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Tag:Jazz
Posted on: November 30, 2010 3:35 pm
 

Award-O-Matic MVP 11.30.10: CP3 as MVP

NBA F&R breaks down the MVP candidates after the first month of the season by dissecting the award down to three parts: Most Valuable, Most Important, and Most Oustanding Player. CP3 is in control.
Posted by Matt Moore with contributions from Ben Golliver and Royce Young




Well, we're a month into the season and the context of this year has begun to take shape. While certainly a long way from the finish line, we've already gotten a glimpse of who's playing well, who's playing average, and who ... not so much. And so it is that we begin our monthly look at awards. On a regular basis we'll take you around the award contenders and give you a look at who is in contention for the NBA's major awards by breaking down what they really mean in our Award-O-Matic. Today we start with the MVP.

The problem, as has been elucidated approximately a million times by various media members, is that the MVP is a nebulous, hard to define award. Its name is Most Valuable, but it most often goes to the Most Outstanding Player on a winning team. If your play is other-worldly but your team doesn't win, you have no shot. If you contribute the most to a winning team but your numbers aren't stellar, again, your chances are slim. It takes a combination of three factors: value, performance, and importance to snag the award. As such, we decided to break the award into those three categories, tally them up with the top player getting 3 points, the second 2, the third 1, then summing to see if we could come up with a list.

First up?

Most Valuable Player (To Their Team): Who is most responsible for their team's success? Or, to put it another way, whose team suffers the most without them?


Matt Moore:


1. Dirk Nowitzki: Without him that offense is anemic and it's been his rebounding that's kept them in games at points.
2. Carmelo Anthony: Seriously, Nuggets. Cliff. Teetering. Melo's the only thing keeping the truck from smashing into pieces.
3. Dwight Howard: Get him in foul trouble and the Magic turn into a Mid-Major college team, just wining it from perimeter to perimeter.

Ben Golliver:

1. Chris Paul:
  I like Darren Collison as much as the next guy, but CP3's return from injury to lead New Orleans' absurd hot start, despite an unimpressive supporting cast, reveals exactly how valuable the league's best point guard is.
2. Rajon Rondo Boston would still be good without Rondo, but his game ownership places them on an elite level and makes them the odds on favorite to win the East yet again. 10.6 points, 14.2 assists (what!), 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals through the end of November. Crazy.
3. Kevin Durant The Thunder have had an up-and-down start but imagining this team with Russell Westbrook at the helm by himself, dragging an ineffective Jeff Green along for the ride, would be a recipe for a guaranteed lottery team. KD will get better -- perhaps much better -- over the course of the season, and he's already easily leading the NBA in scoring again.

Royce Young:

1. Chris Paul:   Subtract Paul and what do you have. I can promise you it's not an 8-1 team. It's really as simple as that.
2. Dirk Nowitzki:   The Mavericks are dangerous in every fourth quarter that they're close in. The reason is because Dirk can score in every situation, at any time. He essentially is the Maverick offense.
3. Steve Nash:   Take Nash away and yes, there's Goran Dragic who can dazzle in stretches. But without Nash this Suns team is nothing more than a 35-win club. With Nash, there's potential to push for the playoffs.

Most Important Player: Who is most crucial to their team's success? Ex. Last year I argued that Josh Smith was MIP because when he did Josh Smith-y things, the Hawks were nearly unstoppable, and when he didn't, they were much more beatable.


Matt Moore:

1. Chris Paul:
He does everything and it starts and stops with him. This is even more clearly illustrated by their recent struggles down the stretch where he hasn't been involved.
2. Al Horford: The level of production Horford is creating right now is simply astonishing. More astonishing is how overlooked he is.
3. Pau Gasol: It's him that's carrying the Lakers. Even as Kobe scores all the high points, the most dominant Laker performances this season are from Gasol.

Ben Golliver:


1. Pau Gasol: His virtuoso early season performance has single-handedly made Andrew Bynum an afterthought. What more needs to be said?
2. Deron Williams:   Utah's streak of comebacks begins with Williams' tough-minded leadership and ends with his play-making and shot-making.
3. Dirk Nowitzki:   Another banner start from Dirk singlehandedly puts a Dallas roster loaded with question marks in the playoff mix.

Royce Young:

1. Pau Gasol: Having Gasol as part of the triangle has been like a revelation. He's really what makes the Lakers so darn dangerous.
2. Kevin Garnett:
We saw what an impact his has in regard to the Celtic defense two seasons ago when his knee was injured.
3. Nick Collison:   He's a classic no-stats All-Star. He's only played for a few weeks so far this season for Oklahoma City but his value is immeasurable and impact immediate. He tips rebounds that become extra possessions, takes charges, sets outstanding screens and makes two or three small (but big) plays a game.


Most Outstanding Player: Who has simply wowed you?


