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Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 17, 2011- The Season That Wasn't

The Staples Center was sold out and filled with stars as the New York Knicks came to town to visit the Los Angeles Lakers. The Knicks and Carmelo Anthony were coming off a disappointing effort in Denver which the usually reserved Mike D'Antoini called "uninspiring". The Lakers looked to continue to adjust life with Mike Brown as head coach. Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, and Al Pacino were among the celebs in the house. 

The Knicks came out with much better energy than they did in Denver behind Toney Douglas, who started for the injured Chauncy Billups. Douglas broke down the slower LA point guards off the dribble, scoring 9 of the first 14 Knicks points as the Knicks led 14 to 5 to open the game. The Lakers pounded the ball into Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum on the inside and Lakers knotted the score at 20 -20 with two minutes to play in the quarter. Kobe Bryant had a quiet first quarter playing the role of distributor, dishing out four assists. The Knicks closed the first on a 7-2 run to lead 27-22 at the end of one led by Douglas's 12 points.

The Lakers benched provided a spark to start the second behind Lamar Odom and Matt Barnes. Odom hit his first four shots to start the period while Barnes did his usual dirty work: playing tough defense and diving for loose balls.  The Lakers 15-3 run to start the period gave them a 37-30 lead with eight minutes to play int he quarter. Amare Stoudamire re-entered the game after early foul trouble and went to work hitting two face up jumpers which set a thunderous two hand dunk. Carmelo, looking to atone for  a 9 for 24 shooting night in Denver and a 1 for 5 start in first quarter, attacked the basket drawing three quick fouls on Metta World Peace.  With Kobe content to play the role of passer, the Lakers offense struggled as the Knicks regained the lead at the half , 51- 42.  Toney Douglas led the Knicks with 16 points , followed by Stoudamire and Anthony with 11 each. The Lakers were led by  Andrew Bynum with 13 points and Lamar Odom with 10. Kobe Bryant finished the half with 4 points, 6 assists on  2 for 8 field goals

With the Lakers struggling, Kobe went back into scoring mode. Bryant scored  the first 10 points of the half on 5 for 6 field goals as the Lakers took a one point lead.  The Knicks responded behind Douglas who continued to work over Derek Fisher and Steve Blake. With the Laker guards playing off, Douglas stepped behind the line and dropped in another 11 points in the quarter to finish the third with 27, just three points off his career high of 30 set last season versus Chicago. At the end of the third, the score was tied at  74. Kobe finishing with 16 in the quarter to take the Laker scoring lead with 20.

The fourth quarter was a back and forth affair as the two teams exchanged the lead over the first three minutes. With Douglas on the bench, and Anthony and Stoudamire resting, the Knicks got a surprise contribution from ex-Laker Ronny Turiaf. Turiaf crashed the offensive glass scoring eight points and grabbing five rebounds. The Lakers answered Turiaf with Steve Blake knocking down open jumpers to keep the Lakers close.  With nine minutes remaining, Bryant, Stoudamire, Anthony re-entered the fray along with the star of the night  Douglas. The Knicks went away from Douglas and tried to establish Stoudamire down low but Bynum was up to the challenge rejecting Stoudamire at the hoop and contesting shots. Bryant continued to go into the post , using a variety of post moves against Landry Fields. With five minutes to play the Lakers looked to have created some seperation with an eight point lead,  96-88.  Douglas went back to work converting a three-point play and then a steal and layup. Douglas would finish the night with 36 to lead all scorers. The Knicks finally regained the lead at 100-98 with two and half minutes to play on two Anthony free throws. The Lakers would even the score at 100 on a tip -in by Gasol. The two teams exchanged empty possessions. With 1:20 left, Bryant would hit one of two free throws to put Lakers up 101-100.  Douglas would make the last of his career high scoring night with a bank shot over the out stretched arm of Bynum as the shot clock went off to put the Knicks up 102-101.  A Bryant three point play with  41 seconds left gave the Lakers a 104-102 lead . After a timeout, the Knicks ran the clock down before Carmelo hit a tough turnaround with twenty seconds left to tie the game at 104. The Lakers ran "iso-Kobe" for the last shot. Bryant worked his way into paint and drew a defender but instead pitched it out to Odom who knocked down a baseline jumper with 0.2 seconds to give the Lakers the win 106-104.

A "Melo" Night:  Carmelo Anthony took a back seat to the career night of Toney Douglas. Anthony scored 19 points on 7 for 17 field goals.

Toney Award:  Toney Douglas was fantastic in defeat, scoring 36 points on   13 for 22 shooting , 4 for 7 three point field goals. He also registered 4 steals and completely terrorized the Laker point guards

Sixth Sense: Lamar Odom continued to state his case as the early season's Sixth Man of the Year, coming off the bench scoring  21 points, grabbing 8 rebounds, and knocking down the game winner

Other Games
Boston  95, Orlando  87

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

November 16, 2011- The Season That Wasn't

In a rematch of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Boston Celtics visited South Beach to take on their rivals the Miami Heat.  The American Airlines Arena was in playoff mode as the Heat called for another "Whiteout" despite this being just the second week of the season. For the Celtics, it was a return to the scene of the crime as last time the two teams met, the Heat were knocking the Celtics out in five games.  Both teams looking to make  a statement early despite it only reading November calendar.

