Monday, May 19, 2008

Problems and Solutions around the NBA

Problem: You are the Celtics, one of the most egregious examples of a team built for the short-term in the NBA's history. If it hadn't been for the Shaquille O'Neal/Gary Payton/Dwayne Wade Heat, you would probably be the worst, and if you lose this year, history will remember you as something akin to basketball's equivalent of the Jose Canseco/Greg Vaughn/Fred McGriff Tampa Bay Devil Rays. You have to do well right now because the chances of another injury-free, high-spirits season are slim.

Solution: Remember that Paul Pierce is still in his prime, averaged at least 25.0 points per game for the two years before this one, and has always come to play in big games. Last night he was as good or better than LeBron, and he will present serious problems for Detroit in the next round.

Problem: Now you have to play the Pistons, you have a terrible record in away games, and as an opponent, the Pistons are vastly superior to the Cavs and the Hawks.

Solution: This is going to be a tricky puzzle for Boston if the Celts can't find some offensive continuity. Last night, it was depressing to see Kevin Garnett unable to shake Ben Wallace laterally and be forced into shooting turnaround jumpers, and I'm of the opinion that he'll do the same against Rasheed Wallace. It was even more depressing to see Ray Allen mired in what has to be one of the worst slumps of his career. Doc Rivers benching him for most of Game 7 will not bolster his confidence.

However, the Celtics have something to counteract the Pistons: defense. I believe that Garnett can shut down Rasheed Wallace in the post and on the perimeter, Rondo can give Chauncey Billups serious problems, James Posey can hold off Tayshaun Prince, and that Eddie House can guard Richard Hamilton. I think that's exactly the way the Celtics should try to match up, because they will still be superior offensively, can float Paul Pierce around wherever he pleases, and can try to work Ray Allen in as a sixth man. If Allen gets his groove back, it's over.

The problem with this, obviously, is that Detroit will have another big man on the floor, but I like the strategy of making the Pistons adjust to a small lineup. The other big man will most likely be Antonio McDyess, who can't defend Pierce and who is mainly a mid-range jump shooter. If Detroit decides to use Jason Maxiell, this will be more of a problem for Pierce, but again, on offense, he will be almost untouchable. I think in this scenario the Celtics could and should win the series within six games.

Problem: P.J. Brown just knocked you out of the playoffs.
Solution: None.

Problem: It is 2008, this is the playoffs, and P.J. Brown is emerging as your second best player.
Solution: None.

Problem: Last night's game was one of the worst examples of officiating I can remember. To the credit of the refs, they were fairly impartial in their incompetency. The only time the game had any flow was in the latter half of the third quarter, when the refs swallowed their whistles and watched as Paul Pierce and LeBron James engaged each other in great display of individual rivalry within team sports.

The only thing more frustrating than the refereeing was the shoddy coverage by ABC. They refused to show replays of bad calls and Jeff Van Gundy failed to notice many of the errors. It seemed like he was more concerned with one-liners, and it was quite vexing to hear the commentators discuss the replays being shown to the Garden crowd (eliciting loud boos) but not get to see them on the broadcast.

The sorry state of refereeing is a real problem in the NBA, and I'm always astonished how bad the playoff crews can be. I realize that they can't see everything, but there's one ref for every three players out there and they are generally inconsistent, inattentive, and combative.

Specifically, last night's crew of Ken Mauer, Eddie Rush, and Bennett Salvatore was calling fouls with a complete lack of uniformity (the only thing Van Gundy noticed), missing travels and double dribbles, unable to see who touched the ball last as it went out of bounds, not getting offensive fouls right, and doing a grave injustice in failing to assess Delonte West a technical foul for his antics during the Eddie House jump-ball fiasco. The crew not in control, they let players and the crowd influence them, and they were not up to the standards of professional referees, let alone the more elite crews that are supposed to officiate playoff games.

Some background on the bunch: Ken Mauer served five months in jail for felony tax evasion in 2000. Eddie Rush is statistically one of seven referees in the NBA who had worse records for the home team against the spread than Tim Donaghy. Salvatore is remembered for making two series-changing calls in the Miami/Dallas finals of 2006 including a foul call with 1.9 seconds remaining in a game the Mavericks led by one that led to a problem wherein "ABC sports, the television network covering the 2006 finals, could not display a conclusive replay supporting the call by Salvatore". (See Salvatore's wikipedia entry. He also once said "I can't tell you how many times I make a call that I think is correct -- and then go into locker room and it's wrong or vice versa.")

This is the play from the 2006 Finals (fast forward to 3:55). Keep in mind we're talking about a last second shot here in a one point game in overtime in the NBA finals with a series tied at 2-2.

I love to watch basketball and it kills me when games are decided or affected by referees. Anyone who thinks this is not a problem, in my opinion, is not paying attention.

: For all the NBA's talk, they obviously have poor accountability. They happily let Tim Donaghy ref important playoff games despite years of statistics showing a spread-based bias, and he'd probably be doing the same thing if the FBI hadn't stepped in with some help from an organization that knows how to conduct an investigation.

It's not that hard to explain to refs what rules you want standardized and how they should be called. The NBA probably employs a few hundred people who are experts in basketball, even compared with the most self-righteous fan (me). Why can't they figure out a program to shore up the refereeing and make the games more about basketball?

I truly believe the games would be much more fun to watch if the referees called the game consistently and let the players play in the playoffs. Though I was happy they didn't call a foul on PJ Brown on LeBron's last drive last night (which was, by the way, a very good call).

Problem: David West won't be at 100% tonight after being injured by Big Game Bob.
Solution: Chris Paul.

As always, e-mail me at

Friday, May 16, 2008

Calculated Video Moments!

Just a little reminder of what a classy organization the Spurs run and how little help they get from officials. By the way, in case it's not clear, the call there was an offensive foul on Chris Paul. As the announcer notes: "not only was it not a good play right there, but ...Chris Paul was called for the offensive foul."

In case my criticism is getting excessive and turning away folks who like to hear more than one side of the story, I decided to insert a little piece of wisdom from a true Spurs fan. Her web page is here. As you can see, she seems to be a Spurs fan and a Cowboys fan...kind of a funny combination for a Texan like herself, but I'll let you draw your own conclusions about what that says about the clearly bandwagon nature of most Spurs followers, who may or may not live in a city that should have been given to the Indians or the Mexicans or made into the world's largest garbage barge.

