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Lakeshow Episode 08: The View from Phoenix

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No need for me to strain myself thinking of something to write about today, the Memphis Grizzlies are always good for a cheap laugh with a little editorial snippy-dippy.

First, let's recall the lie of the astrophysicist who made our Grand November Entertainment all possible, team owner Michael Heisley, on why Allen Iverson left the team:

"I'm not going to get into the personal reason but it has nothing to do with the other stuff. I'm the guy who said he could go. It's a real family issue that I don't think should be reported."

Oh, yeah, we believe you, boss.

 

Now here's the real story, as best we know it, from Robert Littal of Black Sports Online:

After talking to several sources, here is the situation. Iverson was under the impression once he was fully healthy he was going to start and be the leader of the team. Iverson believed he got those assurances when he signed with the Grizz or he would have never signed with the team.

After sitting on the bench for the majority of his first three games back from injury he wasn't happy with the "perceived broken promises".

When the owner backed the coach in his decision to keep A.I. on the bench, Iverson decided enough was enough and bounced.

So I have confirmed this isn't a medical or family issue, but simply a situation where he did not want to be on the team if he was coming off the bench so he took his ball and went home.

Also sources are saying you will probably never see Iverson in a Grizzlies uniform again, but he has no plans to retire.

 

Who do you believe?

Punch line after the break...

Now here's the funny part, a piece by Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

Who said that Lionel Hollins and the Memphis Grizzlies can't stop anyone?

They're on the verge of putting an end to Allen Iverson's basketball career.

After three games with the Grizzlies, Iverson is contemplating retirement for "personal reasons."

If one of those reasons doesn't involve Hollins nailing Iverson's personal butt to the bench, I have a blue and white Iverson jersey I'd like to sell you.

Not as many as the team has, mind you. It's lined up 3,000 jerseys for Allen Iverson night on Dec. 4. * * *

The Grizzlies brought in Allen Iverson and then chased him into the sunset because he acted like — ready for it? — Allen Iverson!

Whoever would have thought it? The nerve of the guy!

Yes, Iverson has confirmed to the world he is all about Iverson. But what part of the world didn't know that already?

Answer: The part occupied by Michael Heisley, Hollins and [GM] Chris Wallace. * * *

Ha ha!!! Isn't that rich? They've still got Allen Iverson Night scheduled in Memphis in less than a month!

The Memphis Grizzlies — your home of comedy gold!

 

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Channel Surfing.

Sunday, Nov. 8.

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Orlando (5-1) at Oklahoma City (2-3). There are a couple of teams that I diss whenever possible (hello, Spurs!), but the Oklahoma City Thunder is most assuredly not one of them. Last year powerful Portland paid them one memorable visit, coming in cheeky and self-assured. They were run out of the gym by halftime. When you see that happen at the hands of this group of Thunder thoroughbreds, you remember it. I warned my SS&R brethren about the scariness of the Lakers' visit to OKC earlier this month and was initially regarded as a fear-mongering goofus. After the Thunder took Kobe & Ko. to overtime? Not so much.

This game stands as one of the great upsets of this NBA season so far — Eastern Conference Fave #1A, Dwight Howard's Orlando Magic, rolling into The Big City in the Middle of Nowhere™® and getting done to death by a bunch of young guns playing the game without a legit big man. And the Magic didn't just get beat, they got crushed... Wow.

I decided to pay a quick revisit to this one to figure out where it went off the tracks for Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy.

The first warning sign was the remark that SVG only had 9 players available for the game — Rashard Lewis still serving his 10-game suspension for steroid use, others scratched for this reason or that. SVG is a like a master mixologist, tinkering and fiddling with recipes constantly, and on this night the vodka and the gin were gone and he had to try to keep the bar running with tequilla and aquavit. Still, he had Dwight Howard, and the Magic finished the 1st Quarter with a narrow lead.

It was towards the end of the 2nd when the poo-poo hit the air circulation device for Orlando — a couple big open-look treys by Sefolosha and a breakaway jam by KD cause the air to started to leak from the Magic balloon. OKC big softie Nened Krstić also somehow managed to keep Superman a foot or two outside of his comfort zone, which can make all the difference with him. OKC was in the locker room at the midway point with a 9 point lead.

