A return of speed and an all-star ballot gaffe, as it turns out
We’re pretty much back to a series of unrelated items today since they didn’t work yesterday and, save for an hour answering questions and couple of hours doing this, neither did I.
All indications I got yesterday were that Leandro Barbosa will be back in the lineup tonight, giving Jay a full complement of wings for the first time in a while.
And given Houston’s backcourt speed, I’m thinking we’ll see a lot of the Brazilian blur.
Toronto’s defence, while better than last year, still lacks in the whole “keeping people in front of them” department and a guy with Barbosa’s speed can only help.
But, as we know, it crowds the rotation a little bit.
Speaking of crowds, it’ll be kind of interesting to see how the HOTH draw over the next little while, won’t it?
Seven of their next eight are at home and there are some good draws in there like Boston and Oklahoma City, there are a couple of Sunday afternoon tilts and I wonder if there’s any buzz whatsoever about this team, regardless of its record.
If I had to guess, I don’t think we see a sellout in these seven – maybe Sunday afternoon for the Celtics – but this is a perfect fortnight for these guys to gain some favour with fans who are very much in a wait-and-see mode.
So, the all-star ballot is out and a couple of us are taking some heat here and there for the omission of Not Ronnie Milsap.
I remember the call and the debate and here’s kind of the stuff we were up against.
Having to get three players from every team – and having to strictly stick to 24 guards, 24 forwards and 12 centres from each conference – there’s a lot of to and fro to fill out the slots.
As I recall, it came down to Carl Landry as a third Sacramento King (the policy that’s developed in my two years is to only include the No. 1 draft among rookies and even then, it’s not a lock so no Cousins) or Paul Millsap as a forward.
Some of us – me chief among them – wondered if Millsap would have “all-star” credentials playing alongside or after Al Jefferson and we had been told (and the conference call was in mid-October, mind you) that Mehmet Okur would be back.
We certainly didn’t see a 46-point game coming from Millsap (thanks, Chris!) and, in hindsight, we got it wrong.
Funny thing about hindsight, though; it’s always 20-20 and creates a lot of room for debate.
Should Millsap be on the ballot? I guess so. Now.
Then? I thought otherwise, as wrong as those thoughts may be.
I don’t think apologies are at all necessary. The five of us – myself, Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated, J.A. Adande of ESPN.com, Art Garcia of NBA.com, Marc Spears of yahoo.com and Marv Albert took some time and effort to make what we thought were logical choices and missed one.
Do I think Millsap deserves to start as an all-star? Of course not. But, as things have turned out, I do think the Utah fans should probably have he option of getting him some votes.
It’s a hit-and-miss proposition, doing something like an all-star ballot a week before the season begins. Maybe we missed on that one but, overall, I’m quite okay with the way things turned out.
Want to know what’s up in Houston? Jonathan tells you here.
Quickly out of the mail:
Q: Hi Doug. I only caught the fourth quarter and wasn't at all surprised that Amir fouled out again. However, I just looked at the box score and discovered he only played fourteen minutes! What can be done to help a player not to commit fouls and do you think Johnson has been branded by the refs or is he really that foul prone?
Richard G, Toronto
A: While he’s better more often, Johnson still has a penchant for fouling too much mainly because his defensive footwork isn’t there yet – he’s had a tendency to guard mainly with his arms – and he still gets too many hanging around the offensive boards reaching and slapping for balls.
But, trust me, he gets his fouls entirely on merit, I’m pretty sure refs aren’t all that aware of his, um, stature and don’t go looking for him when he’s on the court.
You lucky, lucky readers are going to find out more than you ever wanted to know about the D League early next week but there was some history made Thursday night.
Nancy Lieberman, an icon in the women’s hoops world, made her debut as the head coach of the expansion Texas Legends as the minor league season began.
Lieberman’s Legends lost 123-115 to the defending D League champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers, just in case you missed it.
Take a shot at the mail right here, okay?
No Yao tonight, right?
(That really screwed up my plans for a big Yao takeout in today’s paper, by the way)
What’s it mean? Well, Luis Scola might get 40 rebounds, Brad Miller and Andrea Bargnani will combine to jump a total of about four feet off the ground over the course of the game, and we won’t get to see the big fella play on Houston’s only visit here.
Too bad; Yao remains one of the most star-crossed stars of this era and it’s a shame. I like the way the guy plays and appreciate the way he carries himself with the burden of being his country’s iconic basketball star.
Oh yeah, we will be back with the usual In Game Blog Thingy tonight and looking at the schedule, I’m only sitting out two games between now and the first of the calendar year so we’ll be quite regular with it and even do those two (at Indy and at New York) from the comfort of, well, maybe the comfort of somewhere else.
Anyway, see you tonight.