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Monday, January 2nd, 2012 at 8:35 am  |  36 responses

Post Up: Memphis Bleak

Chicago gives the Grizz a beatdown, while Boston and Miami roll.

by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad

Happy New Year party people! Hope you all had a nice long weekend, and were able to sneak away from get-togethers and the like to watch some hoops. We’ll get to all the games in a moment, but since I was back in my home parts of DC for the holidays, and I couldn’t leave without getting a glimpse of my Wizards up close and personal, you’ll have to endure a quick medium-sized recap of the Boston-Washington game last night.

Celtics 94, Wizards 86

Let’s start with the obvious: the new Wizards colors, from the jerseys to the hardwood to the new paint in the press room, are fresh as hell. Unfortunately, this year’s “team” is quite ugly. I am now a proud supporter of the NBA’s lone remaining winless team. Curse of The Post Up?

It was a weird scene at the Verizon Center on Monday night, as the Wizards went with the road red uniforms, the Celts suited up in home whites, and there were easily more C’s fans on hand than Wiz supporters (including one overweight fashionista who’s Rondo jersey matched his camouflage undershirt). By the fourth quarter, Paul Pierce was egging on the green gang in the arena, waving a towel and enjoying the away-court advantage.

The Celtics jumped out to a 24-11 lead in the first quarter after a Keyon Dooling three-pointer, and while the Wiz made things half-interesting in the third quarter, Boston had the game in hand from the start. But the C’s are clearly going to have depth issues, unless this late first quarter lineup that Doc Rivers put on the floor was actually a practical joke—Dooling, Brandon Bass, Marquis Daniels, Avery Bradley, Greg Stiemsma. That’s a pile.

Then again, Stiemsma threw down a dunk in the second quarter to make it 48-30 Celtics, and he had 3 blocks. Nothing against Old Greg, but that should probably never happen again. By halftime, the Wizards were down 51-34, having shot 0-9 from three-point range and 28 percent overall. Nick Young got hot in the third quarter, scoring 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting, and a Jordan Crawford three brought Washington to within seven, but that’s as close as the game ever got.

The Wizards’ lack of defensive rotation on simple pick-and-rolls was astonishing to watch in person, as was the way Rajon Rondo toyed with John Wall and any other on-coming defender. Washington made Kevin Garnett (24 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists) look like Bob Cousy on at least one occasion, and Rondo messed around and got a triple-double (18-11-14), including one ridiculously easy juke and finish. Wall flirted with a trip-doub of his own (19-7-8), but his supporting cast continues to make me want to smash my head into a concrete wall. At least Andray Blatche didn’t go on a Twitter rampage after the game. Let’s move on, shall we?

Magic 102, Raptors 96

After trailing for most of the game by double digits, the Magic mounted a fourth quarter comeback, keyed by a 16-0 run and five three-pointers in the period, to come all the way back against the Raptors. Ryan Andersen, who is tops in the League in three-point attempts and makes, led Orlando with 24 points (his fourth 20+ point performance in the first five games of the season), while Dwight Howard went for 19 points, 15 boards and 3 blocks and JJ Redick added 21 off the bench. Andrea Bargnani led all scorers with 28 points on 10-21 shooting (and the only half-decent highlight from this game), and Jose Calderon had a nice game with 18 points and 13 assists, including the 3,000th dime of his seven-year NBA career. Calderon played 36 minutes with Jerryd Bayless nursing a sprained ankle. The Magic improved to 4-1 despite shooting a measly 67 percent from the free throw line.

