Monthly Archives: January 2011

Eddie House fined for big balls dance

Deez Nuts

The NBA takes balls very seriously.

On Sunday afternoon, Eddie House hit a three pointer with 22 seconds left in Oklahoma City that helped seal the Heat’s 108-103 win over the Thunder.  He proceeded to motion towards his genitalia as though they were a lot bigger than they really are and the NBA wasn’t amused.

Today, the league handed House a $25,000 fine which is probably the most a player has ever paid for having enormous balls.  He has made the gesture before without a fine but head coach Erik Spoelstra has promised that fans will not have to see how big House’s testicles are in the future.

“The league came down on [the gesture],” Spoelstra said, “so we’ve taken it and it won’t happen again.”

House was probably a little too excited about becoming relevant in an offense that has a knack for alienating players outside of the big three.  The well-travelled veteran is having one of his worst seasons ever with only six points a game.  He finished Sunday night with only five.  However, his balls are bigger than ever.

This is the most controversial ball incident the league has seen since the synthetic ball was introduced to the league in 2006.

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Lessons Learned… Hopefully

Some may refer to these as the dog days of the NBA season as January comes to an end and the All-Star break approaches.  However, it was a busy weekend in the NBA and there was a lot to be taken away from it.

The Thunder and Heat need to step up

OKC needs to find some D.

Yes, Eddie House hit the game-winning three pointer in Oklahoma City against a worn out Thunder team to seal the Heat’s 108-103 win (he only had five points for the game including that three pointer).

OKC’s previous two games against the terrible Wizards and Timberwolves had both gone into overtime.  However, they still came out with two wins.

On Sunday, they looked tired and it showed in their defense.  Miami shot 52 percent from the floor and they gave up five threes just to the Heat’s bench.  House had one of those threes on a play where Russell Westbrook didn’t even notice him in the corner.

Oklahoma still needs that defensive piece outside of Westbrook and Kevin DurantNick Collison has energy but isn’t going to cut it in when it matters most.  Daequan Cook fouled out and was on the floor way too long (31 minutes).  James Harden had five fouls, which just so happens to be the same amount of points he scored.

Durant chose to run his mouth about Chris Bosh’s toughness after the game but it was the Thunder defense that looked flimsy.  It’s good that he opened his mouth but this team is 21st in the league in points allowed with 102 a game.  They only held three teams to under 100 points in the month of January (The Hornets 91, the Mavericks 99 and the Knicks 98).

However, the Heat were far from perfect.  We are still looking at a team driven by a few players that need to create their own scoring opportunities that often leave the rest of the team out.  Both Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers didn’t seem like either were included in any sort of offensive game plan.

It’s simple: they aren’t passing enough.

The Heat are 27th in league with 19 assists per game and it’s not just LeBron James coming to town.  His Cavs were second in the league last season in assists with nearly 27 a game.

The team decided to start Chalmers over Carlos Arroyo.  Great.  Chalmers is averaging a HUMONGOUS two assists per game.  In addition, Dwayne Wade is not a pass-first point guard and he has a terrible knack for turning the ball over (he had nine on Sunday).

In addition, the Heat would look a lot better if Udonis Haslem was around to help lock down the NBA’s superstars.  Here are just a few players that scored well against the Heat in January.

Kevin Durant- 33

Amar’e Stoudemire– 24

DeMar DeRozan– 30

Derrick Rose– 34

J.R. Smith– 28

LaMarcus Aldridge– 31

Dorell Wright– 30

Tough luck that Haslem is out but they still have over three weeks before the trade deadline.

It’s hard to judge this team for many reasons.  They have built a new system around two marquee players.  It has had its road bumps and there are several wins that essentially only three guys on the team have won for them.  With only three players to play against, a seven-game playoff plan may be pretty easy to develop especially if your name is Doc Rivers…

LA doesn’t mean business

It didn't really work out that well.

The Celtics didn’t just go to Los Angeles and beat the Lakers 109-96.  They went on the road, sealed their twelfth win in January and showed the defending champs whose league it is.  It would have meant something if LA had actually showed up.

Alright, Kobe Bryant scored 41 but none of the other starters showed up.

Ron Artest finished the evening 1-10 from the field with only three points.  It’s not like he was too focused on shutting down Paul Pierce since he managed to drop 32 points on him.

Andrew Bynum might as well have had on camouflage since he was essentially invisible.  We can just go ahead and refer to him as the Cotton Curtain since he wasn’t even able to slow down Glen Davis who managed to take over in the fourth and dropped 13 points in 23 minutes in the game.  Bynum’s five personal fouls almost matched his amount of rebounds at six.  Sad.

