This is always an odd day. Even back when NBC and CBS had plenty of Sunday afternoon games, which gave teams plenty of chances to get used to playing matinee games, squads would usually look out of sorts during Martin Luther King Day games.
We're a little out of sorts, too, it's strange to have a batch of games suddenly pop on the tube at this hour, but we're due to liveblog, for those at work and for those with nothing better to do.
Hit us up at kdonhoops (at) yahoo dot com with any thoughts, links, et cetera.
The Celtics are visiting the Knicks, Dallas is in Washington, and the Spurs are playing in Charlotte. We're flipping, trying to keep up. Former 76ers GM Billy King is guesting on NBA TV, so some intern is due to be signed to a five-year, 36 million dollar deal.
1:18: Walt Frazier, after the C's make the extra pass: "sharing means caring." Rajon Rondo is starting for Boston, even after we were led to believe that Rondo's back would leave him on the shelf. Frazier just said "the grandeur of Garnett," and I'm just going to have to flip away from this one.
1:21: Dallas has already given up 13 points to the Wizards in the game's opening five minutes, which is a little worrying. The Mavs have improved recently on that end of the ball, but they're stuck at 14th in the NBA at defensive efficiency this season, down from 5th last season.
1:27: Antawn Jamison enjoys taking three-point shots.
1:29: Wizards broadcasters Phil Chenier and Steve Buckhantz are trumpeting Caron Butler for the MVP award, and they should really just stop.
As a crutch, the duo is comparing Caron's 2007-08 numbers with 2007 MVP Dirk Nowitzki's numbers from last season, forgetting of course that the Mavs essentially rested Dirk for the last month of the season, and that at his prime he was averaging about five points more per game, three rebounds more per game, as many as assists per game as Butler is right now, while playing fewer minutes.
I hate denigrating Butler like this, Tough Juice has been awesome all season, but he's not an MVP. He's not the best player in the league. And there's nothing wrong with that. Why we have to make this sort of jump from good to great to MVP is beyond me ... can't a player just be great?
1:36: Knicks broadcasters Mike Breen and Clyde Frazier are convinced that Rajon Rondo is no good at defense, that he goes for steals and little else; and so far, it's hard to blame them. Jamal Crawford is easing past him. That said, Rondo looks stiff. Same with Ray Allen, who has bricked a trey and missed a layup since I switched back to the Celtics/Knicks game.
Kendrick Perkins has 11 points (Boston has 13, total) in the first four minutes of the contest.
Kendrick Perkins now has 13 points. Eddy Curry actually gave some help defense, all the way out to the three-point line, and nobody covered Eddy's guy. Classy team.
1:40: Kendrick Perkins has 15 points, and there are six and a half minutes left in the first quarter. Showing their versatility, the Knicks let Ray Allen glide into the lane untouched for a layup. Neither Curry nor Zach Randolph leave their feet.
1:44: I fast-forwarded a bit through Celtics/Knicks, and the C's have taken to overpassing, while letting the Knicks back into the game (27-21 with a minute to go). Nate Robinson somehow picked up three fouls in seven minutes of play.
1:45: Second quarter in New York, the Celtics are up eight, Brian Scalabrine has a new buzz-cut (go to New York, hit up the expensive salons, request the Number Two clip on the clippers, pay $125), Walt Frazier just pointed out "the tyranny of statistics" after mentioning Boston's 0-1 record on Mondays.
1:48: The Bobcats are hanging tight with the Spurs, San Antonio has the lead but it's been nothing more than a two-possession game from the beginning, and Charlotte's arena is pretty packed. Maybe as packed as I've seen it all season. All those people there, someone should help the team and kidnap Jeff McInnis.
The Bobcats announcers keep calling Manu Ginobili "Brent Barry." They all look the same to me, too.
1:55: Brent Barry falls hard and smacks the back of his head on the floor, and a TV timeout results. Charlotte's choice of in-arena music?
1:59: Bobcats PA Announcer John Leach? Please stop screaming. Please, please stop screaming.
2:01: DeShawn Stevenson hits a rainbow trey off a broken play to end the half for Washington, he has 12 points on 5-6 shooting, and his only miss came off of a missed 30-footer after the rock was passed to him with one second on the shot clock. Washington is up 46-41. Antawn Jamison? Not happy. The play was designed to find him for the corner three-pointer, and the ball never came his way in spite of plenty of arm-waving.