OKC came out of the locker room red hot, forcing SVG to call his first TO after just 91 seconds, and the wheels promptly came off the wagon. This game was a blowout, all right, but not the blowout that anyone expected: Thunder 102, Magic 74. Durant was game-high with 28 points and Russell Westbrook added 17 (ending the night an otherworldly +41 on the plus/minus chart).

Monday, Nov. 9.

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Phoenix (6-1) at Philadelphia (3-3). Well, this makes two Suns games for me now and I've pretty well got them figured out. The Suns fell behind double-digits early, but virtually any score is in play with them. Don't think a lead of 20 at the half is safe. It's not. Thirty points might be. Or not. Points come fast for the Suns... Phoenix will cherrypick buckets almost every single possession — Jason Richardson is the absolute king of leaking out.

You make it? The Suns are running out. You miss it? The Suns are running out. Teams that try to play 5-on-4 on the offensive end are gonna be paying the bank 2 points on the other end 5 seconds later, make or miss. So what is the point of that math? You've absolutely got to play 4-on-4 on the offensive end, leaving a long, speedy athlete back for their leaker. (Hey, got a job for ya, LO and Ron-Ron...)

Nash, as always, racked up mad-crazy assists — 20 of them in this contest. Not bad for an old dude. Phoenix caught up in the 4th Quarter, predictably, and won the foul derby at the end, getting the ball inbounds to Nash effectively three times in a row. Swish-swish-swish-swish-swish-swish — and that is your evening, Sixers. Thank you for your participation. Suns 119, Sixers 115.

I remain convinced that Phoenix is not a championship-caliber team, but  nobody seems to have solved them yet. It will take defensive discipline, and there aren't many NBA teams that can validly claim to have that.

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Utah (2-4) at New York (1-6). Both teams were dying for a win in this one — the Utah Jazz particularly so since they still have playoff aspirations in the difficult West. Bear in mind also that Utah is now embarked on a 4 game roadie that brings them to Boston Garden and LeBron's House (i.e. Best Case Scenario over this game and the next three is 2-2).

As for the Knicks, you know what you get with a Mike D'Antoni team — fast break buckets at the rim or open 3s. Unfortunately for the Knicks, they don't really have the firepower to make the system click, offloading salaries as they are to make room for LBJ and Bosh next year (or so they hope). So New York will find themselves out of the money more often than not.

Utah took a big lead in the 1st Quarter and held it into the late 4th, when things tightened up. Visions of their serial collapses danced in the Jazz's heads like little sugar plums of incompetence. But lightening doesn't strike 4 times in the same place, does it?

Up just 2 points, Utah went with a long Mehmet Okur jumpshot from the corner at the 2 minute mark. Bad idea. Knicks rebounded the miss and tied it up on the other end. All-Star Deron Williams bricked a 15 footer for Utah, but Memo was there to fix the mistake, giving the Jazz a 2 point lead. Neither team could score after that — there were two failed possessions on each end before the Knicks rebounded a miss with 6.4 seconds remaining on the clock. Coming off a time out, Rookie Toney Douglas took the inbounds pass for the Knicks and dribbled and drove and missed and that was the ballgame. Jazz 95, Knicks 93.

Tuesday, Nov. 10.

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Portland (4-3) at Memphis (1-6). Blazers established themselves as a running team in their previous tilt against Minnesota, fast breaking like D'Antoni disciples. So coming into Memphis, home of the high-scorin' and shitty-defendin' Grizzlies, it promised to be a track race, right?

Ummmmm, no.

Blazer Head Coach Nate McMillan went with his three guard Miller/Blake/Roy starting lineup again, but this time he throttled it way, way, way back to San Antonio Spurs tempo. Oden drew 2 fast fouls and Nate sat him down for the entire first half, saving him for the 3rd Quarter. It was slow, slow, slow half court sets on both ends. The Blazers finished the first half with zero fast break points and the score tied at 45. The fans were pukin'...

Of course, the Blazers play at 1/2 mud speed all the time, being one of the slowest paced teams in the NBA. The undisciplined Grizzlies do not. In the 2nd Half, Oden returned and Portland began systematically attacking the rim. Memphis, on the other hand, went cold for about 7 minutes with Rudy Gay particularly off-kilter. Portland opened up a little lead and never looked back. Not pretty, but a road win is a road win. Roy had 20 and LMA was 16 & 12. Blazers 93, Grizzlies 79.

