Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vinny Del Negro To Go? Or Eddie Jordan?

Let's start with the Top 10 plays from Wednesday nights NBA action.



You'll notice that the only two plays involving the Chicago Bulls and the Philadelphia 76ers were that they were on the receiving end of the highlight. It sums up the situation facing those teams right now.

In Sunday's power rankings, I wrote that Indiana Pacers head coach Jim O'Brien is my tip to be the most likely coach next to get the gun, but seeing the Chicago Bulls go down to the Atlanta Hawks by 35 points really means that Vinny Del Negro has stormed into favouritism.

It was the Bulls ninth loss in 10 games and second 30+ point hammering in the last three games. In between? A two point loss to the New Jersey Nets, who by the way won on the road for the first time this season.

There's no fight in the Bulls and it they give up too easily. It hasn't been a great year for sophomore Derrick Rose which has been really surprising. He was so good last year, especially in the playoffs, but he looks unsure of himself at the moment.

At 7-13, Chicago starts a six-game homestand tomorrow night which Del Negro's fate will likely be decided by, but, with the Celtics and Lakers coming to town, if I was a betting man, I'd have a few bob on Vinny to be unemployed by Christmas.

*****
The euphoria of the second coming of Allen Iverson as 76er has worn off pretty quickly.

Kate Fagan of the Philadelphia Inquirer "On Monday night in Iverson's emotional return to the Sixers, 20,664 people packed the Wachovia Center. Last night, that number dropped to 12,136.

Along with the attendance, so too dropped Iverson's effectiveness. He played 33 minutes, scoring 11 points on 3-for-10 shooting with three assists, six turnovers and no rebounds.

Last night's game should have been the streak's end: The Sixers were at home, playing an injury-wracked opponent, a team with double-digit losses."

The Philly faithful saw Iverson and fell in love for one brief encounter, but the 11 straight losses is just too much. For the record, Philadelphia is only better than the New Jersey Nets in the eastern conference.

Maybe Philly's head coach Eddie Jordan will also be looking for another job soon. If so, it will mean he has been sacked twice in 12 months.

Is this really Tom Cruise?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Cavs Need to Stand Up to LeBron, Bryon Russell Just Needs to Shut Up



LeBron James posturing and dancing upset Chicago Bulls star Joakim Noah.

Sitting on the bench, Noah said something to James to the effect of "You're not a very good dancer".

LeBron took offence and the biggest pussy-est scuffle in NBA history broke out.

James didn't need to approach Noah. Nothing was going to happen physically, and LeBron was just being the smaller man of the two.

It's exactly this type of incident that James needs to be at least spoken to about by Cavaliers management.

There was no need for him to go over to Noah. But, because head coach Mike Brown and GM Danny Ferry are merely more of LeBron's "yes" men, no action was apparently taken.

Just like last year in the playoffs when LeBron sulked his way off the court after the Orlando Magic had just dispatched the Cavs.

LeBron's "I don't shake hands" was accepted as a manly thing to do by Cavs management.

Somebody involved with the Cavs needs to get the balls to say something that LeBron might not like, because otherwise he will just treat the organization with little or no respect.

*****

One of the stupidest hoaxes comes from Utah.

Apparently up to 7,500 fans turned up expecting to see the real Michael Jordan take on Bryon Russell (or Byron, whatever his f*cking name is) in a charity one-on-one match.

This is an extension of the challenge Russell issued after Jordan mentioned him during his Hall of Fame induction speech.

What gets me is that Russell couldn't even tie Jordan's shoes when they were both in the NBA, so why does he think he could beat him in a one-on-one game now?

All this is, is Russell desperately trying to cling onto anything that connects him to Jordan other than being the guy that MJ nailed his real final shot of his career over.

*****

Every kid wants to go to work with their Dad for a day. It's a bit different for this kid.

*****

More insight into the Mike D'Antoni-Nate Robinson fued.

Robinson might have some of the MSG crowd behind him (chanting for his name), but D'Antoni has the support of Knicks GM Donnie Walsh.

I'm fully in D'Antoni's corner on this one. The Knicks are a bad team and Robinson hasn't been taking his business seriously.

I have been a critic of D'Antoni in the past, saying that he lacks the discipline required to coach a team like the Knicks, but he's definately got my respect on this decision.

Oh yeah, the Knicks are 3-1 with Robinson DNP-CD'd.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The World Cup Draw @ The Score

NBA Power Rankings: Kobe's Lakers Untouchable At The Top

By the end of this week, the Lakers will have played 17 of 21 games at Staples Center, so it's no surprise that they are looking pretty content at the top of the league and also atop of The Daily Hurt's weekly power rankings.

Also Allen Iverson was the only man who picked up a million dollars last week and didn't have to sleep with Tiger Woods to do it.


  1. LA LAKERS - Boredom appears to be the only real obstacle facing the Lakers face right now. Phil Jackson must be hoping it doesn't turn Ron Artest back to the (halftime)bottle.

  2. BOSTON CELTICS - Boston won its four road games this week by a combined 50 points. Therefore, the C's are probably not too daunted by playing three of their next four on the road.

  3. ORLANDO MAGIC - The Magic are going about their business quietly, and I think they remain the biggest threat to both the Lakers and Celtics—yes, even more so than the Cavs.

  4. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS - LeBron has got the Cavs playing pretty well, but on form, they are still only third best team in the east. If LeBron does shoot through next year, do you think that Dan Gilbert would be interested in retiring the No. 23 league wide?

  5. DENVER NUGGETS - The only real blotch on the Nuggets season so far has been the losses to the Clippers and Timberwolves. Still, Denver is off to its best 20-game start in franchise history.

  6. ATLANTA HAWKS - Atlanta smoked Toronto for 146 points but needed only 80 points to beat Dallas on Saturday night, which was interesting considering the Hawks missed 20 straight field goals during one stretch.

  7. PHOENIX SUNS - The losses to the Knicks and Cavs can't be overlooked. Just a week ago, Phoenix looked like they were a serious contender, but that doesn't seem as believable anymore.

  8. PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS - What a blow it was for the Blazers and any basketball fan to see Oden go down again. However, it may give Portland even more incentive to try to deal Andre Miller as soon as the December 15 deadline passes.

  9. DALLAS MAVERICKS - Add the Memphis Grizzlies to the Mavericks list of boogie teams. Dallas shot a season low 35-percent and scored a season low 82 points en route to their third straight loss in Memphis on Wednesday.

  10. HOUSTON ROCKETS - Seeing Greg Oden go down would have been an untimely reminder to the Rockets that they are still without Yao. Luis Scola once again displayed his super talent, but the Rockets still lost again to the Blazers.

  11. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER - I was expecting more from the Thunder against the Celtics. Is Kevin Durant a starter in this years All-Star game? He deserves it.

  12. SAN ANTONIO SPURS - I know the Spurs don't care about what happens in November and December, but losing both games at home to the Celtics and Nuggets was a pretty poor effort by San Antonio's standards.

  13. UTAH JAZZ - Utah couldn't beat the Timberwolves on Saturday, so just how are they going to fair this week where they face the Lakers twice, San Antonio and Orlando?

  14. MIAMI HEAT - For all of Miami's struggles of late, Dwyane Wade has a knack for saving his absolute best form for when he faces the league's best. However, he needs to show it against opponents not named Bryant, James or Roy.

  15. SACRAMENTO KINGS - The Kings are 1-7 on the road but a tidy 8-3 at Arco, so by the looks of it they'll need every advantage they gain at home if they are to stay within reach of the playoffs.

  16. MILWAUKEE BUCKS - The wheels aren't completely off in Milwaukee, but the Bucks have dropped seven of the last eight and are at Boston next. Brandon Jennings hasn't shot better than 40-percent from the field more than once in the last eight games.

  17. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES - The Grizzlies 16-point blowout of the Mavericks was impressive not because of Memphis' offensive, rather its defense, especially on Dirk Nowitzki. It will be put to the test again this week against LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

  18. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS - The key to New Orleans season might not rest on the return of Chris Paul. Instead, it could come down to how David West snaps out of his early season funk.

