Fri Nov 12 11:20am EST
This was a blowout.
A five-point blowout, I know, is hard to digest, and it does speak to Miami's amount of raw talent that they were able to fashion merely a five-point deficit in a blowout, but this was a blowout. No way around it.
When it mattered most, each of Boston's five on-court participants was playing the game of their lives against Miami on Thursday night. It didn't last for the entire game, no amount of due diligence could, but the level of intrigue and interest and enthusiasm for Boston was about as high as one could muster, regardless of setting. Toss in the fact that this is the second week of November, and you have a team to truly, truly admire.
Kevin Garnett(notes), to me, was the key. Rajon Rondo(notes) may have gotten into the paint, and Ray Allen(notes) strolled his way into all manner of open looks (and eventual finishes), but KG was the man in charge as Boston pulled away, and stayed away during the first three quarters. He was everywhere, defensively, and earning the C's all sorts of extra possessions offensively. His help defense was superb, he was setting perfect back picks, and he made the difference. My MVP, even if two of his teammates outscored him, and another tallied 16 assists.
Allen, as mentioned, was huge in dropping 35 points. Rondo was talking and pointing and moving and working his way to a big "A+" in that leadership column, and he dropped 16 dimes. Paul Pierce(notes) managed 25, without making too much noise, and Glen Davis'(notes) help defense is as good as help defense gets at this point in the season. And I was thinking this even before TNT told me that Davis is leading the NBA in charges taken this year. Honestly, I'm making these statements even without thinking of the contact and/or flops. He's dominating by moving his feet and keeping those arms up.
Miami? I'll let others have their way with them. There's no anger, there, and any team desperate for a championship needs to play angry.
It needs to play a lot of ways, but it also needs an edge. It should want to defend its championship, or prove Shaq wrong, or prove the pundits that said they would never win anything wrong, or prove the doubters that said they were too old to do anything wrong, or prove the haters that said they were too top-heavy wrong, or prove Portland and the rest of the world wrong, or prove those of whom who said that Kobe and Shaq could never work together wrong. Clearly, I'm going backwards, title team by title team. And you can take it even farther. Prove the team that knocked you out of the Conference finals last spring, wrong. As was the case in the 1980s and early 1990s. Whatever. Just prove something, Miami.
Initially, Chicago was taking advantage of Golden State's turnovers. Then the Bulls started taking advantage of Golden State's terrible transition defense off of defensive rebounds. Then the Bulls just scored, for no reason at all. Golden State came out flat, and stayed flat, as it wound up an otherwise-successful road trip. And Chicago won something it was supposed to win, which is more than we can say for the Bulls team we saw last Thursday against New York.
It was a blitzkrieg. Derrick Rose(notes) still wasn't earning any free throws (there's reason, besides the rebounds and turnovers, that his PER is still way, way lower than Russell Westbrook's),(notes) but he was getting out in transition and scoring all over. Luol Deng(notes) was making the extra pass and finishing as a result of extra passes. Keith Bogans(notes) nailed threes, and the bigs kept up. It was a thorough and utter domination from start to finish.
You can't excuse the Warriors too much, despite playing in Manhattan the night before. The team was obviously weary, but it also took too many possessions off, and seemed to be wishing for the final buzzer by the time the second quarter hit. It's the NBA, so everyone makes a run, but ... yeah, no run.
Everyone needs to get a bit of bad behavior out of its system every so often, and I hope the Lakers are happy with its exercise in this regard.
They've certainly earned it, by playing near-perfect basketball for the season's first two-plus weeks. And while a two-possession loss to a playoff team in one of the tougher arenas to play in is nothing to freak out over, still, Los Angeles could have had this with better play.
But give Denver credit. The in and post-game focus seemed intent on tallying up Kobe Bryant's(notes) crummy long range shots, Lamar Odom's(notes) disappearing act, and Pau Gasol's(notes) poor finishes, and that focus was correct in its intent. But watch that game again. Denver was forcing quick, bad shots. The same shots Los Angeles has been taking and making all season, I submit, but tougher versions of such.
And any time Denver gets eight rebounds and good help defense in less than half a game from Al Harrington(notes) off the bench, or active play from Nene throughout, it is going to have a great chance. 32 and 13 (with five offensive rebounds) in an efficient manner from Carmelo Anthony(notes)? Come on. That team is going to be good enough to ... well, that team is going to be good enough to beat the bloody Lakers. And they did.
By four. And to some Laker fans, the roof is falling in. After their first loss of the season, two weeks in, by four and on the road.
That's telling. This team is goooooood.