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Lakeshow Episode 07: The View from New Orleans

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Call me mean-spirited, but I do love a good chuckle at the misfortune of others.

Well, that may be overstating it a bit... Let's put it this way: I find humor in dysfunctional situations that deserve being laughed at.

Seriously: when an owner fails to observe how much worse Detroit became and how much better Denver became when Chauncey Billups and Allen Iverson traded shirts; and when that same owner further failed to observe how the tatted twerp A.I. blew off his bosses for having the gaul to suggest he come off the bench for them (still pocketing his multimillions, of course); and then when that same owner decided that Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo weren't a sufficient backcourt (what-what-what?) and agreed to pay still more millions to Mr. Gold Chain Guy............. Given all that, it just tickles my funnybone that after all of 3 games coming off the bench, Stinky has a face-to-face with the owner after a loss in LA and decides he needs to leave the team to go back home to Atlanta for an indefinite period for "personal reasons."

How stupid are you, Michael Heisley?

Did you have enough brains to cover your ass financially for this obvious catastrophe in the making???

Or does Allen Iverson's personal services contract with your company pay him for simply breathing?

Hmmmmm?

A few more words for Papa Grizzly after the jump...

And while we are on the subject of the donkeys in your barn, what were you thinking when you brought The Black Hole, Zach Randolph, to town? What is the correlation that you are observing between his monumental statistical totals and your team's win total? How has your team chemistry been doing?

Do you actually like basketball? Or do you just enjoy spending money and meddling and creating annual implosions of your franchise as an Attention-Getting Mechanism, a la Daniel Snyder of the Washington Redskins?  'Cuz you seem to be already well down that road, sir...

 

Channel Surfing

Saturday, Nov. 7

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Toronto (3-2) at Dallas (3-2). The Dallas Mavericks, a team which scared the wee-wee out of me in 2008/09, are shaping up to be one of the major forces in the Western Conference in the 2009/10 season. Their face-off with the Toronto Raptors marked the return of 420-friendly wing Josh Howard to an already potent lineup. The Mavs had 14 fast break points in the first half — not bad considering that their PG uses a walker and has his own set of personal nicknames for each of his teammates, such as "Sonny" (Shawn Marion), "Stretch" (Dirk Nowitzki) and "Young Man" (Erick Dampier).

I remain curious how Dallas claims to have sold out 400-something-something straight games, yet fully 1/2 the big money seats next to the floor appear to be sitting empty. Does Mark Cuban buy all unsold tickets for investment purposes as future collectibles? Is it a status symbol among Dallas richie-riches to write big checks for Mav season tickets but a fashion faux pas to actually show up at a game? It's all very puzzling and I'm not sure what to make of it. I am just about to the point of calling bullshit on their so-called "consecutive sellouts" streak, however...

This game was such a mismatch that it went to Garbage Time midway through the 3rd Quarter. It was a leisurely walk in the park for Dallas, in which they had time to stop to pick a bouquet of pretty yellow wildflowers and then sit a spell on a wooden bench to do a little whittling. The Large German Man finished with 29 points and 9 boards in about 37 minutes, Jason Terry chipped in 19 points off the bench, Shawn Marion was impressive, scoring 18, and newcomer Howard had 16 points on 5 for 12 shooting. Watch out for this team. Mavs 129, Raptors 101.

Dallas is very, very deep and seems likely to emerge as one of the top 4 teams in the West this year, along with LAL, Denver, and (probably eventually) Portland. I still refuse to believe Phoenix is for real. Maybe I need to actually watch them.

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Sacramento (1-4) at Utah (2-3). Wow. Sacramento starts with "S" for Suck. They were staring at a 14 point deficit in the 2nd Quarter. Losers! But lucky for them, they were playing the struggling Jazz, who should probably change their name to the Funk at this point. Bye bye lead by the end of the 2nd Quarter, tied at the half.

Then in the 3rd frame, the Kings took it to Utah, 30-13, opening up a nasty 17-point lead for Jerry's Kids by the start of the 4th. With no Kevin Martin, this made the outcome about even odds coming down the wire. I'm not joking, Sacramento starts with "S" for Suck... All-Star Deron Williams immediately hoisted his underperforming mates onto his broad shoulders, taking it to the rack and starting a run, as the Kings predictably went into fraidy-cat mode, highlighted by shot clock violation after shot clock violation and Jason Thompson bricking a bunny at the rim.

