Tag:Game Changer
Posted on: November 1, 2010 9:21 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:19 pm
 

The Game Changer 11.01.10

The Heat are rolling, the Thunder are struggling, Brandon Jennings goes triple-double, Jason Kidd hits from way downtown, Rajon Rondo dresses up like Tiger Woods for Halloween, and a bunch more. Posted by Ben Golliver

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: MIAMI KEEPS ROLLING

Another day, another runaway win for the Miami Heat, who clobbered the New Jersey Nets on Halloween, 101-78. The result wasn't particularly surprising, but it was a nice chance to see how the Heat handled one of the league's best big men, New Jersey's Brook Lopez. Entering the season, many felt Miami's biggest vulnerability was at the center position. The Heat uses a rotating cast of characters -- including centers Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskuas, Jamaal Magloire and power forwards Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem -- to handle opposing big men. While there is both size and talent in that group, none of the players individually stands as an ideal match-up for guys like Lopez, Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. On Sunday, Lopez had a nice game. He finished with 20 points, five rebounds and an assist on 8-17 shooting in 28 minutes. He wasn't dominant, but he was clearly New Jersey's go-to player and he hit from a bunch of places and in a variety of ways. Unfortunately for Lopez, his teammates combined to shoot 3-14 from distance and 22-67 from the field. So while he shot 47%, his teammates shot 33%. And that was basically the ball game. The Heat showed Sunday that one-tricky pony offenses are simply no match for its balanced attack. Without New Jersey's shooters -- multiple shooters -- hitting from the outside, Miami's perimeter defenders were free to harass Lopez to their heart's desire. Coach Erik Spoelstra used Anthony, Ilgauskas, and Bosh on Lopez at different points over the course of the game, and each received help from teammates collapsing into the paint. Miami's active defense combined for 10 steals and they paid careful attention to boxing out Lopez on the offensive boards, limiting his opportunities for second-chance points. While Lopez is very good already, he is not an elite force capable of swaying a game single-handedly. On Sunday, he was just a puzzle -- a relatively simple one at that -- for the Heat to solve. With six Heat players scoring in double figures and a team shooting percentage above 53%, Lopez needed a lot more help than he received.  Sunday felt like a lesson for the rest of the NBA teams. Bring a balanced offensive attack -- some credible outside shooting to complement a solid interior game -- or risk watching LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh yuck it up on the bench during the fourth quarter, your fate already sealed.

GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE WEEKEND:

Brandon Jennings:  23 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 6-8 shooting.
Young Money cashed his first triple-double in Milwaukee's Saturday win over the Charlotte Bobcats. Honorable Mention goes to... John Wall: 28 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists 9-17 shooting. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft showed he's going to be a serious problem for NBA defenses, blasting off in Washington's loss to Atlanta on SaturdayPaul Millsap: 30 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 12-19 shooting. With this stat line in Utah's win over Oklahoma City on Sunday (their first W of the season), did Millsap just officially stick a fork in the Carlos Boozer Era?

DON'T MISS:

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports that the New York Knicks are cooperating with a league investigation into allegations of illegal pre-draft workouts that stretched over multiple seasons. He also writes that New York needs to surround power forward Amar'e Stoudemire with some better talent.

THUNDER STARTING COLD:

By Royce Young Offensively on paper, the Oklahoma City Thunder should have it good.  They have the league's reigning scoring champ in Kevin Durant. They have rising scorer and potential star Russell Westbrook. they have quality role players with scoring ability in Jeff Green and James Harden.  And yet, the Thunder offense has sputtered in the first three games. Yes, the team is 2-1 after a Sunday night loss to the Utah Jazz. But on the season, OKC is shooting 39.9 percent from the field and 20.8 percent from 3-point range. So really, it's sort of amazing the team has two wins under its belt.  What's kept the Thunder alive is the free throw line. OKC is taking an average of 41.6 free throws a game and is making 84 percent of those attempts. Without all those freebies, the Thunder could very well be sitting at 0-3.  Against the Jazz Sunday, it's the first game the Thunder didn't make more free throws than baskets. (In their first two games, the Thunder took 47 and 44 free throws, respectively.) OKC made 32 shots total and 30 free throws (out of 34). Still a large number from the stripe, but obviously not enough in a game the Thunder lost by 21. Not to dismiss the Thunder's two victories by simply saying they were gifts from the charity stripe, but at this point, the Thunder offense isn't really getting it done.  For instance, against the Utah, Oklahoma City went 23-35 inside 10 feet, but 9-45 outside of that. In fact, Durant made five of those longer 2-pointers (four 3s) and the rest of the team just four. The Thunder are settling for jumpers, the ball movement is poor and the typically deadly transition offense just isn't there right now.  The 3-point shot just isn't there and outside of Durant who is 6-13 on the season from deep, OKC is just 5-40 from 3 as a team. That's 12.5 percent. That's fairly terrible.  So is there a problem with the Thunder offense? No, not really. It's just kind of a matter of progress. Scott Brooks runs his training camp and preseason based almost entirely around defense and has even said publicly that he's not too concerned with OKC's offense. Any team looks better offensively when its making shots and right now, OKC's not making shots. Durant is shooting just 38.8 percent from the field which is obviously not something that will keep up.  The Thunder can thank the free throw line for their two wins and curse poor shooting and some defensive breakdowns for Sunday night's loss. The offense is sputtering right now, but it's a result of settling for jumpers and the fact that some of those jumpers just aren't going down. 

WHIMSY:

The Boston Celtics clearly had a good time on Halloween. For a full look at all the Halloween costumes around the NBA, click here. celtics-halloween

 

VIDEO CLIP MANIA:

Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd shows that, even in his decaying old age, he still has some tricks up his sleeve. Kidd sinks a three-quarter court shot before halftime of Dallas's game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. Video courtesy of outsidethenba on YouTube


ONE FINAL THOUGHT:

Rest in peace, Maurice Lucas.
maurice-lucas

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Posted on: October 29, 2010 10:14 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:13 pm
 

The Game Changer, 10.29.10: Orlando is good

The Orlando Magic came out strong, John Wall debuts, Utah looks lost, Gordon Hayward cut his amazing hair and Hakim Warrick puts two Jazz on a poster.  Posted by Ben Golliver

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: ORLANDO THROTTLES WASHINGTON

Somebody forgot to tell the Orlando Magic that they weren't playing the Atlanta Hawks.

The Magic brought the same brand of soul-crushing domination they used to sweep Atlanta out of the playoffs last year to their Thursday night season-opener against the Washington Wizards, and the game got ugly quickly.

The Magic nearly doubled up the Wizards in the first quarter (29-15) and suckered Washington into settling for contested jumper after contested jumper, cruising to a 128-83 win  in the new Amway Center. It was too easy, and Dwight Howard posted 23 points and 10 rebounds while barely breaking a sweat, watching his team's second unit finish off the win during the fourth quarter.

Orlando's strategy never got much more complicated than, "We'll make shots while you miss shots." Orlando finished 43-77 from the field compared to 29-78 for Washington.  Wizards rookie point guard John Wall was a major culprit, as he shot just 6-19 in his NBA debut, clanking tons of pull-up jumpers from the 15-18 foot range.

But you can't pin this all on Wall: most of his teammates didn't bother showing up to help ease his transition to the professional game. The Wizards were out-rebounded 53-25 and they had no answers defensively as Orlando moved the ball well and attacked from all sides.

(For a full recap of Wall's first game as a professional right here . It wasn't all bad, by any means.)

This felt like a statement game for Orlando. But that statement wasn't "Welcome to the NBA, John Wall." It was more like, "Take notice: We still plan on holding down the Southeast Division." After an undefeated preseason and a pretty season-opener, the Magic look more than ready to prove that point against the new-look Miami Heat on Friday night.

GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:

Dwight Howard:  23 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 3 blocks, 7-9 shooting, +24 (plus/minus).

Plus, just one foul in 30 minutes of action. Dominating.

Honorable mention goes to...

Hakim Warrick:
18 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 6-11 shooting.

and...

Paul Millsap
: 19 points, 13 boards, 1 assist, 1 setal, 2 blocks, 9-13 shooting.

DON'T MISS:

Ken Berger reports that Oklahoma City's Jeff Green and Detroit's Rodney Stuckey will not be receiving contract extensions. Meanwhile, it appears free agent center Erick Dampier has made up his mind: he's taking what little talent he has to Houston.

