Monday Bullets

  • Celtics lose by two, and how much would Tony Allen like to have a mulligan on that missed layup?

  • ESPN's David Thorpe watched the Celtics' first loss, to Orlando, and says Rajon Rondo's shot mechanics are way better than last season. In the Daily Dime he also writes: "Biggest weakness on C's? I have to go with the hole in the middle. Kendrick Perkins still is too immature, to my eyes, to be the starting center for a championship team. The Magic ignored him and focused on KG, and Perk was unable to make them pay, forcing Doc to bench him for much of the second half. I'd imagine a similar strategy will be employed all season. Pick their final regular-season record. As of Sunday night, I'd go with something like 51-31. They played with such fire during this win streak, but that will certainly dampen some as the season plays out. Still, watching the Big 3 play together in person was impressive. They understand how fortunate they are to have each other and I think they'll battle hard all year to take advantage of their good fortune. But their margin for error is smaller than some of the other elite teams we have in the league."

  • Luol Deng says he can't run or bend down after apparently pulling a muscle in his back. Sounds like back spasms, doesn't it? I hope he's getting good care featuring some kind of long-term plan to make sure back muscle troubles don't haunt him like they do some players.

  • Greg Oden can't run either, these days, but he can lift weights. And he likes it. A lot. So much, that Coach Nate McMillan had to intervene after seeing that Oden had added nearly thirty pounds of muscle to his upper body. Jason Quick reports in the Oregonian: "McMillan said he envisions Oden evolving into a body like former San Antonio star David Robinson, or current Miami center Alonzo Mourning. 'Those guys are not bulky,' McMillan said. 'Some people think you need that bulk to play in this league, but I think he'll get bigger just by aging. I mean, he's only 19. I would much rather him be wiry-strong than bulky, especially coming off this surgery. When you are talking about putting on extra weight and having to carry that weight on a surgically repaired leg, that's not good.'"

  • Chris Bosh has been mediocre, and no one's too sure why.

  • Not too long ago, Isiah Thomas was stuck into the New York Knicks like a woodtick. Now the New York papers are openly speculating about who might replace him (and here) and everyone's favorite candidate is Jerry Colangelo. I haven't seen any evidence James Dolan is thinking about changing course, however, and I'm not sure what else matters.

  • The Suns are 8-2 and Amare Stoudemire hasn't even played 30 minutes in any single game yet. Mike D'Antoni wants the team to get a lot better.

  • Brian Windhorst of the Akron Beacon-Journal: "Heading into Sunday's games, LeBron James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden were combining to average 59.5 points, 30 rebounds and 10.3 assists. Almost as good as the Celtics' Big Three, who put their numbers together to average 62 points, 22.6 rebounds and 13.3 assists."

  • There are a lot of blog posts out there about Mark Cuban and Bill O'Reilly getting into a big flap about Cuban financing a film. This is the most comprehensive roundup I can find.

  • Speaking of Cuban, he has been livid that Devin Harris was not on the All-Star ballot. Others have been livid that Yi Jianlian was not on the ballot. Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes on his blog: "The All-Star panel meets before the season because it has to to give the in-arena ballot time to be made and distributed to the 30 teams. The people on the panel have all covered the NBA for many years, most of them more than 20. This year, it consisted of USA Today's David Dupree, the Chicago Tribune's Sam Smith, TNT's Ernie Johnson, Sports Illustrated's Jack McCallum, the Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell (president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association), ESPN the Magazine's Ric Bucher and Mike Monroe from the San Antonio Express-News. I have been part of the panel before and I can assure you that everyone takes the job quite seriously. There is lively debate and people sometimes even leave the meeting angry with the other guys because of disagreements over the fourth best player on the Clippers. So for anyone to believe that there was some sort of conspiracy to leave someone off, well, that's silly." Hubbard goes on to make two excellent points: 1) It's a friggin' ballot, right? The point is to pick the five best players in each conference, and as presently constructed, this ballot can do that. 2) The problem with the ballot is that centers get a lot of room, but there aren't very many good ones. The solution: instead of starting two forwards and a center, start three frontcourt players. That way Tim Duncan can still start, whatever position he plays. Former NBA executive Terry Lyons also takes on Cuban.

  • A trainer who works with David Thorpe, Mike Moreau, writing on Hoopsworld about the Knicks: "They are a bad team. ... When three of your four leading scorers, the guys who take the most shots, are shooting 40.0, 41.1, and 39.0% (Jamal Crawford, Zach Randolph and Stephon Marbury) -- you have problems. You have problems with your scheme and problems with your personnel. Last night against Denver, the Knicks dumped it inside, stood around and watched. No hard cuts, no aggressive screening action, no crisp passing, no attacking the basket. They just passed the ball into Zach Randolph who shot, and shot, and shot his way to 8 for 23 from the field. ... The Knicks are even worse on defense. They looked fat, tired, and out of shape. Denver just blew by them in transition, and did whatever they wanted to in the half-court. The Knicks jogged and floated around and watched the Nuggets dunk on them and lay them up all night. Kenyon Martin, Carmelo Anthony, and even Eduardo Najera just took turns blowing down the lane for dunks. ... It truly looked like the Knicks had gone out and gotten a bunch of ex-players from the Pro Am -- guys who can still play a little bit, but too much beer and that extra weight make it hard to keep up
    . If TV supposedly adds 10 pounds, then HD adds 25."

  • We talk a fair amount about race on TrueHoop. Two positive stories about race I have run across lately. The first is a little video about Management Leadership for Tomorrow. That's something Kevin Garnett has been pretty heavily involved in (note their program called 4XL -- that's KG's shirt size, and he named it). It's run by former NBA executive John Rice who you'll see in the video, and also look for NCAA basketball player Romone Penny. Also, and this is not so basketball related, but if you find yourself thinking at all about race in America, you should really take an hour to listen to This American Life tell the story of deceased Chicago mayor Harold Washington. UPDATE: More interesting race discussion from Henry Louis Gates Jr.

  • Basketbawful (PG-13) sees only sinister things in the way Darko Milicic rubs his chest in this clip. I didn't see anything creepy about it the first time I watched it. But then I watched it about six more times and sure enough, it gets creepier every time.

  • Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune: "If a clipboard turns up on eBay in the coming days claiming to be game-shattered by Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, we can vouch for its authenticity."

  • Corey Brewer has the weight of a point guard, the height of a small forward, and probably at the moment, the fit to guard shooting guards. But as Britt Robson describes, Rashad McCants is guarding twos for Minnesota, so Brewer -- who actually plays tough defense -- is getting slapped around by forwards like Caron Butler and Peja Stojakovic. Currently looking at the schedule and licking his lips: LeBron James, who has 65 pounds on the rookie from Florida.

  • ClipperBlog on Chris Kaman: "... if it's not obvious by now, we have an All-Star center on this team. The difference from last year to now is striking. (This was a man, on this blog, I labeled a 'a total headcase' largely due to his inexplicable spaz outs on the offense, or his blowing rotations on the defense.) Tonight wasn't his best game, but watching him emerge is truly a joy. My favorite moment was with a couple minutes left in the third quarter -- Kaman grabs an offensive board in traffic, doesn't hesitate and puts it right back up, soft left hook shot, swish. Last year, Chris either puts it on the floor and gets stripped, or throws it back out."

  • Did you notice that on Friday night Juan Carlos Navarro took 16 shots and scored 28 points? Watch.