No Cigars for Dallas today

29 11 2008

Dallas Mavericks (7-7) at Los Angeles Lakers (11-1)

The last time the Mavs played the Lakers, LA managed to only just eke out a win.  Dallas come to town with high hopes and a fully-loaded Dirk Nowitzki.  Dirk’s been firing of late, averaging a handy 28.8 points and 11.6 boards over the last five games.  Even tho’ the Lakers boast one of the best teams in the NBA at both ends of the court, Dallas would have to rate themselves for this game.

Phil being phunny...LA.  Quite simply they are the cream of the crop at the moment.  Used to be that if you shut down Kobe, then you shut down LA.  Not any more.  Even when Kobe’s not hot now, LA are winning… and by a league-best average of 14+ points per.  You can’t just stop #24, you have to stop the entire team. No-one’s playing big minutes yet, largely because they haven’t needed to. It’s a well-balanced team that comes at you from all angles. Phil’s got them playing very, very well.

Dallas have found recent form that might come close to doing that. Having won 5 on the trot, not only is Nowitzki playing well, but you can also look to wily ol’ veterans Jason Terry and J-Kidd as well. Funny that. You have to wonder if it’s the lesser impact of a somewhat distracting owner.

The Lakers will be looking to extend their own 5 game winning streak, and move to an impressive 12-1 thus far this season.
I see that happening. LA by 17.


2010… a basketball Odyssey

27 11 2008

Enough said...

Thanks Frank (of eTrueSports)…

No love for NJ in LA

26 11 2008

November 25th – New Jersey Nets (6-6) at LA Lakers (11-1)

The Nets of New Jersey.
The NBA’s blandest franchise? Have to come close. Cleveland were bland, until they got to play luggage to LeBron (and you can probably count on two fingers how much longer that will go on). Milwaukee? No, they have good beer. Nope, it’s NJ.

Cap'n Jack and some bum...Who does this team belong to? Devon Harris? Or Vince Carter?
Hard to say, but they bring their team into a pretty tough version today against the 11-1 Lakers.
Not that the venue itself is particularly daunting… well, ok – the lighting’s awesome (at least, it is for Lakers’ games), but the crowd itself are pussy cats. ‘Cept for Cap’n Jack – but he’s so over the top he’s almost like a caricature at any rate.
No, it’s not the venue, but who resides there that make this a tough trip.
The Lakers have opened this season on a mission. There’s a surprise. And they are playing the best defense I’ve seen a Laker team play in many, many years.
That’s not to say they can’t lose. Sooner or later, they’re going to – I have Christmas Day penciled in as a big game… ok, probably before that – but just LOOK at their schedule! Post this game, 2 days rest, then Dallas, 2 days rest, then Toronto. Then look at December: first 3 weeks they barely see a team with a better-than-.500 record!
One’d almost think David Stern loves LA or something.
Oh, wait a sec…

Anyway… Yes, LA will lose – and probably soon, but it won’t be today.  LA by 14 here.

Blogger Power Rankings

25 11 2008

In line with my rankings published yesterday, Bright Side of the Sun has the Blogger Power Rankings up – well worth heading over to Bright Side of the Sun to check ’em out (Lakers #1 again!)…

Power Rankings With Malice

24 11 2008

Here’s my second installment of power rankings. A bit of movement, some sliding up, some spiraling down. At least we’re starting to recognise who these teams are going to be this season, and I gotta say, there’s some surprises out there.

With Malice’s Pawa-rannkingu

1. LA Lakers – at 10-1, Kobe Bryant is averaging fewer minutes than any but his first two seasons in the NBA. And now Shaq wants back in on it…

2. Boston – Beastly. Of course, what would you expect from a team with the world’s best player. Just ask Paul Pierce – he’ll tell you.

LeBron leading the Samsonites3. Cleveland – the Samsonites are doing a pretty good job of riding LeBron James coattails. And damn, can he carry a team or what? There’s a bit of a gap between 3 (Cleveland) and 4 (Houston) at the moment within the NBA.

4. Houston – really tight here. There’s not a helluva lot between Houston and Phoenix at the moment, but with Ming, McGrady & Artest this team can beat anyone on any given day. Problem is – health. This unit is just waiting to be the NBA’s answer to M.A.S.H.

5. Phoenix – pretty much the only reason I rank them behind Houston is because at times, they look really, really lost out there. Terry Porter’s a good fit for Shaq, and the Big Cactus is performing at levels he hasn’t seen since leaving LA. Problem is, the half court offense’s not such a good fit for Nash.

6. Detroit – at times they can look really, really good… but at times they look just average. Losses to Boston (twice now – once at home, once away) and Phoenix (in PHX) are understandable… but the Nets? Detroit have to sort out their entire “we-play-when-we-want-to” routine. Didn’t work last year, and won’t this year.