It's hard to stall with the 24 second clock, but the Kings did their best. They had no offensive flow whatsoever, but lucked in enough buckets and got sent to the line just enough to hold off the Utah charge, which had 'em to just 5 down at the 1 minute mark. But the Red Sea parted for Beno Udrih for an easy finger roll layup and that was dagger at the 21 second mark, although the Jazz's corpse took another 10 minutes to stop wiggling.

Utah are a small market team deep into Luxury Tax Hell and it's now or never for them — and they are getting embarrassed at home by the Sacramento Kings! So much for that "The Jazz are unbeatable at home" myth, eh? Now they're 2-2 in the friendly confines and get to go on a four game roadie that includes stops in Boston and Cleveland. Oh, goody...

Tyreke Evans made like a star for a team that desperately needed one, finishing the night with 32 points and 7 assists for Sactoe, cooly draining 16 of 19 Free Throw attempts in the effort. Kings 104, Jazz 99. Yaay.

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Memphis (1-5) at LA Clippers (2-4). This game featured so many absolutely shocking revelations that I feel compelled to use bullet points and italics to drive them home with emphasis:

  • Memphis wing Rudy Gay recently turned down a $10M/yr. extension because he wants LaMarcus Aldridge money — even though he's not 6'11' — and he might actually be worth it! (Gay scored 33 points on 11/20 shooting, going 11/13 from the line, pulling down 6 rebounds as a SF).
  • Clipper Center Chris Kaman would seem to be the odds-on favorite to join Andrew Bynum as a 2009/10 Western Conference All-Star! (Kaman went 26 and 9 in this game and after 7 games played he is averaging 23.0 points and 9.9 rebounds. Yes, Chris Kaman!!!)
  • Hasheem Thabeet, rather than being a Swahili term for Darko Milicić, actually looks to be a pretty decent NBA Center prospect. He hustles, is big enough to block and alter shots, and is a Grizzly player who actually seems to care about defense!
  • Baron Davis is getting paid $12.1 Million this year, and he has 3 more years coming! (Sure, Davis didn't actually stink as bad as usual, scoring 15 on 5/9 shooting, but any time there are bullet points and italics being used about the Clippers, he automatically gets one, for obvious reasons...) 

It was close down the wire, with Ralph Lawler holding his breath for about 3 consecutive possessions with Memphis stuck at 99 points and the Clippers trailing. But then All-Star Kaman hit a Free Throw for a 100-99 Clippers lead and they managed to hold it, enabling Good Old Ralph to chortle and puff about the veracity of the "law" he nicked from a Philadelphia 76ers trainer and modestly named after himself. Clippers 113, Grizzlies 110.

Sunday, Nov. 8

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Phoenix (5-1) at Washington (2-4). Well, it's time to investigate whether the Western Conference-best win/loss record of the Phoenix Suns is an anomaly. How can a team that was out of the playoffs in 2008/09, that got nothing for future Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O'Neal, that features a Point Guard who plays some of the most porous defense in the NBA, that starts the goofy and lovable, albeit buttery soft, perimeter chucker Channing Frye at Center (!!!) — how can THAT team be 5 and 1?!?

Well, there's a little illumination to be garnered watching 'em play against the underachieving Washington Wizards. For one thing, former league MVP Steve Nash remains the best passing PG in the NBA, despite the mileage on his odometer. Dude had 13 Assists by the end of the THIRD Quarter... I'm of the belief that the Assist is the most overrated statistic in basketball, but that's still really getting it done for a PG.

Amar'e Stoudamire is all the way back from microfracture surgery. That becomes quickly clear, too. Amar'e is a force inside, quick and athletic. Jason Richardson is the other guy that powers the Suns' offensive attack. Phoenix is taking the same sort of score first, score second, worry about defense third approach that Golden State perennially runs, and J-Rich is completely in his element runnin' with the Suns. Leandro Barbosa is quality off the bench and Frye can rain open look 3s if you give them to him — but I still don't see a team that has the ponies to make it out of the first round of the playoffs.

Phoenix leaks out on the break on misses. Phoenix leaks out on the break on makes. They pretty much force teams to play 4-on-4 on their own end, because they run out on everything. Teams need to be ready for this eventuality and to be disciplined enough to play tough defense to slow Phoenix down. The Washington Wizards are obviously not that team as this game was never really that competitive from the 2nd Quarter on. Suns 102, Wizards 90.

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Minnesota (1-5) at Portland (3-3). For the last few years, the Portland Trail Blazers have owned the Timberwolves (not unique in that regard in the NBA, admittedly), having won the last 8 games in the series. Minnesota limped into this one with a disheartening record of 1 and 5, their sole win coming at the expense of the sad sack New Jersey Nets, who remain winless in the 2009/10 season.

