breaking down the nba like craig sager's suits: colorfully

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Welcome to America!

Eureljus Zukauskas has a long wingspan. Brandan Wright has a longer one. Guess who wins on a dunk attempt?

Wrapping up 10/16's preseason action

Atlanta 103, Minnesota 77: Like Kevin Garnett, Al Jefferson learns what it's like to be the Timberwolves' most productive player, to play his guts out, and still lose by 26. Jefferson scores 20 and grabs 15 rebounds, but the rest of his team shoots 33.3% in a loss to the Hawks. Eight players on Atlanta ended up with at least 9 points, with Zaza Pachulia leading the way with 16 points in 19 minutes.

Denver 104, Milwaukee 78: This one is pretty simple. Bogut and Redd sit, 'Melo (16 points) and A.I. (22 points) do not. The Bucks only end up with 11 assists on 27 field goals, and Yi Jianlian is OK with 9 points and 7 rebounds in 20 minutes. Kenyon Martin plays in his first game since coming back from knee surgery, and contributes 11 points in 14 minutes.

Chicago 97, Washington 76: The Wizards barely play their starters, but the Bulls manage to play their starters even less and still win by 19. Gilbert Arenas has yet to crack double-digits in a pre-season game, while Ben Gordon has yet to play in one. On an exciting note, however, Aaron Gray inches closer to the Big Stiff of the Year award by fouling out in 16 minutes.

Dallas 101, Sacramento 99: Reggie Theus and Avery Johnson both give most of their starters a good run, and Jason Terry's three with four seconds to go turns out to be the eventual game-winner. Dirk scores 23, grabs 13 boards, and nets five assists. The Kings convert everywhere except on the free throw line, where they only manage to shoot 28/42.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The little things that start trade rumors

Is Sager's Tailor a prophet? Undoubtedly. Tailor managed to predict that Ric Bucher's face was about to be plastered all over ESPN today, dispelling a rumor that Kobe Bryant had cleared out his locker in anticipation of a trade. Kobe had apparently only removed a couple items from his locker, and that was enough to give the story a massive amount of pub.

The speculation is extremely obnoxious, because this storyline is going to be bigger than the upcoming NBA season itself. It simply will not die until the February 21st trade deadline, and even after that, the talk will be all about "Where will Kobe go next year?"

In order to stop any excitement from "a Kobe trade is imminent" rumors, here are possible trade rumors that could spread based on any little mundane activity.

Scenario 1: Kobe is seen eating deep dish pizza for lunch at Taste Chicago.
Result: Los Angeles area sports talk radio claims that Kobe is trying to learn how to adapt to Chicago food, meaning Mitch Kupchak has informed him he is being traded to the Bulls.
What Ric Bucher will say on the 6 PM version of SportsCenter, followed by every 10 minutes on ESPNEWS"Kobe was merely hungry, and his agent says that he will be in uniform for tonight's game."

Scenario 2: Vanessa Bryant seen on set of Dancing with the Stars, casually talking to all the dancers and celebrities.
Result: KCAL-9 runs a Breaking News story that Vanessa Bryant is facilitating a trade to the Dallas Mavericks after a long talk with Mark Cuban.
What Ric Bucher will say on the 9 AM version of SportsCenter: "I stayed up all night to ask several sources about any possible Kobe trade movement, but I've been informed that Vanessa Bryant was only re-connecting with friends she met during her career as a dancer.

Scenario 3: Kobe Bryant is seen leaving the Lakers' practice facility in El Segundo holding a soccer ball, and after a casual inquiry, tells reporters that he's going to play soccer with a new friend.
Result: The LA Times Sports section has an article that states Kobe Bryant is moving to Phoenix, and as a friendly gesture, asks Steve Nash if he wants to kick a soccer ball around.
What Ric Bucher will say -- disheveled and seething -- on the 12:30 PM edition of ESPNEWS: This is ridiculous. Why am I stuck following this guy around again? Come on. I had to drive two hours to a studio so I could come on TV to say this!

