Ball Don't Lie - NBA

The games do mean absolutely nothing, though we enjoy watching some preseason games, it's hard to take these contests as anything more than a novelty. But as we get deeper into the exhibition season, a BtB might be in order. After all, we've less than two weeks to go until the season starts.

Finally. Fin-al-ly.

This will be but a brief snippet, however, as we're only limiting the breakdowns to the games we were able to watch.

That's sort of the point. And until the real games start to turn up, and teams start to get it together as a whole, the posts will be heavy on analysis of individuals. No reason to get all haughty when the offensive execution isn't at its best in October.

Let's preseason!

Chicago 99, Minnesota 94

Chicago got out to a hot start, moving the ball and nailing long jumpers, while the Timberwolves struggled to defend.

Then, after a while, neither team struggled to defend. They did manage to offend, though.

The offense was pretty bad in this Bulls win, lots of missed interior looks and a heavy turnover count. Minnesota missed 16 of 18 three-pointers, their Triangle offense (though you could see some comforting signs early, even as they fell behind) wasn't exactly fluid, and Al Jefferson(notes) still looks like he's a couple of months away from playing at full capacity.

Al's really in shape, you can tell, but he just isn't getting the lift that he used to, and the frustration showed at times on Wednesday. That said, because the man is so supremely talented, he still managed to toss in a few nifty hooks and lay-ins over and around Bulls rookie Taj Gibson(notes), and Joakim Noah(notes) - a player (17 and 11.5 and three blocks in limited minutes during this back-to-back) who is becoming increasingly beastly.

The Timberwolves made it a close one as the Bulls continued to toss out roster invitees, taking the lead at one point with three starters on the floor (Chicago countered with Jannero Pargo(notes) and Chris Richard(notes)), but Minnesota just couldn't string together enough scores to sustain thing. Also, Jannero Pargo-ized the Bulls - 13 shots to score six points.

Keep with the initial offense, though, Minnesota. The upside is too huge to abandon things just because Damien Wilkins(notes) allowed you to come back against a Bulls team featuring Derrick Byars(notes).

Also, Stacey King did this.

Washington 109, Cleveland 104

Mike Miller(notes) looked awfully comfortable in Washington's early offense. He was able to get up several shots in transition, 12 overall, making nine on his way to 24 points. Miller hit all five of his attempts behind the arc, and Randy Foye(notes) (21 points on 10 shots) seemed to like life just inside the arc, blending into Flip Saunders' offense.

LeBron James(notes) and Mo Williams(notes) were out with the flu, so the Cavs had to go with an equal-opportunity offense that still seemed pretty jump shot-heavy in spite of the presence of Shaquille O'Neal(notes) and Zydrunas Ilgauskas(notes). The Cavs owned the glass, pulling in 10 offensive rebounds, and though Big Z's line wasn't much (eight points, seven rebounds, four turnovers and five fouls in almost 20 minutes) he looked to be active and in shape. Didn't appear to be someone nearing retirement age.

Shaq (12 and six rebounds) was laboring up and down the court after a while, but he'll be fine by wintertime.

Antawn Jamison(notes) hurt his right shoulder in the first quarter attempting to block a shot by Big Z, curse word, and the initial diagnosis is that of a sprained shoulder.

Gilbert Arenas(notes) played, and he appeared cross.

Boston 106, Toronto 90

This was a fun watch, mainly because the contest reminded me of something that Celtics fans needed to smack me over the head with much far earlier in the preseason: Boston's a bunch of badasses.

Not the town, mind you. Tea-sippin' nancy boys. But the team. The Celtics are just replete with like-minded competitors who will do nothing but encourage each other to do everything they can to work toward the championship. Seriously, KG, Rasheed Wallace(notes), Kendrick Perkins(notes), Rajon Rondo(notes) ... there is so much peer pressure to go around, and though the talent might not match up on some nights, the attitude and spirit will always be there. No letup with the '08 champs.

And, no, Boston. You're not a bunch of tea-sippin' nancy boys. That would Albuquerque. A bunch of skirts down there.

Kevin Garnett(notes) wasn't exactly slapping the top of the backboard, but he did come through with 16 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two assists in just under 23 minutes. Perkins looked great, Paul Pierce(notes) managed 17 points on nine shots, and Glen Davis(notes) looked promising with 13 points and five rebounds in under 20 minutes.

Also, Michael Sweetney(notes) is hideously out of shape, even by his own standards. But even after what was essentially a two-year layoff, the skills are still there. You can see it as soon as he touches the ball.

I know money isn't hard to come by these days, that it's Sweetney's own fault for piling up the Mexican Coke bottles, but can't some team take a flier on this guy? Give him a minimum salary deal with an option for a second, strap him to a personal chef, and watch as the cheap investment pays off next year? He really could help a team if he got his act together.

Chris Bosh(notes) was white hot to start the game, 16 points and six rebounds in the first half alone, but he didn't really want much to do with Garnett or Perkins in the second half, and sort of sleepwalked his way to the bench. Not to pile on, but rookie DeMar DeRozan(notes) took two of the worst basketball shots I've ever seen in my life in the first half alone. Sam Mitchell would have had this kid in Yakima right now, and he doesn't even care that there isn't an NBDL team located in the actual city.

Andrea Bargnani(notes) had seven rebounds! Roar!

***

Blake Griffin(notes) had 23 and seven rebounds against the Spurs, in fewer than 30 minutes.

DaJuan Blair had a double-double in half a game.

Dre Miller managed 25, six assists, and five rebounds as a starter. Steve Blake(notes) and his "providing spacing" missed both looks from the floor.

Maurice Evans(notes) had 27 points for the Hawks, partially because it's the preseason but mainly because the Hawks were playing the Grizzlies.

We'll likely do this again tomorrow.

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