Sunday, May 31, 2009
Notice in the "Gone Fishing" picture-that's Lebron's puppet in the upper right and Lil' Penny in the left.
TNT's NBA coverage is outstanding! These guys are worth staying up for.
And will someone tell Rashard Lewis that his team is going to the NBA Finals, not the Eastern Conference Finals again.
The "not used to being on the big stage" Orlando Magic fans show their class by throwing a T-Shirt at Ernie Johnson.
You have to admire Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith's on air chemistry. Barkley is so right.
That's AI in the water and Jay Cutler on the right.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
After LA lost Game 2 at home, I really thought they'd have a lot of trouble getting by Denver. Since that Game 2 loss, the Lakers took 3 out of the next 4 from Denver and are heading back to the NBA Finals.
The Lakers have the most talented team in the NBA, but throughout the season, their toughness and consistency had always been questioned. LA had not won back to back playoffs game since winning Games 2 and 3 in the semifinals against Houston. After winning Game 4 in LA, many assumed the Lakers would do their usual and take the next game off and head back home to clinch Game 7. However the Lakers came back to Denver and jumped out to a big early lead and never took their foot off the gas.
Kobe Bryant made sure that wouldn't happen as Mamba had another typical stellar game with 35 points, 10 dimes and 6 boards.
After being dominated by Denver in front court the first 4 games, the Lakers finally got dominate play in the paint from Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Gasol had one of his best playoff performances last night with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists.
Odom came out of his playoff conference finals hibernation with solid back to back games. Last night Odom put in a 20 point, 8 rebound performance. It was this type of play from Odom that Lakers so desperately need if they want to win the franchise's 15 title.
And LA couldn't have shot the ball better. On the road in one of the most electric atmospheres in the NBA, the Lakers shot 57.3% from the field, 56.3% from downtown and a perfect 24-24 from the line. LA's bench was also huge, getting 40 points off the bench.
Overall, a total team effort.
As for the Nuggets? Well, I guess a lot of people, myself included, were a little bit premature in wanting to put Carmelo Anthony's name with the likes of Lebron, Kobe and King James. After dominating the first two games, Melo cooled off. Last night, on his 25th birthday, Melo scored 25 points, getting 12 from the line, and shot only 6-17 from the field.
Now the Lakers must wait and see whether they play the Magic or Cavaliers. If it's Orlando, LA will get home court advantage in the Finals, but the Lakers were 0-2 against the Magic in the regular season.
If it's Cleveland, the Cavs will have home court but LA was 2-0 vs. Cleveland.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
No matter how great Reggie Miller was throughout his career, he never led his team to a championship. A lot of thanks to Michael Jordan. I will never forget the play in the 1998 Playoffs against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
Miller robbed Jordan worse than Bernie Madoff on this no call offensive foul. I still cannot get over this no call. Miller was notorious with this kind of play throughout his career.
And last night calling Game 5 of the Orlando/Cleveland Eastern Conference Finals, Zydrunas Ilgauskas was called for a touch foul on Dwight Howard. Miller claims "You just can't shove a guy, this was an easy call, done right in front of the officials, I mean what an easy call."
Watch the two videos. The first, Reggie Miller getting away with the obvious push on Jordan. The second, was Miller calling last night's Game 5 for TNT.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Hold up on producing more of the Kobe/Lebron puppet commercials, as much as I love them. And the Vitamin Water "Great Debate?" Gatorade might want to go after Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony. So far the winner of the advertising sweepstakes might have to be T-Mobile, although I don't know one person who subscribes to T-Mobile as their carrier.
I'll tell you right now why Orlando is so good and have dominated Cleveland in the last 3 plus years. Orlando's game plan is basically playing 4 guards/small forwards and one dominate big guy. The Magic try to work the inside game with Dwight Howard, if he's double teamed, they can kick the ball out to where they seem to have 2 to 3 guys wide open. If you don't double team Howard, Superman will eat you up. See the overtime period in last night's game.
And with Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao, the Cavaliers basically start two centers. On the defensive end, neither Ilgauskas or Varejao can take on Howard one on one. And with Orlando's other 4 players on the floor being so quick and athletic, Ilgauskas or Varejao will caught inside and never make it out to defend the 3. We've seen Varejao in Game 1 get burned by having to come out and try to guard Rashard Lewis's game winning 3.
And with the smaller lineup, the Magic are able to quickly get back down the court and halt any fast break points for the Cavs.
And speaking of Rashard Lewis. Lewis has turned into Robert Horry in this series with his clutch shooting. It was Lewis who hit the dagger 3 in Game 1. And it was Lewis who hit the biggest shot of the game in last night's Game 4. With Orlando down 98-97, Lewis hit a turn around 3 to put the Magic up 2 with 4 seconds left.
The play of the game occurred right before that shot. Mickael Pietrus missed a 3 and Delonte West failed to secure the rebound as both he and Howard fell to the floor and the ball went outbounds giving Lewis and Orlando one more shot.
And Pietrus has been amazing off the bench. If there was a "6th man of the playoffs," it would have to go to Pietrus who had 17 off the bench.
With Shaquille O'Neal sitting courtside, it has been Stan "Master of Panic" Van Gundy who has done a tremendous coaching job. In overtime last night Mike Brown decided to go small and defend Orlando's outside game leaving Varajao guarding Howard one on one. Howard had his way in the overtime with 10 points, 8 of the 10 coming on dunks or layups.
How was Mike Brown the Coach of the Year? He played Lebron James the entire second half and overtime, giving James no rest. Brown never seemed to call a play on the offensive end, giving the ball to Lebron and basically telling Lebron, "Your the coach, you need to do everything. You see Van Gundy running up and down the sideline motivating his team and Brown just stands there looking lost in space, not even breaking a sweat.
