Posted on: May 19, 2011 8:25 pm

Nowitkzi might just shoot 40 FT's tonight

DALLAS -- After two days to contemplate the 48 points Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki laid on his team in Game 1, Thunder coach Scott Brooks has decided his team needs to get more physical with the Mavericks' star forward.

That's right. I said more physical. After his team surrendered 24 free throws to Nowitzki on Tuesday.

So what's the over/under on free throws tonight for Nowitzki?


Here's Brooks:

"We have to do a better job of forcing our toughness on [him]," Brooks said of Nowitzki, who he said "did a great job getting to spots, catching the ball where [he] wanted. ... We have to make sure we're very physical, play with more toughness, not let them have the ball where they want the ball."

Brooks said the sight of Nowitzki simply shooting the ball over his defender need to stop. No more jump-shooting for Nowitzki. No more step-back shots.

"That's the plan," Brooks said. "Make him put it on the floor. Make him go to his right. We're not going to throw anything he hasn't seen before, unless we throw four guys at him. You're picking your poison, but that's what you do -- pick your poison, and then you have to execute it with great precision. And sometimes even that doesn't work."

Thunder center Kendrick Perkins said he was leery of doubling Nowitzki, knowing the Mavericks are loaded with players who can shoot the 3-pointer: Jason Terry, Jose Juan Barea, Jason Kidd, Peja Stojakovic.

Thunder forward Kevin Durant said he was leery of the other side -- allowing Nowitzki to go one-on-one, hanging another half-a-hundred on the Thunder.

Brooks is the one who has to make a decision, and it sounds like he has decided: One player will force Nowitzki to dribble, and a second defender will provide help. If Nowitzki finds open teammates -- and if they're knocking down 3-pointers -- so be it.

I just broke down tonight's game for you.

You're welcome.

Category: NBA
Posted on: May 18, 2011 9:44 am
Edited on: May 18, 2011 10:24 am

So long, David Kahn

David Stern can't fine David Kahn or the T-Wolves enough for the Minnesota GM's comments after the NBA Draft lottery Tuesday night. Literally, he can't do it. No dollar amount -- not $100,000, not $1 million, not even a kijillion bajillion dollars -- sends a strong enough message about the damage caused by Kahn's comments.

Because a strong message doesn't need to go to David Kahn.

The message needs to go to everyone else.

By insinuating that the NBA manipulated the top of the draft lottery to take care of Cleveland -- hell, he didn't insinuate it; he said it -- Kahn moved an entire league one step closer to game-fixing referee Tim Donaghy.

And that's a step that cannot be tolerated.

Kahn wasn't just griping or whining. Gripers and whiners can be mocked and taunted. They can be ignored, because the dishonor they bring is primarily on themselves. What Kahn did was to suggest dishonor for an entire league.

Look, we all know that NBA lottery conspiracy theories are fun. Pat Ewing to the Knicks. LeBron to nearby Cleveland. Derrick Rose to hometown Chicago. Weird things happen, and people like you and I can talk about it. We can wonder. We can gripe and whine.

David Kahn, as a team official, can't say a word. Because by saying a word, he gives those conspiracy theories weight they don't need or deserve. Listen, I don't believe those theories, not even for a second. That's a secret on the level of Roswell, something so big that it couldn't possibly be contained for decades. So in absence of actual facts -- without a picture of an alien in New Mexico, without a picture of a loaded lottery envelope from 1985 -- I refuse to believe something so insane.

But today, NBA fans all over the country are discussing the latest NBA lottery conspiracy theory, and they're able to attach that theory to a high-ranking team official.

David Stern has to suspend Kahn from the league. For a year. Maybe forever.

Forget sending a message to David Kahn. That idiot wouldn't understand anyway. David Stern needs to send that message to us.

UPDATE, 10:05 AM: OK, so here's video of Kahn's comments. It's not nearly as nefarious as the stories coming out of the draft suggest. That said, he's making light -- in his own awkward, David Kahn way -- of a widow and a kid with a nerve disorder. And he does raise the whiff of conspiracy theories. So I'm torn. Not sure he should be banished from the league anymore, no. But I'm pretty sure the league isn't a better place because David Kahn is in it.

Category: NBA
Tags: Conspiracy
Posted on: May 17, 2011 8:16 pm

Game 1 pregame. Me and Carlisle! Sort of.