  19. TORONTO RAPTORS - The Raptors finally stood up for themselves against the Wizards and Bulls after Atlanta humiliated them earlier in the week. This could be a turning point in the season, but most likely it will be just a mirage.

  20. LA CLIPPERS - That the Clippers shot 35-percent but still crushed the Indiana Pacers says quite a lot...about Indiana.

  21. DETROIT PISTONS - Last year Ben Wallace looked like bored and done with playing basketball. On Friday night he had four monster dunks on five field goals and he already has half as many rebounds this year as he had all of last season. He's back.

  22. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS - By becoming the first team to lose to the New Jersey Nets this year, it confirmed what I'd thought for a while. The Bobcats aren't very good.

  23. WASHINGTON WIZARDS - Every time I think Earl Boykins is little more than a crowd pleaser, he keeps proving me wrong. His game-winning free throws against the Bucks showed that he's got smarts much bigger than his size.

  24. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS - Five-game road trips are never easy, but four of the Warriors opponents this week have records south of .500. It will be very interesting to see how they play without Don Nelson who'll miss the entire trip.

  25. CHICAGO BULLS - Joakim Noah was right to call LeBron out for his dancing, because that's Shaq's gig. If only the rest of the Bulls team had Noah's attitude they wouldn't be four games below .500.

  26. INDIANA PACERS - I just can't help but wonder how Indiana knocked off the Celtics but have won just twice in 11 games since. With Lawrence Frank done, Jim O'Brien must be the bookies favourite to the next coach to go.

  27. NEW YORK KNICKS - The Nate Robinson-Mike D'Antoni feud has stretched to three games. If Robinson needs reminding about his attitude, maybe he should watch this again.

  28. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES - With Kevin Love's impressive numbers in his return and two wins from four games made it easily the T'Wolves best week of the season. Still a lot of work to do, but maybe this is the start.

  29. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS - Allen Iverson's return to Philadelphia began with tears and I have a feeling it will end that way too. Philly has lost nine straight so for Iverson; it will probably feel like he's never left.

  30. NEW JERSEY NETS - The Nets breakthrough victory was a relief no doubt, but they still need another nine wins to avoid the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers(9-73) for the worst season ever. See, there's a reason to watch the Nets this year.

Questions, comments or suggestions email:
thedailyhurt@hotmail.com


twitter.com/LeighEllis

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Even Nike Can't Get Tiger Woods Out Of This One.

Tiger Woods' poorly kept secret is out.

He's been fooling around behind his wife's back.

He might not have admitted it in those exact words, but if anyone thinks the "transgressions" he admits to are anything else, they are a fool.

Tiger Woods: Super golf, Super rich, Super competitive, but Superman? No.

No man is.

We are flawed and we all mistakes. Some more than others but no matter how much we don't want to, we do things sometimes that we wish we hadn't.

So what to do now?

Should Tiger make a full confession? Tell us more, tell us everything? He can if he wants or if he doesn't want to. Won't change my opinion of him. It might change others but who cares?

My opinion is that he mucked up and he has to deal with the consequences. No PR waffle, just face the music. Not even Nike can bail you out of this one. But just man up.

It's his problem and no matter how good a golfer he is, if Elin doesn't forgive him, then he's blown his perfect family life with her.

Even if she does forgive him, things won't be the same again.

And for that he's only got himself to blame.

The best she or they could do is just admit what's happened and move on.

Look at David Beckham and Posh. Posh still refuses to believe that Becks was mucking around she just looks plain stupid. Money hungry and stupid. She'd rather have his fortune and wealth than her own dignity.

I don't know Tiger or Elin, but she seems like a pretty good wife to him. I don't know if she cooks or cleans but she doesn't go out trying to make herself famous for being his wife. It looks like she loves Tiger Woods the person, not the billion dollar golfer. She conducts herself well and stays out of the spotlight.

Like any athlete who spends a lot of time on the road, Tiger Woods must have women - skanky and sexy - absolutely heaving themselves at him everywhere he goes.

It's part of the life of an athlete or any celebrity. They must know that the attention they get from girls is not always genuine, but when it's constantly on a plate like that, yeah, it must be hard sometimes.

Still, it doesn't excuse anyone.

Not even Tiger Woods.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Pearls of Wisdom From Charles Oakley

Check out this feature on Charles Oakley, when he stopped by Toronto recently.

Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers...Two Teams With Very Bright Futures

Is it possible to play so well that fans actually start to panic?

The situation I'm referring to is in Sacramento. The Kings are a modest 8-8, half a game out of eighth playoff spot in the west.

It doesn't sound like a great record, but given that they are 7-4 without guard Kevin Martin and his 30-ppg average, some Kings fans are starting to wonder if they are better off without him.

Martin is a big time scorer and has been getting to the line almost 10 times per game over the last four seasons.

There are two reasons why I would consider trading him. First, Martin does little else other than score the ball. He only gets a hand full of rebounds and his career high in assists is 2.7-per game.

For a player who is on the floor as much as he is (37-minutes per game over the last four seasons), it's not good enough.

The second reason is that Martin is injury prone. While no player chooses to become injured all the time, it's hard not to notice the fact that Martin missed 21 games in 2007-08, 31 last year and he's slated to miss at least another 15 on top of the 11 he's missed already with his fractured wrist.

Sacramento has a bright future with Tyreke Evans, Donte Green and Jason Thompson so maybe it's time they put out a few feelers out for Martin to see what they can get for him.

Certainly the Kings could use another scorer, just one who isn't injured as often as Martin.

*****

Still in the northeast and the despite boasting a 12-7 record, all is not well with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Portland lost at home to the Memphis Grizzlies last Friday, then got dumped by the Utah Jazz a night later.

The problem?

The Blazers seem to have too much offense. Brandon Roy is the teams undisputed leader. He's easily in the top 10 players in the league but this year his numbers are down. He's scoring about three points per game less than last year, but more importantly, despite taking fewer field goals, his percentage is down also.

Part of the reason stems from the fact that Greg Oden is finally becoming an option in Portland's offense. However, the problem is that he is taking up the lane more than he has done in the past, and that means that Roy - who loves to attack the hoop - can't get into the paint as often as he would like.

Portland has a brilliant head coach in Nate McMillan. He is one of the most underrated coaches in the league and because the Blazers made the playoffs last season, losses like the one at home to Memphis weren't part of the plan this year.

I think that it will all turn out ok for the Blazers. They are still young but behind Roy and Aldridge, they have a solid core. They're not quite ready to win it all just yet, but watch out in two or three years time.

*****

I think the Philadelphia 76ers would be mad to sign Allen Iverson.

On Monday, before the game against the Dallas Mavericks, Iverson and his entourage met with Sixers GM Ed Stefanski and head coach Eddie Jordan.

And, it appears that Philadelphia will roll the dice with their former golden boy.

This will end in tears. Iverson and Philly are done. They had 11 sometimes good years together, but a reunion now would be a disaster.

Iverson clearly has absolutely no desire to win a championship.

If he did, he wouldn't be going to play for Philadelphia again. Instead he would pester a team like the Lakers, Cavs or Celtics, telling them he's willing to do whatever he can to get his hands on the Larry O'Brien trophy.

But, nope. He wants to go back to being a ball hog in Philadelphia.

While the Sixers season isn't going to well (they've lost seven straight), the young nucleas of players they have such as Lou Williams and Marreese Speights gives Philadelphia a bright future. One that gets dimmed if Iverson returns.

Iverson should know also that the only reason the Sixers are interested is because of the spate of injuries they've suffered. Otherwise, they wouldn't consider it.

Nope, Iverson's time as a Sixer should be over. There's just no way that this story has a fairytale ending.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Memphis and Denver Lose Ugly, Oklahoma's Future Continues To Look Bright

As stated in my weekly power rankings, just as the Memphis Grizzlies looked all set to blow out the LA Clippers, Memphis falls apart. They scored just seven points in the fourth quarter and gave up a 22-point lead to the Clips.