PANIC TIME QUESTION MARK:

By Royce Young

With about five minutes left in the game, Deron Williams pulled up, looked right at rookie Gordon Hayward and screamed, "Go through!" Williams was visibly frustrated and ended up firing a one-armed strike right at Hayward to really emphasize that frustration. At the next timeout, Williams continued to pound on the rookie, demonstrably gesturing what he wanted from Hayward.

But that wasn't even the worst of it for the Jazz. With a score of 110-94 in the Suns favor at the buzzer, what was left of the Jazz's home crowd booed the team. Can you believe that? Booing, in game two.

I guess those things tend to happen when your team starts 0-2 with both games being fairly non-competitive. Especially when there were high expectations coming in to the season.

Most didn't see the Jazz coming up empty in the opening week of the season and with a made over roster, it's easy to point at the new pieces not gelling. An 0-2 start wasn't expected, especially after an 8-0 preseason, but it's early. Oh it's so early. Don't press any kind of panic button if you're a Jazz enthusiast. In fact, don't even mention anything of the like. Jerry Sloan will have this straightened out soon enough.

Last season, Utah started out the season 1-3 before closing November winning six of seven en route to 53 wins and the fifth seed in the West. It took a little time to put it together, but it was all where it needed to be eventually.

And this season, Utah is retooling after losing Carlos Boozer, Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver. The replacements are solid in Al Jefferson, Raja Bell and Hayward. But it'll take a little time for everything to be put together.

The average defeat for Utah in the first two is 19. The Jazz have given up 110 points in both games. But take into consideration that Utah has faced two quality, up-tempo teams to start the season. Not exactly ideal opponents when you're trying to work out the kinks of a new offense and defense with a number of new players.

Jazz fans aren't used to watching their guys lose at home. Especially not by double-digits. The Jazz offense was out of sync at times, playing a more one-on-one than you typically see in Sloan's flex offense. The ball didn't move well, the Jazz didn't shoot well and defensively, there were breakdowns often.

But it will get sorted out. It might take some bruises and a few more boos from the home crowd, but the October version of Utah won't at all be the same as the March version. I'm pretty sure you can count on that. 

WHIMSY:

Utah Jazz rookie Gordon Hayward showed off a new buzz cut during Thursday's loss to the Phoenix Suns.  That news was seriously lamentable, given the amazing helmet Hayward had been rocking. Take a look at the air flowing through his mullet wig.  gordon-hayward

Upon further inspection of this photo, Hayward appears to have planted Chia Pet seeds on Steve Nash's hair and then transplanted the result onto his own head with super glue.

 

VIDEO CLIP MANIA:

Phoenix Suns forward Hakim Warrick puts both Raja Bell and Paul Millsap of the Utah Jazz on a poster. Video courtesy of NBARauf on YouTube

 

ONE FINAL THOUGHT:

Poor Mickael Pietrus is buried on the Orlando Magic bench. Deep. Pietrus, noted Ben Q. Rock , didn't check into the game for Orlando until the fourth quarter, when the Magic were already up 30+.

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Posted on: October 28, 2010 11:04 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 8:12 pm
 

The Game Changer 10.28.10

Blake Griffin impresses in his debut, Russell Westbrook gets way up, Thabo Sefalosha talks block and "The Most Interesting Man in the World" makes a cameo in Los Angeles.
Posted by Ben Golliver

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: BLAKE GRIFFIN MASHES IN HIS NBA DEBUT

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin was the Talk of Twitter Wednesday night, charging out of the gate with astonishing energy in the first quarter of his NBA debut, dropping jaws and immediately earning rave reviews from commentators and fans alike.  First things first: if you haven't seen the video of his right-handed alley-oop catch followed by his left-handed putback slam, both of which took place in the game's opening five minutes, then go here right now.  Griffin's energy and fearlessness in his return from a season-ending injury last year stood out most prominently, but his all-around game shouldn't be overlooked. His stat line speaks to his game-changing ability - 20 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, and a steal - and the only downside was that his Clipper teammates and coaching staff apparently forgot he was on the team down the stretch. While he's not yet a finished product, Griffin is by no means raw. He did almost all of his work around the basket tonight, finishing 6-10 on layups and dunks, while shooting 2-4 from outside the immediate basket area. There's a pro and a con to those numbers. The upside? He's attacking the basket relentlessly, both off the dribble and while crashing the offensive boards (he had nine offensive rebounds, and it felt like 29). The downside? Defenses will adjust quickly, daring him to shoot the mid-range jumper, a shot that is in his toolbox but that he didn't look particularly eager to shoot tonight.  Forget the nit-picking, the kid is special, and he set a high standard for his main competition for Rookie of the Year - Washington Wizards point guard John Wall - to match tomorrow night, when he makes his NBA regular season debut. Keep reading for a frame-by-frame look of one of Griffin's prettiest offensive moves, a stunning 360 degree spin move that left the Portland defense flat-footed.

GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:

Russell Westbrook:  28 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steal, 1 block, 8-15 shooting Two of Westbrook's 28 points came in spectacular fashion : a must-see coast-to-coast drive and dunk. Honorable mentions go to... Joakim Noah: 18 points, 19 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 7-13 shooting and... Monta Ellis:  46 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 18-24 shooting

DON'T MISS:

Ken Berger was on hand for the Miami Heat's first win of the 2010-2011 season in Philadelphia. He wonders when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will start clicking?

FRAME-BY-FRAME SPIN MOVE ANALYSIS:


OK, back to Blake Griffin.  Below you'll see a frame-by-frame look at a second-quarter spin move Griffin executed against Portland's Dante Cunningham. Let me set the scene a little bit. Frame 1: Griffin received the ball at the elbow with his Clipper teammates standing around in semi-hopeless fashion. With all five Blazer defenders eying him, Griffin slowly took a dribble to his left toward the paint, lulling Cunningham to sleep a little bit. Frame 2: Cunningham, an undersized power forward with good core strength and lateral quickness, trusts his defensive abilities on the perimeter and attempts to body Griffin to force a pass or tough turnaround shot. Rudy Fernandez dives down to make life for Griffin a touch more difficult but he doesn't commit fully, and Griffin is able to continue operating with relative calm. Frame 3: Griffin absorbs the body contact from Cunningham and explodes off of it, rotating nearly 360 degrees towards his strong hand with a reverse pivot and taking a monster gather step towards the basket in the process. The result is as explosive as it looks in the freeze frame: Griffin was in one place and then instantly in another, while Cunningham barely has time to react. Portland's help defenders are similarly stunned, as Brandon Roy stays home on the corner shooter and new Blazers big man, the aging Fabricio Oberto, has no chance to come over from the weak side to help. Frame 4: While Cunningham makes a game effort to recover and contest the shot, Griffin has created a clean look at the rim at close range, and he converts on the move. His quickness into his jump ensures no one will be able to block the shot. As the clock shows, the entire move, including the original dribble, took place in just two seconds.
blake-griffin

WHIMSY:

"The Most Interesting Man in the World" of Dos Equis fame took in the action between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Clippers in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. Seated in front of him appears to be a member of Napoleon Dynamite's extended family. most-interesting-man Video Clip Mania: Oklahoma City guard Thabo Sefalosha talks about how he sent back a Luol Deng shot attempt. Via Royce Young. 

HERO OF THE DAY:

Cleveland needed a hero to ice their huge win. Anthony Parker, with an assist from the clock crew, stepped up and became that hero.

 



CONFETTI AT THE BUZZER

By Matt Moore
  • Russell Westbrook was simply devastating for the Thunder last night, slashing all the way through. He was lethal off in-bounds, off the rebound, and especially in transition. Derrick Rose matched him in points and assists. It was a classic point guard battle, though Westbrook killed Rose in terms of efficiency.
  • Derrick Favors was surprisingly good in limited minutes yesterday. He was active on the glass, that you'd expect, but he got a few buckets off the pick and roll and seemed to work smoothly in it.
  • The Nets got their first win, a month earlier than they did last year.
  • The technical foul issue popped up again in several games. That rule hasn't faded since the start of the season.
  • Monta Ellis was ridiculous, and didn't miss a single shot inside ten feet last night.
  • DeMarcus Cousins was overshadowed by Griffin, but had himself 14 and 8, and oh, yeah, his team won.
  • Utah got blown off the map, not how the Jazz wanted to start what should be a promising season.
  • How about Roy Hibbert in a losing effort last night? 28 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks for the big man. The Pacers need that and against easier competition, Hibbert could be the difference in wins and losses.
  • Terrence Williams is looking more and more like a complete player for the Nets. He had a solid outing last night, including a nice lob to Favors.
  • Andrea Bargnani's offense roared back after a terrible preseason, and he had two solid defensive plays. The problem as always? All the other defensive plays.