DALLAS -- Awfully good of Dallas coach Rick Carlisle and Oklahoma City's Scott Brooks to lay out the keys for the Western Conference Finals. Not so good of Carlisle to blow off my question, which I'll get to in a minute.

First, the keys.

Carlisle volunteered that his team is focused on three areas against Thunder: Avoiding turnovers, rebounding and transition defense. His biggest concern, it sounds to me, is the penetration of OKC point guard Russell Westbrook, because that penetration leads to scoring opportunities for Westbrook, NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant and others.

A few minutes later Brooks was asked to make like Carlisle and give three keys to this series. He came back with two of the same ones: avoiding turnovers, and rebounding. His third was 3-point defense, noting that the Mavericks have some of the most prolific 3-point shooters in NBA history (Jason Kidd is third all-time, Peja Stojakovic fourth and Jason Terry eighth).

Back to Carlisle, and my question. He started it! Well, he did. He mentioned how "fragile" success is in the NBA, how things can change quickly, and that his team has to "stay in the present."

So I asked what I thought was a logical follow question about the fragility of success, as it related to his aging team. I asked him about the thin line between being experienced and being old, and if his team was close to that line. I asked him if his team's window for an NBA title was open now, but closing soon.

Carlisle gave me one of those squinting, frowning looks. And he said, "I don't think about that. I'm only thinking about this game."

Fine. Be that way.

Category: NBA
Posted on: May 10, 2011 7:21 pm
Edited on: May 10, 2011 7:22 pm

I might use these Larry Drew quotes later

CHICAGO -- First, and most importantly, I really like Hawks coach Larry Drew. No idea if he's a great coach or a terrible one. I'm not qualified to make that call (not yet anyway ... ahem), but as a person I really like that guy. He's humble, realistic, not engrossed in the mastery of Larry Drew.

Best of all, he's hopelessly honest. Which leads me to the reason for this blogg entry. Asked before Game 5 if he had any idea what he would get Tuesday night from his team -- a cast of characters that includes the inconsistent Joe Johnson, the erratic Jamal Crawford and indecipherable Josh Smith -- Drew told the truth.

"Do I know? No. I don't. I have no idea," he said.

And then he kept going.

"All four games, we saw something different. Game 1, played like we knew we could win the game. ... Game 2, we completely reverted back to our old style, quick-shooting. ... Game 3, no energy. ... Game 4, we came out like a team possessed."

Category: NBA
Tags: Larry Drew
Posted on: May 9, 2011 11:39 am
Edited on: May 9, 2011 11:44 am

I blame Phil Jackson

Ron Artest melts down. Then Lamar Odom. Then Andrew Bynum.

I blame Phil Jackson.

Not for each of the three, no. Not for Artest in particular. But the next two? And the last one, Bynum's elbow to Jose Juan Barea's throat just 45 seconds after Odom mugged Dirk Nowitzki? Of course I blame Phil Jackson.

That's his team. Those are his players. And everything they do on the court -- whether they win or lose, and whether they play like sportsmen or punks -- is a reflection of the coach.

Again, Artest is on his own. He does his lunacy act late in Game 2, and that's Artest being Artest. Lamar Odom follows up with his own senseless act late in Game 4, and I'd be inclined to give Jackson the benefit of the doubt there as well.

But for it to happen again? This time by Bynum? Less than a minute later?

That's on Jackson.

It's on Bynum more, of course. He'll have to live with the repercussions of that cowardly act of violence, the biggest player on the court taking a sucker shot at the smallest player. But it's on Jackson, too, for not making it clear to his team -- down 30 points with less than 8 1/2 minutes to play, the game way out of reach -- that Lamar Odom's punk move would be the end of it.

Jackson didn't make that clear. You saw the result.

But Jackson is a hands-off coach, anyway. Have you ever been to a Lakers game? It's shocking how little he coaches his players during the game. For timeouts, his team comes to the bench while Jackson walks onto the court with his staff. As the players sit there, Jackson ignores them, doodling on his pad as if he's drawing up something. Maybe he's playing Sudoku. In any event, when a game official gives the 15-second notice, Jackson finally walks over to the huddle, leans in for a quick word, and it's over.

Great coaching.

Apparently Jackson does all most of his coaching during practice. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt there and assume that he actually teaches something when we're not watching.

One thing this team never learned: class. And that's on the head coach.

