I talked about the Nuggets @ Sixers game in that Andre Miller piece, but I never mentioned anything about the Sixers. In a game that ended with just four points of separation after an overtime and 53 minutes of extremely shaky Violet Palmer officiating Philadelphia deserves a little attention too. Early on in the game, maybe around the end of the first quarter, Philly had pulled ahead but the Nuggets were making a bit of a comeback. Then Thad Young and “the night shift” came in and put an end to it. I remember thinking to myself whichever team has the more productive bench will win this game. Turns out both teams got exactly the same number of points–54–from their reserves. Funny that it went to OT. Anyway, Thad went on to have an excellent game of 22 points and 7 boards, but it was Evan Turner who put in late-game work for Philly, scoring over half of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. After the Sixers had been given a bit of a gift in the form of a ticky-tack foul called on Corey Brewer to put the game into the extra session, Turner was called for a bogus charge as he tried to jump to the side of a sliding Nene. It’s hard to say either team got the sh!t end of the stick because there was no end that wasn’t sh!tty, but the officiating was awful in this game, as it always is when Violet Palmer is involved. Her calls were the only unsatisfying aspect of a great game, and she should really be demoted to the D-League.
I was very hard on Russell Westbrook early in the season. Although Oklahoma became Washington’s second victim last night I’d like to give Russ some credit for his improved play. Prior to this loss, OKC had won seven in a row. During the win streak Russ had no single game with more than 3 turnovers while making at least half of his shots in five of the seven games. Despite an ugly-looking loss, he had another low-turnover night against Washington as he went for 36 points and 7 assists on 54% from the floor. Also, he got himself to the line nine times (second most FTs in a game this season from him). Durant also played well last night, but the Thunder lost by three because they got very little production from anyone else and were abused on the offensive glass. That’s not Russell’s department, obviously. If he can continue to keep his mistakes down and his shooting percentage up OKC will be a much scarier team.
One thing I hate about the Clippers being relevant is all of the national television appearances. TNT is cool, but it seems like the Clipps have already appeared on ESPN four or five times. They’ve still got seven upcoming contests to be shown by the worldwide leader as well. Watching an NBA game on ESPN has become a painful experience that tends to leave me feeling unenthusiastic about my favorite thing in the world no matter what actually happens. For example: despite the crazy ending, DeAndre Jordan’s ridiculous numbers, and a Clipper victory, my excitement was limited–nothing like it was after that Nuggets game. It’s just so f@cking hard to get into the game when you feel like watching it is making you dumber. ESPN’s coverage is so geared towards hype beasts and the casual fan that it makes me want to go watch whatever game happens to be on League Pass. As a matter of fact, unless it’s the Clippers or a marquee matchup I’ll rarely watch a game on ESPN or ABC if there’s any other option. And, no matter who’s playing, I always flip away at halftime. Please, people, don’t allow yourselves to be reeled in by Magic Johnson and Chris Broussard… their halftime show is like a car wreck–it’s bad, but once you’ve looked you can’t look away.
As for what actually happened between the Mavs and Clippers? That was… interesting. I don’t really know what to make of it, but it was interesting. Blake and DeAndre dunked a lot of basketballs and Dirk Nowitzki gave me a solid fantasy line, so I’m cool. I suppose this is pretty much what I think of it:
At this point the original leather casing on the Vinny Del Negro Can’t Coach punching bag has been almost entirely replaced by 15 rolls of duct tape. In his columns this year, leading Clipperologist (a suddenly relevant field) Kevin Arnovitz has wrestled with what to make of Del Negro’s coaching performance thus far. The last two plays in last night’s game are a reasonable encapsulation of this conflict.
Play 1- DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers look woefully unprepared for Dallas’s pet play, a high staggered screen that produces a roll man to the rim, Nowitzi popping and in this case Jason Terry with the ball in his hands for a drive, pull up or pass. Jordan hedged initially then let Terry go while Mo Williams, Terry’s defender, switched onto Jordan’s man. Terry found himself utterly alone at the top of the key and calmly drilled a go ahead three. JET is a ninja assassin in late game situations, but the Clippers unconscionably left the front door wide open.
Play 2- After a scuttled attempt to inbound the ball, the Clippers manage to achieve proper spacing from a very difficult inbounding position almost in the dead corner where the sideline meets the baseline. Del Negro puts his two best players in a action together that smartly fits the time left to get a shot, Billups and Griffin execute and the Clippers win.
What did we learn about Del Negro and the Clippers? I have no earthly idea, other than that the Clips are a work in progress. As are the Mavs. As are the Lakers, even with all their tradition and reliable post play. As are the Nuggets, Sixers, Blazers, Jazz and Timberwolves.
That’s from HoopSpeak.com. All I can tell you is that Blake Griffin played the role of a human wall that blocked Jason Kidd. Watch him set one of the more solid screens you’ll ever see…
Ian Mahinmi really blew it on that play. Why didn’t he hedge? He was worried about Blake Griffin rolling to the rim, obviously, but you can’t just let Chauncey take the pass and set his feet with no pressure whatsoever. As poorly as he’s been playing he’ll knock that down 7 out of 10 times. Anyway, getting back to the ESPN thing, sh!t, I would’ve loved to listen to Ralph Lawler’s call of this madness. That would’ve been a thrill ride. Hubie Brown seems like a good dude, but “come on now”can only describe so many possessions before it gets a little boring.
This is the third time the Mavs have been beaten in the final seconds. Kevin Durant got ‘em in their third game of the year… I refuse to discuss the ending of the Laker game… and you just saw what went down last night. In all three cases Dallas made some sort of error. They made all sorts of mistakes as they let Kevin Durant get free for his buzzer-beating three-pointer. You know what they did wrong in the Laker game, and they did something similar by leaving Chauncey Billups unguarded last night. Dallas has really only been involved in four close games, and they’ve let three of them slip. Isn’t that kind of un-Maverick-like? I mean, it was Maverick-like, but I thought things had changed. Apparently they need some work on defending late-game pick and rolls and a lecture on the league’s most notable knock-down three-point gunners. I figure they must not know much about ‘em because they’ve managed to leave three of them wide open with the game on the line.
DeAndre Jordan on his 19-point, 9-rebound, 5-block performance…
Notice he didn’t mention anything about Chauncey Billups. Randy Foye and Mo Williams, they definitely looked for me a lot tonight. You can’t tell me that wasn’t intentional.
Sagging your shorts is one thing. Bringing them down to your ankles in protest is another. The second one… that’s what Big Baby did last night in a loss to the Spurs.
Brandon Bass has worked out well for the Celtics thus far, and I guess it hasn’t even mattered because they suck so bad, but this type of thing is what earned Baby Glen his ticket out of Bean Town. His play was fine. His antics were ridiculous and distracting.
Lowlight Recap, Nazr Mohammed Edition:
I believe they call that “pulling a Michael Ruffin.” Not a bad play, just a little early, that’s all.
Highlight Recap: Trevor Booker flies in for a putback slam. One of DeAndre Jordan’s various slam dunks. Griffin dunks a few times. Jason Smith denies two Rudy Gay dunk attempts. Ricky Rubio doing Ricky Rubio-type stuff. Monta Ellis blocks a shot, gets up to get down. This is from a few days ago, but it never got included and the oldness doesn’t make it any less awesome. See the top 10 for more, and pay close attention to #8.