NBA REVIEW, WEEK 6

Let’s see, what was the biggest story of Week 6 in the NBA? The Lakers had a four game losing streak for the first time since 2007? What about the Clippers beating the Spurs for the first time in 19 games or forward Blake Griffin being named “Rookie of the Month” for November? I know there must have been something else that happened that was bigger than both of those stories. Could it have been Clippers announcer Ralph Lawler missing the Clippers-Spurs game on Wednesday night because he was stuck in a massive traffic jam? Believe it or not, Lawler commutes from La Quinta to downtown Los Angeles for games, a 135-mile, two and a half hour drive each way.

Wait, wait, it’s coming to me! That’s right, Carmelo Anthony of the Nuggets got ejected from a game after getting two technical fouls. No?

Oh yeah, some guy named Le Bron James returned to play a game in Cleveland for the first time since “The Decision”.

 LeBRON GOES BACK TO CLEVELAND

LeBron James

LeBron James embraced all the negativity Cleveland could muster, scoring a season-high 38 points in 30 minutes.

LeBron James might have Dwyane Wade and Miami, but one day he’ll miss Cleveland – Michael Rosenberg – SI.com

LeBron’s Return To Cleveland – Photos – SI.com

LeBron James Postgame Interview – Video  

                 MIAMI THRICE  Miami Heat

(l-r) Wade, James and Bosh meet the press after Thursday’s game in Cleveland. “What? Us worry? Do you know how much we get on the 1st and 15th of every month?”

‘The Return’ – A Laugher for LeBron  

Miami Heat’s LeBron James gets his biggest victory yet: closure – Israel Gutierrez  

Cavs Assistant Coach Curses At LeBron James (VIDEO) Bron Bron must owe this guy some money or something!

Cavs didn’t appreciate LeBron’s words, actions  

Bill Simmons: LeBron James returns to Cleveland  

Source: NBA looking into buying New Orleans Hornets  This can’t be good news for a players’ union trying to stave off a 30% salary cut in the current CBA negotiations.

Lakers all smiles after ending four-game skid Laker fans cancel panic-alert; return to normal Defcon 4 Level. Or as Kevin Bacon so memorably shrieked towards the end of the classic Animal House, “All is well! All is Well!”

Lakers FYI: Lakers’ Ron Artest can’t stop being goofy  It’s not “if” Artest does something really strange that’s going to cause the Lakers to scratch their heads and say, “What the ‘F’”, but when (remember last Christmas night’s still-unexplained fall outside his house?) he does it.

Cuban continues to drive Mavericks  

Derek Fisher Juggles Duties for Lakers and Union  

Watching Charles Barkley banter  If there’s a former professional athlete more naturally gifted and suited for this type of post-playing career than Sir Charles, I don’t know who it is.

There’s more to this than just Lakers and Heat  Excerpt:  The Lakers’ recent struggles and the much-hyped (and much-hated) Heat’s tepid start have unexpectedly injected doubt into what was supposed to be a dream scenario for the league. It’s also removed some luster from that Christmas matchup.

NBA Coast to Coast: Too much Miami Heat  

Mav-in’ a blast  

THEY SAID IT

“Some things went on last night, that I didn’t like.” – Cavaliers guard Daniel “Boobie” Gibson talking about former teammate Le Bron James on Friday.

“That dunk was three-quarters man and only a quarter amazing.” – TNT’s Kevin McHale, on a dunk by Orlando’s Vince Carter, aka Half-Man, Half-Amazing.

“Good win for us again 2nite…gr8 not to have to play the 4th…crowds have been good but can be A LOT better, plz N.O. come out 4 us…7-0!” – New Orleans’ Chris Paul, tweeting after 12,479 saw the Hornets go 7-0 in a home win over the Clippers.

“Everybody has an opinion and obviously, he had one. I’m not entertaining nor addressing nobodies.” – Boston’s Kevin Garnett, on charges by Chicago’s Joakim Noah that he’s “ugly,” “mean” and a dirty player.

“It’s not just me, gentlemen. It’s a team effort. But it does help to have a marquee player.” – New York’s Amare Stoudemire, on the Knicks’ rally after a 2-8 start.

