Posted on: November 15, 2010 11:21 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2010 11:39 pm
Dirk and Terry help Mavericks send Hornets to first season loss as they corral Chris Paul in second half. Posted by Matt Moore
Well, it had to happen sometime. The Hornets had managed to gun out to a franchise-best 8-0 start this season with new head coach Monty Williams leading revamped bench and wing units alongside a healthy Chris Paul. But Dirk Nowitzki and a very solid overall performance from the Mavericks proved too much and the Hornets suffered their first loss this season in Dallas 95-98 .
The Mavericks have now knocked off Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul in a week, and though Paul dropped a line of 22 points, 9 assists, and 4 rebounds, the widely regarded best-point-guard in the league had 20, 5, and 4 at halftime. In the second half, Dallas threw a combination of hard hedges off the pick and roll and constant run-outs on the drive and kick to contain Paul. Paul often wound up late in the shot clock, having to hoist off-balance fade-aways as the Mavericks used many of the same tricks they used against Rondo to keep Paul out of the paint.
On the offensive end, Jason Terry was en fuego. While the Horents actually played great defense, their focus was on trying to stop Dirk Nowitzki (they didn't, he finished with 25 on just 12 shots), and Terry managed to slip out in transition or get open off offensive rebounds. The Hornets controlled the glass, but Dallas was more patient on offense, pulling in a higher free throw rate.
Now that the Hornets have suffered their first loss, the question now will become if they can go back to their winning ways or if this streak of play was a combination of things going right. A lot went right for New Orleans tonight, with Willie Green and Peja Stojakovic playing well in a rare appearance. Their defense suffered at the hands of good ball movement and Dirk-caliber play from Dirk. But if they keep up the kind of effort they've given in the first nine games, it's hard to see the Hornets not maintaining their spot near the top of the West.
For Dallas? Look out. Once again, this is a great team, deep and talented, and they've just solved two of the best point guards in the league. You can't stop those guys, as proven by their stat lines. But by committing your defensive scheme to stop them, you can make life hard enough to get a win.
Posted on: November 12, 2010 1:35 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2010 1:40 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
1. Kevin Garnett is not exactly the most popular guy in the world right now. Garnett seems to be the kind of guy who is loved by his friends and close circle and is abrasive to everyone else. Do you have any thoughts on his evolving legacy from lovable lunatic lose to hated psychotic champion?
Ken Berger: I think your evaluation of KG is spot on. He is like the crazy uncle that everyone is wary of and constantly nervous about what he might say or do next. But he's family, so you tolerate him. You know, the old, "He's a jerk, but he's our jerk." At this point, Garnett could care less what people think about him or what his legacy is. He's perfectly content to continue yapping and thumping his chest and winning another championship. And I don't see anything wrong with that, as long as he doesn't care that he'll never be named man of the year or Mr. Congeniality. To me, the funniest aspect of this whole episode recently was Joakim Noah calling Garnett ugly. Hey, Jo, I don't think GQ is putting you on the cover any time soon.
2. Not exactly a banner week for the Heat. Scale of 1 to 5. How much should fans (if there are any) be pushing the panic button?
KB: I'd say 3.5. On one hand, some of this could have and should have been expected, given that basketball is a team game and you can't just plug talent into the equation like in baseball and automatically win 70 percent of your games and waltz to the championship. I know that you know that in basketball, how the pieces fit together are every bit as important -- if not more so -- than the talent itself. Eventually, the talent will shine through, and LeBron and Wade will become as deadly a combination as we thought they'd be. But there are several areas of concern that need to be watched closely: The misuse of LeBron's and Wade's best attributes when they are on the floor with a point guard, meaning neither one has the ball in his hands for too many possessions. This can (and should) be solved when Mike Miller comes back. Instead of a point guard, you put Miller on the floor with LeBron and Wade acting as interchangeable wings who take turns initiating the offense. In my mind, LeBron fits this role best. Two, the lack of size is becoming a major issue. Erick Dampier, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Three, Erik Spoelstra struck a chord when he lectured the team at halftime Thursday night about ego. It has been a real wakeup call for these three free-agent darlings who came together so effortlessly. Winning in May and June is going to prove a lot more difficult than winning in July.
3. In the Post-Ups you alluded to the improving situation in New Orleans. Now that the team looks like it's ready to compete in the playoffs again (though it's still early), is it time to start looking for what can get them to the next level, and what is that?
