TrueHoop: Red Auerbach
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The Spurs made a franchise-record 14 three-pointers and limited Zach Randolph to two points.
The San Antonio Spurs didn't yield a point to Zach Randolph until there was 9:26 left on the clock in the fourth quarter. By that point, the Spurs already had an 18-point lead.
So it went for Randolph, who entered the game leading the Memphis Grizzlies in scoring this postseason with 19.7 points per game.
Randolph finished with two points, a playoff career low in games where he played at least 10 minutes.
The Spurs limited him to just 11 offensive touches. ESPN Stats & Info video tracking defined those as "touches on the offensive end of the floor," including offensive rebounds.
What's more, only two of Randolph's 11 offensive touches came in a post-up situation. Entering the game the Grizzlies led the NBA in scoring from post-ups this postseason with 221 points (20.1 per game).
The Spurs set a franchise playoff record by hitting 14 three-pointers in the game.
They spread those 14 three-pointers among six different players while the Grizzlies three-pointers were made by only one player: Quincy Pondexter.
And in what must make Gregg Popovich happy, all 14 of the Spurs three-pointers were assisted.
The Spurs spread the bounty there, too. While six different players made a three-pointer, seven different players assisted on one. That includes kick-out passes from Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter.
Spotting Pop a lead
Now the Grizzlies are looking at 1-0 deficit against a coach that has won more than 120 playoff games and four championships.
Gregg Popovich is 19-3 all-time in best-of-seven playoff series when his team wins Game 1. His .864 series win percentage after Game 1 wins ranks only behind Phil Jackson and Red Auerbach among head coaches with 15 postseason series worth of experience all-time.
Both Jackson (36-0 series record) and Auerbach (15-0) had perfect series records after winning the opener.
This morning, Kottke pointed readers to a smart list of travel tips from a blog called My Little Nomads. I liked this one:
Buy your own fruit. It sounds simple. It is simple. Just do it. You’ll love it. And I don’t mean, if there happens to be a fruit stand outside your hotel door you should buy some, because you need to have 9 servings a day. What I mean is, find fruit and buy it. Make it a daily task that you’re going to track down a fruit stand, a farmers’ market (they’re not just in San Francisco) and get some good fresh fruit. The entire process will expose you to elements of daily life you would have otherwise ignored. Trust me: You’ll have memories from your trips to buy fresh fruit.
When I was a kid, I liked to watch the middle of the second quarter of every Hawks game I attended from the very top row of the Omni. When Dominique Wilkins took a seat, I'd dash upstairs. When you're 11 years old, vertigo from the top of a 16,000-seat arena is intoxicating -- the place looks like an ant farm from above -- but looking back, the memories I have of getting up there are far more vivid.
Roaming an NBA arena unsupervised spoke to every sense. The Omni smelt like pizza and burned popcorn. The ushers wore bright red sateen jackets, some of them even smoked and most of them knew my face. The structure was made of weathering steel, so the acoustics were trippy -- a tinny refraction of horns, music and basketball. The final ascent the top row meant a trek over a steep swath of orange, gold and purple vinyl seats.
Last night, a friend asked me what I was looking forward to most now that the NBA was returning and, for some reason, I immediately plucked this from my catalog of memories. The Omni was demolished years ago and I don't spend much time buzzing around the upper concourses of arenas, but the live experience of going to an NBA game is the thing I enjoy most.
The league is back, and if you live in an NBA city, you'll have 33 chances to attend a live game. In most places, it's still an event -- the buzz outside the gate, the pageantry, the way the colors pop on the court.
Here are some tips for enhancing your game-night experience:
Get to the game early
If your schedule allows for some flexibility, plan on arriving 90 minutes before tip-off because there are few things more glorious than watching an arena come to life. It's like your own, personal time lapse video as the lower bowl fills up little by little. You'll get a glimpse of how a game production unfolds and, most of all, you can witness pregame rituals. Watch the biomechanical miracle of a 7-foot center being stretched out by a professional trainer. See shooters like Ray Allen or Steve Novak drain 19 consecutive 3-pointers -- and figure out how they do it. Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak likes to watch Steve Nash's pregame routine -- a barrage of elbow jumpers in quick succession. Get a glimpse of which guys yuk it up with opponents at center court and which guys look like they're about to mobilize for a major ground offensive.
