I guess I'm officially an NBA guy now. I can tell because I spent a football Sunday watching three basketball games.
Sure, I made my Obligatory Football Sunday Blueberry Muffins™® like usual, watched a few minutes of the Fox clowns' pregame show, bitched that they were showing the crapulescent Seahawks game instead of, well, something, anything else... I even paid attention to about a half of Brett Favre's return to Lambeau Field.
But that was all background noise to my real sports day, which involved watching Dwight Howard go against Chris Bosh in Toronto, watching my Blazers narrowly edge OKC in a road back-to-back crap fiesta, and watching the Lakers FINALLY kick it into gear this season in dismantling the "Blazers of the East," the young and talented Atlanta Hawks.
It was a good day, marred only by my inability to make time to go out on the deck and smoke a 5-inch maduro in the very temporary Oregon November sun.
Only a few years ago, I would have watched the full slate of NFL action and given the NBA stuff a miss. Now football seems so................... slow. While I can still watch football — unlike baseball, which has become an intolerable bore on a par with a soccer snoozetacular — I am finding that these days NFL matchups have to be compelling to hold my interest. Football was my religion, man, and I am slowly but steadily losing it... I'd rather watch a compelling hoops game or three than a comparable set of football pairings.
I wonder how many of you are finding yourselves trending in a similar direction.
Anyway, having invested so much my sunny Sunday staring at LCD screens, I now pronounce myself fully entitled to pass along the following useless tidbits for you to take or leave. Which I will do.
Peel slowly and see...
Orlando at Toronto. The talking heads are obsessed with Boston, Boston, Boston and Cleveland, Cleveland, Cleveland, but lemme tell ya, Orlando will kick the Cavs' asses and might make a go of it with the Celts. Coming into Toronto — where the Cavs recently fell, I note — Porky Van Gundy's boys were short Scoring Wing Vince Carter, so-called "Power Forward" Rashard Lewis, and defensive specialist Mickael Pietrus. They looked to be, on paper, overmatched. They proved to be, in practice, far superior to the Raptors — a playoff caliber team that only a week ago made Mr. Sportsmanship and the 7-Foot Grandpas look inept and silly.
J.J. Redick came up with a career day (27 points scored in nearly 45 minutes of action), while Dwight Howard looked like a man possessed from the Free Throw line (14-for-16, en route to his 24 points) as the Magic made comparatively easy work of their Canadian compatriots, 125-116.
Portland at Oklahoma City. I suppose any road back-to-back victory is a good win, but the Blazers scored absolutely no style points in equalizing their season record at 2-and-2. It sounded like a $10 motel room above a blacksmith's shop, there were metallic clanks goin' on all night. Kevin "Please All Star Voters, Don't Pay Any Attention to My Plus-and-Minus Stats" Durant went a subshitty 3-for-21 (!!!) en route to 16 points in this latest round of Neener Neener Neener with draft class twin Greg Oden and his fully invested GM, Kevin Pritchard. Credit to Marty Blazer for shutting The Big Gunner down a little. Russell Westbrook had more turnovers (9) than the entire Thunder team combined had assists (6).
The Blazers fared a little better. Oden put the dung in dunk with 12 points and 10 boards and 3 turnovers and sorta won his duel with Durant, assuming that you can say that a slow, plodding, foul-prone, turnover machine can have "won" a head-to-head matchup with a still less effective opposite. Today's Oregonian raves about Oden's new emergence as a vocal team leader. Ummmm, yeah, right... Oden is a big wussy with a capital P and watching his performance bookended by those of Dwight Howard and Drew Bynum put his abilities or lack thereof into proper perspective.
Starting Blazer PG Steve Blake finally remembered how to put the round orange thing through the metal ring a little, finishing with a team high 18 points to go with the 11 he had in the previous three games combined (!!!), while Brandon added 16, as the Blazers failed to lose this dismal exhibition of competitive pooping, 83-74.
Atlanta at LAL. Okay, time to get serious. Let's all pay a visit to our friends at The Popcorn Machine to see the GAME FLOW CHART for the ins and outs of this super-swell First Really Good Laker Game of 2009/10. Go ahead and click that link, if you would...
The game started very even, with Joe Johnson showing superhuman effort in running 18 points, 5 rebounds, a steal, and an assist on the chart in the first 9:20 of game action. Unfortunately for the Hawks, Joe Johnson wasn't super human at all... He made his way to the bench to recharge the juice in his batteries, but somehow managed to drown the basketball scoring demons which had been possessing him with 12 ounces of Gatorade. Jackson added just 9 more points the rest of the way, while his team needed about twice that from its superstar just to stay even.