San Antonio leads by seven, 54-47, at the half as well. In my world, the second quarter of the Celtics/Knicks game just started.
2:08: Walt Frazier: "of course, a very young crowd ... they love the dunks."
Do you love the dunks, kids?
2:11: The Trail Blazers are visiting Atlanta, and the Pacers are in Philly. Two more games to bore you with.
2:13: So, the Trail Blazers announcers have told their listeners that, for whatever reason, we won't be able to recognize Blazer rookie Taurean Green when we see him. Of course, they're not letting us see him.
So what do we think Taurean did? Face tattoo? Sailor's cap? Eye-patch? Why are all my suggestions vaguely maritime-based?
2:17: After Renaldo Balkman bricks a three-pointer, Walt Frazier:
"The crowd became aroused as well, when Balkman shot from downtown."
I know that there's nothing technically wrong with using "aroused" in that situation, but given the time to think about it, can't we just try for something else?
2:19: Arr. Taurean Green just got a haircut. That's it. It so unremarkable, I'm not even going to show it to you. I'll show you the old haircut, though:
He's the angry guy in the middle.
2:30: Acie Law IV is already travelling on an NBA level.
2:31: Seven and a half minutes in, and the Pacers have already put 22 points on the 76ers. The 76ers are still leading in attendance, with 182 fans to Indiana's 22 points.
2:33: Tim Duncan misses a lay-up, says "golly" and claps his hands in frustration.
2:34: Gerald Wallace misses a lay-up. Does not say "golly."
2:36: Antawn Jamison hits a three-pointer to put the Wizards up nine. Good game from Washington, Darius Songaila is managing to not kill the Wizards on defense, and Josh Howard is the only Mav that appears to want something to do with this game. Dirk Nowitzki appears to want something to do with something else, but we're not sure what it is, just yet.
2:38: Five games, all on commercial break. Former Humble Pie guitarist Peter Frampton is talking about car insurance. Somewhere else, likely, Taco Bell is using a Joe Jackson song to sell Gorditas, just in case you wanted to know why I'm weeping uncontrollably.
2:44: Boston is beating the Knicks by 19, and Kendrick Perkins has 492 points. 494, now. Nick Young nearly made a 62-foot (I counted) jumper.
2:45: Again, every game is on commercial. Somebody's not getting a Whopper, somewhere an ad agency thinks that was clever.
2:48: Paul Pierce and Q Richardson in continuing their little millionaire slap-fight. Manu Ginobili has taken over the Spurs/Bobcats game, Spurs by nine.
2:50: Wizards rookie Nick Young doesn't have his left hand yet, but he's willing to use it, and that's important. Josh Howard (30 points) is destroying Washington, but the Wizards are still up 11.
2:55: They're showing Juwan Howard, in street clothes, on the Mavericks' bench. I almost wrote "Wizards bench." We're about seven years removed from the trade that sent Howard to the Mavericks, initially, and it's hard to believe that Juwan only spent six seasons in Washington. That means he's spent more time out of a Washington uniform than in it, which doesn't seem right.
Great player, severely overrated by two franchises in Miami and Washington, and hasn't lived down their mistake (what's he gonna do, not sign a nine-figure contract?) nearly 12 years after putting pens to two different papers.
2:59: In the spirit of MLK Jr. Day, Q-Rich and Paul Pierce have just been ejected. Richardson was shouting "I'LL SEE YOU IN THE BACK" to Pierce has security escorted him into the locker room. Classy, classy, classy.
3:02: Joey Crawford wants the Knicks and Celtics to stop all the downloadin', there have been five technicals called in three quarters. Celtics up double-figures. DeShawn Stevenson is still draining threes down in Washington.
3:06: The SuperSonics are in Houston, and winning after one quarter, 24-22. Luke Ridnour just hit a ridiculous two-handed runner.
3:07: The comments section is ticked about this, and they should be: Bobcats coach Sam Vincent needlessly sat Emeka Okafor for long stretches as the Spurs pulled away. He wasn't in foul trouble, there's 70 seconds left in the game and he just picked up his fourth foul, and Emeka gave the Bobcats 20 and 10 in just 28 minutes of play.