The game opened up with both teams playing their usual airtight defense to open the game. Other than Lebron James knocking down a couple of stepbacks to beat the shot clock, the Heat struggled to get into their offense. On the other end, the Celtics struggled to hold onto the ball as they turned it over six times in the first six minutes. The Heat were able to build a six point lead at the end of the first quarter 23-17, James leading the way with nine in the first quarter. The Celtics shot just 7 for 19 in the first quarter with eight turnovers.  The Heat bench provided a spark in the second quarter to grow the Heat lead to thirteen behind rookie point guard Norris Cole. With Rajon Rondo on the bench , Cole harrassed the Celtic guards and created transition opportunities. James Jones, resigned in the offseason, made two quick three pointers in transition and Dexter Pittman provided  a surprise inside presence as the Heat lead grew to as many as 17. Doc Rivers reinserted his starting unit and Erik Spolestra did the same. At the half , the Heat led 49-35.  James led all scorers with 19 at the break. The Celtics were led by Jeff Green with 10.

The Celtics were able to cut the lead down to five at the end of the third behind the veteran Ray Allen. After a scoreless first half, Allen scored 14 in the third quarter on  5 of 6 from the field (4 for 4 from the 3 pt line). The Celtics also tightened up their transition defense and defensive rebounding. The Celtics outscored the Heat  30-21 in the third, shooting  11 for 18 from the field in the quarter while Heat made just 8 for 22 in the period. At the end of three , Heat lead  70-65 with James leading the way with 24.

The fourth quarter began in unusual style as both teams chose so sit all of their starters to begin the period. While coaches usually managed their starters minutes early in a season, all ten starters sitting in a rivalry game was definitely rare.  The Heat benched continued to play well was Jones dropped another seven points to start the period while Pittman and Cole continued to do the dirty work as the Heat were able to extend the lead to ten at   81-71 with seven minutes to play.  Rivers responded by subbing in all his starters at the same time, which was countered by Spolestra making the corresponding line change eliciting a smile from both coaches towards the other.  The Celtics closed the gap to three with a  12-5 to make it 86-83 Heat lead with  three and half minutes left to play.  With the game in the balance, Lebron James reprises his role from Game 5 last year. He converted a three point play, followed by a steal which led to a Chris Bosh layup, and then James drove the lane for a two hand dunk over Jermaine Oneal which sent the Heat crowd into a frenzy as the Heat extended the lead back to ten at 93-83.  The Celtics would get no closer as the Heat finished the game off at the free throw line winning 99-89 making an early season statement that they still had the C's number

King and His Court
Lebron James continued his great play over the Celtics, scoring 35 points, grabbing 9 rebounds and dishing 6 assists.

Three The Hard Way
Boston's trio had a tough night.  Ray Allen led the Celtics with a team high 22 points, but shot just  8 for 21 from the floor.  Kevin Garnett, in foul trouble,  scored just 8 points, grabbing 8 rebounds in 29 minutes. Paul Pierce suffered through a 5 for 19 night , scoring 14 points.

Other Scores
Charlotte  90, Cleveland 92
Phoenix 119, Toronto 99
Indiana 88, Atlanta 91
Houston  69, New Orleans 82
Milwaukee 77, Minnesota 101
New Jersey 102, Oklahoma City 98
Dallas 95, Memphis 90
LA Clippers 101, San Antonio 95
Chicago  88, Portland 83
Washington 90, Sacramento  99
New York  96, Denver  107  (C. Anthony  23 pts in return to Denver)
Philadelphia  108, Golden State 101

Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14, 2011- The Season That Wasn't

After a weekend off, "The Season That Wasn't" returns as the Sacramento Kings visit the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies were off to a so-so start to the "season" showing some of the same potential for greatness and disaster they showed during the previous season followed by an exciting playoff run. The Kings were building around their young, mercurial talent of DeMarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans. A draft day trade also got them JJ Hickson from the Cavaliers along with drafting BYU star Jimmer Fredette. The Grizzlies returned everyone from their team last year. Coach Lionel Hollins is using the beginning parts to reincorporate Rudy Gay back into the mix after missing the last two months of season with a shoulder injury.

Despite being a Monday night in November, the FedEx crowd was raucous as ever and the Grizzlies ran out to a 23-7 lead by doing what they do best; pound the ball into Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. The dynamic inside duo scored 19 of the first 23 for the Grizzlies combining for 7 of 9 field goals and 5 of 5 free throws. Mike Conley played disruptive defense on the perimeter on Pooh Jeter, slowing the Kings ability to get into halfcourt. The Kings cut the lead to 10 by the end of the first at  30-20.

The second quarter saw the Kings continue to chip away at the lead behind the veteran John Salmons and the rookie Fredette bombing away from the perimeter. Salmons and Fredette would combine to make five three-point field goals in the first six minutes as the kings cut the lead to two. Gasol and Randolph asserted themselves again, getting the Kings' bigs into foul trouble as Cousins and Jason Thompson both had to sit with a third foul. The Grizzlies took a nine point lead at the half  54-45.  Gasol and Randolph each with 15 points at the break. The Kings were led by Salmons's 14 points off the bench.

Things got fiesty in the third quarter between the two teams as the Kings began to get more physical trying to establish their own paint presence. Cousins and Randolph exchanged words after each scored on the other. Following the exchange, Cousins picked up his fourth on an intentional foul when we knocked Tony Allen down on a drive to the hoop. A small skirmish broke out but was quickly broken up. The Grizzlies continued to build on their lead as Gay showed flashes of his getting back to his old form, hitting nine points of his 15 points in the third quarter as the Grizzlies led by 16 at the end of three,  79-63.

