December 17, 2007
Chris Kaman's 18 and 16 line might seem superior to Andrew Bynum's 14 and nine-rebound night, but Bynum absolutely owned the Clipper center from the outset of this one. Bynum needed 10 less shots to score four less points, he played eight minutes less, blocked six shots (four of Kaman's) and he ran the floor superbly in the Laker win. It's just astonishing that this kid is just a week older than O.J. Mayo and playing so well. Kobe Bryant (32 points) had a brilliant floor game, and though the Clippers cut into a Laker lead in the second and third quarters, we wonder about playing him 36 minutes with a bad groin.
Even if the Warriors had taken on the Bucks or Pacers or Timberwolves on Sunday, Don Nelson's crew didn't have a chance. How is a team expected to finish a game a 1 a.m. EST on Saturday morning, fly halfway across North America, and attempt to play at noon EST on Sunday? A three-day rest and home court advantage could have still resulted in a 20-point Piston win over the Warriors. Detroit's so good it doesn't need the help, but we hate games like these because it's hard to take anything away from them.
The extended garbage time was good, though. Piston youngsters Amir Johnson and Jason Maxiell combined for about 30 minutes, 17 points, 11 rebounds and nine blocks. Primoz Brezec's first game as a Piston left us wondering if he needed three more assists to earn his NBA pension (the man would not shoot) and Warrior rookie Brandan Wright is incredibly, incredibly raw. We also wonder about the karmic implications (if any) behind a man surnamed "Wright" who absolutely refuses to attempt lay-ups on the right side of the goal with his right hand.
Ray Allen sat another game out with a sore right ankle, and we're just fine with that. The 20-2 Celtics need to peak in June. The team is probably three weeks away from clinching home court advantage throughout the playoffs (may need to work the math out a bit more on that, but for now that's what we're going to tell people), and they don't need 14 points out of Ray on a Sunday in mid-December when he's going to be asked to chase Manu Ginobili around six months from now.
Rajon Rondo is good. How good? Jose Calderon had just eight
points, five assists and four turnovers in 34 minutes on Sunday. Andrea
Bargnani is scary. How scary? The first pick in the 2006 Draft has produced 10
points (missing 10 of 13 shots), nine fouls, six turnovers and four rebounds in
his last 48 minutes of game action.
Portland 116, Denver 105
We'll have more on the Trail Blazers later today, but we do want to take the time to welcome Portland forward Channing Frye (20 and nine in the win) back to the NBA. Frye had been missing since March of 2006. We're not entirely sure what happened to him or why he's a Trail Blazer now, but he sure is a fine talent and we're glad he's back.
No NBA team makes the jump between "damned good defensive team" to "miserable defensive club" like these Denver Nuggets. No middle ground with these guys, it seems.