Matt Moore:

1. Rajon Rondo: Key plays every time he's on the floor and he makes it look easy, There are a lot of moments where he looks like he's just on a different plane from everyone else.. and he's got three Hall of Famers on his team.
2. Russell Westbrook: Westbrook has managed to take over the game down the stretch. His turnovers are down, assists are up, he's got range and that mid-key pull-up jumper is as deadly as it ever has been. He's been simply phenomenal in half-court and full-court sets.
3. Deron Williams: Three point guards? Yup. Check Deron at the end of the clock with the game on the line. Money. And that's after all the assists, rebounds, key plays and floor leadership. Man's a ninja, no joke.

Ben Golliver:


1. Dwight Howard:
  Lost in the Miami Heat wave, Howard is quietly putting up 22.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks as the defensive and rebounding engine that will make Orlando a title contender for years to come. By the way, Orlando sits atop the Southeast Division -- 3.5 games ahead of the Heat.
2. LeBron James: His numbers are crazy and his highlights are spectacular. It's a wonder he can jump so high and dunk so hard carrying the burden of Chris Bosh and Erik Spoelstra's corpse on his shoulders.
3. John Wall:   Wall doesn't belong in the MVP discussion -- there are too many holes in his game (jumper, turnovers) and his team is terrible -- but for sheer "outstanding-ness" and "wow factor" he merits inclusion here. His assist numbers have been great and his speed is tops in the league; he's a lot further along the NBA readiness scale than even his biggest fans could have imagined.

Royce Young:

1. Rajon Rondo: He's been nothing but insanely ridiculous. Manages the game perfectly, understand his place within an offense and runs the show beautifully.
2. Kevin Love: When given the time on the floor, he's a legitimate 20-20 threat every single night. How many players can you really say that about?
3. Russell Westbrook: There's a case to be legitimately made for Westbrook as an MVP contender. Kevin Durant is still leading the league in scoring, but Westbrook is what's kept the team winning games. But his play has been just insane this year (23.8 ppg, 8.4 apg, 5.1 rpg) and he's a super-highlight waiting to happen.

Here are the tallies:

Most Valuable Player:
1. Chris Paul (6)
2. Dirk Nowitzki (5)
Tied for 3rd: Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo (2)
Tied for 4th: Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash (1)

Most Important Player:
1. Pau Gasol (7)
2. Chris Paul (3)
Tied for 3rd: Deron Williams, Al Horford, Kevin Garnett (2)
Tied for 4th: Dirk Nowitzki, Nick Collison (1)

Most Outstanding Player :

1. Rajon Rondo (6)
Tied for 2nd: Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard (3)
Tied for 3rd: Kevin Love, LeBron James (2)
Tied for 4th: John Wall, Deron Williams (1)

Top 5 in Totals:
1. Chris Paul: 9
2. Rajon Rondo (8)
3. Pau Gasol (7)
4. Dirk Nowitzki (6)
5. Dwight Howard (4)
Posted on: November 26, 2010 12:40 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2010 6:08 pm
 

Your NBA Fantasy Black Friday Deals

Your NBA Black Friday Fantasy deals: come find the bargain fantasy guys you're looking for.
Posted by Kevin Goodwin

Well, folks, it's that time of year again. The day we shake off those paralyzing turkey chemicals and drag ourselves out of bed in the wee hours. The day we maraud from store to store like a pack of ravenous credit-wielding zombies. The day we do the ridiculous in the name of big deals and unparalleled savings. Black Friday hath cometh.

Fortunately, Fantasy owners don't even have to leave their couch to find great bargains … and it's the right time of year for those as well. I've got 10 super-saver steals that could put your team on the track to success in the New Year.  Don't let those other fantasy shoppers beat you to the bargains!

Fantasy Shopping Cart: Calderon's Fantasy value is sky high, and Fantasy owners are clearing out long-term roster space to snatch him up. Since Jarrett Jack was traded to New Orleans, Calderon will see the lion's share of minutes up in Toronto.  He has been producing at a high level recently, and is averaging 12.3 points and 6.5 assists over his last four games entering Black Friday. He should continue to perform for the Raptors, and for Fantasy owners from here on out.

Real Deal Equivalent: Squinkies Bubble Pack - $11.99 at Babies"R"Us
They're definitely not the most glamorous item on the list, but are widely considered to be one of the hottest grabs of the season. It's kind of like the Furby toy from a few years ago, except they're supposedly very collectable to kids, and will likely be worth holding on to for the long haul.