The fourth quarter saw the Kings rally briefly behind Salmons. Salmons would lead the Kings with a team high 24 points and Sacramento got as close as eight but never was able to rally. Gasol and Randolph would prove too much as both men recorded double doubles;  27-12 for Gasol, 23-10 for Randolph.  The frustration finally spilled over with five minutes left and the Kings up 18.  Xavier Henry drove to the basket for a dunk and was taken out by Cousins which earned Cousins an ejection. Darrell Arthur shoved cousins into the basket. Cousins tackled Arthur to the ground igniting a pileup. Cooler heads prevailed eventually but not before  Cousins, Arthur , Allen,  Jeter, and Franciso Garcia were all thrown out of the game for their roles.  The Grizzlies would finish the deal 107-88 and I'm sure all the players involved would be hearing from the league soon

Unhappy homecoming
Ex-Memphis star Tyreke Evans returned to his old stomping grounds but it was not a good night as he scored just 9 points on 3 for 12 shooting with 5 turnovers and only played 10 minutes in second half due to poor play

Other Scores
Oklahoma City  94,  Charlotte  95
Golden State  91, Dallas  99
New York  102, Utah 89
Philadelphia  100, Portland  96

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nov 10, 2011- The Season That Wasn't

Only two games on the NBA docket but both were good matchups as San Antonio traveled to Portland in the nightcap but the main event was in Chicago as the Oklahoma City Thunder visited the UC to take on the Chicago Bulls. This game featured the two best young players in the NBA in Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose. OKC was looking to make a big statement and take another step to legitmacy as a contender while the Bulls were looking for a prime performance after periods of uneven play to begin the season.

The Bulls came out with their usual defensive intensity and held the Thunder to just 6 for 20 from the floor in the quarter as the Bulls led  23-14 at the end of the first. Carlos Boozer got off to a strong start with nine points and four rebounds in the quarter and more importantly no fouls. Early foul trouble had plagued Boozer early in the season. Boozer's forward running mate Leol Deng also had a good first quarter with seven points and smothering defense on Durant , holding the reigning scoring champion to a 1 for 4 quarter.

The second quarter began with another of the Bulls weakness showing up, lack of scoring off the bench. The Thunder reserves led a 14-2 charge behind James Harden and  the newly returned from Europe, Serge Ibaka. Coach Thibs was forced to return Rose back to the game and the young star scored five quick points to put the Bulls back ahead by two. Durant and Russell Westbrook found the touch and rattled off the Thunder's next 16 points  took a 44-40 lead with two minutes left in the quarter. The Bulls turned up the pressure again, holding the Thunder without a point while scoring seven of their own, all by Deng to take a 47-44 lead at the break. Westbrook led the Thunder with 15 while Deng paced the Bulls with 14.

The third quarter was a back and forth affair as neither team could get in sync offensively. Durant and Rose both continued to struggle from the field. Through three quarters, Durant had 14 points on 5 for 18 shooting, Rose had 13 points on 4 for 13 shooting.  The secondary players for both teams stepped up as Deng led the Bulls with 22 at the end of the third, Westbrook had 21 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. A Kyle Korver halfcourt shot at the buzzer gave the Bulls a 69-66 lead at the end of the quarter.

The fourth quarter started out much like the rest of the game,  a defensive game with a few bursts of offense. The Thunder took a five point lead with six minutes left on the strength of a  11-3 run as the Bulls missed 11 of their first 12 shots to start the quarter. Harden continued his strong play off the bench , eventually finishing with 17 points. Rose re-entered the fray after an extended rest and got the Bulls back even behind five quick point to knot the score at  77.  The game became a game of two-on-two as the Bulls ran  mostly pick and roll and pick and pop with Rose and Boozer while Durant and Westbrook took turns for OKC. With the Bulls down two with 1:18  left, Boozer's three point play over Ibaka gave the Bulls the lead  88-87. The Thunder responded as Westbrook broke the Bulls defense down and found Kendrick Perkins for an easy layup to but OKC up one with 1:01 left. After a Bulls timeout in which Thibs reamed out his team for its defensive effort on the last possession, the Bulls responded as Rose's elbow jumup shot gave the Bulls a 90-89 lead with 40 seconds left. Westbrook had an answer , hitting a tough bank shot with 22 seconds to give the Thunder a 91-90.  The Bulls called their final timeout to draw up the final play.  Rose penetrated the lane and found a cutting  Boozer for a layup to give the Bulls a one point lead with  3.5 seconds to play.  The Thunder's attempted inbound pass to Durant  was stolen by Deng who was able to avoid being fouled and the clock ran out. The Bulls escaping with a 92-91 win.

Durant vs Rose
The much hyped matchup did not quite live up to billing as both young stars struggled.
Durant:  22points, 8 rebounds,   8 for  25 shooting
Rose:  20 points, 9 assists, 6 for 19 field goals

A Carlos Boozer Sighting 
Boozer had a big fourth quarter  and finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds. More importantly , he stayed out of foul troubled and showing up big on a night where Rose was not his best

What about Leol Deng?
Although he didnt score in the 4th, his defense on Durant was huge along with the team high 22 points

The Best Player on the Floor
Russell Westbrook had a huge night with  31 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists , a near triple double against the MVP. While he has his critics, there is no doubt he is a great talent and just needs to continue to mature.

Other game
San Antonio  102, Portland 92

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nov 9, 2011- The Season That Wasn't

Portland at Denver

The Pepsi Center was sold out as the new look Denver Nuggets hosted the Portland Trailblazers. George Karl hoped to take his Nuggets one step further in their first full season post Carmelo Anthony. Nate McMillan's Portland squad were looking to erase a tough hard fought loss in the playoffs versus Dallas.  The Nuggets surprised many when they resigned Nene. Andre Miller was off to a good start as the new starting point guard relegating Ty Lawson, fresh off  the Lithuanian adventure, to the bench.  Without JR Smith and Kenyon Martin, there was a thought Karl had a better chance to mold this team.

