What I Saw, where Pau was perfect

Only 4 games today, here’s a quick look at what happened:

Boston 101, Toronto 102: The Raptors escape with a win over the Celtics, with Bargnani leading the way, 29 points on 9-20, 2-6 and 9-13 shooting – although he had just 2 rebounds. Toronto edged Boston out on the boards though thanks to Reggie Evans’ 16, and Amir Johnson’s 11 off the bench (along with 17 points). Rajon Rondo missed the game with an injured hamstring and Nate Robinson got the start; he played well and finished with 22 on 8-14, 3-6 and 3-4.

Washington 110, Detroit 115 OT: Detroit eventually takes this one, they were more aggressive than the Wizards and made more free throws than Washington attempted (18-28 for DET, 9-15 for WAS). They also took care of the ball, just 9 turnovers while forcing Washington to commit 15. Rip Hamilton scored 27, tying his season-high (12 of those 27 came in the overtime period), but he’s averaging just 13.5 points and shooting 42% this season. Charlie-V came off the bench with a double-double, 25 points and 11 rebounds while making 4 of 6 threes.

JaVale McGee had a monstrous game for the Wiz, 20 points and 16 rebounds to go with 2 blocks, while Gilbert Arenas had 19 points and 16 assists playing the point in the absence of the injured John Wall.

New Orleans 75, Sacramento 71: Just a horrible-shooting, sloppy game of basketball for both teams. Sub-40 FG% for the game, with the Hornets winning despite shooting just 32%, courtesy of 15 offensive rebounds (12 for Sacto) and forcing 21 Kings turnovers (‘just’ 15 for the Hornets). CP had 14 assists and 5 steals, but only 9 points as he shot 2-12 from the floor. Donte Greene managed 15/10 for the Kings, but he needed 15 shots.

Golden State 89, L.A. Lakers 117: Pau Gasol was perfect in the game, 28 points on 10-10 from the floor and 8-8 at the foul line, and he added 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks as L.A. was too much to handle for the Dubs in this one. Kobe added 20, Lamar 15/10 and Shannon Brown 17 off the bench as the Lakers shoot 56% while holding the Warriors to just 35%. 32 assists on 44 field goals, and that’ll work too for the Lakers.

Thanks guys.

What I Saw, where Blake Griffin has no regard for human life

9 games today, and some stuff happened. Here’s what:

Phoenix 105, Charlotte 123: Captain Jack messed around and got a triple-double in this game, 24/10/10, as the Bobcats shoot 58% on their way to blowing out the Suns. Charlotte’s big forwards were good also, with Boris Diaw getting 26 on 11-17 from the floor and 4-8 triples and Tyrus Thomas chipping in 22/6 (9-13 and 4-4) off the bench. 37 assists on their 50 field goals for the Bobcats, which likely contributed to the healthy FG%. Phoenix aren’t making shots right now, and they need to find wherever J-Rich has disappeared to (he’s averaging just 10.3ppg in the last 3, all Suns losses, down from 18.7 for the season so far).

Orlando 90, Indiana 86: Sub-40% shooting for Indy as Orlando comes away with the win. Dwight Howard led the way with 25/12, but Rashard Lewis was the story, 21 points on 8-11, 5-7 from three, coming through with the sort of game the Magic needs on the reg. Roy Hibbert battled Dwight admirably for the Pacers, 19/10 to go with a block.

Miami 95, Memphis 97: With Chris Bosh playing the role of ‘Antawn Jamison’, the Miami Cavaliers lose this one (Wade sat out with sore wrist). Additionally, Udonis Haslem (as ‘Anderson Varejao’) exited the game in the third with an apparent leg injury. However, despite being out-rebounded 47-32; the Miami Cavs shot 46% from deep, 10-22, to keep this one close. LeBron had 29 and 11 assists and Bosh 20 and 10 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough as Rudy Gay hits the J at the buzzer to give Memphis the win.

Dallas 98, Atlanta 93: Al Horford was amazing in this game, 20 points, 20 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks while shooting 10-12 from the floor; Josh Smith added 21/5/6 and 5 steals on 10-19 from the floor, 0-3  from three (shouldn’t be taking those) and 1-2 from the line. However, Dallas just found a way to win, they got themselves to the foul line more than Atlanta and capitalised, 14-16 compared to Atlanta’s 8-10.

Cleveland 92, San Antonio 116: 6 guys in double-figures, 32 assists on 43 field goals and 53/48/82 shooting says it all, the Spurs simply took care of business. In the process, they improved to an NBA-best 11-1 and extended their winning streak to 10. Tiago Splitter showed what he’s capable of, 18/5/2/2/2 on 7-10, 4-6 off the bench.

Oklahoma City 82, Milwaukee 81: James Harden filled in the scoring-void nicely for OKC on this day, with KD still sitting out he got the start again and had 23 points and 9 rebounds, shooting 6-13, 6-8 from deep and 5-6 at the foul line. Westbrook struggled a little bit, 18 shots for his 18 points, but he still managed to dish 6 assists. The Bucks bigs took advantage of an undersized Thunder frontline, with Bogut grabbing 12 rebounds and Gooden 16. Brandon Jennings had 25 points but shot 8-24 to get ‘em.

New Jersey 103, Denver 107: This was a tight one, but even with 7 Nets scoring double-figures, the Nuggets had enough firepower, ‘Melo dropped 28 while Nene added 22.

Utah 103, Portland 94: The Blazers absolutely smash the Jazz on the boards, 48-38, including grabbing a whopping 24 offensive rebounds; however, they would not capitalise on all the extra looks, shooting 38% to Utah’s 48%. LMA led Portland with 24 points and 11 rebounds, but he would also turn the ball over 8 times. For Utah, Jefferson had 20 points and 14 rebounds, while C.J. Miles came off the bench for a fairly efficient 25 (8-13, 7-10, 2-2).

