Michael Wallace of the Miami Herald quotes Shaquille O'Neal assessing his own game as "terrible" this season: "Heat coach Pat Riley said O'Neal's dip in production is due largely to teams defending him with more zone-type coverages this season, making it more difficult to pass to O'Neal on halfcourt post-ups. As a result, his shot attempts have drastically decreased from more than 17 a game over his career to 10 this season. Riley said the issue could be addressed if O'Neal becomes more mobile and less stationary. Because Miami shooters have not consistently made outside shots, more defenders are crowding around O'Neal, Riley said. 'I do believe Shaquille will find a rhythm, a better rhythm,' Riley said. 'There are some things I think he can do. He's got to get it on the move. That's where we've done so much work tweaking the offense, getting our players to see him. We miss him a lot in those possessions.'" O'Neal also complained about touches, which draws the ire of the Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman: "O'Neal has to stop speaking about his shot totals. As a leader, he should be talking about victories. As a 7-footer, he should be addressing rebounding. He should not be shrinking from those responsibilities."
Malcolm Gladwell wonders what is wrong with using HGH to recover from an injury: "So what, exactly, is wrong with an athlete--someone who makes a living with their body -- taking medication to speed their recovery from injury? Is it wrong to take ibruprofen? Is it wrong to ice a sore elbow? For that matter, is it ethical or even legal for Major League Baseball--or indeed any employee or governing body--to deny an employee access to a potentially beneficial medical treatment? The closest analogy I can think of here is to medical marijuana, which is another case where it seems difficult for some people in positions of power to understand that a drug can be used for more than one purpose." Here's my take: we go to the stadium to cheer things we understand. Things like tenacity, grace, coordination, athleticism, teamwork, and creativity. Things we can learn about at our local gym, but these guys do better. But when science conveys great advantage, in ways we don't understand (what does "the clear" do again?) we end up in the position of cheering for the not the greatest in sport, but the latest in science. That might be great fun as a different sport, but genetic engineering and biochemistry are not basketball, and that's what I go the arena hoping to see. All that said, the injury angle makes things more complicated. None of us really understand microfracture surgery all that well, for instance, but if Greg Oden is ever an MVP, we'll sure be cheering for that surgeon whether we realize it or not.
ESPN's David Thorpe has launched another one of his rookie reports. Some notes that really caught my eye: "Brandan Wright got some decent run in the Warriors' blowout loss at Detroit, so I was able to see his interesting set of skills. Golden State's offense allows him to roam around some and make plays out on the floor, and his midrange jumper is decent. Watching him move suggests that he could ultimately play small forward for some teams; he looks a lot like Tayshaun Prince. However, Prince has handled the ball his entire career. I wonder if Wright will find himself in the same spot as Tyrus Thomas -- extremely gifted but jammed between multiple positions. ... It wasn't just the 27 points scored by Grizzlies guard Juan Carlos Navarro that impressed me in Memphis' 123-119 win at Orlando, but also how he scored those 27. He hit three straight 3s in the last seven minutes of the game -- one gave them the lead, one stretched the margin and one iced the game. All three were cold-blooded, meaning he never hesitated, and everyone in the building knew they were going in."
Michael Jordan tells the Associated Press he'd like to see more consistency from Raymond Felton: "By now we should start to see more consistency in his play. Less turnovers, more leadership so that you don't have periods where you come down and lose the ball with no shot on three straight plays. On that fourth play you have to focus."
Krista Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press: "When the Timberwolves went to scout [Kevin Garnett] as a high school senior, [Flip] Saunders and other front-office executives agreed that they'd come out telling everyone they wanted him. They hoped that by hyping Garnett, a team in front of them in the draft order would pick him, allowing someone like Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess, Joe Smith or Jerry Stackhouse to fall to Minnesota at No. 5. 'So we went and we watched him work out,' Saunders said, 'and about five minutes in, I turned to (vice president Kevin) McHale and said, 'We better hope he's still there at No. 5.''"
More praise for Portland's zone. As you know, I have been talking to assistant coaches lately, and I have been hearing that a lot of NBA teams do not spend much time planning to attack a zone. As long as that's the case, I expect the right zone at the right time could be very effective in the NBA. Blazer assistant Dean Demopoulus is said to be a zone guru, having served under Temple's John Chaney.
How to succeed as an NBA coach: be obsessive. Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star quotes Jim O'Brien: "I watch so much video and think about it so much that I dream this stuff constantly. It's a little scary about how much you think about it to get to where you want to get."
Tony Parker and Tim Duncan have had ankle sprains, which means Manu Ginobili has been carrying one hell of a burden, and he's feeling it.
Tarence Kinsey was the talk of the NBA a year ago, when he stepped in on an injured roster and put up some big numbers. Now he has been waived by the Grizzlies, who are getting great production from Juan Carlos Navarro.