The game started at a breakneck pace as these two young and exciting teams went up and down the floor, exchanging layups, dunks, blocked shots, and hustle plays. Miller and Raymond Felton took turns carving up the perimeter defense with nifty drives and passes while NeNe, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Gerald Wallace bang the rim. The score at the end was tied at 25 but the Pepsi Center crowd had been treated to a great show.

Portland's bench provided a lift to start the second. Nicolas Batum, fresh off a successul pre-lockout stint in France, played his usual steady floor game. Batum's rebounding, passing, and defense along with veteran Brandon Roy's scoring sparked at 15-4 run to begin the quarter. The Nuggets closed the gap back to three behind  the hot shooting of Danilo Gallinari and an Al Harrington sighting. With both teams' starters back in the game, the break neck pace returned and the Blazers led  53-51 at the break. Wallace and Aldridge with 13 each led the Blazers in scoring while Gallinari's 17 led the Nuggets.

The Nuggets won the third scoring outscoring the Blazers 29-19. Gallinari's torrid shooting continued in the third with three more three-point shots on his way to 13 more points. Through three quarters, Gallinari was 11 for 15 from the field (8 for 10 from the 3-pt line). NeNe began to assert himself on the inside, shutting off the Trailblazers by blocking 4 shots in the quarter and grabbing 5 rebounds. The Nuggests took an 80-72 lead at the end of three.

Brandon Roy scored eight straight points to begin the quarter to even matters. Roy would finish with 20 points off the bench for the Blazers, as he looked to regain the All-Star form that knee injuries had taken away. The back and forth affair continued as the game remained tied at 101 with a minute to play. Felton's three-point play with 39 seconds left gave the Nuggets a 104-101 lead but the Blazers would respond as Wesley Matthews's 3-point field goal with 19 seconds left tied the game.  The Nuggets held for the last shot but just like in the series vs Oklahoma City, they couldn't finish the game as Aaron Afflalo's baseline jumper rimmed out at the buzzer

The overtime was all Trailblazers as Aldridge and Felton ran pick and pop to a tea as Aldridge knocked down three straight jumpshots to start the overtime while Nuggets missed their first five shots of the period. The Trailblazers dominated the extra session outscoring the Nuggets 15-5, Aldridge scoring nine in the OT as the Blazers won 116-106. Aldridge led the Blazers with 32, while Gallinari finished with 35 for the Nuggets but shot just 1-6 in the 4th quarter and OT after the hot start.

Other Scores
Utah  89, Orlando 102
LA Clippers  99, Toronto 91
New York  109, Atlanta 98
Charlotte 87, Boston 84
Dallas 111, New Jersey 97
Indiana  77, Milwaukee 90
Phoenix 102, Minnesota 103
Houston 85, Philadelphia 86
Cleveland 100, Sacramento 94
Detroit 95, Golden State 102
San Antonio 99, La Lakers 90

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nov 8, 2011- The Season That Wasn't

Houston at Indiana

The Houston Rockets continued to begin the post Yao Ming era as they traveled to Conseco Fieldhouse to face the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers were looking to build on last year's strong end of season and competitive series versus Chicago in which they lost 4-1.  Kevin McHale was trying to put his stamp on the Rockets who were looking to make a return to the playoffs.

The game started off sloppy and with no real flow as both teams settled for many perimeter jumpshots. Indianapolis native George Hill scored eleven in the first quarter to push the Pacers to a 22-13 lead. The Rockets shot just  4 for 18 in the quarter, including 0 for 8 combined for Kevin Martin and Luis Scola.  The second quarter saw the Pacers bench pushed the lead to 17 behind the strong defensive effort of Dahntay Jones and shooting of Brandon Rush. Jones harrassed the Rockets wing players drawing three charges. Rush showed off a sweet shooting touch , scoring eight in the quarter including a pair of three pointers. The Rockets got the lead back to eleven by the half as Scola finally got going with a few offensive rebounds and mid range jump shots. At the half, Indiana led 46-35.

The Rockets continued to attack with Scola as their perimeter players struggled to score. Scola added another nine points in the quarter as the Rockets whittled the lead down to four at the end of the third,  to 65-61. The Pacers played a sloppy third quarter, turning the ball over seven times and allowing the rockets to shoot 55% in the period. Scola paced the rockets with 20 points and 8 rebounds. The Pacers were led by Danny Granger and George Hill who both had 16 points.

The fourth quarter began with the Pacers extending the lead back to ten behind Rush and Jones adding to the Pacer bench advantage. The Pacer bench outscored the Rocket bench 33-9 for the game as Rush finished with 16. The Rockets came back with their starters and Scola resumed going to work on the inside, even with the much bigger Roy Hibbert defending him. Scola would finish with a game high 34 points but the Rockets would get no closer than four.    The Pacers would close out the Rockets and win the game 92-84. 

Other Scores
Utah  88  , Miami  99
Oklahoma City  107,  New York 101
LA Clippers  90, Chicago 110
Phoenix  106, Memphis 92

Monday, November 7, 2011

Nov 7, 2011- The Season That Wasn't

San Antonio vs Golden State

The old guard met the new guard as the San Antonio Spurs traveled to Oakland to meet the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors were led by new coach Mark Jackson and under new ownership. For the Warrior faithful, this was hopefully the mark of a new era for a team who had not been to playoffs since 2007 and  had longest streak in the NBA without back to back playoff appearances. With the young and exciting duo of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, the Warriors were seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. The Spurs were coming off a disappointing end to their 2010-2011 season becoming the rare #1 seed to lose to an #8 when they were bounced by the Memphis Grizzlies. Gregg Popovich brought back his familar core of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker.