Fantasy Shopping Cart: Flynn still doesn't have a timetable for his return, but it's getting closer. Minnesota brought in veteran guard Luke Ridnour to push Flynn for the starting job this year, but a hip injury to Flynn deflated any competition. Now, Flynn will have to prove his worth to coach Kurt Rambis. We all know Rambis was limiting Kevin Love's minutes to start the season, so it's unclear how he'll treat Flynn when he does return. But Fantasy owners who are hurting in the guard position should keep an eye on Flynn. He has more of an upside than Ridnour, and can offer you around 13-15 points and 4-5 assists per game. He also shot 35.8 percent from downtown last season, which is a nice gift for Fantasy owners around the holidays.

Real Deal Equivalent: 1/3 Carat Diamond White Gold Bypass Bridal Ring Set - $219 at Wal-Mart
Gets the job done... and looks enough like the high-end alternatives when the time comes to take it out of the box. Plus, it'll be easy to cry poverty when you're dealing with those pesky alimony hearings.

    3. Troy Murphy, forward, New Jersey Nets (Owned 85 percent/Started 10 percent)

Fantasy Shopping Cart: Murphy has been inactive for five games now, and is sitting behind Kris Humphries and rookie Derrick Favors on the depth chart. Coach Avery Johnson hasn't been able to figure out what to do with Murphy. He missed the preseason and the start of the regular season with a back injury, but is now on the shelf because of his conditioning. The Nets traded for Murphy with the hope that he could be a starter, and now he's not playing or bringing in any Fantasy points. Not what anyone wants from a Round 5 or 6 draft choice (his average in CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues). Still, in leagues where he's available, Murphy would be worth grabbing while you can. If he gets traded by the Nets, he could go back to his 15-10 stat line, and smart Fantasy owners could get him on the cheap if they can afford to keep him reserved until he sees more court time. Keep in mind, Murphy also has a history of late-season success -- Since the 2006-07 NBA season he's averaged 11.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game before the All-Star break and 14.8 PPG and 9.1 boards post All-Star.

Real Deal Equivalent: Samsung SMX-F40 SD camcorder - $119 at K-Mart
Sure, it might not be something you're going to use all the time, but when the battery is fully charged, this baby could come in pretty handy. Just think how useful it could be when one of your buddies falls asleep in the middle of a party. Youtube!  

Fantasy Shopping Cart: Okur hasn't played yet this season, and is available in almost half of Fantasy leagues. With the Jazz playing so well to start the year, owners with room on their roster may have good reason to add the veteran big man. As a career 37.8 3-point shooter, Okur is hardly a typical center, which makes him a nice player to own in category-based leagues. Utah's addition of Al Jefferson may scare some owners off, but nabbing Okur now before a timetable is set could pay nice dividends.

Real Deal Equivalent: Yankee Candle Pine & Cinnamon Jar Candles - $17.99 at Kohl's
Maybe you didn't have time to cut down a premiere 7-footer in the draft. Maybe you're just desperate to hide the despicable funk emanating from those 1997 Jordans that can't seem to find their way to the trashcan. Either way, this is a great way to Spruce up your lineup for the winter run... terrible pun, definitely intended.

Fantasy Shopping Cart: Przybilla is set to make his season debut on Black Friday, which gives Fantasy owners a perfect opportunity to check him out. He'll likely be rusty coming off knee surgery, but is a center worth keeping tabs on or adding in deeper formats. He doesn't score many points, but is a good source of rebounds and shoots with high efficiency from the field -- 55.5 percent for his career. Also, take in to account that Portland needs bodies on the frontcourt, which means Przybilla will get plenty of playing time. Remember he should be targeted in deeper Fantasy formats, not standard leagues.

Real Deal Equivalent:  Craftsman 179cc 24'' Two-stage Snowblower - $583 at Sears
Powerful, but a little one-dimensional. Still, winter can be long and arduous, as can the NBA season. Finding a bargain like this could be the easiest way to clear your path to the playoffs.

Fantasy Shopping Cart: Butler isn't having a very good start to the season, which means now is the time to buy. Some Fantasy owners may want to drop him, but realize he's worth too much to just throw away. That being the case, they may be willing to part with Butler for next to nothing. He hasn't fully adjusted to being in Dallas since coming over from Washington, and the one thing that would help Butler's Fantasy appeal most is being traded. So, owners that like to gamble could make the move for Butler now. Last year, Butler averaged 15.2 points and 5.4 boards with the Mavericks, so the potential is there for Fantasy owners to see a nice return on their investment.

Real Deal Equivalent:  55" Westinghouse 120Hz, 1080p LCD TV - $799.99 at Best Buy
Still a great grab if you need to upgrade. Sure, it may not shine as brightly as LED or have the pop of 3D, but, a few years ago, this was a top-of-the-line model.

