by Lang Whitaker

First of all, Happy New Year everyone. I realize this is the first time I’ve chimed in here on SLAMonline in the 09, so let’s get the good wishes out of the way. After going home for Christmas, I took a few days off and washed ashore on a Carribbean isle, which was nice, even if Khalid immediately pointed out I didn’t get any sun — hey, just because I’m at the beach doesn’t mean I have to be on the beach.

Now I’m back in the SLAM Dome and things are off and running on SLAM issue 126, which has another crazy cover shot and in the books. I went out to Jersey last night for the Nets/Kings game to work on a story, and caught what was actually an entertaining game. The Kings built a huge lead in the second quarter and then the Nets slowly but surely took the game back. The Kings are…well…a mess. They weren’t running much of an offense, which meant Kevin Martin was free to shoot at will. K-Mart went for 36 and his team lost. (By the way, I don’t know who’s training Kevin Martin these days, but along with making him dribble the ball hard and all that stuff, can someone get dude to eat a sandwich? He must weigh 140 pounds soaking wet. Maybe the Maloofs can get him to that all-you-can-eat buffet at The Palms.)


And because so many Nets staffers asked me to rate the pre-game meal, I’m going B-minus. The chicken was fine but the potato wedges were underseasoned and a little soggy. Oddly, Spencer Hawes ate his pregame meal in the press dining room. First time I’ve ever seen a player come straight from running drills to the media dining area. Not much else to report. Oh, traffic from Manhattan to Jersey was so light that we made it out there in about 20 minutes, and the Kings team bus made record time as well — Beno Udrih said he only made it through half an episode of “Heroes” on the bus because the ride was so short. Also, got to sit next to the always entertaining Michelle Beadle. She’s cool…for a University of Texas fan. (Now lets see if she has google alerts.)


Anyway, let’s get to this thirty dirty. The previous Dirty 30 is here. Compare, contrast, whatever…