Yeah, Lebron carried the team again with 44, but James also had 3 turnovers in the last 3 minutes of regulation and 3 more turnovers in OT. Some one else needs to step up for Cleveland.
All 4 games have been really competitive with 3 of the 4 games coming down to the last shot. Cleveland has lead at halftime in 3 of the four games, but have crumbled in the second half. The Cavaliers have been known for their defense, but have a hard time getting a stop when they need it.
And we all credited the acquisition of Mo Williams, but he's failed to show up in this series and when Cleveland needs him most. After guaranteeing victory last night, Williams went 5-15 from the field and didn't score after the third quarter.
Williams and Delonte West were a combined 0-6 from downtown.
Hey, let's face it. Maybe Cleveland isn't the team we thought they were. They had a dominate regular season, but they beat up on the inferior competition and won the games they were suppose to win. They were 1-2 against Orlando. 0-2 against the Lakers. 1-1 vs. Houston. 2-2 vs. Boston. There's 7 of their 16 losses. They did go 2-0 against Denver but both those games were earlier in the season when the Nuggets hadn't quite gelled yet.
And Cleveland was 2-2 against the Washington Wizards, a team that only won 19 games.
Now Cleveland has their backs to the wall and now must win 3 straight against a team they've only beaten 4 times in the last 3 years. Orlando is a team that lives and dies by the 3. They've definitely been living so you would think there due to cool off. History and stats are greatly against Cleveland, but you can never count out a Lebron James team.
These playoffs may just be the best ever.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Top to bottom, Denver's roster is just better than LA's. Carmelo Anthony started the game 0-10 from the field. He didn't hit his first field goal until 1:00 left in the first half. It was his first field goal since the second quarter of Game 3!
But the Nuggets still led 52-45 at half.
Melo finished with 15 points, 9 from the charity stripe and shot just 3-16 from the field. But Denver's supporting cast was solid. The Nuggets had 7 players in double figures and their front line continued to dominate. Denver out rebounded the Lakers 58-40, and 3 players had at least 13 boards.
The difference in this game was the bench scoring. Denver's bench outscored LA's 42-24 in their 120-101 Game 4 victory. J.R. Smith had as many points off the bench as the entire Lakers's bench.
I told you J.R. Smith was due to explode as he scored 24.
The Lakers don't deserve to win a title. I've always said they're too soft and don't consistently play to their potential. Throughout the season, they've had trouble holding big leads and they seem to take nights off. They got what they wanted, a split in Denver. But when you're considered to be one of the favorites to win the championship, can you really be happy with a split?
That kind of attitude and play will catch with you in the Playoffs.
Charles Barkley was dead on when he said the Lakers make him sick, saying he would have easily have won a title with that much talent.
The Lakers just seem to lack a killer instinct.
It is now a three game series with the Lakers getting 2 of the 3 at home. The series is definitely in LA's favor. But think about it, Denver has been the dominate team in 3 of 4 games. Heck, if Denver could inbound the ball down the stretch, they could have swept this series.
The play is really starting to get physical in the playoffs and more fouls are being called. Sunday night in Game 3 of the Orlando/Cleveland series, there were 58 fouls and 86 total free throw attempts.
Last night's Lakers/Nuggets game, there were 55 fouls and 84 free throw attempts. A lot of foul shooting is slowing down the pace of the games and could hurt what has been a spectacular postseason.
In the Western Conference Finals, the fouls have been consistent, but the number of free throws has risen each game, in part due to all the technicals.
Here's a breakdown of the personal fouls and number of free throw attempts from each series.
-- ------------PF -- FTA
Game 1----- 52 --- 59
Game 2----- 56 --- 72
Game 3----- 55--- 76
Game 4----- 55--- 84
Look at the Eastern Conference Finals! We've seen an incredible jump from game to game.
One other note...I'm sure it's happened many times before, but I can't stand the cocktail servers who patrol the front row at NBA games. I'm just waiting for a ball, or better yet player to come crashing into the front row and taking out a server with a tray full of drinks. It's not the server I care to see make a fool of themselves, but I would love to see a tray of beer get spilled on bunch of rich folks sitting courtside.
It was close last night. One of the refs barely bumped into a server who spilt one drink on the floor. There was at least a 5 minute delay in the game.
It has already been noted, after A-Rod's 5-5 day, his batting averaged mushroomed from .189 to .259.
In 17 games back, the Yankees are 13-4 with A-Rod. A-Rod has 17 RBI's and only 15 hits. 7 of his hits have left the field. And he's nearly drew as many walks as hits with 13 BB's.
And as for the Yankees's 19 hit parade yesterday, not one of them went the yard! Does that say something about the new Yankee stadium?
Ameriquest Field in Arlington is second in the AL to Yankee Stadium in homeruns per game. There have been 87 homeruns in the new Yankee Stadium, 3.78 a game in 24 games.
Ameriquest Field is averaging 2.90 homeruns a game, 61 total in 21 games...Hmmm....
Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera and Johnny Damon are all batting over .300. You know it's just a matter of time before A-Rod and Mark Teixeira are there. And even the washed up Derek Jeter is currently batting .284 with a 9 game hit streak.
And the Yankees have also set a franchise record with 12 consecutive games without an error. I guess everyone's right when they say Jeter's defense is poor and he's losing his range at SS.
We all know what an idiot Jonathan Papelbon is. I really gave up on the douchebag last summer when he said he should be the closer in the All Star Game at Yankee Stadium.
