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Monday, November 3, 2003
The Week In Review

By Marc Stein
ESPN.com

THE WEEK IN PREVIEW
MONDAY
New York gets a chance to avenge its Opening Night collapse in a Knicks-at-Orlando rematch. Houston at Chicago pits Yao Ming against Eddy Curry.
TUESDAY
Carmelo Anthony warms up for LeBron James by taking on Ron Artest in Nuggets at Pacers. Yao and Jeff Van Gundy head for a New York media invasion in New Jersey, as part of Rockets at Nets ... with the one-sided nature of the Eddie Griffin-for-Richard Jefferson trade sure to come up, too.
WEDNESDAY
ESPN's doubleheader starts with the LeBron vs. Carmelo showdown that sells itself in Nuggets at Cavs. Memphis at Portland is the ESPN nightcap. Other intriguing matchups include Sacramento at Minnesota, albeit without Chris Webber to lead the Kings against Kevin Garnett, and Baron Davis dueling Allen Iverson in Hornets at Sixers.
THURSDAY
Indiana at New Jersey, a solid Eastern Conference showdown, is only TNT's warmup. Lakers at Spurs is the showcase, pitting the two teams that have combined to win the past five championships.
FRIDAY
Minnesota visits Orlando on ESPN in the Battle Of Tormented First-Round Souls: Garnett vs. Tracy McGrady. Portland at Seattle, in the battle for Pacific Northwest supremacy, is the second ESPN game.
WEEKEND
Saturday's best: Dallas at San Antonio, televised (if you can get it) on NBA TV. Sunday brings New Jersey at Detroit in a reprisal of the Eastern Conference finals, with Kenyon Martin expected back from an ankle strain by then.
Shaquille O'Neal
It's a whole new ballgame for Shaq and L.A.'s Fab Four.
It didn't take long for the first change to take place at No. 1. With all four of their future Hall of Famers together now, ignoring the insults of the past week and crafting a 3-0 start, the Los Angeles Lakers inevitably rose to the top of ESPN.com's NBA Power Rankings, knocking the defending champion San Antonio Spurs down to No. 2. Senior NBA writer Marc Stein will answer a few questions related to the Power Rankings in his weekly chat every Monday.
  • LeBron's well ahead of curve
  • Lakers play through the pain
  • Mail, GP must keep the peace

    Team of the Week
    Los Angeles Lakers. Considering how shaky everything looked a week ago, a 3-0 start to the season is significant even for the fallen champions, who aren't accustomed to getting excited about anything that happens during the regular season. Gary Payton and Karl Malone have changed that attitude, helping to mediate the latest dispute between Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant and infusing the Lakers with some much-needed November energy and purpose. One week after Shaq and Kobe started trading barbs, Bryant completed the first back-to-back set on his surgically repaired knee Sunday with 21 points on 12 shots, playing the team game Shaq was calling for when the bickering erupted.

    Male of the Week
    LeBron James
    James
    LeBron James. Doesn't need much explanation, really. If two years of buildup ever bothered LBJ, it was impossible to tell Wednesday night at Arco Arena, where he was the best player on the court (from either team) in his first NBA game, arguably the most anticipated rookie debut in league history. As Sacramento's Bobby Jackson said after watching James ring up 25 points, nine assists, six rebounds and four steals: "Now I can see what all the media is so ecstatic about."

    E-mail of the Week
    I've always respected your opinion because you've never been stupid enough to write the Jazz off. Last year, when everybody said Utah's playoff streak would end, you may not have mentioned the Jazz as a playoff team, but you never completely closed the door on them. I was disappointed that you finally wrote them off this year. They probably won't make the playoffs, but I'm sure you feel a little foolish for completely writing off a Jerry Sloan team.
    Andrew L. John
    Fairfax, Va.

    STEIN: Lots of us in the media are probably guilty of focusing too much on Utah's talent dropoff, without Mail and Stock, instead of acknowledging that Jerry Sloan elected to keep coaching this team. Irony is, Sloan is getting more preseason nominations as a potential Coach of the Year contender than he ever has before. It's still way too early to start that debate, but if Sloan can squeeze even 25 wins out of the stripped-down Jazz, it'll be tough to argue that anyone did more coaching this season.

    Speak of the Week
    "Summer league was crazier. That was the craziest I've ever seen. People were following us around like those people who go after movie stars -- what are they called? Stalkers?"
    Cleveland's Darius Miles, on life as LeBron James' best friend with the Cavaliers.

    Line of the Week
    Friday, Oct. 31: Seattle SuperSonics at Los Angeles Clippers
    Player Min FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A Off Reb Ast Stl Blk TO PF Pts
    Rashard Lewis 37 18-25 4-7 10-13 2 8 4 0 1 0 1 50
    Seattle teammate Ronald Murray was a contender, scoring a combined 46 points in his first two NBA starts in Japan as the Sonics' fill-in for the injured Ray Allen. But not even Murray's unexpected production -- his previous career-high was eight points -- could deny Lewis recognition for his 50-point game in Friday's sweep-completing victory over the Clippers.

    Stat of the Week
    2
    That's how many active coaches in the league have won a championship on the bench now that Pat Riley has resigned in Miami. That would be the Lakers' Phil Jackson, who has a record-tying nine rings, and San Antonio's Gregg Popovich, who has two. Riley won four with LA before coaching the Knicks and then the Heat.

    Stat of the Weak
    4
    New Orleans coach Tim Floyd, at 3-0 entering Monday's visit to Atlanta, is one victory away from the longest winning streak of his NBA bench career.

    Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, click here to send a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.