Sit in a seat other than your own for 10 minutes
NBA arenas have gotten fussy about your moving around, but if you can finagle it, find a different vantage point from your assigned seat. If you're down low, head upstairs and study the choreography of the NBA from above. If your seat is out of earshot from the court, try to sneak your way to closer proximity and listen to the sound of the game -- the directives from the sidelines, trash-talk, the lobbying of officials. If you're at a Wizards game, just listen to Sam Cassell.
Take people who took you when you were a kid
This suggestion comes from my friend, Jeff, a Portland native and Trail Blazers fan. Invite your dad, mom or grandfather -- whoever used to haul you to a game. Maybe it was your father's friend when your parents worked late, or maybe it was your uncle who'd lecture you on the way home from the game about the virtues of three-to-make-two or the evil genius of Red Auerbach. Whoever it is, buying a ticket to a game for another person without the expectation of repayment is one of the cooler rites of passage as a grown-up.
Smuggle in healthy food
I've never met anyone over the age of 15 who has ever been satisfied with a meal purchased at the concession stands of an NBA arena. Even the stuff that's tasty requires a second mortgage and an angioplasty. Security at the gate has gotten stiff over the past decade, but a crafty smuggler can find enough room in the pocket of a winter coat for a couple of tangerines. If you're really creative, you can press your luck. Between 2001 and 2005, an estimated 150 onigiri rice balls from a local Japanese market were smuggled into NBA arenas -- all of them by a single individual in Los Angeles.
Take rail or a bus
Sports is still a communal civic outing in many cities, but in a lot of places it's becoming less so. Hopping the subway in New York, BART in the bay, the T in Boston or light rail in Salt Lake will remind you that cities and the commonalities of the people who live in them matter. In an era when modern convenience has provided us with a lot more solitude, it's fun to reacquaint yourself with that idea, even if it adds a few minutes to your trip.
Before you leave the house, declare it -- best throwback jersey in the crowd, least tolerable song most likely to be played during a timeout, over-unders on number of blocked shots by players under 6-foot-5 and player on the floor most likely to win a gauntlet match. These diversions come in particularly handy if you're staring at a 24-point game midway through the third quarter.
Leave your phone behind
This isn't always a practical option, but if there's nothing in your life that's calling out for immediate attention, we dare you to attend a game phone-free. You won't have easy access to stats and you won't be able to confirm who got dealt for Joe Smith, but attending a game without the constant itch to check your inboxes is a liberating, unfiltered experience. It will bring you back to a time when going to an NBA game was an activity that completely captivated you -- almost like travel.
- Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball on Carmelo Anthony: "Is Anthony a top five player? No. Is Anthony an efficient player on offense? No. Anthony’s True Shooting Percentage and effective field goal percentage were at or below the league average last season. Granted, Anthony’s Offensive Rating was 110, which was above the league average. Also, if there’s a bright side to Anthony’s obscenely high usage rate (33.4 percent in 2010), it’s that he does an excellent job of taking care of the basketball. That being said, Anthony doesn’t compare favorably to his peers offensively. Yes, Anthony can score and if there’s one thing the Magic desperately need, it’s a dominant perimeter scorer, but he does so with nary an ounce of efficiency."
- Now that all the moving parts have come and gone from Phoenix, what did the Suns ultimately net from Amare Stoudemire's departure? Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns: "In essence the Suns traded Stoudemire and Leandro Barbosa for Hedo Turkoglu, Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick plus about $5 million worth of trade exception that could still be put to good use. When you consider the pu pu platter offers on the table this February, the Suns made a brilliant decision not to unload STAT at the deadline just to unload him. Sure, maybe they could have gotten a J.J. Hickson here or a Mario Chalmers there, but you really can’t compare that to the haul of established players the Suns acquired instead."
- Gian Ciasmiro of Posting & Toasting looks at some interesting findings yesterday from Neil Paine about what happens when a player sees his offensive role change dramatically and applies them to Raymond Felton.