Here is her statement (check the link if you don't think I'm pasting it in its entirety): Anyone who thinks David Stern was on the Spurs side in anything is extremely ignorant of the NBA. David Stern hates the Spurs because he, like every other idiot who prefers an open dunk to a blocked ball, thinks the Spurs are boring which is why when he was asked who he'd prefer in the playoffs he said "Lakers VS Lakers". Because they get ratings, as do the dirty, back 'n forth up the court, drama filled, Suns. Find another excuse as to why you lost because you will never take responsibility for lacking in the fundamentals of basketball.

If you're interested, LoneStarScorpio, as she calls herself, also made a video where she defends the Spurs actions in last year's series (the one where Robert Horry hip checked Steve Nash twenty feet, inciting a fight that caused Amare Stoudamire and Boris Diaw to be suspended) and the misanthropic demeanor of Philadelphia Eagles fans. Her videos are on the page linked to above.

Don't Ever Give Up: The Basketball Blog. Always fair and balanced.

As always, e-mail me at

"Things went our way tonight, that's for sure."

The title above is yesterday's quote by the ever-introspective coach of the San Antonio Spurs.

I can't write intelligently on this because I am so filled with rage. Between the "offensive foul" on Paul (Bowen flopping), the three fouls in less than a minute on David West (Ginobili flopping), and Robert Horry's objectionable cheap shot to injure Mr. West, it's just more of the same from the dirty, officially-sanctioned, incomparably frustrating Spurs. That their classless, unintelligent, inhumane, bandwagon-redneck-beer-drunk-circle-jerk fans cheered for Horry as West had to be carried off the court was the icing on the cake.

Game 7 is on Monday. Let's pray for good officiating, correct interpretation of the NBA's rules on fouls (and illegal screens!), and a New Orleans victory.

As always, e-mail me at

PS: I would love a career-ending injury to Bruce Bowen, too. Like a bullet to the fucking head.
PPS: I'm with Ozzy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Random Video Moments!

Here's a playoff edition of random video moments.

Since I was a little unfair to the Pistons in my last post, I figured I'd do a video moment for a player on the Pistons I like a lot, Jason Maxiell, the spiritual successor to Maurice Evans.

Maxiell offers some food for thought about a possible NBA Finals matchup:

As always, e-mail me at

PS: Happy birthday to Pooh Richardson, whose jersey I own and who, in 1991, averaged 17.1 points and 9.1 assists per game.

The Playoffs and Mike D'Antoni: Formerly Synonymous

There's a lot going on in the NBA as the Playoffs hit the stretch and the Knicks hire their new coach, Mike D'Antoni. Let's take this one at a time.

The Playoffs.

The playoffs are looking really exciting from here on out. The series that is the least fun to watch (Orlando/Detroit) is over and done, the Lakers/Jazz and Celtics/Cavs series are both at 2-2, and the New Orleans/San Antonio series is arguably the most historic contest in five years.

When the Lakers were up 1-0, I said the Jazz would win in seven, and I still think they will. I'm really happy that they climbed out of their 0-2 hole and it's exciting to see them keep up with LA offensively.

Maybe I'm underestimating Kobe (or Pau Gasol), but I'm discouraged that the Jazz have had to outscore the Lakers rather than beat them with defense. The Lakers are a two-dimensional team at best, and they can't rebound or play defense. That the Jazz are in this series based on their scoring is an incredible endorsement for Deron Williams and, in my eyes, one of the biggest surprises of the playoffs.

The Celtics/Cavaliers series is obviously not playing out as I expected (Celtics in 4). I incorrectly believed that the Celtics aversion to the road was an anomaly and that it was their inability to deal with two slashers (and Josh Smith's out of character shooting excellence) that made the difference for the Hawks. The Cavs, with only one slasher (albeit the best in the league), seemed to me like armadillos in the road. Frankly, I still feel that way.

What I can't fathom is the Celtics' inability to score against the Cavaliers, who have only been able to produce meaningful offense in one of the contests. It's a serious problem; the Celtics have failed to score 90 points in any game. That is unbelievable for a team that averaged over 100 during the regular season and scored over 110 in two of the four regular season games against Cleveland (one was an overtime game).

I have to admit that I was a little surprised (owing to my own ignorance) to find the Cavs had beaten the Celtics twice this year. Perhaps that should have been an indicator of their ability to match up, or gain a mental edge, or something. But I still don't see it, and until I can put my finger on why the Celtics are unable to score against Cleveland, I continue to believe that they should be favored to win every game. I think they will from here on out.

Random note: Did you know that Sam Cassell's 1994-1995 Houston Rockets set a playoff record with seven straight away wins? Cassell, a 25 year old rookie at the time, noted "I love the playoffs because they're the money games, that's where you make your name. You don't have to be 35 years old to figure that out." Let's hope a 35 year old Cassell can help Boston figure it out.

Detroit Basketball! has gone from a team I loved to watch (when Rick Carlisle and Larry Brown coached them and they took down the Lakers Dynasty) to a team I generally avoid. I just don't care for them anymore, even though they play great defense, good offense, have a great point guard, and seem like a club I would enjoy following. They're something that I may have enjoyed at one time but now I've just had enough. It's like when there's nothing on but a Frasier rerun.

The most important series that makes the rest of the playoffs seem unimportant is New Orleans/San Antonio. Who could have imagined that in one season the Suns and Mavericks would falter as the Spurs main foe and the Hornets would rise to fill the spot with perhaps more talent, brains, and tenacity than any of their forebearers? Not I, and I love them to death.

It seemed remarkable at first that the Hornets opened up a 2-0 lead, but the Spurs held serve at home (following a year-long pattern) and seemed to crush the resolve of the boys from New Orleans by bringing the series to 2-2.

New Orleans, though, showed their psychological strength by coming back and blowing out the Spurs, setting up one chance at home and once chance in San Antonio to end the Spurs' season.

I think they'll have to get off the mat one more time but that they will be able to make the Game 6 away game closer than their other two losses, and that this will give them the belief in themselves to go home and take care of the Spurs. It's an incredibly hard task against the most-seasoned, best-coached, best-executing team in the league, but I have faith in Chris Paul above everything else. There are just some players that are superior, and when they play point guard or center, they can win a game by themselves.

One thing that I think really helped New Orleans was their reluctance to double-team Tim Duncan in Game 5. I have urged singled coverage from the start and believe that if the Hornets let Tim Duncan get his shots off against one man while avoiding those backbreaking role-player three pointers (almost always the result of late switches caused by double teams in the post), they will win. Last night, the Hornets did that, and were successful at compromising Duncan's offense as well as the Spurs' three point attack (The Spurs went 9-23 with a 3-4 night from Ime Udoka, but I still consider the Hornets' strategy to have succeeded.)