If it was the Lakers, Celtics, Suns or Magic that Memphis had fallen to, then it could have been explained as a young team melting down against an experienced playoff contender, but the Clippers? Seriously, the Clippers? No one ever collapses like that against LA's other team.

I really like Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo but the one guy who is underrated on that team is Marc Gasol. He's not sexy by any means, but Gasol gets the job done. The Grizzlies have a decent young core, but they can't afford these types of mental slip ups if they want to be taken seriously.

Understandably, Clipsnation was all smiles today. There's a lot of love for Eric Gordon who was playing his third game back. He led the Clippers with 29 points. I think Gordon is a player in the Vinnie Johnson mould. He's lots of energy and scores in bunches.

*****
Pretty disgusting effort by the Denver Nuggets to lose to the Timberwolves. Here's an interesting look at the Nuggets season from Denverstiffs blogger.

The Nuggets have had a fairly easy schedule so far and haven't quiet capitalized on it.

Still, it's not the end of the world that they lost to Minnesota. Eventually, the Wolves were going to win again and they will probably end up with 15-20 wins.

The message should be clear for the Nuggets that they aren't quite as good as they thought they were early into this season.

*****

While the Nuggets have had a light schedule so far, that isn't the case for the Oklahoma City Thunder who are only 9-8. But as pointed out here, OKC hasn't yet faced most of the leagues bad teams.

Also, four of their wins have been against Orlando, Miami, Utah and San Antonio.

It is fun watching the Thunder grow and develop together. Kevin Durant is the superstar and he has a very strong supporting cast around him.

*****

Milwaukee Bucks guard Carlos Delfino is not noted for his defense, but check him out here.

NBA Power Rankings: Suns Go Top, Mavs and Hawks Tumble

Ok, so it looks like I've just randomly inserted a photo of a hot chick, but hear me out.

I think it sums up life for the Phoenix Suns right now.

They are smokin' hot and it's smiles all around and besides, she's got much better hair than Steve Nash.

The Golden State Warriors won only once this week, but it was a biggy—against the Dallas Mavericks who appear to retain some mental scars from that 2007 playoff defeat to Golden State.

At least the Mavericks had a better week than Tiger Woods , who apparently scored one birdie too many recently.

Ok, enough silly jokes, onto The Daily Hurt's weekly power rankings.

  1. PHOENIX SUNS - The Suns have won four straight and by an average margin of 21 points. Steve Nash says that he reads every negative article that's written about him saying that he is too old and too slow and uses it for motivation. So, as someone who loves watching him play, Steve, you're too old and too slow.


  2. ORLANDO MAGIC - The Magic were a Michael Beasley dunk away from being on a nine game winning streak. Sunday's win at New York was Orlando's sixth straight on the road, which suggests they are in good shape for a stretch where they play four of the next five away from Amway Arena.


  3. LA LAKERS - You know everything is going well in the Lakers camp when Phil Jackson's biggest concern was the color of Ron Artest's underwear during his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel last week.

  4. BOSTON CELTICS - By their own admission , the Celtics haven't been playing their best basketball lately, but they've been winning, which is all that counts, especially as they play six of the next seven on the road.

  5. ATLANTA HAWKS - I could excuse the home loss to the Orlando Magic last Thursday, but Sunday's loss at Detroit was the Hawks third in the last four games. Atlanta plays six of their next eight at home and only one (Utah) has a record over .500.

  6. SAN ANTONIO SPURS - Even the Spurs need a little help occassionally. San Antonio has won five straight and while it wasn't their toughest week in terms of opponents, they used it to gather momentum just in time for a week in which they host the Celtics and Nuggets.

  7. DENVER NUGGETS - 'Melo had a party against the Knicks going for a career high 50 on Saturday night, but Minnesota delivered the hangover on Sunday when they overcame a 17-point deficit to shock the Nuggets...and well pretty much any sane basketball mind quite frankly.

  8. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS - Last week I asked the question whether or not the Cavs were better without Shaq . Cleveland went 5-1 with Diesel sitting out and lost to the Bobcats in his return, before beating the Mavs. Make of it what you will, but I'm certainly not convinced that O'Neal makes them better than they were last year.

  9. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER - If you're still not overly impressed by the Thunder's 9-8 record, it's worth noting that they haven't faced the Nets, Grizz, T'Wolves, Sixers or Warriors yet which gives you some idea of how tough Oklahoma's early schedule has been and why I have them this high.

  10. DALLAS MAVERICKS - What made the Mavericks loss to the Warriors so bad was that two of Golden State's six healthy players were Mikki Moore and Vladimir Radmanovic, hardly all-star talent. It begs the question, is Dallas mentally strong enough?

  11. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS - Just how do the Blazers explain the 31-2 run they allowed the Memphis Grizzlies to go on during the home loss on Friday night? Head coach Nate McMillan had every right to call out Blazers captains Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge after that performance.

  12. UTAH JAZZ -Jerry Sloan rarely gets excited at the best of times, but even he had to be impressed with his team after they shot better than 60-percent from the field two games in a row.

  13. MIAMI HEAT - Dwyane Wade is good enough to keep the Heat in the play-off mix by himself, but he sure could use some help as Miami heads out west for a tough four-game road trip, which includes stops at Portland, Denver, and the Lakers.

  14. HOUSTON ROCKETS - The Rockets ended a tough week on a bitter-sweet note when they lost Luis Scola to an eye injury, but won at Oklahoma City. Hopefully Scola doesn't miss much time as he has been superb this season, and might be the leagues most under-rated player.

  15. MILWAUKEE BUCKS - The Bucks shouldn't be too upset with their 0-4 week. It was tough, and for the most part they were competitive. In case you missed it, check out Brandon Jennings on PTI this week. The kid's got a solid head on his shoulders to match his game.

  16. INDIANA PACERS - Remember when Danny Granger predicted the Pacers would beat the Celtics and they went out and did it? Why doesn't he predict wins more often?

  17. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES - I was just about to write how the Grizzlies had won three of their last four and were starting to earn some respect. Then on Sunday they get outscored 33-7 in the fourth quarter against the Clippers and "stuff" if all up.

  18. SACRAMENTO KINGS - Maybe the Kings felt sleighted that they were pegged as the team most likely to lose to the Nets, but Sacramento held firm. They also went 3-0 versus the "New" teams last week.

  19. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS - When Chris Paul returns, he'll expect nothing less than the effort he's seen from his team during his absence. If the Hornets can keep it up, there's no reason why they can't be considered a playoff team again.

  20. LA CLIPPERS - After the 0-4 start, the Clippers have gone 8-6 since. It's not quite time to start the talk of them toppling the Lakers as LA's No. 1 team, but the signs are there that the Clips are improving.

  21. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS - Gerald Wallace was a beast this week. He went for 25 points and 14 rebounds and the Bobcats won all three games, including one over the Cavs and have four straight overall. I still have never found out who came up with the name "Bobcats."

  22. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS - The dubs only went 1-2 for the week, but the victory over the Mavs warrants a rise in the rankings. While I wish Don Nelson a speedy recovery, I can't ignore the fact that Monta Ellis looks free in his absence.

  23. TORONTO RAPTORS - The Raptors keep harping on about how they are an improved team defensively, then they go out and give up 116 points to the Charlotte Bobcats. There's just no backbone to this team.

  24. CHICAGO BULLS - Chicago only played twice last week but lost both games by a combined 43 points. The Bulls have lost four straight overall and the circus road trip still isn't over; they are at Milwaukee on Monday night.

  25. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS - Yes, Lou Williams broken jaw was a devastating blow to the already shorthanded Sixers, but it doesn't mean they should bring back Allen Iverson . Philly has lost six straight and it doesn't get any easier as they are at Dallas, OKC and Charlotte this week.

  26. WASHINGTON WIZARDS - Antawn Jamison is back and Gilbert Arenas is healthy, yet the Wizards still can't get it together. My prediction: One of the big three is traded before February's deadline.

  27. DETROIT PISTONS - Detroit needed something special to halt their seven game slide and Ben Wallace delivered it. Big Ben grabbed 18 boards in the win over the Hawks on Sunday. Was anyone else expecting just a little more out of Rodney Stuckey this year?

