NBA REVIEW – WEEK 13

 PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol

Clippers rookie sensation Blake Griffin drives on Lakers forward Pau Gasol during the Clippers upset win over the defending champions.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK – NON-NBA DIVISION

T1_0118_davissullytall.jpg

Oakland Raiders managing general partner Al “Cryptkeeper” Davis at a press conference on Tuesday.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I can guarantee you he will only ever be a Clipper. If [Oklahoma City Thunder general manager] Sam Presti arrived on Kevin Durant‘s doorstep at midnight on July 1st with an extension, understand that Blake Griffin lives two blocks away from me in Manhattan Beach so it’s going to be a much shorter commute for me….When it comes time for him to be a free agent, we won’t be losing. We’re not losing now. We’re 10 out of 14 now with our All-Star center [Chris Kaman] sitting around in a suit. The future looks pretty good. The only question will be, in two or three years with Blake, is how much more we’ll be winning.” Los Angeles Clippers general manager Neil Olshey trying to counter recent talk that rookie sensation Blake Griffin will someday become a Laker.

THEY SAID IT

“He just ran through us. We didn’t put up much of a fight. He punked us.” – Lakers guard Kobe Bryant on Clippers rookie forward Blake Griffin’s performance in Sunday’s loss to the city’s “other” team.

“I personally don’t think they can get by Boston. I think Boston is too good a team.” – Lakers coach Phil Jackson to Max Kellerman Wednesday on 710 ESPN that he respected the individual talents of Heat superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but he didn’t think Miami could overtake the Boston Celtics in the playoffs.

“I wish he’d wear a helmet.” – Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler on rookie sensation Blake Griffin’s ‘fearless, devil-may-care’ style of play.

THEY SAID IT – NON-NBA DIVISION

“I am not going to sit down, I’m not going to shut up.”- Sarah Palin during an interview on Monday with Sean Hannity on Fox News.

[She needs to] “be more careful and think through what she’s saying and how she’s saying it.” – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaking on ABC’s Good Morning America Tuesday about Sarah Palin’s string of recent statements. Gingrich also said that Palin “has become more controversial” and “needs to slow down.” Palin’s problem is that she has thought through what she’s saying and how she’s saying it.

[Joe] “Lieberman has reached a point in his public career where every single thing he does, including talking about his grandparents, is irritating.” – New York Times columnist Gail Collins on Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) announcing that he won’t run for reelection in 2012.

“The Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn’t want to vote on this bill. But I assure you, we will.” – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement Wednesday after the House vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“It is not the bill that I would have drafted. But it is the law of the land and it is the platform,the fundamental platform, upon which all future efforts to make that system better, for that patient, for that family, will be based.” – Former Senate Republican leader Bill Frist told his GOP compadres this week as they set about trying to dismantle the national healthcare reform law during an appearance last week at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.  

“The fact that he comes from a different party I think is a strength, not a weakness, because it indicates the degree to which both he and I believe that partisanship ends at the water’s edge … So I couldn’t be happier with the Ambassador’s service. And I’m sure he will be very successful in whatever endeavors he chooses in the future. (Laughter.) And I’m sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary. (Laughter.)” – President Obama, at a press conference, on suggestions by his ambassador to China, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, that he might seek the GOP presidential nomination.

“There’s got to be an easier way to get a standing ovation.” – Actor Michael Douglas, who’s recovering from throat cancer, responding to the audience’s reaction when he came onstage to present an award at the Golden Globes on Sunday night.

“Aside from the fact that it’s been unusually mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones, I’d say the vibe of the show is pretty good.” – Actor Robert Downey Jr after Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais introduced him with references to Betty Ford and correctional facilities.

“Special day. This probably was my best performance. The stage, the importance of the game. It was a pretty good night.”- Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, after going 31 of 36 (.861), the most efficient playoff game for a quarterback in club history.

“It’s incredible. If we said words back when I was playing, we’d have to stand up in front of the team and take about a one-minute berating from the coach. Now, it’s coming from the coaches.”- CBS NFL analyst Phil Simms, on the volume coming from teams critical of other teams in football these days.

SAY WHAT?