    7. Brandon Roy, guard, Portland Trail Blazers (Owned 99 percent/Started 22 percent)

Fantasy Shopping Cart: Roy should be owned in every Fantasy league out there, but while he battles knee injuries, owners are definitely grinding their teeth for drafting him so high. Some owners may be looking to jump ship, since this is the lowest Roy's Fantasy value has ever been, and that means it's the perfect time to get an upper echelon guard for dirt cheap. If you can pry Roy away from another owner, there's a good chance he would make your team better immediately. Portland may limit his court time to preserve him for the year, but Roy has the ability to produce solid numbers in 20-25 minutes of action.

Real Deal Equivalent:  High-Performance Samsung Laptops - $150 off at Best Buy
Yeah, you may have to open up your wallet if you want to bring home a big toy like this, but it's definitely a great option if you want to get some high-caliber equipment without paying full retail.

Fantasy Shopping Cart: Collison was undoubtedly overvalued entering this year. He was taken with an average draft pick of 40, based solely on his 18.8 points, 9.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds as a starter last year in New Orleans. This means that current owners are probably very disappointed with his 14.3 points and 4.3 boards per game through the first five weeks of the season. I smell a sale. Collison still has the potential to be a 17 and 7 guy, and owners should check their league and see if they can strike up a deal.

Real Deal Equivalent:  All adult jeans - $15 at Old Navy
Not exactly the designer dungarees you might find in a Madison Avenue boutique, but a reasonably stylish alternative for the price. Let's face it; you could easily pay twice as much any other time of year. Yeah, I used the word "dungarees". No, I'm not a septuagenarian

Fantasy Shopping Cart: Carter is currently dealing with some bumps and bruises which are keeping him out of the Magic lineup. He's also averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and assists: 13.9, 3.2 and 2.5, respectively. Clearly, Carter is no longer the high-flyer he once was, but he does have the capability to go off on any given night. Again, we've got a player who could be reeled in for cheap based on the disappointment tied to inflated preseason expectations. If you don't mind being patient with the veteran, trading for Carter could be a steal.

Real Deal Equivalent:  Radio Flyer Big Wheel - $35 at Wal-Mart
Yeah, we all remember how awesome these were when we were kids. Of course, back then, a few rocks in the tires would only help you sound cooler when you peeled out down the driveway. It's a sentimental choice, I know, but you can't look past the classics when you're in the market for a dependable option.

Fantasy Shopping Cart: Andersen just made his season debut for the Nuggets, which is why he's available in 90 percent of CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues. He's coming off an offseason knee surgery, so he's a bit of a risky option, but there are definitely Fantasy owners out there who are in desperate need of a big man. Injury bug, anyone? Those owners might be happy to see Andersen fill a void in their lineups. He's not worth owning in standard leagues, but is definitely worth a flier in deeper Rotisserie formats. He's a bargain and a half right now.

Real Deal Equivalent:  46" APEX LCD TV, 1080p 60 Hz - $449 at Target
Absolutely jaw-dropping color. And, while it's not the most recognized brand on the market, it's got some versatility -- Size enough to hold it down in the living room, and could be a huge addition to a bedroom-sized fantasy lineup.

Posted on: November 16, 2010 10:04 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2010 10:08 pm
 

Power Rankings 3-Up, 3-Down: Week 3

The Texas Two-Step is high among the greats while the Magic have no magic and the Knicks have no sense, in this week's 3-Up 3-Down.
Posted by Matt Moore

http://sports.cbsimg.net/images/nba/photogallery/jazzmascot.jpg <!-- [endif]-->


Our
Power Rankings for Week 3 are out. Here at F&R, we'll give the the direct line to who was notable in the rankings from week to week. Here's three who are up and three who are down in week 3.

http://sports.cbsimg.net/u/photos/basketball/nba/img14272944.jpg 3-Up


San Antonio Spurs (1): 8-1, and their only loss to the also 8-1 Hornets. So why am I not as big on them as our distinguished Power Rankings Overlord? Probably because their signature win was against a Thunder team that can't decide which way the sun sets, or against a Suns team that let's face it, historically doesn't have much luck against them (last spring excepted). Confusing the issue is Tim Duncan's performance. Duncan's still doing all the things Tim Duncan does off-ball, but his rebounds, points, and percentages are down. That the Spurs are 8-1 despite that makes you wonder, can they really be this good without him playing up to TD standards, or conversely, how good are they going to be if he starts playing to that level?

In closing, Manu Ginobili owns your face. Thanks for your time.

Dallas Mavericks (2):
A Texas Two-Step. How nice. The Mavericks topped the might Hornets (that sounds weird) last night, no doubt helping them climb up behind the Spurs. Dirk Nowitzki is rebounding at a better rate than he has since the 06-07 season. They have the ninth best offense in efficiency and the fifth best defense, landing them a top five spot in differential of points produced vs. allowed per 100 possessions. That's pretty good. Throw in the work they've done in besting Denver once out of a home and home and taking down the Celtics, and that's good enough to show good cause for why so many people thought this team would wind up second overall in the West.

