Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
Rajon Rondo was getting to the rim at will, making it look just as easy as #23 on the other team does. He was picking his lanes, attacking them, and scooping home a lay-up. And when Rondo wasn’t scoring he was playing the role of true point guard, getting his guys the best looks you can ask for. A drive and a hand off to Kendrick Perkins for a slam. A perfect pass from half-court to Kevin Garnett, who was hiding in the paint, to get another easy bucket. Rondo was also getting Ray Allen involved in the offense early to get him going, assisting him on a 20-foot jumper and a three on back-to-back possessions, making Rasheed Wallace look like he was not a slob to a National TV audience, and he even knocked in a jumper.
To put it simply, Rondo had one of the best quarters you will see. He scored or assisted on the first 21 points of the ball game and finished the quarter scoring or assisting on 25 points out of 31 total.
But it was all downhill from there for Boston. After outscoring the Cavs by 10 in the first quarter, the Cavs would win every following period by two points, seven points, and 21 points respectively.
It was a lack of intensity on defense that was present in the first quarter. It was Kevin Garnett‘s legs not giving him enough lift to get boards that he needed to get. It was LeBron James getting to the hoop without anybody trying to stop him (unless you count Rasheed Wallace and his lazy fouls). It was the C’s losing Mo Williams in the corner a few times in the fourth quarter. It was Marquis Daniels not having enough in the tank to stick with LeBron in the second half (he did well in the first quarter, though). It was missing Paul Pierce down the stretch when they needed him to make LeBron work on D, draw fouls and put the ball in the basket.
It was a complete collapse.
LeBron had an amazing game. He didn’t hit many outside shots, but he did hit a three in the flow of the offense (To cancel that out, he shot a three from 27-feet with a man on him. Bad LeBron! No!), and, when he asserted himself offensively, could not be stopped on his way to the rim. Which, of course, is what I plead for him to do every time he touches the ball (to no avail). The way he made Kendrick Perkins, a thick, strong, physical brute himself, bounce off of him on his way to the rack just goes to show how much of an athletic freak that he is.
James finished with a line of 36 points on 11-of-23 shooting (3-6 from three, 11-15 from the line), nine assists, seven boards and a pair of turnovers. I’m pretty sure this could be his career average if he took it to the rack every possession. I can actually guarantee it.
While James was the story, and deservedly so, the “hero of the day” award would go to Mo Williams. Four or five three’s in the fourth quarter alone. James drives to the rim and dishes out to Williams for the easy dish. Williams dribbles up court, gets lost in some motion and lets a three fly. He was hitting on all cylinders from outside. It was his best post-shoulder injury game.
After starting off super hot (12 points, five dimes in the first Q), Rajon Rondo finished with just 19 points on 19 shots and 11 assists.
-Antawn Jamison is a good player. He stretches the floor, gets to the rim on cuts (this is magnified with a passer like James), and makes uncanny shots around the basket. I like his game. Always have. But do the Cavs need him? J.J. Hickson does not have a set of offensive moves, doesn’t have much of a shot and is not considered an above average player. But tell me he is not perfect with LeBron. An athletic four that has LeBron’s passing figured out, making it easy for him to expect LeBron’s pass and finish at the rim on an alley-oop. He’s not a bad passer in the post either.
-It’s good to have both but Hickson might be the better fit with James on the floor. Of course, it’s easy to say that as Jamison has only played four games with LeBron, but the run that Cleveland made in this game started with a couple of Jamison buckets that James set-up but ended with Hickson running the break with LeBron with Jamison on the bench. I’d rather have Jamison on the floor with the second unit so he can provide a pretty good scoring option as the primary player. Hickson isn’t great without LeBron, while he is with him. Jamison is good with LeBron (can be great with time) and is great without.
Just a thought.
-This must be mentioned. Shaq left the game with a sprained right thumb. It left me flabbergasted and led to this tweet that made the rounds:
Shaq sprains a thumb and sits out? Kobe has played with a broken finger for three straight years. Unreal. Shaq has the ball less often too.
A couple of people tried to come up with an argument for Shaq, but none were good. Someone argued that the the thumb is more important than the pinkie. Maybe so. However, it’s not as if Kobe has only had a broken pinkie, he’s broken his ring and index fingers, too. Also, Shaq doesn’t shoot jumpshots, so this injury would have a WHOLE LOT less of an effect on him.Caught a few segments of this game. Re-watched others. I’m starting to like what the Bucks throw out there. An all-star center, an emerging rookie point guard, a forward that failed in Chicago but seems to fit right in with this team. It’s good enough to make them an eighth seed.
Andrew Bogut had 15 on seven-of-nine shooting, 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks. Brandon Jennings struggled from the field (18 points on 18 shots) but he made a big shot late, created for others (seven assists) and was a rascal on D. John Salmons had 20 points, getting to the line 10 times. The Bucks needed someone who could draw fouls from the perimeter and it looks as if Salmons will be able to bring that added dimension. Like that trade for both teams (Hakim Warrick to the Bulls).
The Pacers went small to start the game, putting Troy Murphy at center from the get go. That didn’t go too well. Roy Hibbert came in later and got some key baskets on nice post moves, but he only managed to pull down one board. Danny Granger had a game high 21 points. Denver couldn’t miss from three, seemingly. 16-for-27 from beyond the arc. That’s good for a 59% connection rate from deep. Unreal.
Chauncey Billups was the ring leader, having his second game in the past month in which he was simply unconscious from three. Mr. Big Shot had 37 points on 13-of-19 from the field and six-for-eight from deep. Nine assists and six boards, too.
Carmelo Anthony wasn’t as good as Chauncey tonight, but he hit what I considered the dagger with five minutes left to push the lead to 12. It was a nice 20-foot J with nobody on him. Perfect swish. After being shot happy from the outside early, Melo got to the hoop as the game went on, drew some fouls, missed some free throws and finished with 27 points.
The Warriors tried to win this game. They really did. Their bigs were, for the most part, killing themselves to get the ball when it came off the rim, Stephen Curry was amazing, and the crowd was rocking.
But, in the end, the Denver posts were too big, too strong, too well polished to the point where they simply couldn’t be contained downlow. Even without Kenyon Martin, who left at half-time with an injury, Nene and Chris Andersen played alongside each other in a fast paced line-up and they put together some great ball. Neither scored a bunch, that was up to the guards and Melo, but they both had double-digit rebounds, blocked shots, and, in Nene’s case, wrote the textbook on interior passing.
I guess I have to say this every time that I watch Curry for a full game: He is incredible. His basketball IQ is through the roof. Are you kidding me? This line from a rookie: 30 points on 11-of-19, 13 assists, seven rebounds and two steals? Come on. That’s ridiculous stuff.
And don’t tell me its the offense. I watched this game from beginning to end and, though he has the freedom to shoot the ball quickly on every play, Curry didn’t take one Monta Ellis shot. Every shot he took was at the rim, a wide open look, a good shot in transition or the product of good ball movement. And the system doesn’t get him 13 assists. No, his uncanny court vision as a rookie does. His ability to catch the ball after a Nugget tried to save a loose ball on a rebound, take a step back to the three point line, and make a cross court, one-handed (lefty, I believe) pass to Anthony Morrow to get him a wide open three (which he nailed, plus a foul), is what gets him those assists.
In the much anticipated battle of the two biggest gunslingers in the league, Monta Ellis and J.R. Smith, the man with the Transformers tattoo on his neck took home the trophy. 25 points on eight-of-17 shooting, including seven three’s for Smith as Ellis went for 22 points but took 22 shots.