“They’re trying to get ‘medical medics’ out to the accident scene right now.” – KNBC4LA reporter Elita Loresca during a Monday morning traffic report. I guess that’s instead of  those pesky, get-in-the-way ‘non-medical medics’.

“I approached this as a big year for me. I have to do whatever it takes for Braylon Edwards to succeed, for Braylon Edwards to be wanted by somebody, for Braylon Edwards to stay a Jet.” – New York Jets receiver Braylon Edwards talking about Braylon Edwards’ 2010 season.

THE “CHILE, PLEASE” AWARD GOES TO

Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, for drawing a Shakespearean parallel and claiming that he felt like Caesar, with new Chairman Reince Priebus, Steele’s former colleague and confidant, playing the part of Brutus on his ouster from the RNC. (“I know exactly how Caesar felt. It is what it is.” ) and

Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani who told CNBC’s Larry Kudlow on Thursday that the door was “absolutely” open to another shot at the White House in 2012. (“I will take a look at 2012. It’s really a question of, can I play a useful role? Would I have a chance of getting the nomination?” Giuliani said. “Those are things that I’ll have to evaluate as the year goes along.”)

MY TEN NON-NBA THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK

  1. When former VP Dick Cheney told NBC’s Jamie Gangel in an interview on Tuesday’s Today Show that his battery powered heart pump makes it “awkward to walk around”, all I could think was how awkward it must be to walk around for so many seriously wounded soldiers, many of them amputees, that his policies sent off to fight to needless wars. By the way, when this “patriot” had a chance to fight in Viet Nam, he took not one, not two, but FIVE deferments.
  2. One of the more interesting things of the 112th Congress will be watching House Speaker John Boehner and his lieutenant (in title only), Majority Leader Eric Cantor, as ambitious as Boehner is tanned, pretend to be friendly colleagues.
  3. Wouldn’t it have made sense for the GOP to have a healthcare plan of their own for people to read before voting to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act?
  4. The media can continue covering Sarah Palin if they want, but should stop acting as if she’s the most important conservative politician in America; she isn’t. They should stop acting as if she has anything relevant to add to the national conversation; she clearly doesn’t. They should stop pretending that she has a plausible path to the presidency in 2012; she doesn’t. They should stop suggesting that she’s the front-runner for the Republican nomination; she isn’t and in fact, probably won’t run. Sarah Palin wasn’t going to run and risk devaluing her “brand” with a possible primary loss BEFORE Tucson and as her words and actions since then have shown, she’s no more qualified and capable of running an extended campaign now than she was in 2008. Mitt Romney will have to overcome being a Mormon and “Romneycare”, Haley “Boss Hogg Jr” Barbour and Newt Gingrich have about as much chance of being elected president as Lindsey Lohan has of winning a best actress Oscar – none; Rick Santorum may be the only person walking the planet known as Earth who thinks he can win anything outside of his own house, Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence and John Thune are all “personality challenged”, so that leaves a currently nationally unknown Tim Pawlenty as the likely GOP nominee to run against President Obama. BUT, there’s one more person out there lurking in the shadows and his name is Eric Cantor.
  5. It’s going to be interesting to see what Mitch McConnell and the GOP’s move to repeal The Affordable Healthcare Act in the Senate will be considering it’s Majority Leader Harry Reid and not McConnell who sets the agenda.
  6. Just as there was not real way to “replace” Johnny Carson, there is no way one “replaces” Regis Philbin, who on Tuesday, surprised everyone with his announcement that this will be his last season on “Live With Regis and Kelly.”
  7. When you’ve had as much success as Bill Bellichick has had in New England, it’s very difficult for all parties to realize when it’s time to make a change. But, after Sunday’s loss to the Jets, at home no less, this might be the time. However, I don’t expect either Bellichick or Patriots owner Bob Kraft to make any changes right now. But mark my words, the Patriots’ Super Bowl days are over.
  8. Have we seen the last of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in championship games? And, is it smart for the Colts to as owner Jim Irsay has vowed to do and make Manning the game’s highest-paid player at this age – 35 when (if) the 2011 season starts – and point in his career – just finished his 13th season – and tie up that much money (an estimated $20 million per season) in one player?
  9. Now we know why the Packers weren’t afraid to trade Brett Favre in 2008 and turn the offense over to Aaron Rodgers.
  10. Sarah Palin is Ann Coulter without the warmth.