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Tuesday Notes

Remember when you were a kid, saw a power hitter like David Ortiz or Barry Bonds, and asked your Dad if he could have someone run in his place immediately after hitting the ball? Well Yao Ming is on the wrong end of the basketball equivalent of a pinch-runner during practice, as Rick Adelman sends Dikembe Mutombo to guard him on defense, and makes him guard Jackie Butler on defense. Thing is, aren't there better players to choose to be a designated defender? And while we're at it, aren't there better players to select as designated scorer? Yao's practice competition consists of a 41 year old plus a guy who isn't even guaranteed to make the roster. Good idea, but the personnel could use a makeover.

Oh pre-season. It's the time of year where beat writers have a slew of articles already written up about a player, but they have to wait for that player to have a breakout game in order to fine-tune it and print it. Ike Diogu, who ">finally had a decent game with 19 points, had his day today. Just like every other fucking player in the league, Diogu is looking to have a break-out season, and he apparently has struck up a close relationship with (and has a locker next to) Forward/Center Jermaine O'Neal. who shot an abysmal 43.7% last year. Can you think of a worse mentor offensively? Ike should get a shooting coach, or a low post coach or any coach that isn't O'Neal, because his shooting percentage is on par with that of a 2, not a 4/5. Considering Diogu shot 45.3% after being traded to Indiana, maybe the coaching staff should break the two up and put as much distance between them as possible.

Aw, the Atlanta Hawks seem to think they can beat the zone. That's cute. It's like the 10 year old kid who likes space and wants to be an astronaut: give it a few years.

In six years, DeSagana Diop has attempted 704 shots. So unless he's regularly draining threes in practice, is there even a point in talking about anything other than his defense?

Something this funny deserves far more attention.

Wrapping up 10/15's preseason action

Golden State 107, Zalgiris Kaunas 88: While Craig Sager works his magic in Colorado, DCSS was wearing its yellow, green, and red. Stephen Jackson and Baron Davis play about 20 minutes each, and both just toy around with the Lithuanian squad. Jackson ended up with 20 points, and Davis ended up with 11 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. Rookie Marco Belinelli played all 48 minutes, and after starting off very passively (driving and passing the ball out to the top of the key instead of trying to finish, passing up open shots, etc.), only began to show confidence in his shot after Don Nelson called a play for him following a timeout. After starting off shooting 1/6 from the field, Belinelli finished by shooting 6/11, picking up 19 points on the night. The rookie has a very crisp shooting stroke, and squares up coming off a screen very well, but don't ask the guy to handle the ball. Overall, is he a decent rookie with potential to be a consistent scorer? Sure. Will he be replacing Jason Richardson's all-around excellent offense? Not a chance.

Memphis 101, Minnesota 93: Marko Jaric scores 17 (whenever I see or hear anything about Jaric, I only think of a classic moment captured by Embedded Reporter Elie Seckbach, when Jaric cracks up after overhearing Elie tell Chris Kaman what Shaq thinks about him: "I've never been to the Kaman (sic) Islands.") and Kevin McHale opens up a bottle of Cristal to congratulate himself for witnessing a great game by the man he considers the basketball messiah, Al Jefferson. Jefferson finishes with 17 and 15, but the Wolves still fall to the Grizzlies, who play Rudy Gay, Pau Gasol, and Mike Miller on regular season minutes. But it was actually Juan-Carlos Navarro who was the offensive spark, as he puts up 22 points in 23 minutes.

Charlotte 96, New Jersey 86: Jason Kidd lasts three pre-season games before sustaining an injury in practice on Sunday, and now he's nursing his balky back just like last year. Even without their court leader, the Nets maintain a 9 point lead through the third quarter. However, a mass substitution of RJ, VC, and Malik Allen triggers a 29-7 Bobcats run, giving Charlotte fans the impression that they too can beat NBA subs. Gerald Wallace finishes with 20, and VC ends up with 13 in 22 minutes.

Indiana 117, New Orleans 104: Chris Paul finally works his way up to 9 assists, but the Pacers use contributions from everywhere to net a high-powered win. All members of the starting lineup are in double-figures for Indiana, and Ike Diogu adds 19 of his own. Troy Murphy takes Larry Bird's comment about "being mean and nasty like he was back in College" to heart, and puts up 16/9 in 20 minutes-- before fouling out.