  28. NEW YORK KNICKS -The Knicks have lost four straight, but at least they're finally shown some fight. They're still only better than the Wolves and the Nets though.

  29. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES - With Lawrence Frank gone, the coaching spotlight turns to Kurt Rambis. Minnesota was only one win better off than the Nets and the T'Wolves had a worse points differential (-4.1 through Sunday) than New Jersey when Frank was gunned. Overcoming a 17 point deficit to rock the Nuggets in Denver on Sunday was a good start though.

  30. NEW JERSEY NETS - It had to happen. Regardless of the injuries, Lawrence Frank somehow had to scratch out a victory to save his job and he just couldn't do it.

Questions, comments or suggestions, email:
thedailyhurt@hotmail.com
twitter.com/LeighEllis

Friday, November 27, 2009

No Love For Ex-Gators Team Mates Horford and Noah, Lots of Love Two of Argentina's Best

Two of the leagues best young big men were in action on Thursday night but neither came away with a victory.

Al Horford's Atlanta Hawks lost at home for the first time this season, going down 93-76 to the Orlando Magic, while in Utah, Joakim Noah's Chicago Bulls were never really in it against the Utah Jazz, losing 105-86.

Both guys though are having monster seasons and it's great to see.

Noah is averaging career highs in points (11.1ppg), rebounds (11.7rpg), blocks (1.6bpg) and even assists (2.4apg). It helps that he's playing almost 10 minutes more per game this season than last, but he's earned it.

Horford, he's also posting career bests in points (12.9ppg), rebounds (10.0rpg) and blocks (1.7bpg) and the Atlanta Hawks at 11-4 are tied for second best record in the East.

The Bulls aren't travelling quite as well at 6-8, but they are in the middle of a tough Western road swing.

Their record should even out over the next month or so.

Apart from the numbers though, it's the way they've both been playing. Noah's confidence is sky high and a lot of it stems from his performance in the playoffs last year against the Celtics. He knows that he doesn't have a shooting stroke like Ray Allen but Noah is aggressive and always attacks the rim hard.

I love that.

Too many players still go too softly when going inside and get the ball spiked away, but Noah always puts the emphasis on the defenders to try and block him.

That's the way big men should play.

Horford is the same. Throw it down like a man. And he does.

It's great to see these two former team mates rounding into big-time big-men at around the same time. Hopefully, they develop some form of mid-range jump shot and become truly dominant.

*****

Friday night on the sched, the New Jersey Nets get their 16th shot at going for a win.

They are in Sacramento and while it doesn't look good for the Nets, if they don't get it done tonight, their bid to avoid the worst start ever means they'll have to beat the Lakers.

The Kings have been one of the surprise teams in the league (6-8) but have lost four of the last five. Rookie Tyreke Evans has been outstanding (19ppg, 5.1rpg, 4.9apg) and fellow rookie Donte Greene is coming off a crazy night - 24 points (6-for-7 three pointers), five assists and SIX blocks.

Good luck to the Nets. Head coach Lawrence Frank probably will be fired within the week, but I think we'll see him coaching again soon. He might look like a 12-year-old, but he's proved that he can cut it.

*****
Elsewhere, two Argentines go at it in Houston. Manu Ginobili's Spurs take on Luis Scola and the Rockets.

I have the utmost respect for the way these two play the game. Tough, hard and fair. Both are World Champions and Manu is a three-time NBA champ. Hopefully Luis gets an NBA ring during his career. I doubt it will happen this season with the Rockets but you never know.


I interviewed Luis Scola earlier in the season (it will feature on http://www.thescore.com/) soon and he was one of the most professional and polite people I've ever met. There was no attitude or ego with him at all.

We talked mainly about soccer as it was just after Argentina had qualified for the World Cup so he was happy but also relieved as the albeceleste almost missed out.
Also, while many England fans will never, ever forgive Maradona for the 'hand of god' goal, Scola said that he felt sympathy for England.

True Class.
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Allen Iverson: The Soldier Who Refused Help

And so it ends for Allen Iverson.

Unwanted and unloved, the answer for Iverson is retirement.

He remains too stubborn for his own good but stubbornness is not a strength—it's a weakness.

At one time or another, everyone of us has had to accept change. Like it or not, it's a part of life.

Those who adapt, learn from it, move on and usually become better people.

Those who don't end eventually up being forgotten and passed over.

After a career of being "the man" and being in spotlight, when it dimmed, he didn't want to step away.

For all his prodigious talent, Iverson wasn't a leader. He was a soldier who didn't know how to bring the best out of his team mates.

His career was always all about him. He didn't know how to share and he looked uncomfortable when he was asked to do it.

Iverson's
legacy is one of contradictions.

He was truly a great individual talent. Someone who fought well above his weight. He was tough and uncompromising.

But he would bend to nobody. No player, no team.

Everyone had to accommodate him. Change their game, their style.

It was his refusal to compromise that would prove to be his undoing.

When he was traded to the Pistons last year, it gave him a chance to prove that he winning meant more to him that scoring titles did. For years, he groaned and griped about not having team mates to help him compete for a title.

Finally, he got one in Detroit. For the first time in his career, he would be playing with a group who had won it all together. Maybe that Pistons team together was coming to an end as well, but it was hoped that Iverson would be the injection the Pistons needed.

This would be the ultimate test of Iverson's character.

And he failed it. Miserably.

In Memphis it was the same story this year. He talked a good game but didn't back it up.

He lasted only three games.

It didn't have to end this way for Iverson. It could have been and should have been more.

He's only 34. Still young enough and healthy enough to play for a good few years.

He still has the talent to play at the NBA level.

Unfortunately though, Iverson just doesn't have the smarts to go with it.

He just doesn't understand that no team is going to build around him. He's had his time and now it's over. There are other roles for him now, but he's not interested.

For him, it's all or nothing and the league's teams have spoken: nothing.

Once again, Iverson gets his way.

It's reasonable to think this isn't the last we've seen of Iverson. As injuries mount, teams will surely consider him as the playoffs draw near, especially if they feel that the former MVP and scoring champ can get them over the line.

For now Iverson in the NBA is no more.

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The Golden State of Texas For The Warriors...No Iverson In Boston...and Kevin Durant Is Better Than Michael and LeBron

Just how do the Golden State Warriors do it? Only six players played, yet the Warriors dumped the Mavericks 111-103. According to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, it was mental and physical.
"Yeah, mental. Maybe it's physical too, but I don't know. We've had too many of these games at home where we've lost focus. We've been able to win the majority of them, but tonight we left too much to chance in the last six minutes."

You would think that the Mavericks would be up for any contest against Golden State after what the Warriors did to Dallas back in 2007.

But, as it was in the playoffs, Dallas simply must have overlooked them. Again.

It's funny in sport how some teams just have the wood over others. Dallas wasn't at full strength either, but Golden State's lineup included non-All-Stars Mikki Moore and Vladimir Radmanovic, guys who would otherwise be making up the numbers on any team.

It was an awful loss for Dallas and another reason why they won't win a championship with this crop of players. They are mentally fragile and they get worse in the playoffs.

Good on Golden State though. I would love to see them get it together even though I doubt that this win will amount to anything serious. They'll remain in the western basement.

*****

One team that appears to be heading out of the basement is the Milwaukee Bucks. Rookie Brandon Jennings has been disgustingly good so far, but in typical understated style, coach Scott Skiles isn't getting carried away.

"We're an eighth of the way in, so I don't think it's time to be handing out any medals right now," Skiles said.

I love Skiles hard nosed approach to coaching. It doesn't always mesh with his players but all he's ever asked for is the same accountability from his players as he expects from himself.

It has been suggested that his coaching style is an act that wears thin after a while, but I think he could be a very good coach if he gets the right players and he may have that now in Milwaukee.

The Bucks have been excellent so far, especially as they've had injuries to Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut.

*****

The Boston Celtics have been very healthy by comparison to most of the league and that is part of the reason the team isn't interested in signing free agent sulk Allen Iverson.