STORY OF THE WEEK

NBA Midseason Report: Grading all 30 teams

Spurs, Hornets, Bulls get high marks in NBA midseason grades

AROUND THE ASSOCIATION

Lakers’ little brother, Los Angeles Clippers, grows up a little

The Clippers stood up to the Lakers on Sunday, and if they stick to the script, there will be more to celebrate in their future.

Blake Griffin

Nets end talks with Nuggets, rebooting speculation on Carmelo Anthony’s future  

No ’Melo, just more drama for Nets

Carmelo Anthony says LeBron James handled Cleveland exit poorly Like his attempted exit from Denver is going so smoothly.

Griffin’s highlight act draws retaliation

The Clippers have vowed to take action against opponents who have been taking cheap shots at rookie Blake Griffin. 

Rose standing tall among NBA elite  

NBA spells out hurdles for potential Sacramento Kings move  

Charles Barkley says Lakers have come back to pack

Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom (7) wait as referees review playback of an altercation in the final minute of Sunday’s game against the Clippers. (Gus Ruelas / Associated Press / January 16, 2011)

Blake Griffin scores 48 in Clippers’ 114-107 victory over Pacers

Blake Griffin

Clippers rookie sensation Blake Griffin shoots over Indiana Pacer

Jeff Foster en route to scoring a career-high 47 points in LA’s

114-107 victory on Martin Luther King Jr Day at Staples Center.

Hakeem Olajuwon has tutored likes of Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant

DeAndre Jordan has become anchor of Clippers’ defense

Breaking down Blake Griffin’s numbers is quite revealing  

Mikhail Prokhorov gives fellow NBA owners someone to emulate  

Carmelo Anthony drama reminds Lakers’ Kobe Bryant about his trade demand in 2007   

Carmelo Anthony, MVP watch among NBA second-half storylines

nba-storylines.jpg

(Clockwise from top left) Boston’s age, LeBron’s MVP defense, Carmelo’s home and L.A.’s drive are a few of the NBA’s most intriguing plots.

Kobe Bryant: Players No Longer Control Their Own Destiny  Bryant makes some very valid points here.

Lakers face a tougher road this season  

New Jersey Nets owner finally threw in the towel on deal to land Carmelo Anthony  

Lakers FYI: Phil Jackson agrees with Jeanie Buss’ remarks on NBA contraction  

Bill Simmons: 2011 NBA All-Star Game breakdown  

CHUCK’S CHALK TALK

For the first time in, well, forever, a Lakers/Clippers game that actually meant something to both squads. Both teams went into last Sunday afternoon’s game playing well – the defending back-to-back champions had won seven straight and their down the hall neighbors had won 8 of 12 since a mid-December players-only meeting in Detroit – and on the Wednesday before facing the Lakers, the Clippers did something the Lakers couldn’t do on Christmas Day: beat the Heat at Staples Center.

He may be the Rookie of the Year. He may win the Slam Dunk contest during All-Star Weekend. He may end up in the “real” All-Star Game. Hell, he may even lead the Clippers to the promised land of the playoffs. And, even if he does all of those things, the most important and impressive thing Blake Griffin will accomplish this season is that he’s somehow made Baron Davis care about basketball again.

If Lamar Odom doesn’t make the All-Star team this year, he never will.

I love the fact that the NBA “honors” Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday by having many of its teams playing games (tongue planted firmly in cheek) on MLK Day. I’m pretty sure that Dr King would like seeing so many African-American young men working in today’s economy.

Let’s say Steve Ballmer of Microsoft calls David Stern and says, “Hey there Herr Commissioner and quasi-owner of the New Orleans Hornets, if we help build a new state-of-the-art arena in Seattle, can we have the Hornets at a discount price?” Think Stern wouldn’t fire up the association’s NetJet and head for the Emerald City in less time than it took the Thunder to extend Kevin Duran over the summer?