Blazer Head Coach Nate McMillan once again voted not to pick a starting Point Guard, inserting both Andre Miller and Steve Blake into the starting 5 (who's the 1 and who's the 2? You decide...), moving Brandon Roy to Small Forward, where he was matched up with Ryan Gomes. The corollaries of this decision are that Martell Webster moves to the second unit (known as the "White Unit" in Natespeak) and the long-suffering Jerryd "Rex" Bayless gets burn running the White Unit as its PG.

Guess what? The decision not to decide seems to have worked for Portland. I mean, really, really worked. Both units of the 12-deep Blazers ran like crazy and Minnesota melted like a sugar cube in a donut fryer.

On a night when Brandon Roy scored exactly 2 points, taking zero Free Throws, the Blazers absolutely annihilated the rebuilding Timberwolves. Andre Miller turned in a second straight excellent performance, leading the Blazers with 21 points, while the entire team was moving the ball, racking up an incredible 35 assisted field goals vs. 6 unassisted field goals on the night. Blazers 116, Wolves 93.

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New Orleans (2-4) at LA Lakers (5-1). New Orleans was already fully exposed as a bad road team coming into this game, having lost by 37, 6, 24, and 34 points in its previous 4 away games this season. Odds of an upset victory seemed slight, even given the fact that the Lakers were short two of their 6 man core, with Messrs. Gasol and Bynum tending minor injuries.

You see, if the Lakers may be regarded as having a thin team only 6 reliable players, the Hornets have only half of a thin team with just 3 quality NBAers — CP3™® (as seen on TV), Power Forward David West, and Center Emeka Okafor. That's it and good luck with the rest of it. Peja Stojanković is an aging set-shot specialist and James Posey would make a swell 9th man on about 25 teams. And it goes downhill like a soapbox derby track from there...

Uncle Phil has said before that NBA games are never won or lost in the 1st Quarter, but when the Lakers went on a 10-2 run to close the first frame with a 10 point lead, there was an unmistakable scent of finality that had begun to waft through the crowd at Staples Center. Kobe was rolling, the Hornets had nothing to answer, and the facial expressions of Hornets PG Chris Paul alternated between frustration and resignation.

Frustration and resignation were also the two emotions felt by KCAL television viewers when the game was suspended so that Ervin "Jabba" Johnson could regale the audience with war stories of the landmark 1979/80 season, goaded on by the fawning duo of Myers and Lantz. Look, I'm all for tradition and honoring the stars of the past, but for chrissakes, there's something called HALFTIME which would have been swell for that purpose. I don't know the name of the producer who thinks submerging game coverage under thick strata of tedious pointlessness is a great idea, but it's about time for a peasants' revolt, methinks.

It was 55-42 at the half when Fish drained a buzzer-beating corner trey. During the break Stu complained about the lack of Laker balance in the first half, Kobe putting up 47.3% of the teams points. Not to worry, everybody else did the scoring in the second half and LA ran away with the game from the demoralized boys in blue. It was 82-58 at the end of 3, and the only question the Lakers left unanswered is: "What the Hell was Kobe doing in the game in the 4th Quarter, Phil?"

Now let's pay a visit to The Popcorn Machine's GAME FLOW SUMMARY to see what we can learn. (Go ahead and click that link, if you'd be so kind...)

Observation 1: It looks like P.J.'s new policy of running a marathon like a marathon continues — gone are the 40+ minute usage rates of starters, in favor of a more rational allocation of minutes to the subs, warts and all. And we have UPS and Luke repaying the time and trust with some actual production. Kobe was on the floor more than any other Laker (33.7 minutes), usually an understandable situation — although one would have thought the Mamba would have been snared early on this particular night, given the margin of the game and the level of the competition.

Observation 2: The margin in this game was much wider than that shown by the final score, with the hapless Hornets looking at a 27 point hole towards the end of the 3rd Quarter. It was only a pair of 4th Quarter Hornet runs — 7-0 and 11-4 — with the starters on the bench that allowed the annihilation to be turned into a mere face crushing.

Observation 3: Kobe got 26 of his 28 points in the first half, when the scoring actually mattered. After the break he went just 1-for-5 shooting, with an Assist and 3 Turn Overs. But this dog of a game was dead by the middle of the 3rd Quarter anyway....

 

Our friends Tas, Skeets, and J.D. at The Basketball Jones, known here as THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD (because it is) are taking a day off today, so we'll just have to get on with it...