There is one huge problem for New Orleans, and that's the possible loss of Tyson Chandler. I am a huge Chandler fan and I think he's necessary for his defensive and rebounding acumen and his ability to guard Duncan and save David West from potential fatigue and foul trouble. The late word is that Chandler will be okay for Game 6, but he's as much an athlete as a basketball player, and if he can't run and jump well, he's going to be ineffective. We'll see.

Iron Mike

In closing, I want to comment on today's news that Mike D'Antoni is being hired by the Knicks. I have nothing against D'Antoni and frankly don't believe the person chosen to coach the Knicks will matter much, as their problems have much more to do with personnel and salary.

However, I'm saddened that the Knicks felt they needed to sign D'Antoni to a 4-year, $24 million dollar deal, continuing a cycle of finding a big name, hiring them at a huge cost (money and time) and waiting and hoping.

I realize that the big deal was probably the only way to get D'Antoni, but we're not talking about a member of the NBA's coaching elite the way we were with Larry Brown five years ago. I can understand throwing money at a coach that is possibly top ten. With D'Antoni, I would argue that despite his coach of the year awards, he is not.

It seems to me that the best thing for the Knicks to do would have been to have gotten either someone with a lot of experience who is now an assistant or "retired" (how about Rudy T? Paul Westphal?) or an assistant on the rise. (Why not go after Gregg Poppovich's assistants? How about Bob McAdoo?) If either of those two options are taken, you have a fresh face for a low salary and a chance for them to coach for a season with almost no culpability. If they succeed at all, they've clearly got the goods. If they fail, no big deal, try someone else and see if they work.

The Knicks are just continuing a pattern of refusing to look at many options (how about doing some interviews?) and throwing money at their problems. It doesn't work, and it never will.

As always, e-mail me at

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Counterpoint: O.J. Mayo

I've been reading a little bit about this OJ Mayo situation and its supposed connection to the NBA's new rule requiring draft entrants to be 19 years old. If anybody is unaware, OJ Mayo was recently accused of having taken payments to play basketball for USC for one year and then sign with sports agent Bill Duffy.

I'm introducing a new feature here at Don't Ever Give Up in which I provide editorial counterpoint to another article that presents an opinion I don't agree with. Today's entry is this article by ESPN writer Tim Keown, reproduced below in its entirety. I made it red, which seems to be ESPN's official color. My remarks are in black.

Here we go:

OJ Mayo demonstrates the NBA eligibility rule is a disaster

So take a look at O.J. Mayo now, staring bug-eyed into the camera, trying to get his mind to work fast enough to figure out how not to answer a question regarding improper payments while he was in high school and at USC. And please, tell me again how great the NBA age requirement is for the college game.

Please explain to me what the NBA rules have to do with this.

It was a charade when it was enacted, a farce now.

Oh, you're about to explain. Sorry. Go on.

David Stern's brainchild was hailed as a monument of wise paternalism and good sense back when it was enacted. Smarter, more mature players, with a year of college worldliness behind them, would make both world a better place.

This is invective and lacks a real conclusion. The age rule had two goals: (1) Stop unfortunate high schoolers from going to the NBA and getting completely screwed up and failing; and (2) shore up the general quality of NBA play. It was also a response to fans who were upset that so many players went straight to the NBA from high school and had a consistent lack of fundamentals and coping ability. So far, it seems to be working.

But as the Mayo mess shows, it hasn't done the college game any favors.

Actually, it has. The rule was hailed at its inception for the effect it would have on the quality of NCAA basketball - by keeping NBA prospects in school for a year, the pool of NCAA players improves dramatically. That effect has been pronounced. The most exciting players in the NCAA for the past two years have been products of the rule. Before the rule, we had George Mason in the Final Four. Keown still has not shown any causal relationship between the NBA age rule and the Mayo scandal - he's only made conclusory allegations.

First, let's dispense with the idea that one-and-done college basketball players are anything but mercenaries. Mayo was just the worst and most obvious transgressor, choosing USC to use both the school and the city to further his profile. The transparency of the entire Mayo operation was evident from the time he was a junior in high school.

Though I'm no fan of the double-negative, this article from the New York Times shows shows that it is true that Mayo hoped to use USC to showcase himself. (I wonder if the fellow in the Times article was Mayo's "runner" from this scandal.) I think Keown is going a little far with his suggestion that Mayo is the first or most "transparent" athlete to go to a school with the intent of showcasing himself - college athletes in every sport have been doing that since at least the 1980's.

Here's how the NBA's age requirement works for a guy who is guaranteed to be a lottery pick: He can do the bare minimum amount of work his first semester, then go to zero classes his second semester and be ineligible to compete the first semester of his sophomore year.

Finally, here is an attempt to make a connection! Keown blames the NBA's rule for the fact that NCAA players (under NCAA rules) only have to take classes for one semester before they go to the NBA. So, it's the fault of the NBA that players are taking advantage of liberal NCAA rules? This doesn't really make sense, and on top of it, I don't really see what the big deal is. God forbid we have a student athlete who intends to leave college after one year missing a semester of classes! That would have a serious effect on both athletics and academics!

Here's how college sports work in the real world: athletes take bullshit classes and generally detract from the academic reputation of most institutions and America's collegiate system as a whole. From Matt Leinart's ballroom dancing studies to the infamous Georgia basketball "class", it's clear that athletes do not play by the same rules as regular students, and haven't for at least 35 years. (I realize that this isn't always the case, but as they say, there's an exception to every rule.)

Lots of people complain about the defiling of the "student athlete", and if those people want to watch reruns of college sports contests from the 70's and 80's, that's fine with me. I'll take the best (often dumb) athletes, and if the NCAA cares so much about its image, they can get rid of those dummies, and I along with most people will not watch.

I don't think it's fair to question the NBA for the NCAA's faults when the NCAA has put itself in a position to be the NBA's feeder system and made billions of dollars. If a writer, pundit, or even athlete has a problem with the fact that the NCAA is more about athletics then academics even though they still maintain the window dressing of academic integrity, you know who they should go to? The NCAA, that's who.

But guess what? Oh, you already guessed it -- he's gone by then, in the NBA getting paid legally.

So if someone really wants to work the system, he can go to zero classes, use the system for his own exposure, and in the end the NBA can feel good about itself for protecting the youth of America.

This is in stark contrast to the era before the NBA enacted the rule, when NCAA basketball players like Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson spent rigorous freshman years at Syracuse (for the weather) and Georgetown (for its political science classes).