Matt Bonner just missed his first free throw of the season, he was 24-24. Pour out some Diet Sprite for your homie.
3:11: Andray Blatche with a nice runner in the lane, and the Wizards are going to win this thing. 99-84 with two minutes to go. Reader Jason chimes in:
"I am stuck at work and didn't anticipate needing your live blog because I have League Pass and can watch the games on my computer. But when I went to watch the Hawks-Blazers game I just got some BowFlex infomercial. Granted the guys showing the various functions of the BowFlex are probably displaying far more than athleticism than Zaza Pachulia would be, but I'd at least like to know for sure. This is the first time I've used the broadband and was wondering if you or any readers have some troubleshooting suggestions for these type of situations"
The Broadband League Pass kills my computer, everything short of computer solitaire kills my computer's memory these days, so I don't even try it. Anyone have any ideas for Jason?
3:15: Eddy Curry just blocked Glen "Big Baby" Davis' shot, but the block was waved off in favor of a goaltending call.
(XXX ED NOTE INSERT FAT JOKE HERE XXX)
3:26: Washington took care of Dallas, the Spurs held the Bobcats at bay, and the Celtics will not be losing to the Knicks. I just saw a commercial featuring Bill Walton and Bob Lanier, and could not help but link to this:
Of course, for some reason I can't find Kareem's famous line about "dragging Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes," so I'll leave that to you, at work, to replay it at your desk and try not to get caught.
3:36: Atlanta's point guards, so far: 20 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, in a little under 30 minutes. Acie Law IV and Tyronn Lue are having terrific games. On a sidenote, Lue was drafted back in June of 1998, and I still have to double-check every time I type his first name just to see if I'm getting it down correctly. I just did it again. That's twice in one minute. I'm off to touch a doorknob.
3:43: Martell Webster is having a tough time against the Hawks, he's guarding Joe Johnson (19 points in 30 minutes), and he's missed seven of nine shots. I like Martell, and he's just turned 21, but we're probably looking at a Lamond Murray-type career at this point. Nothing wrong with that, this means Webster either turns out to be a solid starter or (if he stays on a great team, and these Trail Blazers are going to be a championship-level team) one of the NBA's best sixth men.
21 years old, about a 12 PER, 15 points per 40 minutes, solid base, good three-point stroke. I think Lamond Murray.
How's about you, eh?
3:50: These ads:
... are all over our boxscores. Just once, I'd like those ads to accurately describe and depict the sorts of guys who do most of the searchin'. Like this guy:
He's searching for you.
3:54: With Troy Murphy and Jermaine O'Neal hurting, Ike Diogu is getting a chance for the Pacers. Only good things can come of this, and he's playing well so far. A couple of assists, some boards, and four points in about three minutes.
4:02: Reader Bret chimes in,
His limitations were obvious from the start.
"Martell Webster: Webster looked quite passive and content to launch threes in the McDonald's game. He might have a more diverse offensive game that I have yet to witness. Listed anywhere between 210 and 235 pounds, I'm getting a distinct George McCloud vibe."
4:06: Lue keeps getting into Portland's zone, keeping the Hawks into the game. Portland up eight.
4:14: Kareem Rush, probably the streakiest shooter in the NBA, has made eight of 14 shots, and is second on the Pacers in scoring with 21 points.
Check out this guy's game log. He's all over the place.
4:16: The Blazers, unlike a lot of young teams (or most teams, really) win the great bulk of their games because they work the slow-down offense like few others. At the end of games, they can control the clock, execute, and still get a good look at the hoop. They're up two with 90 seconds to go, with the ball. Let's see if it holds up.
Brandon Roy with the tough banker. Up six.
4:19: I can't tell you how cool it is to get that, "oh, sweet, the Warriors are on"-feeling at quarter after four in the afternoon. This must be what it feels like to live in Hawaii. It's 32 degrees outside, 'ere. Up from -2, yesterday.
The Blazers kept switching on pick-and-rolls while defending Joe Johnson, Johnson kept taking it to the Blazers and getting to the line, Brandon Roy couldn't answer on the other end, and the Hawks have the ball and a chance to win with 11 seconds left and the game tied.
4:25: Johnson missed a 19-footer, a good look, and we have free basketball in Atlanta.