This team has nothing to rely on outside of Kobe and that shouldn’t be news to any NBA fans.  The Black Mamba shows this too.  On several key plays, he drove the lane just to find a double or triple team.  His passes turned into missed shots and his frustration turned into bad decisions in the fourth quarter.  Even he seemed to have given up when Rivers handed Nate Robinson the keys to the offense.

They miss Matt Barnes who has been out since early January with a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee.  He has a defensive bite that they need with a worn out Artest.

Everyone knew it would happen: Lamar Odom and Gasol would get worn out.  Bynum isn’t the player they thought he would be and it’s time to realize that.  Steve Blake was essentially a worthless pickup.  The Lakers are another team that are underperforming and for multiple reasons; however, it isn’t too late to make some moves that could help land them another title.

Don’t look back Dallas

Mavs may want to sign Mavs Man in order to increase their scoring.

January was a very forgettable month for the Mavericks.  They lost six straight during the middle of the month with Dirk Nowitzki out with an ankle sprain.  Caron Butler’s knee injury hasn’t helped out either.

They are 23rd in the league in scoring with only 97 a game and their 102-91 win over the Hawks shouldn’t get fans too excited.  Atlanta has been streaky all season and they have lost to both the Bucks and Nets twice this season.

Dallas misses its scoring.  Butler was bringing in 15 points a night and only Jason Terry seems to be filling in the void in scoring.  The team decided not to resign Sasha Pavlovic and Shawn Marion will have to step into the starting role.

In addition, Nowitzki needs to get back to form.  He has only been scoring an average of 19 a night since returning from injury.  He has only scored over 20 points twice since returning (32 against Detroit and 23 against the Nets).

The Mavs need more scoring but it doesn’t seem like they really want it.

Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stevenson, J.J. Barea, Brian Cardinal and Butler are all approaching expiring contracts.  Mark Cuban’s mouth has remained essentially shut aside from stating that Roddy Beaubois is untradeable.

Why? Who knows…

Robby B hasn’t played a game all season due to a bad ankle that he broke again somewhere in there.  He was supposed to come back in November.  It’s February and we still have yet to hear when he will return.

It really doesn’t look like the Mavs will make the necessary move to really compete come playoff time.  What they are doing right now will not get them very far.

There are several lessons to take from this past weekend.  Moves need to be made and game plans need to be changed.  It’s simple to write about and criticize their problems but these teams need to take action in order for anything to change.  The answers are in their hands but only they can do something about it.

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Mamma Said Knock You Out

One of the greatest games for the Super Nintendo (there is one in the living room here) was Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. It mastered the art of pitting a tiny protagonist against lumbering and quite comical behemoths on the route to fight the greatest boxer at the time, Mike Tyson. Each boxer had their own weaknesses that were easy to exploit once a player learned them. However, I sure am glad that this opponent was not in the original version.

With the way that Tyson Chandler has transformed the Dallas Mavericks’ defense he has proven that he is a paint presence to be reckoned with. Kevin Garnett would certainly have qualms about punching Chandler in the junk. Chandler would punch him out.

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Speights Dominates as Sixers Beat Raptors

Speights owned the zone

Finally, I knew he had it in him. All he needed was the opportunity to shine. On Wednesday night, Marreese Speights showed what he is truly capable of doing.

The Philadelphia 76ers were on the road facing the NBA’s only D-League affiliated team, the Toronto Raptors. Because the Raptors have so many D-League alumni on their team it can be very hard to get all of the players on the same page on offense and defense. Therefore, they need to keep things simple. On defense they employed the zone much to the delight of 76ers coach Doug Collins and Speights.

Speights completely annihilated the zone defense. According to Collins, Philadelphia ran the same play for almost the entire second quarter and that is when Speights did his heaviest damage.

He scored 17 of his season-high 23 points in the second frame. Everything came easy for him on the night as he was 10-12 from the field while also pulling down nine rebounds, six of which were offensive as the 76ers defeated the Raptors 107-94.

I wrote early on that Speights had the potential to be a solid player this season if he was simply given the opportunity. On Wednesday night the opportunity was there and he seized it. He did all his damage in just 17 minutes.

Raptors Head Coach Jay Triano had this to say after his team dropped its ninth consecutive game: “I thought our defense was very porous all night.” Obviously.

This was Philadelphia’s sixth win in a row.

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Jason Williams Leaves the Orlando Magic

Chocolate no more

The Magic announced that reserve point guard Jason Williams has left the organization Wednesday afternoon via Twitter.

Denton Reports: Jason Williams has left the team. GM Otis Smith said the matter will be dealt with when the team returns from its road trip.

Williams has only appeared in 16 games for the Magic this season as he has dealt with personal issues and arthritic feet. Most recently, though, he took part in Orlando’s team practice on Tuesday at the Amway center after missing the Magic’s present two game road trip according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.