Wednesday, Nov. 11.

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Portland (5-3) at Minnesota (1-7). McMillan dusted off his still-undefeated-(playing-shitty-teams) 3 guard starting lineup yet again for this second matchup in a weak with the young and struggling Minnesota Timberwolves. It was close for a quarter, as NBA games generally are, with the Wolves actually ahead at the end of 1. Blazers went on an impressive 26-7 run over most of the 2nd Quarter and headed to the locker room with a 49-42 advantage and an unmistakable sense that Minnesota had no chance, even at home.

Portland clubbed the out-gunned Wolves 35-19 in the 3rd, a quarter which featured Greg Oden carrying the ball alongside LaMarcus Aldridge on a successful 2-on-1 break off an Andre Miller steal that had Blazer fans across America writing Steve Blake jokes.

Greg Oden had a double-double in the 1st Half alone and finished the evening with a team high 18 points and zero fouls. That is saying something, since coming into the game Oden lead the NBA in fouls, averaging in excess of 4.3. It was yet another brutal pummeling for Minnesota, a team that desperately needs a game with the New Jersey Nets. Don't look now, but the Blazers now have the 2nd longest winning streak in the NBA, next to that of Your Los Angeles Lakers. Blazers 106, Timberwolves 84.

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New Orleans (3-5) at Phoenix (7-1). With 10% of this NBA season under out belts, we can now say that Phoenix is a pretty damned good team when they are allowed to set the tempo. This is definitely true. We can also say with certainty that New Orleans is not a very good team, particularly on the road. This combination of hoopster truisms made for a memorably ugly demonstration of the basketball art on Wednesday — a game that was a far bigger wipeout than the final score might have indicated.

Phoenix put up a 40-spot on the hapless Hornets in the 1st Quarter, followed by another 35 point outpouring in the 2nd. If you are good at math, you will note with me that the Suns had 75 points on the board at halftime. Yikes! They finished with a season-high 124 points, but it coulda been 140 if they needed it. They were merciful.

Now your shocking thought for the day: perhaps it is time to start thinking about Really Old Non-Defending Point Guard Steve Nash as a MVP candidate in this league. He finished the night with 20 assists and his team rolled again. Suns 124, Hornets 104.

Nov. 12, 2009.

More Hilarity, this from Hornets Report:

 

NEW ORLEANS - The New Orleans Hornets announced today that they have relieved Byron Scott of head coaching duties. Scott will be replaced by General Manager Jeff Bower.

"I want to thank Byron for the hard work he has put in during his time with the Hornets," said Hornets Owner George Shinn. "I've hired Jeff Bower to take over the coaching reign. He knows this team better than anyone, has the respect of the players and in basketball circles, is regarded as one of the best basketball minds in the business. This is our best opportunity to reach our goals this season."

Bower, who has spent his 14-plus seasons with the club, has been an invaluable asset for the Hornets at all levels in basketball operations. He began his tenure with the Hornets as an advance scout from 1995 to 1997 before earning a promotion as the team's director of scouting. *  *  * Bower's years of experience working at all levels in the Hornets' basketball operations department culminated with his appointment to the current post of general manager just prior to the start of the team's 2005-06 training camp.

"Accountability was our theme this past summer," said Hornets Vice President of Basketball Chad Shinn. "We talked about the fact that everyone on our staff is held to a certain standard of performance and we didn't feel this was happening at the head coach level. We feel like we still have an opportunity with our nucleus to get to where we want and Jeff is the right guy, right now to move us in that direction from the bench."  *  *  *

In New Orleans it's about "accountability" — so we're gonna promote the GM who dealt this mess to Head Coach!

The Timberwolves Management Model lives!

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Phoenix (8-1) at LA Lakers (6-1). Oh, yeah, there was a Lakers game... It was pretty obvious by the time that TNT finally got around to showing the game towards the end of the 1st Quarter that the Lakers would win this thing. Why? Scoreboard! Phoenix is all about leaking out, pushing the pace, getting their opponent scrambling, and burning teams with mismatches. The Lakers, to the contrary, did not allow run outs, controlled the pace, more or less stayed with shooters at the 3 point circle, and matched up really well (Bynum hampered Amar'e to the point of ineffectiveness; the combo of Kobe + Ron-Ron kept Jason Richardson in the garage).