We get it, and that explains the lack of outrage in the wake of the news that a street runner -- agent-speak for "con man who is paid to get close to high school superstars" -- was paid by Bill Duffy and Associates to pay Mayo for being Mayo. Clothes, gifts, cash -- all with the hope that he'll remember BDA when the time comes for a little payback.

Could it be that the lack of outrage has to do with the fact that no one was hurt or even affected negatively?

USC, of course, is the unwitting bystander in all this.

Yeah, right. Just like it was an innocent bystander when Reggie Bush was running the same game. Or when basketball player Jeff Trepagnier was running the same game in 2000 with -- oh, no, it couldn't be, could it? -- alleged Mayo bagman Rodney Guillory.

This makes some sense. The NCAA player, who was breaking the NCAA rule, should have been caught either by his team's management or the governing body. Because, uh, it's the NCAA and its teams that are responsible for enforcing its rules and ensuring its health...not the NBA.

By the way, Jeff Trepagnier could jam.

We've grown immune to this. It's just what happens. Agents pay guys to pay athletes; it's a financial funneling system that bypasses the rules against direct contact with an agent by allowing direct contact with a guy who is one step removed from the agent.

It was painful to watch Mayo and Guillory stammer and stare through their on-camera appearances on Sunday's "Outside The Lines." Guillory is apparently a pretty slick guy, but he sure doesn't play one on TV.

There's an outside chance you can feel a shred of pity for Mayo, and that's being charitable. But any sympathy for Mayo arises only because these runner types are really bottom-feeders, the lowest life form known to sports.

I would say they're a lot less unpleasant than the athletes who cheat, juice, break the law, womanize, get in fights with fans, street race, and sanction dog-fighting rings. Oh, and kill people.

Think about it: They get paid to befriend and pay high school kids for the purpose of turning them over to an agent or financial advisor down the road.

It's pimping, no two ways around it. And somehow, in this system of tortured values, they're an indispensable part of the process. (end of article)

Okay, but how is any of this the NBA's fault? If this is such a problem, then shouldn't someone make it illegal for agents to give money to potential clients the same way lawyers can't solicit crash victims? I still don't see why blame lies with the NBA. It makes no sense.

It's not logical to promote the OJ Mayo scandal as a condemnation of the age rule. Forcing kids to go to college for a year is definitely a good thing, for both the NBA and the college game. Kids learn more about basketball when they can star for a college team than they do riding the pine and buying the donuts for the Clippers, and that benefits the players' future employers as well as their schools.

If academic integrity is the real concern, there's no reason to lay blame on the NBA's rule. The Mayo scandal is one in a long line of publicized screw-ups resulting from NCAA rules designed to maximize the amount of athletes in the extremely profitable sports programs while maintaining a guise of "integrity" and academics. That's the farce.

As always, e-mail me at

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The worst of the best single game point totals.

Sorry I couldn't think of a clearer title - It's not as confusing as it sounds.

This is a study of an interesting phenomenon: Bad players with high single-game totals.

The genesis of this project traces to a series of basketball cards I had when I was younger. In 1993, Topps released the "50 Point Club" set of inserts, which existed a time when inserts were, depending on how you look at it, more or less gimmicky than they are today. Anyway, I was a pretty passionate card collector in the mid 90's and a lot of these old Topps came my way - I probably had at least 80% of the "50 Point Club" set.

Obviously, it contained mostly the usual suspects of the early 90's - David Robinson, Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler, and so on. But one always stood out: Nick Anderson. You see, although this was a 1993 edition card, I was probably buying them around 1995, when Anderson was arguably the fourth fiddle on a great Magic team behind Shaq, Penny, and Dennis Scott. (At least that's how it seemed to me at the time.) I found it fascinating to imagine how a player of Anderson's mediocre caliber could do something so significant and to this date I enjoy reading the box scores and looking looking at shot charts when something like that happens. (Linas Kleiza's 41 point game this year is a good example.) It seems like there's always something interesting about the type of players who do that sort of thing. For instance:

This is interesting three ways.

1. Linas Kleiza slammed on Frederick Weis, and yes, I am sure that is Frederick Weis despite the poor description of the video.
2. Frederick Weis wears #15 and a headband, almost like he's emulating a certain shooting guard from the US of A.
3. The Knicks drafted Frederick Weis with the 15th pick in the first round in 1999. (Yes, it has now been almost a full ten years since the Knicks started making terrible decisions!)

In honor of Kleiza, here are the top eight bad players with high single game totals:

8. Terry Cummings. 52 points against the Charlotte Hornets on January 31, 1990. This ridiculous piece of basketball history happened during the Hornets' second season, when they boasted a lineup featuring J.R. Reid, Armon Gilliam, Mugsy Bogues, Rex Chapman, and Kelly Tripucka. The latter three of those players are cool as shit, but we're not talking all-stars, here.

The Hornets were the worst team in the league that year, and at the time of the game, had a record of 8-33. San Antonio was 29-13 and featured Mo Cheeks, David Robinson and Sean Elliot along with Cummings.

The final score tells the story: 129-95 SAS. Every starter was taken out after a merciful twenty five minutes, but for whatever reason, Cummings stayed in the game. Two time all-star TC was no slouch in the eighties but by 89-90 he was in his last 20 ppg season and would never get there again. Why his coach decided that Cummings should have the chance is beyond me. (In case you are wondering, it was not the same coach that left David Robinson in to score 71 against the Clippers in their final game of the season. Cummings was coached by Larry Brown, Robinson by Brian Hill.)

7. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. 51 points against the Utah Jazz - December 7, 1995. The artist formerly known as Chris Jackson and the lineal top free throw shooter in NBA history must have been on fire on that cold December night in Salt Lake City. He was playing the Jazz, one of the best teams in the league, and he didn't have much support. Rookie Antonio McDyess was still unready for full-time scoring duty, and Dale Ellis and Bryant Stith were still, uh, key scoring components of that Nuggets team.

So Abdul-Rauf did what he knew how to do and shot the damn thing. To the tune of 17-27 from the field, 9-14 from behind the arc, and 8-8 from the free throw line. When all was said and done, despite 26 points from the mailman, 21 from John Stockton, and 25 (in 32 minutes) from Jeff Hornacek, the Jazz went were the losers that night. Impressively, despite playing against one of the best defensive point guards ever, Abdul-Rauf had only two turnovers (to go with his two steals, two assists, two rebounds, and two fouls).