I'm not surprised at all that the Celtics discussed picking him up. It might be the only team that Iverson might realize that the whole basketball, no wait, entire world doesn't revolve around him and accept coming off the bench.

Then again, this is Iverson so he probably wouldn't do it anyway.

I would have loved to have been a fly on that dressing room wall though when the idea was tossed around.

*****

One team that certainly doesn't need Iverson is the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Last night, they brushed past the Utah Jazz, 104-94.

Kevin Durant is dis-gus-ting. He has got all the tools to be a genuine superstar in the league.

He is as skinny as a rake and like Chris Bosh, he'll probably always look like he could do with steak, but he is so talented.

*****

Interesting story here out of Portland. Blazers franchise star Brandon Roy opts not to stand with his team mates during the national anthem before home games.

It's caused a bit of controversy as it is viewed as disrespectful and that while Roy says he just likes to be by himself and gather his thoughts, it's suggested that it might be more a silent protest.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Two Quotes, Two Very Different Styles - Gilbert Arenas & Shaquille O'Neal.

According to a report out of the Washington Times, Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler aren't getting along. Along with Antawn Jamison, the three are co-captains of the 3-9 Wizards and primarily responsible for the teams success.

Arenas, having missed most of the last two seasons with injury is never happy. Just as all of his problems in life are usually someone elses fault.

The feud with Butler stems from Arenas's belief that Butler isn't a good fit for Washington's offense, or he simply isn't trying hard enough.

I think Arenas is totally out of line here and he should show more respect to Butler. Caron has been fantastic for the Wizards and has improved and evolved into a star in the league, and a two-time All Star. This was after the Miami Heat and L.A. Lakers kind of gave up on him after only three seasons in the league.

Since signing his $111-million contract last year, Arenas has yet to prove that he's worth anywhere near that sort of money.

*****

Shaquille O'Neal's days as a dominant player in the NBA are well and truly over. When it comes to hosting a scrum or press conference though, Diesel remains in a league of his own.

Touche Shaq.

The Cavs have started out slowly and I don't think that the acquisition of Shaq is going to be enough for them to win the championship this year, but one thing's for sure. If this is Shaq's last season, his sense of humour will be missed around the NBA. We'll still hear from him as it's unlikely he'll fade off quietly into the sunset, but it will be the end of one of the most charismatic players ever.

*****

A large part of the reason the Phoenix Suns sit atop the Western Conference.

It must be so much fun to play on a team like the Suns. Especially when you see guys respond like Channing Frye and Jared Dudley have.

When you have a distributor like Steve Nash, guys know that they'll get their shots. Ego's get pushed aside because that's the way. Nash seems disinterested in scoring the ball himself a lot of the time, even though he's more than capable of doing so.

But, look at Frye and Dudley. Already, Frye has tried more three-pointers (86) through 14 games than he did during his previous four seasons (70). And he's knocking them down at a decent clip - 44-percent. You get the feeling that he's so happy to be finally given a chance to just play and to play the way that suits him best.

It's the same for Dudley. He's on track for career highs in points and rebounds and even he is jacking up a few three-balls as well, he's 24-for-49.

It remains to be seen if the Suns method can overcome the odds and win a championship, but they are certainly fun to watch and Nash is showing no signs of slowing down, despite his age.

NBA Power Rankings: Mavs Ride Into Town, but Hawks Go Top

The sexy thing to do this season is to lose your superstar and then go on a winning run.

Milwaukee did it when Michael Redd went down, and so did Sacramento after Kevin Martin fractured his wrist. This week New Orleans without Chris Paul were too good for the red hot Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks.

Strange? Doesn't make sense? Luckily The Daily Hurt's weekly power rankings are here to break it all down.

  1. ATLANTA HAWKS - Despite coming off a loss to New Orleans on Saturday night, Atlanta takes top spot in a week which otherwise saw them sweep Portland, Miami and Houston. For the first time in a long time, the Hawks look for real.
  2. DALLAS MAVERICKS - Considering the Mavs have won five straight and have been missing Josh Howard, Shawn Marion and Erick Dampier for parts of the run, they probably should be ranked No. 1. However, Atlanta has been more impressive overall.
  3. ORLANDO MAGIC - Dwight Howard took only four shots in Friday nights victory over the Celtics. The Magic have won five straight and are starting to assert themselves in the East.
  4. LA LAKERS - All that TV work clearly distracted Pau Gasol from his day job with the Lakers. He looked very rusty in his debut, scoring 24 points and grabbing 13 rebounds on 60-percent shooting as LA strolled past the Bulls. The Lakers three opponents this week are a combined 7-and-31.
  5. PHOENIX SUNS - The Suns weren't the only team to get surprised by the Hornets this week. It was a minor blip and Phoenix made the Pistons pay for it on Sunday night. Phoenix has a light week at home to Memphis before a trip to Minnesota and Toronto which should keep them on top of the West.
  6. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS - LeBron won't answer questions about 2010. Fine. But will he answer this? Are the Cavs a better team without Shaq? Cleveland is 4-1 sans O'Neal.
  7. MILWAUKEE BUCKS - OK Bucks, you wanna play with the big boys? A three game road trip starting in San Antonio before coming home to face the Magic on Saturday will test Milwaukee. Brandon Jennings has coped incredibly well so far, but how long can he go before Mr. Rookie Wall pays him a visit?
  8. DENVER NUGGETS - The Nuggets dropped the ball against the Clippers on Friday night but rebounded with a solid win over the Bulls on Saturday. Denver remains undefeated at home, where they play five of their next six and against only one opponent (Miami) with a record over .500.
  9. BOSTON CELTICS - Since Doc Rivers asked Rasheed Wallace to limit his three-pointers, 'Sheed has gone 0-for-11. Not that they've all been bad looks, but Wallace hasn't given the Celtics the offensive punch off the bench they were hoping to get from him.
  10. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS - I'm not sure what to make of the Blazers. They are 10-5 but were easily beaten by the Warriors in Oakland. They've been very good at times, but less convincing at others.
  11. HOUSTON ROCKETS - The Rockets have alternated wins and losses over the last 11 games, which seems about right. Whether or not the alleged argument between Tracy McGrady and Rick Adelman ever occured, it's hard to see how T-Mac fits into the current lineup.
  12. MIAMI HEAT - It's not quite panic button time in Miami just yet. That will come if the Heat announce that they've signed Allen Iverson. Sunday's win at home against New Orleans was just the Heat's second in the last five games and both were by one point.
  13. UTAH JAZZ - Three wins on the bounce have the Jazz over .500, and with their next five games at home, Utah's slow start to the season should be a distant memory soon. Deron Williams shouldn't need a campaign to get himself voted into the All-Star game, but apparently he does , and I'm going to try to help him out.
  14. SAN ANTONIO SPURS - There might not be a better time to take advantage of the Spurs. Tony Parker is clearly not 100-percent, nor is Manu Ginobili and San Antonio hasn't had a record under .500 (5-6) this far into a season since Tim Duncan's rookie year.
  15. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS - Is Marcus Thornton the Rookie of the Year? Probably not, but he's averaging 18 PPG over his last seven—not bad for a second-rounder. Since CP3 went down, Thornton has been the spark that's seen the Hornets sting the Suns and the Hawks and come within a Udonis Haslem bucket of defeating the Heat.
  16. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES - It's not the first time that a team has gotten better after Allen Iverson left it. The Grizz had won three straight before falling to the Bucks on Saturday night. O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay still need to work better with each other, but the signs are there that Memphis is better than its 4-9 record.
  17. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER - OKC get mostly recognized for the firepower on offense, but the Thunder is playing some pretty good D too. Maybe it's just me, but I can't wait to watch Oklahoma versus Milwaukee on Friday night. I didn't imagine I'd have said that at the start of the season.
  18. TORONTO RAPTORS - With career highs in points, field-goal percentage and rebounds, Chris Bosh is holding up his end of the bargain in Toronto. Unfortunately, the 6-8 Raptors aren't doing the same.
  19. INDIANA PACERS - Let me get this straight. The Pacers had no problems defeating the Celtics, but they couldn't get it done against the Knicks or Bobcats. Yep, it sure must be fun being an Indiana fan.
  20. CHICAGO BULLS - By the time November ends, the Bulls will have played 10 of their 15 games on the road. For that reason, I'll reserve making any major assessment of this team until there schedule has evened out a little bit, but I suspect they are better than what we've seen so far.
  21. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS - The Sixers pushed the Cavs for three periods on Saturday but then went 4-for-23 in the fourth, ending their challenge. Philly has no shortage of offensive weapons in Iguodala, Williams, Young, and Brand, but no one's really sure of who gets the big money shots. With four of their next five on the road, the 5-8 Sixers are in tough to stay around the .500 mark.
  22. DETROIT PISTONS - Defense isn't the problem in Detroit, it's lack of firepower. That will change when they get Prince and Hamilton back, but nobody seems to know exactly when that will be.
  23. LA CLIPPERS - Friday nights' victory over the Nuggets showed what the Clips are capable of when they get it together, especially considering they trailed by 14 points in the first quarter. While Blake Griffin is still at least a few weeks away, the Clippers should get Eric Gordon back this week.
  24. NEW YORK KNICKS - Just the thought of Allen Iverson joining the Knicks must have been enough to spark the team into action. If Nate Robinson wonders why anyone thinks he has an attitude problem, here's the reason: http://bit.ly/088W3iN
  25. SACRAMENTO KINGS - The good news for the Kings is that Tyreke Evans is day-to-day. The bad news is that the Kings have lost three straight and the post-Kevin Martin injury run is well and truly over.
  26. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS - The Stephen Jackson soap opera finally concluded this week (thankfully). The question is who will be next to go—Monta Ellis or Don Nelson? Ellis says he wants to stay but this is Golden State. Expect chaos to resume anytime now.
  27. WASHINGTON WIZARDS - The week started off so well. Antawn Jamison returned and the Wiz hammered the the Cavs by 17. It ended with losses to Oklahoma City and San Antonio totalling 41 points. Huh?
  28. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS - When Stephen Jackson said he wanted to go to a contender, did he mean a contender for the first pick in the 2010 draft? This can't possibly be the same team that blew out Atlanta by 20 earlier this month.
  29. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES - The Timberwolves get Al Jefferson back and lose both games by a combined 41 points. It's hard to see where or when win number two will come.
  30. NEW JERSEY NETS - Couldn't beat the Knicks and haven't been able to beat anyone else yet either. Whatever happens, Lawrence Frank should definitely be a contestant on Survivor next season; he'll romp in.
    Questions, comments or suggestions, email me:
    thedailyhurt@hotmail.com
    www.twitter.com/LeighEllis