Heat 129, Bobcats 90

Last Wednesday night, Miami needed a last-second bucket from Dwyane Wade to finish the pesky Bobcats. Last night, the Heat took care of business in a more timely manner, jumping out to a 33-15 lead after one quarter and never looking back. Chris Bosh scored 20 of his 24 points in the first half (after which Miami led 65-37), DWade scored 22 with boo looking on and LeBron James had himself a quiet 16-point, 9-board, 5-assist night in the win. Rookie PG Norris Cole had another efficient game off the bench, playing 20 minutes and finishing with 16 points (6-8 FG), 9 assists and 3 steals, but so did starter Mario Chalmers, who scored 16 (6-of-7 shooting) with 5 assists in his 28 minutes. As for Charlotte, it’s probably no surprise they took the L when you consider that DJ White was the team’s leading scorer with 21 points. And, the Bobcats’ top three leading scorers for the season did this:

DJ Augustin (17.7 PPG): 24 minutes, 1-11 shooting, 4 points
Gerald Henderson (15.7): 30 minutes, 4-13 shooting, 8 points
Corey Maggette (12.7): 19 minutes, 0-6 shooting, 2 points

Rough night for Charlotte’s “Big Three.” Kemba Walker, meanwhile, scored 17 points off the bench in 24 minutes, as he continues to make his bid for increased playing time. Thankfully for the ‘Cats, they don’t see Miami again until April, while James’ former team, the Cavs, is up next on the sked. Lastly—your requisite Heat highlights, which today we’ll call LIKE A BOSH and Touchdown, Miami!

Cavaliers 98, Nets 82

Deron Williams’ struggles continued last night, and Antawn Jamison celebrated the New Year by partying like it was 2005, as the Cavs got back to .500 and New Jersey lost its fourth straight. Williams shot 6-for-16 from the field (16 points) and the Nets shot 38 percent as a team (7-22 from 3-point range) in the loss, despite every NJ starter finishing in double figures. Kyrie Irving scored 13 points, added 4 rebounds and 4 assists (even 2 blocks!) against his hometown team, and Jamison put up 23 points on 10-15 shooting. The Cavs hit 16 three-pointers (61 percent from deep), had 10 offensive rebounds and outscored the Nets 55-33 in the second half. Nets rookie Marshon Brooks was held scoreless in 12 minutes—he came in averaging more than 15 points per game.

Timberwolves 99, Mavericks 82

Move over, Tim Tebow. You’ve been replaced by a new cult favorite, and his name is Ricky Rubio. People go goofy for this kid every time he hits the floor, jamming up every social media site with updates on his growing legend. Then again, dude’s got some game, and while Kevin Love’s 25 points and 17 boards probably had more to do with Minny’s first victory of the season (over the champs, no less), Rubio chipped in 14 points and 7 assists (4 turnovers) in 26 minutes off the pine.

See Ricky Oop Mike Beasley.
See Ricky Oop Anthony Randolph.
See Ricky Shoot a 3-pointer.
See Ricky Pass it Between Dirk’s Legs.
See Ricky Talk in a Spanish Accent.

Beasley also did something gross to his finger on a pass from Love—more than your run-of-the-mill finger jam, folks. His freak-out face doubles as a Rubio reaction, as well as my response to his 3-10 shooting and 8 points in 31 minutes. C’mon, Beaz!

Bulls 104, Grizzlies 64

Sure, it was the fifth game of the season. Sure, Zach Randolph played just 11 minutes after leaving with an apparent knee injury (differing reports on the severity of such). But damn, if that wasn’t a statement game from the Bulls. Not one Grizzlies starter scored in double figures, combining for a grand total of 21 points. As a team, Memphis shot just 31 percent from the field and 1-of-9 from three-point land. I am not ashamed to admit that prior to last night, I literally had never heard of Josh Davis, who—along with Sam Young—led the Grizz in scoring with 10 points. Let’s review: Josh Davis. Leading scorer. 10 points. Bingo!

The Bulls put on a show in their home opener, frustrating Memphis at every turn, starting from the opening tip. Chicago led 54-28 at the half despite being without Rip Hamilton, who was a late scratch due to a groin injury. Ronnie Brewer stepped into the starting lineup and had his best game of the season, finishing with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Carlos Boozer went for 17 and 11, and Derrick Rose enjoyed a casual 16-point (granted, 4-10 shooting), 6-assist night in just 26 minutes. Chicago is out to a 4-1 start, best since the ’96-97 title team that opened the season 12-0. If there were ever a play that sums up this Bulls team—and their league-worst announcing crew?—it’s this:

Lakers 99, Nuggets 90

Kobe Bryant scored 16 points, helping him pass the 28,000-point mark (and become the youngest player ever to do so), but he shot 6-28 for the night and the Lakers lost to Denver despite a pair of huge performances from L.A.’s frontcourt. Andrew Bynum put up 18 points and 16 rebounds and Pau Gasol scored 20 to go with 11 boards. Kobe started his game with five missed shots and two offensive fouls, and never really found a rhythm. Still, the game hung in the balance into the fourth quarter, just like the previous night’s game back in Los Angeles, which the Lakers won. The Nuggets made just 2 of 18 three-point attempts, but Ty Lawson scored 17 points and dropped 10 dimes and Danilo Gallinari scored a team-high 20 points as Denver pulled away, thanks in part to their 31-16 advantage from the free throw line.

Kings 96, Hornets 80

Earlier in the day, DeMarcus Cousins demanded he be traded, or the Kings demanded to trade him, or something like that. Bottom line, Boogie won’t be playing for Sacramento any time soon (I’m hoping my Wiz pick up the phone). But even with the DeMarcus drama dominating the day—sorry about going crazy with the alliteration there, couldn’t resist—the Kings gutted out a win against the Hornets, who are still without Eric Gordon. Ironically (or maybe not), it looked like the SacTown kids were having fun without Cousins on the bench. Jason Thompson had fun all over Chris Kaman’s beard, while Tyreke Evans told Greivis Vasquez “we’re the only ones having fun in here tonight!” Evans scored 27 points and Marcus Thornton had 25 in the win, and Trevor Ariza paced New Orleans with 17 of his own.

Clippers 93, Trail Blazers 88

Rip City and Lob City hooked up for the late game last night, and it was a goodie, with the Clippers handing the Blazers their first loss of the season. Chris Paul sealed the victory with a big layup, jumpball win, and steal on consecutive possessions to preserve a slim edge for Los Angeles—he finished the night with 17 points and 7 assists (just 3 turnovers). Blake Griffin notched his second straight double-double with 20 points and 10 boards, and DeAndre Jordan, who put up 9 points and 11 rebounds, was the recipient of delectable CP3 dishes not once, but twice. Gerald Wallace was a complete no-show for Portland, finishing with zero points in 30 minutes of action. On the upside, he did throw a basketball as hard as he could into Caron Butler’s man parts. So there’s that.

Line of the Night: Rondo goes triple-double with 18 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists, only 3 turnovers.

Moment of the Night: Kareem, Karl, Mike, Wilt, Shaq. Welcome to elite company, Kobe.

Block of the Night: Jason Richardson vs. the rim. Guess who won.

Tonight: Hope you all enjoyed the Wizards-Celtics write-up, because they’re playing again tonight, this time in Boston. (Assuming the C’s win comfortably, I’ll spare you the excess analysis, I promise.) We’ve got 10 total games going on, the most intriguing being Hawks-Heat, Spurs-Wolves and a rematch of one of the year’s best games so far in Dallas, as the 5-0 Thunder return to town. You remember how that one ended.

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  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    Did ya’ll see Kobe jacked off 28 shots in Denver last night? SMH. Chucker System = 6-28 for 16 points to go along with 6 turnovers. Meanwhile Gasol and Bynum last night at the Pepsi Center go a combined 15-27 for 38 points 27 boards yet only 3 turnovers. Obviously Kobe’s wrist must be feeling pretty good to jack off that many shots.

  • MUBWAR

    the heat need a challenge. I hope the hawks can step up tonight and not let the big 3 run wild. Rondo just makes the game so easy for others.

  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    @MUBWAR: the Heat did get a challenge already…it was from the Pierce-less Celtics.

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    The Grizzlies were just awfull last night..