PHIL JACKSON QUOTE OF THE WEEK (brought to courtesy of  the good people at Zenmasters.com) “He’s moving along quickly. We hope it’s not so quick that he beats Andrew back . . . not that we hope it’s not, but it would be kind of ironic, wouldn’t it?” – Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of injured center Theo Ratliff’s recovery from recent arthroscopic knee surgery.

NON GAME PHOTO OF THE WEEKTony Parker Eva Longoria Photos

Future divorcees Tony Parker and Eva Longoria met for lunch Wednesday at a Santa Monica hotel. That night, Parker and the Spurs lost 90-85 to the lowly Clippers – yes I know that’s redundant – for the first time since March 7, 2006. Coincidence? You make the call.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Lakers at Chicago Bulls on Friday  

CHUCK’S CHALK TALK

It was easily the most anticipated game of the season so far – even though it turns out that TNT’s ratings for the pre-game studio show (on the road in Cleveland) were higher than those for the game itself – and yet, in many regards, it was a let-down.

Apparently, the Cleveland fans are/were more upset with Le Bron James’ decision to take his “talents to South Beach” than his former teammates were. And that’s the biggest difference between fans of a team and the players on a team; we take it personal, it’s just business to them. As Manny Ramirez calmly said during the 2007 ALCS playoffs when the Red Sox were on the verge of being eliminated by, ironically, the Cleveland Indians, when asked if he was feeling the pressure, “Hey man, it’s a game. If we lose  tomorrow, our season’s over and we go on vacation. If we win, we keep playing. Simple as that.” 

Now, was that what the rabid Red Sox faithful wanted to hear from one of the stars of their beloved team say facing a 1-3 deficit? Of course not. But, Ramirez was just telling the truth from the player’s point of view; this is business, this is our job.

I disagree with two things that TNT game analyst Reggie Miller said during the broadcast: 1) Heat president Pat Riley needs to make a public statement of support for embattled coach Eric Spoelstra and 2) that Riley should have been at the game.

First of all, who knows what Riley has said to Spoelstra (and the players) in private? He may have done just that without revealing it to the media. Plus, I guarantee you that if Riley did issue such a statement, the media, Miller included, would have written/said, “Well, now that Eric Spoelstra has received the dreaded ‘vote of confidence’ from Pat Riley, it’s just a matter of time before he’s fired.”

Secondly, by staying away from the game, Riley did show his support for his young coach. He empowered him to make his own decisions without TNT’s cameras constantly cutting to Riley in the stands.

What did we learn from Thursday night’s game? Well, we learned that the NBA and TNT, along with numerous other media outlets and bloggers, can hype a Thursday night game between two struggling teams into a “must-see” event. And, we’ve probably seen and heard the last of the Cavaliers until the next time the Heat play in Cleveland.

Next contrived NBA “must-see” event? Of course, it’s the Christmas Day battle between the Lakers and Heat. I’m sure the rankings will be good but guess what – they would probably be just as high or even higher had the league had Boston visit the Staples Center instead. Celtics-Lakers; now that’s a real rivalry that needs no hype whatsoever.

While a nation turned its lonely eyes to Cleveland, the Celtics and Spurs have quietly reeled off two very impressive streaks of their own. Friday night’s home win over the Bulls was Boston’s sixth in a row and the Spurs, who will play 11 of their remaining 14 games in 2010 at home, even with Wednesday’s inexplicable loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles, have won 8 out of their last 10 games and are off to a franchise best 16-3 start (through Friday night). And, don’t sleep on the 15-4 Mavericks who may have finally found the center in Tyson Chandler that they’ve been missing throughout the Dirk Nowitzki Era.

Baron Davis is still alive. Seriously. No, really. I’m not making this up.

RANKINGS! WE’VE GOT RANKINGS! (my comments in italics)

By Mark Heisler, Los Angeles Times

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

1. Celtics 15-4 (1): Legit top team: Led by double figures in 15 games. Shaq giving them exactly what they want/need from him until “Mushmouth” Perkins returns.

2. Spurs 16-3 (3): Manu looking like Kobe, Jefferson looking like Manu. S.O.S.=Same Old Spurs.

3. Mavericks 15-4 (5): 12-3 since 2-2 start with 12-point measuring-stick win at Utah. Tyson Chandler at center makes a big difference in the “Big D”.

