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I pay a visit to the fictional character. The graybeard seems agitated, asking when exactly the Super Bowl is going to start. Though a self-proclaimed wonderful cook, he is heating up a Hot Pocket in the microwave.It's six degrees outside this undisclosed Cleveland location, but the separation between the Pistons and Cavs, closing during last year's playoffs, seems to be growing, even though the standings say they are but a game apart. Wise stretches out his feet on the coffee table while Mike Breen and Mark Jackson set the table for the ESPN on ABC matchup. Michelle Tafoya says LeBron has indicated his injured right big toe is feeling better, but remains wary of it acting up. Wise is getting warmed up. "You know what you do when your toe is hurt?" Shrugs. "Call a toe truck." He laughs and takes a big bite from his cheesy snack. The game begins. LeBron lines up for a free throw, trying for an "and 1" four minutes in, the Cavs up 7-5. "You know what's wrong with us," Wise says, before an interruption. Clang! "My ears. Turn down those rim mikes! I think my drum is popped. Why can't you make your free throws? I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but too much pool training, I say." LeBron is a 68.5 free throw shooter this season, 73.5 percent for his career. The Cavs as a team shoot free throws better than exactly zero teams in the NBA. The game swings back and forth. The Pistons take the lead at 31-30 with an Antonio McDyess hoop. Wise wipes some stray cheese from his beard as he finishes the last bite. He says something about going for 35 points, 15 rebounds, 12 assists, 12 blocks, a quadruple double, back in the state championship. And then he nods off. No game is going to stop this nap, apparently. He wakes up in the fourth quarter. Pistons guard Chauncey Billups, feints and jukes his way to a hoop with LeBron offering his best defense. It's now 74-61, Pistons, with 9:34 left in the game. "Chauncey, that's the name of a dude taking care of the Queen's chrysanthemums, not somebody who just schooled your sorry behind. King my (beep). We're never going to get past these guys with Chauncey around." LeBron responds with a 25-footer. "That was good. I shouldn't have cussed him." Soon, Breen notes that LeBron hasn't been aggressive going to paint. Jackson says Detroit's defense is the reason. "True." The Cavs are still hanging around in the fourth quarter, but can't get the Pistons' lead down to single digits. A clip comes from LeBron's high school days, in an all-green football uniform, catching a touchdown. LeBron says Super Sunday is a day when he thinks how he might have done in the NFL. Wise grimaces. "Stay focused young man. Remember Bo Jackson? He played baseball and football. Well, guess which sport he got hurt in? Football, that's what." The Cavs are hurting. Breen notes the boos descending when Zydrunas Ilgauskas' hook shot is a Z brick. Cavs are down 81-69, with with 3:18 to play. However, two aggressive LeBron drives to the hoop later and the momentum shifts very slightly. With 1:44 left, Cleveland gets the ball, trailing 83-73. The Quicken Loans public address echoes with "Deee-troit turnover," mocking a famous Pistons slogan. "Oh, lord. Don't get the Pistons angry." Sasha Pavlovic makes a 3, but 83-76 is as close as the Cavs will get. Billups seals the scoring with two MADE free throws. Breen notes the smattering of boos as the game ends, a 90-78 win for the Pistons. LeBron has 21 points, six assists and five rebounds. Not enough. Wise clicks off the TV. The cubes in his lemonade have melted. "Forget this. I like the Colts tonight. You think they train in no pool? No."
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Not that I was trying to ruin Super Bowl Sunday for Mike Woodson, but I still felt compelled to ask him about his future and his job security after Tyronn Lue knocked down a 23-footer at the buzzer in overtime to give the Hawks a 101-99 victory over the snake-bitten New Jersey Nets."I can't control it, and I have no problems with it, to be honest with you. I don't even think about that, I'm going to be honest with you," Woodson told me, setting off one of my internal alarms with his double-barreled use of the phrase "to be honest with you."
