Anyone who happened to see the Nuggets beat the Grizzlies last night ... I'd like to read 15,000 words on all the things Marc Gasol did of interest in just this one game. He's right there with Chris Paul in terms of "players whose chess-like thinking is visually evident." There were about eight different moments where he did things that were some combination of strategic, deceptive, dirty or brilliant. Was very hard to know if I wanted to cheer for those things or not (one of his less successful moves: trying to decapitate Danilo Gallinari with a "post move") but without any doubt, he'd be a guy I'd want to play with instead of against. Also amazing about him: He's out-quicking people even though he's seven-feet tall and not as skinny as he could be.
The Spurs lost a game to a conference rival when they couldn't grab the key rebounds. And everyone knows poor rebounding just kills a team. Unless, of course, you're an oddball team like the Celtics or Knicks. As John Hollinger points out (Insider), the Knicks' rebounding numbers would look far better if they merely turned the ball over more. Chew on that! Sometimes those numbers are misleading. An interesting continuation of the conversation about the tradeoff between chasing offensive rebounds and getting back on defense.
Coming to YouTube starting Friday: Lots of live D-League games.
How teams play defense against James Harden. He's so efficient because he passes very well out of the pick and roll, and takes all of his shots from the efficient spots at the rim and behind the 3-point line. What's a team to do? A video look at how the clever teams handle the challenge.
The Wizards had a winnable game against the reeling Pacers and Trevor Ariza could hardly get into the game. Remember when he was a valuable and efficient role player for a title-winning team? Now he's the lackluster hair-triggered also-ran for a winless team. Environment matters, I guess. John Converse Townsend of TruthAboutIt points out that Coach Wittman sat him six minutes into the game when the Pacers had rung up a big lead: "Ariza wouldn’t check into the game again until the start of the third quarter, where he made his presence felt by rattling off eight shots in seven minutes. It was a dance that was as awkward as it was ineffective. For his efforts, Ariza found himself stapled to the bench for the remainder of the game. He finished with six points (2-for-9 from the field), five rebounds, two assists, and one turnover in 13 minutes."
Jose Calderon has been benched, almost-traded, resurrected ... and draws huge praise for steady professionalism throughout.
Jumping to pass. Is that still taboo?
Andrei Kirilenko talks to Bob Sansevere of the Pioneer Press. After talking about his childhood of many different oatmeals, he tells this: "When I was young, when I was like 10 years old, I always said to my partners on the team, 'Hey, we have such a great team, we're all going to make it. We're all going to get there to professional basketball.' One of the smart guys said, 'Hey, look, only one or two of us is going to make it. Everybody else is going to be doing regular jobs.' And he was right."
Jack Winter of WarriorsWorld on Harrison Barnes: "Remember the passive, lost, overwhelmed rookie that was among the Warriors’ biggest individual disappointments of the season’s first several games? That player is gone now, replaced by one living up to his considerably rare gifts of size, athleticism, and shooting touch. Barnes has been awesome during Golden State’s week-long run, averaging 17.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting over 50 percent from the field."
Beckley Mason, on HoopSpeak, on Eric Bledsoe: "Here’s something you might not know: Eric Bledsoe is killing in pick-and-rolls this year. It’s actually a big part of his game. On a per minute basis, Bledsoe uses almost as many pick-and-roll possessions as James Harden and he scores better than the likes of Tony Parker, Mike Conley and Rajon Rondo (per Synergy). Being the NBA’s weirdest player doesn’t stop Bledsoe from excelling at some of the more typical tasks. His game is full of happy surprises. But it’s true, there’s something about Eric Bledsoe that just doesn’t look right. As an athlete, Bledsoe’s combination of lateral quickness, power, speed and improvisational grace sets him well apart even in the NBA. But his body seems oddly misshapen. It’s his arms, mostly. They don’t belong; as though Bledsoe stole them from a much taller man, or some parts were mixed up in the factory. In fact Bledsoe’s wingspan exceeds his height by more than seven inches. That’s the same discrepancy as ol’ cartoon arms himself, Kevin Durant … except Durant is almost a foot taller. This is worth mentioning because we tend judge the skill of a basketball player by the things he does with his hands — the fine motor skills of the NBA are controlled dribbling, accurate shooting, the deft pass. That Bledsoe’s hands are affixed to arms that appear generally unwieldy gives even his most delicate moves a sense of awkwardness. They contribute to the unfairly enduring perception that Bledsoe is more track athlete than basketball player, that he can’t, say, run the pick-and-roll."