 

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Down 22

posted by "Loco Saint" to the At the Hive (SBN) game thread


D-D-Down by 22!

meh...

 

well it's safe to say

that with the Hornets you get consistency. 

 

(2)

Los Angeles Lakers Run Away from New Orleans Hornets, Win 104-88

by Jimmy Smith, New Orleans Times Picayune

LOS ANGELES - Behind 28 points from guard Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers whipped the New Orleans Hornets, 104-88 here Sunday night in Staples Center.

Four Lakers players scored in double-figures, including two reserves, Shannon Brown (15) and Luke Walton (11).

Chris Paul led the Hornets with 15 points and nine assists. Emeka Okafor scored 10 points and had 14 rebounds.

Rookie Marcus Thornton from LSU scored eight points in seven minutes of play. * * *

 

(3)

The Best Thing the New Orleans Hornets Have Going for Them Right Now is the Saints

by John DeShazier, New Orleans Times Picayune

The New Orleans Hornets aren't in just any old funk.

They're in a funk that best can be related to by Bootsy Collins and George Clinton, a haze in which they seem not to know if they're coming or going, and don't know what to do once they arrive or leave.

New Orleans is 2-5 after its latest meltdown, a 104-88 loss against the Lakers on Sunday night in which the Lakers called off the dogs (Kobe Bryant scored 26 of his 28 points in the first half, and the Lakers led by 25 in the third quarter) and still jogged across the finish line ahead of the Hornets.

If you're keeping score, that's four double-digit losses.
Good thing for them that, probably, you're not.

It's to the Hornets' benefit that they picked this season, with the Saints off to a franchise-record 8-0 start and Saints fever at an all-time high, to stumble out of the gate. And, actually, to call it a stumble is to be kind. * * *

Obviously, there's plenty of time to pull out of this. The Hornets have 75 games left; there's no way a team led by Chris Paul can tailspin for a 20- or 30-game stretch, no way it should funk it up so thoroughly that Bootsy and George should be playing its theme song. * * *

 

(4)

The Lakers Pounded the Hornets

by Ryan Schwan, Hornets 247 (TrueHoop)

The Hornets lost again tonight in rather embarassing fashion as the Lakers took it to them early, and then never let them threaten again. Blowouts appear to be the norm this season for opponents of the Hornets. Good times. Good times. For them. Now, you can say "But it's the Lakers!" but both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum were out and the Hornets still didn't look like they belonged on the court.

The first play of the game was indicative: Kobe Bryant strips Devin Brown and takes it in for a dunk. If any of you were surprised by that, you haven't watched the Hornets the last 12 months.

Observations — such as they are:

  • Chris Paul didn't have an other-worldly shooting night for the first time this season, and it made it even more apparent how poorly the rest of this team is playing. Paul still did alright with 15 points and 9 dimes, but he rode the pine for a lot of the fourth as the game was over by halftime. * * *
  • Devin Brown wasn't shy in creating contact with Kobe. Unfortunately, he didn't really make Kobe's life any harder — or deny him the shots he wanted. That's one thing you should take away from tonight. If you took a look at the tape and analyzed the plays, you will see the Hornets do a solid job of contesting shots. They are there, with a hand in the Laker's faces for a lot of the shots. The problem is that those are the shots the Lakers want. * * *
  • The best part of the game tonight was the 4th quarter, when the team started running. If Byron wants his team to get out and run like he's claimed over and over and over, he needs to put in players who CAN run.  * * *
  • Okafor had a nice game, including two vicious dunks on post moves. I'd like to be happy about that, but he was being guarded by DJ Mbenga and Josh Powell. Yeah, that does kinda take the shine off of things.

So . . . that's about it about the game. I do want to say one other thing before heading off to sleep. If you went back and looked at the past posts on this blog, you'll find me defending Byron Scott a lot. I like a lot of things Byron does, and I like a lot of his philosophies. Tonight, however, the scales tipped for me. My level of frustration about his decisions this season has passed "open-mouthed in disbelief" and reached "weeping blood". I don't even know what to say at this point. * * *

 

(5)

Hornets.com Postgame: Lakers 104, Hornets 88

by Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com (via Big Easy Buzz Blog)

With the Hornets dropping four of their first six games and trying to adjust to a change in the starting lineup, the last thing they needed was a trip to face the defending NBA champions on their home floor. That's what the schedule dictated, though, and the outcome was another discouraging result. * * *

More from tonight's defeat, the first stop of a three-game road trek:

  • Devin Brown replaced Morris Peterson as the starting shooting guard, a move that led to Peterson being deactivated. * * * The Hornets had no answer for Kobe Bryant, though, as the Lakers superstar piled up 26 points in the first half.
  • It was a dreadful shooting performance for New Orleans, which was hovering around 33 percent from the field through three quarters. No one other than Brown had made at least half of his attempts while the game was still in doubt. * * *
  • The poor start to this season has been very uncharacteristic of the Hornets, who went 4-0, 4-0 and 3-0 to open the previous three campaigns. New Orleans' worst-ever start was 0-8 in 2004-05, a season when many of the franchise's record lows were established.