New York 124, L.A. Clippers 115: Blake Griffin, the rookie Blake Griffin, had 44 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists in this game, shooting 14-24 from the floor and 16-23 at the free-throw line; sure, Amar’e put up 39/11 at the other end, but BG had 44 points! Incredible. The Clippers shot 54% and out-rebounded NYK 38-32, but they sent the Knicks to the line too much, with New York making 43-51 free-throws for the game. Gallinari was good again with 31 points, these came on just 11 field goal attempts (7-11, 4-6 from deep, 13-13 at the line). Check out BG’s insane dunks here, they’re well worth your time.

That’s all from me, thanks as always.

What I Saw, where Westbrook led the Thunder

11 games yesterday, here’s your catch-up in case you missed any of the action:

Memphis 86, Washington 89: Memphis lost to Washington? Dammit. The Grizz have lost 5 straight, and while I can see how they lost to Dallas and Boston, and Orlando…and Portland, they really should be defeating the Wizards. Rudy didn’t have a great game, but he’s having a quality season (22.5/7/3), while Z-Bo’s a double-double machine (16.7/11.3/1.8). The trouble is O.J. Mayo, who’s struggling quite a bit, his scoring has dropped 3ppg to just 14.5ppg and he’s shooting sub-40%. Once he comes around, hopefully Memphis does too.

Nothing Washington did to get the W was outstanding; they were aggressive going to the rim and made 30-35 at the line, compared to just 10-18 for the Grizz. Also, they got a very Gilberty-game from Gilbert (24 points, 7-15, 2-6 and 8-10, 3 boards, 4 assists).

Oklahoma City 89, Boston 84: No Kevin Durant, no problem, as Russell Westbrook leads them into Boston and comes away with the victory. 31 points and 6 assists, 9-21 from the floor, 2-3 threes (although he’s extended his range to the three point line, they were taken with the shot clock running down. He was doing a really good job looking to create) and 11-13 at the foul line. It is just so much fun to watch this young fella play ball right now, he’s playing at an unbelievable level.

It’s worth talking about Serge Ibaka, too. In the 6 games he’s started at power forward, filling in for the injured Jeff Green, OKC are 5-1. The Thunder should probably think about bringing Jeff Green off the bench once he returns, he can probably play three positions off the bench and would give the second unit a nice scoring punch (and it would be a pretty nice second team, Maynor, Harden, Collison and D.J. White joining him to go 10-deep).

Boston couldn’t buy a three in the game, finishing 1-8 from distance despite some good looks, and they had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but Delonte West couldn’t knock down a clear look from the corner. Still, good win for the Thunder. How the heck did they lose to the Clippers?

Milwaukee 79, Philadelphia 90: In the continued absence of Andre Iguodala, and with Elton Brand in foul trouble, Thad Young stepped up off the bench, contributing 23 points and 6 rebounds, 8-13 from the floor, and 7-8 at the foul line, while Lou Williams added 19 (5-13, 3-8, 6-6). Philly won for the first time in 6 tries, capitalising on the Bucks’ 34% shooting for the game.

Houston 96, Toronto 106: The Raps were able to overcome Kevin Martin’s 31 points (8-16, 4-7 and 11-11) to come away with the win, with 6 guys scoring in double-figures. Andrea led the way with 26, and he even had 6 rebounds, while Kleiza came off the bench with 17. 49% shooting for Toronto, and they actually out-rebounded an opponent (44-37)!

Charlotte 87, Miami 95: So the Heat get the win, not before the Bobcats make them sweat a little, going up 82-80 with just under 5 to go. LeBron would respond however, on his way to 32 points (12-25, 2-5, 6-7), while Captain Jack led the way for Charlotte with 30 (12-24, 4-9, 2-2). Gerald Wallace managed to have more fouls than points, 6 personal fouls while picking up 2 techs along the way against just 6 points off 9 field goal attempts (2-9, 0-1, 2-2).

Cleveland 101, New Orleans 108: 65 bench points for the Cavs in this one, and they would’ve had a much better chance if they could’ve done anything to stop David West – a season-high 34 points, along with 11 rebounds and 3 blocks, on 14-20 from the floor and 6-7 at the line. CP had a double-double and his backcourt mate Belinelli chipped in with 20 points (5-11, 3-8, 7-7). 46% shooting for New Orleans, while they held the Cavaliers to 35% shooting; however, for the first time this season they allowed 100 points in a game. The Hornets D ranks 4th in the league right now, 101.1 points allowed per 100 possessions.

L.A. Lakers 112, Minnesota 95: Kobe needed 27 shots for his 23 points (8-27, 1-4, 6-7), but no matter: Matt Barnes came off the bench to score 24 off of just 7 shots (7-7, 5-5, 5-5), all while adding 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Pau continued his nice season with 16 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists. Speaking of having nice seasons, Mike Beasley continued to fill it up on the night, 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Darko had the sort of game that you figure, if he could do semi-regularly, he’d justify second-overall draft-pick status – 23 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 blocks, 10-18 from the floor and 3-3 at the foul line.

San Antonio 94, Utah 82: The Spurs crushed the Jazz on the boards on their way to an easy victory, while Timmy did overtake David Robinson to become the Spurs all-time leading scorer (not counting the points George Gervin scored in the ABA – if we did, he’d hold that honour).

Chicago 88, Dallas 83: Dirk scores 36, 15-26, 3-5 and 3-6 (!) in the game, but it wasn’t enough as Derrick Rose leads the Bulls with 22. Jo Noah had 17 rebounds, while Taj Gibson chipped in with 17 points and 18 rebounds (and this is the guy heading to the bench when Carlos Boozer eventually makes his Bulls debut). Speaking of Taj; how would you feel, as a Maverick, when Taj buries the deep 3 with 1 second left on the shot-clock, to put Chicago up 79-77, with under 3 minutes to go? Not only that, it was the first three-pointer he’s ever made. That’s gotta sting.