Phoenix 124, Utah 101: The Suns don't even look back after taking a 16-14 lead in the first quarter, as they dominate a game that has only six lead changes. Steve Nash scores 12 points and dishes 7 assists in 24 minutes, and the only starter who doesn't end up in double-figures is Boris Diaw -- who has a sick stat line of 6 points, 9 assists, and 11 rebounds. All Jazz starters finish in double-figures, but Paul Millsap leads his team with 16 points.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I demand to be traded from this site.

It's times like this that make me wish Dick Bavetta would get involved with the mob and bet on some games. All off season long it's been non-stop trade demands, and I'm sick of it. Pay me millions of dollars and I'll go cut grass with child proof scissors, let alone play basketball anywhere. You know things are out of hand when Juwan Howard thinks he's good enough to dictate where he goes. "I want to play for a winning team." Juwan - if a team needs you bad enough to trade for you, they aren't winning anything anytime soon.

Kevin Garnett is the exception. How he didn't choke somebody in that front office is beyond me. When a Mark Blount for Raef Lafrentz trade is seen as an upgrade, things just aren't working out. Dude kills himself in the off season to be the best player he can be (Is it too soon Eddie Griffin fans? I'm sorry.) and puts it all out on the floor every single game and the best you can do is Ricky Davis as a second scorer? KG could have gone all John Elway and pitched for the Yankees, and I still wouldn't have been mad at him.

But Kobe Bryant demanding out? That's just ludicrous. His reason: "Front office hasn't done a good enough job of trying to win now.".After your selfishness and inability to get along with one of the most likable players in the game and tore apart what could have been one of the best teams in the history of the NBA, you want out?

Not only should the Lakers not trade Kobe, but they should extend his contract indefinitely and make him coach this team once he retires after he demanded they make a team centered around him - then want out when he realizes he's not enough.

"I don't want to waste my prime years waiting for guys to develop", well you should have thought of that Kobster before you ran out the diesel. Even you two took six years to win one, now all the sudden you want to do it overnight? As ludicrous as people thought Phil was when he wanted to trade you for Kidd and Marion - the Lakers are probably still contending for championships now with those two and Shaq.

The worst part about the whole Kobe fiasco is how damn much we see of Ric Bucher now. For however creepy Pedro Gomez' official role was as Barry Bonds' stalker, Bucher has become the NBA equivalent for Kobe Bryant. Jesus, if Kobe wasn't a puppet master when he lead the destruction of a dynasty three years ago, he sure as hell is now. Kobe's camp could tell Ric to go on air and admit to funding several big time meth labs and he'd do it. You can't go out and say "Kobe will never wear a Lakers jersey again." and then two months later after he's shown up to camp and played in two pre-season games come out with some Laker news and expect of have any kind of credibility, Ric.

I know this is all work done by Ric because he wants to someday write the Kobe Bryant book - but by the time the damn thing's published he's going to need to do it under another alias to get any kind of sales.

Andrei Kirilenko is another guy who demanded a trade, with about as many reasons as Kobe has. Andrei makes great money, is in a system where he was an all star just a few years ago, has an up and coming point guard who is on the verge of being an all star, and plays with one of the most formidable PF-C offensive duos in the league. What's the problem here? You don't want to be a piece of 'Sloan'? Don't let all the love you got from the nation of Russia during the world championships get to your head. If you accept your role on this team and stop giving Deron Williams reason to rip you to shreds in the press you wouldn't have anything to worry about. Looks like Andrei's attitude has change though, since his wife threatened to revoke his one different woman a year clause if he walks away from the 63 million. Ok, so Sloan punked him. The wife line seemed funnier.

The most comical may be Shawn Marion. The guy is in a system tailor made (yes I've been dying to use that) to his skill set. He makes the most money on the team, yet he's upset because he doesn't get the recognition he feels he deserves. Call me crazy, but I'd kill to be the highest paid guy on the team but thought of as the third best player. That way when I don't show up in the playoffs (which Shawn doesn't), it's not all my fault and I don't have to hope on Robert Horry shoving Steve Nash every series. Shawn's in a position T-Mac dreams of being in, and should be more thankful.

And I stand by my title for this article. Not only am I underpaid (Gross salary for 2007: $0), it took Savant a damn year to find my login and reinvite me. I'm back anyway, but expect Ric Bucher to be publicizing my demands while I continue to write - cause I just like screwin' with the guy.

