Assists and Turnovers
This is my opportunity to share a little knowledge (assists) and cast a little judgement (turnovers) with you, the adoring readers. Post deadline, the NBA title picture has become a lot clearer, with the big moves like Butler/Haywood to the Mavs, and Jamison to the Cavaliers, et cetera. The Cavs were and still are my favorite to win the Title, but Jamison’s presence hasn’t translated in to wins – yet. It will, though, and a tough loss to Orlando is nothing to be ashamed of. A big bright spot for the Cavs in that loss – Shaq outscored Dwight Howard 14-9 when they were actively guarding each other. I guess Superman isn’t quite ready to give up his title yet. More after the jump …
The Hawks won in Utah for the first time since 1993. That’s ridiculous, and remarkable, both for how long it’s taken the Hawks to finally pull out a W in Mormonville, and the fact that the Hawks, who have struggled on the road this season, managed to beat the surging Jazz at home this year. Granted, the Jazz didn’t have Deron Williams or Andrei Kirilenko (best nickname in the NBA, AK-47), but a win’s a win, right? Especially when the last one like it came 17 years ago thanks to Dominique Wilkins.
Andrew Bogut, Brandon Jennings and the Milwaukee Bucks are quickly becoming one of my favorite teams to watch in the NBA (in the rare instance they’re on). Bogut became the only Milwaukee Buck not named Lew Alcindor or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to record 20+ points, 20+ rebounds and 5+ blocks in a win over New York, and Brandon Jennings is consistently reminding me of a young Allen Iverson. Of course, Bogut’s accomplishment is a little less impressive when you take in to consideration the Knicks’ depth chart at center – David Lee, Al Harrington, and Johnathan Bender. That doesn’t stop me from liking him any less, though, for all he’s done in Milwaukee to change the culture of complacency surrounding the Bucks’ consistent level of mediocrity since Ray Allen left the team years ago. Bogut’s launched “Squad 6” (he wears #6) and held three rounds of auditions for 100 seats he himself purchased, and gave the season tickets away to the fans who cheered the loudest and showed the most spirit. The fans who made the cut are expected to attend every game and basically stand and cheer from tip to final buzzer, or else risk losing their spot. It’s already payed off in a big way for the Bucks, as the enthusiasm has spread throughout the arena and the waiting list for “Squad 6” is hundreds of people long. They’re also 9-3 at home since Bogut’s implemented this plan, as opposed to their 2-8 road record. Mark Cuban, the crazy owner of the Dallas Maverics, twittered this after his team’s recent road trip to Milwaukee: “Those fans were the most fun fans I have seen on the road EVER. It made the atmosphere 100x better. More P.B.R. for them.” Other NBA teams, take note!
I’ve also gotta take this opportunity to hate on the Charlotte Bobcats a little bit. You’d assume that I’d be a Bobcats fan, since I was a Hornets fan, and I went to college in the greater Charlotte area…but, nope. Not since the offensive color scheme, the stupid name (really, Bob Johnson? The Bobcats? And now you’re selling the team? Thanks a lot, jerk.) They’re currently in competition for the last playoff spot in the East, but aren’t on anybody’s list of dark-horse championship contenders. Larry Brown is certainly doing more than was expected with this group, but last night, Stephen Jackson, aka “Captain Jack” went 1-for-16 from the field for seven points! He fouled out with two minutes left. I think it’s safe to say that if Coach Brown had left Captain Jack on the bench, the Bobcats wouldn’t have lost by 4 points. They’d probably have won by 10 or more. Way to go, buddy. Also worth mentioning – the Bobcats became the first team since 1985 to lose to the team with the worst record (the Nets) and then beat the team with the best record (the Cavaliers) in their next game. Kinda schizo.
Gotta hand it to Dallas for pulling off the trade with the Wizards. While Caron Butler is the marquee name in the deal, Brendan Haywood has turned out to be the key piece for Dallas, especially since the bone in Erick Damiper’s middle finger broke through the skin the other day, expected to sideline him for a month. Haywood is a big bodied center with a high level of defensive competency, something Dallas hasn’t had since………..well, I’d say Shawn Bradley, but that’s just not right. Since ever. Haywood gives them the wide body they have always lacked, and will free Dirk Nowitzki to defend quicker, smaller players, hopefully giving him an advantage in fitness towards the end of games that he hasn’t had to this point. Haywood’s averaged 12 rebounds a game since coming to Dallas, and his presence changes the team’s entire identity. Dallas should be a contender to be reckoned with in the Western Conference Playoffs this season.
And, finally, time to hate on Golden State a little bit. The Warriors turned down a deal that had them sending Monta Ellis to Memphis for OJ Mayo and Hasheem Thabeet at the deadline. I don’t know what they were thinking. Stephen Curry (my boy from Davidson) is playing like a monster at PG, with a triple-double already in the books and displaying the same fearlessness with his long-distance shot that made him such a formidable college player, and frankly, he makes Monta expendable. Ellis himself has even said that he didn’t see how he and Curry could co-exist in the same backcourt, since they’re the same size and have similar games. I’d tend to agree – Monta Ellis is a little older, a little dumber version of Curry. I can’t make any guarantees, but I’m pretty sure Curry won’t be endangering the welfare of his team by crashing a motor scooter any time soon…. and a backcourt of Curry and Mayo, with Andris Biedrins and Thabeet in the frontcourt, would really give Golden State a solid foundation to build on for the future. I hope they know what they’re doing… but judging from their record so far with Ellis and Curry in the same backcourt, I’d say, “Doubt it.” I hope their owner sells the team to someone who actually cares about winning, for the sake of their great fans as well as my boy Steph.
That’s all for now, folks!