Originally written on NBA 24/7 365  |  Last updated 1/1/12

The Knicks have accidentally discovered the solution to all of their problems: replace Amare Stoudemire with Josh Harrellson.  After scoring 78 and 82 points in their previous two games, the Knicks took the court without STAT and put up 35 points (on 8 assisted FGs) in the first quarter.  Harrellson was responsible for 8 of those points along with a pair of boards, making him twice the rebounder that Amare’s ever been.  The Knicks finished with 114 points, Harrellson had a double-double, and Tyson Chandler finally did numbers (22/7).  Okay, that was fun… in all seriousness, though, this has more to do with the Sacramento Kings than it does with Amare Stoudemire or the Knicks.  Since the inspirational victory over the Lakers in the season opener the Kings have gone 0-3, losing by double-digits in each game.  They’ve been struggling mightily to get good shots as the offense regularly breaks down and players go one on one.  Coach Paul Westphal basically blames this on the lockout, saying that his players haven’t yet learned the offense, causing them to fall back on their individual scoring abilities to try and get buckets.  Center DeMarcus Cousins basically blames Paul Westphal: “I don’t know what that was,” said Cousins, who went 2-10 and is 6-26 in the last two games.  “Running the offense the coach tells us to run.  Just doing what coach say[s].” 

I have a funny feeling Paul Westphal isn’t going to get the time he says he needs to get this team on track, but I’m not siding with DeMarcus, either.  I don’t think Paul Westphal is instructing Cousins to shoot jumpers off the bounce, and I doubt that he’s begged Tyreke Evans to shoot 8 three-pointers.  Despite the bricked threes, I’m in agreement with Tyreke, who had this to say after the loss to the Knicks: “I don’t think we’re out there as a team.  It seems like everybody is out there for themselves.  It seems like guys want to score to me.”

That’s what it seems like to me too, Tyreke.  At this point I’d say this young Kings squad has a questionable attitude and has begun to tune Westphal out.  Coaches who fail to maintain control of young teams tend to be terminated whether the losing is their fault or not.  Unless Sacramento makes some sort of surprising turn for the better I expect him to be a goner before season’s end.

In order to lose to the Lakers 92-89, the Nuggets had to miss an uncontested dunk, a pair of freethrows, and a fast-break layup in the final three minutes.  As a matter of fact, they failed to score a single point in those final three minutes, and they still had about 17 chances to win the game.  In addition to the three major chokes, Al Harrington and Danilo Gallinari failed to connect on back-to-back three-pointers sometime during the final minute.  Gallinari’s was completely uncontested, yet the ball barely grazed the rim.  The Rooster apparently left it’s stroke in Europe… he’s 2-16 on threes through four games.

Andrew Bynum was the main man responsible for putting the Lakers in position to be handed this victory.  Bynum returned from his suspension and completely tooled on Nene, as he always does, to the tune of 29 points and 13 boards.  Bynum is simply too long for Nene, who tends to get a little too cutesy around the rim.  Bynum spent much of the game matched up with Timofey Mozgov, but it was Nene he was embarrassing down the stretch so it’s Nene I’m placing the blame on.  Plus, Timofey doesn’t make any 67 million dollars.

The big game by Bynum predictably has some people on the “forget Dwight Howard, BYNUM!!!!!” train.  Let’s see how many people are left on that bandwagon when Bynum’s sidelined with another injury and Howard’s playing in his umpteenth game in a row.  Folks need to realize that Bynum has had plenty of great games.  What he’s never been able to do is string together a complete season’s worth of them.  Yes, injuries have played a major factor, but this is real life.  Injuries happen, and unfortunately, some human beings weren’t built as well as others. 

The Lakers trade Bynum for Howard in a second if given the opportunity.

My main man Al Harrington is having himself a season thus far.  Big Al led the Nuggets with 21 in the loss to the Lakers (played some pretty good defense and did a little passing, too), and he’s averaging 16/5 on 52% through the first four.  In 2010/11, Al may have had the worst season of his 14-year career.  As a member of the ’07 Warriors he will always be a favorite player of mine, so I’m happy to see that he’s found a role off the bench for what looks to be a pretty solid–and exciting–Denver team.  While I’m on the subject of excitement: the Nuggets got another 11 steals resulting in 19 fast break points.  Whatever they’re doing defensively, the Clippers need to copy it.  Maybe Neil Olshey should get to work on a deal that sends Vinny Del Negro to Denver for George Karl. 

Philadelphia’s 107-79 win over the Monta Ellis-less Warriors doesn’t say much about them, but it speaks volumes about Moped’s value to the Dubs.  Without the Mississippi Bullet, Golden State was completely unable to penetrate.  The box score says they had 42 of their points in the paint, which is weird… I would’ve guessed they had about half of that.  They must’ve all come in garbage time or something.  Anyway, here’s the stat that tells the story: the Warriors were yet to shoot a single freethrow at halftime.  The Sixers, on the other hand, shot 31 of them in the game.  Had they been able to make a few (58% were clunked) they would’ve won by 50 or 60 points.

Lou Williams absolutely killed the Warriors.  The man with a checkered pattern tattooed in his armpit (watch next time he shoots a freethrow, you could have him lie on his side to facilitate a game of chess) made all four of his three-point attempts and scored a game-high 23 on 7-11 overall.  Lou is now averaging 20 PPG on the season… which is a seven-point jump from last year.  I highly doubt he keeps this up, but it’s looking like he’s in for the best year of his career.  I can’t believe this kid is still just 25 years old.  This is his 7th season in the league.  I miss the good ol’ days of highschoolers making the jump straight to the league. 

Steph Curry looked just fine as he scored 21 on 9-15.  Hopefully he can avoid further ankle problems and continue to play stellar basketball.  Considering who they’ve played (LAC, CHI, NYK, PHI) and that their two best players have already missed a game each, the Warriors are off to a really solid start at 2-2.

Box Score Observations: Greg Monroe’s 19/11 led Detroit to their first win of the season over previously-unbeaten Indiana.  There was a seven-minute Lance Stephenson sighting that resulted in 0 points on 0-3.  Jonas Jerebko had 20/12.  Kevin Martin hit six threes as the Rockets beat the Hawks.  Russell Westbrook managed to turn the ball over just two times in OKC’s thrashing of the Suns.  Markieff Morris put up 15 and 6 in just 15 minutes.  The Spurs have yet to be involved in a game decided by fewer than 13 points.

Highlight Recap: I’ve decided to relocate this segment to the bottom of the post.  I might change my mind and put it back up top, or I may not.  Anyway, the top 10 has you covered today.

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