I Love This Game


People of Chicago should miss the Baby Bulls. They grew up when they beat the Heat in the first round, but this years version is struggling mightily. They are on the verge of dropping their second consecutive game at home and falling to 0-4 on the year. They’ve scored 9 points through six minutes of the second quarter and their vaunted defense is full of holes. The Clippers are shooting 65% right now. Are you kidding me? Is Scott Skiles’ coaching style wearing on these guys? Could they be wanting him to take his foot off the pedal a little bit? I always said Scott Skiles and his style would be perfect for college but seemed like it would overwork and burnout pros. Could this be happening now?? Are their egos on the Bulls and why is no one talking about this? Who is their leader? Very interesting.

Also interesting are the Lakers. They look good. The West looks really fierce I mean I have the top 4 (in no order) as San Antonio, Phoenix, Dallas and Houston. Actually that’s not a bad order so I’ll stick with it. But then you’ve got Utah and Denver at 5 and 6. An improved Laker team, the Warriors WITH Steven Jackson and the fighters in New Orleans and the Clippers. The West looks really strong people.

More later.

Back. Funny how I talked about the improvement of the Lakers. It has been based on the play of their second unit, a second unit that has led them back into the game against the Hornets. Amazingly it has been Radmonovic and Vujacic who have combined for 11 points, Turiaf has 7 and Kobe has 4 points on 3 shots. Pretty neat, if that second unit can emerge as being somewhat consistent look out. Especially when Odom comes back.

As I glance at the NBA scores, I have to click over to this Golden State/Cleveland game. Words cannot describe how much the Warriors are missing Stephen Jackson right now. He is one of their leaders and one of their top playmakers. So this is the same Warrior team from last year, minus both Jason Richardson AND Stephen Jackson. Not as good huh? Matt Barnes has pretty much officially returned to being Matt Barnes and Nellie has been forced to play Patrick O’Bryant. This is a time where he needs to throw Belinelli out there to see what he can get from him, but unfortunately it seems like Nelson has already fallen out of love with Marco. And ask Ike Diogu what happens when Nellie falls out of love with you. No burn. And 8-man rotation isn’t going to cut it, especially one that struggles to play any defense. Cleveland may pull this one out because of LeBron, the size of Gooden and Ilgauskas inside and Daniel Gibson hitting open threes. Gibson 3/4 from deep already and we haven’t even hit halftime. Uh oh.

The Bulls did end up losing to the Clippers 97-91 to drop to 0-4 on the year. I only caught glimpses of the game, but I’m going to have to pay attention to see what’s going on in the Windy City. Ben Wallace isn’t getting any boards, Luol Deng is taking 17 shots, Gordon’s taking 18 (and scoring 15) and Hinrich is shooting 14. They just seem lost. I think Tyrus Thomas starting is a mistake. He has to bring energy to the second unit, something Joe Smith really can’t do. It’s early in the season and they have plenty of time to correct but as of right now the Bulls look nothing like the team theat carved up Miami.

I already showed love to the West, but the East has definitely improved as you can tell by the Hawks getting a win over Dallas and the Knicks beating the Nuggets. Not sure that happens last year. I think there are just a lot more questions out East. We know Detroit, Boston, Toronto are for real. New Jersey and Orlando could be thrown up there. From there it’s truely anyone’s ballgame over the rest of the season. Miami, Chicago and Washington…all playoff teams from last year are off to bad starts. Do they comeback? What about Cleveland? Have we decided that they are bad or not? Can Indiana and Charlotte withstand their early success. Are the Knicks actually not as bad as we thought? See. These questions didn’t get asked last year, not even at the start of the season.

Three pretty fun games to watch to end the night. Seattle absolutely gagged away a 20 point lead in the 2nd quarter and Sacramento clawed their way back. Seattle was up 98-97 when Durant took it to the cup and got stripped. The Kings ran back and looked like no one wanted to shoot it…so Francisco Garcia threw up a layup, Brad Miller got the board and kicked it back out to Garcia for the three. Durant is denied by Salmons in a clutch situation down by 2 so now they go to Damien Wilkins. Who of course misses because he’s Damien Wilkins. Not happy with Durant, he got denied and then just kind of gave up. Didn’t really show a ‘give me the damn ball’ type attitude. I’m sure that will come but damn. Give it up to Theus for keeping his team fighting. I say they just get rid of Artest and build around whatever they get in return, Salmons, Martin and whatever is left of Bibby.