And last Saturday, Papelbon blew his first save of the year at the hands of the NY Mets and a backup catcher. Omir Santos hit a two run homer in the ninth to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. In 36 career games, it was only Santos's 2nd career homerun.
In the bottom of the ninth, a NY Post photographer was just doing his job and snapping a photo of the player most responsible for the loss.
Papelbon screamed at the photog, "Don't take my f- - -ing picture!"
And proceeded to throw a towel at him.
Come on! I'm sure Papelbon and Red Sox fan will claim that Papelbon was just showing his competitive nature. Say what you want, but this was typical childish behavior from Papelbum.
Going into Saturday's game, Papelbon was 11-11 in save opportunities with a 0.95 ERA. Since then, his ERA has blossomed to 2.57 after allowing a two run homer to the Twins's Joe Mauer and nearly blowing another save yesterday.
In his first game back in Arlington since confessing Texas as the scene of the crime, Alex Rodriquez was showered by boos and then went 5-5. A-Rod raised his average .70 points from .189 to .259.
After the game, A-Rod was asked about his 5 hit game. He said it felt good and claimed his last 5 hit game was also in Arlington against the Yankees. That would have meant his last 5 hit game was before 2004.
I guess that's "pretty accurate." So much for A-Rod's memory. His last 5 hit game was April 18, 2005 with the Yankees against Tampa Bay. A player doesn't have a 5 hit game everyday. I would think when a any player accomplishes such a feat, they never forget it.
But hell, A-Rod thought the period of his steroid usage, 2001-03 was "pretty accurate."
Saturday, May 23, 2009
With just one second remaining on the clock at Quicken Loans Arena, I sat in utter disbelief. How can the Cavaliers be down 2-0 after a dominant season and playoff run? And on their home court!
Hedo Turkoglu had been a hero for the Magic again. Turkoglu had just given Orlando a two point lead and a seemingly 2-0 series lead. Only one second remained and Cleveland, a city miracles had forgotten about, needed just that.
Lebron's winning three was one of those classic moments in sports that makes you jump off your seat and yell. One of those moments that reminds us all why we love sports.
That shot changed the series. And the last two years, there have been two instances where I jumped up and down and screamed out of control. The Giants' improbable Super Bowl victory and last night. It was one of those moments where years from now you'll remember exactly where you were when you witnessed that shot.
That shot brought back so many Michael Jordan memories-the Craig Ehlo shot, the the Byron Russell shot. Lebron's shot will go right up there with every miraculous Jordan moment. It will be up there with every other Playoff buzzer beater-Magic Johnson's running hook shot to beat the Celtics and all of Robert Horry's buzzer beating, series clinching shots.
Lebron has taken the weight of Cleveland, the NBA, the Playoffs, his team, sports in general, on his shoulders and has thrived like few others. And he loves it.
And wow! How about these playoffs! That's two games in a row the Eastern Conference Finals have given us a last second shot to win the game. Just two nights ago we saw Mo Williams attempt an impossible shot to win Game 1. Williams got a great look and nearly drained it. Last night Lebron hit the winning shot in the exact spot Williams had missed.
This series could be 2-0 in favor of either team. But thankfully it's tied and we can only hope for 5 more games half as exciting as the first two.
That shot killed Orlando. Instead of having a choke hold on the series, their confidence and momentum have got to be shot. They played unbelievable basketball in the first two games. Orlando battled back down 23 on the road in the toughest arena for an opposing team to play in. They held Lebron in check the final minute last night. James turned the ball over twice in the last minute. And after all that, the series is tied.
Just when Orlando had swung the choke artist reputation off their backs and over to the Cavaliers, that shot changed everything. I can't wait till Sunday.
Friday, May 22, 2009
With around 3 minutes left in the first half of Game 2, I was committed to the Lakers winning the series in 5 games. Denver had their best chance of stealing home court in Game 1 but blew it. Now they were down 13 nearing halftime in Game 2. But then Carmelo Anthony showed why he's one of the least talked about star players.
Denver went on a 14-2 run to close the first half and went into the locker room down just one point. Denver's final bucket of the half epitomized this LA Lakers team. Chauncey Billups was inbounding the ball under Denver's basket when he caught Kobe Bryant off guard with his back to the ball. Billups in bounded the ball off Kobe's back to himself for an easy layup.
The Lakers turned their backs on the Nuggets at the end of the half and know will have to win a game in Denver to survive this series.
After two games in LA, it's the Nuggets who look like the superior team. Denver is more physical, more aggressive. They're driving the ball to the basket, they're playing exceptional defense. Denver's front line is killing LA's.
Kenyon Martin is looking like he's back dominating college ball like he did at Cincinnati.
For the last year we've heard how Andrew Bynum was the missing piece of the puzzle. In two games, Bynum has 15 points and 8 rebounds. He's disappeared in the second half. Pau Gasol may be grabbing rebounds, but like we saw against Boston last year, he seems too intimidated to take it to the rack.
And Carmelo Anthony has brought himself to the upper echelon of the NBA. By the time this series is over, his name will have to be up there with Lebron, Kobe, D-Wade and....Melo. Heck, by the time the Playoffs are over, it very well could be Melo with the ring.
Through two games, Melo has scored 73, Kobe 72.
Sasha Vujacic has yet to show up in the entire playoffs. He's usually good for a couple of three's off the bench. Vujacic failed to get in the scoring column last night.
And Derek Fisher is on his last leg. Last night he had only 3 points on 1-9 shooting! What are you doing giving this guy the last shot of the game?
Linas Kleiza's performance was outstanding. Kleiza had 16 points off the bench. He was 4-7 from downtown and a hit a couple of 3's towards the end of the first half which got Denver back in the game.