7. Orlando – The Magic live and die with Dwight Howard, and when he is absolutely in dire straits, they look average. Yao Ming virtually put a dress on Dwight, and had the rouge out for him as well. Still have a way to go before the Magic can be included on any “best-in-NBA” conversations.

8. Utah – Same ol’, same ol’. More Jerry Sloan’s legion of the undead. Boozer, and Williams out, and they still have the will to win. Need garlic and a cross to put this one down.

9. Atlanta – A string of recent losses, including a loss to Indiana and two to New Jersey are really worrying. The loss in Cleveland? Meh, so what – a lot of teams will get beaten by LeBron this season. Horford not looking good and the unit doesn’t look any where near as good as it did at the start of the season. Still hoping they’re Hawks, and not pigeons.

10. Denver – The middling 10 of the Power Rankings are tough at the moment… could go anywhere. But 10th spot’s for the Nuggets, who looked really good with the Billups trade. Until they hit a buzz-saw in LA. Thinking of running out the ol’ “Enver” nick-name for them again.

11. Portland – Still have a way to go to be one of the elite, but it was truly gratifying to discover that Greg Oden probably isn’t Sam Bowie.

12. Toronto – Several near misses have this good team sitting at a precarious .500. Already hamstrung with Jose Calderon not being 100%, look for this team to pluTIMMY!!!mmet further if Jermaine O’Neal’s injury equates a fair amount of games missed. Bargnani isn’t anyone’s version of a savior.

13. San Antonio – hard to place them above NOLA – who have a better record… just – but the Spurs are playing some decent ball again after a truly dismal start. Timmy. Enough said.

14. New Orleans – You know those Discovery channel documentaries when they pull up a statue from deep see covered in grime, they wipe away the grime and it’s actually made of gold? Well, the Hornets are kinda like that. In reverse. Wipe away the glittery stuff and they are looking average. The next two weeks will really tell us who this unit are this season.

15. Philadelphia – Definitely surprised at how mediocre this team has managed to look thus far this season. Sitting at .500, but so? They’re in one of the tougher divisions in the East, and wins have come over Pacers, Thunder and Clippers. So that’s not so hot… have to improve, and fast.

16. Dallas – sheesh… this might be too high for them, but after a horrific start to November, Dallas are looking good over the last week.

17. Milwaukee – up a bit from last rankings, and looking half-decent. Their losses have come at the hands of those that are clearly better, and the Bucks are winning the games they’re meant to win. That’s something that can’t be said for a lot of other teams around this mark. Look for this team to climb the rankings somewhat: Jefferson and Sessions are playing well, and Bogut’s becoming bit of a minor beast – averaging a double/double (11/11).

18. Miami – Dwayne Wade, the Amazing Teflon Boy, is back and playing some damn good basketball. That’s enough to see Miami climb somewhat, but I still find myself tentative on Wade, and thus Miami. I’m not convinced that he’s *not* fragile.

19. New Jersey Nets – Sheesh… Devin Harris is a start in the making, and they’re doing ok, but expect them to sink into the Atlantic post a tough road trip next week.

20. Chicago – 2 and a half weeks on the road is not going to treat this team kindly. Some nice work at times, but you can only fall back on the “baby Bulls” tag for so long before it becomes a mere apology for a poorly performed team.

21. New York – Big trades make for an interesting line-up. Still a lot of work to do… and NYK fans have a long 2 years to wait until all this pain and suffering (and with the roster they currently have, there will be pain and suffering!) maybe – MAYBE – pays off.

22. Golden State – Something’s just not working here. Nellie had better figure out what that is and then some. Some of their players are doing very well – Stephen Jackson, Andris Biendrins… but it’s just not equating ‘wins’.
The waxing of the LA Lakers coincides with the waning of Golden State.

23. Indiana – This team’s ability to blow double digit leads borders on the uncanny. Fold worse than a cheap suit.

24. Sacramento – Kevin Martin’s good. So’s John Salmons. The rest of this team are simply off-cuts, junk and throw-aways mixed with some over-the-hills.

Thunder Knicks Basketball25. Memphis – even tho’ there’s cause for a little optimism with the roster they’re building, they’re in for a rough time of it. The South West has more guns than an Arnie movie.

26. LA Clippers – climb a lil’ purely on having signed Zach Randolph who should make a difference. Not a helluva lot, but they won’t be the Washington Generals any more.

27. Charlotte – Note to Bob: to win games, you have to score. Sell the team to Michael and be done with it.

28. Minnesota – Traded KG to get younger and better. A season on, what do we have? A year older, and no better. Still somewhere down near the bottom of the pile. Sure, some of these losses have been by narrow margins, but a loss is a loss.

