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:

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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:
  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:

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 . Oh, and then he followed that up with this . 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 , Rondo said to Chris Paul during Sunday's heated clash, "I've got a ring, and you're never gonna win one."


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.

Monday, November 2, 2009

NBA Power Rankings: Week 1

While many teams shook off preseason rust in opening week, the Boston Celtics look to be in midseason form already. KG's knee? Check. Paul Pierce motivated? Check? A deeper rotation despite Big Baby's big boo boo? Check.

The Celtics start the season ranked No. 1 and might be tough to remove from top spot.

  1. BOSTON CELTICS: Through four convincing victories, the Celtics points differential is almost at 20 already. It’s very early, but everything is clicking for Boston, though three of their next four games are on the road.
  2. ORLANDO MAGIC: The Magic have already knocked down 39 three-pointers this season, putting them on pace for more than a thousand makes if they keep it up. Seeing Jameer Nelson back to full strength shows just how much they missed him in the Finals last season.
  3. DENVER NUGGETS: Carmelo Anthony has stormed out of the blocks with two 40-plus point games and 41 trips to the free throw line already. Things figure to get tougher for the 3-0 Nuggets as they head East for six straight on the road.
  4. MIAMI HEAT: Jermaine O’Neal broke his nose in Sunday’s victory over the Bulls but isn’t expected to miss any time. He has been very impressive so far and is a large reason why the Heat are 3-0.
  5. PHOENIX SUNS: The Suns are unbeaten though they are yet to face a playoff opponent. That ends this week as they take a trek East, where they face Orlando, Miami, Boston, Washington, and Philadelphia all on the road.
  6. L.A. LAKERS: Sandwiched between two comfortable victories was a surprising home loss to the Mavericks. It was probably the early wake up that Kobe needed just to remind him that repeating is never easy. Andrew Bynum’s maturity has been more impressive than his career numbers so far.
  7. SAN ANTONIO SPURS: The Spurs have looked re-energized at home, though the Bulls easily handled them in Chicago. Back-to-back trips this week to Utah and Portland should give us a closer indication of what the Spurs will be all about this season.
  8. DALLAS MAVERICKS: The Wizards strolled into Dallas on opening night and grabbed a win, but Dallas quickly responded by doing the double over L.A. on Friday and Saturday night. Shawn Marion’s energy is just what the Mavericks have lacked in recent years.
  9. WASHINGTON WIZARDS: Will Washington’s Big Three ever see court time together again? After missing Saturday nights game, Caron Butler is expected to return on Tuesday but Antawn Jamison is still two weeks away. The good news is that Gilbert Arenas looks to be completely over his knee injuries, though he’s still not talking all that much.
  10. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: There was expected to be an adjustment period with the big Shaq-usition, but after recovering from an 0-2 start, there is talk of bringing O’Neal off the bench. I still have no idea why the Cavs gave Jamario Moon $8 million over three years.
  11. HOUSTON ROCKETS: Trevor Ariza wanted to be the man and he’s shown so far that maybe, just maybe, he can be a go-to guy. He’s averaging 29 PPG and the Rockets are 2-1. A matchup with the Lakers on Wednesday should be compulsive viewing.
  12. OKLAHOMA CITY: Kevin Durant was just 3-for-21 from the field in the Thunder’s first loss, but last season, OKC didn’t register two wins until November 29, this year they reached that mark before the end of October.
  13. ATLANTA HAWKS: There is still something missing from this team. On Sunday night against the Lakers, the Hawks conceded 18 unanswered points en route to their first loss. Mental strength continues to be the issue in Atlanta.
  14. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: The Sixers laid an egg on opening night but responded with two solid victories. They host the Celtics on Tuesday where they get a chance to show if they are for real or not.
  15. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: Greg Oden got his first big chance to show that he was cool in the clutch but fluffed his lines when he missed two free throws late against the Nuggets. Brandon Roy needs consistent help on offense if the Blazers are going to cement their place in the western conference elite.
  16. CHICAGO BULLS: The Bulls opened with an impressive win over the Spurs but were crushed by the Celtics one night later. Derrick Rose avoided the rookie wall, but with averages of 10 PPG and 5 APG so far through three games, signs are that he might be facing one in his sophomore season.
  17. UTAH JAZZ: The Jazz can’t move forward until they part with Carlos Boozer. He’s moody and just isn’t a good enough defender for a player of his size.
  18. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS: The Hornets pushed the Celtics on Sunday, further than any team had so far, but the gap in depth became evident as Boston pulled away at the end. Chris Paul must be fuming after George Shinn gave away Rasual Butler.
  19. MILWAUKEE BUCKS: It’s only been two games but Brandon Jennings has settled the starting point guard debate already. It’s his. It’s not good to hear that Michael Redd is already experiencing soreness in his right knee.
  20. DETROIT PISTONS: Through three games, Ben Wallace is averaging 10 rebounds and playing more than 30 minutes. I say again, he could just be the steal signing of the summer.
  21. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: Through three games, the Grizz have had three different guys top them in scoring and not one has been Rudy Gay. If Memphis can get everything together, they are capable of doing some serious damage, but it’s not good to hear that O.J. Mayo and Gay had to be separated in Sunday’s loss.
  22. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS: 59 points on opening night was a disgusting effort. Getting Raja Bell back should at least help their offense, but it’s hard to believe in Charlotte performing better than they did last year.
  23. TORONTO RAPTORS: After a stirring home win over the Cavs to open the season, the Raptors bubble quickly burst with losses against Memphis and Orlando. With seven of their next nine out West and on the road, the Raptors struggle to maintain .500 ball has already begun.
  24. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: Johnny Flynn is another rookie making impressive strides early on. Wonder if Ricky Rubio is paying attention?
  25. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: The Stephen Jackson trade watch continues in earnest but just who would want to hear the words from their agent that they are heading to Oakland to play under Don Nelson?
  26. INDIANA PACERS: Danny Granger is doing all he can, but Indiana hasn’t really been close to a victory in either game so far. With four of their next five at home, the Pacers should at least get on the board.
  27. SACRAMENTO KINGS: Tyreke Evans is the third rookie point guard to feature in today’s rankings. I like Kevin Martin, but seriously, in 33 minutes against the Spurs, he didn’t get one assist or rebound. That is just not good enough.
  28. NEW JERSEY NETS: Seeing Devin Harris already missing time due to a groin strain adds weight to the theory that he’s far too injury prone. Brook Lopez exploded for 27 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 blocks on opening night, but has grabbed just 8 rebounds since.
  29. L.A. CLIPPERS: Oh the Clippers. Baron Davis looks in great shape, but his shot selection, which has always been questionable, seems to be getting worse. Blake Griffin must be wishing that he hadn’t been such a lock for the No. 1 pick last June.
  30. NEW YORK KNICKS: Did the Knicks work on anything over the summer? It’s OK to lose with dignity, but the way the Knicks are playing, it’s like they don’t even respect themselves.