New Jersey 81, Sacramento 86: Tyreke needed 21 shots for 20 points, but the Kings come away with the win regardless. Kris Humphries was pretty decent for the Nets, 18/10 on 9-12.

New York 125, Golden State 119: Raymond Felton was clownin’ in this game, 35/5/11 on 13-17, 4-7 and 5-6 shooting, but he got some help. Amar’e came through with 26/11 (10-12 and 6-7), while Gallinari added 23 on 7-15, 3-5 and 6-6 shooting (although he didn’t grab a single board in 33 minutes of action). Monta was equally stupid for the Warriors, 40 points on 17-30, 4-7 from deep and 2-4 from the line, and while Steph Curry added 29, it wasn’t enough for the W.

Cheers.

What I Saw, where Portland hung in there

3 games, here’s a quick look-see:

L.A. Clippers 80, Indiana 107: Loaded up the boxscore for this one earlier today and the first thing I saw was: Aminu Dunk Shot: Missed, with the score 73-96 in favour of the Pacers. That pretty much sums it up.

Indiana shot 51% for the game, and shot 14-26 (54%) from deep, and the Clippers never really had a chance. The other L.A. team has lost 8 straight now, they’re just 1-12 for the season.

Phoenix 89, Orlando 105: I’m amazed at how well the Suns managed to hang with the Magic on the boards, only being out-rebounded by 3 (37-34). This was a pretty sloppy game; the teams combined for 35 turnovers and settled for plenty of (missed) jumpers in the early going. The teams looked to get inside more eventually, however, the Suns benefiting somewhat from their 24-33 effort from the foul line. Grant Hill looked like a young man in the game, 21 points on just 9 field goal attempts (8-9 from the floor and 5-6 at the line), while Dwight is a young man and had 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Denver 83, Portland 86: Portland just manhandled Denver on the glass, 48-35, and shot better from the floor, 40% to 39%. However, the Nuggets made more free-throws than the Blazers attempted (23-28 from Denver; 11-22 for Portland), and this thing becomes a close one. LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland with 24/10, while Wes Matthews added 20 points and 10 rebounds filling in for the injured Brandon Roy. Carmelo had 18 before fouling out for Denver, and Afflalo added 16 points and 11 rebounds (he missed a potential game-tying 3 at the buzzer, but replays indicated that he may have been fouled on the play). Regardless, the Blazers escape with a win, but you have to wonder how long they can keep it up with so many injuries.

Links:

Just a stupid nasty dunk from some guy who apparently is pretty friendly with LeBron;

Want to play a game?;

And I don’t mean to pile on Andray Blatche, but after saying that he always has good shot selection, he goes out and plays some of the worst defence I’ve ever seen in the NBA. Not cool, ‘Dray.

Yep, that’s about it. Nice and short. ‘Til next time.

What I Saw, where Beasley’s hot like fire

A big day today, 10 games all up, here’s what you need to know:

Toronto 94, Philadelphia 86: Well, that’s rather embarrassing. The day after I slammed on him for struggling against Washington with 12 points on 13 shots, Bargnani bounces back nicely with 30 points; 12-18 from the floor, 1-3 from range and 5-6 at the stripe, along with 7 boards, making me look somewhat foolish. Oh well.

Sonny Weems continues to impress also, after I said that no team would be winning games with him leading the scoring. True, he didn’t lead the Raptors, but he did have a career-high 25 on 10-18 shooting, 1-3 from deep and 4-6 at the line, which are nice numbers. Toronto gave up 16 offensive rebounds in the game, but Philly couldn’t convert, just 37% shooting for the 6ers, while the Raps shot a much better 47%. Elton Brand had 27/8 as he continues to have an impressive season after two injury-interrupted years in Philadelphia so far.

Phoenix 96, Miami 123: Not much to analyse in this one, the Heat were just way better than the Suns (they are way better than the Suns). Miami went to Bosh early and often, and he responded; 22 points in the first half on his way to 35 for the game, 12-17 from the floor and 11-11 at the line, adding 6 rebounds and 4 assists. CB did a nice job of getting inside for a couple of easy buckets before stepping out for that mid-range J he’s so adept at. His super friends were no slouches either; LeBron finished up just shy of a triple-double, 20/8/9, while Wade added 17/6/6. Miami shot 55% from the floor while holding Phoenix to just 44%. Nash led the Suns with 17 points, but his 2 assists were his lowest total in 141 games.

Washington 83, Boston 114: The Cs shoot 66% from the floor and 62% from three, and the Wizards aren’t a very good team. This’ll probably happen a fair bit this season for Washington, especially when they don’t have John Wall to lean on (and what does it say about a team that loses it’s direction so badly when their leader’s out, but that leader is a 20 year-old who’s played 8 NBA games?)

L.A. Lakers 103, Detroit 90: 33 for Kobe, 25/12 for Pau, 15/14 for Lamar, and Detroit (like Washington going against Boston) are just not equipped to hang with a championship contender at this point.

Dallas 97, New Orleans 99: Lazy TV analysis, again. I watched the highlight package from the game, and right at the end, one of the guys (pretty sure it’s Kenny Smith, too, who’s normally pretty spot-on) says:

‘But you see, the problem for these teams, to beat the elites, is that they don’t have shot-blockers, when it comes to the playoff time’

Um, ok. But in 422 career games, Emeka Okafor is averaging 1.8 blocks per game, and has at least one season where he’s sent back over 2 shots per contest (2006-2007 season); additionally, he’s on track for another 2+ block season, averaging 2.3 in this season thus far. Then Dallas has Brendan Haywood, who for the past 3 seasons has averaged 2.5, 2.1 and 2 blocks per game. These are elite numbers, and both of these men are superior shot-blockers. Kenny needs to stop sippin’ that Kool-Aid, like right now.