Early on, the veteran Spurs established Duncan who scored 11 in the first quarter. Big Fundamental was too much for Epke Udoh and David Lee scoring over both shoulders with ease. The young Warriors were struggling to hit shots early and fell behind by ten as Curry and Ellis both failed to score field goals in the first. The Spurs led 24-15 at the end of one.

The Warrior bench sparked a rally in the second quarter behind Reggie Williams and a rejuvenated Andres Biedrins. Williams used his unorthodoxed style to bring the Warriors back and eventually take the lead with a 13-2 run to begin things, Biedrins blocked and contested several Spurs shots and was a monster on the glass. Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker would come back in to settle things down and the Spurs regained the lead and stretched it to seven by half time as the trio would score the remaining 22 points of the quarter for the Spurs to give SA a 48-41 lead at the break. Ellis and Curry struggled shooting just 5-21 combined in the half.

The third quarter opened similar to the first as Duncan established himself on the block, drawing fouls on Udoh and Lee stifling any momentum the Warriors tried to gain. Ellis and Curry were able to find the touch in the quarter, combining for 15 in the third.  The Spurs were able to extend the lead to 11 at the end of three, 75-64. Big Fundamental leading the way with 25 points, 9 rebounds, Parker chipping in 14 of his own.

As usual, Popovich managed the minutes of his veterans early in the season and that proved costly in this one. With Duncan, Ginobili , and Parker on the bench, the Warriors went on a 17-3 run. Ellis slicing and dicing the Spurs slower guards for 10 points during the run. Dorrell Wright, fighting a bad knee, found the perimeter touch making a pair of threes to extend the Warrior lead to nine. Popovinch put his Big 3 back into the contest and Duncan quickly restored order running off 8 straight on his way to a game high 41. The game went back and forth as the teams exchanged the lead.  With two minutes to play and the game tied at 93,  Curry was able to shake lose from Parker and hit a three pointer from deep in the corner and was fouled by Matt Bonner for the rare four point play. Ginobili quickly answered with a three to cut the lead to one but the Spurs got no closer as Ellis responded with a three-point play , followed by a crucial steal leading to a David Lee dunk. The young Warriors picked up a huge win for them  105-99.

Hot-Tub Time Machine
Tim Duncan: 41 points, 11 rebounds

Young Guns
Stephen Curry:  15 points  5-16 fg,
Monta Ellis: 29 points, 10-22 fg

Other Scores
Dallas  109, Toronto 93
Milwaukee  96, New Jersey 88
Cleveland 84, Denver 97
LA Lakers  102, Sacramento 92

Nov 6, 2011- The Season That Wasn't

Cleveland Cavaliers at Los Angeles Clippers

The Staples Center was blue and red as the Clippers hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday Night. This game featured Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin against a possible ROY Kyrie Irving, the point guard for the Clippers. For Clipper fans, it was a chance to look at what have been seeing Irving. The midseason Baron Davis-Mo Williams trade included the first round pick of the Cavaliers which turned out to be number one overall.  The Cavaliers were looking to put last season's distaster behind them as they struggled mightily post Lebron.

The Clippers opened the game in spectacular fashion as  Griffin rattled the rim with several high wire dunks and grabbing every rebound.  Along with DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers dominated the Cavaliers on the interior and raced out to a 23-5 start in the opening eight minutes.  The Cavaliers were able to compose themselves and cut the lead to ten at the end of one, 32-22.  Griffin scoring 14 points and grabbing 7 rebounds to open the festivities.

The second quarter began with Irving showing why he was the number one pick. He used his deft touch from midrange to shoot over the top of the smaller Eric Bledsoe and scored eight of the first twelve Cavalier points as the Cavalier whittle the lead down to one at 35-34 to start the quarter. Irving also showed a knack at the defensive end, pressuring the ball and disrupting the Clippers flow.  The Clipper starters were re-inserted and Griffin and Eric Gordon took control. Doing their best Stockton-Malone imitation, the duo ran a two man game effectively scoring basket after basket, Griffin or Gordon scored the last 21 points of the quarter as the Clippers led  56-49 at half time. Griffin leading all scorers with 24 at the half, Gordon adding 16.

The third quarter was all Eric Gordon. Gordon kept the Cavaliers from ever getting back into the game. Showing off his strength, quickness, and finishing ability around the basket, the young star scored 19 in the third quarter on  7 of 9 field goals and 5 for 5 free throws. The Cavaliers couldnt corral Gordon as he carved them up with agressive drives.  Antwan Jamison chipped in 12 points in the quarter to keep the Cavaliers within striking distance but the Clippers led 83-73 at the end of the third.

Gordon continued to have his way with the Cavaliers in the fourth  even with Cleveland taking away his drive. He stepped back to the 3-point arc, draining four threes in the fourth quarter on his way to 17 more points. Gordon became the first man in the NBA to break the 50 point mark, scoring  52 as the Clippers cruised to the victory , 110-90.  The final stat line for the Gordon, 52 points on   19-29 field goals (5-9 3ptfg), 9-9 free throws

Where's Baron?
Baron Davis, sat out the game with back spasms, missing a return to his hometown

Other Scores
Washington 101,  Miami   103
Philadelphia 98, Orlando 90
New  York  90, Detroit 95
Portland  99, Phoenix  112
New Orleans  100, LA Lakers 95

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Nov 5, 2011- The Season That Wasn't

Atlanta at Chicago- United Center

In a battle of undefeateds, the Atlanta Hawks visited the Chicago Bulls as the Bulls opened up their 2011-2012 home slate. The Hawks were coming off an impressive home win over the Celtics, while the Bulls won their first two road games at Dallas and at New Orleans.  An always enthuiastic UC crowd was ready to see their hometown heroes for the first time on the new season. The Hawks meanwhile looking to make an early statement, the same way they had in game one of the EC semis.  The game opened up with tough defense played on both ends. The Hawks elected to sag off Rose while staying home on Deng, Bogans, and Boozer. The Bulls , as usual, played stifling team defense with every man playing on the same accord. Both teams shot below 40% to start the game as the Bulls led  19-17 at the end of one.

