After watching a whole bunch of basketball in Boston, hearing from all kinds of basketball people in person, watching the Blazer game of the year, and falling behind in reading e-mail and RSS feeds, I find myself -- back at my desk on a Tuesday morning -- with an insane amount of stuff to write about. And I have learned from experience that if I let interesting things sit around in my head for too long then I tend to forget about 90% of it.
So, it's catch-up day. I'm full of information, and I'm going to share it, rapid-fire, all day. Multiple mini-bullets posts coming at you. Here's the first one:
- First of all: One of the best video highlight packages, summarizing a basketball game, that you'll ever see. The story of Dwyane Wade, the Miami Heat, and the Chicago Bulls in double overtime last night. It's simply beautiful. And, to me, it's a reminder Dwyane Wade is one of the best: He gets to the rim with the game on the line. He missed it, but he got himself a nice layup attempt at the end of the first overtime. I love every player who can get those shots in that situation. That's fun to watch.
- Laker broadcasters apparently can't see that Trevor Ariza hit Rudy Fernandez in the head, sending him to the hospital. Sure, he got the ball, but the big rule is: Careful with the airborne dude. Just because Ariza hit the ball, doesn't mean it was a clean play. It also fit a pattern of the second half. The Blazers were beating the Lakers worse than they have been beaten all year. After halftime, they came out playing almost stupidly physical. For a chunk of possessions, Portland's offense functioned quite well with this play: Give the ball to Brandon Roy, and wait for the Lakers to come over and foul him. They obliged, time and again. It looked like the Lakers had an intentional strategy to hack the Blazers out of their comfort zone. It worked for a little stretch after the Fernandez injury, but that was it. And now that reports are Fernandez avoided serious injury, this has clearly become Portland's best win of the year. It's not just one game, either: The Lakers have lost seven straight in Portland, and they're due back again next month.
- A couple of key points in the fallout of that moment on the video above: Did you see the Blazers circle up and pray for Rudy for a second? That's not something you see every day. I liked seeing it, because at least I knew they cared a lot. What was strange was that Jordan Farmar was the only player to go and ask Rudy -- right after he fell -- if he was OK. Also, Pau Gasol looked just sick with worry about Rudy.
- One last thing: the Lakers had an aggressive strategy to double LaMarcus Aldridge. It led to so many of Portland's role players having great first quarters. Nicolas Batum basically outplayed Kobe Bryant for a key stretch of the opening period. Joel Przybilla got easy buckets. And then in the second quarter, Travis Outlaw robbed the rim of all dignity with his repeated vicious assaults. I think the Rockets had a better Aldridge plan: Have Chuck Hayes shove him almost all the way to the 3-point line, and then stay there with him.
- Hats off to Laker fans commenting at Forum Blue and Gold for very sober conversation of a very emotional game.
- A bit of a blog vs. newspaper fight about whether or not it's crucial for the Celtics to secure the top spot in the East. Can they win in Cleveland? Can they overtake Cleveland while super-injured?
- The man who trash-talked with Barack Obama. Turns out he's also the commissioner of the Barry Farm league. Here's the original DC Sports Bog post about it.
- Daryl Morey interviewed by Bill Simmons
- Yesterday I wrote about Bill Walton's early time in Portland, when everyone thought he was a bust. TrueHoop reader Jeremy dug up a 1976 Curry Kirkpatrick Sports Illustrated article with the term "brain spurs:" "It seems only yesterday that Walton was wearing a ponytail. burning incense in airport terminals, answering questions from the FBI, and leaving himself open to charges of faking every sort of illness this side of schistosomiasis. But it was not just yesterday, it was two long years ago. And as for his basketball, which is all that should have mattered anyway, it must be understood that before this season Walton was never 100% physically sound. Never. Ever since he began this season by not only devastating all competition but also actually looking joyful again -- the way he did while winning two national championships at UCLA -- the Portland center has been subjected to various and sundry psychological investigations intended to explain 'the new Bill Walton.' But aside from shearing his fiery orange locks and abandoning his exotic wardrobe of woodchopper getups, Walton says he has not changed. He basks in the same counterculture life-style, has the same friends, believes in the same political theories, eats the same cucumbers. What's so different? 'I'm just healthy,' Walton said last week while wearing a lavender Grateful Dead T shirt. 'That's all. For two years I wasn't able to run up and down the court freely without making a conscious effort out of it. Without thinking about it. That's no way to play basketball. I love this game. I always have. And I always knew how good I was. It's just that when you're going up against guys you know you can take anytime, but you can't because of a bad ankle or too much weight or a broken hand or something else, it is too discouraging. And not any fun.' Not any fun. Another carrottopped basketball player quit the game the other day because it was no longer any fun. And of course in his mind Bill Walton must have quit, too, that first year when the hurts -- bone spurs, 'brain spurs,' whatever -- piled up, the pressure and slanders crashed down and the rains came to Portland, leaving one of nature's true sun kids in a blue funk."
- David Falk says Michael Jordan didn't want to draft Kwame Brown, but instead wanted to trade for Elton Brand.
- John Hollinger's playoff predictor now thinks the Lakers are only about 15% likely to win this year's title -- Cleveland is at 31.2%