NBA 2014-15 – Week One

Hello there. Due to popular demand in general and one emailer in particular who made it very damn clear that he may do something “really, really stupid if you don’t start writing about the NBA again,” like King James in Cleveland and the Hornets in Charlotte – I’M BACKKKKKKKKKK!

What We Learned Week One:

This is LeBron James’ league and everyone else is in second place. Love or hate him, the one thing you can’t do is ignore the singularly most important player in the NBA. Yes, the Cavaliers will need time to blend everyone into new head coach Dave Blatt’s system and learn how to play with each other in order to become true title contenders. Adding Pau Gasol – who looks rejuvenated – to the Bulls will pay off in spades if Derrick Rose can stay healthy and be even 85-90% of what he once was and don’t think for a minute that the Heat won’t be there in the playoffs. And the defending champion Spurs are very intent on correcting the one “flaw” on their remarkable record: never going back-to-back. But if you think for even one second that any other player impacts the game more both on and off the court throughout the league, all you needed to see downtown Cleveland on opening night. Unless of course, you believe ESPN, who wasn’t even televising the game, was there to cover Kevin Love’s debut as a Cav.

Injuries are already playing a key role for several teams but none have been more affected than the Lakers and the Thunder. Facing an uphill battle in the triple-stacked Western Conference where 45 wins may not be enough to make the playoffs, the Lakers were dealt an especially cruel blow when talented rookie (the 7th overall pick in this year’s draft) Julius Randle suffered a broken leg in his first NBA game. And already missing Kevin Durant, the Thunder hopes of staying close until his return from a broken right foot, they suffered a stunning loss when Russell Westbrook broke a bone in his right hand and will be out 4-6 weeks. Ironically, KD may be back before Westbrook.

Michael Jordan is finally fully emotionally invested in the Charlotte Hornets and that’s a good thing for both the franchise and the league.

Kobe Bryant, except for shooting 40% through his first three games, is pretty much back. He’s already had a skirmish with former teammate Dwight Howard, jacked up as many shots as possible whether he’s double or even triple-teamed, and snarked his way through several post-game interviews.

The Warriors are all-in on Klay Thompson. $70 million for four years. (He celebrated by dropping a career-high 39 on the visiting Lakers Saturday night as his father, former Laker and current radio analyst, Mychal looked on.

Some things never change; the Knicks are as schizophrenic as ever.

New Clippers owner Steve Ballmer makes Mark Cuban look like a mime. He makes coffee nervous.

No matter who is or isn’t on ESPN’s Countdown studio show, it’s just God-awful. And it doesn’t help them one bit whenever a reporter or blogger does a story on them they get compared to the Emmy-winning laugh-fest that is the TNT show. Jalen Rose made an excellent point in an interview when he said that TNT’s advantage is that “they’re a ‘late-night’ show and get to do things we simply can’t do on our show”, but that in and of itself doesn’t explain why the ESPN show feels so scripted and stilted.

QUOTES FROM AROUND THE ASSOCIATION
“I haven’t seen anything like that [the festival-like atmosphere surrounding the Cavaliers opening night game] before. The city [Cleveland] was on fire. It was great to spoil the excitement. Great for us.” – Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire after New York’s 95-90 victory on Thursday.

“Not ready for showtime, were we, guys?” – Knicks president Phil Jackson to the media after the team’s 104-80 home loss to Chicago Wednesday night.

“He’s got a rod in his leg. Holding that bone together. And it’s gotta heal. Looks good against his dog, and while he’s standing out there in front of you guys it looks pretty good. Other than that, he don’t do nothin’.” – Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird after injured star Paul George was seen in an Internet video playing one-on-one against his dog.

Lots of hype and injuries galore by Ben Bolch

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES NBA RANKINGS BY Broderick Turner
November 1, 2014

Statistics are through Friday’s games:

1. SAN ANTONIO: The Spurs get the top spot because they are the defending NBA champs.

2. GOLDEN STATE: Stephen Curry produces 24 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, six steals in opener.

3. CLIPPERS: Though unimpressive in their first two wins, the Clippers prefer being 2-0 to 0-2.

4. MIAMI: Chris Bosh has 26 points, 15 rebounds in the season opener.

5. PHOENIX: Isaiah Thomas, Suns’ 5-9 sixth man, in first two games: 46 points in 49 minutes, 19 for 28, five for 10 on threes.

6. MEMPHIS: Not known for their scoring, the Grizzlies average 101 points in first two games.

7. CLEVELAND: LeBron James plays 42 minutes and 43 minutes in back-to-back games to start the season.

8. CHICAGO: Derrick Rose tells fans “Don’t worry” after he sprains his left ankle. If Rose misses games, Bulls fans worry.

9. HOUSTON: The Rockets make 26 of 56 (46.4%) of their three-point shots in the first two games.

10. DENVER: Kenneth Faried could be ready for a breakout season after getting 22 points and 17 rebounds in opener.

11. TORONTO: Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combine to shoot seven for 27 in season opener.

12. DALLAS: Mavericks put up 100 in loss to Spurs, 120 in win over Jazz.

13. WASHINGTON: Point guard John Wall averages 23 points and 11.5 assists through first two games.

14. BOSTON: Rajon Rondo has one of his typical games — 13 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists — in 30 minutes in opener.

15. PORTLAND: The Trail Blazers have five players averaging in double figures.

16. NEW YORK: Nice bounce-back win over Cleveland after getting routed by 24 points in season opener at home.

17. CHARLOTTE: Kemba Walker makes game-winning shot in overtime after sending it to OT with late three-pointer.

18. NEW ORLEANS: Anthony Davis opens the season with 26 points, 17 rebounds, career high-tying nine blocks.

19. INDIANA: Center Roy Hibbert gets 22 points in first game, eight in second.

20. SACRAMENTO: Rudy Gay drops 40 points on Portland, one shy of his career high.

21. OKLAHOMA CITY: Russell Westbrook (broken right hand) joins Kevin Durant (broken right foot) on injured list.

22. ATLANTA: Kyle Korver makes six of seven three-point attempts in Hawks’ first game.

23. BROOKLYN: Guards Deron Williams and Joe Johnson shoot a combined 13 for 35 in the first game.

24. MINNESOTA: Rookie Andrew Wiggins scores eight points in his first professional game, six in his second.

25. DETROIT: The Pistons are the lowest-scoring team in the NBA (85 points per game), are making 39.4% of their shots.

26. MILWAUKEE: Rookie Jabari Parker posts the first double-double of his career, getting 11 points and 10 rebounds.

27. ORLANDO: Rookie Elfrid Payton hands out seven assists in each of his first two games.

28. LAKERS: Start the season with three losses by an average of 15 points.

29. UTAH: The Jazz loses its first two games by an average of 14.5 points.

30. PHILADELPHIA: The 76ers average 86 points in first two games, second-lowest in the NBA.

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