KB: I think it's a positive sign that the Hornets are trying to get someone CP3 would consider to be a top-tier running mate. But they're a little stuck in that regard, and here's why: Peja Stojakovic and his $14.3 million expiring contract could be easily deal to a team trying to get off a lot of future money, and if one of those pieces coming back is an elite 3-point shooter, New Orleans is better in the short run. But they future money they'd have to take back in such a deal would hamper their ability to make moves next summer -- or whenever the lockout ends and under whatever new rules exist. The most valuable asset on the NBA market right now is cap flexibility heading into the uncertainty of a new CBA, especially for low-revenue markets. So the Hornets can't allow themselves to be tempted by the prospect of getting better in the short term at the expense of hampering their flexibility heading into a new deal.
4. You also wrote in the Post-Ups that Kevin Love is garnering offers. Why is it that the Wolves are so reticent to trade him if they won't play the man?
KB: Ah, this is a question that goes straight to the heart of the most mysterious figure in the NBA, David Kahn. I'm told in recent days that Love isn't the only player who wants out of Minnesota. Corey Brewer does, too -- but Brewer isn't making any noise publicly, or even privately. Love is doing both. Right now, the Wolves like Love's talent but are disenchanted with his attitude. I think if the right deal came along, they'd move him. Because that locker room is too fragile right now to risk keeping a malcontent on board. Maybe Kahn can trade Love for a few more point guards.
5. BRI up 3 to 3.5%, record ratings across the board. Selling the NBA store for $300 million. The league is booming. Are owners really going to walk away from the most prosperous time in recent history to prove a point? Really?
KB: Yes sir-ee-bob. A hearty contingent of owners see this as a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity to change the economics of the sport in their favor. They also know the vast majority of people will side with them, because of their inherent biases against "greedy millionaire players." This is silly, of course, but it's just the way things are. There are a couple of reasons to be encouraged: 1) sources tell me numerous owners were impressed with the players' presentation of their proposal at a recent CBA meeting, realizing that the union was offering some creative ideas as how to make the business better for everyone; and 2) there's still a lot of time. The next key time-marker in this battle is All-Star weekend, when both sides concede significant progress will need to have been made. But as in all negotiations, the real progress doesn't happen until the 11th hour. Will there be a lockout? Yes, in my opinion. Are the owners and players short-sighted enough to let it wipe out an entire season, or even as much of the season as the '98-'99 lockout did? I don't think so. Both sides realize there's too much at stake.
Posted on: November 10, 2010 10:06 am
Edited on: November 10, 2010 12:07 pm
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.
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.
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?
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.
"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 8:17 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2010 2:30 pm
Miami Heat (4): A drop with a loss to the Hornets that they could have won, had they not kept handing off the ball to James Jones and Eddie House who were frozen. With Chris Bosh struggling to find his place , and both of the other stars deferring way too much, the Heat have some problems. Huge week with a rematch versus Boston on Thursday at home. Could this team have 3 losses by the middle of November? Not exactly Most Dominant Ever so far.
Posted on: November 5, 2010 11:10 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2010 1:47 am
Hornets topple Heat as CP3 shines alongside Okafor. Posted by Matt Moore
Chris Paul overcame a furious comeback from the Miami Heat, dishing to a wide-open Trevor Ariza for the game-clinching three-pointer while David West nailed the key free throws to hold on for a 96-93 win in New Orleans to push the Hornets to 6-0.
Notes and miscellanea:
Finally, these images from our GameTracker pretty much put it in perspective.
Note the numbers, for Okafor. That big square down in the paint? That stands for 9 shots, 8 makes. Manly.
Posted on: October 20, 2010 9:44 am
Edited on: October 20, 2010 11:48 am
Knicks knocking at the Melo door again, Childress knocked out with a bad digit, and Evan Turner slapped in the face, all in today's shootaround.
Posted by Matt Moore
We'll have more this morning on a report from ESPN NY's Chris Sheridan that the Knicks are back in the Melo chase . One thought off the bat. They can trade for a player the Nuggets want more, but unless they land a draft pick they're still toast. The McGrady trade keeps stubbing Donnie Walsh's toe.
Knickerblogger is concerned that Raymond Felton may not be much of an improvement over Chris Duhon. Last night was a particularly strong showing from Felton, and he looked very much like the kind of point guard the Knicks have needed for years.
A breakdown of the postions in Rick Adelman's system. The focus on the big in the pinch post is going to be why Brad Miller will be so comfy there.
Lots of coaches with health concerns this week. Doc Rivers had a test come back negative for cancer , which is great news. Doug Collins missed last night's Sixers game while dealing with lingering effects of a concussion .
Josh Childress fractured a finger last night and out at least a week but it won't be too long. It's ridiculous that these guys play at this level with broken fingers.
Ted Leonsis thinks Josh Howard is a respected leader . There's lots of mockery this morning about that, but people forget that despite his off-court issues, he's thought of well by teammates, and that guys like Stephen Jackson are perennial captains for their teams.
