Linas Kleiza has taken the basketball world by storm. The numbers are gaudy – 10 ppg, 42% from the field and the charisma is awe-inspiring. No, he didn’t play against the Pistons on Wednesday, but he rocked the suede blazer with class and charm.
A couple posts ago I discredited the Thunder for its lack of post scoring and dependence on the outside shot. Though I am unwavering in this contention, I’ve noticed a major positive that may help them through the Western Conference playoffs – poise on the road.
Case in point – Feb 1. Thunder @ Mavs. OKC held the lead all game, but Dallas mounted a furious rally to tie with two minutes left. The first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter saw the Thunder turn the ball over, force long distance shots late in the clock and allow Dirk and Jason Terry to assume control on offence.
Timeout OKC. Next five possessions –
1) Westbrook sticks open two. 87-85 OKC.
3) Durant posts up and nails a 15 footer. 89-85.
5) Westbrook drills three. 92-85. 1 minute left.
This week OKC won close games on a back-to-back at Portland then Golden State and lost a tight one at Sacramento last night.
It’s encouraging to see the mental toughness of a burgeoning young team. In a horrendous schedule every team has thrown away road games either in favour of conserving energy or because it couldn’t fight through the mental fatigue from facing a rabid away crowd. The Thunder are showing us they can handle themselves in any environment, which bodes well for the post-season.
Shaquille O’neal is the runaway leader for most atrocious announcer, but Reggie Miller isn’t far behind. He is an arrogant, condescending, non-inciteful jerk. Commentating last week’s Bulls-Knicks game, he had this gem after Derrick Rose went for a steal and found himself out of position after failing to come up with the swipe:
“You’re Derrick Rose,” Great start. “If you gamble for a steal again you gotta be sure you’re gonna come up with it.”
Last I checked gambles weren’t sure things.
This was disgusting. Everyone’s hailing this as the dunk of the year. One problem – this isn’t a dunk. Just like this isn’t a dunk. A real jam must involve the hand(s) clutching the rim. That little hang on the rim caps one of the most fierce and artistic plays in sports. Though Blake Griffin may have produced the highlight of the year, he is not on the list for best slam.
The 2011-2012 season has officially entered grind-mode. Key players are missing time to conserve for the stretch run. Rose, Wade, Pierce, Amare, Paul, Deng and Primo Brezec Bargnani have missed or will miss several games. We knew the schedule would wear on the players, but I missed an obvious by-product of the back-to-back-back-breaking sched – if your star goes down for say two weeks, he’s going to miss a lot of time. Continue reading “Quarter Season – Illusions and Reality”
Transition D-fense had to recharge its batteries over the last week. The Heat will have to rest their stars at some points during the year. I will too.
The one game I did catch was Magic/Warriors on Thursday night. I wanted to see how Dwight Howard and his posse of gunners were handling themselves. Commentators from far and wide have ripped “Superman” for waffling between wanting to get traded, wanting to stick around, and wanting to stick around then join a contender in the offseason. But they’ve also criticized him for how he’s playing this year, not by noting a lack of production, instead – they’ve cited uninspiring body language and a lack of smiling. Ironically, according to the same experts, these were indicators of a lack of competitive fire in prior years. Continue reading “Some Light Magic”
I’m as big an NBA fan as they come. I PVR every west coast game and watch it the next morning over milk-soaked Rice Crispies. I just watched Game 6 of the Knicks/Rockets 1994 NBA Final, and raved about Vernon Maxwell’s tenacity. But even an NBA junkie has his limits.
The schedule is as dense as my brain during tax season. If I can’t watch the Lakers play seven games in nine nights, it’s gotta be tough for the players. The 2011-2012 season is a battle of attrition, and the declining quality of games has taken the lustre off the 11th-hour lockout resolution.
Teams are clearly worn down already. How else do you explain the Blazers throttling the Thunder Tuesday, the Lakers Thursday, then losing by 25 to the Suns? I know the Raptors aren’t sliced bread, but after four games in six nights you can’t blame them for losing by a combined 47 points to New Jersey and Philly (you can’t blame them but you can throw a throw-pillow at your TV).
Just check last week’s boxscores – every game is decided by double digits. If a team falls behind early, whether physically or mentally – it decides it can’t get back in the game. The lead balloons until it’s garbage time and Jake Voskuhl takes the floor.
At first I was elated by the nightly high-caliber match-ups. Now I’m realizing I prefer quality over quantity.