The Morning After The Night Before, LVIII
About the middle of the third quarter, one guy on press row turns to the guy next to him and says, “I’ve never seen so many people wearing sunglasses inside.”
Dude on the other side leans over and says, “posers.”
Welcome to Staples Centre.
And, to cap a starlet-free trip, here we go:
Three Things I Learned
Now, wait. Kobe’s really good.
Hang on. Kobe’s freaking out-of-this-world good.
One play: He’s on the left baseline, gets by his man (easily and I don’t remember who it was) but has his path blocked. He ends up switching the ball over and taking a left-handed runner that gets nothing but net. At full speed. Two guys around him. I don’t think anyone else in the NBA makes that play.
Dude is other-worldly. As I may have mentioned, MVP voting stops and starts with him.
In the second quarter, they flash Kareem’s picture up on the board, introduce him as The Captain and the place goes nuts. Standing O. Well-deserved. Guess T.J. got in the mood, too, because I swear that third-quarter quasi-sky hook he put up had to be in homage of Abdul-Jabbar.
Speaking of T.J., I got almost as many “he sucks” e-mails last night as I did after the Orlando game. I guess you can’t please everyone. Personally, I think 23 shots is a tad excessive but watching him last night, you didn’t think he was forcing as many as he did against the Magic. And it wasn’t like anyone else was really filling it up. He had an advantage over Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar and he took advantage of it.
Changing it up
Not sure what you call it, but they showed a kind of new-look defence last night that worked pretty well. It was something akin to a box-and-one on Kobe, or a floating matchup zone, a little twist that might have stolen a game if a Laker team that came into the game shooting 37 per cent range didn’t knock down 15 of 32 tries. It was a bit of a gamble but it worked as well as they’d hoped and maybe it’s a precursor to what we might see in the first round of the playoff if Cleveland and LeBron are the opposition.
Quickly to the mail, because it’s 6:15 a.m. here as I type and I’ve got to be in the lobby at 7 to get to the airport.
Q: As a follow-up to the question about Dikembe's finger wag.
Apparently, the rumour goes that a while back when the NBA instituted stricter taunting rules, Deke went to David Stern because the finger wag was his signature move that he had been doing since the dawn of time.
Stern said that he could continue doing it, but that he could not wag his finger in the direction of any players on or off the court, which is why he turns to the fans and wags it with pride.
Any truth to that or is it just an urban legend?
Matthew S, Victoria
A: Not sure if Deke actually spoke to the commish but the rule does say you can wag, but only to the fans and Mutombo’s the only wagger in the league. The NBA is as much about the show as it is the game and it’s a good show.
Speaking of Deke, check this out, which was pointed out to me by the velvet-voiced yet sunburned E. Smith of the broadcast crew.
Here’s an ominous sign, and then a good one.
Talking to Bosh before the game, someone asked him if he could play if it was the playoffs; you know, fight through the pain and all?
He says, “even if I wanted to play, I couldn’t. They’d score on me every time and I couldn’t move on offence.”
Guess his return isn’t imminent.
However, he was on his way to the court to get up some set shots, the first shots he’d taken since the pain in his knee arrived.
Take the over. No matter what it is. (although gambling, unless sponsored by the goverment, is illegal)
The Golden State Warriors lead the league in scoring, averaging 111 points a game. They also lead the NBA in points allowed, giving up 108.
Here’s a couple more from the mail
Q: Lucky Doug. Enjoying the warm weather while I'm toiling with snow removal. Your blog and the mailbag are indeed great consolation for this winter turmoils!
1) O great one, why not Jefferson over Nocioni for BC's summer hunt? Is it due to financial equation, or is it because Nocioni is the missing Argentinian to BC's (aka Noah) collection of twos?
2) If 'team performance minus the candidate' is the main criterion for MVP consideration, who will get your vote among Kobe, LeBron, Paul and Garnett?
3) Knowing that the Raptors are still playoff-bound even while losing all these 5 western trip games, is the lack of urgency a factor in keeping Bosh out of the lineup as long as the team's comfort zone? Would you see his absence a blessing in disguise leading to matchup with a more preferable opponent in the first round?
Rikki C, Burlington
A: Hello, again.
Nocioni, I think, does more of the things the Raptors need than Jefferson, who certainly doesn’t suck and would be a good addition. But Noce’s defence, his ability to guard a couple of positions and his all-around game’s a better fit. The money’s cheaper, too.
I think if you read above you’ll know Kobe’s the MVP in my humble opinion.
You can’t manage where you’re going to finish, it’s folly. Let’s say they finish sixth and Cleveland ends up catching Orlando. What good does that do anyone? No, you’ve got to play to win every game and see what happens when the season is over.
Q: I honestly think that Chris Bosh cannot be a true "franchise player". Even given time to grow and blossom to reach his peak, he will never be a clutch performer. It seems he should be a second superstar to be a "sidekick" of a true superstar. Either we should acquire a true superstar now, or trade Bosh while he is still worth something big for a huge name that may take the Raps to the conference finals. And honestly, why do we still have Joey Graham.
Greg H, Toronto
A: I honestly think, with all due respect, that you may be off your rocker. You don’t find a lot of 22 and 9 guys around the NBA these days. I’m all for them acquiring “a true superstar” but if it was easy, wouldn’t everyone be doing it. If anyone’s learned anything in the last two weeks, it’s just how valuable Bosh is to this team.
Joey? Well, you gotta have guys on the end of the roster and he’s as good as any other 11th, 12th or 13th guy in the league.
Okay, off the LAX, will check in later from lovely San Francisco. Keep the cards and letters coming.