The game began to open up in the second quarter as the both team's benches provided a spark. The newly resigned Jamal Crawford scoring 9 of the first 14 for the Hawks to start the second. For the Bulls, Taj Gibson picked up the slack as Carlos Boozer found himself in foul trouble scoring six points and grabbing six rebounds. Derrick Rose reentered the game and sparked a 12-4 run with a couple of dunks and a tough three-point play.  Josh Smith answered with five quick points to cut the lead back to three. The teams see-sawed until half time with the Bulls holding a 43-41 lead at the break, Derrick Rose leading all scorers with 17 points.  Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford leading the Hawks with 11 each.

The third quarter saw the back and forth continue as Al Horford took advantaged of the foul plagued Boozer scoring 12 in the quarter, after going scoreless in first half. The Bulls continued to be led by Rose who added 14 in the quarter. Neither coach could have been pleased with defense as both teams were able to get good shots.  The Bulls bench came into make some seperation behind Kyle Korver's three point shooting.  At the end of the third the Bulls led 73-68.   Rose leading all scorers with 31, Josh Smith led the Hawks with 19. Joe Johnson continued to struggle with just 7 points on 2 of 9 shooting through three quarters.

The Hawks took the lead with a 9-2 run to start  the fourth quarter led by Marvin Williams who scored six during the run.  The Bulls responded with ten unanswered as Rose continued to torch the Hawks defense as the Bulls led 85-77 with eight minutes to go.  Larry Drew went back to his starting unit and the Hawks  tied the game at 89 with a 12-4 run as Johnson finally found the touch , hitting eight points during the stretch. The game would go back and forth over the next  three minutes. With two and a half minutes to play and Bulls up two, Josh Smith's offensive rebound and basket tied the game at 97.  A Leol Deng jumpshot and two Horford free throws would be only points as both teams struggled to get good shots. With 31 seconds left the Bulls gave the ball to their MVP. Rose sliced down the lane but found Joakim Noah for an easy dunk with 12 seconds left and a 101-99 lead. The Hawks called a timeout to draw up a last play. You could hear Hawks fan groan as ISO-JOE was the play but this time the play paid off as Johnson hit a 27-footer over Keith Bogans as the buzzer went off to give the Hawks a 102-101 win. For the Hawks ,it was their third win in a row and a big road win. The Bulls dropped their first game and while Rose was brilliant with 40 but the concerns over Boozer remained. The high priced free agent signing from 2010, only scored 10points, grabbed 7rebounds in 28 minutes of play

Rose With a Few Thorns
40 points, 7 turnovers (3 in the 4th quarter)

Its Not How You Start but how you finish
Joe Johnson:  1st  3 quarters,  7 pts (2-9 fg), 4th quarter: 11 points (4-6 fg)

Other Games
Detroit  90    New Jersey 85
Orlando 101  Washington 89
Toronto  119  Minnesota  102
Charlotte  81  Memphis 82
Boston 97  Indiana  104
Utah  85   Houston 99
Oklahoma City  102   Dallas  101
New York  92  Milwaukee 88
Golden State  112    Denver 127
New Orleans  99  Sacramento  91

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nov 4, 2011- The Season That Wasn't

Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix- U.S Airways Center

Tonight's "Game of the Night" features the L.A Lakers visiting the Phoenix Suns. The Suns were hoping to avoid a second straight home defeat to open the season while the Lakers looked to make it two in a row to open the year after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder on opening night. In typical Lakers vs Suns fashion, the game opened up in high scoring fashion. The Lakers pounded the Suns early with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum scoring at will in the paint , scoring 14 of the Lakers first 16 points. Steve Nash broke down the Lakers defense to open up the perimeter for Vince Carter to drill three 3-pointers in the first quarter. Both teams shot a high percentage to start the game and the Suns led 30-28 at the end of one. Kobe Bryant only took one shot, playing the role of distributor, and tallying four assists.

The Laker bench took over the second quarter behind Lamar Odom. Looking to rebound from a disappointing playoff performance, Odom got off to strong start as the Lakers built an eight point lead to open the second. With Bryant, Gasol, and Bynum on the bench, Odom scored 13 straight Laker points and added four rebounds in the first six minutes. Steve Blake provided a defensive spark, limiting Nash's penetration and stifled the Suns offense. The Laker lead grew to fourteen by the end of the quarter as the Lakers held the Suns to just 15 points in the quarter and led 57-43 at halftime.  Lamar Odom leading all scorers with 18 points.

Phoenix closed the gap in the third quarter behind Nash, Carter, and the inside presence of Marcin Gortat.  Gortat's rebounding and interior defense anchored the Suns while Nash and Carter rained shots from the perimeter to cut the Laker lead to five at the end of three. Bryant remained a periphery figure scoring just 8 points through three quarters. The end of the third , the Lakers led   76-71.

