NBA REVIEW – WEEK 5

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK

Spoelstra

Sometimes it’s hard for Erik Spoelstra to watch his Heat team stumble.

Chris “Birdman” Andersen of the Denver Nuggets

Admit it: Mike Tyson’s face tattoo looks less strange every day now, doesn’t it.

Riley should support coach, not replace him  

Lakers FYI: Heat comments by Lakers Coach Phil Jackson draw fire  

Phil takes shots at Miami coach, Big 3  

Miami Heat’s stars have been eclipsed through season’s first month

Michael Wilbon – Super-powered Miami Heat may need a spark only Pat Riley can provide

Phil Jackson’s sorry for Miami Heat comments … kind of –  (but not really)

Hate the Heat? Loving its slow start? Enjoy it while you can  

Kobe still tough, with assists from the greats  

Blake Griffin’s play is talk (er, tweet) of NBA  

Heat hold players-only meeting after loss  

Shaq Disses Lakers, Calls This Year’s Celtics ‘The Best Team I’ve Been On’

NBA coast to coast: Blake Griffin’s tomahawk dunk sets of a list of NBA’s all-time most exciting players  

Kobe Bryant’s Grinch-styled shoes  

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“No question you get humbled. We never would have predicted we’d be 8-7.” – Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade talking about the team’s unexpected stumble out of the gate.

Teams are going to start scheduling the Heat for homecoming.” – TNT analyst Charles Barkley

“No matter how good a player is, no matter how good a group of players are, if they haven’t played together before they not going to be as good as a team that has been together a long time.” – Noted basketball fan Barack Obama

“I told the guys, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing the night before we play. I don’t know what you’re doing away from the floor.’” – Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew whose team had lost seven of nine games. Think strip clubs Larry.

“I wouldn’t follow those bogus, game-affecting guidelines ever. Ever! Yes, they would fire me. [Vice President of Referee Operations] General Ron Johnson would have to let me  go because I’m not following those guidelines.” – ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy on the ejection of Orlando’s Jameer Nelson at the end of a game against Miami.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

I’m guessing that Phil Jackson and the fat Van Gundy brother won’t be exchanging Christmas cards this year.

This can’t be what the firm of Bosh, James, Wade & Associates signed up for back in July and August, is it? And all protestations from South Beach and Orlando aside, if the Heat keep losing games, how long before Pat Riley HAS to make a decision about replacing head coach Eric Spoelstra, with either himself or someone else? And, if Riley has no intention of replacing Spoelstra this season, he needs to make that crystal clear to his team, the media and fans.

One good thing that came out of, or should have, the Lakers’ Friday night loss in Utah is ending any talk whatsoever of trading Andrew Bynum for Carmelo Anthony once Bynum is healthy again. The Lakers need his presence in the post both on offense and defense if they want to 3-peat again.

If there’s a more transparently insincere player in recent NBA history than Shaquille O’Neal, I don’t know who it can be. Every time he arrives in a new city, he professes his love for it and the team he’s coming to. A few weeks later, he tells us how bad his most recent team/city was and why he had to move on. Again. Then, soon after the inevitable blow-up/falling-out, he moves on – lumbering more and more with each passing year – ready to pledge his loyalty to a new city/team and knock the place and people he just left. There’s a part of me that wishes that the Klan had a team in Jackson, Mississippi that Shaq could get traded to just so we could see the “Shaq Circle of Never-Ending Bullshit” one last time – “I must say, that for a bunch of vile racists, these guys are the best ones I’ve ever played for and with. Sure, they may hate me and the rest of the black players on the team, but at least they’re honest about it.” It’s absolutely A-MAY-ZING that he continues getting with his one-of-a-kind BS.

Isn’t it funny that an owner who’s never won a title, let’s call him Mark Cuban, is ALWAYS in the press for something he’s said, while an owner with 10 titles during his 30 years and counting in the league, let’s call him Dr Jerry Buss for the hell of it, hardly ever says anything publicly? 

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER?

The difference between Shannon Brown at the end of last season’s Finals and this season is three-fold. As in his improved outside shooting, particularly from 3-point range.

Much as Michael Cage and A. C. Green kept the Jheri-Curl alive in the NBA for far longer than they should have, the Heat’s Udonis Haslem seems to be determined to be the last player wearing braids in the league.

THE WEEK AHEAD

CHICAGO AT BOSTON

Friday, 5 p.m. PST. TV: ESPN

I’m skipping Thursday’s ballyhooed return of LeBron James to Cleveland on principle — what, you’ve never seen anyone get booed? — even if the game itself could be good with his old supporting cast, which goes all-out for new Coach Byron Scott, psyched to the gills.

I prefer a matchup based on basketball appeal, which the Celtics have and the Bulls bring with Derrick Rose, now rocketing into superstardom.

The Celtics are the Celtics, tough, physical and ogres on defense.

The Bulls are in transition, awaiting Carlos Boozer’s return but looking promising under new Coach Tom Thibodeau, who designed the Celtics’ defense.

If Boston hates/fears the Heat, Magic and the archest-rival Lakers, the athletic Bulls have battled the older Celtics on even terms since their exciting 2009 seven-game first-round series and would love to get on the list. – Mark Heisler Gee, and I thought folks would be feening for Lakers @ Grizzlies Tuesday night.

AND A NATION’S EYES TURN TO…CLEVELAND?