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    *quickly losing that satisfied feeling the Mavs championship generated*.
    What the heck is going on with Odom and his 15 min playing time so f
    ar. If he’s injured, DNP him, Carlisle! Otherwise use him in a Kidd-JET-Marion-Odom-Dirk lineup for chrissakes. This is getting pathetic.
    (and injury prone Yi isn’t the solution either)

  • MUBWAR

    orange i was actually watching that LA game and couldn’t believe what I was watching. Bynum is playing outta of his mind right now. And now that he is back, Gasoft looks less like a statue and more of a player. Then Kobe goes ’06 all of a sudden again

  • http://www.youtube.com/14judge 14judge in Chicago

    League worst announcing crew? whatever, stacey king is funnier than about 80% of the other color commentators out there. Knew since his rookie year that Ryan anderson had talent, he reminds me of a poor mans kevin love and not because they’re both white but he’s a pretty good rebounder and can stretch the floor like Love.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    Man I’m getting pissed off, dime website keep doing this sh*t, the comment from 14judge in Chicago is actually mines. smh

  • http://www.slamonline.com Dagger

    Last night’s game was a great example of why I could never really embrace Kobe as a player. I love his demeanour, but whether because of his own ego or his perpetual lack of trust in his teammates he’s just not a team guy. For years the Lakers have played better when their bigs get involved both on offence and defence, but for years Kobe has inefficiently jacked up more shots than he should while Pau shoots north of 60%. It’s painful to watch, and it’s a big reason behind this incarnation of the Lakers never becoming a true dynasty. They have the talent to win it all, and they’ve done it twice, but still: their franchise player never quite wants to play along.

  • Tom

    Actually Stiemsma blocked 6 shots in 20 minutes against New Orleans, and looks like he could be a half-decent reserve in Boston’s decidedly thin frontcourt rotation. Lord knows they need all the help they can get

  • dazzy

    So y’all just gonna ban my comments? Slam is wack!

  • ripslam

    Thoughts on the Celts-Wiz game:
    -
    Rajon Rondo is gonna be good this year, I mean really good. Dude is a triple-double threat every night, and NOBODY can pass like he can. No one. The man was throwing some straight ludicrous passes last night. He had John Wall on rollerskates more than a few times, too. Just watching him play is an experience. Speaking of Rondo, after watching him reach under his jersey after shooting free throws twice, I realized he puts his mouthguard under his undershirt when he shoots FTs, lol.
    -
    Greg “The Cleveland Stiemer” Stiemsma is actually a pretty solid reserve center for the Celts, not to mention he’s a dead ringer for early 2000′s Eminem. On that note, JaVale McGee is a pretty good doppelganger for J. Cole too.
    -
    Nice to see KG still putting up 20/10 performances.
    -
    Boston is looking like the Boston of old again, having P2 back has made all the difference I guess. There was one possession where they swung it around for a while and then KG made a no-look pass to Rondo for a wide-open layup that was just beautiful. We’re still 2-3, but things are looking up :D

  • http://www.slamonline.com/ Abe Schwadron

    @ripslam Thank you for someone else noticing the Rondo mouthguard thing – extremely weird. He put it in his shirt during the Opening Day game vs the Knicks and I was like “What the…” Does he have a secret pouch in there or something? #NBAmysteries

  • OTB

    Prior to the last two games, he had been playing within the offense, and hitting shots efficiently (I believe he was 10-15 2 games ago). What happened yday was likely that he knew he was crossing 28.000 points, so he wanted to put on a “classic” Kobe performance and got caught up in that. I watched the game; he is single-handedly responsible for the Lakers loss. When he was on the bench, Steve Blake, Peace, and Bynum were playing lights out. Bynum could not be stopped – at all. Gasol was doing alright, but Bynum was an absolute force. When Kobe checked in the 4th, the ball didn’t go to Bynum again until it was too late. He chucked shot after shot for no reason…he was shooting contested 3s with 20 on the shot clock. That was brutal to watch. He will tone it down next game though; these games happen sometimes for him and he reacts to them next game.

  • OTB

    BTW, if Kobe wasn’t a “team guy”, he wouldn’t have won 5 rings. This was a bad game for him, and he played horribly, but let’s not act like he shoots like this every day now.

  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    Where taking 28 shots to surpass 28,000 career points even if it means your team loses happens. BOOK IT! lol

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Kobe will never relinquish his stranglehold as the number-one option as long as he’s with the Lakers. If I remember correctly after their loss to the Mavs in the second round, Bynum said something to the effect of wanting to be the #1 option next season and when asked about it, Kobe said “Andrew knows who is the guy taking the shots for this team”.