As for the game, it was close throughout, CP led with 20 points and 11 assists, while all 5 New Orleans started reached double-figures. Dirk was a beast for Dallas, 29 and 9 boards, with just 2 turnovers. I don’t know if you know this, but for the amount of possessions that get run through him, Dirk hardly ever turns it over. He’s phenomenal.

Houston 99, Oklahoma City 116: The Thunder got plenty of easy opportunities in the game, with the Rockets turning the ball over 17 times for the game. OKC also recorded 26 assists on 43 field goals, which is a decent return for the team who’s last in the league in assists (and odd considering the high offensive rating so far). KD rolled his ankle early in the game, but returned, and finished with 24 points (11-21, 1-5, 1-1); while Russ Westbrook had 21/6/12 along with 2 steals. Luis Scola finished up with 26/8 on 12-19 from the floor and 2-4 from the stripe for Houston.

L.A. Clippers 111, Minnesota 113: The Wolves shot 53% for the game, but despite Love grabbing 14 boards, Minnesota was actually out-rebounded by the Clippers 43-33, with L.A. grabbing 15 offensive rebounds to the Wolves 5, making this a close game. Kevin Love added 24 points to his 14 rebounds, 7-11, 2-3 and 8-8 shooting, while Mike Beasley was superb with 33 points on 14-23, 2-3 and 3-3 shooting (he also hit the game-winning bucket, a pull-up J from the elbow extended, breaking the 111-111 tie). B-Easy’s averaging 32.6 point per over his last 5, and this is the sort of talent that made me mad that he was traded for a pair of second-rounders.

There was one pretty big reason that the Clippers out-rebounded a team that employs the services of Kevin Love – his name is Blake Griffin. 26 points and 17 rebounds for the rookie, and he’s just putting up crazy numbers in his debut campaign. He wasn’t alone, EG came through with 30 points and 7 assists, on 9-19 from the floor, 2-6 from deep and 10-13 from the line; Eric Gordon is another one of these Team USA guys that is absolutely dominating right now, averaging 23.5/3.5/5 for the season.

New Jersey 88, Utah 98: The Jazz turned the Nets over 14 times, while only committing 5 themselves, and earned 37 trips to the line compared to just 25 for NJ. All 5 Utah starters reached double-figures, with D-Will scoring 23; Paul Millsap added 19 points and 15 rebounds. Anthony Morrow led the Nets with 24; Travis Outlaw managed just 3 points from his 12 shot attempts.

Chicago 94, San Antonio 103: Derrick Rose’s 33 points weren’t enough to get the W, with Timmy going for 16/18/5 on the night he tied David Robinson for games played in a Spurs uni. He also needed 29 points to overtake The Admiral for second on the Spurs all-time scoring list, but didn’t need to put points on the board as TP scored 21 and Manu 20. Matt Bonner played 20 minutes off the pine and scored 8 on 3-5 shooting, 2-2 threes; what’s impressive is he was a +29 for the game.

New York 113, Sacramento 106: Now this is the Danilo Gallinari that the Knicks would have been hoping for with the 6th pick in the draft: 27 points for Gallo on just 8 field goal attempts. He was 4-8 from the floor, 3-5 from behind the arc and 16-17 from the free-throw line, and I can imagine that his coaches have been urging him to play like a young man and be aggressive. He was on this night, and it payed off. Stoudemire added 27 of his own, along with 10 rebounds for the double-double. Tyreke had 23 points, but needed 22 shots, and so far this season he’s taken 17.5 shots to get his 20 points. He hasn’t been getting to the line as often this season; 4.5 attempts compared to 6.5 last season. Have defences adjusted to him somewhat? Perhaps.

***

I have been hearing a lot about whether the Suns should try and trade Steve Nash to a contender, the reasons being that they can do right by him and give him the best shot they can to win a chip, and get the best package they can while his value is still quite high. After I heard Stan Van Gundy say that his team still lacks a true playmaker, and read one blogger suggest the Magic should chase Nash at the expense of Jameer Nelson, here’s a deal that could work for both teams:

Orlando receives: Steve Nash, Earl Clark

Phoenix receives: Jameer Nelson, Brandon Bass

In this deal, the Magic get one of the best playmakers the game has ever seen, a guy that can transform Dwight into an offensive beast, can revitalise Rashard Lewis and allow Vince Carter to play off the ball; plus, he can still shoot the 3, he’s one of the most underrated shooters we have in the league. Also, they get a young forward in Earl Clark, who may benefit from a change of scenery. The Suns have declined to pick up the option on his rookie deal and he’s heading for free agency; a new team may help him find a role in the league.

For Phoenix, they fill two needs. First, if you’re trading Nash, you need to get a pretty darn good point-man in return, and Jameer is pretty darn good. He can also shoot the 3, which is a plus if you’re playing for the Suns. Also, this would allow Hedo to handle the ball, which makes him tremendously better; he excels at making plays at 6’10. Second, the Suns have a ridiculously glaring need for rebounding, especially now that Robin Lopez is on the shelf with a sprained knee. Bass is a ferocious rebounder and can also hit the J, which helps when you’re playing the Phoenix system. SVG had trouble playing him because his defence was not up to scratch, but he’s much improved on that end of the floor so far this season. Not that defence has ever been much of a concern out there in the desert.

So there’s why I think the trade could work for both teams. There’s probably a 99% chance that it won’t happen, but still…what do you guys think?

***

I came across this post today, which asks the NBA.com writers who they think, out of the best players in the league, who has the biggest flaw in their game? There were some interesting answers, if not entirely unsurprising; I’d like to know what you guys think. Personally, though I’m hardly one to talk, it has to be Dwight Howard’s free-throws. He needs to start hitting them at least 70% to allow Orlando to go to their best player with time ticking down and needing a score.