- Charley Rosen of Fox Sports enumerates the things a top NBA coach must have in his professional arsenal. On Rosen's list: "A work ethic that sets an example for his staff and players. Or else having several assistants willing to compensate for his laissez-faire attitude by working overtime and allowing him to claim the credit."
- With Turkoglu and Chris Bosh moving on from Toronto, the Raptors have a ton of possessions to distribute this season. Zarar Siddiqi of Raptors Republic looks at how equitably those opportunities should be spread out.
- Eric Freeman has a new blog, Early Termination Option, which warrants a bookmark or RSS feed subscription.
- Trey Kirby of Ball Don't Lie breaks down the NBA rookie photo shoot.
- Should the NBA look to Major League Baseball the next time it reconsiders its age requirement? NCAA President Mark Emmert thinks so. (Hat tip: John Krolik of Pro Basketball Talk)
- Zach Harper of Hardwood Paroxysm asks how much of an apology -- if any -- does Brandon Roy owe the public after appearing for about 10 seconds in a Cali & Cavalli video that "is seemingly promoting the non-medicinal usage of marijuana."
- When we discuss the end of positional orthodoxy in basketball, the Nets' Terrence Williams is one of those guys who is relevant to the conversation. At 6-foot-6, Williams can handle the ball, has good court vision and could potentially defend anywhere on the perimeter once he gets a better grasp of NBA rotations. He's also critical to the Nets' long road back to respectability.
- What Theo Ratliff can bring to the Los Angeles Lakers.
- Beno Udrih: Better than you think.
- Go ahead and add sprinter Usain Bolt to the roster of the Kevin Durant Fan Club.
- James Posey might not have been anything more than carry-on baggage in the four-team deal that sent Darren Collison to Indiana last week, but Jared Wade of 8 Points, 9 Seconds would like to remind you that Posey has won two rings since the Pacers last reached the postseason.
- After watching the Hubie Brown video on setting screens, Game Time Workouts sends in this Red Auerbach and Rick Barry production on the underhand free throw.
- Big thanks to commenter micaroni715, who sent a long an incredible 1983 piece from the Sports Illustrated vault titled "The Gospel According to Hubie," which is a fascinating read and full of details about Brown's contentious relationship with many in the NBA's coaching fraternity.
With the referees locked out, and nasty things being said about them generally, especially in the wake of the Tim Donaghy scandal, I have been thinking a little about how so many people have come to have such strong feelings about the people in the striped shirts.
About the time I was wondering about that, I opened Bill Russell's book Red and Me, about Russell's relationship with the legendary coach and executive Red Auerbach.
Russell talks at some length about the amazing things Auerbach would do to disturb referees. Most of them were surely inspiring to anyone looking for an excuse to let let the officials have it. For instance:
For years, Red had a running problem with a ref named Sid Borgia, who made a lot of terrible calls against us. When Sid had our game, it was almost as much fun watching the fireworks between him and Red as it was winning the game. Red always smoked those foul-smelling cigars -- in those days, people still smoked indoors. So, one time when Sid made a lousy call on us, Red formed a mouthful of chewed-up cigar and got right in Sid's face and started arguing, "You son of a bitch!" and "Jesus Christ!" and Sid ended up with a face-full of chewed tobacco bits. I don't know if this was deliberate. But, after that, the moment Sid saw Red heading his way to argue a call, he retreated farther onto the court, out of Red's range.
An interesting side note: Sid Borgia's son, Joe, is a former referee and current league executive overseeing officials.
Thoughts, euphoria, grudging respect, and sober analysis of the Lakers' 15th NBA Championship from around the TrueHoop Network:
Rob Mahoney of Hardwood Paroxysm: "Focusing on individual storylines and details can be a fantastic enterprise, but in this case I truly think it disservices the bigger picture: the Lakers kicked ass in these playoffs. They forgot who they were for a minute against the Rockets, but on the whole we've seen some terrific basketball from L.A. Good enough, in fact, that today I don't care to think about Phil [Jackson] vs. Red [Auerbach], or what this means for Kobe [Bryant] in the grand scheme of things. We've got a long summer ahead of us, and there will be plenty of time for that. What I want today is a proper acknowledgment that the Lakers weren't just a really, really good team, but one that happened to trump the Magic with superior will ... Look, nobody is crazy about the idea of the Lakers winning it all. But that doesn't mean we can't appreciate, in typical playoff fashion, the last thing that we saw. We saw a better team execute at an incredible level against an elite defense, we saw the elevation of games on a personal and team-wide level, and we saw the Lakers perform in a manner all series long that should remove any doubts to their worthiness. The Lakers accomplished a singularly great thing last night: a pretty damn good team playing to its potential. As such, we should appreciate their accomplishment with blinders on. Phil's tenth, Kobe's first P.S., that all can wait. This is a day for the Lakers as a team/organization and Los Angeles as a city, as it'd be a pity for this singular success to be overlooked."