Ideas about success, from Michael J. Fox, talking to Esquire's Scott Raab (PG-13), that a lot of NBA
players might consider (via Kottke): "No matter how much money you have, you can lose it. No matter how much fame you have, it's not something that belongs to you. If I'm famous, that doesn't belong to me -- that belongs to you. If you can't remember who I am, I'm no longer famous."
Blazer Dave of BlazersEdge is one of the most gentle and thoughtful souls anywhere. He just isn't mean. And he's fair. And sober. If I am ever charged with anything, I'd take Blazer Dave as my judge. Nothing gets personal with him. That is, nothing except Kenny G. "Kenny G," he writes, "should be gagged with a muzzle of Celine Dion's armpit hair for just existing." (I bet this could get under Blazer Dave's skin, too.)
Yao Ming vs. Dwight Howard is a pretty hot matchup. There are only two candidates for best center in the NBA. One is criticized for not dunking enough, the other for dunking too much. One is noted for great technique, another is faulted for simple technique. (I guess I should spare you some line about yin and yang.)
The Clippers lost a one possession game to the Raptors. Kevin Arnovitz of Clipperblog with the anatomy of a wasted Clipper possession: "The Clips are fielding their starters: Knight, Richie Frahm, Maggette, Thomas, and Kaman. Knight brings it up deliberately and finally makes his first pass - over to Corey above the arc on the right side - at :15. It takes Kaman a while, but he eventually frees himself for an entry pass against Nesterovic way off the right mid-post. The ball goes into him at :11. Kaman backs Nesterovic in toward the lane with a couple of left-handed dribbles. Then, at about :08 as Maggette moves to the weak side, his man, Jamario Moon, slides over to double-team Kaman. Kaman sees Frahm across the court out on the left wing beyond the arc. Kaman tries to pass out of the double-team, but Moon deflects the pass out of bounds with :07. The Clippers take timeout. The Clips will inbound under their own basket. Kaman tries a back screen for Frahm on Anthony Parker, but Parker runs right above it and is fully recovered on Frahm once Frahm gets the ball on the inbound from Knight in the corner. Frahm dribbles along the arc back up top. Corey meets him at the top of the arc and Frahm shuttles the ball over to him at :04. So it's Corey holding it up top at :03 against Moon. Corey has to create. He begins a drive toward the gut of the lane, but Parker has moved off Frahm and is waiting for Corey at the foul line. Corey simultaneously heaves up the ball while trying to draw contact against Parker. Corey has Richie Frahm behind him all alone at the top of the arc if he wants him. The ball squirts out of Maggette's hand; before it's recovered by anyone, we're at :00."
Wes Unseld as Studio 54 busboy, in the magical imagination of Wizznutzz.
It is no longer so easy to become one of Mark Cuban's Facebook friends.
Wizard assistants do pretty well scrimmaging against the Wizard players.
Dave D'Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger on why you can't blame a team's trouble on one or two guys doing one or two things wrong on defense: "To be a good defensive team, you have to do about 25 things right - on every possession. Dribble containment is just the first step. You also have to pressure the ball, limit middle drives, move your damn feet, have active hands in the pass lanes, bump cutters, anticipate options, know where the help is, know when/where to help, be alert to tendencies, communicate, play with force, etc., etc., etc. ... all the way down to when you finish off the stop with a defensive rebound."
How's life for Reggie Theus as an NBA coach? We recently heard a tale of Ron Artest blowing off his play calls, and now here's Mikki Moore telling the media he expected more out of the coaching staff.
Ray Allen: shooting less, with a lower true shooting percentage.
On SportsHUBLA, Ted Green is feeling that the Lakers will be in the NBA Finals in 2008: "Who in the West is so good? I mean, really good? The Suns? Still cool to watch, but that party is over, or to quote the great Porky Pig, 'Thaaaat's all, folks.' Utah? You really see Mehmet Okur holding up the O'Brien Trophy? Dallas? Think four words that do not work together in the same sentence: Dirk Nowitzki and playoff pressure. The Spurs are formidable, the obstacle for the Lakers, but they can't win every year, can they? Plus, Tim Duncan is starting to break down a little. Meanwhile, the Lakers are younger, faster, bigger and more athletic, with more guys who can score." He's the first person I have heard argue that no team is that great. Interesting. A somewhat related thought: this past summer I'm guessing a lot of people in L.A. would have traded the mouthy Kobe Bryant for the good soldier Dwyane Wade. Wade is not healthy. But would anyone make that hypothetical deal now?
UPDATE: Hilarious Knick hymn.
Michael Wallace of the Miami Herald quotes Shaquille O'Neal assessing his own game as "terrible" this season: "Heat coach Pat Riley said O'Neal's dip in production is due largely to teams defending him with more zone-type coverages this season, making it more difficult to pass to O'Neal on halfcourt post-ups.