The Minnesota Timberwolves' spacing was, at times, awful in this game. Michael Beasley was clearly attempting to match Kevin Durant shot for shot, never a good thing, and the Timberwolves let a series of little things get between their deficit and a workable potential win. This could have been a solid seven or eight point lead for Minnesota throughout, were it not for middling parts that could have been fixed easily.
Doesn't matter. Minnesota is a different team. The players have grown, they're in shape, and they're listening to a coach in Rick Adelman that is worth listening to. Yes, it was a home opener. And, yes, Oklahoma City was playing on the second night of a back to back. Nobody should pay attention to that, though. Ya dummies. The Timberwolves might win twice in 66 attempts, but they're going to make great teams work damn hard on some nights. And it's going to be appointment TV, throughout.
It wasn't the finest finishing night for anyone on the Thunder not named 'Kevin Durant' or 'Russell Westbrook,' but those two managed to combine for 61 points, and OKC (major shocker, 'ere) made 29 of 31 free throw attempts. When things broke down, these two had an answer.
Minnesota had no such answers, and yet this was a close game throughout because the team absolutely kept the Thunder on its heels. Ricky Rubio was brilliant in his debut, even recording a charge with all those solid assists, and a sturdy-as-hell Kevin Love came through with 22 points, 12 boards and five assists.
I have to move on. League Pass is free until January 8th. 'Barney Miller' was canceled years ago. Watch both of these teams. You have no excuse not to, unless Hal Linden pops up again.
I'd kill the Lakers at your own peril, after this. Kobe Bryant, to these eyes, took some stupid shots. But he also made some sound decisions in initiating the team's offense, and they were going up against a buzzsaw of a Kings crew that seemed desperate to start the season the right way.
The Lakers have few shot creators at this point. Bryant seems to doom himself every time he crosses back over for the fadeaways going to his left, but he was also patient at times and that worked for Los Angeles. The team wasn't running triangle sets, but they did have fantastic interior passing at times, and I'm coming off of this loss enthusiastic about the Lakers. All I could ask for is for Kobe to sit a week to rest that wrist in a part of the season that doesn't matter, fewer long twos, and a lyric sheet.
The Kings? The Kings wanted this bad boy. Marcus Thornton took some iffy shots of his own, but they went in. DeMarcus Cousins dominated both Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace offensively, and Tyreke Evans actually looked like he had two working ankles. Chuck Hayes is out of shape but the man has CD-ROM level footwork, and bad decisions from J.J. Hickson and Travis Outlaw were made up for by a stellar showing from the starting unit.
The Kings are going to be fun this year. The Lakers, I presume, will get there as well.
I can anticipate a point, or several points, in the season where Portland's depth may not click. Monday night featured plenty of clicks, though, as the team seemed to be locked-in with its long jumpers, and there wasn't much Philly could do.
Both teams combined to hit 45 percent of their three-pointers, but Philadelphia's 20 turnovers were the difference as the Blazers held the 76ers at arm's length. Things were interesting throughout, and the Sixers had their chances, but the holes dug in the first two and a half quarters were too much for Doug Collins' crew to overcome.
Both these teams have a lot to overcome. Let's just hold off until they get a few weeks under their respective belts. Or, in Spencer Hawes' case, suspenders.
Opening night isn't really the best time to pull off a "it's a long season, and we let this one get away from us" sort of game, but Milwaukee seemed to have no issue letting the Bobcats run things on Monday night.
The Bucks aren't exactly second (or even first) round material, and they're certainly not loaded with offensive firepower, but the team almost appeared to be toying with the Bobcats. And the Bobcats, clearly, wanted no part. Actually, Boris Diaw may have. Dude loves toys. I'd love to dangle a ball of yarn over that guy.
Same script from last year from Milwaukee, save for the part where everyone's much, much better at basketball. Andrew Bogut didn't see the ball enough (in spite of the fact that, by appearances at least, he can actually move his arms this season without grimacing), and Brandon Jennings (despite a solid game overall) made bad decisions with the ball and with his shots and come on guy it's been over two years and you're not going to drop 55 again with long bombs.
The Bobcats deserve credit for working as they should. Paul Silas used speed in the right places and attacked the Milwaukee middle. Last year that would have been a recipe for disaster, but all manner of Bobcat guards and wings seemed to be able to both run the baseline (in half-court or delayed transition) or get into the middle. It wasn't pretty, but the Bobcats worked damn well offensively, and earned this win.
Elliott Smith should have sung the national anthem in this one, were he not unavailable because he stabbed himself to death nearly a decade ago. This was a sad time out.
Not because we're aware of what Houston could have been, or what Orlando (the front office, at least) thinks it might be. But because these two teams just aren't anywhere, yet. Jameer Nelson was the best player on the court for stretches, and yet he manages to make it all go away in an instant by looking off both J.J. Redick and Dwight Howard in a 3-on-2 and then turning it over eight seconds later with a bum entry pass to Howard.
Both these teams are coached by very smart basketball minds, and I'm a great fan of both rosters, but this was a harsh game to follow. Hedo Turkoglu was in the lane all night, and while I should be cheering his rebirth it's still hard to put up with considering the do-all forward's (not "do-it-all forward," but "do-all forward") limitations and Houston's spotty defense. Kevin Martin is now 3-22 from the floor (counting preseason games, which nobody but me and Robert Vaughn should ever do) over the last two weeks, and you wouldn't mind Jordan Hill on your team.
Solid win, Magic. Turn that frown upside down and let's talk in 2012.
This was another sadness game, I'll admit, with the purposely-depleted and rebuilding Hornets taking on the, well, purposely depleted but-we-swear-we're-not-rebuilding Suns. Still a fun night out, for all involved.
Dodgy decisions throughout for both sides, both crews were stretching to their limits defensively despite the low'ish (it's a lockout year) score, though the Suns did appear to pick up right where they left off last year. Makes sense, as the roster is about the same, and this group of veterans knows how to talk and explain. Even to a Lopez brother, and Robin Lopez looked quite literally 200 percent better in his 2011-12 debut, finishing with 21 points and seven boards in nearly 29 minutes. Even hit some jumpers, too.
Eric Gordon hit some jumpers. He hit on some drives and he hit the game winner and he looked like someone who could top 25 a game this year if his team ran and EG decided that he wanted to burn the NBA up. I'm not so sure either coach Monty Williams or Eric are down with either of those two ideals, though, at this point.
You lot know me, you probably know that I've only seen seconds of Kardashian shows on 'The Soup' re-runs, and that my glamour-obsessed hair-stylist wife (that is to say, the viewing eyes that the E! Network is shooting for) has seen even less of that mess. I don't bring up Kris Humphries because he was on TV and because I give a rip about him being booed in his season opener. I bring him up because, outside of a white hot Deron Williams for deciding stretches, he was the best player on the court in this win.
Nearly 39 minutes for Humphries, which is huge for the former bit player that used to reach at everything and chuck top of the key jumpers before getting pulled. 21 points, 16 rebounds (seven offensive), and the man was clearly in better shape than most. Williams was also brilliant in the Nets' comeback (not in the game, but in the comeback) with 23 points, eight boards and nine assists.