The fourth quarter was a lot like the second as Odom and the Laker bench once again extended the lead back into double digits. Matt Barnes's agressive perimeter defense frustrated Carter and led to double technicals when Carter elbowed Barnes and Barnes throwing the ball at Carter. Odom continue to cut the Suns apart on his way to a game high 28 points. Gasol and Bryant re-entered the contest to close the deal as the Suns could never get the deficit closer than eight. The Lakers cruised to the finish line to pick up victory number two with a 101-89 victory

Old Guard vs Old Guard
Kobe Bryant:  14 points, 5-15 fg,  7 assists
Steve Nash:  24 points, 8 assists,  5 turnovers

Other Scores
Minnesota  88, Philadelphia  82
Milwaukee  99, Charlotte  97
Toronto  101, Cleveland 95
Boston  78,  Atlanta 94
Indiana 95, Oklahoma City 100 (OT)
Dallas  102, San Antonio  101
Sacramento 112, Golden State  122
Portland  93, LA Clippers 99

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Nov 3, 2011- The Season That Wasn't

Orlando Magic vs Miami Heat- American Airlines Arena

The Miami Heat, fresh off a win in their season opener, came home to face instate rivals the Orlando Magic to open the home slate. For the Magic, this was their curtain raiser and they looked to erase of the bitter 4-2 first round opening loss to the Hawks. For the Heat, it was their first home contest since the disappointing end to the finals in Game 6. As always , courtside was full of celebrities such as Birdman, Slyvester Stallone, J-Lo , and the new single Kim Kardashian.  Despite this being the second game of a "back to back", the Heat raced out to an early 12-2 lead courtesy Lebron James. James knocked down two quick threes to start the festivities and handed out assists for dunks to Joel Anthony and Chris Bosh. The Magic responded by dumping the ball into Dwight Howard who drew two quick ones on Anthony. This gave us our first Dexter Pittman sighting of the 2011-2012 season. The young big man did his best but was no match for Howard and the Magic quickly closed the gap. The teams exchanged body blows during the quarter with Howard scoring at will on the inside, while James and Bosh torched Magic defenders from the perimter. At the end of one, the Heat led 29-27. Dwight Howard leading all scorers with 17.

The second quarter, saw more of the same as defense seem to be optional in this one. Dwayne Wade, reinserted after a poke in the eye, rattled off ten quick points to start the second, only to be answered by Ryan Anderson's three 3-pt field goals. Two of the better defensive teams in the NBA were both struggling to slow the other as both teams knocked down one perimeter shot down after another. The Heat double teamed Howard on every possession and the Magic made them pay. On the other end, Bosh  continued to shoot over the top of Anderson and Brandon Bass while Wade took advantage of Arenas and JJ Redick. At halftime, the score was tied at 60.  Howard leading all scorers with 28 points but counteracted by Wade, James, Bosh combining for 44 of the Heat's 60, led by Wade with 18.

The two defenses settled in to start the third quarter and the perimeter shooting cooled down. The Heat's defensive rotations were a lot sharper and quicker as they covered shooters allowing no Magic three's in the third quarter. On the other end, having not picked up any fouls in the first half, Howard asserted himself more aggressively thwarting Heat drives to the basket with three blocks and three hard fouls , one leading to a small altercation between Howard and Anthony.  Toward the end of the quarter, the Magic bench provided a spark to give Orlando a  five point lead going into the third at  83-78.

The fourth quarter was a defensive stalemate to begin the period with the two teams exchanging defensive stops for the first three minutes. Wade's free throws were the only points for either side to begin the fourth. After a rest, Stan Van Gundy reinserted Howard and  Howard quickly scored two hoops to push the Magic lead to seven at 87-80.  Howard would finish the game with 44 points. Miami quickly responded with an 11-4 run over the next four minutes to tie the game at 91 with five minutes to play. Miami continued its excellent perimeter defending with Wade, Mario Chalmers and rookie Norris Cole creating havoc. Cole, the rookie out of Cleveland State, forced Arenas into two straight turnovers leading to layups for Chalmers. Chalmer, for his part, did a great job of defending at the 3 point line. The Heat look a 101-93 lead with three and half minutes to play. Spolestra reinserted Bosh and James to close the deal and close they did. James hit a pair of tough stepback jumpers and Bosh took two charges on Howard as the Magic tried to get back in the game to no avail. The Heat moved to 2-0 with a 109-97 victory

Howard: 44points, 15 rebounds, 5 blocks

Wade:  30 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists
James:  27 points, 11rebounds, 3 steals
Bosh:   18 points, 7 rebounds

Other Scores
Memphis  92, Utah  90
Denver  101,  Portland  95

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Nov 2, 2011- The Season That Wasn't

Tonight's "Game of The Night" features the Miami Heat opening their season the road versus the New York Knicks.

Madison Square Garden

The "World's Most Famous Arena" was electric as the New York Knicks opened the 2011-2012 season against the defending Eastern Conference champions, the Miami Heat. All of the usual celebrities and dignitaries were in the house including Spike Lee, Tracy Morgan, and Denzel Washington. The game was actually delayed by twenty minutes as a splinter "Occupy Wall Street" protest gathered outside of the Garden which kept fans from getting inside. MSG was rocking as the Knick faithful were in full voice as they looked to see if the Knicks could take the next step. The Heat , coming off a bitter end to their championship dream, appeared to be brooding over having to open on the road. Heat captain Udonis Haslem was quoted as saying "We tired of getting treated like the bad guys, eventually you are gonna see the bad guy come out if it keeps up".