Downtown Cleveland O-H-I-O, as the Ohio Players would put it, will be the center of the NBA universe this week as the once beloved LeBron James returns to town Thursday night as a member of the hated Miami Heat. Because of the Heat’s unexpected stumble out of the gate (9-8, losers of 4 of last 5 at press time) and the schedule, this game is probably more important than Miami’s Christmas Day visit to Staples Center to face the back-to-back defending champion Lakers.

Every, and I do mean every, basketball reporter, writer, talking head and blogger with a high-speed wireless connection and Twitter account will be hunkered down in C-Town from Tuesday on. Cavs management has teamed up with local law enforcement and NBA security in an unprecedented attempt to keep anti-Bron Bron actions to a minimum Cavs add police, ban anti-LeBron clothing for his return to Ohio. No word yet if Governor Ted Strickland will order the Ohio National Guard to go on alert.

And God forbid the Cavaliers actually win the game. Fans might think they’re at a college football game, rush the floor and take down the baskets at the final horn.

Cleveland, our eyes are on you. Whatever happens, stay classy. Well, as classy as people from Cleveland can be. Relatively speaking.

WE’VE GOT RANKINGS!

Mark Heisler’s NBA rankings

November 27, 2010

Records and statistics through Friday (last week’s ranking)

1. Celtics 12-4 (3): Actually no one’s best. I’m just rotating leaders until it’s clear. Wait until they get Kendrick “Mushmouth” Perkins back.

2. Lakers 13-3 (1): Not that they’re dependent on 3s: Making 48 percent in wins, 33 percent in losses. Hey Andrew, you ‘bout ready to come out and play yet?

3. Spurs 13-2 (4): Either resting Timmy, or at 13.5 points per game, had him mummified. Whatever they’re doing is working so far.

4. Hornets 12-3 (2): Clippers prick their balloon at 11-1. Jazz prick it at 11-2. Well, we knew it couldn’t/wouldn’t last forever.

5. Mavericks 11-4 (9): Chandler totals 36-26 in wins in Oklahoma City, San Antonio. If the Hornets or Thunder still had him…

6. Jazz 12-5 (10): Taking over, Williams averaging 23 this month as they go 11-3. He physically beat the crap out of Derek Fisher Friday night.

7. Magic 11-4 (T-6): Ghost of Vinsanity at career-low 13.9 ppg, 10.4 shots per game. When the legs go, the game follows.

8. Thunder 11-5 (5): What happened to defense? No. 11 last season, No. 23 now. They believed the hype?

9. Nuggets 9-6 (15): Making move? Just went 3-0 with four left on homestand. ‘Melo and La La still holding team and city hostage.

10. Heat 9-7 (T-6): Like my fantasy team: Dampier in, Stackhouse — who just arrived — out. If Erik Dampier is the answer to the question, you’re doomed. Doomed I say!

11. Bulls 8-6 (8): Better, anyway: 10-61 in last 10 circus trips, 3-3 on this one. Is Carlos Boozer still alive?

12. Trail Blazers 8-7 (11): Making move? Just went 2-4, eight of next 11 on road. Moving backwards.

13. Grizzlies 7-9 (17): Mayo benched two weeks ago for being late, demoted last week. Uh oh.

14. Hawks 9-7 (12): Grumbled about Woodson for years, don’t look crazy about Drew. Where’s Jermaine Dupri when you need him?

15. Suns 8-8 (16): Nash’s divorce prompts new rumors of trade to offseason New York home. BOOM went the Suns!

16. Knicks 8-8 (20): Modern leadership: 5-0 since Amar’e said he wanted to stay a Sun. Go figure.

17. Pacers 7-7 (14): Routing Heat in Miami shows this could be something. I once had a rash that turned out to be “something”.

18. Warriors 7-9 (13): Lee back soon; they’re 1-7 since he left. So that’s where Spike has been hiding out. Oh, you meant David Lee. My bad.

19. Bucks 5-10 (18): Can you really get away with a point guard shooting 38 percent? No.

20. Cavaliers 6-9 (19): I take back most of what I said about LeBron’s supporting cast. Come on Thursday!

21. Bobcats 6-10 (22): MJ better think of something with spending out of the question. Somewhere Bob “BET” Johnson is skinning and grinning.

22. Wizards 5-9 (23): Wall back, starting with Gilbert, Hinrich and two big knuckleheads. Jesus himself couldn’t coach this team.

23. Nets 5-10 (21): Avery must like Jordan; he’s averaging 24 minutes while shooting 33 percent. “Jordan” as in Jordan Farmar? Get out of here.

24. Raptors 6-10 (28): Evans, leading rebounder at 12.6, out. No. 2 Amir Johnson at 5.5.That’s like the difference between the opening weekend and second week of any Tyler Perry “film”.

25. Rockets 4-11 (25): Game’s best four-win team. Which is like being the tallest student at the School for Midgets.

26. Timberwolves 4-12 (26): GM David Kahn’s Folly, aka Darko, averages 18-9 over five. So?

27. Clippers 3-14 (30): Game’s most exciting three-win team. Free Blake Griffin! Free Blake Griffin! Free Blake Griffin!

28. Pistons 6-10 (27): How’s Tracy McGrady doing there? 3.8 points per game. he had back problems before he was 30. ‘Nuff said.

29. Kings 4-10 (24): Body remains but mind, game gone: Tyreke shoots 9-for-37 over three. Are the Maloof brothers still alive?

30. 76ers 3-13 (29): News isn’t all bad: Hollinger has them at No. 24! Doug Collins this close to going back to his perm of years gone by.

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