Wrapping up 10/14's pre-season action

Portland 102, Atlanta 89: The Hawks are 3-0 with Acie Law and 0-1 without him, though their defense was just as bad as their offense. Atlanta let LaMarcus Aldridge gave free offensive rebounds en route to his 29 points, and Channing Frye scored 14. Meanwhile, Hawk fans now begin to remember what losing feels like, and instead, focus on Al Horford's double-double.

Washington 86, Philadelphia 80: Gilbert Arenas and Antonio Daniels are given the night off, which explains the low offensive output for Washington. The 76ers are awful, which explains the low offensive output for Philadelphia. Antawn Jamison scores a game high 17 points, and all 140 in attendance ask for their money back.

Detroit 109, Denver 106: Jason Maxiell picks up a double-double in only 20 minutes of play, and Jarvis Hayes scores 24 for the Pistons. The Nuggets, resting just about everyone that matters (except Marcus Camby), still manage to stay in the game, due to the fact Anthony Roberson (22 points) is back on the up-swing of his streaky shooting.

LA Clippers 99, Golden State 89: Al Thornton, Ruben Patterson, and Corey Maggette combine for 61 points, while the Warriors only shoot 32.9%. Not going to win you ballgames if you're an up-tempo offense. Think they miss Jason Richardson yet?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saturday Notes

John Hollinger will supposedly show his "face"

  • Avery Johnson asked Dirk Nowitzki to step up and take an all-around leadership role in September. Apparently a little spat with Devin Harris over a missed defensive assignment yesterday is a positive first step. Sure, it's nice to see Nowitzki publicly chewing out a teammate, though he's done it before to Erick Dampier and Jason Terry. Calling that a sign of positive leadership is like complementing Atlanta on getting a decent point guard. They've had one before, but they're still not a playoff team.
  • Rasheed Wallace picks up his third technical in as many pre-season games. Someone tell Sheed that technical fouls aren't a hall-worthy record.
  • Henry Abbott of TrueHoop is having his very own Broadway extravaganza, and plans on interviewing David Thorpe and John Hollinger at ESPN Zone. It sounds like a whole bunch of fun, but I don't really believe that Hollinger will show, for the same reason that Carl Everett would never go to a museum with dinosaur fossils. I just don't think John Hollinger exists; at least he's not human. As far as I can tell, he's more like the Master Control Program from Tron.

Why England Doesn't Deserve Basketball

NBA Europe Live held one game in London, featuring Minnesota and Boston. And there's absolutely no way that England should ever receive an NBA game ever again, no matter how ready Ray Allen thinks they may be. Why? Because the Brits did the freakin' wave during the game. A BASKETBALL GAME. This is sports blasphemy -- imagine if FC Barcelona and Real Madrid played an exhibition game in Los Angeles and in response to a Ronaldinho hat trick, hundreds of fans threw octopi on the field.

Here's the footage:

Krazy George could not be reached for comment.

Wrapping up 10/12's pre-season action

New Jersey 91, Philadelphia 90: Four of the big five were out for New Jersey. The biggest of them all, Bostjan Nachbar, demanded to play, and play he did by scoring 35 points in an overtime victory. Meanwhile, the 76ers' starting lineup scores 17 points, and Louis Williams scores 33. It's great to see Williams doing so well, even though he still weighs about 50 pounds.

Orlando 102, Miami 69: It wasn't really a fair fight. Orlando played a bunch of role players, while Miami played their training camp invitee team. Redick (19 points) is establishing himself as a legitimate pre-season player, and Dwight Howard is just screwing around, as he collects 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 blocks.

Seattle 96, Cleveland 90: LeBron is hurt! OK, well it's just a shoulder contusion, and it shouldn't affect him long-term. The way Kevin Durant shot (5/22), he probably wishes he had a reason to sit out mid-game.

Utah 100, Detroit 85: Just like how it happened against Cleveland last night, the Pistons maintained a lead with their starters, and then drop off as the second unit takes over. Maybe Flip is just trying to make a point that a 5-man rotation works just fine.

Chicago 100, Dallas 92: Aaron Gray picks up another double-double, even with Scott Skiles imposing a seven-shot limit. Meanwhile, Dallas' Jose Juan Barea is still too fast for any team in the NBA to catch up with, as he scores 17.