And last year, everyone was talking about the Pau Gasol trade and how it was a steal for the Lakers and would put this team over the top. Well, this year Chauncey Billups has had a tremendous impact on this Denver team. They went from borderline playoff team to potential NBA Champs. You just can't say enough about the influence Billups has on a team.
I thought I would never say this, but the NBA Playoffs are better than the NCAA Tournament. The Tourney is basically two full days of basketball. The NBA you get pretty much two months. And don't trying comparing the Final Four's. In the NCAA, you get 3 games in the Final Four. The NBA we can possibly get 14 games. And this year's playoffs are fantastic. We truly have the 4 best teams left standing.
I'm totally changing my pick in the Western Conference. I think Denver wins this series in 6. There is no way LA wins a game in Denver. Especially not Game 3 which will be the biggest game in their franchise history. And I'm still waiting for J.R. Smith to explode, and he will. This guy has been a huge boost for Denver off the bench. His range is anywhere 5 feet or more behind the 3 point line. He will get hot and it will kill the Lakers.
And when the Lakers lose this series, not only will Kobe's career be questioned, but also Phil Jackson's. The Zen Master won 6 titles with the greatest player of all time and then won 3 with a dominant Shaq at the peak of his career and when Kobe was just getting started.
48 hours ago it still looked like a lock for the dream Finals matchup of Kobe/Lebron. Boy how that quickly changed.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I'll admit, I occasionally watch American Idol. When I say occasionally, I mean the first months of the audition rounds. You never know what to expect. And this season was no exception.
After the auditions and when they get to the final 12, it doesn't really matter. Some no name wins and we usually never hear from them again, the exception obviously is Carrie Underwood. And Kelly Clarkson? Well, we just hear too much of her.
The AI Finale is pretty good. It's usually loaded with star performances like last night with KISS, Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas.
I was busy watching the Magic/Cavs when my girlfriend, God bless her heart, yelled out me that the Bikini Girl was coming on the Finale. What?! Like Lebron, I had to witness.
And much to Ryan Seacrest's delight, there was the Bikini Girl, sporting her bikini and that's pretty much it, coming out on stage to receive some award. Credit Seacrest with asking her, "What's new?", when it was quite obvious to followers of the show.
It only got better as the Bikini Girl, she does have a name-Katrina Darrell, sang on stage in front of millions with no regard. Simon and Randy always put her through to the next round, but Paula and new judge Kara Dioguardi couldn't stand her presence.
Kara was really intimidated by Miss Darrell as Darrell criticized Kara's singing. But anyways, while Katrina was singing, the curtain behind rose up and Kara came out singing and then flashed the audience.
You can either say Kara was a good sport or chalk another one up for the Bikini Girl, but this makes great TV. And oh, we can all see now why Kara was so jealous.
Idol's ratings have been down this year, and I've said all season that the producers really screwed up not allowing this girl in the top 20. The funny thing is, no matter how hot this girl is, she actually had a really good voice. Her personality alone would make for great reality TV.
This girl may come across as a ditz, but she's smart. That's the best thing she could have done. She's gotten national exposure and now I bet she gets booked local gigs in Socal and probably has her own bikini line out. I'm sure this girl will have a great career. She put herself on the map and I'm sure Maxim, Playboy, etc are already knocking on her door. Hell, myself included.
More pix and video of Miss Katrina Darrell here.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Wow! What a game! Maybe the best game of the year so far. It's definitely up there with the Lakers overtime win at Boston back in February. And you can pick a few of the games from the epic Chicago/Boston series.
Orlando did something that had only been done twice in 45 games at Quicken Loans Arena, beat Cleveland. The Magic did something which hadn't happened in the postseason, beat Cleveland.
Halfway through the game, it looked like Cleveland was gonna roll to another double digit playoff win. They were having their way with the Magic. Lebron was dominating, the Cavs were hitting their shots and they led by as many as 16. Mo Williams even calmly drained a 67 foot shot to end the half. We've all seen the highlights of the Cavs playing Horse during their time off.
And anyone who questions Lebron's outside jump shot, he was hitting from everywhere on the court, shooting 20-30 from the field and finishing with a career playoff high of 49 points.
But a funny thing happened in the second half. It was Cleveland, not Orlando who blew a double digit lead. And Lebron's supporting cast failed to show up.
After hitting just 2 three pointers in the first half, the Magic went 7-12 from downtown in the second. Orlando outscored the Cavaliers 30-19 in the third quarter to pull within 4. Lebron scored 13 of Cleveland's 19 in that quarter.
The fourth quarter was dramatic basketball. Orlando was able to steal the lead and even led by as many as 4. But Lebron willed his team back in the game. And Mo Williams and Delonte West, who both struggled shooting, each hit a key 3 to keep Cleveland in it.
It looked like Lebron had the dagger when he drove to the basket on Dwight Howard drawing Howard's 6 foul and getting the and 1. The Cavs were up by 2 with about 26 left.
A great call by Steve Van Gundy to go for the 3 and win. Dwight Howard had just fouled out so there was no way Orlando would win in overtime on the road. Rashard Lewis hit his biggest shot of his career with the winning 3 with just 14.7 left.
Cleveland got one more shot and you knew who was getting the ball and taking it to the rack. Orlando closed in hard on Lebron with 3 defenders and Lebron quickly kicked it out to Williams who found a wide open Delonte West. But West couldn't get the shot to drop. Moments ago, West had hit the same shot.
Still, Lebron hustled to wrestle the down the rebound and it turned into a jump ball. Lebron tipped the ball to Williams who nearly made an impossible shot.