Friday, November 20, 2009

FIFA Gives Ireland the Dikembe Mutombo and the Jazz and Hornets Make Progress

As expected, FIFA rejected Ireland's request to replay their match with France.

No surprise there. If FIFA had agreed to it, it would have sent the wrong message and they also knew that if they bended here, they would be inundated with requests to replay matches anytime a controversy occured.

In other words, almost every time international games are played.

There will be plenty more controversies and you can be sure that the World Cup will have it's fair share, just like there was in Germany in 2006.

Given all the drama, who would have thought Roy Keane would be the person to provide a voice of reason.

Just one note, if you go to a press conference with Keane, be sure to turn your phone off.

*****

And it's on to NBA action from Thursday night.

No Chris Paul but the New Orleans Hornets outworked the red hot Phoenix Suns.

The Hornets are 2-2 under Jeff Bower and 2-1 without Paul, although they lost the game when Paul went down.

The NBA: where Amazing does happen.

Phoenix had been one of the hottest teams in the league, while the Hornets were already in disarray.

New Orleans were looking shaky at best even when Paul was in the lineup. Peja couldn't shoot anymore and David West was out of sorts.

Suddenly though, a quick coaching shakeup and an injury to their superstar was all the Hornets needed to regain their buzz. (I hate that pun, but it works here!)

This game was won on the glass where the Hornets pounded Phoenix; New Orleans grabbed 25 offensive rebounds alone !

It also helped that Stojakovic nailed seven 3-pointers and rookie Darren Collison overcame a bad shooting night to finish with 15 points, five boards and five dimes, including two big buckets in the closing minutes.

In the last three games, Stojakovic has scored 65 points after he scored just 80 over the first 10 games.

That was easily Phoenix's most unexpected loss of the season and it will be interesting to see how they respond.

The Suns start had many people thinking that they could be contenders again in the West, but this loss could be a sign that they might have already peaked this season.

*****

The Utah Jazz beat the San Antonio Spurs in Texas for the first time this century.

When it last happened, Karl Malone led the Jazz with 30 points and no current Utah player was even in the league then.

Of course Jerry Sloan was coaching, although he was only in 47th season in charge back then.

Seriously though, it's incredible to think that the Jazz hadn't won there since 1999. It's not as if they've had dreadful teams either.

It just shows how dominant San Antonio has been at home, mentally and physically.

It's also worth noting that the Spurs were without Parker and Ginobili, but still they defeated Toronto and Dallas earlier this season while missing those two.

San Antonio are notoriously slow starters too, but this is the first time they have a sub .500 record through 10 games since 1996.

Good to see Deron Williams back for the Jazz.

His daughter had been unwell and he missed a couple of games, but since returning he's posted solid numbers which suggests that whatever his daughters illness is, it isn't playing on his mind too much which is great news.

*****

Unrelated to NBA, but this why basketball is better than hockey.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Case of Thierry Henry and the French Nickers

Before we get into the NBA rounds for today, the big story from Wednesday was France's controversial football world cup qualifying win over Ireland in Paris.

French striker Thierry Henry clearly handled the ball. That is beyond doubt. It was deliberate and it led to the goal that secured victory for France.

The question is whether or not the goal should have been allowed.

The answer is yes.

If the referee didn't see it, then it doesn't matter. Whether or not Henry is a cheat because of it, is a different matter, but unless the referee determines it to be handball or not, then the goal stands.

Simple as that.

This Irish based blogger also posed an interesting question.

Twentymajor says that Ireland captain Robbie Keane was whistled for handball twice during the match, which begs the question, is Keane any different from Henry, just because he got caught?

I mean, wasn't he trying to cheat the ref as well?

I don't see how it is any different.

Best newspaper headline goes to British tabloid, when they screamed "French Nickers".

*****

Anyway, on to the hoops.

And there was a couple of upsets in the NBA on Wednesday night.

Who would have known that the New York Knicks actually had some fight in them. The Knicks looked gone at half time trailing by 15 points; Indiana led by 30 points from Danny Granger, were shooting a scorching 59-percent.

The Knicks were still down by 13 late in the fourth quarter before storming back to win.

You know it was a bad loss for the Pacers when Eddy Curry, who was playing his first game in about a decade scored 10 points.

Mike Wells from the Indy Star has a few other insights into the Pacers worst loss of the season.

Still on the Knicks and it looks like Allen Iverson will sign with them soon, possibly as early as Thursday night.

They deserve each other really. Iverson will no doubt think that the Knicks want him there because he can lead them to the post season, but in reality, he's just going to be another side show for the circus that is New York Knicks basketball.

*****

Back to the upsets and how about the Wizards dumping LeBron by 17 points.

Antawn Jamison had 31 points and 10 boards in his return and gave us our first look of what he, Gilbert Arenas (18 points, eight assists) and Caron Butler (19 points, six rebounds) are capable if they can just stay on the floor together.

They might want to work on their three point shooting though; they combined to go 3-for-17 last night.

The Minnesota Timberwolves aren't getting any nearer to a second victory. The T'wolves are just dreadful and coach Kurt Rambis thinks that it is more on the players shoulders than anything else.

He's right.

Minnesota has had its share of injuries, but every team goes through that.

The Wolves just don't have any spark or fire and Rambis was dead right to call his players out on it.

I thought that Rambis would never have walked away from the cushy role he enjoyed as Phil Jackson's assistant, but he stepped out of his comfort zone to take the job in Minnesota.

I hope he can get something out of this franchise that has struggled for most of its existence.