***

Finally, a couple of links:

Greg Oden is having microfracture surgery again, this time on his left knee, and is going to miss the rest of the season. This is just terrible, terrible news for both the Blazers and NBA fans alike;

Eva Longoria has filed for a divorce from Tony Parker, which I was quite surprised by;

And lastly, on a lighter note, Andray Blatche says Andray Blatche always has good shot selection. Interesting. The first reader comment is spot on.

***

That’ll do it for now, thanks for reading.

What I Saw, where Portland didn’t miss a beat

7 games on the schedule for today, let’s take a look around the league and see what went down:

Toronto 94, Washington 109: The Raptors allowed the Wizards to shoot 56%, while managing just 41% themselves in the loss. Washington out-rebounded Toronto 47-36 and had 28 assists on their 45 field goals, all contributing factors in the easy 15 point win. John Wall sat the game out to rest that foot, with Gilbert getting the start; it was vintage Gil, 20/7/6 on 7-14, 3-6, 3-4 shooting, with Blatche adding 22.

Sonny Weems led the Raptors with 16, and as much as I respect what he’s done to go from second-round draft pick to NBA starter, you’re not winning games if he’s your lead scorer. The guy that should be leading the scoring every night, Bargnani, needed 13 shots to get 12 points (3-13, 1-2 and 5-6 shooting). This is what you get when Dirk leads Dallas to the NBA finals, and then an Italian 7-footer that can shoot threes enters the draft; everyone thinks he’s the next Dirk. Sadly, he really, really isn’t.

Philadelphia 93, Cleveland 101: The 6ers didn’t take care off the ball in this one, 15 turnovers; 4 players had multiple TO for Philly, yet no Cavalier had more than 1. Evan Turner turned it on for his home crowd (he attended Ohio State), 16 points and 9 boards, and while he struggled with his shot, making just 4-13, he went to the line for 7-8 free throws. Thad Young added 17/8 off the bench. For Cleveland, Boobie Gibson continues to help out to fill-in the scoring void, 18 on 6-12, 3-5, 3-4; he’s averaging 14ppg this season, up from 6ppg last season.

Atlanta 102, Indiana 92: Josh Smith had 25 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 7 blocks for the game, and shot 9-16, 1-1 and 6-7; he’s averaging 16/10/4 along with 2.4 blocks. Al Horford is averaging 17 and 9, and those two may be the Hawks best players. Keep in mind that they’re paying Joe Johnson $124 million to be their best player, and I still don’t know how Hawks ownership didn’t realise that was a bad idea at the time.

L.A. Lakers 118, Milwaukee 107: Funny game this one, the Lakers shoot 54%, the Bucks just 46%, but Milwaukee stays close by grabbing a ridiculous 19 offensive boards. Kobe led the Lakers with 31, while Gasol added 18/10. For Milwaukee, Brandon Jennings matched Kobe with 31 of his own, while Drew Gooden had 22 points and 13 rebounds on just 8-11 from the floor, 2-2 from three and 4-4 from the line. Bogut was everywhere with 12 points, 18 boards and 4 blocks, but he shot just 2-10 from the stripe; the Bucks shot just 59% from the foul line.

Portland 100, Memphis 99: Bittersweet for me, this game. Although I was disappointed that (my) Grizzlies lost, I enjoyed the fact that Wes Matthews stepped in for the injured Brandon Roy and had himself a career-high 30 points on 11-19 from the floor, 5-10 from deep and 3-4 at the line, along with 3 rebounds and 3 assists. I talked about Wes here, suggesting that his rich 5-year/$33 million deal may not have been as ridiculous as everyone thought it was; additionally, I picked him to be the 6th Man of the Year. Realising I’d picked him for 6th man then took some of the enjoyment out of the 30 points, because they came in a start. The longer B-Roy sits, the more starts he gets, there’s less chance of him being the 6th Man of the Year. Anyway.

LMA had 23 on the night, while Camby grabbed 17 rebounds. For Memphis, Rudy Gay led with 20 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. He’s really earning his $80 million, averaging 23/7/3 for the season. If that assist average holds, it would easily be a career-high, he’s only averaged 2 per game once (2007-8 season). Zach Randolph added 19 points and 14 rebounds, with most of that coming in the second half.

Chicago 95, Houston 92: Kyle Lowry might want to be extra careful, because he’s having some pretty bad luck at the moment. The Houston point-guard had not one, but two baskets disallowed in the fourth quarter  of this game, the first an off-balance heave from way behind the three-point line, the second a runner from just outside the lane. Upon video review, both times the referees ruled that the ball was still in his hands after the expiration of the shot-clock. With Houston dropping the game by just 3 points, you have to wonder…

Regardless of the replays, the Rockets are always going to have a hard time getting the W if they let Rose dominate. 33 points and 7 assists for the point-man, shooting 13-20 from the floor, 4-5 from range and 3-6 at the stripe. Luis Scola led Houston with 27 on 11-17, 5-6, as he continues to have a very impressive season (22.5/10/2.5 per contest).

New York 118, Denver 120: Another wacky game, lots of misses and lots of rebounds for each club. How many rebounds? Well, rookie Landry Fields, playing at shooting guard, grabbed 17 to go along with his 21 points, both career-highs. That’s super impressive for a guy that no-one knew about drafted in the second-round, 17 boards, and from the 2 spot. Actually, I know for a fact that he was responding to me overlooking him in the Eye on ROY yesterday (note: not an actual fact). Gallinari had a double-double for New York, 21/10, but shot just 2-10 from 3 on the game. Stoudemire had 24 and Wilson Chandler chipped in with 23 off the bench, along with 5 blocks.