RANKPREVTEAMRECORDCOMMENT
1.1.Los Angeles Lakers27-5I still feel good about bumping the Lakers to the one spot two weeks ago. I’m curious to see how they play the next few weeks with Luke Walton on the chilling list. And hopefully Bill Walton doesn’t force Luke to undergo some holisitic healing in his backyard teepee or anything.
2.3.Cleveland Cavaliers27-6Honestly, I think they’re just microscopically ahead of Boston, but I didn’t want to wuss out and list them as tied. Meanwhile, as Zydrunas “Zzz…” Ilgauskas prepares to have his mainframe rebooted and a series of screws, pipes, sprockets and gizmos re-jiggered in his ankle, I’m expecting the Cavs to finally notch their first L at home eventually.
3.2.Boston Celtics29-6Let’s take it from Rajon Rondo, on Boston going 2-4 in their last 6 games: “I don’t think we’re in a slump. We still have the best record in the league. I don’t think it’s a slump.” So in case you were wondering, it’s NOT A SLUMP. Got that? Not a SLUMP. Stop asking about a SLUMP. Also, how awesome is it going to be when Stephon Marbury saves the Celtics?
4.4.Orlando Magic26-8They just peeled off an 8-2 run, too. Now they have a home-home against the Hawks starting tomorrow night. Yep, two of the top ten teams in the League playing twice in a row, and you know which national network the games are on? None of them! Thanks TNT! Thanks ESPN!
5.5.San Antonio Spurs23-11Despite juggling line-ups and screwing with their rotations, the Spurs went 11-4 in December and have yet to lose in January. Can we start the Tim Duncan for MVP campaign yet?
6.8.Atlanta Hawks22-11Yessir! My Hawks are flying high once again. Really interested to see how we stack up against O-Town in the doubleheader.
7.6.Denver Nuggets24-12According to Yahoo!!!!!!!!!: “If one takes into account how Nene finished the Dec. 31 game at Toronto, he has made 23 of his past 29 shots and 26 of his last 34.” And with Melo out for the next month, I’d suggest getting Nene about 50 shots per game.
8.15.Detroit Pistons21-11Since I figured they were done and started to write them off, they’ve reeled off 7 wins in a row. Also, Allen Iverson gets quote of the week for his description of Antonio McDyess’ dislocated finger: “When I saw that finger, I knew he wasn’t coming back into this game here.” OK, AI, but what about that game there?
9.9.New Orleans Hornets20-10They play at L.A. tonight, which should be a great League Pass game. Also, check the Hornets-related note down at no. 30.
10.10.Portland Trailblazers20-14Anyone notice that against LA, with Rudy in the starting five, Portland’s bench got demolished by the Lake Show’s (outscored 38-9)? Plus, I already cast my vote for Slamadamonth. Mon dieu!
11.11.Dallas Mavericks20-13If you missed this elsewhere, Mark Cuban’s tale of trying to buy the Chicago Cubs is well worth the read. I’m guessing The Tribune Co. didn’t want to sell to Cubes because they were afraid he’d trade their best young prospects for aging players with huge salaries.
12.13.Phoenix Suns19-12I liked Bill Simmons’ ESPN the Mag story on Mike D’Antoni’s impact on the NBA, but the entire time I read it I was thinking, What about Joe Johnson? Not even a mention? Then one of my favorite Atlanta sports bloggers, Michael at Braves and Birds, broke it down with numbers and everything. (Great point about Q-Rich, too.)
13.14.Miami Heat18-15I loved Udonis Haslem’s double-negative analysis of Miami’s loss to San Antonio: “You can’t say we didn’t play well.” I can’t say I didn’t not understand that sentence, either. And Orlando coach Stan Van Jeremy has a great line about Miami’s reserve center: “Jamaal Magloire has a role, and that role is to beat the hell out of people.”
14.7.Houston Rockets21-14And they’re freeee, free-falling! Artest on his sprained ankle: “Not much has changed, really. I’m going to be fine. But right now is not the time.” See, he’s still a rapper!
15.12.Utah Jazz20-15How bad is the world economy? This bad.
16.16.New Jersey Nets17-18All the Nets players (and even Lawrence Frank) call Trenton Hassell “Tennessee.” I asked why and was told it’s because he’s from Tennessee. Oh. But then why isn’t Vince called “Florida” or Yi called “Guangdong Province”?
17.17.Milwaukee Bucks17-19Anyone notice we had the first Damon Jones sighting of the season in Milwaukee? Scott Skiles has finally come to his senses!
18.20.New York Knicks13-19It’s impossible for me to say anything more entertaining about the Knicks than Omar already did yesterday.
19.21.Toronto Raptors14-21Check out Andrea Bargnani’s numbers when he’s starting at center the last few games. Hmm…
20.19.Chicago Bulls14-20Henry Abbott linked to these attendance figures today and I was checking them out…the Bulls have been seen in person by more NBA fans this season than by any other NBA team?
21.18.Philadelphia 76ers13-20Since Christmas Day, Sammy Dalembert has played a total of 100 minutes and totaled 0 assists.
22.22.Charlotte BETcats12-22Since adding Boris Diaw, the BETcats are 5-6 (they were 7-16 without him). That’s a change we can believe in.
23.23.Indiana Pacers12-22Free Danny Granger!
24.26.Golden State Warriors10-26Again from the Yahoo!!!!!!!!!!! summary: “Jamal Crawford is the living definition of inconsistency. In his last 17 games, he has averaged 24.6 points on the odd-numbered nights—with six games of 22 or more—and 13.3 on the even-numbered nights—with four games of 11 or fewer. Monday, in the 17th game, he followed the pattern with a 28-point explosion on 10-for-20 shooting.” But doesn’t that mean he’s actually incredibly consistent?
25.24.Memphis Grizzlies11-23OK, the Darius Miles watch is officially on. He’s actually playing in Memphis, and the Grizz have until Wednesday to sign him until the end of the season. If that happens, he’s still, as of today, 9 games of PT away from screwing up the Trailblazers’ cap space and pushing them into luxury tax territory this season.
26.25.Los Angeles Clippers8-25Since we’re talking about Hollywood, here’s a great internet timekiller.
27.28.Washington Wizards7-25We need to get Konate to review one of these in This Is Why It’s Hott.
28.27.Sacramento Kings8-27No comment.
29.30.Minnesota L-Wolves8-25Books I read over the holiday break included this, this, this and this. Thumbs up to all of them.
30.29.Oklahoma City Thunder4-30Perhaps you recall the story from the preseason about Thunder forward (and Linkstigator) Nick Collison losing his dog? Well, according to Nick, not only was the dog found near his house soon after he put the word out, but the dog was rescued by, swear to god, Byron Scott’s daughter. Apparently the Scott’s set up shop in OKC the season after Katrina and one of Byron’s daughters still lives in the area. I asked Nick if Byron’s daughter had her arms crossed when he got the dog back. She did not, he said.