*****

One franchise who knows about overcome struggles is the Atlanta Hawks.

Yet, the Hawks keep rolling, last night they brushed past the Miami Heat 105 - 90.

It's great to see Atlanta continuing to build on their strong start to the season. Regular readers of this blog know that I've been harping on about Josh Smith's maturity as a major factor behind Atlanta's success and it was evident again last night.

He was whistled for a tech foul (second for the season), but he logged his third straight double-double and also led the team in assists with seven.

It's a different story for the Miami Heat though. Or should that be the same old story in Miami.

They've been playing really badly of late. I personally think that Dwyane Wade is capable of carrying this team deep into the playoffs, but their form of late hasn't been impressive.

Dwyane Wade is too good of a player to let the slide continue and they get the defensively inept Toronto Raptors on Friday night, who Wade averages 27 points on 53-percent shooting against.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thunder Stun Heat, Suns Comeback Again, Raptors Defence Vanishes

  • It shouldn't come as much of a surprise but the Oklahoma City Thunder easily handled the Miami Heat in Florida last night. Kevin Durant had 32 points and nine rebounds, but it was the defence played by Thabo Sefolosha on Dwyane Wade that gave OKC the edge. Wade was just 6-for-19 from the field and had a season worst six turnovers. Sefolosha picked up four steals. He doesn't have the sexiest offensive game in the world, but he makes up for it on defence.

  • Also, despite Miami's 7-3 start, they needed a Wade buzzer-beater on Saturday night just to defeat the winless New Jersey Nets. Part of the reason for Miami's recent struggles ?Remember when Jermaine O'Neal had two double-doubles to open the season, well last night's (19 pts, 10 rebs)was his first since October 30. He's also battling injury again. He was a beast in his early days, but his many injuries have worn his body down and he just doesn't have the intimidation he once had.

*****

  • Speaking of old dudes, Steve Nash is showing no signs of slowing down at all. The Suns trailed the surprising Houston Rockets by 15 points mid way through the second period last night, before storming back to win by six, 111-105. The 59-year-old Nash scored only 12 points, but dished out 16 assists, and Phoenix won its fifth game of the season when trailing after three periods.

  • Amare Stoudemire was impressive again offensively, scoring 23 points on 8-for-14 shooting, but he only six rebounds. For someone of his strength and explosiveness, he should be getting 10 boards a game in his sleep.

  • Channing Frye is one of the most intriguing stories of the season. The scrawny 6'11" Frye plays at centre but jacks up three-balls like he's Baron Davis, only Frye's shooting the long ball at a 46-percent clip, while Davis fires away at a not so friendly 29-percent.

*****

  • One Clipper who's game looks to be coming around is forward Al Thornton. He started out very slowly and scored in double figures once in his first eight games, but is averaging almost 20-points-per-game over his last four. He has tremendous talent, I just hope we get to see it all in Clipperland, but it's never been a particularly great place for a young player to develop.

*****

  • The Toronto Raptors defence has improved lately, but Tuesday night against Denver was a poor performance. Toronto gave up seven dunks to the Nuggets in the third quarter and Denver scored 102 points over the last three quarters to blow the Raptors apart...again. Make it six straight wins over the Raptors in Denver.

  • To be fair, the altitude in Denver is a component that you don't really have to face in any other city, but seasoned Raptors watchers know that what they witnessed last night didn't have as much to do with lack of oxygen as it did with lack of effort.

*****

  • This has nothing to do with sport, a ballsy crocodile gets it...check it out.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Allen Iverson Already Thinking Comeback ?

  • A day after being released by the Memphis Grizzlies and the New York Knicks are reportedly considering signing him. Seems about right. The Knicks are going nowhere and have are a complete joke right now, so they might as well add Iverson who continues to say that he'd be happy to come off the bench, even if he has clearly proven to the world that that is not the case.

  • Actually, considering that the Knicks point guard is Chris Duhon, Iverson would at least be an upgrade there.

  • I was talking to a workmate and we agreed that despite the fact that Iverson is the only person in the world who still thinks he's a franchise player, if he did accept a secondary or support role at a team, he would provide a decent option to defer to. Can you imagine when Kobe gets doubled that Iverson would be alone to operate?


*****

  • Tough break for Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson will miss four to six weeks. Just as the Magic get Rashard Lewis back, Nelson goes down again. I love his game and think that Orlando really missed him in the finals last year.


*****

  • The Atlanta Hawks are crowing about being ranked No. 1 by ESPN's Marc Stein. That's a pretty good spot, but Atlanta could only make it to No. 3 on the absolute official NBA power rankings. Atlanta has a very good team and Jamal Crawford is making the most of his role as sixth man. That, and Josh Smith is playing at a very high level.


*****

  • It's hard to disagree with John Krolik from the Cavs blog. Brandon Jennings 55 point night against the Warriors was great to watch and we could all see that he has a very similar shooting style to Michael Redd, the Warriors hardly clamped down on him and made him work.

*****

  • Stephen Jackson got his wish. He wanted to go to a contender and wound up at one in the Charlotte Bobcats. The thing is with the Bobcats is that they probably won't make the playoffs but will finish just outside meaning they won't really be a chance to get the number one pick in next June's draft. The Warriors get Raja Bell and big Vladimir Radmanovic which I have no idea how they'll fit in at Golden State.

Monday, November 16, 2009

NBA Power Rankings: Blazers, Bucks and Pacers Surge; Nuggets Go Top

Milwaukee Bucks rookie Brandon Jennings explosive start to NBA life has made the Bucks relevant again and in first place in the Central division. Meanwhile, the Portland Trail Blazers have quietly won six straight and the Boston Celtics dropped back-to-back games for the first time this season to see them tumble from top spot.

What does it all mean? The week three power rankings provide the answer.

DENVER NUGGETS —While Denver only squeaked by the Bulls and then got caught up in the Brandon Jennings typhoon in Milwaukee, what was most impressive about them this week was how they used defense to stifle the Lakers. Offense is always more fun to watch, but defense is what wins championships.

LA LAKERS —The Lakers went from a 19-point victory at home to the Suns one night, to a 26-point loss on the road in Denver the next. Had the Lakers beaten the Rockets on Sunday night, they'd be in top spot.


ATLANTA HAWKS —Jamal Crawford is averaging 17 points off the bench providing the Hawks with the offensive weapon that's been missing over the last couple of seasons. Atlanta has won three straight and begins a three game homestand on Monday night against the Blazers. I love the way Josh Smith is playing right now. Mature, responsible and unselfish.

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS —Portland has won six straight, but apart from against the San Antonio Spurs, none of their wins have come against playoff-bound opponents. Defensively, Greg Oden's game looks to be coming together, now if he can just provide some consistency on the offensive end, the Blazers will become even more formidable.

PHOENIX SUNS —A thumping loss to the Lakers tempered the Suns' hot start, however, Phoenix has a fairly light schedule for the rest of the month which should keep them among the leaders out West.

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS —The Florida double-header is never easy so that the Cavs went 2-0 in two nights suggests that, after their sluggish start, LeBron has got Cleveland on the right track. The LeBron/D-Wade rivalry continues to live up to the hype.

MIAMI HEAT —In case you missed it, here it is again http://bit.ly/qEPrY3 . Oh, and then he followed that up with this http://bit.ly/2epWTx . Yes, Dwyane it is your house.

INDIANA PACERS —Danny Granger predicted a victory over the Celtics on Saturday night and was good to his word. The Pacers have won four straight and like last year, will be difficult to beat at home. Did anyone expect Dahntay Jones to be Indiana's second leading scorer at 16 PPG?

BOSTON CELTICS —The Celtics stumbled this week and showed a vulnerability against fast-paced teams. An Eastern conference finals rematch at home with the Orlando Magic is a must-watch on Friday night.

MILWAUKEE BUCKS —By now, everyone knows Brandon Jennings went off for 55 points against the Warriors on Saturday night, but did you know that for the week, the rookie shot 9-for-10 from three point range and 60-percent from the field? He's also leading the team in assists.