Attention people of Oklahoma City, lend me your ears. I know you’ve got this thought in the back of your mind that native son Blake Griffin will come back home when he becomes a free agent in a few years but, there’s a better chance of Haley Barbour becoming a spokesperson for Jenny Craig than Griffin leaving LA to play in the OKC if only for one reason: it’s going to be 80 degrees here today. “Bee Gee” may or may not be a lifelong Clipper – only time will tell  – but you can believe this, if he leaves them down the line, it will either be a short walk down the hallway in the lower level of Staples Center or it will be somewhere like NYC or Miami. But it won’t be the OKC.

“A chain is as strong as its weakest link.” That’s an old saying that commissioner David Stern and union head Billy Hunter and the players really need to keep in mind when they sit down in LA during the upcoming All-Star break to discuss a new CBA. There are too many terrible teams – Cleveland has lost 15 in a row, Minnesota is struggling again, just to name a few – playing in front of far too many empty seats (the economy is only a part of it) in too many arenas (Sacramento, Toronto, New Jersey, Memphis) to ignore. If things continue along these lines, the NBA is going to become more like major league baseball where very few teams have a legitimate chance of winning when the season starts than the NFL where with just a few smart draft choices and free agent signings, a team can go from “Worst To First” in just one season.

David Stern never, ever says anything just to be saying it so any talk whatsoever about “contraction” must be taken seriously by the players association.

Nothing against him, but this Kobe Bryant to become first athlete cemented at Grauman’s makes absolutely no sense at all to me.

Is Joe Smith still on the Lakers? Alive?

BLAKE GRIFFIN DUNK OF THE WEEK

Please join me in a moment of silence…Thank you. I knew this day was coming but I just didn’t think it would happen before the All-Star break. Brace yourself kiddies: there is no “Blake Griffin Dunk Of The Week” to show you this week. It’s not that he didn’t dunk this past week; he did on several occasions. However, none of them lived up to the high standards “Bee Gee” has set thus far in his rookie season so, instead of posting a clip just to be posting one, we’ll just have to do without this week. You married fellas will understand.

THE WEEK AHEAD by Mark Heisler

BOSTON AT PHOENIX
The Celtics take on the resurgent Suns as part of a West Coast trip.

Friday at 7:30 p.m. PST. TV: ESPN.

This is the NBA’s Calm-Before-the-Storm Week. There is one game Sunday as most of the league knocks off to let the NFL’s final four play down to two, since most of America would stay home to watch football on TV anyway. 

With the NFL playoffs dark next week, ABC — which is really ESPN’s lightly used over-the-air platform — comes out from under its rock to resume national NBA telecasts with the Celtics at Staples Center to play the Lakers next Sunday.

The Celtics start their trip at Portland on Thursday, then take on the intrepid Suns, who had won five in a row through Friday after being given up for dead again, the next night. At the Celtics’ august age and even with the Suns in a diminished state, they’re not a team you want to see on the second night of a back-to-back situation.

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

Mark Heisler, Los Angeles Times

January 22, 2011

RANKINGS, COMMENTS THROUGH SATURDAY

HELLO, RIVERWALK

1. SAN ANTONIO (37-7) Spurs’ magic number over Lakers is just 33. (3) While everyone’s attention was on Miami and LA last summer, “Pop” and R.C. Buford quietly rebuilt the Spurs and now it’s just a matter of keeping everyone, especially the “Alamo Alliance” of Duncan, Ginobli and Parker, healthy and rested for the playoffs.

2. BOSTON (33-10) Rivers has to be revived after hearing that Phil Jackson praised Celtics. (2) Trust me, Glenn “Doc” Rivers isn’t falling for the Zen Master’s “okey-doke”.

3. MIAMI (31-13) Trying to pick up pieces since Clippers, injuries hit. (1) No depth, no real “big” = no rings in South Beach this year.

4. LAKERS (32-13) Things have been worse — like the seasons they hated one another. (4) And you know what – I miss the drama! Oh for a NBA “Hard Knocks” back in those days.

POISED FOR MOVE, IN WHATEVER DIRECTION

5. ORLANDO (29-15) Good thing Howard is bionic since his backup is, uh, no one. (5) And “No One” is on a 10-day contract.

6. CHICAGO (30-14) Doing this before Noah, Boozer play together settles MVP leader. (8) As in “D-Rose”.

7. NEW ORLEANS (29-16) Monty Williams’ Energizer bunnies off again, win eight in row. (11) Most schizophrenic team since…the Clippers this year.