6. Dale Ellis: 53 points against the Milwaukee Bucks on November 9, 1989. I can only imagine how crazy this game was. It was the fifth game of the year for both teams and shouldn't have been notable. But it was. How's 155-154 sound for a final score? The Sonics were led by Dale Ellis, who at the time was one of the NBA's best scorers and whose real name, by the way, is Lamar Mundane. Dale had a long and productive NBA career but I had no idea that he once averaged 27.5 points per game, which makes this seem less like an anomaly. But to those of us who saw him play with Gary Payton and Shawn kemp as essentially a role player, it is very, very strange.

What's amazing about this game is not that Dale Ellis didn't have the talent - it's that the nature of the whole production, which was an ironman effort on Ellis's part. This game had FIVE OVERTIMES. Ellis only had 33 at the end of regulation and had to play an incredible 69 minutes to get his point total. Along the way, he took an astonishing 39 shots and managed to avoid being one of the six players to foul out of the game. (In a show of his disregard for the historic game Olden Polynice somehow managed to collect five fouls in 17 minutes that night.)

5. Vernon "Mighty Mouse" Maxwell: 51 points against the Cleveland Cavs - January 26, 1991. In a game that might otherwise be notable only for the facts that Steve Kerr scored four points in two minutes and Larry Smith had 2 points, 17 rebounds, and 5 steals, Vernon Maxwell went Uncle Buck on everyone, helping Houston win by six on the road. Maxwell was in full scoring mode, with a less-than-spectacular 1/5 assist to turnover ratio, but hey, his team won the game, and he didn't do it in a blowout, so you have to give the man credit. As a matter of fact, no starter had more than three assists (Kenny Smith was the leader in 30 minutes of playing), and no one had more than 12 points (again, Kenny Smith). So the Mouse pretty much brought it home. For a guy with a career average of 12.8 points per game, that ain't bad.

4. Tom Chambers: 60 points against the Seattle Supersons, March 24, 1990. 1990 was a year for the Sonics that was much like 2007 for the New Orleans Hornets. They had a great young player (Shawn Kemp) and a pretty good team and were just waiting to bust out, but were still stuck at .500.

That year the Suns fielded a very good and largely forgotten squad with Eddie Johnson, Kevin Johnson, and Tom Chambers leading a team that went all the way to the Western Conference Finals.

89/90 was also a career year for Chambers, whose production would soon begin to slide. He averaged an astonishing 27.2 points per game and dropped a cool 56 only a month before his sixty point breakout.

If it was a 56 point game we were talking about, I don't know if it would be list-worthy. But 60? That's rare air. Here is a list of everyone in NBA history who has scored 60:

David Robinson
Kobe Bryant
Michael Jordan
Tracy McGrady
Shaquille O'Neal
Karl Malone
Gilbert Arenas
Allen Iverson
Wilt Chamberlain
Elgin Baylor
Rick Barry
Pete Maravich
George Gervin
David Thompson
Joe Fulks
Jerry West
George Mikan
Larry Bird
Bernard King
Tom Chambers!

You notice something these people have in common? They're all not only hall-of-famers, but it's basically a list of the most important players in NBA history. Sure, McGrady and Arenas are somewhat outliers, but they have each been NBA scoring champions and have each gone for 30 per game a for full season.

Noteworthy was the nature of the Chambers game - a 30 point blowout against a team with no playoff hope whatsoever. Chambers certainly didn't need to play 42 minutes. But in all fairness, he shot almost 70% (22-32) and went to the line 18 times (hitting 16), so he did have to so some work. Whatever the circumstances, I think this is arguably the strangest high scoring game in NBA history. And it's only number four on the list!

3. Nick Anderson. 50 points against the New Jersey Nets on April 23, 1993. If you had gone to the last game of the Orlando Magic's 1992-93 season, here are some things you would have witnessed:

-Donald Royal scoring as many points as his teammate Shaquille O'Neal.
-20 point efforts from Rumeal Robinson, Drazen Petrovic, Derek Coleman, and Bernard King (wow!).
-A triple double by Rumeal Robinson (Wow!).
-Shaquille O'Neal, despite scoring only ten points in 34 minutes, breaking down the backboard at the support braces so the whole thing tipped over on his head.
-50 points by Nick Anderson.

If I had the chance to go back to any regular season game in NBA history, this would be on my list. But this isn't about the game, it's about Nick Anderson's 50.

It's pretty obvious how this thing happened. It was the last game of the season, and Nick Anderson got hot. Shaq wasn't playing well. The Magic were already out of the playoffs. The Magic had no scorers other than Anderson and Shaq. Tom Tolbert and Anthony Bowie were in the starting lineup.

Interestingly, one player who wasn't in the starting lineup was Nick Anderson. In fact, he only played 33 minutes in the game. In that short time, he went 17-25, hit a few threes, and was 12-12 from the free-throw line, but didn't register an assist, steal, block, or turnover. He only had one foul and two rebounds.

Based purely on statistics, I think you could argue Anderson's game is one of the best examples of quick scoring in the NBA's history, and it is quite odd that a player who never scored twenty points a game is in there.

2. Tony Delk. 53 points against the Sacramento Kings on January 2, 2001. Tony Delk's new year's resolution in 2001 must have been to stop passing, rebounding, and playing defense and concentrate more on scoring. That's exactly what he did on the old iteration of the Suns that was built around Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, and Rodney Rogers.

Kidd helped him out with a cool 17 assists but Delk was hitting everything, and notably did not make a single three-pointer (he only took one). He was 20-27 from the field (.741) and 13-15 from the line (.867)

A six foot player not named Allen Iverson scoring 53 points without shooting threes is nothing short of incredible. Tony Delk was barely a starter (only 11 games that season, and only 103 out of 545 in his career), and he has only averaged ten points a game twice in his career. Throw in the fact that the game was a closely contested loss (Tony Delk couldn't do much about Peja Stojakovic scoring 33 and Vlade Divac scoring 34) and it's nothing short of mind-boggling. I almost had him at number one, if it wasn't for....

1. Willie Ricardo Burton. 53 points against the Miami Heat on December 13, 1994. I bet I can guess your first question. The answer is that Willie Burton was a 6'7 forward who wasn't a great athlete or a great scorer but who was good in most respects. He was one of those players who has a promising rookie campaign followed by an inability to progress (think Shawn Bradley).

Willie's best season was in 1994-95, with a Philadelphia Sixers team that was one of the worst teams in the NBA, eventually going 24-58. Dana Barrows and Jeff Malone were the stars of the team, Clarence Weatherspoon the best forward, and center was manned by none other than The Stormin Mormon. Burton was the fourth leading scorer that year with 15.3 points per game. Aside from his first two seasons (12.0 and 11.2, respectively), this would be the only time Burton ever averaged more than ten points per game.