That Phoenix never had the horsepower to make a run and the game ended up pretty much a blowout  was surprising. Never has a juggernaut lost its luster quicker — just match up, play tight, and slow down, and Phoenix doesn't look all so tough, do they?

And let me say this: no team with Channing Frye as its "Center" is gonna make it out of the first round of the NBA playoffs. Quote me.

Now let's see what we can learn from the Popcorn Machine GAME FLOW SUMMARY. Please do click that link, if you'd be so kind...

Observation 1: Wow, that puppy was over after 5 minutes of the 3rd Quarter, wasn't it? Amare came out, the Lakers continued on their 15-0 run, and garbage time commenced. Head Coach Alvin Gentry sat all 5 of his starters for the last 15 minutes of the evening.

Observation 2:  Adam Morrison scored 5 points. That's worthy of mention as something you don't see every day. Of course, the team was Minus-3 during the more than 8 minutes he was on the floor, but who's counting?

Observation 3: Terrific game for Josh Powell, with 14 points and 7 rebounds in less than 21 minutes on the floor. It was his best performance of the season.

Observation 4: The Phoenix starters were all in the low-20s for minutes played and a couple of them were in the low-20s in Plus/Minus. They were obviously out of gas after an exhausting past week.

And now, without further ado, here is the latest installment of THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD...

 

And if you're bored, here are the three previous episodes from this week, newest first and oldest last...


 

Okay, are we finished?

Now here's the real point of this idiotically long accumulation of consonants and vowels, the frottage and reportage from Phoenix's journalists and bloggers about the Lakers game...

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(1)

Bright Side of the Sun (SBN) Game Thread

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Did Nash just gesture to the ref that she needs glasses?

by SunDolphin on Nov 12, 2009 9:22 PM PST


Hahaha yes!
Hilarious!!

by underxthebridge on Nov 12, 2009 9:22 PM PST


Wow. Nash lucky he didn't get a tech there
with the glasses pantomime.

by Mike Lisboa on Nov 12, 2009 9:22 PM PST


I don't think she saw it
On account of she needs glasses.

by hcblankscreen on Nov 12, 2009 9:23 PM PST

 

(2)

No Rhythm

posted by "ShelC" to PhxSuns.net message board

Theres no rhythm to this game at all. Lakers are posting up a lot, slowing the pace, we hit a 3 and Phil calls a TO. * * *

 

(3)

Suns Can't Hang with Lakers in LA

by Paul Coro, Arizona Republic

LOS ANGELES - The world-champion Los Angeles Lakers, with all their size and Kobe Bryant, are tough to beat on their home floor.

The second night of a back-to-back set is a load for the Suns to handle on the road.

The scenario combined with a TNT broadcast equals doom for the Suns. They lost 121-102 on Thursday night at Staples Center, and it was their 14th consecutive setback on TNT, including exhibitions and playoffs.

The Suns looked timid, tight and tired. After scoring 75 first-half points at home against New Orleans on Wednesday night, it took four quarters to reach that total Thursday. The Suns, who lead the NBA in shooting, made just 36.5 percent of their shots Thursday night.

"We were a tired team, you know, seven cities in 10 days," Suns guard Steve Nash said. "We need to not make excuses and be mentally tougher. We were flat and we didn't find a way out of it." * * *

"They just took us out of everything we wanted to do," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said.

The Suns did it to themselves too. Channing Frye's perimeter shot was off. Stoudemire was missing jump hooks. The Suns never ran, getting their only fastbreak hoop of the game when Leandro Barbosa raced the length of the floor to beat the first-quarter buzzer.

"We pressed a little bit early," Nash said. "We were maybe caught in the moment a little bit. We weren't as loose as we needed to be. We just didn't have our legs. We missed a lot of uncharacteristic shots and we couldn't provide any resistance defensively. That's going to happen sometimes." * * *

 

(4)

Lakers 121, Suns 102 — Not Ready for Primetime

by Michael Schwartz, Valley of the Suns (TrueHoop)

I'll start with the good news.