Carmelo led the Nuggets, as always, with 26 points, while Harrington came off the bench to throw in 22 points against his old team. The rookie Gary Forbes was solid with 19 points and 9 rebounds.

***

Before I wrap things up, I want to just talk about something I heard earlier on. I was watching the NBA TV guys interview Thabo Sefolosha, the starting 2 guard for OKC, after their win at Utah the other night. I was enjoying the back-and-forth until the host said this:

‘You guys shot nearly 51% tonight, that particular number has been a trouble for you in the early going this season, what was the difference between the offence against the Jazz in this game, as opposed to what’s been happening with you guys, at times struggling to score so far.’

And this is where I got mad, and realised that the TV guys are dumb. You can’t just pay attention to points per game; you need to look at the pace-adjusted offensive and defensive ratings. Here are the figures for the Thunder this season:

Points per game: 103

Opponent points per game: 106

These compared to last season’s numbers:

Points per game: 101.5

Opponent points per game: 98

And then when we look at this season’s offensive and defensive ratings (which are points per 100 possessions; allowing us to adjust for pace):

ORtg: 109.3

DRtg: 112.5

Compared to last season:

ORtg: 108.3

DRtg: 104.6

In this case, it would be enough to pay attention to the per game numbers, in addition to the offensive/defensive ratings. Both show that the Thunder are struggling mightily on the defensive end of the floor this season, with their defensive rating dropping a whole 8 points from 104.6 to 112.5; while their offensive has improved slightly, up 1 point per 100 possessions to 109.3 from 108.3.

Anyone that pays any attention realised that the Thunder won games last season with their D, remarkable considering the youth on the roster and the difficulties that coaches can have getting young guys to buy into playing defence. Furthermore, those same people would realise that the D has been absent so far, but they are managing to pile up plenty of points (7th in the league right now). I’d love to be the 7th best offensive team on the league at the same time you’re ‘struggling to score’, wouldn’t you?

***

Lastly, I want to link to a couple of articles:

This one, from NBA.com, is a great read on the Monta Ellis-Stephen Curry backcourt that’s doing so much damage for Golden State so far. Count me as one of those that were saying they were too small and similar to work together. I was wrong;

And this, from Hardwood Paroxysm, is a good look at a travel that was called against Tyrus Thomas in the Charlotte-Minnesota match-up. Make sure to be careful with that pivot foot.

Thanks for reading.

What I Saw, where New Orleans nearly improved to 9-0

7 games today:

Memphis 72, Orlando 89: There were a lot of turnovers in this game, 19 for the Magic while the Grizz had 18. However, Orlando held Memphis to just 36% shooting and made 27-34 free throws, turning the game into a blow-out. 18 points, 14 rebounds and 2 blocks for Dwight.

Minnesota 110, Charlotte 113: Gerald Wallace managed 26 points in the game despite shooting just 4-10 from the floor, courtesy of a franchise-record 17-19 from the free throw line. Stephen Jackson also added a fairly efficient  26, 9-16 from the floor, 5-6 threes and 3-3 at the stripe, while Tyrus Thomas came off the bench with a  double-double (20/10). Mike Beasley continues to tear it up, 28 in this one, 12-25 from the floor, 3-3 triples and 1-3 free throws. Kevin Love had 20 points and (only) 9 rebounds.

New Orleans 95, Dallas 98: The Hornets could have won this one, but neither of Ariza’s three-point attempts late would drop, leading to New Orleans’ first loss of the season. Dirk led Dallas with 25/10 (7-12, 1-2, 10-13).

Denver 94, Phoenix 100: Big game for ‘Melo, 20 points and a career-high 22 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough as 6 Suns scored in double-figures, led by Hakim Warrick’s 21 on just 9 shots (7-9 from the floor, 7-8 from the line).

Oklahoma City 115, Utah 108: 30 points for KD, just 6-17 from the floor and 2-8 from distance, but made 16-16 free throws, while Westbrook added 22 points and Serge Ibaka had 22 points and 11 boards in a starting role (9-13 from the floor, 4-4 from the line, and he showed off that jumper of his in the game). Deron Williams continues to play out of his mind, 31 points and 11 assists in the game to go along with 5 boards, 12-18 from the floor, 4-7 from deep and 3-3 free throws. Paul Millsap added 20/6/6 and made a clutch 3 late to finish 1-1 from distance.

Detroit 97, Golden State 101: Monta and Steph combined for 48 points, and the Dubs get the win over the Pistons on this night. 6 guys scored in double-figures for Detroit, but it wasn’t enough. A host of errors cost the Pistons late, with my man Dorell Wright hustling for the steal on one Detroit possession with the Warriors up by just 2.

New Jersey 110, L.A. Clippers 96: Jordon Farmar came up big for the Nets in this one, after they lost Devin Harris for a Flagrant 2 foul on Blake Griffin early in the game. 15 points and 12 assists off the bench for the former Laker, while Brook Lopez had 24 and Trav Outlaw added 23. The Clippers were led by Eric Gordon, 30 points, just 6-20 from the floor and 2-7 from deep, but he made 16-20 freebies. The Clippers started their youngest line-up in franchise history, including all the guys I discussed the other day.

Thanks guys, bed-time now. ‘Til next time.

3-Ball, Corner Pocket: 16 November

3-Ball, Corner Pocket is your weekly look at the league’s leading MVP candidates, most outstanding rookies and best and worst performing teams.

After 3 weeks and some potentially historical performances from the Utah Jazz, let’s take a look at who’s ballin’ right now –

MVP Watch

1. Chris Paul, 17.6ppg, 5.1rpg, 10.1apg: His stats aren’t ridiculous, but his Hornets were the last team in the league to lose their first game, dropping their last contest, at Dallas, 95-98. Just as he was last season, he’s off to a phenomenal start shooting the ball, 51% from the floor, 44% from deep and 86% at the line.