In December, the Sixers played the Heat, who had just dealt Burton away. Despite their eventual struggles, Philadelphia still was only a couple of wins from .500 at that point, at 8-11. Willie took advantage of the 22-foot three point line that year, making 106 of his 140 career three pointers, and in this game, his 22-foot excellence was on fine display along with the rest of his game.

Burton only had to take 19 shots (eight of them three-pointers) because he was getting to the rack with ease. He shot 28 free throws and made 24 of them, along with five three pointers. He outscored his man, some kid named Glen Rice who averaged 22.3 points per game that year, by a cool 28 points. Outshot him from deep, too.

To go along with his 53 points, Burton had 8 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, two blocks, and only one turnover. Unfortunately, the Sixers lost by fifteen in a game in which Burton's teammates' box scores read like this:

Scott Williams: 2-6
Clarence Weatherspoon: 4-20 (Yes, he took one more shot than Burton)
Shawn Bradley: 1-2
B.J. Tyler: 0-4
Sharone Wright: 2-6
Dana Barrows: 6-10

It is my opinion that the one night when Willie Ricardo Burton went for 53 points despite only starting 116 games in an eight year career, bookending his 15.3 points per game season with seasons of 7.0 and 6.2 points per game, respectively, and only reaching the playoffs once, he turned in the best example in NBA history of a bad player having a great single game.

As always, e-mail me at

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Random Video Moments

In honor of Mo Pete's journey back to the highest levels of basketball (he won a championship in college with Mateen Cleaves, remember), I give you the following "don't mess with left-handed shooter" evidence of his greatness:

As always, e-mail me at

Some Notes on Round 2

Here are the late predications for Round 2. Please note that I had the Hornets winning in seven on the record.

Lakers v. Jazz. The Lakers are thought by many to be the best team in the West. Personally, I think they're the third best team after the Hornets and the Spurs. They may play great basketball but there's not a lot of players on the roster who can play physical basketball, and they lack rebounders. For all the attention Young Andrew Bynum gets, he rebounds like Eddy Curry.

The Jazz are slightly less talented than the Lakers (not by much) but they bring a lot more versatility to the table. If they want to beat you up, they can beat you up. If they want to shoot the lights out, they can shoot the lights out. They're capable of playing offense on the break or in half-court sets and they're coached by the master of half-court disaster himself, Jerry Sloan. Oh, and they play defense.

I just don't think Kobe and the Lakers have what it takes to deal with this. Kobe is a flawed leader with the personality of a Pippen and Pau Gasol is very good seven footer who couldn't box Carlos Boozer out if he literally trapped Boozer in a large wooden box. Throw in the Jazz's superior defense and the Lakers have only two things going for them: Kobe's scoring ability and home-court advantage.

Neither of those two things is small, and Game 1 clearly illustrated that the Jazz can be blown out by this excellent offensive team. However, in the long haul, I'll take Jerry Sloan any day.

Jazz in 7.

Spurs v. Hornets. I already covered this a few days ago. I'm glad the Hornets won their first two games but, like anyone who has been watching basketball in the last few years, I'm not going to count the Spurs out until it's official.

The Spurs are not a good road team, despite their supposed monopoly on fundamentals. This year they were a pathetic 22-19 on the road and they scored 92.8 ppg to their opponents' 92.7. On the other hand, they're almost flawless at home, scoring 98 points and giving up only 88.4 during a regular season in which they only lost 7 home games.

So as much as spectators (including this guy) want the Hornets to be David to the Spurs' Goliath, what happened in the first round isn't actually that surprising. The Hornets were the higher seed, they were playing at home, and they won both games. The Spurs are a bad road team, they got terrible performances from their top two scorers in each of the first two games, and they lost. Were it not for the respective history of the teams, this might not even be a big deal.

What will be a big deal is game three on Thursday. If New Orleans wins that game, they'll be back home for game five and frankly, have a good chance to sweep a demoralized Spurs team in Game 4. However, if the Spurs win, they'll remind New Orleans that 2-1 looks a hell of a lot less impressive than 2-0. Based on the motivation and what's at stake, this has the potential to be the game of the year.

New Orleans in 7.

Boston v. Cleveland. I haven't actually heard any announcers state this but I'm sure there will be a lot of talk about last year's Cavs/Pistons series in which the Pistons were heavily favored but succumbed to what turned into one of the great playoff performances of our time by LeBron.

This year, Boston is the best team in the East, and like the Pistons of 2007, they win through defense and a balance of great players. Like the Pistons of 2007, they don't have anyone remotely qualified to guard LeBron (in fact the 2007 Pistons were better-equipped with Tayshaun Prince). Like the Pistons of 2007, they're a great regular season team with a questionable coach.

There is one big difference here, and it's the reason LeBron is not going to win this series by himself like he did last year against the Pistons: Scoring. Boston can score from four out of five starting positions with ease against the Cavs, and they'll bring a vastly superior bench and considerable advantages at every nonLebron position.

Cleveland is not an awful defensive team but they have big liabilities when they put Ilguaskas or Szczrbiak on the floor ( the former can't run, the latter can't run, defend, pass, or rebound). A team with a couple of defensive liabilities can stop a group like the 2007 Pistons if they can control Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace, but to ask the cast of characters on the Cavs to stay with Garnett, Pierce, and Allen is unreasonable. Even Rondo will have a field day against this soft defensive unit.

Like anyone who follows basketball, betting against LeBron makes me uncomfortable. But when you can't defend and the other team has a great offense, I'm willing to do it.

Celtics in 5.

Magic v. Pistons. This should be the most boring of the playoff series, but it's up against some very tough competition.

I'm making this prediction knowing the Magic are down 2-0, and frankly, at the beginning of the series, I may have picked the Magic. However, in light of the considerable progress of the series, it's clear they have a big problem.

The Pistons have the benefit of two veteran, feisty power forwards (Sheed and McDyess) and one young athletic forward (Maxiell) to defend Dwight Howard and force him outside the key when he plays defense. Indeed, Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess may be the two best shooting forwards other than Nowitzki in the league.

Wallace, McDyess, and Maxiell will leave Tayshaun Prince free to defend either Turkoglu or Rashard Lewis, and the Magic really have no one that can hang with Chauncey or Richard Hamilton.

