February 02, 2009
An ugly game for the most part, each side knows each other quite well, but the Pistons did chip together an eight-point lead entering the fourth quarter. Not the toughest thing to overcome, but that doesn't make what happened in the fourth any less unnerving
And, really, we're mugs for still acting surprised at this, but the Detroit backcourt corps just have major issues either staying in front of opponents, or forcing them into tough looks.
With LeBron James on the bench, Mo Williams led the deciding turnaround that James finished off as the quarter moved along. And, in the midst of it, there was plenty of "dang, Daniel Gibson just did that to Allen Iverson."
OK, that only happened a couple times, but it still counts. And not only did the combinations of Williams and Gibson out-score Iverson and Rodney Stuckey (29-28), they out-shot and out-rebounded them. And while Stuckey and AI took the assist battle (nine to eight, barely), Detroit's pair turned it over seven times to Cleveland's three.
And this wouldn't be a huge problem if LeBron James wasn't a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he is. The Stuckey/AI backcourt is supposed to be countering James' production, not approximating (or flat out losing to) what Mo Williams and Daniel Gibson gave the Cavaliers.
33 points and eight assists for James, he seemed a little three-pointer happy (3-8), but 3-8 is still 38 percent, and one of those misses came after a pretty strong Rasheed Wallace (nine points, six rebounds in almost 41 minutes) shot to the ribs as James pulled up in the fourth quarter.
Based on the way Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard tended to go after each other starting during the 2005-06 season, we started to hope for a sort of mini-rivalry between these two teams. Hasn't happened, though, Orlando is piling up the wins, and Howard seems to have really pulled away from his Toronto counterpart.
29 points, 14 rebounds, just two turnovers, two steals and a block for Howard; Bosh finished with 11, nine boards, four turns, a steal and a block. Orlando just matches up too well with Toronto for the Raptors to ably pull off their game, and you have to admire the sort of active defense needed to force a team like the Raptors into 40.7 shooting in their wheelhouse (a Sunday matinee), alongside a 2-11 mark from long range.
The Raptors did well to keep things close on the boards, only a 49-44 disadvantage, but that was about it. Jameer Nelson -- 18 points eight boards and 10 dimes -- nicely done.
Minnesota has won with him in the lineup, but even during the good times it seemed to be in spite of him. An eight-point loss to the defending champs (even if they were without Kevin Garnett) doesn't exactly ring of "bad times," but it's pretty obvious that Sebastian Telfair should not be playing 40 minutes of starter basketball for any team that doesn't feature at least LeBron and Kobe in their starting lineup alongside him.
This isn't to rip on Sebastian, he finished with eight assists to two turnovers and generally tries hard, but doesn't see the floor well at all. All sorts of potential passes are passed on because Sebastian realizes what to do too late and his nerve gets the best of him, and that's not even touching on how Boston made him a (longish) shooter in the Timberwolves loss. 4-12 shooting for Telfair, 1-5 from long range.
Randy Foye's shooting mark (6-17) wasn't much better, but he did get to the line and make seven in seven attempts, and his 21 and nine points worked quite well. In the end, Paul Pierce continues to work it (36 points on 24 shots, eight rebounds, six assists), and Boston just can't be bothered with. Especially when you turn the ball over more than they do.
Tony Allen played nearly 19 minutes (14 points, two steals) and didn't turn the ball over once. Is this something we can build upon?
On the other side, Al Jefferson had 34 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks, and one turnover. That said, his team lost, so each of those statistics are immediately invalidated.
Timed up against a Cavaliers/Pistons game on national TV, this contest between two of the NBA's worst teams was blacked out on the dish, and I gotta say, I'm a little cheesed off.
Blackouts are something we have to live with every Sunday afternoon; they're all over the pace as the NBA wants all basketball-watching eyes on what's happening on the major network of its choice, but an overtime close one with 240 combined points? I'd like to know how, and why?
Even the gamer is a little messed-up. Kevin Martin had 37 points on 24 shots, turning it over only twice in 49 minutes of play (that's a tremendous accomplishment), Jeff Green had 28 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, one turnover, and three steals for Oklahoma City, and Thunder rookie Russell Westbrook got to the line 22 times (making 20), helping to overcome seven of 18 shooting and five turnovers. He had eight assists, and all six of his rebounds were on the offensive end.