The lingering questions of the backcourt depth remain, Caron Butler does not look tip top, and they still need Beaubois back. But Tyson Chandler has filled in much better than anyone anticipated.

Utah Jazz (6):
Well, that was a pretty good week. The Jazz toppled four playoff teams in the East, all on the road, in five days. Losing to OKC was simply an inevitable return to the mean. But the difference this year is the Jazz' mean is a little bit meaner than in years past. For all the concerns that this team wouldn't be as talented as in years prior, they look stacked, top to bottom. Speed, versatility and depth in the backcourt, size, scoring ability and smooth rotations on the defensive end in the frontcourt. And, yeah, Deron Wililams? He's pretty insanely good.

3-Down


Orlando Magic (7):
You'd have thought the Rashard Lewis contract would have bitten them sooner than this, but hey, worse late than never, I suppose. The Magic have one win against a team above .500 and two losses to Miami to and Utah. It's early yet so they haven't had many cracks at it, but throw in a loss to the Raptors, and yeesh, not a great start for SVG's crew. The defense is still excelling, but the offense has fallen off a cliff, thanks in part to Rashard Lewis not being able to hit the broad side of a barn. And yet still, Ryan Anderson gets no minutes. Crying shame, really.

Denver Nuggets (12): Be wary of this team, friends. The resume is solid, the numbers hold up (10th in offense, 14th in defense). And they toppled the mighty Lakers first. But this team is very much on the cusp of oblivion. They can fall apart completely, as they did last night against the Suns. Melo's playing well, but we all know that situation is still ticking. In the meantime, they can beat anyone or lose to anyone on any given night. Teams you can't figure out? They're usually not very good.

New York Knicks (24): Oh, Knicks. You had such promise. Felton's numbers look great but suffer in execution, they can't close, Amar'e can't do everything and Anthony Randolph is a disaster, yet again. Here's what I don't get. They're not bad at defense, they really aren't, at eleventh in the league. Their offense is struggling. Yet Raymond Felton has a 34% assist rate and is shooting well. They have 7 players with a PER above 14.5 but they just don't look like a good basketball team. Either this team's record doesn't reflect its performance, or its performance doesn't reflect what kind of team it really is.




Posted on: November 16, 2010 11:08 am
Edited on: November 16, 2010 11:29 am
 

Game Changer 11.16.10: Comeback failures

Posted by Matt Moore

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.

THE BIG ONE: MAVS TAKE A BAT TO THE HIVE

Take note of this. The Hornets were on the road in a hostile environment. They were facing a team that features a set of players that maximizes on several of their weaknesses, most notably the fact that no one has anyone who can guard Dirk Nowitzki and the Hornets have zero perimeter defenders to chase down Jason Terry, regardless of the results of a playoff series two years ago. The Hornets faced a stifling performance against Chris Paul which held him to two points and four assists in the second half and some heroic plays from Dirk Nowitzki on broken plays.

And the Hornets lost by only three.

If that's not a sign of how good the Hornets are, I don't know what is.

So how did they shut down Paul? Easy. They threw the kitchen sink at him. Take a look.



That's three defenders closing on Paul as he comes off a deep-wing three and rolls baseline. Nowitzki is tall enough to block out the sun so Paul can't lob, Kidd is cutting off the corner three even as he hedges to force Paul off the quick baseline turnaround, and Tyson Chandler is another big body keeping Paul baseline and cutting off the wing outlet. Paul's forced to move baselines to the corner with the shot clock winding down and take a contested step-back three that misses badly. Piece of cake. You just have to throw three defenders at him and hope Willie Green isn't smart enough to figure out that if he slices down the lane behind the defense Paul's going to have a perfect wrap-around for him.

In short, the Mavericks' defense was sublime in the second half and it still almost wasn't enough. Forget best point guard. Chris Paul so far might be the MVP.

GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT

Tyrus Thomas: 20 points on 11 shots, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals. We're going to ignore the 7 turnovers because we're nice like that and Thomas frowns enough.

Runners-Up:

Dirk Nowitzki: 25 points on 7-12 shooting, 10 rebounds, 3 assists. Nowitzki's rebounding is the highest both in raw per-game and percentages it's been in three years.

Carmelo Anthony: 20 points, 22 rebounds. We're going to give Melo the Gadget but this has to come with a preface. He took 19 shots, had 6 turnovers and was playing the Suns who couldn't rebound if Mose Malone's clone showed up for them last night.

Monta Ellis: 27 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, just 1 turnover in 31 minutes.