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: October 27, 2010 10:53 am
Edited on: October 27, 2010 1:16 pm
 

The Game Changer 10.27.10

Blake the hero, Ray Allen the alone, and Steve Nash is a sad panda in  the debut of the Game Changer.
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 the Game Changer.

THE BIG ONE: Celtics Down Heat 88-80


We've already told you about what the Heat did wrong in frames . But if we look back at the Celtics' 88-80 win over the Heat, we need to examine the real cause for the first of what will likely be many downfalls for this Heat team as they figure out how to play together: the Celtics' excellence in execution. Boston brought their A-Game last night, and their comfort with one another was evident from the get-go. That was most evident when we look back at the game flow of rotations and see that Boston ran off a 7-0 run with Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis, and Jermaine O'Neal. That's a astarter and four backups running off seven on a rotation for the Heat that featured Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, and for a solid minute and a half, LeBron James as well. Another thing to take note of is that Ray Allen wound up with a -2 for the night in plus/minus. Now, that's largely because he was on the floor for the Heat's big run in the second half, and the Celtics wouldn't have won without his clutch threes. but if we're looking at how Boston was succesful, it was with big lineups that bruised Miami inside and worked their way to the line.

Boston's defense was everywhere and threw in a few more wrinkles. Typically the Boston defense rotates to challenge the pick and roll high, at the elbow or mid-post. But the Celtics, knowing James is too fast to attack at that point, chose to put the stop on James right at the rim, leading to two misses and a charge. And it wasn't just James that found a hard time at the rim. Boston collapsed in on any attempt by the Heat to get point inside. And how did Miami respond? The Heat took 50 jumpers to Boston's 38. Pretty much, Boston attacked the Heat in high efficiency areas and forced them to take low-percentage shots. And the Heat just kind of... went with it. And instead of recognizing that approach wasn't working, they just shot more contested jumpers.

On offense? Boston did what it does. Rondo's distribution, being able to drive and kick, and skip-rotate to open jumpers on the far side of the floor, set the tone for the Celtics. When you've got the kinds of weapons the Celtics do, and the Heat were supposed to have, and a distributor, things get much easier. Glen Davis was huge for the C's, with 13 points and 5 rebounds on 6 of 7 shooting. The Drunken Seal was simply hitting from everywhere, including his patented falling reverse. The Heat? They had no one of that ilk, and it showed.

The Heat's defense actually wasn't terrible, until right about when their offense showed up. They started to hit shots, then started allowing Boston to trade buckets. If it wasn't for Boston's turnovers, the gap could have been much bigger. Want the biggest indication of how out of whack Boston made Miami? The team that was supposed to get out and run constantly in order to help their super-talented athletes be themselves, had fewer transition attempts than Boston, 10 for the Heat to 12 for the C's.  Boston does a great job of attacking just long enough on the rebound, even if they've already lost the board, to prevent th break. There are no outlet passes. You're just happy to have the ball.

Problem for the Heat? They didn't have anything they could do with it once they got it.

GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:

Luis Scola: 18 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 4 turnovers, 7-18 shooting, +7 plus/minus

FRAMED FAILURE:


Hey, look Miami. It's okay. You have a lot to learn together. You need to work on so much to get in your rhythm. And Boston just hit a bunch of tough shots. I mean, what could you have done? Outside of, you know, not allowing Ray Allen to be wide freaking open :












Soundbyte Mania:

Steve Nash after the game on where the Suns are and how things are looking after their loss to the Blazers last night 106-92. Via Ben Golliver.



HERO OF THE DAY:


The Lakers needed something big. Steve Blake delivered from downtown. This is what happens when you're a member of the Lakers. Then, Blake goes to the other end and gets the key stop on Aaron Brooks, who decided to try and force something up even though he's not big enough to ride Space Mountain.




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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com