I think the Magic can take one or two games if Dwight Howard can get Rasheed and/or McDyess in foul trouble and then begin to dominate a weakened frontcourt. Orlando is great at scoring points and should be able to with its perimeter shooters while Howard dominates. But being down 2-0 to the Pistons, who seem to have received a wake-up call from the Sixers, is a bad, bad place to be.

Pistons in Six.

As always, e-mail me at

Friday, May 02, 2008


I've been a little iffy on Bill Simmons lately, but I thought his recent article about the fall of the Phoenix Suns was really worth reading. Here is the link.

As always, e-mail me at

A word on blogs

I think the blog vs. mainstream media issue deserves comment. In true shitbird fashion, I'm a day late and a dollar short. Fortunately, no one reads this, so I don't think it's going to cause a stir.

I was fairly astonished at the CostasNow segment between Will Leitch (of and Buzz Bissinger (who wrote Friday Night Lights). Bissinger's outrage was, obviously, the first thing that got my attention, but what surprised me more was the thesis of his argument, which seemed to be:

-You're biased;
-You don't check facts;
-You sensationalize your stories;
-Newspaper and the sports media in general do not do these things; and
-You are killing newspapers, etc. by taking advantage of lazy young jerks that don't want to pay the fifty cents and take the ten minutes to read a "real" article.

(-also, you don't know anything about anything and are not qualified)

All of this is completely true. Blogs are not good sources for factual information (nor are many sites on the internet), they are not subject to any review for moral, grammatical, or creative standards, and they are hopelessly biased, even on the largest stage. (I'm thinking of The Sports Guy, if that's not clear.)

The problem with this fundamentally sound argument is that there's no logical conclusion. Should blogs be held to a higher standard by some sort of journalistic authority? Should they be restricted in some fashion? Should famous sports figures be able to sue bloggers for posting damaging pictures that the athletes had no idea could end up on the internet?

Maybe some people think the answer is yes, but any such restriction or oversight would be unconstitutional. Stating your opinion, smearing people, and misreporting the facts is not new in sports (or society) and is not unique to blogs. Newspapers do it all the time - the internet is just more conducive to problems. However, it's all perfectly legal according to the standard set forth in the Supreme Court's opinion in People v. Larry Flint. The essential conclusion of the case is that famous people can be lampooned, insulted, parodied, or suggestively commented upon legally because it's in the interest of free speech to hear opinions on the people that matter in the public sphere. And the Court is correct - one of America's greatest strengths is its tolerance for unpopular opinions, idiocy, and vulgarity. That tolerance helped us achieve social change, and also resulted in Richard Pryor.

Despite its many shortcomings, the internet does provide something in the way of journalistic integrity that newspapers do not: interactivity that leads to accountability. If you write something that is not fair or not true (or even something that is fair or true), your readers (even my two) have a universe of information at their fingertips and can double-check it, analyze it, review it, and critique it. They are, in effect, more powerful in numbers and capability than any editor could hope to be. (Blogs were a big reason the erroneous nature of Vescey's Post story, linked to above, became widely known in less than a day. A retraction along with a full article discussing the situation was printed two days ago.)

For example: A few days ago I wrote about Geoff Huston's 27 assist game. In my article, I stated that Geoff Huston had played at Texas Tech with Bill Cartwright. I got my information from this article, on, which, by the way, failed to note that Huston had accomplished one of the more productive games in the history of his position. The article stated that "The 6-2 guard, who played his college ball for Texas Tech University, was one of five rookies to make the roster that season, along with Bill Cartwright..."

If I had read the above-quoted sentence in context, I would have realized it was describing Huston's rookie year on the Knicks. But I went too fast and didn't think too hard (this was in the course of a lot of research because Geoff Huston, uh, doesn't exactly have a lot of history out there). I made a dumb mistake and should have known better for a variety of reasons.

I literally have two readers and one of them caught the error, told me that Bill Cartwright had gone to USF, and I fixed it within about an hour. And I have two readers! Can you imagine the input that comes in to some of the larger blogs?

Even if this accountability doesn't shore up the writing as a whole, that does not detract from the greater fact that has been revealed by the proliferation of sports blogs: newspapers and the media in general have overestimated the value of journalistic integrity and underestimated that value of opinion and information to the average sports fan.

Journalistic integrity is very important, especially in the world of news and politics, where accurate representation is one of the most important elements of The American Democracy. If people don't know the truth, they can't be expected to participate in a meaningful way. If people aren't confident of the soundness of their news reporting (not just political news, but the condition of the country and its people in general), this creates a significant impediment to the whole democratic process.

That's why the New York Times and its peers have felt no pressure from the blogging phenomenon. Political blogs have no value compared to a respected paper that gets its information from direct sources all over the globe, has strict editorial standards, and presents opinions from some of the foremost scholars and writers in the world.

Sports are different. In sports, there is a place for truth, but its value is secondary to the entertainment. People do not watch sports to learn. They watch sports for their own enjoyment, because watching two people or two teams competing is thrilling. The desire for pleasure extends to the world of sports journalism, which at its core is developed to bring the sports fan closer to the game and give them a better understanding of the athletes or teams they follow.

In this respect, newspapers have been the best resource for many years because of the unprecedented access that sportswriters enjoy. They are the conduits between the adoring (or abhorring) public and the athletes that trail only movie stars in fame.

But newspaper and the extended media have limitations, some of which are intrinsic and some of which many media outlets bring upon themselves. The intrinsic limitations are volume and timing - there are probably thirty bloggers for every sportswriter, and they can update and react to issues almost immediately (except for me, apparently).

The more significant limitation, though, is the one the media has wrought upon itself: editorial censorship. Newspapers and networks have broad audiences who will be offended by wild accusations, coarse subject-matter, and trivial but interesting linguistic mechanisms ("Fuck"). Bloggers, on the other hand, are free to write with absolute candor and in politically incorrect and often offensive terms.

It is perfectly understandable that mainstream sports media adheres to a high, politically correct standard - they make money by appealing to a broad segment of society (people who read the whole paper). But quite often, sports fans are not a such a broad audience, and a good part of the group is comprised of mostly adult white males who enjoy R-rated movies (at least), sex, drinking, dirty jokes, violence, and the like. Mainstream media is not the medium most conducive to reaching these fans - their coverage can be painfully vanilla and is often cliched and repetitive. The optimal medium for reaching this less-appropriate fan base is the blogs. And that's why many are experiencing such a gain in popularity.

At the core of the issue is what Leitch noted on HBO. The world of blogging is a meritocracy and the most entertaining content is what draws readers. People don't pay a fee and won't stay if you don't keep 'em. Although the writing may be bad, the facts wrong, the speculation virulent, and the sensationalism trashy, apparently, there are some people out there who like that.