Zephid of Forum Blue & Gold: "Ah, so this is the sweet taste of victory. Winning the NBA championship, cheering our team to the pinnacle of this sport. But, it is not the victory that brings us sweetness. It is the long 82 game regular season, all 23 games played in this postseason, all the rigors of this season. It is the tough December losses, the mental break-downs in January, the beautiful road streak in February, the frustrating losses in March. It is the Christmas game, the back to back @Boston, @Cleveland games. It is the leads given up against Utah, the blowout against the Yao-less Rockets, the home loss against Denver. It is the Game 7 victory against Houston, the Game 6 closeout in Denver, and this closeout here in Orlando. It is [Derek] Fisher's struggles and redemption, Lamar [Odom]'s excellent form, break-down, injury, and now return to form. It is Andrew [Bynum]'s coming out, injury, and coming back as a role player. It is [Pau] Gasol and Kobe's consistency and fire. It is Sasha [Vujacic]'s shooting woes, Jordan [Farmar]'s struggles, Luke [Walton]'s benching, [Trevor] Ariza's development, and [Josh] Powell's bad hands. It is the pain of last year's Finals loss, Boston's Game 4 comeback, the 39 point blowout in Game 6. It is the entire journey, with all its pain, suffering, joy, jubilation, frustration, relief, and exuberance, that makes this victory sweet."
Zach McCann of Orlando Magic Daily: "I don't feel any sense of disappointment, frustration or regret. How can you? The Lakers easily mulled through the Magic to capture their 15th championship, and they did so in dominating fashion it.There's not a person in the world who can say the Magic are better than the Lakers. And when you can say that, losing hurts a lot less. The sting especially softens when your team didn't fail because of dumb turnovers, poor coaching or lack of effort. None of that was the problem. The Lakers were simply better than the Magic ... The Magic simply couldn't trade punches with the Lakers, who are too good, too deep and too versatile. They're built with the ability to counter anything the Magic could throw at them. And they're killers - when they see blood, they attack. The Magic's only hope was to shoot 62 percent like they did in their only win of this series. That wasn't happening tonight. Toward the end of the second quarter, as the Lakers completed a 16-0 run that wiped out a hot Magic start, it was clear. The players, coaches, and fans of both teams knew it was only a matter of time till this thing was over ... It was beginning to sink in. The Lakers were going to win the NBA championship on Orlando's home floor."
M. Haubs of The Painted Area: "Let's take a second to remember a key moment in the Lakers' championship season, back in preseason in October when Phil Jackson commented that he wanted Lamar Odom to come off the bench - clearly the best move for the ball club. Andrew Bynum could play a larger role as a starter, and the versatile Odom was the perfect guy to run the show for the second team, and of course he'd have plenty of opportunity to play with the first unit as well ... Odom balked at the bench role ever so briefly in October, before accepting it with essentially not a peep of dissatisfaction the rest of the season (though the Bynum injury did get him back into the starting lineup for a good chunk of the season). By accepting a lesser role, Odom placed the good of the team ahead of his own self-interest in terms of trying to maximize the dollars he could command as a free agent, and that acceptance was a key element of L.A.'s season ... It is sacrifices like these, up and down the roster, that championships are made of. A key to San Antonio's run has been Manu Ginobili's sacrificing multiple All-Star appearances by accepting a role with lesser minutes, which keep his stats artificially low. And now Odom's acceptance of lesser minutes in a free-agent year has helped put L.A. over the top, and he deserves praise for it."
(Photos by Andrew D. Bernstein, Emmanuel Dunand, Ronald Martinez, Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)