29. Washington – Flip a coin, who’s worse? OKC or the Wiz…

30. Oklahoma City – Kevin Durant’s a nice player… but OKC Thunder? Ewwwww…

Umm… sorry Joe, that’s a “No”

24 11 2008

November 23rd – Sacramento Kings (5-9) at Los Angeles Lakers (10-1)

The Sacramento Kings get to play Daniel today, heading into the lion’s den (aka The Staples Center), but this time it’s highly unlikely that we’ll have any biblical endings. Wasn’t so long ago that a Kings/Lakers match-up was much-anticipated. Now? We have a David and Goliath storyline, but with a heartwarming lil’-guy-does-well story not likely to eventuate.
There are some shining lights at Sacramento – recent losses haven’t been blow-outs, and Kevin Martin, and John Salmons are good players on the verge of “very good”. Beno Udrih is one of the unsung point guards in the league… and Spencer Hawes looks promising. Beyond that, well… Brad Miller’s still serviceable. This is a weak rebounding team that’s coming up against a well-rested strong rebounding team that’s barely been tested beyond the loss to Detroit.  This, with the Maloof brothers breathing down the front office’s collective necks…
An LA win is expected.

Ummm... no-no Nene!No LA player has amassed an average court-time beyond 34 minutes thus far this season. LA’s ability to push the game’s scoring (ranked 2nd in the league), and limit their opponents (ranked 3rd), in combination with the team’s depth has allowed players such as Kobe Bryant (who hasn’t played this few a minutes since his NBA-sophomore year) to stay well rested. Bryant’s 24 points per are quite a bit more impressive when you factor in that he’s basically playing 3 quarters per game.
Andrew Bynum gets closer and closer to averaging that double/double. Pau Gasol looks good every time out. Trevor Ariza will soon be in those “most improved player” conversations.

LA will hit their rough spots this season, and by and large how they react to those will be the true measure of how much a threat to the title this team is… but it won’t be today, and it won’t be the Sacramento Kings that push them to the brink.
LA by 15.

Nuggets to sink in Lakeshow

22 11 2008

November 21, Denver Nuggets (8-4) vs Los Angeles Lakers (9-1)

The first question that needs to be answered is did Denver add by subtracting Allen Iverson?  Clearly.
But the next equation is… is the addition of Chauncey Billups enough to make them one of the truly elite in the Western Conference?
Jury’s still out on that one.
They lost their best defensive presence in Marcus Camby, and yes, Nene is playing some damn fine ‘ball… but relying on a guy who’s spent more time in rehab than on hardwood for the past few years?

Denver spent the entire off-season focusing on defense, and adding a defensive-minded Billups and minusing the more-than-slightly defense-challenged Iverson really adds a bit more bite to what was one of the weakest defensive units in the West. Clearly, they’re better defensively.
But losing a player with the ability to put up points like Allen Iverson? That has to hurt!
Well… not entirely. Denver have the pieces to put up a big score, Melo can easily drop a cool 40+ on any team in the league – and it’s not like they call Billups “Mr Bigshot” for his passing ability – but Billups definitely is more of an ‘enabler’ than Iverson ever has been.
I really like the way this Denver unit is beginning to look. They have some nice pieces in Kleiza and Smith… and amazingly K-Mart is still putting up relatively good numbers.
But… can they beat the Lakeshow on their own turf?

Hunky-dory in LakerlandUmmm… no.
LA are rolling, the three-headed monster of Gasol/Bynum/Odom is increasingly difficult to stop. Kenyon Martin and Nene are going to have their hands full with that threesome – 2 on the court at all times. Everything’s hunky-dory.
And with the coasting finish over Phoenix yesterday, Kobe’s playing less than 35 minutes per. It’s over a decade since #24 played so little – you have to go back to ’97-98 to find Bryant averaging less playing time. His second season.
There are more than half a dozen players on this squad that could light up for 20+. The depth that the Lakers possess is hard to look past. Just ask Terry Porter’s Suns, who couldn’t keep Bryant on the court for the 4th quarter.

The final score of 105-92 flattered Phoenix, who really didn’t look like they were in the game from pretty much the second quarter on.  Shaq looked decent enough, but the slowed down game clearly isn’t sitting well with the Suns, who at times looked lost and disjointed.

Anyway, back on tomorrow’s game…
Whilst I think that the Lakers could open with a more dynamic line-up if they’d insert Ariza rather than Radmanovic, or even Vujacic (and run Kobe at the 3), it’s hard to argue with what Phil’s doing when they’re 9-1.
Denver are good, but they’re not that good. LA by 11.