The Sixers announcers just narrated over a graphic that showed Philadelphia center Sam Dalembert as the 10th-highest vote-getter amongst Eastern Conference centers, two spots behind ... wait for it ... ZAZA PACHULIA.
It's bad enough to be averaging a double-double and be ranked behind Zaza, but to be two spots behind the center of a team that gets about 8,900 fans at its home games?
The shot clock is down at the Wachovia Center in Philly, so the PA announcer is having to call out when there are "ten" or "five" seconds left on the shot clock. It happens about once a month, and it's always annoying.
"I'm searching for you."
4:33: The Blazers have gone small, and are getting killed on the interior. Brandon Roy's having to crash the boards in order for the team to survive. Still, tie-game, and Portland ball with 102 seconds left.
4:35: Pacers win in Philly. Matt from Hardwood Paroxysm checks in:
Great upset by Washington over Dallas? Nnnnnnot on National TV.
Atlanta and Portland, two young teams going to overtime? Nnnnnnnnot on National TV.
Milwaukee at New Orleans, featuring some of the greatest young talent out there and an international superstar. Nnnnnnnnot on National TV.
Detroit at Orlando, a great matchup featuring veteran and young talent, Dwight Howard, international talent, Dwight Howard, and Dwight Howard? Nnnnnnnnnot on National TV.
Thank God Miami versus Cleveland is on!
Hang tough, Matt. Daequan Cook is on tonight!
4:37: Interesting doings in Atlanta: coming out of a timeout, the Trail Blazers started arguing with the referees and official scorers, claiming that a foul call from the fourth quarter on LaMarcus Aldridge should have been called on Travis Outlaw instead.
The Hawks' official scorers, remember, are the ones who forced the NBA order re-play of a game from last December, one that saw Shaquille O'Neal foul out of a game that he had only accrued five fouls in.
So the Blazers assistants argue and argue and, guess what? They won. Aldridge has four fouls now, and not five. Too bad he had to sit for three minutes after picking up the fifth foul, while the Hawks got layup after layup.
4:44: Five years ago, at about this time, Tracy McGrady was averaging 32 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists. Now, today, in his ostensible prime: 22, 5, and 5. I'm sighing. All over the place.
4:45: The Hawks used to have an in-house band, your typical wedding band fare, that would blare crummy classic rock and disco out during timeouts. Apparently the band's contract was not renewed. I'm happy. All over the place.
4:47: The Blazers kept going to Travis Outlaw in isolation plays in overtime, and every time they went to him your humble KD and Blazers color analyst Mike Rice chortled that Portland coach Nate McMillan might be better off going to Brandon Roy. Three out of four possessions, however, Outlaw either got to the line, or scored.
Outlaw nailed a 21-footer, Blazers up two with .9 of a second to play.
Joe Johnson airballs a 25-footer. Outlaw has eight of Portland's 11 overtime points, and the Portland Trail Blazers (!) are 25-16.
4:53: Sergio Rodriguez had 16 points, four assists, and zero turnovers in 16 minutes for the Blazers today.
Matt Barnes has 11 points for Golden State in a quarter and a half. He couldn't play in GSW's last game in Milwaukee, coach Don Nelson accidently listed Andris Biedrins twice on the official roster, so Barnes was ruled inactive. Bummer. The Bucks don't play defense.
5:05: Somehow, the Bucks rang up 54 points on the Hornets in one half. Michael Redd led the charge with 17, but he also added six rebounds, which was (if memory serves) his total for all of January 2007. The Hornets have opened the second half with a 14-4 run over the first six minutes of the second half. That sounds about right.
Hopefully this update will load on the main page sometime before January of 2009.
5:13: I'm trying, really trying, to come up with something interesting to say about the Jazz/Clippers contest, but this isn't much of a game, in spite of the close score. There's 2:29 left in teh third, and yet both outfits have combined to turn the ball over 30 times.
Pearl Washington and Sleepy Floyd are going at it on ESPN Classic, Billy Raftery has the call, and I caught myself watching that for a few minutes. Pearl Washington keeps sliding through the Georgetown zone, Patrick Ewing is dominating the boards, and a young Rony Seikaly is still very, very hair.
Play by play guy: "Seikaly travels."
Raftery: "That's what Ewing does."
