There's this and there's that about a really good game
Great game, no?
I know there’s nothing like a moral victory in the big leagues but that one had to feel good. What they did, they did well; they were one shot away from stealing a pretty big win.
Oh, seriously, don’t get used to this stuff getting posted so early, this time zone crap is still really messing with an old guy’s body and mind.
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
What else could you want?
I am certain – and it’s mainly because I’ve had an e-mail or two on it already – that there are those out there who take exception to the offence they ran in the final 38 seconds of that game.
Let me ask you this:
When Turkoglu took the three, and when he took the shot at the buzzer, did anyone think there was a better idea? The three was an open look on an obvious two-for-one situation that went about halfway down and back out. The two came off a switch, was a relatively uncontested 20-footers and when it left his hand, it looked good.
The only thing I might have done differently was run high screen and roll rather than some action on the side so there’d be a better chance at penetration and a drive-and-kick but if they end up with two good looks by Turkoglu in the last 30 seconds of one-point games the rest of the season, I’m sure they’d be quite happy with that.
A little teaching time
I imagine none of you see this because the lights aren’t on and the broadcast hasn’t started but about 90 minutes before each game, assistant coach Eric Hughes and DeMar DeRozan sit down for a little tutorial that I finally got around to asking about.
It’s either on the bench or in the seats but they sit there with a laptop for about 10 or 20 minutes deep in conversation.
Because I’m an astute observer of things, I figure they’re not watching GruntTV (although who could blame them if they are) and I ask Eric about it last night.
Seems what they’re watching is video of DeMar from the previous game, going over what he did right, and what he did wrong.
With some many people offering so much advice to a 20-year-old rookie, the staff figures if he gets some quiet time before a game going over what happened the last time out and what he can correct, it’s going to do more to stay fresh in his mind when that night’s action gets under way.
It’s a good teaching tool, and a smart thing to do. Make fresh in his mind the mistakes he might have made so he doesn’t repeat them.
Small thing but, perhaps, with big dividends.
Give the coach credit
The one thing that’s stood out over the last three games has been the willingness of Jay to make changes mid-stream and the willingness of the players to accept those alterations.
Chicago? They switched the coverage on Derrick Rose and won in the second half.
Clippers? They doubled Kaman and then didn’t and entirely befuddled Los Angeles in the second half.
Phoenix? They switch everything to stay in contact with shooters, leaving guys like Jose to guard Stoudemire on the block until help comes but the aggressive double-team works well most of the time.
What that means to me is twofold:
It shows Jay’s not adverse to changing things up depending on the strengths of the opponents.
But, perhaps more important, the fact that all of the moves worked to a large degree now means the players will feel comfortable the next time he says, ‘hey, we’re going to do this tonight.’
Having tangible evidence that changes in strategy will pay off is a huge boost for a coach in the minds of his players and buys him a lot of goodwill.
And in the rest of the news:
A guy fighting a stupid head cold wanders across the street from his luxuriously appointed hotel to find some sort of drug store or pharmacy and there’s Fry’s. Perfect.
Find the pharmacy part of the store and the Tylenol display and notice that it’s a bit odd that you’d have to take a piece of paper up to the desk to get a bottle of cold remedy but what the heck, when in Rome …
Gets weirder from there, though.
Mr. Pharmacist asks for a driver’s licence and drops off a form where you have to fill in name, address, date of birth and everything except next of kin before he’ll sell you some stinking cold medicine.
A huge pain in the derriere.
And the cold’s still there.
Oh yeah, I held the sunny and warm crap over you in L.A. and Phoenix so I should mention it snowed in Denver on Sunday and there’s a high of 40 F expected today.
GruntTV’s outside shots are, I believe, over.
My buddy Paul Coro sums up the game this way.
Seeing John Shumate before the game was pretty cool, he’s one of the few Day 1ers still actively involved in the game.
And it struck me that if they are into “recognizing” people from the past 15 years, why not do him when Phoenix comes to town in a couple of weeks.
After all, he was on a pretty good staff of a team that over-achieved in a 21-win expansion season.
Can we make this happen? Dredge up a Notre Dame highlight or two; maybe an assistant coaching moment? Let’s get it done.
By every quantifiable or anecdotal measure, there is no way in the world Channing Frye equals Shaquille O’Neal, right?
Then why is he such a good fit in Phoenix when the sure-fire Hall of Famer wasn’t?
Horses for courses, is how you explain it.
Frye’s a big who can shoot – not quite as good consistently as the 6-for-8 night he had from beyond the arc on Sunday – and on any team with Steve Nash orchestrating things, bigs who can shoot are a must.
Frye’s not necessarily a good inside presence (watching him stumble and bumble his way out of double-teams proved that) but he’s going to make the Suns far more dangerous on offence this year than Shaq did a year ago.
Remember how, on opening night, we gave props to Marcus Banks for a 26-second stint in which he played good defence, worked hard and did what he was asked to in an instance when a lot of players would have coasted through the one possession they were going to play that night?
Well, Sonny Weems did that for 8:26 against the Suns.
And he deserves some credit.
He didn’t mess up defensively, made the only two shots he took and, just what you want from a guy who knows he’s going to be buried on the bench for almost every game, he was ready when he was called on.
That’s impressive because a lot of guys would have tried to do too much or made some kind of impression in another way. All Sonny did was his job. Sounds like an easy task, right? Well, lots of guys don’t.
The schedule for today? Glad you asked.
After a night in Phoenix (and I can highly, highly recommend the Half Moon sports bar out by Camelback), it’s practice this morning here, a late-day flight to Denver and, hopefully, a nice quiet night of dinner and, perchance, a cocktail.
But there’s no indication of when, or if, there’ll be wireless access before so if the posting of comments is tardy, there’s not much I can do.
See ya from the Mile High City.