Lou Amundson hustled the Suns over 100 points in the final minute, leaving Lakers fans taco-less and Suns fans with two free tacos. Grant Hill applauded this outcome on the bench, possibly because free tacos don't mix with his macrobiotic diet.

Not much else went right for the Suns, though, in their 121-102 loss to the Lakers in a game that proved Phoenix isn't quite ready for primetime at this point of the season, hot start or no hot start.

"They are great, they are the world champs and there is a reason why they are the world champs," Suns head coach Alvin Gentry told Suns.com. "Like I said I don't know where their weakness is really. They are going to be a handful for whoever plays them."

There's no shame in losing to a better team on the road in a back-to-back and four-games-in-five-days situation when that squad has had three days off. I'm not making excuses, I'm just stating the situation.

At the same time, I was disappointed the Suns didn't at least make this a ballgame, and much of that can be attributed to Los Angeles' front line. * * *

 

(5)

Gimme a Break!

posted by SunsGuns to ESPN.com Phoenix Suns message board

Suns play 7 games in 10 days and lose a back2back at LA and some here act as if the sky is falling.

GIMME A FARGIN BREAK!

After a BRUTAL opening 10 game schedule, the Suns are 8-2; featuring WINS at Miami and at Boston.

Truth is, the Suns are one of the BEST teams in the NBA.

If the scenario tonight was reversed, there's a VERY good chance the Suns woulda BEAT the Lakers.

If ya wanna "hang your hat" on this ONE loss by a very tired Suns team, go ahead, be ignorant & do THAT.

As for me, I'm gonna be smart & "hang my hat" on the Suns body of work .... a GREAT 8-2 record despite a BRUTAL opening schedule.

WAY TO GO SUNS!

KEEP IT UP!

And, to the whiners, grow a set, PLEASE!

Oh, & btw, did some here actually expect the Suns to go 81-1 ???

just curious ...............................

 

(6)

Please tell me...

posted by by "Sunsfever68" to RealGM Suns message board

For someone who watched the game out there (I could not I had to work tonight) please tell me how we lost...

How did we only have 12 assists??

How did we end up going from only down three 40-37 to getting blown out?

How did Amare go 2-15? I figured J rich would go 2-9 eventually. He was on a hot streak that wouldn't last.

How did the Lakers shoot 39 percent from the foul line lol?

 

(7)

They Won, We Lost

posted by "BurningHeart" to RealGM Suns message board

They won, we lost. Tired legs nothing. No excuses to come out THAT flat.

Just pick up and move on. The Lakers were the ones who had everything to lose from losing tonight. They won against a clearly inferior team.

Whoopty-freakin'-do. Congratu-f'n-lations.

 

(8)

Suns vs Lakers Recap

by PanamaSun, Bright Side of the Suns (SBN)

That didn't go as expected, right? Kind of.

Watching this game was really painful. We saw a tired and timid Suns team just going through the motions. We saw a powerful and rested team in the Lakers, playing with confidence at home.

The Lakers are the current NBA champions, they are tough, I get that. But I feel that the Suns could have at least tried a little harder. They looked flat out scared, intimidated, overwhelmed by the Lakers inside presence. True, we couldn't buy a bucket but this is when you have to fight through it and find a way to remain relevant in the game. Grind it out and stuff. But that's just me. * * *

The Suns

It was obvious that the Suns were tired. They didn't run, they didn't get back in transition. They shot 37% from the field. They didn't defend with the same intensity that we have seen in other games.

At the end of the first half, they had 5 assists and had shot 32% from the field. Amar'e was 2-12. Amazingly, the game was still in reach and I expected a better effort in the second half of the game.

Fail.

They looked even worse and it wasn't even close for the rest of the game. * * *

The Lakers

They abused Suns' players inside. Scoring 76 points in the paint. Bynum hit puberty his shots at will and finished the first half with 16 points and 26 for the game. Oh, and Kobe scored 19 first half points and finished the game with 29.

This must have been a great game to watch if you are a Lakers fan. They saw their team play great defense, their starting Center had a great game after coming from an injury and they beat the "hot" team in the West with a blowout win. * * *

 

(9)

 

The Bottom Line:

1. That did not go so well...

2. Of course, we were on a back-to-back and you guys were at home with 3 days to prepare...

3. Still 8-and-2, baby!