by Anton Kudriavtsev /@TheDiesel
12 games, no time to waste. Let’s get down to the action.
Fear the Deer, for they will shoot slightly better than you. The battle of terrible field goal percentages came to a merciful close as the Bucks edged the Pacers. The Pacers shot 38.7%, a tenth of a percentage point better than the Bucks and managed to convert 16 fast break points but shot themselves in the foot with 19 turnovers. Salmons led the Bucks with 22 points while Collison and Granger both had 19 for the Pacers.
The Magic were in full pre-season form (and that’s a good thing for this team) as they rolled the Nets like one of Mikhail Prokhorov’s five thousand dollar cigars. The Nets held a steady early lead before a 17-4 run blew the game open, and when you play inside-out it’s not hard to do against this team. Dwight Howard is nothing if not efficient against lower-end teams, putting up 30 points and 16 rebounds (including 12-16 from the charity stripe). Outlaw led the Nets with 17 points but his squad were killed (-18) on the free throw line and just couldn’t stop Howard down low. Full time starter and part time raccoon look-alike Jameer Nelson left the game late with a twisted ankle as he landed on Devin Harris. I do wish him well but I also wish White Chocolate gets the starting gig and brings sexy back to Orlando.
The Comic Sans Cavs defeated the Sixers, extending an 8-game road winning streak in Philly. I don’t know what’s more amazing, the Cavs scoring over than 120 points or they fact that they did it without LeHumble. Anderson Varejao was one of 5 Cavs in double figures, with a monster game (by his standards) of 23 points and 12 rebounds. Jrue Holiday led the Sixers with 29 but couldn’t stop hot outside shooting from Mo Williams and Daniel Gibson. One key element missing from this year’s squad (besides him) is Mike Brown’s help defense. Byron Scott’s schemes seem to fall apart when the point guard blows by his man, and the defenders aren’t recovering as fast. Cleveland needs to work on this part of their schemes if they want to contend in the East…pause. Nocioni injured his ankle late in the game while wearing Kobe V’s…just saying.
The Pistons got their first win of the season as they beat the Bobcats, the franchise’s worst start since the 0-7 1980 season. With Stuckey on the bench for questioning coach Kuester’s greatness, Detroit had T-Mac running the point and strangely enough did not lose as a result. Stephen Jackson’s 28 fell short and Ben Gordon added 20. After leading by as many as 22 and a one-possession game in the 4th quarter, the battle on the free throw line (Detroit’s 26 vs. Indiana’s 7) ultimately determined the result. I know hindsight is always 20/20, but I bet a part of Captain Jack wishes he stayed on a contender.
After taking care of the Asbestos problem, the Knicks returned home and now have back-to-back blowout wins as they defeated the Wizards. The 6’2” Toney Douglas(19 points, 10 rebounds) not only led his team in scoring but also had double the rebounds that his goggled power forward did. Wilson Chandler is an underrated dunker. Check the YouTube clips, then check his monster mash on JaVale McGee from the highlights. Gilbert Arenas made his debut since taking Birdman’s “Always Strapped” song a little too seriously, coming off the bench and scoring 14 of his 18 in the 4th quarter. With Wall struggling with turnovers, Andray Blatche (22 points) picked up the scoring load in between eating buckets of ice cream on the bench.
A night after benching his All-Star point guard, Coach Thibodeau got a nice ovation from the Celtics fans as his Bulls lost in overtime. With a flashback to their first-round rivalry a few seasons ago, the game was tighter than Byron Scott’s cross-armed pectoral workout. Luol Deng hit a clutch three to time the game and ultimately send it to overtime. The Celtics are simply a well-oiled defensive machine and executed down the stretch, with 7 players scoring in double figures, led by Allen’s 25. Joakim Noah led the Bulls with 26 points and 12 boards while Rose (18 points, 9 assists) couldn’t overcome an 8-19 shooting night and turning the ball over to establish his rhythm. A Garnett steal sealed the game, and I half-expected KG to rip out his heart and pound it back into his chest with a well-placed fist. Rajon Rondo continued his assault of assists with 11 dimes to go with 10 points.