The thing that leaps off the page are the numbers 18-0. That's the run in the third quarter that the five Laker starters handed the hapless Hawks that put the puppy out of reach. It was like a Black Monday on Wall Street, with the bottom falling out of the market for upset victories by the upstarts from the East. Woodson ran a couple subs in there, but it didn't help. Teams just don't give up runs that big and live to tell the tale.
After a decent 1st Half run, the Lakers' thin-and-poxy bench piddled away 8 points of the lead in the early 4th Quarter, forcing PJ to reinsert his starting five for the finish. Adam Morrison was sobbing at the end of the bench over the failings of his fellows, as he added still another DNP-CD-Incompetence to his growing collection on the mantlepiece. It goes without saying that Kobe's Krew managed to hold of the Hawks in a game that was never really close after halftime, 118-110.
And that is that.
Now before we pay a little visit to our friendly friends in the ATL to find out how they're dealing with defeat, please join me in spending some time watching the latest installment of THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD (it's educational!):
By Sekou Smith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Los Angeles - Another big game and another big let down for the Hawks.
The Hawks lost their sixth straight game against one of the league's elite teams dating back to the playoffs last season, falling 118-110 to the world champion Los Angeles Lakers Sunday night at Staples Center.
Cleveland swept the injury-plagued Hawks out of the Eastern Conference semifinals last season and they were blown out in their preseason finale last month by reigning Eastern Conference champion Orlando.
Sunday night's game against the Lakers was a chance for redemption, a chance to prove that their 2-0 start to this season wasn't just a product of their ability to channel their energy and emotion in the right direction at Philips Arena.
Whatever swagger the Hawks packed for their trip west, however, disintegrated rapidly during a turnover-induced meltdown in the third quarter that sealed the their fate on this night, one that saw NBA Finals MVP Kobe Bryant smoke them for 41 points.
Eight of their 20 turnovers came in that third quarter, when the Lakers' lead stretched from two points minutes after halftime to 22 points by the end of the quarter. The Hawks turnover tally for the night produced an early Christmas present for a stacked Lakers team that doesn't need any more gifts. * * *
posted by "Erihury" to game thread at Peachtree Hoops (SBN)
Hey look, we're kinda close
DO YOU BELIEVE!!!!!!!
Not gonna do it...
posted by "Mr. Sanchez" to game thread at Peachtree Hoops (SBN)
Not gonna do it...
Wouldn't be prudent. Not gonna do it.
by Bret Lagree, Hoopinion (True Hoop)
Let not the final score fool you. Sure, the Atlanta bench outplayed their Laker counterparts sufficiently in the fourth quarter that both Mike Woodson and Phil Jackson felt the need to put their starters back in the game but the Hawks didn't get within 10 points until Jamal Crawford's layup with 26.3 seconds left in the game. The Hawks needed an 8-0 run to cap a 34-20 fourth quarter to lose by eight points to a team without its second-best player.
Jeff Teague's fourth quarter (12 points, 2 assists, one made three-pointer, one spectacular dunk) was the closest thing to a positive the Hawks could take away from the game, an encounter thoroughly spare of hopeful signs despite Joe Johnson's bright start. Johnson scored 18 points in the game's first 9:21 and outplayed Kobe Bryant over that stretch.
Bryant stopped settling for jump shots, a decision not unrelated to being guarded by Jamal Crawford for long stretches, and finished the game with 41 points. Bryant could have scored more had Ron Artest been interested in truly exploiting his teammate's mismatch against Crawford. Johnson finished with 27 points and made one field goal, a layup with 1:10 left in the game to make the score 106-118, in quarters two through four. * * *
Let me preemptively dispute any potential suggestions that the Hawks lost due to a lack of effort. They played plenty hard but were clearly outclassed. The fundamental difference between the teams is that of talent. * * *
by Jon Newberry, HawksBasketBlog.com
As far as anyone can tell, Sunday will be the first time in history all four major North American sports leagues will be in action in games that actually mean something. The NBA, NHL and NFL all have regular season games scheduled, and the Phillies will be hosting the Yankees in game 4 of the World Series.
If you buy into the "soccer is the most popular sport in America" line, then you also have two MLS playoff games on the docket. Plus, NASCAR is right in the middle of its Chase for the Sprint Cup and will dominate ABC's airwaves from Talladega all afternoon. * * *
by Northcyde, HawkSquawk message board
Because everytime these players play like ish, that's always the excuse. This team just straight up collasped and got outworked on the frontline. This doesnmt have a DAMN THING TO DO WITH COACHING.
It's a shame that people don't put the responsibility where it belongs.