4. Magic 15-4 (7): Usual deal: Start 5-3, drop off radar, 10-1 since. And yet, it won’t matter against the Celtics come playoff time.

5. Jazz 15-6 (6): 15-4 since 0-2 start with measuring-stick win vs. Lakers. They’re afraid of Jerry Sloan.

6. Lakers 14-6 (2): Gasol is staying out there until he drops or Phil gets a backup. With both Bynum and Ratliff out, why haven’t the defending back-to-back champs signed a “big” to eat up some minutes?

7. Heat 12-8 (10): Survived one of your more turbulent 3-0 weeks. That’s putting it mildly.

8. Hornets 13-6 (4): Attendance cratering. League about to take over franchise. Exhibit A for Owners Vs Players in current CBA talks.

9. Thunder 13-7 (8): Uh-oh: Durant lasts five games, leaves again with sore knee. Uh oh.

10. Nuggets 12-6 (9): That’s what you call an optimist: George Karl seeks extension. Yeah, but until ‘Melo signs his…

11. Hawks 13-7 (14): Something changed: Just went 5-0, last two after losing Joe Johnson. Maybe he’s like one of those “non-essential” government workers.

12. BULLS 9-8 (11): Not yet Thibodeau’s Boston “D”: Gave up 106 per game in last five. Bulls giving up more than the average Kardashian sister.

13. Knicks 11-9 (16): Just went 9-1. Last time they were this high, Riley was coaching. Where – LA, NYC or Miami?

14. Suns 10-9 (15): Seeking new level: Won’t fall apart, won’t move much higher. Are we talking about the Suns or the nation’s unemployment rate?

15. Pacers 9-9 (17): Behind Pacers’ push: No. 8 in defense vs. No. 23 last season. And?

16. Trail Blazers 8-11 (12): Wheels come off: 3-9 since Roy started having knee problems. Double uh oh.

17. Grizzlies 8-12 (13): Who knew Buckeye from 2006-07 team to break out would be Conley? That would be practically anyone who saw Greg Oden walking around at the draft. As one reporter put it, “He walks like an old man.”

18. Rockets 7-12 (25): Coming around after 3-10 start but better step it up. Which they did in beating the Lakers at home without Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks.

19. Raptors 8-11 (24): There’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear. I can name that tune in 5 seconds! But seriously, not the team’s official marketing slogan, but pretty damn accurate.

20. Warriors 8-11 (18): As Smart said, we want to be a surprise in April: Just went 1-7. Taking this job is the dumbest thing Keith Smart has ever done.

21. Bucks 6-12 (19): Bogut due back after missing five games in which they went 1-4. Uh uh.

22. Cavaliers 7-11 (20): You know that ear-to-ear smile Mark Cuban said Dan Gilbert had? I swear there’s a gay joke just waiting to be inserted here but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.

23. Bobcats 7-12 (21): Jackson ejected, suspended, gets 25 in return as they end 1-4 skid. MJ this close to returning from wherever it is that he spends his time NOT improving his team.

24. Wizards 6-12 (22): Wall back looking shaky, or this would be rookie race of all time. Maybe he can “Dougie” his way to the ROY award.

25. Nets 6-14 (23): Farmar averages 20, eight assists with Harris hurt. They go 3-0 anyway. This cannot be the same Jordan Farmar who didn’t play well for the Lakers.

26. 76ers 5-14 (30): Might be least complementary duo ever. Igoudala returns, Turner sits. Well, to be fair, Ted Turner is 72 years old.

27. Timberwolves 4-15 (26): Clippers of the North: More good young players than wins. Now, THAT’S a marketing slogan! Sort of like the one for the Kardashian sisters: “Four out of five professional athletes say it’s the best Armenian ‘stuff’ they’ve ever had.”

28. Clippers 4-16 (27): If they mess it up with Griffin, Stern really should contract. IF? More like when.

29. Pistons 6-14 (28): Prince in contract year, gets 30 twice in salary drive for new team. I didn’t know the Purple One had given up music for his first love.

30. Kings 4-13 (29): Westphal: It’s not a crime to lose, but it is a crime not to work. Why the Aloof brothers signed washed-up Paul Westphal remains a mystery to NBA fans and observers.

 

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