Aldridge

Aldridge’s quest to make the 2012 All Star Game in Orlando received another boost last night as Portland’s best player did what your best player should do. He played the best. Aldridge dropped 28 points, including a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe, and added 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and a block, as the Blazers improved their record to a tidy 6-2 to start the season with a 20 point win over the Cavaliers.

Silver Winner – Kevin Love

It’s safe to say that Kevin Love will find himself amongst our nightly award winners regularly this season. He puts up rebounding numbers on a routine basis that most players in the NBA would have no chance of matching even on a career night. His efforts on Sunday netted him 20 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and a team best +22 rating as the Wolves beat up on the lowly Wizards. Through 8 games on the season, Love is once again leading the league in rebounding and has yet to grab less than 12 in a single game.

Bronze Winner – Steve Nash

We’re unofficially kicking off our #FreeSteveNash campaign for this season by naming the Suns point as our Bronze award winner for Sunday night’s slate of games. Nash passed  out 17 assists (and had a handful of blown layups from his teammates keep that number from climbing), while adding 10 points, 1 rebound and a steal in a romp over the Bucks. He also posted a +26 rating in only 27 minutes on the court, which means if that Nash played the entire 48 minutes of the game, the Suns would have won by approximately 83 points… or something like that…

Honorable Mention: Rubio-mania continues to sweep North America as Pretty Ricky had 13 points, 14 assists, 6 rebounds and a block in Washington… Kevin Durant needed only 9 field goal attempts to notch 21 points in the Thunder’s victory over the Spurs on Sunday, while adding 10 rebounds, 7 assists, and a steal on top… Pau Gasol won the match-up against little brother Marc with a 13 point and 15 rebound effort, throwing in 4 assists, 1 steal and a block for good measure…

The “We Gave the Worst Line of the Night to a Wizard and it wasn’t Andray Blatche!” Award - Jordan Crawford.

There’s a pretty simple formula to finding the Worst Line of the Night through the first couple weeks of the NBA season. You just go immediately to the Washington Wizards box score, close your eyes, and put your finger down randomly somewhere on their roster. You’re almost guaranteed to land on someone who stunk the joint out the previous night.

Jordan Crawford captured the dubious honor yesterday, scoring 8 points on 3-11 shooting in a shade under 20 minutes while posting a team-worst -21 plus/minus rating. You know, there’s part of me that thinks there may be some merit to this whole “The Wizards are a selfish team” movement after all.


NBA: The “Next Coach to be Fired” Power Rankings.

January 7, 2012

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The dismissal of Sacramento’s Paul Westphal on Thursday marked the first coach firing of the early NBA season. Precedent tells us that he won’t be the last casualty we see this year. Here’s a rundown of our three most likely candidates to get a pink slip next.

1. Mike D’Antoni – New York Knicks: There’s bigger problems brewing in the Big Apple than just Mike D’s coaching shortcomings, but they are no doubt playing a part in the Knickerbockers early season struggles. This team still doesn’t play any defence – despite committing $60 million this summer to Tyson Chandler for essentially ONLY that – and the offensive wizardry that was once D’Antoni’s calling card has evolved into Carmelo Anthony catching the ball on the wing 50 times a game, holding it or jab stepping for a few moments before taking a couple of dribbles and firing up a 12 footer.

The Knicks currently sit at 3-4, with their record marred by a couple of ugly home losses to the Raptors and the Bobcats earlier this week. They were handed a cream puff of an early schedule from the NBA – the Warriors, Kings, Raptors, Wizards, Pistons, Sixers and Bobcats twice all within the first ten games of the year – but have faltered since an emotional Christmas Day win over the Celtics. They rank near the bottom of the league in rebounding (28th), assists (23rd), and points allowed (27th).

Having a healthy Amare Stoudemire back in the fold should help D’Antoni moving forward, but it also creates the challenge of trying to get both him and Anthony going offensively at the same time. Both are ball stoppers who are most effective when they are isolated on offense, and the question remains whether they will both be able to earn their $20 million dollar paycheques in the same system. D’Antoni needs to figure it out soon (as well as shoring up that horrendous D), because the collective patience of the Knick fans has almost completely evaporated after years of watching this team sputter near the bottom of the standings. Another bad loss in the upcoming week (Saturday night in Detroit anyone?) and I think D’Antoni is updating his Workopolis profile.

2. Flip Saunders – Washington Wizards: Unlike the Knicks, preseason expectations for the Wizards were set very low. In fact, most people predicted them to stink. John Wall is a star in waiting by all accounts, but he is still very much in the learning process and doesn’t have a whole lot of talent working next to him on the Wizards roster. An 0-7 start to the season is still disappointing for Washington, but it shouldn’t be that surprising to people.

However, there’s good losses and bad losses when discussing a young and inexperienced team like the Wizards, and through the first two weeks of the season, most of their defeats would fall into the latter category. The Wizards can’t score (they average fewer points per game than any team not named the Pistons or Nets), they can’t defend (26th in the league in points allowed), and the competition factor has been non-existent (they rank dead last in the NBA in point differential).

As bad as those numbers are, the Wizards biggest concern may be the stench that is emerging from the locker room. Noted bonehead Andray Blatche waited all of one game before going to the media to complain about his role. Following a particularly brutal loss to the Magic this week, John Wall, Jordan Crawford and Rashard Lewis came forward and accused the team of being selfish, unfocused and incapable of trusting one another among other things.

They’ve even already held a players only meeting in which Maurice Evans described the team in the following way: “The sense of entitlement that’s here sometimes, I’ve never seen before.” I’m guessing that quote won’t make the Wizards 2012 media guide.

The Wizards biggest fear should be that this year gets so out of control that their young talent ends up actually regressing, and that looks like a definite possibility after only seven contests. Wall is struggling mightily, and the chances of a fist fight breaking out in a Wizards huddle seems as likely as them putting together a solid 48-minute game. They are quickly approaching the point where something, anything really, has to be done. Aside from paying someone to kidnap Andray Blatche, replacing Saunders will likely be the first tactic that the Wizards deploy.

3. Scott Skiles – Milwaukee Bucks: In case you were unaware, here’s the book on Scott Skiles:

You hire him when you think your franchise is under-performing and you need a sense of discipline and defensive accountability infused into your team. It takes roughly one full season of Skiles screaming himself silly at your players before they finally start to get it. Once this happens, you’ll get a couple of good seasons from the team where they’ll slightly overachieve, make the playoffs, but never truly be a contender. Somewhere during that fourth season, your entire roster will get together and say “You know, I’m getting kind of tired of being yelled at like an 8 year old for the last three consecutive years. Being held accountable sucks”. Following this, the team will completely tune him out, the losses will start to pile up, and shortly after that Skiles will be fired.

It happened in Phoenix and it happened in Chicago. Skiles tenure in Milwaukee has gone exactly according to script up until now, and we’re quickly approaching the final act. With road games against the Clippers and Suns on deck before returning home to face the Spurs, the Bucks sitting at 2-7 by next Tuesday night is a very good possibility. Their following ten games features only two nights where they face a team that didn’t make the playoffs last season.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s going to get worse for the Bucks before it begins to get better. Scott Skiles might not survive the slide. But don’t worry, it won’t be too long before we see him pop up on another team’s sideline and we can start this entire story over again.


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