Orlando's Big 3 of Howard, Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu were huge down the stretch. Cleveland has no answer for Howard down low. Howard dominated the paint and finished with 30 points and 3 rebounds.
Lewis had just 5 points in the first half but was Mister Clutch. Along with the game winner, Lewis had 15 second half points.
And how about Turkoglu? After inconsistent play for most of the playoffs, Turkoglu has been solid in back to back games. After setting his personal playoff best with 12 assists in Game 7 against Boston, Turkoglu dished out 14 dimes tonight in Game 1.
He finished with 15 points.
For Cleveland, Bron-Bron had one his best all around games ever with 49, but Williams and West shot a dismal 10-32.
The biggest factor of this game, the bench. It's been said that Cleveland has one of the best second 5's in the league. They were outscored by Orlando's bench 25-5! Mickael Pietrus came off the bench with 13 points for Orlando.
And the night before we saw Kobe hit all his free throws down the stretch, Lebron missed 3 crucial foul shots in the fourth quarter.
Game 2, a must win for the Cavaliers, is Friday night. Enjoy the Conference Finals. Both series's should be a real treat.
If the Denver Nuggets were going to steal a game in LA, last night was a golden opportunity. The Nuggets outplayed the Lakers for nearly the entire game. Denver looked like the hungrier, better team as they played suffocating defense not allowing the Lakers to get easy shots.
Carmelo Anthony was superb! Melo had 39 points, shooting 14-20 from the field and 4-5 from downtown. He carried his team by having arguably the best game of his career and reminded us of his championship run as a freshmen at Syracuse.
Melo had 16 in the first quarter as Denver built a 13 point lead. I was actually thinking the Nuggets would beat the Lakers in 6.
But a funny thing happened. For the entire playoffs, we've heard nothing but how great Denver's bench is. Well, it was the Lakers' bench that wiped away the 13 point lead and helped carry the team to the Game 1 victory.
LA's bench outscored Denver's 27-16. Lakers' bench outscored the Nuggets 20-3 in the first half.
Chris "Birdman" Anderson brought his usual energetic play off the bench, scoring 8 points with 5 boards and 2 blocks. His presence in the paint is dominant on both sides of the ball. But the Nuggets needed a little more from J.R. Smith, who some considered the best 6th man in the league.
Denver did a great job of defending in the paint. Where was Andrew Bynum, who many say was the missing ingredient for Lakers last year. Bynum had only 6 points and was in foul trouble most of the game. Lamar Odom only had 7 points. And Pau Gasol was quiet until Nene fouled out late in the game. Gasol had a huge block and then on LA's next defensive possession drew a charge on Carmelo. Gasol then went to the line and missed two free throws. He did redeem himself moments later by sinking his next 2 foul shots.
What really worries me about the Lakers is there defense. They can be way too soft. Denver had no problem driving the basketball and getting easy looks. Kenyon Martin had 15 and Nene had 14 just owning Gasol all night. One thing, K-Mart has the ugliest one handed shot. It looks like he just pushes the ball to the basket with no arc. I don't know how he makes that shot.
And Denver took 35 trips to the line compared to 24 by the Lakers. That right there tells you who was the more aggressive team. But the Nuggets struggled from the free throw line hitting just 65.7%. That killed them, especially in the first half when they shot 12-21 from the line and allowed the Lakers to get back into the game.
In the entire playoffs, Chauncey Billups was 66-69 from the line. He missed his first 3 free throws last night!
The Lakers finally had a Derek Fisher sighting last night. Fisher hit a huge 3 at the buzzer at the end of the first half to give the Lakers a 55-54 lead at half. Fisher finished with 13 points and 6 dimes.
Chauncey Billups had another solid night with 18 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds, but Denver basically got nothing from its 2 guard spot in Dahntay Jones who only had 1 point.
And of course, the games greatest closer was just that last night. Kobe Bryant took the game over in the fourth quarter and willed his team to victory. Mamba had 18 4th quarter points and hit 6 consecutive free throws in the final 30 seconds. Bryant won the scoring duel against Melo finishing with 40.
Kobe was right on his points per shot with 40 points and 41 total shots.
After outplaying the Lakers and failing to win Game 1, I think this really is going to hurt the Nuggets mentally. This is a team that has played the best basketball in the NBA the last two months. And after giving a superb effort only to fall short may really hurt their confidence. I think the Lakers will steal one in Denver and win this series in 5.
One thing's for certain, Melo vs. Kobe is gonna be real fun to watch for the next couple of weeks.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
It's the team everyone loves to hate. If the NY Yankees are to stay in the Playoff race, this 4 game sweep of the Minnesota Twins could be the turning point. Yes, it's way too early in the season, but remember just a week ago, everyone considered the Yankees dead and a complete mess.
So now you really have to give Joe Girardi a lot of credit. With all the turmoil and injuries surrounding the team, Girardi has weathered the storm thus far with the Yankees. The Yankees have won 6 in a row and are 8-2 since A-Rod's return.
We all know the Yankees started the season without A-Rod, and since then, Jorge Posasda, Jose Molina, Xavier Nady, Hideki Matsui, Brian Bruney and Chien-Ming Wang have spent a considerable amount of time on the DL. Boy, did I forget anyone?
And yet, Girardi has managed the Yankees to a 21-17 record, 4.5 games out of first and just 1 game behind the second place (and struggling) Red Sox. Girardi has moved mountains with this team, the injuries, the A-Rod circus, the horrible pitching (starting and bullpen) and even the problems with the new Yankee Stadium.
