This was the one that the Utah Jazz could have stolen. Down most of the game until the fourth quarter. The Jazz went up 4 points with less than 3 minutes left, then choke city. I’m not sure it was the Lakers’ defense or the lack of the Jazz’ offense but if the Jazz don’t take the next one, pressure’s on them BIG TIME. Kobe Bryant taking over at the end of the game, again. I was wondering something while watching the last couple minutes, why do the Lakers F#@! around and not put the nail in the coffin? They had about 2-3 chances to go up by more than 1 point in the final 1-2 minutes, and instead of Kobe doing work, Ron Artest takes a stupid 3, or Derek Fisher gets called for a charge on a fast break. It didn’t hurt them this game, or the last game against the Thunder, but when they play a quality team like the Spurs or the Lebrons (officially changing the Cavs name to Lebrons), their gonna get caught. I’m a little saddened by Andrew Bynum’s torn miniscus. He was dominating and now we (Angelinos) have to worry about this. Is it time to put the “injury-prone” tag on him? Pau Gasol doin’ what he does best. 25 pts and 12 boards is nice but the best part is 7-7 free throws. It’s gotta be nice to be able to count on a big man who can stick it from the charity stripe. By the way, Kobe’s gotta stop doing that angry put-bull face, he looks like an idiot.
Portland v. Phoenix: The Phoenix Suns have been playing like the Suns of old. Amare Stoudamire finally looks like the beast he was a few years ago. Steve Nash is still one of the top point guards in the league. They’re facing a depleted Portland team without their star Brandon Roy. Marcus Camby is one of those proven “losers” who will never be on a winning team. I like Batum, LaMarcus and A-Miller but they just don’t have enough firepower without Roy. Neither one of these teams is advancing past the second round anyway. I’ll take the Suns in 7.
Dallas v. San Antonio: Remember a couple months ago when the Mavericks were streaking, I think they won 13 in a row? Well, streaks over now. The Caron Butler hype has died down. It’s the Spurs that are playing the best basketball in the West. It’s too bad these two teams had to match up in the first round. While offensively both these teams have the ability to win the game, same ol’ story for the Mavs…no defense, no fundamentals. Enter the “Big F” himself in Tim Duncan, with the best offseason pickup of the year in Richard Jefferson, and you got a recipe for success. As long as Tony Parker can play like he used to, and Ginobli continue what he’s doing, the Spurs should take this series in 6, and the only reason it goes that far is ’cause the Mavs have home court advantage.
Utah v. Denver : This is going to be the most interesting match-up in the first round. I would love to see the Nuggets fail (man do I hate J.R. Smith) but they just have a little more swagger and tougness than the Jazz. Carmelo Anthony is a bonafide superstar that can take over any game and Mr. Big Shot Billups has been to the promised land and knows hot to get there again. I am concerned however about the depth of the Jazz. Paul Milsap has been a bust since signing that big offseason contract extension. Boozer and D-Will are solid but there’s no one else that you can rely on (maybe Okur). Jazz are hurting at shooting guard and small forward, AK-47 is injured. Kyle Korver can only shoot 3s. It’s gonna be gritty but the Nuggets should wrap this up in 5.
Oklahoma City v. Lakers: Now on paper, you would take the Lakers in 4. BUT, the Lakers have taken care of business all year. They don’t put teams away when they should. Their bench has been MIA all year. Kobe’s finger is STILL an issue. Bynum’s health is still in question. With that said, I do expect a HUGE series from Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Nobody is gonna be able to stop these guys. The Thunder, on the other hand, have nothing to lose. Kevin Durant is having an MVP type season. But that’s it. Russell Westbrook FG% and 3pt% is horrible. Sure, he can drive and dish and dunk but if he can’t stretch the defense with his outside shooting, they’re gonna have problems. Plus, with the size the Lakers have, I don’t think the Thunder is going to do much in the paint. Look for the Lakers to outshine the Thunder, LA in 4 (did I just say that?)
If you told me that the Lakers, without Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum, with Ron Artest only scoring 3 points, would go into Salt Lake City and HAMMER the Utah Jazz (with a full squad might I add), I would say “you gotta be kidding me.” How are the Lakers 3-0 without the Kobster? And let me tell you, they are beating some decent teams out there. My guess it that without Kobe and Bynum, two black holes that demnd the ball every time down, the Lakes can play at ease and know that if they pass the ball around it’ll probably come back to them. Bravo Lamar Odom and Paul Gasol for leading the fellas in back to back to back victories. These guys are true players, never complaining when they don’t get the ball and are able to take back seats to Kobe when he’s healthy. I just hope that the Mamba is appreciative of the teammates that he has. And by the way, is it just me or has Paul Milsap been a bust?
So good that when Tim Duncan goes down, they don’t miss a beat. They beat the Portland Trailblazers in the game that Timmy only played 11 minutes. They then went on to beat the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz. Now that’s sick. Probably one of the most complete teams in the league, the San Antonio Spurs have it all. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli leading the way on the scoring end. You also have Bruce Bowen on the defensive end. Brent Barry and Michael Finley are great weapons off the bench. Their big men combo of Oberto and Elson are also great rebounders and role players. And of course, who can forget BIG SHOT ROB. The NBA title is their’s to lose. But don’t kid yourselves, no Timmy, no Ring.