The Heat made their intentions known with a 17-4 run to start the game fueled by Lebron James. James hounded Carmelo Anthony early in a similar display to the defense played against D.Rose in the ECF.  James' defense ignited the Heat's transition game as Dwayne Wade scored ten points during the run. Inspired by James, Joel Anthony harrassed Amare Stoudamire , keeping the Knicks star scoreless in the first quarter. The Heat led 29-13 at the end of the one leaving the MSG crowd with an uneasy feeling.

The Knicks bench sparked a comeback to start the secound quarter. Toney Douglas began bombing away from the three point line during a 16-5 run to cut the Heat lead to five.  Erik Spolestra re-inserted the "Big 3" and the lead grew back to twelve as Chris Bosh knocked down a series of baseline jumpers. At halftime, Miami led  54-38.

As in most NBA games, the home team makes a run and the Knicks came out of the locker room with a 17-7 run to cut the lead to six. After a horrible first half, Stoudamire scored 9 points and 5 rebounds in the third quarter and Carmelo was finally about to get off some clean looks. The Heat answered the Knicks run temporarily behind James and Bosh and increased the lead to twelve but seven straight points by Carmelo closed the gap to five at the break; Miami  72, New York 67.

The fourth quarter was a stalemate with both teams using their bench. Miami rookie Norris Cole defended the more experienced Knick point guards well and ran the team efficiently. For the Knicks, it was a surprising effort from Renaldo Balkman. Balkman's energy and offensive rebounding kept the Knicks close as the Heat lead remained five halfway through the third. Spolestra reinserted the Big 3 to finish the game and finish they did, scoring all of the Heat's 18 points to end the game as the Heat went on a 18-4 run to close the deal, featuring two spectacular "And one's" by Wade.  The Heat knocked off the Knicks  101-82 to open the 2011-2012 season.

Dwayne Wade: 29 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals
Chris Bosh:  20 points, 12 rebounds,  8-11 fg
Lebron James:  21 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists

Carmelo Anthony:  18 points,  6-19 fg
Amare Stoudamire:   19points, 14 rebounds

Other Scores
Charlotte  89,  Orlando   92
New Jersey  103, Washington  104

Philadelphia  88, Toronto 77
Cleveland  90, Boston 101
Indiana 108, Detroit 95
Chicago 86, New Orleans 82
Atlanta 98, Minnesota 91
Milwaukee 78, San Antonio 95
Oklahoma City  113, Phoenix 99
Houston  90, Sacramento 92
LA Lakers  109, Golden State 108 (OT)
Memphis 84, LA Clippers 92

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


(with the Lockout at least a month away, NBA addicts are searching for anything to feed our craving. My outlet is to create the 2011-2012 NBA Season, at least the way I see it. Clearly, this tells you how much of a life I have.  Every night we will have a feature "Game of the Night" with the game recap of the night's intriguing most intriguing matchup. Yes its a fake season but its all we got as G Money said)

Game 1  Chicago @ Dallas- American Airlines Center

A sold-out AAC came to witness "Ring Night" as the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks received their NBA championship rings. Cowboy greats Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith, and Nate Newton were in the house as Dirk and Company received the hardware. The Chicago Bulls were the opposition and were not happy about being the "Ring Night" opponent despite their 62-20 record. There was a feel of disrespect among the players and they came out ready. Derrick Rose took advantage of the older, slower Jason Kidd scoring the game's first 8 points causing Rick Carisle to use an early timeout. The Mavericks responded with a 14-4 run fueled by Deshawn Stevenson 's three point shooting and defense. The first quarter set the tone as the the teams ended it tied at 24.  The second quarter began with Kyle Korver knocking down two quick three point field goals as part of a 11-5 run  but Dallas responded behind the Roddy Beaubois, now stepping into JJ Berea's role, to put on a 14-2 run of their own to lead by six.  Rose , re-entered the fray and quickly scored tweleve points in the quarter to finish with 20 in the first half as the Bulls led at the break  50-47.

The game remained closely contested through the third quarter. Carlos Boozer, fighting off early foul trouble, asserted himself against Dirk scoring seven of his 12 points during the third quarter. Noah still unable to find the touch offensively , grabbed six rebounds in the quarter and the Bulls led by six at the end of three  77-71. The fourth quarter began with a Dallas run fueled by the Beaubois. Rowdy Roddy dropped seven quick points , finishing with 20 off the bench as Dallas took a two point lead early in the fourth. Rose returned to hit two quick jump shots to put the Bulls back in front. The game see-sawed back and forth as the teams exchanged big shots and tough defense. Dirk had an off shooting night but hit a tough fallaway with a minute left to give the Mavericks a 95-94 lead.  Nowitzki finished with 23 points to lead the Mavericks but shot just 10-27 from the field. After a Rose turnover, the Mavericks appeared to have the game in hand when the wily veteran Kidd knocked in a three pointer with 39 seconds to play to extend the Mavs lead to four at 98-94.  Rose pushed the pace and found Korver for his fourth three to make it  98-97 Mavericks with 28 seconds left.  The Bulls elected to play the clock and trust their defense and they were rewarded when Jason Terry stepped out of bounds with 8 seconds left to play. After calling a timeout, the Bulls put the ball in the hands of the MVP . Rose exploded past Stevenson but his runner banged off the back rim but Joakim Noah was able to get a hand on it and guided it back in with 0.4 seconds left. Dallas was unable to get a shot off and the Bulls earned their first victory:

Derrick Rose- 32 points, 7 assists,  12-22 fg

Dirk Nowitizki- 23 points, 9 reb   10-27 fg

The Other Guys
Kyle Korver  14 points , 5-7 fg, 4-5 3pt fg

Roddy Beaubois   20 points in 26 minutes

Other Scores
Houston   90, Utah  105
Oklahoma City  102, Los Angeles 110