General manager Otis Smith had this to say about Williams’ latest absence from the team: “From what I gather, he’s facing more of a personal issue. I don’t know if he wants more playing time. That was talked to him about before we signed him. When we signed him, we signed him as a third point guard. That didn’t necessarily change.”

Whatever the issue may be, it now looks as though Williams’ career in the NBA is drawing to a close. Here’s hoping that he will team up with the Professor on the AND1 Mix Tape Tour and let White Chocolate ride once again.

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Chris Bosh Will Miss More Games

The health of Bosh has always been a smoke and mirrors affair

Chris Bosh is expected to miss at least the next four games for the Miami Heat according to Ira Winderman at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Head Coach Erik Spoelstra said that injury that Bosh suffered on January 15 against the Chicago Bulls is a high ankle sprain. The injury occurred when Bulls’ center, Omer Asik, was diving for a loose ball and rolled up on Bosh’s ankle.

The injury prompted Bosh to issue a string of statements exuding masculinity and his will to play through any injury for the sake of the team. One gets a sense that he likens the hardwood to the gridiron. This is what he said:

C’mon, that is how guys get hurt, that is how serious injuries happen.

You’ve got to watch people’s legs. I know guys want to hustle and everything but we all want to play and provide for our families and have a job.

We all want to be healthy and that is very important. If it is by somebody’s leg, don’t dive for the ball, it’s too close.

It could’ve been a lot worse so I consider myself lucky. The damage is mild, so I’ll just do the proper treatment and what the doctors tell me to do. I couldn’t push off of it. In situations like that you have to keep the big picture in mind.

via Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com

Bosh has already missed Miami’s previous two contests, a loss to Atlanta and a trouncing of Toronto. Spoelstra has said that Bosh will not be available to play until he gets a full practice session under his belt. The Heat will go through a full practice on Wednesday but will not have another one until February 2. Until that time, Bosh will continue to undergo treatment to get him back to full strength.

According to Spoelstra, Bosh “has to be able to run. He has to be able to move side to side and he has to be able to do all the basketball movements without thinking about it. So that is a subjective feel to the player. Until he gets to that point, where he’s really going full speed, non-contact, we won’t be able to make a real judgment on when he can come back.”

Meanwhile, in the bitter cold in Toronto, Bryan Colangelo is sitting at his desk with a smirk on his face nodding to himself silently. It may be a new city and a new team, but it is the same Bosh.

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Rookie Update

All the way back on October 18, 2010, we produced a list of eleven rookies who we though worthy of keeping an eye on this season. A few of them were no-brainer picks. Now that half the season is over it would be a good time to take a glance at how they are doing for their respective franchises.

DeMarcus Cousins – Sacramento Kings

Cousins was making an early, self promoted, push for Rookie of the Year. However, his season has been plagued with inconsistency spending time both as a starter and as a reserve. Recently, he has been playing better. He needs to become a better rebounder though. Cousins has only recorded double figure rebounds in nine of the games he has played in and only has seven double doubles. Considering the company he keeps on this list he needs to improve if he even wants an outside chance for ROY. Averages of 13 points and five rebounds while shooting 42.3 percent are not going to cut it when he is listed at 6’11” and 270 pounds. It would also behoove him to stay out of foul trouble.

Derrick Favors – New Jersey Nets

Favors has found himself in and out of favor with Avery Johnson. Who could have guessed that Johnson would treat a rookie in such a manner? On top of that, he was one of the key features of the now defunct trade attempt for Carmelo Anthony. That has to have done wonders for his confidence. Favors has found himself back in favor of late and has started the Nets’ previous 11 games. During this time his scoring average has been a tidy 7.4 points which is an improvement over his season average of 6.6 points per game. However, Favors was held scoreless in two of the contests in which he started. That does not bode well for Johnson’s blood pressure. The Only player who has spent more time in Johnson’s doghouse this season than Favors is Troy Murphy.

Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers

If you have seen any basketball dunk highlights this season then you have seen the power that Griffin wields. Then there is this number: 27. That is the number of consecutive double-doubles he had this season. Only Kevin Love had more this season (he is currently at 30). Griffin is averaging 22.8 points and 12.9 rebounds per contest while also dishing out 3.5 assists.  To top that he gets 20.1 percent of the total rebounds available while he is on the court. He is a shoe in for Rookie of the Year. No question.

Timofey Mozgov – New York Knicks

Mozgov is a complete nonfactor in Mike D’Antoni’s rotation. He began the year in the starting lineup but has since found himself relegated to the bench with limited minutes. Maybe he should reach out to fellow countryman Mikhail Prokhorov and ask for asylum on the Nets. Mozgov’s most notable moment of the season was having Blake Griffin scale him for a monstrous slam.