Category: NBA
Tags: Phil Jackson
Posted on: May 2, 2011 6:48 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 7:32 pm

Hawks-Bulls about to tip Game 1. Boozer starts!

CHICAGO -- Did you come here looking for a Carlos Boozer update? Forget it. There isn't one. Not yet. And I got that from a source close to the situation, a source I cannot name because ... screw it. I got that from Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

After Boozer went through a pregame workout at the United Center early Monday -- more than hour before Atlanta's team bus arrived -- Thibodeau said Boozer and trainers would need to evaluate how Boozer felt closer to tipoff. But Thibodeau did thip his hand (see what I did there?) by saying Boozer was getting "better each day" and noting that he looked good during the workout.

Thibodeau also tipped his hand the other way by declaring that Kurt Thomas would start if Boozer cannot play.

I'll have more on this situation as it develops. Or not. I'm already bored by the topic, especially given that the more important injury is on the other side. Hawks guard Kirk Hinrich, the ex-Bull, won't play tonight and might not play at all this series. Without him, the Hawks' chances would be slim to none.
And slim left town.

UPDATE (6:31 p.m. CT): Official starting lineup has Carlos Boozer at power forward for the Bulls. Kirk Hinrich is inactive for the Hawks.

Category: NBA
Posted on: March 7, 2011 7:19 am

Show some restraint, Mark Cuban

At risk of coming off as an old fuddy-duddy to Mark Cuban's cool hip dude ... why can't Cuban stay off Charlie Sheen's lawn?

I mean, honestly. WTF?

Cuban is the charismatic, brilliant owner of the Dallas Mavericks, HDNet and whatever else he wants to buy, assuming it's not a Major League Baseball team. Since those folks won't let Cuban into their club. Cuban has money and smarts, and he's a thinker and a dreamer.

But trying to make money off Charlie Sheen? That's not thinking. That's not dreaming.

That's taking advantage.

I can't sit here and tell you what's wrong with Charlie Sheen. I just know something is. Chemical, mental, spiritual. Feline leukemia maybe, what with all that #TigerBlood.

Sheen is a ratings machine. I get that. Hell, I contribute to that. Show me a TV show with him on it. Show me a radio show. Show me a Twitter feed. I'll watch. I'll listen. I'll read. The guy's fascinating.

He's also troubled. Beyond troubled, is my guess.

And Mark Cuban wants to tap into that trouble for some revenue of his own? You have enough money, Cuban.

But have you any shame?

Category: NBA
Posted on: January 13, 2011 8:09 am

LeBron is stupid, gutless

The title pretty much says it all, doesn't it? LeBron James is a moron, and LeBron James is a coward. This stuff is obvious, but James hasn't gotten to the point -- doesn't deserve to ever get to the point -- where his crimes against common sense and courtesy should be ignored or written off as old news.

Although it is getting rather old. In a delightful, how-low-can-he-go sort of way.

The latest was James' declaration that "karma is a b----" after Cleveland was routed by 55 points by the Lakers on Tuesday night. Shortly after the game went final, James sent out his Tweet heard 'round the world, commenting on karma and concluding that "'God sees everything!"

James never mentioned Cleveland specifically, but he didn't have to. The timing was obvious. The implication was clear. Cleveland had been mean to him when he left for the Heat, the townsfolk burning his jersey and the owner firing off a red-hot letter to the fans vowing to win a title before "the self-proclaimed King."

After that 55-point loss to the Lakers, Cleveland had the worst record in the NBA. Miami was No. 1 in the East. Karma, James told us, is a b----.

After the world recoiled in disgust at James' cruelty, James backed off: That Tweet wasn't directed at Cleveland. He didn't say who it was directed to, didn't say specifically or even give a hint generically, meaning that was a lie right up there with "the dog ate my homework" or "I had no idea what the word contraction meant."

And in case anyone saw through the transparency of his lie that he hadn't been talking about Cleveland, James said something else: That wasn't even him who wrote that Tweet. Here's a hint to James, and to future liars everywhere: When you're giving two different excuses, telling two completely unrelated stories to cover your tracks, you're busted. You know it. We know it.

So finally, after the contraction fiasco followed by this Tweet nonsense, what we know is this: James isn't smart enough to know when he's about to say something stupid. And he isn't brave enough to stand behind his words when the world calls him on his stupidity.

At this point, maybe he should just shut up.

Category: NBA
Tags: LeBron James
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