And this last weekend series vs. the Twins turned into a pie eating contest. The Yankees won the first three games in dramatic walk off fashion before finishing the sweep last night with the help of Mark Teixeira's two homeruns.
Minnesota has now just won 3 of their last 26 games in the Bronx.And how about Teixeira? Since A-Rod's return, he's batting .342 with 5 homeruns and 13 RBI's. The Teixeira/A-Rod 1-2 punch could be lethal.
Nick Swisher has really cooled off since his hot start. Swisher batted .312 in April, literally keeping the team afloat. So far in May, Swisher is batting .109, 5-46.
And with both catchers on the DL, Francisco Cervelli has filled in great. Through 9 games Cervelli 9-24 at the plate, batting .375. As the Yankees' are finally getting their money's worth and expectations from their starting rotation, give Cervelli credit for calling these games.
One other note, after 17 games at the new stadium, there have been 63 homeruns-32 by the Yankees and 31 by opponents, almost 4 homeruns a game.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
This seems like somewhat of a prelude to the dog days of summer. Two days straight with no NBA Playoffs. Good thing the Preakness is this afternoon.
Game 6 of the Lakers/Rockets series was the most watched basketball game ever on ESPN with 7.35 million viewers. If ESPN wants that trend to continue, they better hope they have the Lakers/Nuggets in the Conference Finals. Now that'll be a series.
As for the Magic/Celtics, I still think Boston is the better team. I don't know where everyone gets the idea that Orlando is better. Pierce, Allen and Rondo alone make Boston the better team. What, you like Howard, Turkoglu and Lewis?
The reason this series is going 7 is the fact that neither team has a bench. Which ever team can get double digits from their bench will win Game 7. Instead of Big Baby and Leon Powe coming of the bench for the Celtics, they have Brian Scalabrine.
RIP Wayman Tisdale. Tisdale put Oklahoma basketball on the map. That's two NBA legends lost in the past week.
MLB-The Yankees rallied for three runs in the 9th off Twins' closer Joe Nathan to win 5-4. Melky Cabrera won the game with a bases loaded walk off single. Cabrera has bounced back so far this year and is batting .330. As for Nathan, he had only given up 2 runs all season.
A-Rod played his first game at the new stadium and was 0-1 and drew 4 walks. He's now batting .136 since his return.
Brett Gardner had the first ever inside the park home run at the new stadium. Earlier in the day, Gardner had visited a girl at a children's hospital and promised her he would hit a home run. Remind you of Kramer telling the sick kid he'd have Paul O'Neil hit a home run for him?
Nick Swisher has cooled off, now batting .248.
The Yankees have now won 3 in a row and are 18-17, 4.5 games back.
Boston has lost 3 in a row leading Terry Francona to bench Big Papi. Wow! The Sox blew a 4-0 lead last night and lost 5-4 in Seattle.
Zach Greinke is now 7-1 with a .60 ERA as the Royal beat Baltimore 8-1 and are tied for first place in the Central. For his career, Greinke is 41-46 with 3.97 ERA. Did anyone see this guy coming? And could you imagine a Kansas City Royal starting the All Star Game for the AL?
I saw somebody's preseason college football top 25. Nebraska was 20th. Ole Miss was number 7! I would love to go to Oxford for a Gameday.
Boy is Ron Artest a dream player for the media or what. You have to watch this Lakers/Rockets series just to see what this guy will do next. I love how he stuck his tongue to Kobe.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Now matter what happens on Sunday in Game 7, one thing is for sure, the NBA Playoffs have been Aaron Brooks' coming out party.
When Tracy McGrady was done for the season, I questioned the Rockets move to trade starting point guard Rafer Alston. The trade meant handing the keys over to the young Aaron Brooks. Brooks was unproven, inexperienced and at the time seemed not capable for the starting role. I was wrong.
Brooks has thrived as the starting point guard for the Rockets, and he's having the time of his life. In just his second season in the NBA, Brooks, 24, has helped lead the Rockets out of the first round and to an improbable Game 7 with the Lakers.
In a league dominated by great point guards-Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Chauncey Billups, Rajon Rondo,Tony Parker, to name a few-you can now put Aaron Brooks in that class.
From catching a half court pass in mid air and banking the ball in as time expired in the first half of Game 4; to showing off his personalty by doing his best valet impression with the red sports jacket and bowtie; Brooks has won the hearts of fans and media everywhere.
Brooks is putting veteran Derek Fisher on the verge of retirement. In Game 4, Brooks had a playoff career high with 34 points as the Rockets crushed the Lakers. Last night in the elimination Game 6, Brooks helped keep Houston alive by leading the Rockets with 26 points.
In the playoffs, Brooks has averaged 17.1 points, 3.4 assists, while shooting nearly 47% from the field, including 41% from downtown.
For many Rockets fans, last night's game had the feeling of going to a funeral. But Houston continued their amazing playoff run by jumping out 17-1 and then 21-3 against the Lakers.
I told you Luis Scola is probably the most obscure and underrated player in the NBA. And Shane Battier backs this up. All Scola did last night was put up 24 and 12, including 14 points in the first quarter.
Give Rick Adelman a lot of credit. What a coaching job this guy has done! You look down the Rockets' bench and see 3 All Star caliber players wearing suits. After losing by 40 points in Game 5, a great job by Adelman to rally his remaining troops and jump all over the Lakers last night.
As for the Lakers? I'm sure the majority of people don't see LA getting by Denver in the Conference finals.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
It's tough to go 2-2. We were treated to another classic Boston comeback in the first game last night. And the second game, the Rockets/Lakers is still going on with the Lakers up like a gazillion points.
The Celtics won Game 5 last night in typical Boston fashion. They were weak for more than 3/4ths the game but did just enough to hang around and the Orlando went flat.