WHAT YOU MISSED

IT CAME FROM THE BLOGS

From Orlando Pinstriped Post on their quietly dominant win over the Grizzlies:

I believe the Magic really emphasized exploiting low-post size mismatched tonight, but with varying results. They cleared out to allow fifth option Quentin Richardson post up the far smaller, less physical O.J. Mayo inside, for instance. And Rashard Lewis had his shot against the likes of Sam Young and Tony Allen, but Lewis didn't enjoy similar success. Playing primarily at small forward, he shot 3-of-13 from the field and 1-of-5 from three-point range. While the Magic want--and, frankly, need--him to shoot a better percentage, I think the sorts of looks he got tonight are more in line with what we can expect for him the rest of the way. Brandon Bass' emergence at power forward has eaten into Lewis' time at that position, which means more play at the three for Lewis.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF COMEBACK

Similar to the Hornets, the Jazz faced insurmountable odds and still had a chance at the game winner. Unfortunately, Andrei Kirilenko took a pass from Deron Williams who was being shadowed similar to Paul, and elected for some sort of reverse underhand double-pump monstrosity of a shot intead of resetting the offense to work for a three and the Jazz' winning streak of comebacks fell short. The scariest part for the NBA? Kevin Durant woke up last night with 30 points on 17 shots. They hammered the Jazz inside to get to the line, and walked out of Utah with a win.

ANATOMY OF A NEAR-COLLAPSE

The Dubs were up by about a billion last night, killing the Pistons in the first half, before nearly letting the Pistons shove them back (while the Pistons were nearly shoving each other, but we'll get to that in a bit). Here's what it looked like, via our GameTracker.



FINAL THOUGHTS

The Nuggets have very nearly no reason for letting the Suns beat them last night. The Suns were on a back to back after a remarkably hot performance against the Lakers in LA and have no rebounders. Bad stuff.

On surface, Michael Beasley's big night looks great. 28 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists. But dig a little deeper and you find it took him 25 shots to get there and he was blocked three times. Beasley needs to be the Alpha Dog, he doesn't need to go off half-cocked, regardless of how bad the Wolves' offense is.

New Jersey? Not as bad as you think.

Follow F&R on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA and check out our RSS feed . This has been your daily edition of the Game Changer.
Posted on: November 11, 2010 10:17 am
Edited on: November 11, 2010 1:06 pm
 

Shootaround 11.11.10: Decisions abound

Durant doing fine at the bank, Knicks decide to love Lee still, and is Splitter a good defender?
Posted by Matt Moore

  • Apparently being in small-town Oklahoma City (which is actually big-town Oklahoma if you've ever been to the Sooner State) isn't slowing down Kevin Durant's endorsement opportunities . It may be time to really stop feeding into this myth that you need to be in a big market to be able to make great money through endorsements. If Melo would come to realize that, maybe he wouldn't still be in Denver where he's essentially spinning his wheels for no reason.
  • Knicks fans gave David Lee a terrific ovation last night . There's been a lot of positive regard this season for returning players who now play on different teams. Why do I have a feeling Cleveland will not be continuing that approach?
  • A great throwback interview with Moses Malone. With all this talk of Chris Bosh after he was discussed as a top player in the league this summer and now with his struggles in the paint, you think about what it would have been like if Moses Malone had joined a team like the Heat. Then again, you could make the argument that Dr. J's Sixers were pretty Heat-like in terms of talent.
  • Tim Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell contends that Tiago Splitter is playing incredibly well on the defensive end, the box score just doesn't capture it . I would argue he needs to watch Splitter's weakside defense and ability to hedge effectively, but I'm a stickler for such things.
Posted on: November 10, 2010 10:06 am
Edited on: November 10, 2010 12:07 pm
 

Game Changer 11.10.10: Fluke or Fact?

Was the Jazz win a fluke or a sign of the Heat's cooler underbelly? Did the Hornets just win with their bench? And are the Cavs leading their freaking division? All this and more in today's GameChanger .
Posted by Matt Moore


Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.  

THE BIG ONE: JAZZ PULL A FAST ONE ON THE HEAT


So the question is... was this fluke a not? Because the implications are rather significant. Let's not, for a moment, take anything away from the Utah Jazz. They were on the road, in a hostile sleepy environment, and they simply scratched, clawed, and pounded their way to a win over the most star-studded team in the NBA. Down by 20 last night, they roared back in a 72-point second half to defeat the Heat. A huge win for coach Jerry Sloan, a win the team needed, and an amazing night for Jazz fans that shows their tenacity, their heart, and their talent.

Now, then.

The Heat won the rebounding battle, 46-44. The Heat split the turnover battle, with each team losing it a dozen times, nothing too egregious. The Heat fouled only 20 times to the Jazz' 32. And until the fourth quarter, they held a significant advantage in shooting percentage, with the Jazz shooting 41% to the Heat's 47%. There were a lot of things that would have to go right in the fourth for the Jazz to force overtime.

They happened.