Jeremy Lin – Golden State Warriors/Reno Bighorns

Lin has spent some time in the D-League this season as the Warriors try to figure out what kind of a team they have outside of Monta Ellis. He has had two stints with the Reno Bighorns. Lin has played well in the D-League where he has averaged 18.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. Here’s hoping that the Warriors’ hometown favorite can return to the NBA and stay there.

Larry Sanders – Milwaukee Bucks

Sanders can best be described as an offensively limited block machine. He is tied for second overall in blocks per 40 minutes with 3.8. Considering that he only plays an average of 14.5 minutes per game and has only appeared in 30 games that is a rather impressive statistic. He recorded eight blocks against Denver on December 1, 2010 in 33:30 minutes of playing time. Clearly, Sanders, is poised to grow into a defensive presence at the power forward. His defensive rating for the season is a 98. However, for a big man he needs to improve his post game and become more efficient around the rim.

Tiago Splitter – San Antonio Spurs

Much like Mozgov, Splitter is not a rookie in the traditional sense because he has overseas experience. In fact, Splitter had a rather successful career in the Euroleague. With the Spurs? Well, not so much. He has only appeared in 34 games for San Antonio this season and has just not found a way to work himself into Greg Popovich’s rotation and is seeing an average of just 11.4 minutes of action in the games he plays in. What is holding him back is that when he does play significant minutes in a game his production is far from consistent as he has only scored in double figures five times this season and has not recorded a double-double. He did come close once on December 22, 2010 when he had 12 points and nine rebounds but close does not cut it. It is very likely that Splitters role with the team will not change any time in the near future as San Antonio continues to breeze through the league on a pace to win 69 games.

Evan Turner – Philadelphia 76ers

Turner was drafted second overall in last summer’s draft. As of right now, that is the highlight of his short career. He was supposed to help turn around a struggling 76ers organization and has been nothing but below mediocre. When a player is drafted second overall it is expected that they are going to make an immediate impact and be in the starting lineup. Turner has only started in 12 games and only surpassed the 20 point plateau once this season. His averages for the season are 7.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists. Yuck. That is like Derrick Favors on a good day. What this goes to show is that no player, no matter how good they were in college, is a lock to be a solid NBA player (or maybe players from Ohio State just suck at in the pros). But, hey, he is a rookie and has his career ahead of him. Maybe he will turn in around. Until then the focus of the 76ers will be the development of Jrue Holiday.

Ekpe Udoh – Golden State Warriors

Much of the first half of the season was marred by injury for Udoh. Now that he is healthy he is proving that even when he does get minutes he produces little if anything. He played almost 23 minutes against the Kings on December 21, 2010 and did not even take a shot! Not even a free throw. Enough said, moving on…

Greivis Vasquez – Memphis Grizzlies

My counterpart at the Beef had high hopes for Vasquez when the Grizzlies drafted him. Now, with half an NBA season under his belt, all expectations should be tempered. He has scored ten points just once this season and has never scored more than that and has never recorded more than seven assists. Seven assists is not a bad number but he has only recorded more than five assists five times in 39 games. Memphis is overloaded at the swing position so it is going to be a while before Vasquez finds his niche.

John Wall – Washington Wizards

The biggest concern for Wall during the first half of the season was his turnovers. (His health was also a major concern.) They were out of control and that is not a good thing, to say the least, for a point guard, especially a young one. He has not completely managed to keep them in check but has done a far better job of holding onto the ball while increasing his assists. For the season, Wall is averaging 9.2 assists. In the month of January, he has averaged 10.6 assists per game with only 4.3 turnovers during that same stretch. For the season is Wall is averaging 15.2 points but only shooting 40 percent from the field and 30.9 percent from long range. He needs to improve his shooting percentage. But, using Derrick Rose as a model, this will likely happen. If Wall can lead the Wizards to a road victory this season he should consider it a consolation prize to not winning the NBA Finals.

Clearly, rookies cannot be judged on an equal basis. Systems and coaches dictate a lot in the development of young players.  Each of the players above has a whole career ahead of them. Who is to say that any of the players who are not named Blake Griffin or John Wall on this list will not become an NBA All Star one day? It is not like all of them are going to turn out to be Hasheem Thabeet.

There is a player that must be added to this list who was not under consideration when it was originally written…

Landry Fields – New York Knickerbockers.

He has simply been brilliant in the short rotation that D’Antoni loves to employ. He has started all 44 games for the Knicks thus far and has been solid in nearly every single one. His averages of 9.8 points and 7.1 rebounds have been some of the most consistent of any rookie on a team that will more than likely make the playoffs. What certainly does not hurt is that Fields is shooting at a clip of 52.1 percent from the floor and 38.3 percent from deep. In any system, he would be a major contributor.

Images via NBA.com

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