The Champs looked left for dead with Orlando up double digits in the fourth quarter. But the Magic are a "live by the 3, die by the 3" team. When it came down to it, Orlando could not hit a jumpshot. They had terrible possessions down the stretch, couldn't run an offense.
And what a coming out party for "Big Baby." After sinking the winning shot, yeah the same one that changed this series, for an encore, Glen Davis scores 22, including 2 big buckets towards the end and nailing two big shots at the line. Did somebody say Kevin Garnett?
There was also a Stephon Marbuy sighting. Marbury couldn't have showed up at a better time for the Celtics, sparking them with 12 crucial points off the bench.
Has Brian Scalabrine ever got more face time? If you don't watch a Celtics game, he looks like Jackie Moon.
A controversial call near the end of the game when the officials overturned a shot clock violation because they said the ball grazed the rim. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, Orlando still wasn't gonna make a shot.
And what was "Master of Panic" Steve Van Gundy thinking having Dwight Howard intentionally miss the second free throw? Howard made the first, cutting the game 2 points. Considering his free throw shooting, he was more than likely gonna miss the second. But hey, if he makes it, than that puts the pressure on Boston to sink both of theirs and you still have a chance to tie the game.
Bad showing by Van Gundy, not showing confidence in his players.
Boston teams just seem to hang around. Orlando could have, and should have won Game 4. The Magic should have won this game. Now, the Magic are on the brink of elimination with a possible Game 7 back in Beantown.
I said the Celtics are the second best team in the East without Garnett. So it's no big surprise how Boston will win this series. I think they could even win one game against Cleveland.
God I hope so...Because along with the Celtics' win, the Bruins stayed alive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Red Sox came from behind to beat the Angels.
As for the Rockets/Lakers? This was the type of game we expected to see in Game 4. You have to wonder, how does one team play so great and then come out and look horrendous?
The Lakers were smart early and took advantage of the size mismatch. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol can easily have their way down low. This game was over by the end of the first quarter. The only reason to continue watching was to see if Ron Artest would explode.
But, it's just one win. The Lakers are only up 3-2. And now have to travel to Houston to play another game. If the Lakers lose this game and have to play 7, anything is possible. No matter how bad the Lakers won tonight, it still looks bad that they have to play at least 6 against the Rockets. They were going 6 with Houston when they had Yao, but with Yao out and that no show in Game 4, the Lakers do not look like champions.
They just don't have that killer instinct. And I really think they're in trouble against Denver. Hold off a little bit for that Kobe/Lebron Finals.
Oh, Ryan Zimmerman went 2-5 last night to extend his hitting streak to 30 games. That's something Nats' fans can get excited about.
Roy "I own the Yankees, not the Steinbrenners'" Halladay is now 16-5 against the Yankees. The Blue Jays have the AL's best record at 21-12 and are 6 1/2 up on the Yankees.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Is anything for certain?
In sports, Lebron James winning the MVP this year was for certain. Another thing you can be sure of is the Bron-Bron and the Cavaliers winning at home. They've lost twice all year.
So last night, nothing was different. Lebron received his first of many to come MVP Awards Then King James showed there was no rust after being off 9 days as the Cavs took care of business in Game 1 against Atlanta, 99-72.
Lebron had his usual MVP performance with 34 points, 10 rebounds, 3 dimes and 4 steals. Bron-Bron is so dam good he really doesn't even need to play the fourth quarter.
The Hawks will be another minor bump in the road to Cleveland's NBA title. Atlanta did play the Cavs tough at home in Phillips Arena. Maybe Atlanta steals one at home and this series goes 5. Maybe.
I don't know if its the effect of the high altitude in the Rockies, but another guarantee I can give you is the Denver Nuggets playing at home will crush their opponent in the fourth quarter. Every home playoff game so far this year the Nuggets have started the final quarter by blowing out their opponent and sealing the game. Last night was no different. Dallas, led by Dirk Nowitzki's 35 points, was keeping up with Nuggets until the near the end of the third quarter. Then the fourth quarter happened and Denver proceeded to go on another patented 16-2 run!
Carmelo Anthony scored 15 of his 25 in the final period as Denver went up 2-0 with a 117-105 drubbing of the Mavericks.
Another guarantee? The Red Sox beating the Yankees! They've played 5 times, Boston has won all 5. They've beaten the Yankees almost every possible way you can think of. Coming back from 2 down off Rivera in the bottom of the ninth. Being down 6-0 and coming back to blow the Yankees out of the park. Stealing home plate in a game. Withstanding a 2 hour rain delay. And last night beating Joba Chamberlain despite Joba striking out 12 Sox.
Now all the Yankees have to is go 10-4 against Boston for the rest of the year.
One more guarantee...It now seems to be annual occurrence on where will Brett Favre be playing next season.
And one other thing. There are so many great things about NYC, one of the best aspects of the city is the subway. I lived in NYC for about 5 years and a train or bus was my mode of transportation the whole time. I didn't own a car for 5 years. I never had to worry about the price of gas, insurance or a car payment.
And yet, you could go on and on about what makes the subway so great. This video shows just one of many everyday occurrences you could fall upon during your afternoon commute in NYC.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
OK, I said it before this series started, I really like the way Houston's starting 5 matches up with the Lakers' starting 5. Of course the bench is always key in the playoffs. I'm not surprised the Rockets won last night, but I still don't see this series going more than 6 games.
Houston probably played their best game all season. Yao was dominant with 28 points and 10 boards. He even forced himself back into the game when it looked like he was done when his knee collided into Kobe's late in the game.