Gilbert Arenas has scored 97 points in two games against the Lakers this season, including 37 on Saturday. Arenas' average of 48.5 points per game against the Lakers this season is the highest by one player against one team in a season since Karl Malone averaged 50.5 points in two games against Milwaukee in 1989-90 (minimum: two games played).The NBA "record" for such a thing belongs to Wilt Chamberlain. Chamberlain averaged 54.5 points in 12 games (654 points!) against the Knicks in 1961-62.
Hawks guard Joe Johnson: Registers 37 points and eight assists in a 101-99 OT win over the Nets, the third straight road with for the flightless birds. JJ's 25.4 ppg suggests to some he might be more worthy of a Las Vegas trip than Rip Hamilton, but then again Hawks are still a grounded 18-28.
Clippers center Chris Kaman: The Spectacled Caiman is a type of gator that grows to a modest size of about 7 feet. This Kaman also grew to 7 feet, and made a spectacle of himself, posting a 1-for-11 shooting night in a 122-110 loss to the Raps that confirms cold shooting is the natural by-product of a cold-blooded Caimen.
Quote of the Day
"When Ben Wallace was there, you could kind of relax on the offensive end when he was on the floor. But now they have five guys that can easily score 20 points. They are a much better team with him [Webber]."
-- LeBron James, on the revamped Pistons.
-- Andrew Ayres
The Utah Jazz are 3-0 against the Phoenix Suns following Saturday's 108-105 win in Phoenix with each team missing a significant part, the Suns sans Raja Bell, while the Jazz were without their main man, Carlos Boozer.The win marked back-to-back wins for Utah over two big West foes, the Spurs and Suns, on the heels of losses to the Hornets and Nets. The Jazz (31-17) begin a four-game homestand Monday against the Bulls, before facing the Knicks, Hawks and Cavs. They have a 6 1/2 game lead on the Nuggets for the Northwest title, and are one game behind the Spurs for the No. 3 seed. About those Suns, the Jazz go for the season sweep April 14 in Salt Lake City.
-- Andrew Ayres
February 4, 1987
The Sacramento Kings managed only four points in the first quarter of a 128-92 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the fewest points in the first quarter by a team since the inception of the shot clock in 1954.
-- ESPN Research
Why is no one talking about Mehmet Okur being an All-Star snub? It would seem to me he is putting up numbers very comparable to Amare and on a team that is averaging 9 ppg less without the easy points that come with playing alongside Steve Nash. I think the best case for Okur being an All-Star is the numerous late game clutch shots he has been making.
Utah wouldn't be 3-0 vs Phoenix without him and would be in a lot more trouble without Carlos Boozer if it wasn't for his outstanding play.
-- Kyle (Granada Hills, CA)
Sadly the Suns have become the NBA's darlings, everyone loves them. They're very overrated in the media. Let the Suns have their hype and fun now, when the real season begins it'll be the Mavs that are on top, they've got it all, passion, DEFENSE, offense and are on a mission.
-- Jason (New York)
And somehow they get three All-Stars, while the Mavs get one, and despite being surrounded with All-Star talent (apparently), Steve Nash charges on to his third straight MVP, while Dirk will yet again be an also ran. Nice.
-- Ed (Dallas)
The worst thing the Cavs can do is make LeBron a point forward.
Did anyone see the two games he didn't play? Did anyone see the lineup that put them up 12 in the fourth quarter in Miami? Snow, Jones, Pavlovic, Marshall, Varejao.
When LeBron doesn't play, the offense is much more effective. People are moving off the ball, and there are multiple passes that lead to something. When LeBron is in, there's one pass to him, usually 30 feet away from the hoop, and then maybe one more.
If he doesn't shoot, he passes to the guy that will shoot. Frequently 3 guys won't touch the ball on a possession. This can work if you just want to win more often than you lose in the regular season. It won't work if you try it for two weeks against a good defensive team.-- Chip (Cleveland)