Monday, March 24, 2003
A who's who of who's not cutting it
By Marc Stein
Editor's note: As part of "The Stein Line" every Monday, ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein gives his take on things in "Slams and Dunks."
This is what happens when you attend a state school. You beware the Ides of March, but you don't actually remember that the Ides of March specifically falls on March 15.
Julius Caesar apparently went to that fateful Roman Senate meeting on March 15, 44 B.C.E., and then wound up with a knife in his back.
Which brings us to Slams and Dunks and the embarrassing disclosure that we're about a week late with our Ides of March team. Our list of guys who obviously didn't beware and who are now, uh, plunging their production downward just when the regular season is getting serious.
All-Ides First Team
Cliff Robinson, Pistons: Uncle Cliffy's contract extension coincides with a nasty slump: 8.3 points per game on 32.3 percent shooting in his last 10 games.
Anthony Mason, Bucks: Milwaukee's lack of size isn't helping Mase, either. He's averaging just 3.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game over the last 10.
Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Nuggets: We knew he'd develop slowly, but his rookie season (3.6 points per game on 28.9 percent shooting) isn't getting any better.
Ron Artest, Pacers: Three flagrant fouls this month alone. Enough said.
Ricky Davis, Cavaliers: Isn't exactly finishing strong, either, with the triple-double incident and 10-game averages of 14.1 points and 36.6 percent shooting.
All-Ides Off The Bench
|The Bucks need Mase to come up big.|
Robert Horry, Lakers: More evidence Horry wishes the playoffs would hurry up: 4.6 points per game in his last 10 and just 4.7 rebounds per game.
Bonzi Wells, Blazers: Suspended for a game and lost his starting spot; now putting up just 8.0 points per game on 35.5 percent shooting in 22.4 minutesa game over his last 10.
Walter McCarty, Celtics: Since beating Indy at home with a big triple on Feb. 26, Tommy Heinsohn's beloved Wal-tuh is averaging two points per game.
Reggie Miller, Pacers:Reg can't seem to get hot, averaging just 9.1 points per game on 40 percent shooting in his last 10.
Andre Miller, Clippers: Nightmare homecoming continues; last-10 averages are a mere 9.7 points on 35.9 percent shooting and 4.9 assists.
|Production has run dry with Wells.|
Watch Minnesota's 3-2 zone, which features Kevin Garnett shuffling to the top of the key to harass point guards like Tony Parker and then dropping into the paint to lock down on a low-post threat like Tim Duncan, and you see that zones can be effective in the NBA.
The key is having a man in the middle. A manly man.
Garnett's display in the paint Friday at San Antonio, beyond any numbers, is a prime exhibit why he's a Defensive Player of the Year candidate as well as the co-MVP favorite with Duncan. The tired Spurs helped the Wolves' cause by settling for 3-pointers, but KG was an undeniable, versatile force.
If they've ridden with Lenny Wilkens this long -- if they didn't want to make a change before the season or by the All-Star break when there was still reasonable time to see a benefit -- the Raptors can only let Wilkens finish the season.
Lenny is certainly gone at season's end, but he remains one of the classiest figures in NBA history no matter what you think of his coaching. Dismissing Wilkens now, with 14 games to play, would only serve to embarrass him.
OK, OK. We won't ignore the college lads totally.
Our question, after the first two rounds: Cal State Fullerton lost to Utah State in overtime in the Big West Tournament. Utah State almost beat Kansas in the Big Dance Tournament. Does that mean, next time I see Raef LaFrentz or Danny Manning, that I can tell them Cal State Fullerton is right there with Kansas this year?
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, send Stein a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.