For starters, the Jazz shot 17 of 23 in the fourth, not Indiana numbers , but still an absurd streak. This was of course capped off by Paul Millsap. Millsap entered last night's game a career 2 of 20 3-point shooter (10%). In the final minute of the game, he drained three 3-pointers, making him perfect on the season, as they were the only 3-pointers he's taken this season. Swish. Swish. Swish. Throw on top of that the 46 point detonation he leveled with the other 37 points, including the two on the tip in to force overtime, and you have an amazing night for Millsap, and a huge outlier in terms of predictable results. The Heat suddenly found themselves dropped from an airplane and happened to land right in the middle of a tornado. That's what we're talking about here in terms of probabilities.

So was it a fluke?

I don't think so.

We see the same pattern carried out across the Heat's three losses. A scoring forward down low who's able to use his size to create points amid the barren trees of Miami (tall, sure, but not great defenders). And a point guard who can tear you up (Deron Williams tallied 14 assists last night). In Boston it was Rondo and Glen Davis; in New Orleans it was Chris Paul and Emeka Okafor. Now Millsap-Williams scratch their names onto the tree trunk of inside-out combos that have cooled the Heat. Furthermore, we see the same kind of discombobulation we've seen all season, especially in crunch time, the same reliance on sub-par players to take the biggest shots ("Eddie House for the win... clang!"), the same lackadaisical performance out of the Heat mentally, and the same defensive breakdowns in the biggest moments.

Adding to the improbability of the night was the fact that the Triad gave the kind of performance you'd want from them. Dwyane Wade had 39 and 6 rebounds, LeBron James had a triple-double with 20, 11 boards, and 14 assists, and Chris Bosh had 17 and 9. And they still lost .

The Jazz needed a few more things go their way in this one, that's for sure. The problem is the Heat handed the Jazz those things on a platter. And trying to establish exactly how to resolve those things isn't going to be easy for head coach Erik Spoelstra, who's got to be feeling a little hot this morning either way.

Great win for the Jazz, tough loss for the Heat.

GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:


Paul Millsap: Yeah, we'll go ahead and notch him down with 46 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block.

LaMarcus Aldridge: 19 points, 17 rebounds, and Aldridge seems more and more like he's taken a big step into becoming a legit big.

Kevin Love: 23 points, 24 rebounds. Amazing what happens when a good player gets playing time, isn't it?

Dwyane Wade: 39 points, 6 rebounds. Hard to argue that Wade didn't do his part last night.

LeBron James: 20 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists. His first triple-double as a member of the Heat. And again, they lost. So weird.

Al Farouq Aminu: 20 points, 8 rebounds. Look at the rookie make progress!

WHAT YOU MISSED:


Brandon Roy had his knee drained .

Our Power Rankings are out , and we went 3-Up, 3-Down .

Oh, and the Pacers went freaking En Fuego .

KB lays out how the Bret Bearup situation affects Melo .

HORNETS KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON (WINNING)


This time they didn't even need Chris Paul to be amazing. The Hornets had every reason for a let-down game after their last week and hot start. Hey, they've got to lose sometime, don't they?

Don't they?

The Clippers are a bad team, but again played well last night, enough to hang until the fourth, with Al Farouq Aminu emerging from the shadows looking like an actual NBA player. But this time it wasn't the starting superstars that did it for the Hornets. It was the bench mob. Jerryd Bayless ran the show, Willie Green filled it up (19 points on 7-10 shooting), and that was enough for the Hornets to pull away and not need Chris Paul to press his knee anymore. The Hornets just keep finding ways to get it done. The Hornets are running a weird modified break, where they force the issue, pulling teams inside, then using smart passing around the perimeter to get the job done with open jumpers. It may not be sustainable, but by God, it's working right now.

YOUR DAILY SIGN OF THE IMPENDING APOCALYPSE

The Cleveland Cavaliers lead the Central division at 4-3.

WHIMSY


"Hold me... "




HERO OF THE DAY


Uh, yeah, I think we'll go with MANSAP.



ONE FINAL THOUGHT

The Minnesota Timberwolves played a great game last night. It'll get glossed over in the headlines and be forgotten within about, oh, four hours, but they really did. Kevin Love was just tremendous on the glass and they had some good things going. They just couldn't get the last burst to get past the Lakers, who had one of their "Do we really have to care nights?" And the answer was no. But still, good stuff from the Wolves who responded to their beat downs lately with a respectable performance. And yet another loss.

Follow F&R on Twitter at @CBSSportsNBA and check out our RSS feed . This has been your daily edition of the Game Changer.

Posted on: November 9, 2010 10:37 pm
 

At the Buzzer: Jazz' Millsap detonates Heat

LeBron James gets a triple-double, Dwyane Wade gets 39, and the Heat are overtaken again as Jazz' Millsap scores 46 in overtaking Miami in overtime.
Posted by Matt Moore


Those in the NBA spheres who were waiting to start the clock on Pat Riley taking the reins of the Miami Heat may have held off after two losses in the first two weeks to two great teams. This will likely get them pushing those buttons if they're going to at all.