Bill didn't mean it like that, he meant that Ewing forced him into a travel, but it was funny to me, nonetheless. David Wingate just checked in, and he's yet to grow a mustache.
5:20: I do believe Charles Barkley just made a side-bet on the air, picking the Timberwolves to win in Golden State. Barkley tends to talk "off-camera" even though he's not "off-air," if you dig, and he's known for his side-bets with Kenny Smith. So there you go, kids.
5:22: Reader Matthew just read about the Warriors inadvertantly making Matt Barnes inactive the other night, he's ticked, and he's emailin':
"This exact same thing happened in a Knicks-Bulls game earlier this season with Isiah. But before the game the refs came over to Thomas and allowed him to adjust the roster so Quentin Richardson could play. The Bulls lost. I want this game replayed immediately! Or after the Knicks start sucking again."
Bowen just hit Pargo for a three-pointer, now. Ryan Bowen, and Jannero Pargo. How in the HELL is this team winning so many games?
The Bucks are yelling at each other.
5:36: The Bulls/Grizzlies picture on TNT is absolutely miserable, lots of bleeding going on.
Mike Fratello is talking about how the Bulls want to run more, as opposed to how they worked more in the half-court under Scott Skiles over the last few years. Once again, the opposite is true. Last season, the Bulls ran their way to the 6th-most possessions in the NBA. This year, they've slowed down (partially as a result of not getting as many stops), and are at 13th.
5:42: Reader Wyatt pointed out this Warriors/Timberwolves box score, one that shows Mikael Pietrus playing a curious amount of minutes.
The Jazz are blowing out the Clippers, New Orleans is walking all over Milwaukee, but the Timberwolves are right there with the Warriors. Minnesota's down two with 3:40 to play in the third quarter. Barkley might be on to something.
5:46: The Timberwolves are up five points. Golden State keeps going into a zone, but Don Nelson's team doesn't have the focus to pull it off, and isn't giving much effort after the first 12 seconds of a defensive possession. Rashad McCants has 14 points in 26 minutes.
5:49: Darko Milicic keeps trying to grow a mustache. Someday he'll get there.
6:04: Chicago's offense is miserable, but their youngsters on the interior can pass like crazy. Why the coaching staff doesn't run more players from the inside-out (and not, say, Joakim Noah or Ben Wallace setting the 192nd screen of the game for Ben Gordon) makes no sense to me.
6:05: Matt Barnes is still going off for the Warriors, Minnesota has the ball and is up a bucket with 7:50 to play.
6:09: Barnes has 20 off the bench, which is 15 more than the entire Minnesota bench combined. Antoine Walker just hit a three for his first points in 15 minutes of play.
Poor 'Toine. He's not going to make the All-Star team, in spite of our best efforts. I voted for him. My girlfriend voted for him. We tried. People worked hard. It wasn't meant to be.
Minnesota by five. 5:43 to go.
6:18: Baron Davis has five fouls, he's guarding Ryan Gomes, and Ryan Gomes has 33 points, so the Timberwolves are going to Ryan Gomes in the post. Smart move. The ball moves, a shot is missed, but the collapsing Warriors are out of position and Antoine Walker gets a tip-in rebound.
6:21: TNT shows the interior, the actual studio, within Sun Studios. Dick Stockton calls it "Graceland." I die a little.
6:22: The Golden State cheerleaders are wearing those knee socks again. OK, the pain is gone.
6:24: Geesh, the Timberwolves play some dumb, and uninspired basketball at times. Two minutes to go in a two-point game, close to winning their second road game of the season, and they can't be bothered to box guards out.
6:25: The Warriors don't talk on defense, Ryan Gomes squirts free, Gomes hits two freebies, and the Wolves are up one.
6:26: Baron Davis takes and misses a bad three-pointer.
6:27: Marko Jaric takes and misses a three-pointer he wanted nothing to do with. Warrior ball, down one point, 6.9 seconds to go. Warriors have to go the length of the court.
6:28: Baron Davis just missed a layup that he would like to have back. Timberwolves win for the sixth time this season. As bad as they are, this is a team that should have more wins.
6:31: For the eight of you that are left: I'm taking a break, and will be back after halftime of Grizzlies/Bulls.
6:56: Actually, we're just going to call it quits on this one. A fun, strange day. Thanks for your eyes.