I know I make this point every blog post, but Seattle/Sacramento would have been a horrible game to watch whether it was close or not. The NBA is off to a major league start. Lakers/Hornets and Cavs/Warriors are both close and both have 4 minutes left. I don’t know what to do.

I chose Lakers/Hornets…just as I was about to type about how much better Derek Fisher makes the Lakers, especially with defense Chris Paul broke him off and got an And 1. Then Bynum misses a jumphook which leads to a Peja three-ball. That would be the game ladies and gents. I wonder what Kobe is thinking right now. He had 24 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds but they lost. Why? Because no one guarded Peja or Chris Paul. Paul sent another F-U to Deron Williams and the media with 15 points and 20 assists. Yikes. Peja meanwhile had 33 points on 9 three-pointers. Staff…is that an NBA record?

Me: Hell no, Kobe hit 12 against the Sonics remember dummy?

Oh yeah. On to see the Cavs and Warriors. This is what I’m talking about. 98-98, 3:04 left in the game with Andris Biedrins at the foul line. Yikes. He hasn’t missed this season says the stat. He’s so going to miss. Of course he does. He misses both to be honest. Good job FSN Bay Area, whoever decided to curse your own team should be fired. Or shot in the foot. You pick. The Cavs come down and Damon Jones hits a three. I know I was shocked too. Harrington tried to reply to a three but misses. Cleveland has an interesting lineup that they maybe could explore against weak team. It’s LeBron, Ilgauskas, Gooden, Damon Jones and Gibson. That’s two shooters, two big men who can score and LeBron. Unfortunately Damon Jones is the definition of a defensive liability so it wouldn’t fly in the East. But against the Warriors it’s nice.

Cleveland’s up 103-98. Golden State’s offense looks confused like no one wants to the ball. Monta Ellis says screw it and drives to the hoop, jumps in the air and throws it over the backboard. He was definitely trying to get a whistle. So awkward when a player does that but doesn’t get the call. I wonder how much of a jackass you’d have to feel when you do the ‘pumpfake jump into someone’ and don’t get it. Do you hustle back on D or bark at the ref? If you’re in the NBA you bark at the ref, if you’re in college you pray your coach thinks you’re the shit. BD got to the line and made two to make it 103-100. Cleveland comes back down..LeBron is so scoring right now. LeBron has it and he travels. Uh oh. Biedrins puts in a jumphook to cut the lead to 1 with 36.8 on the clock.

LeBron draws two, kicks it to Z, who kicks it to Daniel Gibson who is oh so wide open for a three-ball. He of course nails it. From earlier in THIS VERY BLOG POST on this very game:

“..Cleveland may pull this one out because of LeBron, the size of Gooden and Ilgauskas inside and Daniel Gibson hitting open threes.”

Daniel Gibson hits an open three. The brilliance is really becoming a burden big guy. Make me Skip Bayless for a day. Not.

106-102 Cleveland. Golden State of course give
s up the one thing they couldn’t a three pointer. I mean freakin ay let LeBron shoot a pullup or let Ilgauskas shoot it. You know in pickup when the team at 19 and you pretty much will just let them take a layup. Why doesn’t that fly in the NBA? Sheesh.

What does Golden State do? BD shoots a contested three over LeBron that doesn’t go in. Sheesh. They need Stephen Jackson and maybe are regretting letting J-Rich go. Cleveland picks up a win I didn’t think they would get on this 6 game West Coast Trip. They lost at Phoenix, beat Golden State, will lose in Utah, should beat up on Sac and the Clippers and lose at Denver. Not bad.

Wait. It’s only 107-104 because Drew Gooden missed a free throw. And now LeBron misses his first free throw. Of course now that I’m paying attention LBJ will make it. He does. Damn him. Near triple-double for LeBron though.

All that Oakland enthusiasm from the playoffs is dead. Oh boy.