 

(6)

Byron Scott Postgame Quotes

from Hornets.com, via Big Easy Buzz Blog, courtesy LA Lakers

On what changes the Hornets are making:

"I don't know if it's creative or out of the norm, and you know I did go in and the players were talking and I came and told them to bring it in and I made another change, but I don't know if it's out of the norm or out of necessity or whatever the case may be, but I just got to start Peja (Stojakovic) tomorrow, put him in there with CP and David (West). I thought Devin (Brown) played well. I really did. I thought he defended Kobe about as well as you can and Kobe is just unbelievable.

"But on the offensive end, Devin did some good things for us. I'm going to just put these guys in and rotations will probably be a little bit different too because I thought the rookies played pretty well as well tonight. And the thing I was impressed by with those two guys was just their energy. I mean they came in there — they're probably going to make some mistakes — but they did good. They did really good. It's something to build on.

"But the third quarter, again, the third quarter is killing us. It's just two straight games where we come out and the team just kind of dominates us in that third quarter and we got to solve that problem quick."

On some positives and negatives from tonight:

"Devin I thought did some good things and made some shots for us. He was aggressive on the offensive end. But the other guys got to be aggressive as well. We've got to do a better job on keeping our spacing, which means you've got to be patient."

On what he wants to see from his team:

"Guys just have to be aggressive and have a lot of confidence in their selves so they can get the job done and I think we can. It's just a matter of guys taking the initiative at times and not relying on just CP and David (West)."

 

(7)

Sad News: George Shinn Has Prostate Cancer

by Alejandro de los Rios, Blog of New Orleans

Hornets Owner George Shinn announced today that he has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer but remains healthy, optimistic and committed to maintain his regular schedule that includes serving the New Orleans community and leading the organization to championship performance on and off the court.

"My wife, Denise, and I remain strong in our faith and will maintain a positive attitude as I battle this with intense fervor and drive. This is not the first obstacle that I have had to overcome in life, but it will be another one that will be conquered. Those closest to me understand my commitment to God and belief in the power of prayer, so all that I ask is for people to add me to their prayers. I'm proud of the fact that I will be joining the ranks of cancer survivors around the world who exemplify the greatest strength and resilience...." * * *

 

(8)

Byron Scott has Quit

posted by "Pharcyder" to HornetsReport message board

I think Bryon Scott has quit on this team. It's a lame duck year for him and the team is playing like it. No passion or hustle. The Hornets should have either let him go or signed him to an extension before the season started. You are not going to have a lot of success with a coach in the last year of his deal.

Scott is just going through the motions. Scott knows he will find a job next year because the NBA fires 5-7 head coaches a year and he has been successful for the most part.

Scott didn't just become a bad coach all of a sudden. It's just that the team isn't responding to him and my guess is that Scott isn't 100% inspired himself.

 

(8)

A Different Breed of Lame Duck

posted by "Harvey Hornet" to HornetsReport message board

The rooks will start to see significant playing time after this road trip. Likely Thornton moreso at first. Threatening to fire Scott won't achieve anything. He won't be back under any circumstances...I think everyone knows that at this point. If they don't fire him, he'll leave for a new opportunity. It doesn't matter if we go 2-80 or win the NBA title.

Scott's lame duck status is different this go round. He doesn't have the personnel he needs. I watched the game on League Pass....it was interesting to hear the Lakers announcers talk about Scott's "lame duck" status....which they said was unheard of in this day and age of the NBA.

 

The Bottom Line:

1. We're doomed. The Hornets have Chris Paul, Okafor, and West and a bunch of not-ready for primetime players...

2. How bad is it? A rumbling has started among us Hornets fans for GM Jeff Bower to sign Allen Iverson... 

3. Of course we didn't beat the Lakers — we had no expectation of beating the Lakers. The only reason we played the Lakers is because David Stern made us. A better question at this point is whether our Hornets can beat the Timberwolves, the Kings, and the Grizzlies.

4. How 'bout them Saints?!?!?