When your frontline plays soft, and your guards turn the ball over time and time again, that's not coaching folks. It ain't the offense either, because they were running the same ish in the first half that they were running in the 3rd quarter. It's just that the Lakers turned the intensity WAY UP, and we didn't even come close to matching it.
LOL . . . what a 3rd quarter by the World Champs.
Having said all of that, you only have 24 hours to cry about this game. In the NBA, there's no way in hell you can dwell on a performance like this.
posted by High5 to Hawk Squawk message board
Compare our third quarter with some Washington Generals footage and see if you can tell which team is losing on purpose. The Hawks most definitely played a terrible game. It's not doom and gloom, it's just passionate fans wanting to see this team take that next step.
by Sekou Smith, Atlanta Journal Constitution Hawks Blog
LOS ANGELES - It probably feels just as nasty this morning as it did last night, that taste in the Hawks' beaks after the Lakers kicked dirt all over them.
How a two-point game mushrooms into a 24-point rout in a matter of minutes would normally require CSI-level examination.
But not where the Hawks are concerned. The anatomy of their latest road debacle is similar to so many of its predecessors.
By now you know the routine. The Hawks trade punches, they make a decent game of it until things go slightly awry and the sky starts falling. The fall began with their disastrous third quarter, when the Hawks started handing the ball over to the Lakers like they were ordered to by the LA County Sherriff's office.
And they wouldn't stop giving it up. Play after play, they just kept turning it over. Josh Smith got his hands dirty, Al Horford, Jamal Crawford and Zaza Pachulia did, too.
The meltdown on the bench soon followed, with players shouting back and forth about the sloppiness.
The Lakers didn't need the help. But they were happy to take advantage of the Hawks ineptitude and immaturity. * * *
by Hawksdawg, Peachtree Hoops (SBN)
Let me be clear, the Hawks should rarely win against the Lakers in LA. It would take a full team effort and at least one sensational effort. Early on, the Hawks made it clear they had no interest in giving a full team effort, but Joe Johnson was flirting with the idea of going beyond sensational.
Joe was 7-8 in the first quarter with one foul, and Mike Woodson sat him toward the end of the first quarter. You can say that Joe was not going to be enough. You can say the Lakers are better than Joe 'freaking" Johnson, but I would like the chance to prove you right. Coaches don't take out guys that hot in 9 year old church basketball. It makes no sense. Yes, he may have cooled off. Really, he had to, dude was on pace for 90 points after the first eight minutes. But why does your own coach cool him off? * * *
Loser Dots * * *
- Someone needs to send Marvin to a motivational speaker.
- Welcome back to earth Al Hoford's game.
- Why is Kobe Bryant so good? After the ba donk a dunk by Jeff Teague, the lead down to ten, and Bob's voice rising in excitement, Artest shot a dumb long two point shot that he missed. Hawks could rebound and cut the lead to eight. Bryant fought off two Hawks for an offensive rebound and put it back up and in.
- Jamal Crawford should never guard Kobe Bryant. * * *
- If Kobe Bryant had four called fouls in this game, he easily committed twelve.
- Seriously, how do you take Joe Johnson out? * * *
by Atl Hawk Luv, Hawk Str8talk
Let's just start with the obvious - the Lakers are better than the Hawks! So, our observations and comments are not complaints as if we were supposed to win, but are thoughts for what will prevent the Hawks from beating great teams consistently.
- It seems like Mike Woodson is on the yo-yo regarding this minute distribution. Yes, we want Joe to get rest...no, we don't want Joe to get rest when he's KILLING the Lakers. So, you can rest him when we play the Kings or the Timberwolves to make up for the extra 6 minutes playing the Lakers...
- So much for regaining the J in your name, Osh Smith.
- The upside to this game was Jeff Teague and fuel for my Marvin as a Super Sub mantra. Marvin didn't show up and I think it's because he's not ever going to be someone who we are trying to get going with this starting 5.
- Rick Sund, are you sure Al Horford is a center? Even without Pau Gasol, the length of the Lakers (and we're talking Bynum, Mbenga, Powell) gave Horford fits on the inside. * * *
We also want to note that we like the new Joe Johnson mantra of calling out the team. In this postgame interview, he noted that "the Hawks are too soft". Well, we've been saying this for a while. That toughness, rebounding, perimeter defense, and leadership were the areas we needed to improve. Well, we kinda got some leadership, but the other 3 are still sore spots and last night was an example of why we want more focus on these areas in the vein of building a championship team. * * *
The Bottom Line:
1. Well, it was fun while it lasted...
2. All Joe had to do was drop abut 60 on the Lakers and our Hawks would have been right in it... But it's especially hard to do that from the bench...
3. Third quarter collapse notwithstanding, our bench players can lick your bench players.