Andrew Bynum says that the Lakers didn't get any rebounds after Phil Jackson took him out last night, and he implies that may have led to the loss. He has a point. By my look at the play-by-play, after Bynum sat with 5:31 left in the fourth, the Pacers proceeded to grab nine of the next 11 rebounds. However, Phil Jackson might counter that Bynum came back in with 12 seconds left ... just in time for Troy Murphy to win the game by, you guessed it, getting an offensive rebound and coaxing it into the hoop.
With all the talk of Knick cap space, and superstars, it is well worth reading Kelly Dwyer's smart look at the time, a dozen years ago, when there was Knick cap space allegedly targeted for one Michael Jordan. (They ended up getting Allan Houston instead.) Also, Kelly makes the point that the league is too sophisticated to allow players to be compensated in sneaky ways, outside the salary cap, but I make no such assumptions. Remember Joe Smith. If there were many such situations, how would anyone find out?
Greg Oden is not thinking about dominating in the post. That's OK, I guess. The New York Times' Joshua Robinson reports today that Nate McMillan wants him primarily thinking about just four things: "... working hard, learning how to set screens, defending the basket and rebounding." But last night there was a moment when he caught the ball deep with one defender on him. That defender was ... Quentin Richardson. Without even a look at the hoop, Oden passed the ball a country mile away and didn't get it back. Even if you're determined not to make yourself the center of attention, is there a coach in the world who doesn't want to see the big man cram that home over the little guy?
Remember when the Pistons picked Rodney White in the first round, and he never really seemed to fit in in the NBA? After not playing much, White was just released by Maccabi Tel Aviv, and if you look at the team's official roster, they now feature Elton Brown, who has killed in the D-League and nearly stuck with several NBA clubs.
TrueHoop reader Bob says: "I read a comment today on ESPN that was bugging me. The comment basically said, 'LeBron may be the league's darling, but Kobe is still the best player. I'd rather have him take a last second shot over LeBron any day.' Why do so many people evaluate best player based on who you would want to take a last second shot? A lot of games, I'm sure if you switch out Kobe and LeBron, the Lakers don't need a last second shot. Up until this year, I would have agreed that Kobe was a better player than LeBron. But LeBron has shown improved defense, an improved mid-range jumper, he's taking less three pointers, and he's hitting more free throws. He's putting up the same stat line he's been at for the last few years but doing it in five fewer minutes per night. But people still don't want to call him the best because Kobe is the better last second shooter. I think the better question is who would you rather want to have the ball at the end of a game. Then the argument is different. If the Lakers are down two, you know what you're getting from Kobe. Most likely a 20-22 foot fallaway jumper with two hands in his face (which he will knock down a good chunk of the time). But LeBron has shown time and time again that his team will get a great shot at the end of games. Remember Game 1 of the 2007 Eastern Conference finals? Nobody is making the LeBron should take the last shot argument if Donyell Marshall knocks down a wide open 3 with nobody around him (or if someone like Delonte West or Wally Szczerbiak is taking the shot). And that right there is what makes LeBron a better player. He has always been willing to defer the spotlight to his teammates because he trusts them. And now with shooters like Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, and Mo Williams instead of Flip Murray, Donyell Marshall, and Damon Jones, doesn't the thought that you have to defend all 5 guys in the final seconds make Cleveland that much more dangerous of a team?" I'm also not sure fans of James should cede the notion that Bryant is the better guy to make the final play. In stats from last year on 82games.com, in "crunch time" (defined there as time when neither team is ahead by more than five, and there is less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter or overtime) Kobe Bryant had slightly better free-throw and three-point field goal percentage, but James was superior in every other category, including points, overall field goal percentage, plus/minus, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, and turnovers.
Seth from Poasting and Toasting with a great little hypothetical from last night's Knicks game: "Quentin Richardson got whacked in the face, and nearly looked like he was going to have to come out, leaving Nate McMillan to pick someone off the bench to come in and take the free throws. If you're not familiar, that's the case. When a player is too injured to shoot his own free throws, the opposing team gets to pick someone off the bench to come in and take the shots. Here's my question. What if this had happened during one of the games that Stephon Marbury was suited up, but didn't play, perhaps because he'd refused to do so? The other team would definitely pick him, right? Would that visit to the line not be the tensest, most awkward two free throws ever taken in an NBA game? How would D'Antoni react? How would Steph react? What would happen after the free throws were taken? This has officially moved into the number one slot on my 'things I would do if I had a time machine' list. Saving the dinosaurs can wait."
A lot of what happens in celebrity coverage happens in sports coverage, and it all makes Roger Ebert cranky.
Some basketball players are reluctant to spend a lot of time working on their off-hands. Here's a golf story, about right-handed Seve Ballasteros playing entire rounds of golf left-handed. That's hours without using your good side. Can you imagine? If you did that in basketball, you'd improve quickly. And in basketaball, it would actually be a skill you could use with regularity. Steven D. Levitt of the Freakonomics blog wonders why Ballesteros would do that: "My golfing friend conjectures that maybe playing left-handed on occasion helped Ballesteros learn to hit those creative shots which won him so many championships. For instance, when your ball stops right next to a tree trunk, sometimes the only option is to flip a club around and try to swing left-handed. It is extremely difficult, because not only are you swinging left-handed, but you are using a club meant to be hit right-handed. My accomplished golfing friend has practiced this shot quite a bit, and says he once hit it 60 yards this way, but he averages about 20 yards. He asked Seve that day how far he could hit it when in that situation. 'About 150 yards,'
Seve said. 'It depends if I want a fade or a draw.'"
A review of Americans performing in Europe for the first time this season. Josh Childress and Earl Boykins get so-so ratings. Rod Benson gets even worse.
Has anyone ever had a more intense face, while dribbling, than Craig Ehlo in this photo?
A coach tells what he looks for in the post-game box score.
Lorenzen Wright is worried about his former teammate Rodney Rogers, who has been hurt in an ATV accident.
Patience. People in the media, like fans, are learning to value better kinds of statistics. But it was never going to happen overnight.
ESPN's Anna K. Clemmons catches up with former player and musician Wayman Tisdale who has had some unbelievable health challenges: "After the first round of chemotherapy was unsuccessful, a second round was scheduled. 'The doctor had never given anyone chemo that was my size,' Tisdale says. 'They just calculated how much chemo to give me and said, 'We hope it doesn't mess up your kidneys. If it does, sorry.'' To push through, the 6-foot-9 'gentle giant' recalled the challenges he faced during his basketball career. 'I had some coaches that literally didn't want me to make it, and one in particular was [Team USA coach] Bobby Knight,' Tisdale says. 'At the time, I frowned on that ... I look at it today that had I not persevered through a lot of the stuff he put me through, I probably wouldn't be here today. I thank God for that dude because he pushed me.' When the second round of chemotherapy still didn't work, doctors said that amputation was the most viable option to eradicate the cancerous cells. Rev. Carlton Pearson, a friend of the family for almost 30 years, spoke to Tisdale soon after. 'Here's a man who's lived much of his life off his legs,' Pearson says. "If ever there were a time he would've been somber & but he wasn't, he was just as up in his spirit. I've never seen Wayman lose his joy.' ... A few weeks later, Tisdale talked to one of his closest friends from the NBA, Sam Perkins. 'He and his wife went through a lot of adversity and they made it through,' Perkins says. 'We were talking about shoes that day and he said, 'Well, I guess I'll just be shining one shoe.''"