2. Deron Williams, 22ppg, 4.7rpg, 10.2apg: Makes his first appearance on the MVP watch this season, after orchestrating a series of come-from-behind victories on their East-coast road trip. Although the streak is impressive in it’s own right, considering the Jazz were down double-digits in each game, but even more impressive considering that Utah has not typically been a great road team (or even a good one) in recent seasons.

3. Pau Gasol, 23.2ppg, 12.4apg, 4.2apg: He’s leading the league in efficiency right now, his 31.1 PER much higher than the next best (Paul Millsap, surprisingly, with 26.9). Although the Lakers have dropped two in a row, it’s through no fault of Pau’s; the big man grabbed 37 boards in those two games.

4. Rajon Rondo, 10.8ppg, 5.2rpg, 15.1apg: How valuable are you to your team when your opposition will live with you having a wide-open three-point attempt? Still, can’t deny that he’s leading the top-of-the-East Celtics, while averaging 15 assists per game.

5. Russell Westbrook, 23.5ppg, 5.5rpg, 7.7apg: We’ve seen a few different guards in our MVP watch through the first few weeks, Joe Johnson (his Hawks just snapped a 4-game skid, he’s shooting 44%); Brandon Roy (averaging 18 per game, but the Blazers sit at just 6-5 and he’s out with knee troubles); Kobe Bryant (shooting at 43%, while Pau leads the Lakers); even LeBron (who’s stats are pretty ridiculous, 22/6/9, but the Heat have been inconsistent). This week I have to give it to Russ, who I’ve seen do whatever it takes for the Thunder to win, especially as KD is struggling with his shot early in the season. At 25.9, Westbrook’s PER is good for 5th in the league (Gasol, Millsap, Paul, Noah).

On the bubble: Dwight Howard, Al Horford, LeBron James, Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Love

Eye on ROY

1. John Wall, 18.1ppg, 4rpg, 9.8apg: The only thing that can stop him is a sprained foot at this point.

2. Blake Griffin, 16.1ppg, 10.2rpg, 1.9apg: Blake struggled a little bit in the past week, only getting one double-double (an 18/18 game against Detroit). Still, he’s having an outstanding season so far.

Power Rankings – who’s hot

New Orleans, 8-1: Dropped their first game to Dallas, who’re a very good team. However, they defeated the Clippers and Blazers by a combined 39 points before that.

San Antonio, 8-1: The Spurs have won 7 straight, and although the victories have been against the Clippers (twice), Suns, Rockets, Bobcats, 6ers and Thunder (the combined record of those teams? 10-31); 7 wins straight is still 7 wins.

Utah, 7-4: Stormed through their Eastern road trip, coming back from 22 against Miami, 18 against Orlando, 11 against Atlanta and 16 points against Charlotte. Including their 18-point comeback to defeat the Clippers, the Jazz came from behind to win 5 straight.

L.A. Lakers, 8-2: They’ve lost a couple of close games in a row, with Denver rallying to defeat them 112-118, and then Phoenix chucking in 22 threes to knock them off by a score of 116-121. Still, they’re the best team in basketball, and the favourite for the title until proven otherwise.

Boston, 8-2: Knocked off the Heat again last week, forcing Wade and LeBron to go a combined 0-10 of threes, while Ray-Ray hit 7-9 by himself. Rondo dished 16 assists in that game, proving that you’ve got a good shot against Miami if you have an elite point-guard.

Power Rankings – who’s not

L.A. Clippers, 1-10: How can a team with this much young talent and potential upside have fallen apart so quickly?

New York, 3-7: They’re the guys that didn’t box out Kevin Love, and they’ve also lost 5 in a row.

Washington, 2-6: Again, how can the two teams with the two best rookies be a combined 3-16? Something’s not quite right here. At least we caught a glimpse of vintage Gilbert in the loss at Chicago, 30 points and 7-10 threes.

Sacramento, 3-6: The Kings have also lost 5 straight, and it’s been a pretty easy stretch too (with the exception of the Lakers, they’ve faced the Grizz, the Wolves, the Suns and the Pistons). Now there’re rumours of rifts in the locker room.

Toronto, 2-8: They try hard, they compete, and they even pulled out a win at Orlando the other day. Still, there’s not quite enough talent on this roster to be competitive on a nightly basis.

Cheers peeps.

What I Saw, where Phoenix were unconscious

Just 5 games today, a nice easy Sunday schedule for the US:

Minnesota 105, Atlanta 111: The Wolves rallied to make a game of this one, but the Hawks just had too much class, with Joe Johnson nailing a pull-up jumper late to put the game away. Al Horford was simply superb in this one, 28 points and 10 boards on 9-14 from the floor and 10-10 at the stripe, while Josh Smith chipped in with 23/10. Unfortunately, Smoove took 2 threes in the game, and he’s attempted 14 for the season after taking just 7 last year. He has made 6 of 14 to be shooting 43% on triples, but it’s not his game. The 1.3 attempts per game is right in line with the 4 seasons before last season, and his career percentage is just 27%. With that size and athleticism, there’s no need to settle for the 3-ball.

Kevin Love continued his crazy run, grabbing 17 rebounds in this one, to go along with his 22 points; he’s averaging 18.4 points and 14.8 rebounds per game this season, and is grabbing 25.1% of available rebounds so far (the other leading rebounders? Dwight’s at 19.4, Jo Noah’s also at 19.4 and Pau Gasol’s at 17.1). As ridiculous as that rebound percentage is, Reggie Evans is the leader so far with a Total Rebound Percentage of 25.5% (all stats from basketball-reference.com). Still, averaging 15 boards and 25% rebound rate is astounding. Beasley’s also continuing to ball, 25 points in this one, and it’s great that the Wolves can pair Mike with an elite rebounder to free him up to score.