Ron Artest finally decided to show up for the playoffs. He was big last night, 21 points and 7 assists. The Rockets need Artest to step up like this if they are to have any chance. Aaron Brooks looked nice with 19.
Maybe the most underrated, obscure player in the NBA is Luis Scola. Your average fan and just about everybody outside of Houston has no idea who this guy is. Scola had a quiet 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Pretty solid play from a no name power forward. Scola has a real nice jump shot, plays solid defense and never gives up.
The Rockets were fortunate to win this game when you look at the lack of performance by their bench. Von Wafer has really been the spark off their bench failed to score last night.
Kobe put in his standard 32 points but only went to the line 5 times.
Both teams were pretty dismal from downtown, the Rockets were 5-18 and the Lakers just 2-18. The deciding factor in this game was free throw shooting. Houston was 25-29 and LA just 12-19.
So who was the more aggressive team?
The Lakers' major problem in the first round vs. Utah was LA's lack of killer instinct. The Lakers would get up 20+ points and then let the Jazz go on a run and make the game close.
If the Lakers have any weakness, they are way too soft. And last night they ran into a hungrier more aggressive team.
Friday, May 1, 2009
If you haven't been watching the Bulls/Celtics series...
Six games. 4 overtimes. Series tied 3-3.
This series has it all. We've witnessed the coming out party for Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose has premiere point guards in the NBA.
We've had nail bitting overtime games and last second three pointers.
Rondo putting in bad blood by nearly decapitating Brad Miller on his drive for the tying shot.
And what did the two teams do last night? Only a triple overtime ending after nearly 4 hours with the Bulls winning 128-127.
Not to mention Ray Allen going for 51! And Rondo adding more fuel to the fire with a skirmish with Kirk Hinrich. Not only has Rondo been the most valuable player for the Celtics in this series, now he's going to be regarded as a dirty player. Rondo could have easily been ejected last night because of the tussle with Hinrich.
The Bulls were up double digits in the first half, blew that lead. Then went up double digits again and the fourth quarter, blew that lead and somehow even got down by 8 points with under 5 minutes left to play. I don't know how they rebounded to tie the game and go to overtime!
Ray Allen hits a three to send the game into a third overtime. In the third OT, Joakim Noah steals the ball and dribbles down the court for a breakaway and one dunk that just electrified the crowd. How does Paul Pierce allow Noah to dribble the length of the court and punctuate it with a dunk?
By the time the game ended, the Blazers/Rockets game had already started the 3rd quarter.
Speaking of the Blazers/Rockets...
The Houston Rockets finally got rid of the first round hex and won their first playoff series since 1997.
The Portland Trailblazers just didn't have enough fire power. Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Alridge were the only real scoring threats throughout the series.
Greg Oden is looking like the incredible bust. Yeah, he's been injured and hasn't played much, but even when he plays, he doesn't look good. Thus, a bust. So far. Could you imagine this Portland team with Kevin Durant? That would be flat out sick!
For the entire series, Oden finished with 30 points, 24 rebounds and 29 fouls!
As for the Rockets? Congratulations! You now get Black Mamba and the Lakers. Actually, I think the Rockets match up decent with LA. Good enough to maybe take this series to 6 games. Ron Artest had problems with Brandon Roy, how do you think he'll stack up against the Black Dagger?
Houston's biggest weakness is probably at point guard. Aaron Brooks can show flashes of brilliance, but is too young and inconsistent. Kyle Lowry just can't shoot and is turnover prone.
No Superman, No Problem for Orlando...
What a no show by the 76ers. You're at home, an elimination game with the opposing team's best player out. Not just any player, Dwight Howard! The defensive player of the year! That's 20+ points, 14 boards and 3 blocks out of the game. Magic starter Courtney Lee was out too.
And Philadelphia gets beat 114-89! WTF!
When is the last time the Cleveland Cavaliers have played a game? Still waiting to see the who they'll sweep next, the Hawks/Heat.
Tampa's Matt Garza had a perfect game going into the 7th inning against the Red Sox. Tampa pummeled Boston 13-0. Tampa had 18 hits to Boston's lone one.
After a 4 game losing skid and being swept at Fenway in one of the worst possible ways, the Yankees got a more than solid start from call up Phil Hughes and have won 3 in a row and are just 2 back in the division. Pretty good considering all the injuries and hoopla surrounding the team.
And speaking of hoopla...
A-Rod gets back to playing ball and hits a homerun, but that was hardly the biggest story involving Rodriguez. Selena Roberts' new book has already leaked new "allegations." The biggest concern is the whole "pitch tipping" A-Rod did with Texas. I have never heard such a thing. Selena Roberts is an extremely credible reporter and everything's she's printed has been true. But why in this book are sources not named? If A-Rod was pitch tipping, then who were the other players involved? If former Yankees claim they saw A-Rod taking roids while with the Yankees, how come these players aren't named?
It really makes me wonder just how much of MLB was juicing? Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are really looking more dirty and corrupt, if possible.
I really think Big Papi and Jason Varitek were juicing. Look at how both players' numbers have dropped significantly the last couple years. Last year, Varitek struggled to bat above the Mendoza line. This year, Big Papi is batting .230 with no homeruns. Yeah, he probably does miss Manny batting behind him. And remember the summer of 2004 when Varitek jumped out of the catcher's box and went after A-Rod, ala Roger Clemens throwing the bat at Mike Piazza.
The Kansas City Royals' Zack Greinke is the first pitcher to go 5-0 this year. He gave up his first runs of the year the other night. His ERA is 0.50.
Yes, the season's young and now Greinke is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Let's watch and see how this guy handles the pressure.