People getting what they want is not a threat to journalism - it's a wake up call from all of the reading public who have been stuck with inadequate coverage, poor announcing, inane human interest stories, and an emphasis on political correctness the leaves many fans unfulfilled. There's a reason it's better to have two newspapers in town than one - competition improves the product.

The following is a parody of the cliched sportswriting.

Let the games begin.

As always, e-mail me at

Thursday, May 01, 2008

High Flying Playoff Action!

A lot is going on in that void at the end of the first round where everyone remembers that seven games is a little much. However, we have some early exits, and I think it's appropriate to evaluate my picks of a few days ago and see how I'm doing.

Lakers - Nuggets: I said LakeShow in five, they won in four. I'll take it.

Jazz - Rockets: I said Jazz in four, they're up 3-2. I think I got a little too sexed up on Jerry Sloan, I guess, but that's nothing to apologize about.

Suns - Spurs: I said Suns in seven, they lost in five. Deep down in the hearts of most of the prognosticators who picked the Suns, I bet they felt the same way I did: "I just don't want to pick the Spurs and be right." Well, I was wrong. The BoringBall era continues....

Hornets - Mavs: I said New Orleans in six, they won in five. I couldn't be more tickled. This Spurs series is going to be amazing. I believe the expression Tony Parker will use is "je suis confus!"

Celtics - Hawks: I said Celtics in four, they're up 3-2. It's safe to say no one saw this coming. Lang Whitaker from Slamonline (a huge Hawks fan) said something to the effect of "I watched 70 Hawks game this year and even I didn't give them a chance." (See? I'm not really wrong wrong.)

Cavs - Wizards: I said Cavs in six, they're up 3-2. This would be the first pick I actually get right if they win. I suck.

Magic - Raptors: I said the Raptors would win in seven which provoked an outcry from 100% of my readership (I should have known...). They lost and looked bad and I was wrong. I don't know why everyone is blaming TJ Ford, though - he played two bad games initially but really picked it up as the series progressed. How about the little issue that no one on the Raptors can rebound? (Possible solution: Oakley comeback #2?)

Pistons - Sixers: I said the Pistons would win in five, and they're up 3-2. When I imagined their game tonight, this was what I thought: "I can't believe the Sixers will win tonight, but if they do, for some reason that doesn't seem surprising." Does that make any sense?

My success rate is poor but in terms of overall outcome I am still shooting bogies. I can live with that (and, as anyone who has seen me on a golf course can attest, bogies are definitely a plus).

I'd like to turn now to the only series that is set, the forthcoming contest between New Orleans and San Antonio. Boy, what a doozy.

Full disclosure: I dislike the Spurs and cannot write objectively about them. This is as biased a blog as you might read in that respect that does not show pictures of Tony Parker posing half-naked for a French photoshoot. (But the link is here. And by half naked, I mean full naked.)

Glad I got that out of the way. Obviously, the marquee matchup here is between the point guards, and based entirely on reputation, Chris Paul should destroy Tony Parker.

I love Chris Paul and I think he's amazing. I don't like Tony Parker and he's caused me misery in the past. However, I don't think Paul's dominance of Parker is as cut and dry as it may seem.

Tony Parker is definitely not the player Chris Paul is, but that's not the issue when you evaluate playoff matchups. If it was, Steve Nash would have beaten Parker senseless.

Tony has an advantage over Paul by virtue of the team he has behind him. The Spurs will play defense, pick up their assignments and rotations, and probably rough Chris Paul up.

New Orleans is not a shoddy defensive team by any measure and they made Jason Kidd look foolish. However, Tony Parker is almost the exact opposite of Kidd - he may be the quickest guard in the NBA, he doesn't take a lot of long jump shots, and he causes headache after headache for teams that need to adjust to his near-constant penetration.

When New Orleans was working against Kidd, they had the advantage of Kidd's former coach and the veteran guard's advancing age. With Parker there will be no such luck. I still think Chris Paul will outplay Tony Parker, and at times, it will be ridiculous. But I also think the pendulum will swing the other way more often than it should, and this could be the difference in the series.

New Orleans's greatest strength may be Tyson Chandler. He is arguably the best defender in the league and has younger legs and a longer reach than Tim Duncan. If he can stay out of foul trouble, he may be able to slow Duncan. Unfortunately, Chandler has no record of doing this successfully - Tim Duncan averaged close to 20 and 10 against New Orleans this season. The important thing to consider is not Chandler's ability to halt Tim Duncan's progress, though - what is important is that Chandler may be able to handle him in single coverage, which will allow the perimeter defense to space itself properly and avoid those dagger threes the Spurs are so adept at.

The Parker/Paul and Duncan/Chandler matchups will be the most fun to watch. But based on the season series (split 2-2), Parker and Duncan (and Ginobili, even) are not the key.

I believe that the Hornets' ability to win the series will be contingent on their stopping everyone else, whoever that may be. In the Hornets' two wins against the Spurs this year, they gave up about 20 to Duncan, 20 to Parker, and 10 to Ginobili. Each win was by 25 points - a thorough blowout - and the Spurs scored in the 70s each time around.

I think that this is evidence that Byron Scott realizes that he has better players on both sides of the ball than the Spurs, even if they are not as good as a whole. The key to exploiting a situation like this is executing on the offensive end and relying on single coverage man-to-man defense when the ball comes back.

New Orleans has two skilled players in the frontcourt, one of the best perimeter shooters in the league, the best point guard, and a very, very robust bench. Tyson Chandler (or David West) may surrender 25 points to Duncan, Chris Paul may give up 20 to Parker, and and Peterson/Pargo may give up 15 to Ginobili. But Paul is going to score 25 right back on Parker, West will put 20 right back on Duncan (or Oberto), and Peterson/Pargo will be good for 15. That finds both teams almost even, and New Orleans still has a great offensive rebounder who will be getting points in the paint, a superior bench, and a point guard with a ceiling that could mean another ten to twenty points on any given night.

Generally, we'll have: Chandler vs. Oberto (yikes), Peja vs. Finley or Bowen (yikes), and the Hornets bench (Julian Wright, Rasual Butler [Pargo named above]) vs. the Spurs bench (Brent Barry, Ime Udoka, Matt Bonner). I see this as a wash.

I think this one is going to go seven, I think Tim Duncan is going to drop a couple of stinkers, I think West will start slow, and I think the Hornets will win it.

Hornets in Seven.

As always, e-mail me at