You never realize how important a player is to his team until he goes down for a few games. We’ve seen some key injuries this season to marquee players, leaving their respective teams running around with their head’s cut off. Let’s start of with Tracy McGrady. Sure the Rockets have Yao Ming and before this season started, I though it was Ming’s team. But after T-Mac went down for a few games because of his back, the Rockets found it hard to replace his 26-5-5 per game. Then you have the Cleveland Cavs, no major player other than Lebron James. What happens, the King goes down with a sprained finger, take away his 27-7-8 and bam, the Cavs drop their last 3. Now it’s the San Antonio Spurs’ turn. The reigning NBA Champs. Tim Duncan goes down with a sprained ankle and knee, probably the worst injury for a big man. Now the Spurs only played 1/2 a game without him and maintained their poise and pounded the Blazers. The real test will come when they face Dallas and Utah on Wednesday and Friday. While suffering the worst of the 3 injuries mentioned, the Spurs probably have the best chance to persevere, as their team has other starts that can drop 30 on a given night (i.e. Parker and Ginobli). You never know how much you need it until it’s gone. Imagine what would happen if the Laker lost Kobe? Dallas losing Dirk? Wade and the Heat (we already saw what happened)? Orlando and Dwight? Forget, don’t imagine it, it hurts too much.
Does this guy have a nickname? He has reached superstardom and clearly needs one. How about God? Almighty? Chris “Almighty” Paul, has ring to it. On Saturday night, this guy led his New Orlean Hornets to a 112-108 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in overtime. Paul was 1 rebound shy of a triple-double, droppin’ 33 points, 12 assists and grabbing 9 boards. I wonder how this guy slipped to #4 in the draft. Let’s see, the Bucks took Bogut over him, smooth move. The Hawks took Marvin Williams over him, need I say more? The third pick went to the Jazz, who grabbed Deron Williams, arguably a good pick, but he ain’t no Chris Paul. Paul is the best point guard in the league, I’ve set it before, and I’ll say it again. He’s what Jason Kidd was many, many moons ago, but better. He also set the Atlanta Hawk franchise back 10 years. The Hornets are standing tall at 12-6, with a record better than the Mavs, Rockets, Lakers, Warriors and Nuggets, to say the least. I’m not sure if they’re for real yet, but we’re almost 1/4 into the season and they’re still ticking, strong too.
A day after I wrote this guy off, Utah Jazz forward Andrei “AK-47″ Kirilenko lit up the Lakers with a triple-double, 20 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Oh yeah, and don’t forget about the 6 steals and 4 blocks and 0 turnovers. The Jazz continued on their tear, beating 120-96 in Salt Lake City. That, friends, is the difference between two teams going in different directions. By the way, has anyone seen Lamar Odom lately? Back to the topic, I’m gonna need some consistency from AK before I apologize for practically calling him a bum. Lakers should have traded for this guy in the offseason. Oh well, the saga continues…
After an offseason of turmoil and unhappiness, Andrei Kirilenko, AK-47, returned to his “beloved” Jazz for the start of the season and call me a cynic, but I am very unimpressed by the numbers he’s put up. Maybe I caught him on a bad night but on Wednesday night, AK -47 was misfiring all game, going 1-6 for 6 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 1 block in 33 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been following this guy for years, he’s a stat filler and a fantasy owner’s dream, or at least he used to be. But I guess I’m just not impressed anymore. At 26 years of age, this guy has a world of potential but something tells me he’s not going to reach it in Utah. He needs a change of scenery, maybe LA, maybe Chicago? This guy’s been battling with management for a while now and while the bickering has subsided, it just might be the time to trade him before his stock plummets even more… Just a thought.
Carlos Boozer returned to Cleveland on Friday night. Yeah, he dropped 26 and collected 11 boards, but they lost the game. Many of you might not remember, but Carlos Boozer was a Cleveland Cavalier back in the day. Before the last year of his contract, he made a “deal” with ownership that if they release him, he would sign back with them as a free agent for more money. According to the Cavs management, the two parties “shook” on it. No sooner than he was release, Boozer opted for Utah and signed with the Jazz for bigger money. No ill feeling between the players, but the fans in Cleveland let him have it. And they should. So many times athletes don’t appreciate the fans and what they do for them. They don’t sign autographs for fans, they don’t show up for photo ops, they flip off fans, and more. While fans do have short term memories when it comes to their hometown heroes, they should always remember that most (with a few exceptions) would sell them out for an extra nickel. With that said, I wonder if Boozer on the Cavs last year would have made a difference in the NBA Finals. Instead, he’s on a pretty good team, in the powerhouse West. Karmas a bitch.
Watching this guy play the last couple days has reminded me of how sick of a baller he really is. Smooth and flowing, that’s was T-Mac stands for. I saw a clip of how he cried last year after getting bounced by the Utah Jazz in the playoffs. This guy’s got heart and I’m sayin’ it, is the true leader of this team. On Thursday night in Salt Lake City, T-Mac fulfilled his role with a 47 point performance against the Utah Jazz. With T-Mac still at the top of his game, the Houston Rockets have the inside and outside presence to take it to the next level. In the brutally tough west, both him and Ming are gonna have to stay healthy to have a shot at the title. Good luck fellas, not that you need it.