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Thursday Bullets

3/17/2011
  • Dwyane Wade had one of the plays of the season last night. But did he travel? His spin move/step/step dunk was surprisingly similar to a Wade play I once watched with NBA vice president of referee operations Joe Borgia. Our conversation about that move led the NBA to change the travel rule to allow what Wade does there: take two steps after gathering the ball on the run. What Wade gets away with is not the two steps, which are blatantly legal, but a little hop in the middle of his spin move. "If you can see that in real time," Borgia said two years ago, "God bless you."

  • Where is the justice! Ben Stiller's dad sat next to P. Diddy at an NBA game, and wanted nothing more than to tell Diddy how much he admired his entire body of work. But he couldn't get through Diddy's security to deliver the message.

  • With Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks have had essentially the NBA's best offense, and worst defense. Of course the thing to look out for is that with more games, you could expect both numbers to come back to the pack, even if the team doesn't play any differently.

  • On that note, an unnamed NBA scout tells ESPNNewYork's Jared Zwerdling: "I have significant doubts that their style and the lack of emphasis on the defensive end will result in a true championship-contending team. Let's face it, Mike [D'Antoni]'s won a lot of games. I give him credit that he does what he believes in, but until I see his teams able to succeed that way when it really matters in the Eastern finals, in high-leverage games, I feel like the underlying reason why they don't is the fact that they're unable to get stops when they need to."

  • People know how to spell LeBron James now, but it has not always been so. In this example, even the correction is wrong, as is the photo.

  • Almost being in a plane crash led Ted Leonsis to owning the Wizards.

  • Coaching soccer is not unlike coaching the Lakers. Either way, it's a bunch of triangles. Like this.

  • Tom Haberstroh of ESPN's Heat Index on the Heat big men: "The Heat possess a long line of big men on the roster, but most of them are rebounding-deficient, especially on the defensive end. [Juwan] Howard has never once been an above average rebounder in his career and he’s certainly not at his elderly stage. The 7-foot-3 Zydrunas Ilgauskas owns a lower defensive rebound rate than Mike Miller. The 6-foot-11 Erick Dampier has a lower defensive rebound rate than Dwyane Wade. Center Joel Anthony's defensive rebound rate is lower than six-foot-nothing Chris Paul's." My big concern watching the Heat is that the Big Three are exceedingly athletic and long for their positions. They can swarm like crazy on defense. But defense is a five-man game, and alongside unathletic, slower players like Mike Bibby and Erick Dampier, the Heat blow an opportunity to overwhelm opponents. I doubt it's fatal, but it's certainly a missed opportunity. Haberstroh's story is about how the Heat miss Udonis Haslem, and if he is back and healthy, I'd be very curious to see if the big three can play with Haslem and Mario Chalmers -- maybe the Heat's only opportunity to field five quick and athletic players at once.

  • Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament tells ESPN's Jim Wilkie about his approach to pick-up hoops, which I can relate to: "Whenever you're playing with new people, I'll always try to explain to them like, 'Hey, man, when I'm out there it's a different thing, but when we're off the court, (we're friends). … Leave it on the court.' They're like, 'Yeah, but it's only a game.' I'm like, 'Well, yeah, but it's a game. We're keeping score, you know, we want to win.'" Ament also sticks it to David Stern for not listing Seattle among cities in the mix to get NBA teams. Ament took that as sticking it to Seattle in a way that's personal. I'm no Stern loyalist, but I took Stern's discussion as a listing of cities with NBA arenas ready to go. Arenas are the big hurdle in this economy -- as everyone in Seattle knows too well -- so Stern's list is maybe not a personal one, but a pragmatic one. If Seattle had an NBA arena at the ready, Stern's a businessman; that big rich market would top anybody's list. Ament will be chatting at 3 p.m. ET.

  • Animals putting the ball in the hoop. Monkeys, dogs, elephants, birds ... they all get the concept. And no joke: We wonder sometimes why everybody values offense more than they should. Why defense is left for coaches and stat geeks to worry about. I suspect it's because the basic concept of "put this ball in that hoop" has a profound and basic appeal that extends even beyond our species. Steering the ball-handler to the help defense ... that's more of a refined taste.

  • Is Chicago's offense good enough for the Bulls to contend?

  • Don't know how to describe this, but it has a really big German, a really big Danish and a funky beat.

  • Avery Johnson said he had "no doubt" Deron Williams would stay with the Nets for the long term. But then, the Record's Al Iannazzone reports, Johnson told reporters: "What am I supposed to say, I'm leery? All signs that I've seen and heard are that as we move forward, he'll be in a Nets' uniform. Down the road if that changes, I'm not going to be the first person in America or professional sports that [has] had no doubt and it didn't work."

  • Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball: "Overtime? The Magic needed overtime to topple a Bucks team without Bogut? They did. Milwaukee’s offensive issues have been well documented this season, but what’s kind of flown under the radar has been their ability to drag their opponents into the muck with them, make them fight it out on the same level. They pulled this trick off once again against the heavily favored Magic. Sure, Howard had a big game, but the Bucks sent him to the free throw line 24 times to earn those points. Howard obliged and made just 13."

  • If Blake Griffin has kryptonite, it might look a little like Kris Humphries.

  • John Krolik of Cavs: The Blog on DeMarcus Cousins: "He is a wonderful rebounder, shockingly good passer, and has lots of size and talent. However, when the ball leaves his hands, it is far more likely to end up in the hands of the other team than it is to end up in the basket or the hands of a teammate in a position to score. Being able to put the ball in the hoop or the hands of your teammates rather than near the hoop or in the hands of opposing teammates is a very fundamental tenet of effective basketball, and that has been a major problem for DeMarcus Cousins this season. Yet the overwhelming consensus on him seems to be that he’s a major, major talent who is a few tweaks away from dominance. He may the least efficient forward in basketball. I would be fine with a 'Tyreke was out, DeMarcus is 20, this was a wake-up call season for him, he’s still talented' reading of this season, but I seem to see way more 'This guy can grab rebounds and hurl the ball in the direction of the basket WITH THE BEST OF THEM! Sure, the shots aren’t going in and they’re not smart shots to be taking, but he’s 20! Just wait until he can drink legally!' I don’t really understand it."

  • David Roher on Deadspin is applying advanced analytics to "Hoosiers": "To determine whether Jimmy [Chitwood] has a claim at being the greatest who never lived, I charted as many plays from the movie as possible, ignoring scrimmages and rapid-fire montages (you can watch every possession in the video above). I came up with roughly 100 possessions, 60 while Jimmy's Hickory Huskers were on offense and 40 while they were on defense. Here are the individual stats: Jimmy: 40 points, 20-23 FG, 2 assists, 3 steals Rade: 20 points, 10-12 FG, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover Flatch: 8 points, 4-4 FG, 2 assists, 1 turnover Merle: 8 points, 4-4 FG, 1 offensive rebound Buddy: 6 points, 3-4 FG, 3 steals, 1 assist Strap: 6 points, 3-3 FG Ollie: 2 points, 2-3 from the line, 1 turnover."