Denver 118, Portland 102: 16 shots from Anthony Roberson may not have been what George Karl had in mind, but the Nuggets pick up double-figures from all of their starters, including 17 from A.I. and 22 from Carmelo.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lady of Spain...

Spain is a beautiful country, but Mike Miller can't enjoy it, because he is lost in his thoughts of loneliness. As he tenderly caresses the wall and rests his cheek on the cold tile surface while yearning for his lover, he makes each and every one of us wonder: do you really miss Chucky Atkins that bad?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wrapping up 10/11's pre-season action

New York 112, Maccabi Elite 85: All of the Lower East Side shows up to root for Maccabi Tel Aviv, but the Knicks still win. Vonteego freakin' Cummings winds up the game's leading scorer with 20 points for Maccabi, but seven Knicks end up in double figures and cruise to an easy win.

Memphis 98, MMT Estudiantes 73: The Grizzlies run their starters out there for a quarter, and it's enough to give them a 32-11 lead by the end of the first period. Naturally, Darko puts up 13 and 7 when he's not facing NBA players.

Real Madrid 104, Toronto 103: It's OK if Canadian teams lose to international teams, because the US NBA teams would never lose to a foreign team. Check that... Well, at least the Raptors can blame it on Chris Bosh sitting out.

Atlanta 109, Charlotte 104: Absolutely desperate to improve to 3-0 on the pre-season, Mike Woodson keeps Joe Johnson and Acie Law out on the court for 38 minutes each. Mike, if you want to keep your job, take Atlanta to the playoffs.

Cleveland 96, Detroit 90: LeBron scores 17 in 25 minutes, and Rasheed Wallace racks up another technical while bickering with Drew Gooden. Apparently it's never too early for Rasheed.

Houston 107, Panathinaikos 90
: 7'7" Yao Ming starts at center against 6'8" Michael Batiste and only scores 20 points, shooting 7/13. Meanwhile, I guess I owe Steve Francis an apology. Dude can still jump.

Phoenix 110, Sacramento 99: Steve Nash only takes three shots in 26 minutes, but racks up 11 assists instead. Kevin Martin does shoot in 17 minutes, scoring 17. Kings have 17 assists, while the Suns have 28.

Golden State 109, LA Lakers 106: Warriors sweep pre-season doubleheader in Hawaii, but the Lakers say "fine, we'll just beat you guys in all four match-ups again this year." Kobe shoots 2/10 from the field and turns the ball over 5 times, so maybe he is just leading the Warriors on.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wrapping up 10/10's pre-season action

Checking box scores? That's as ridiculous as Bruce Springsteen's decision to rip off Tommy Tutone in "Radio Nowhere."
  • Boston 92, Minnesota 81: In the O2 Arena, famously known as the building where Queen Elizabeth II personally whipped poor people to make them build faster, Ray Allen lays down a beating of his own, scoring 28 points in 26 minutes. Ricky Davis scores 18, showing that he doesn't care how his team does, as long as he doubles Kevin Garnett's point production.
  • Indiana 101, New Orl/OKC 96: Mike Dunleavy unloads for 20 points, solidifying his status as a fantastic good summer league and pre-season player.
  • Orlando 123, Charlotte 99: Adam Morrison and JJ Redick go head to head, and the two combine for 30 points. Now let's see them try to combine for 5 points in the regular season.
  • Atlanta 106, Miami 100 (OT): Shaq looks good in 16 minutes, scoring 10 before plopping his ass back down on the bench. Penny Hardaway misses his second consecutive game with a right quadriceps strain, which probably means that he's holding out and refusing to play until Dorrell Wright forks over his precious #1 jersey number. On the flipside, the Hawks stymie the Heat in overtime, shutting them out 6-0. Dwyane Wade lobbied Pat Riley to at least let him cherry pick with a minute left, but to no avail.
  • Milwaukee 90, Utah 81: Yi Jianlian scores 12 points in 26 minutes, and only picks up four fouls! Sadly, he goes 4/11 from the field. Michael Redd says "watch how I do it" and scores 17 on 7/14 shooting.
  • Portland 111, LA Clippers 102: Travis Outlaw does his best Greg Oden impression. You know, not contributing to the Blazers at all. Meanwhile, LeMarcus Aldridge and Martell Webster fill the void, combining for 49 points.