8. DALLAS (28-15) Reports that they won’t be a problem for Lakers were exaggerated. (10) Oh, they’re a problem alright. When you’ve got Tyson Chandler in the middle and can bring Shawn Marion and Jason Terry off the bench, you’ve got a team. By the way, just how old is Jason Kidd? 40? 50? 60?

9. OKLAHOMA CITY (28-15) There’s a reason you’re open: Durant’s mates make 23% of threes. (6) Have to bring in at least one more big-time player before they are a serious contender.

10. ATLANTA (29-16) Good thing Horford doesn’t sit out much — scored 59 without him. (9) Time for Jermaine Dupri to write a new team song for the strip clubs.

11. UTAH (27-17) 4-0 on last East trip with miracle rallies, 0-4 on this one. (7) If Jerry Sloan were still alive…Oh he is? My bad.

YOU STILL HERE?

12. DENVER (24-18) Just got more time to win back Anthony’s heart — oh, never mind. (12) SIXTY-FIVE MILLION reasons for ‘Melo to come to his senses before the trade deadline next month.

13. PORTLAND (24-20) Best haunted young team around: lost Camby, won four in row. (14) Marketing slogan should be “Come see the Blazers, who knows what will happen!”

14. NEW YORK (22-21) Oops: went 0-6, lost three vs. losing teams, two of those at home. (13) Charles Dolan this close to offering La La her own cable channel to get ‘Melo to MSG.

15. PHOENIX (20-22) They’re back? With Magic leftovers, Suns went 5-0, averaging 115. (21) Who says Alvin Gentry can’t coach? I mean, besides the Clippers and Pistons.

16. MEMPHIS (21-23) Marc Gasol, who has sore ankle, scores 20 for first time since Dec. 3. (15) Was that in a NBA game or at Dave & Buster’s?

17. CLIPPERS (16-26) Davis averaging 16 points, 7 assists, shooting 47% this month. (24) Lazarus Part Deux.

18. GOLDEN STATE (19-23) Having good season. Too bad new owner Lacob doesn’t know it. (18) Who?

19. HOUSTON (20-25) Offer to take Anthony as rental shows Rockets are willing to start over. (16) What do they have to lose?

EAST PLAYOFF RACE/CELTICS, HEAT APPETIZERS

20. PHILADELPHIA (18-25) With Iguodala closest thing to closer, keep losing close ones. (17) Yawn.

21. INDIANA (16-23) Playoffs or not, Coach O’Brien, GM Morway reportedly are goners. (19) What I want to know is why does Larry Bird not get more blame, or any, from the national press for this mess.

22. CHARLOTTE (17-25) Get hint? Jackson, known for funks, shooting 35% this month. (22) Stephen “Guns” Jackson has mentally left the building and if management has any sense, he’ll leave town soon too.

23. MILWAUKEE (16-25) Their team, at last: Delfino finally back, Jennings on the way. (20) So?

24. WASHINGTON (13-29) Backcourt of future: Young averaging 23, shooting 50% this month. (29) Trade was smart move. Now they have to keep making them.

25. DETROIT (16-28) The guys on way out hate it there, but Pistons still compete. (23) Is Joe Dumars one of those on the way out too?

CLEANUP DETAIL FOLLOWING PARADE

26. TORONTO (13-31) Kids DeRozan, Davis, Amir Johnson look promising … as they go 0-6. (25) I can remember when Sarah Palin looked “promising” and look how that’s turned out.

27. NEW JERSEY (12-32) You mean this is all we’re going to have all season? (26) “Da!” (That’s yes in Russian)

28. SACRAMENTO (9-32) Veteran Udrih pulls Lord of Flies cast together, more or less. (27) Less.

29. MINNESOTA (10-33) 2 forwards average 20, center’s OK, decent point — what’s problem? (28) It’s Minnesota!

30. CLEVELAND (8-35) Lost 26 of 27. If only draft had a — forgive the expression — LeBron. (30) If Byron Scott had any hair, he’d be tearing it out.

JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT

Paula Abdul and Janet Jackson in 1984.

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GET KEEPING BETTER GABBY!

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