November 24, 2010
But for a few mistakes, several mistakes, Chicago could have had this game. The team just would not get out on Shannon Brown(notes) throughout the contest on the three-point line, and a few possessions late offensively sealed their deal. Derrick Rose(notes) missed one of two free throws, then could not draw a foul on Pau Gasol(notes) (Pau went straight up, it was clean), and then Kyle Korver(notes) missed an almost-open three. That was Chicago's window to pull an impressive win out, so I suppose they'll have to settle for an impressive loss.
Pretty soon teams will realize that Shannon Brown could never dribble even before he developed his three-point stroke, so there's no point in backing off this impressive athlete now that he's shooting 51 percent from long range and scoring nearly 12 a game off the bench (in just 19 minutes) for the champs. The Bulls just let him fire away on Tuesday, he dropped five threes, and it was enough to keep the hard-driving Bulls at bay.
Derrick Rose had 30 points, but (say it with me) he needed 25 shots to get there. Not the worst, but if he's going to shoot 25 times, the points have to go a few ticks higher. Eight assists and a series of gorgeous finishes for Rose, but he missed all four of his field goals in the fourth quarter. Rose had absolutely no help from his bench, or his baseline buddies. Starter Keith Bogans(notes) missed four of five shots, while the Chicago bench was miserable: 3-18 shooting.
In all, that bench probably cost Chicago the game, but it did have its chances. Smarter play defensively, especially when you're only going to top out at below 98 points per 100 possessions, is needed in a game like this.
21 points and eight boards for Lamar Odom(notes), who was going at it all night with the indefatiguable Joakim Noah(notes). Noah finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, four steals and three blocks.
This is an impressive thing. This is also a good thing because though I'm not originally from Indiana and I don't support the Pacers, this is the first time since moving to Indiana that I'll be met at a Thanksgiving table or by Hoosier ex-pats that are back at their local without having to hear a litany of Pacer complaints. Most of which leave me far from, um, comfortable.
More important things -- Indy downed the Heat solidly in Miami on Monday, and while you'd think that momentum like that usually carries over for up and coming teams in this league, that doesn't often seems to be the case. More often, the youngsters relent, especially on the second night of a back to back, especially now at home, especially playing a night after playing in South Beach, and especially playing the team that doesn't have LeBron James(notes) right now, and allows a plucky team (looking to right its own ship) to run the show. Look out, Cleveland. The Cavs are plucky.
Instead, the Pacers came out and defended very well again. They shot too much from outside, perhaps, but the defense was sound and the players were working together yet again. Brandon Rush(notes) came off the bench again to contribute, scoring 16 points on 10 shots (his PER is 14.5. Factor in defense and Brandon is ... average! Where did that come from?), the team closed out well and its 27 three-point attempts turned in 36 points.
Cavaliers fans are upset with their team's effort, and the Cavs could have played better, but 5-8 with this roster isn't the worst thing in the world. They may have won some games early on that they shouldn't have won, and now they're losing games they should have competed in or won. And that 33-17 fourth quarter advantage is something to build on, even if Roy Hibbert(notes) wasn't around to play it for Indy (he left with a headache earlier in the win).
There's no point in telling you that Philly had this game in hand, because the a team that often shoots as poorly, plays as insularly, and works fast and loose with the ball as much as the 76ers is always going to give the opposition (no matter how Washington Wizard-y) a chance at a comeback. The problem with that assumption is that it was Philly's defense that did it in.
Along with, as I'm sure you've read by now, John Wall's(notes) 25 second half points. None in the first half (Wall came off the bench after missing four games with a sprained ankle, missed all three shots, dished three assists, and went into the locker room scoreless at halftime) and none in overtime (Wall had to sit out due to cramps), but 25 in the third and fourth quarters combined.
Including three clutch free throws to tie what was a three-point game late, after Jrue Holiday(notes) appeared clueless and then played clueless in defending him in regulations final seconds. Javale McGee(notes) jumped his way to 24 and 18, Andray Blatche(notes) took a series of infuriating shots before nailing a needed 20-footer to help put the Sixers away in OT (17 points on 21 shots overall, ugh), Nick Young(notes) got a rebound (three, actually) along with his 18 points, Gilbert Arenas(notes) had eight turnovers, and Kirk Hinrich(notes) dribbled a lot.
So, yeah. Gong show.
Strange game, as you'd expect, but a close one throughout and worth the watch. Sometimes.
The Knicks looked dead tired -- especially Raymond Felton(notes) -- but you have to credit them for hanging on for the win. Danilo Gallinari(notes) was strong for a good stretch in the second quarter, Toney Douglas(notes) hit five three-pointers, and Landry Fields(notes) ... looks like a rookie.
Charlotte's defense is now ranked 16th in the NBA, and this team isn't going to have a chance unless that perks up. I was Boris Diaw's(notes) lone supporter for years, but now Larry Brown has taken over that role, which would make me feel better about myself were it not for the fact that Boris can't guard a jiggling plate full of cranberry glaze right now. Seasonal.
This is going to sound like another BS, Kelly Dwyer-acts-like-a -know-it-all move, which is a fair to point out because I haven't said this anywhere else. But it always seemed as if Avery Johnson's Dallas teams (while, yes, able to win handily in their own right) always seemed like they were well aware of the press clippings and general mopeyness of the team they were about to play.
Whether at home or on the road, those squads always seemed to know when a bickering, angry, upset-at-itself team was entering its air space, and Johnson's squads always seemed to be ready for a team that was trying to get it all right all at once.
So while the Hawks seemed eager to please last night, genuinely wanting to make things right again, the Nets were up for the challenge. New Jersey roared out of the gate with good ball movement, good finishes, but most of all good defense. Took a ten-point lead and just sort of hung on. Atlanta came back to take it to overtime, but the Hawks couldn't stay in front of Devin Harris(notes) (though Devin had his foibles), Atlanta couldn't get to the line, Joe Johnson(notes) is clearly not himself, and it turned the ball over too much.
The AP recap called the Mavericks "lethargic," and I guess I can get behind that. I'd err more on the side of "awful," though. Not to take a shot at them, or the Pistons, but this was a game where both teams couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time. I don't think it had anything to do with an effort level, though I realize that saying something is "lethargic" doesn't have to denote a lack of intensity or effort.
Either description, terrible game. Detroit had no clue, both in that opening that saw Dallas race out to an 11-0, or throughout, in the face of Dirk Nowitzki(notes). 42 points and 12 rebounds for Dirk, who apparently will never die.
There's nothing really revelatory I can hand you in a game like this beyond the fact that Tracy McGrady's(notes) instincts are as slow as his legs are, these days, and that Rodney Stuckey(notes) has already decided whether or not he's going to shoot or pass by the time he dribbles past the half-court line. Regardless of what the defense gives him.
Thank you for giving me your time.