Jerry West thinks maybe he should have drafted Amar'e Stoudemire instead of Drew Gooden. In other news, I should have had oatmeal this morning instead of eating rusty nuts and bolts from a '75 Chevy.
Al Harrington says he'll be ready for opening night . No word on whether his defense is making a similar commitment.
Marcus Thornton's in a slump, which shouldn't surprise people . Shootres in their second year take a step back sometimes, and the fact that he's got a new coach and a new offensive system probably complicates things as well.
And here's Evan Turner getting slapped with baby powder. So that happened.
Tags: Al Harrington, Andre Iguodala, Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets, Doc Rivers, Doug Collins, Evan Turner, Hornets, injuries, Josh Childress, Josh Howard, Knicks, Marcus Thornton, Melodrama, New Orleans Hornets, New York Knicks, Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Raymond Felton, Shootaround, Sixers, Suns, trades, Washington Wizards, Wizards
Posted on: October 13, 2010 9:56 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2010 11:12 pm
Hornets sign former Laker center. Posted by Matt Moore
Well that didn't take long. After the workout we told you about earlier for the New Orleans Hornets of former Laker reserve D.J. MBenga, the Hornets went ahead and signed D.J. Mbenga to a contract, via a team press release . Mbenga will provide size to a team that desperately needs it. Aaron Gray is in the position of being the guy everyone says is a "nice player" down low for them. He actually is really nice, but they're going to need bodies, especially if they have any injuries down low. Mbenga also brings a championship knowledge of... okay, I can't finish that.
But in all seriousness, Mbenga is discussed as one of the best locker room guys and is beloved by coaches and reporters. Hopefully he can find a home in New Orleans and catch a few lobs from Chris Paul.
Posted on: October 7, 2010 9:28 am
Bulls thinkin' 'bout Dampier, Wizards thinkin' 'bout a name change, and Kidd thinkin' 'bout playing till he's 40, all in today's Shootaround.
Posted by Matt Moore
Peja Stojakovic says health will determine if he plays past this season , the final year of his contract. He wants to get through just one year pain free. It's something we rarely consider with these players, treating injuries like they're some sort of outside clamp that prevents them from playing instead of actual pain the players are experiencing.
With Boozer on the shelf, the Bulls are taking a long look at Erick Dampier, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com . The Bulls waived Chris Richard this week, which is surprising considering their lack of frontcourt depth and the job Richard did in limited minutes.
Marcin Gortat is not going to suddenly get quiet about the issue: he wants a bigger role, now. Unfortunately for him, the Magic are pretty much like "Deal with it, baldy ." Gortat signed a huge contract with the Mavericks last summer but the Magic matched it in restricted free agenc and here we are. For some reason the Magic think having a severely disgruntled Polish guy called "The Hammer" on their team is a good idea.
So this is pretty awesome. Ted Leonsis, the new Wizards owner, posted 101 things the Wizards have put in play to try and improve the fan experience at Wizards games. Some of the smallest details are covered, like how fresh the hot dog buns are. But hidden in there is the following: Changing the name back to the Bullets. Status? "Under consideration." Hold your breath, Bullets fans.
The Hawks exercised their option on Jeff Teague, which should surprise absolutely no one. Teague's locked up through next year, if there is a next year.
Kevin Garnett "went to a dark place " after last year's Finals, which is just classic over-the-top Garnett talk. He was pretty much a wreck after losing that series, leaving you to wonder how he deals with life in any sort of way whatsoever.
Rudy Ferandez' agent went absolutely psycho-hose-beast on local radio, basically pulling a "Leave Britney alone" speech for Fernandez. The kicker is when asked why Rudy wants to go home: "There's friends, there's family, he's a shy guy. He's special." And also a Fraggle, apparently.
Josh McRoberts had an outstanding line last night and the bandwagon is starting to Heat up. McRoberts has already filled into the starting PF spot for the Pacers, and with little competition, will probably hold onto it. A star is born? Maybe?
Jason Kidd wants to play until he's 40 , which is just ridiculous and yet completely believable on all fronts. Oddly, he's already a defensive liability, but the Mavs are thinking about moving him to shooting guard. Which could end up disastrous, but hey, you never know with Kidd. Dude's a survivor. He's going to make it. He's going to work harder. Keep on survivin'. What ?
This Nets-Knicks rivalry gets more entertaining every day .
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Blazers, Boston Celtics, Bulls, Carlos Boozer, Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Hawks, Hornets, Indiana Pacers, Jason Kidd, Jeff Teague, Josh McRoberts, Kevin Garnett, Magic, Marcin Gortat, Mavericks, New Orleans Hornets, Orlando Magic, Pacers, Peja Stojakovic, Portland Trail Blazers, Rudy Fernandez, Shootaround, Trail Blazers