by Anton Kudriavtsev / @TheDiesel
Welcome to the first ever weekend Post Up! Like Birdman’s tattoos, SLAM now has you covered 24/7. After signing a lucrative 2-year, $60 extension (3rd year player option, +/- half a meatball sub), some began to question whether I had the competitive fire to produce on a nightly basis. I promise that I will stay humble like LeBron and hungry like Eddy Curry at a vegetarian buffet.
So what happened last night? Hope you have your Deion Sanders jerseys out, because we’re going primetime.
Disclaimer: All captioned images are reproduced by permission of the always hilarious Doc Funk Blog.
Nothing says 73-9 domination like a Phil Collins song opening your game. It worked for the Heat as they blew open the Magic in the first home game of the season. Miami tightened up defensively in the 3rd quarter and used LeBron (15 points, 7 assists) and Wade (26 points, 6 rebounds) to jump to a 15 point lead and never looked back. James and his elbow (in mid-season form, taking out JJ Redick’s eye) disrupted the Magic’s flow for most of the night and began to show fans how effective this Heat team can be defensively.
Dwight Howard (19 points, 7 rebounds) decided to dress up as Tim Duncan for Halloween as he repeatedly hit bank shots, and a 17-footer. Let that sink in for a bit. His squad, however, had no players to create off the dribble (Vince Carter barely counts) and struggled to over-achieve on 3-pointers too. At least it was good to see the notorious SVG give Brandon Bass minutes; he’s really worked on his game and deserves to be a rotational player on the Magic. If there’s one slight I’d pick up for the Heat so far, I’d say their PF’s involvement. Sign that you should be more physical in a basketball game: Your name is Chris Bosh and you guarded well by small forwards. While some questioned Arroyo’s starting job, Carlos was making on-point passes, defended well, and knocked down open J’s. What else do you want from the Michael Jordan of Puerto Rico?
Jeff Van Gundy on the NBA’s new “Respect of the Game” rules: “Big Z got a technical? Zydrunas Ilgauskas is the Mother Teresa of the NBA, you know you’ve gone too far when Z’s getting techs.” Might as well give him a forearm tattoo because Jeff is the truth. One thing I don’t comprehend is himself and Mark Jackson continually perpetuation the rumour that Mike Brown is a good coach. In case you were on the fence about this one, it’s not true. One last note about this game – LeBron has fully embraced his villain persona and grown fangs as a result. This obviously sets the stage for a Team Edward/Team Jacob showdown with the Lakers, and Pau Gasol being the Bella everyone battles for. That’s right, I went there.
Kraft Foods was right: “It’s gotta be KD!” Following his 30-point debut, Kevin Durant led his Thunder to a scrappy win (finishing with 30 points and 8 rebounds) and puts himself as the top MVP candidate. As with everything in OKC, it was a team effort as Westbrook continued his stellar play with 17 points and 11 assists, Serge I-BLOCK-a added 16 and 10 off the bench while Nenad Krstic was efficient as he scored 50% and notched up 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 chairs.
Ben Gordon brought his “Playoffs 2008/Playing for a Contract” game with 32 big points off the bench, complete with leaning jumpers that amazed us only 2 short seasons ago. Blossoming point guard and full-time 50 Cent impersonator Rodney Stuckey had a great game (24 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds) as he sliced around the Thunder’s interior D with athletic scoops, well-timed jumpers in the key, and a sick crossover on Daequan Cook.
The hero of the game might have been Charlie Villanueva as his clutch 3 pointer put the Pistons up ahead by 1 with 7 seconds remaining, had it not been for the upcoming free agent Jeff Green. With a hesitation dribble (clearly looking for Durant behind him), Green drove to the basket for the game-winning lay-up with 5 seconds left. With no timeouts and no game plan for a heave, the Pistons dribbled it out and gave the Thunder the win.
While trapped in a train yesterday, I was forced to pass the time by reading a discarded Sports Illustrated, which featured a Thunder story. In it, it is written that the Thunder have an annual ritual where all members of the organization (players, coaches, and staff) run sprints up a hill to encourage team unity. Also, instead of wining and dining potential free agents, the Thunder simply give them a tour of the Ford center as well as a visit to the memorial of the 168 victims of the 1995 bombing. No wonder the players they receive are high-character, team-oriented guys.
After beating the Celtics 48 hours ago, the Cavs took their undefeated streak to Toronto and got an international beat-down for their efforts. Good luck winning the game with your starters combining for 29 points. The Raptors fed off of Bargnani’s 20 points, Kleiza’s 19, DeRozan’s 14 and Barbosa/Weems with 13.
Though new head coach Byron Scott continued his “crossed-arms = effective coaching” strategy, the Cavs’ defensive rotations were non-existent and if you’re making it look like Amir Johnson maybe deserved the $34 million contract, you deserve to lose by 20. Nothing to worry about though, as Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao should return soon to push the Cavs into the playoff picture. All they need to clean up are rebounding, turnovers, 2nd chance points, and a focused offense.
The Celtics shook off a “wow, really?” loss to the Cavs and rebounded past the Knicks in a historic night. Amare’s 27 points and 8 rebounds were not nearly enough as Garnett summoned the spirits of the dead en route to a 24 point-10 rebound night. I wish I had Chris Webber’s digits because he’s the only one that can sum up the 17th best player on the SLAM ranking: Rondoooooooo!. Rondo recorded a 10-10-24 triple double, second in Celtics history only to Bob Cousy’s 28 assists back in 1959 (Greg Oden was still a freshman back then). Sure, you can question the 7 turnovers, but you can’t question that Rondo’s the most important player on the Celtics.
By the way, while Delonte West is apparently cross-training to fight whoever stole his hot sauce , I want to make this plea to the Celtics: keep this Delonte on your team. He was my second favourite player on the artists formerly known as contender-Cavaliers. If critics are claiming that Tony Allen was an important bench player, West gives you great defence, toughness, shooting, and one smooth step-back jumper. Plus, he was one of the few Cavs players that didn’t crumple under pressure and is used to hitting big shots. His mental state is always a challenge but under the right leadership he would be a great part of your team. LetDelontePlay.com