  • charliewinning

    Bynum has been nearly awesome the past couple of games. Shooting 28 shots to make a personal goal is SELFISH. Kobe has rings in part because he’s a great player, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t selfish. For someone who is as capable a passer as Kobe is, that ball should’ve been going inside if his shot wasn’t falling. No excuses.

  • http://nyill.wordpress.com Enigmatic

    Man, Stacey King is kinda like the Joakim Noah of color commentators.
    Everyone can’t stand him unless he’s on your team, in which case you love him.
    He can get awfully homerish at times, but c’mon, League Pass has been around for, how many years now?
    Y’all should know by now every other local color commentator is like that and in my opinion King aint the worst.
    Matt Harping for Utah is worse than King, and Tommy Heinsohn for Boston is MUCH worse.
    Neil Funk is pretty wack tho. I’d rather have radio announcer Chuck Swirsky or Clips play by play man Ralph Lawler.
    Oh, yeah, as for the games?
    Bulls dominated. Grizz actually went on a run at the end. Bulls were up by 56 before it became garbage time.
    I hope Thibs plays Jimmy Butler more.
    He seems like the 3rd best perimeter defender on the team already, behind Deng and Brewer.
    Plus Deng doesn’t need to pay 40 minutes a game again. That sh*t hurt him last year, he was tired by the ECF.
    Caught part of the Minny game. Beasley thought the fat that was visible on his finger was his bone.
    I would been freaked out too.
    What the hell was up with Kobe?
    This season is going by really freakin fast…

  • http://nyill.wordpress.com Enigmatic

    I kinda think it’s time Bynum became the number one option on the Lakers myself.
    But yeah, that won’t happen long as Kobe’s around.

  • http://Slamonline.com Kap

    Lol at Jtaylor making up quotes.

  • Stroshow

    Kobe is not aging gracefully.

  • http://dsjfklfl.com Jukai

    You know, after looking at the play again, that Rubio oop to Randolph is unbelievable. Rubio had two shooters on the wing spreading the floor and had Love cutting to the basket to get in post position… yet he keyed in on the guy almost behind the basket hidden by four defenders. He really does see the court.
    And he should be getting way more than 26 minutes a game. Damn.
    Can’t wait for Chicago to play Miami. Both those seems are pretty damn stacked.
    The Nets depress me.
    The Wizards do not.
    You know, I know the whole ‘lack of defense’ thing hurts the Mavs, but a lot of it looks like their fire is gone. Every single one of them is a step slower and there doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency. They got that ring, they just wanna relax. Not blaming them, but it does suck for the fans hoping for a repeat.

  • http://dsjfklfl.com Jukai

    Enigmatic: I like Joakim Noah and I don’t root for the Bulls. I’ve always hated Stacey King. He’s pretty lousy dude, haha.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Looks like an entire fanbase is in denial.

  • http://knicks.com Gametimeweezy

    We know what Kobe and Gasol bring to the table but Bynum playing at a high level for a full season is a virtual unknown. He and Metta are the Lakers x-factors this season.
    On another note.. Free Kemba Walker! MJ the man needs to be starting! You’re being very loyal to DJ Augustin…

  • J.G.

    Chicago’s league’s worst announcing crew!! Stacey King has almost a cult following here in Chicago lol

  • http://Slamonline.com Kap

    Is the pick the lakers got from Dallas lottery protected?

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Will LeBron James, if he keeps up this pace, break Kobe’s record of youngest player ever to reach 28,000 points? Just a thought… But I think so.
    Not to take away from Kobe’s milestone.

  • http://dsjfklfl.com Jukai

    Teddy: If he continues the pace, duh, you answered yer own question!

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    comfortably.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    LeBron is on pace to crush every scoring record there is except Jordan’s PPG record.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    And Wilts records

  • JoeMaMa

    100 in a game, 50 over a season? And remember! They didn’t invent 7 footers last night!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    Last night is just one of those games you don’t wanna talk about as aLakers/Kobe fan.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Sorry the Wiz are so awful, Abe. Also: couldn’t be less surprised by the Rubio passing success.

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