DALLAS MAVERICKS —The Mavericks overcame a 17-point deficit at home to defeat the Rockets but they couldn't overcome a Spurs team on the road that was missing Duncan and Parker. Dallas gets another shot at the back-to-full-strength San Antonio this week.

DETROIT PISTONS —Will Bynum is a mini-me version of Ben Wallace, but with an offensive game. The Pistons have been treading water without Hamilton and Prince but they face a tough test this week at L.A. (Lakers), Portland and Utah.

ORLANDO MAGIC —The Magic welcome back Rashard Lewis this week and his arrival couldn't come at a better time. Orlando's offense has been inconsistent and with Lewis back on the floor, it will take some of the heat off Dwight Howard.

CHICAGO BULLS —The Bulls begin the first of six straight on the road Tuesday at Sacramento. Chicago scored 60 points in the first half against Toronto on Wednesday but managed only 29 in the second half en route to a loss.

SAN ANTONIO SPURS —San Antonio still hasn't won on the road and dropped their first home game to Oklahoma City on Saturday night. The Spurs leading scorer? Four players are averaging 15 PPG.

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER —OKC burned the Spurs in San Antonio on Saturday night but then couldn't get it done against the Clippers on Sunday night, despite 40 from Kevin Durant? There is so much to like about the Thunder, but consistency continues to be their biggest obstacle.

HOUSTON ROCKETS —The Rockets are easily the hardest team to rank. They lose at Sacramento but win at the Lakers. I love Aaron Brooks's aggressiveness which is tempered perfectly by the calmness of Luis Scola.

SACRAMENTO KINGS —Just what is going on in Sactown? The Kings are 4-0 since Kevin Martin went down. I can't wait to see Tyreke Evans go up against Brandon Jennings in December. How strange does that sound, looking forward to a Bucks versus Kings matchup?

TORONTO RAPTORS —The Raptors spotted the Clippers a 22-point lead before romping home by 15 points on Friday night. Then on Sunday night, Turkoglu missed a buzzer beater against the Phoenix Suns. If Toronto can be at or over .500 by the time they return home on Friday night to face Miami, it will have been a successful road trip.

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS —Losing sophomore Marresse Speights for up to eight weeks is a severe blow to the Sixers. Philly's main problem, though, remains on the defensive end where they have already allowed more than 110 points four times this season. Elton Brand is averaging less than 10 points per game.

UTAH JAZZ —The Jazz will be happy enough with a split in the two games that they didn't have Deron Williams, who's been dealing with a medical issue with his daughter. Hopefully, she is well and D-Will is back on the court soon.

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES —If there's one player I wouldn't sign to replace Allen Iverson, it would be Jamaal Tinsley. The Pacers gave him $14 million to go away, that's got to say something about his character. Must be good enough for Grizzlies owner Michael Hiesley though.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS —The dub's squeaked out two wins this week. One was against the Timberwolves and the other against the Knicks. It just goes to show the states of Minnesota and New York that even Golden State, with all their chaos and mess can still keep it together enough to beat them.

LA CLIPPERS —Just as the Clippers looked to be getting it together again, they fell apart. To make matters worse, the Clips opened with a home heavy schedule but could only manage two wins from seven games. Sunday night's win over Oklahoma might have been the Clips' best performance of the season.

NEW ORLEANS HORNETS —Chris Paul deserves so much more than what he's getting from Hornets owner George Shinn. Byron Scott was unlucky to get the boot and the best New Orleans can hope for from this season now is a high lottery pick.

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS —The Bobcats are last in points scored and field goal percentage. They have scored less than 82 points in six of their nine games. It makes you wonder how they've acutally been able to win one, let alone three games.

WASHINGTON WIZARDS —Let me get this straight. Earl Boykins hadn't played in the NBA since April 2008, and he comes off the bench to lead the Wizards in scoring in his first game back. It still wasn't enough to stop Washington from losing their sixth straight.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES —It's hard to believe that the T'Wolves were unbeaten at one point this season. Sure it was 1-0 and their lone victory was over the Nets but the way they have played since makes you wonder how they ever did it.

NEW JERSEY NETS —The Nets remain ahead of the Knicks because they've at least shown the ability to compete, as was proven against Miami on Saturday night, but when you're down, you're down.

NEW YORK KNICKS —Mike D'Antoni will probably survive the season, but he needs to get this team to show some passion and fight. Anything better than what the Knicks have offered so far will be an improvement.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rajon Rondo: The Little Boy With The Big Mouth


If Rajon Rondo tried to, he could probably fit all $55 million dollars of his new contract into his huge mouth.

Instead, he would be wise to invest at least some of his newfound wealth in a few lesson on how to be humble and act like a pro. There's already one big baby in Boston, they don't need another.

Rondo is a good player, but one who benefits from being surrounded by Hall of Fame talent. It's a little easier to rack up assists and pad your own numbers when your options include Ray Allen on the perimeter and Kevin Garnett on the inside. If neither is available, there's always Paul Pierce.

Which team in the league is going to focus their defense on stopping Rondo before one of those three?

Shoot the ball himself? Unlikely because unless it's a lay up, or he's left wide open, Rondo barely shoots, as is shown by his 23 attempts through four games this season.

Sure, his field-goal percentage is a respectable 57-percent, and while stats don't lie, they don't always tell the full story either.
He hasn't tried a three pointer yet, nor has he been to the free throw line this season.

Perhaps Rondo is still a shuddering at the thought of entering the paint after LeBron James talked him out of doing so in the preseason and then again on opening night .

Rondo has talent, no doubt about it. He's athletic and plays hard on defense. His long-reaching arms cause many deflections and steals, and he's constantly poking his hands into his opponents' space, trying for more.

But what Rondo has in talent, he lacks in maturity and humility. He is still a little boy who needs attention. Everyone talks about Boston's Big Three, and that means they're not talking about him.

His antics against Chris Paul and the Hornets on Sunday were ridiculous.

According to a report on Yahoosports.com , Rondo said to Chris Paul during Sunday's heated clash, "I've got a ring, and you're never gonna win one."

Classy.

Yes, Rondo does have a championship ring and Paul doesn't. Factually, that is correct. Sometimes though, the best players don't always have the jewelry to show for it. Just ask Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller or Charles Barkley.

But if we're going by stats, then Rondo only needs two more rings and he'll have as many as Mark Madsen does.

Furthermore, anyone who knows anything about the NBA knows that not only is Chris Paul the best point guard in the league, but he's also one of the leagues best players. Period.

Rondo is not in the same league as Paul. Not even close.

Paul deserves respect. He has always been very respectful towards those who paved the path for him and players like him. He understands that he is in a privliged position, and he carries himself with class and dignity at all times.

Rondo's conduct towards Paul was so tacky that Ray Allen, one of the classiest players in the league, reportedly apologized to Paul for Rondo's childish behavior.

It says a lot about the way Allen felt, that whatever Rondo said to Paul, Allen needed to speak up. Usually teammates of opposing players who got into a bit of a slanging match during a game put it down to "heat of the moment" type stuff.

Not this time. Rondo had embarrassed Allen.

It's not just Allen though. In the past, Rondo has riled up coach Doc Rivers, and in the summer, General Manager Danny Ainge was continually denying reports that he was shopping Rondo. However, that is usually the standard company line until a deal is finalized.

It's also surprising that Garnett tolerates such pathetic and immature behavior from one of his troops. After battling and struggling with the Timberwolves for years, Garnett knows better than most just how hard it is to not only win a championship, but to earn the respect of your peers. Garnett was in a similar position with Minnesota for years, and he can no doubt relate to the situation Paul faces now in New Orleans.

Trash talking is one thing, but mindless drivel is another. Garnett is a perfect example. He barely stops talking from the moment he arrives at the stadium until the last light has been turned off. He gets in the face of his opponents. It's his schtick.

But does he show respect to his opponents? Always. Since winning his championship, his only focus is on winning another. And another.

That's how a man behaves. His championship speaks for itself, but you know that in the back of KG's mind he needs to win at least one more to truly cement his place in history.

Rondo is only young and hopefully his attitude soon changes, because right now all he is proving is that winners can be losers at the same time.