Detroit 100, Sacramento 94: The Kings smashed the Pistons on the boards, grabbing 18 offensive rebounds, but couldn’t convert on all those extra shots, shooting just 45% compared to Detroit’s 54%. Stuckey led Detroit with 17, but Ben Gordon came off the bench and scored 16 on just 6 shots (4-6 from the field, 2-3 from deep, 6-6 at the stripe). Contrast that with Tyreke, leading Sacto with 20 points, but it took him 21 shots to get there.

San Antonio 117, Oklahoma City 104: In fairness to the Thunder, Matt Bonner had only scored 8 points for the season before hitting all 7 of his threes en route to 21 points in this one. I think it’s fair to say that Bonner wouldn’t have been high priority on the Thunder’s scouting report. In addition to Bonner’s 21, Parker had 24, Ginobili 21 and Jefferson 18, while Tim Duncan had just 6 points on 2-7 shooting, 2-4 from the line. Timmy’s scored in single-figures in his last 3 games, which is the first time that’s ever happened in his career.

The Thunder stars were forced to be volume shooters in this one, Westbrook’s 19 came on 17 attempts, while Durant needed 23 shots for his 23 points; amazingly, although Durant’s shooting just 42%, he’s leading the league in scoring at 29 per, thanks to 8 free throws made per game.

Houston 104, New York 96: New York didn’t have a huge amount of turnovers in the game, just 12, but most came at key moments as Houston put the game away late. Kevin Martin led the victors with 28, 8-18, 3-7, 9-11, while Scola added 24. Amar’e had 25 for the Knicks.

Phoenix 121, L.A. Lakers 116: Well, I certainly didn’t expect this result, and I think it’s fairly safe to say that the Lakers didn’t expect Phoenix to hit 22 threes, from 40 attempts. L.A. smashed PHX on the boards, 49-32, but that hardly matters when they’re shooting the lights out. 31 assists on 43 field goals for the Suns, J-Rich 7-10 from deep, Turkoglu 5-7, Frye 4-9, Dragic 3-5 and Nash 2-3, which is just stupid. Lots of big games for L.A., too: Gasol 28/17, Kobe narrowly missed a triple-double with 25/9/14, Lamar Odom added 22 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to combat that insane three-point shooting.

Cheers.

What I Saw, where Rondo likes to help out

There was another 9 games today, let’s check out all the action:

Orlando 91, New Jersey 90: The Magic should really be winning games by a lot more than this, even if it was on the road. It’s New Jersey; they only won 12 games last year. Even though I like their new guys, they’re still no that much better than they were. Devin Harris led the almost-upset with 26/6/8, while Brook Lopez added 23. Dwight had a double-double, 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Utah 96, Charlotte 95: Utah come from behind to win a game for the fifth time in a row, this time overcoming a 16-point deficit to defeat the Bobcats, and this is just getting ridiculous. Very even game, with both teams shooting 35-79 from the floor (Utah had the edge in free throws, 22-17). The Jazz had 5 guys score in double-figures and recorded 22 assists on their 35 field goals. Nazr Mohammed had a huge game with 22 points and 20 rebounds.

Toronto 100, Miami 109: Yeah. The Heat should have won this game. Then again, the Magic should have defeated the Raptors too, but that’s why they throw the ball up, I guess. Wade led with 31, on 11-16 from the floor and 9-14 from the line (while only attempting 1 three, which he missed). LeBron had 23 points and 11 assists, but shot just 8-21 from the floor. For the Raps, Bargs had 22, but he needed 23 shots, while DeMar DeRozan had a much more efficient 21, on 7-12 from the field and 7-11 at the line. Also, Julian Wright got 20 minutes off the bench and managed to chuck 10 shots to end up with 4 points, which isn’t that great.

Indiana 99, Cleveland 85: Danny Granger had 34 on 13-21, 5-8 and 3-3, and that’s about the only interesting thing that happened.

Washington 96, Chicago 103: Wizards fans, do you want the bad news or the bad news? The bad news is that your team dropped this one to fall to 2-6 on the season. The bad news is that John Wall left the game after spraining his left foot. Chicago was really solid, three guys scoring 20 points and earning 34 trips to the line, compared to just 8 attempts for Washington. One plus for the Wiz was Gilbert dropping 30 points, hitting 7-10 threes and shooting 11-22, 7-10 and 1-2, to go with 6 boards and 4 assists.

Portland 87, New Orleans 107: The Hornets remain undefeated, putting the beatdown on the Blazers to improve to 8-0 for the season. 7 guys in double-figures for New Orleans, with CP’s 13 assists probably having a lot to do with that. Brandon Roy struggled, 1-7 for 2 points, and had to leave halfway through the third with what appeared to be a sore knee; the Blazers just can’t catch a break regarding injuries (no pun intended).

Boston 116, Memphis 110 OT: Rajon Rondo had 17 assists in this game, and he’s averaging 15.1 assists per game on the season. The Cs just keep doing their thing, Pierce had 28 and KG added 18/9 as the veteran squad pulled out the win. Rudy Gay led Memphis with 22, while Randolph added 21/11. Also, what’s up with O.J. Mayo this season?

Philadelphia 93, San Antonio 116: With the 23 point victory, the Spurs improve their record to 7-1, but will anyone notice?

Golden State 72, Milwaukee 79: The Warriors and Bucks combined to shoot just 34% in the game, so there were a fair few rebounds available. And seeing as how the Dubs are a terrible rebounding team (David Lee sat this one out), the Milwaukee guys grabbed a heap of boards. Bogut had 17, Mbah a Moute had 12, Jennings had 11 and Gooden had 10 as the Bucks out-rebounded the Warriors 58-42. With the victory, the Bucks improve to 5-5, winning 4 of their past 5 games.

Thanks for reading.