The Heat gave up 72 points in the second half after a 20-point lead in the first half to lose in overtime, at home to the Utah Jazz 116-114 . Paul Millsap was ridiculous, scoring 46 points with 9 rebounds while Deron Williams filled it up with 14 assists, as if to say to Chris Paul after his Hornets beat the Heat, "Match!".

The Heat are now 5-3, with three losses in the first three weeks of the season. Not exactly what the Triad was thinking would happen when they rose up from the floor to the excited fans. Oh,and those excited fans? They were nearly in a coma tonight, and tickets still remain for the Boston freaking Celtics' visit to American Airlines on Thursday.

As much as this was to some degree a fluke game, with Millsap draining three 3-pointers (!) for crying out loud, there are no excuses for this team. And the Heat still seem out of sorts, discombobulated, and without a guy they can definitively turn to. Dwyane Wade had 39 points, LeBron James had a triple-double, Chris Bosh had 17 points and 9 rebounds, and they still lost. The one thing that had been helping them in games, their defensive effiiceny, took a tumble as the Jazz simply picked them apart.

For the Jazz, they're finally starting to look like the team they need to be this season. Williams is getting back in the act, and even when Al Jefferson had a terrible night, Millsap more than made up for it.

It was recently reported that the Utah Jazz would start extension talks with Jerry Sloan. You have a feeling Erik Spoelstra will not be having the same conversations any time soon.

The temperature rises.
Posted on: October 21, 2010 1:26 am
Edited on: October 21, 2010 1:29 am
 

NBA Northwest Division preview

The CBSSports.com NBA Facts and Rumors team previews each of the NBA's six divisions. First up: the Southeast.  Posted by Matt Moore.

The Burning Question: Just how big is the Melo question in this division?

Will he be here? Will he be gone? Will Denver retool? Rebuild? Firesale everything but the walls and sell those for scrap? If he is there, will he be a distraction? Will it be business as usual? Are we confident the Nuggets can contend even if he's still in Denver? Are we sure? Are we confused? Angry? Hungry? Who's hungry? 

Last year Denver went 12-4 in this division. The other three cannibalistic playoff teams in this division went 25-23 combined. So Denver's got a lot to say about who wins this division. The problem is, of course, we have no idea what we're going to get when mid-November rolls around and teams have shaken off the early rust or shine and are revealed to be what they actually are.  If Carmelo Anthony is still in Denver at that time, as it appears he very well may be, this team could lead the division, further scuttling Melo's trade prospects. Conversely, if Anthony's gone and Denver's decided to go all Jericho and rebuild their society, then things could get pretty crazy in the rest of the division.

Melo was the biggest star in this division over the past several years, but now that Kevin Durant has eclipsed him as the next great scoring forward, there's more talk than ever about what exactly it is that Melo provides this team. And that question is going to be examined even closer this year as Kenyon Martin is out till January and Chris Anderson till December. The complimentary pieces that were brought in to surround Melo are injured and Chauncey Billups isn't getting any younger. Meanwhile J.R. Smith is still J.R. Smith for better or worse, and this team is always a half second away from going into full-on mental chemistry meltdown. 

The Thunder should be improved, but can they topple a veteran group that knows how to win night in and night out like Denver? Utah's got Al Jefferson, but can they overcome their injury issues to maintain a consistency like Denver has? And if we want to talk about injuries, take Portland's training staff. Please. Ba-dum, ching. No?

If Denver goes down the tubes, there will be a team to fill the void. The only question is if that team will simply be vacating an open spot or legitimately taking the spot Denver had been tagged for a year ago, that of de facto Western challenger to LA. 

What Berger Says: 


CBS Sports Senior Writer Ken Berger previews the Southeast Division.
Everything is in flux with the Melo situation still unresolved. So the spectrum of what could go right for the Nuggets looks like this: A) Clinging to the scant hope that Anthony can be persuaded to stay; or B) Getting the best possible deal for him. There's little reason to have any faith that A can happen. So the Nuggets will continue to explore trade possibilities, which will force them to decide whether it's possible to trade Melo in a deal that saves money and keeps them in contention (no), or saves money and sets them up for the best possible future. Either way, it looks to me like the Nuggets' ascent has ended before they reached their full potential.



And Now, A Non-Sequiter:

Anyone else feel like Kyrylo Fesenko would be the worst roommate in the world? Young, inexperienced, probably always asking questions. He's a jokester, which is fine when you're hanging out but gets old real quick.  Dude probably steals your toothpaste, too. No? Just me? Okay. Just checking. 

VIDEO OF SUPREME PREVIEW SUPREMACY: 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com