On the NBA: Til the Wheels Fall Off

Image courtesy of Neil Kremer via Flickr

When Mike Brown first occupied the movie director’s throne left by Phil Jackson in Los Angeles in the summer of 2011, a bevy of legitimate and nonsensical worries began to crop up about the former Cavaliers coach and Spurs assistant. Some thought he wouldn’t be ready for the magnifying glass (and mischievous child trying to start a fire known as the press accompanying it) that goes with working not only in the nation’s second-biggest market but also with the NBA’s most storied franchise. Others worried that the Lakers’ de facto leader and seeming misanthrope Kobe Bryant would not take too kindly to taking orders from anyone other than the best coach of all-time, who he still battled with on a constant basis. The silliest problem followers of the purple and gold had with the hire stemmed from the fumbling, kid-gloves approach that Brown and he rest of the Cavaliers organization took to handling superstardom in Cleveland, where LeBron James and his camp appeared to run roughshod over anyone in the Midwest who stood between them and what they wanted, which were mostly warmer French fries apparently. That fear looked to be completely lacking in context, altogether unaware of the wildly different situations in LA and The Forest City. The only thing all onlookers were sure of the Brown signing was that it meant more prominent roles in the team’s offense for the Lakers’ bigs, a move ostensibly quite obvious given Bryant’s age, Brown’s conservative playcalling and the immense talents, both literally and figuratively, present in the Lake Show’s interior. This all seemed painfully clear to everyone, everyone except Bryant who is leading the NBA in shots attempted per game and might just be tanking one of this current Lakers teams’ last chance at a ring. Read More »

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Houston Rockets @ San Antonio Spurs – January 11, 2012 7:30PM

The gist: The Rockets, albeit ugly, won their first road game against the Bobcats, 82-70. The Spurs, on the other hand are coming off a 106-103 road loss to the Bucks but remain an impeccable 6-0 at the AT&T Center. TJ Ford (strained left hamstring) and Manu Ginobili (broken left hand) are the casualties for this game.

Key matchup: Chandler Parsons vs Richard Jefferson

Jefferson has been blistering from outside, converting on 56.1% treys this season. If Parsons gets the starting nod again tonight over Chase Budinger, he will have to do two things: (1) close out Jefferson from the arc and (2) make his free throws, as he is shooting a Chris Dudley-like 20% for the season.

X-factor: Kevin Martin

While Martin has been a pedestrian 40.7% from the field, he torched the Spurs in their last outing, gunning 10/17 for 25 points.

Code Red: For all the reps the Rockets have been getting as an offensive juggernaut, the Spurs are fourth in scoring, averaging 100.9 points thanks to streaky downtown shooting and unselfish basketball. The Rockets cannot expect to trade baskets, especially knowing that they are on the road.

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Rapid Reaction: Houston Rockets 82, Charlotte Bobcats 70

Houston Rockets82Final
Recap | Box Score
70Charlotte Bobcats
Luis Scola, PF 29 MIN | 4-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +12

The normally consistent Scola finally had a down game, but I suppose that’s excusable. Boris Diaw is a BEAST.

Chandler Parsons, F 31 MIN | 9-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 20 PTS | +7

After the Bobcats cut it to 5 with just under 3 minutes left, Parsons hit a huge three, then a fallaway two in the corner. After Kemba Walker came back with a jumper of his own, Parsons put it on the floor and finished with a nifty reverse lay-up. He was the team’s closer tonight, leading them in scoring and playing an all-around great game. It’s good to see Morey’s found yet another ruby searching through second round sewage.

Samuel Dalembert, C 26 MIN | 2-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | +18

Dalembert was solid on the defensive end, but saw a bit of trouble against Byron Mullens, who led the Bobcats in scoring.

Kevin Martin, SG 42 MIN | 5-19 FG | 5-6 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 17 PTS | +11

Martin had a terrible shooting night, and managed 17 of the ugliest points you’ll ever see.

Kyle Lowry, PG 41 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-3 FT | 11 REB | 8 AST | 6 PTS | +19

It was weird to watch Lowry not look for his shot tonight. He finished second on the team in rebounds and had a respectable number of assists, but the results didn’t feel like his triple double flirtations of the past.

Goran Dragic, PG 12 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | -6

Dragic just didn’t bring it tonight. From the start he looked wobbly, finishing with 3 turnovers and 1 assist in 12 minutes. With the Spurs coming to town tomorrow night, Dragic’s lack of sobriety forced McHale to play Lowry over 40 minutes.

Three Things We Saw

  1. This may have been the most repulsive excuse for a professional basketball game the league’s put on display this season. Was the lockout a possible reason for it? Maybe. The two defenses heading into tonight’s game ranked at the NBA’s bottom, yet Houston shot 38.6% and Charlotte 34.1%. Offense simply did not want to show its face.
  2. The Rockets had 22 turnovers, but Luis Scola was called for traveling 97 times. Weird.
  3. As gross as things were, the Rockets won the basketball game, and did so with their second round draft pick leading the team in scoring, and closing the game down the stretch. That’s great news as the team prepares for its eventual major roster turnover next season.

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Houston Rockets @ Charlotte Bobcats – January 10, 2012 6:00PM

The gist: The Rockets are still winless on the road and are losers of their last four outings. The Bobcats have dropped their last three, the most recent coming off a loss in Madison Square Garden when they allowed the Knicks’ starting lineup to combine for 88 points.

Key matchup: Luis Scola vs Boris Diaw

Despite having one too many hors d’oeuvers, Diaw can still produce if the defenses slack of him, as it was evident in their two meetings with the Knicks. With a defensive slouch like Scola, don’t be surprised with Diaw runs amok and gets his share of numbers across the board.

X-factor: Jordan Hill

Kevin McHale has chided the Rockets for a lack of road intensity. To be able to compete with gusto, energy must come from the big man, McHale’s students of the game. There are no more excuses for allowing hosting opponents to crush the Rockets with an average of 110.2 points a game. It starts with post defense.

Code Red: D.J. Augustin is surprisingly the Bobcats’ top scorer but he is shooting well under 40% from the field. If he suddenly gets his act together in this game, the Rockets will be in trouble.

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Hooplaw: Game Time vs. Jail Time

Below is legal analysis of Kyle Lowry’s predicament according to a local criminal defense attorney, Joel Hayter:

Kyle Lowry’s misdemeanor battery charge in Nevada will likely not seriously interfere with his game time.  Although he faces up to six months in jail if convicted, this does not necessarily mean he will be out for the season.  Sure, this would happen if he were to plead guilty at his court date in February and get sentenced to the full six months right then and there.  But he will no doubt spend some money on a good criminal defense lawyer.  Besides the possibility of having a misdemeanor conviction on his record, missing game time will be a concern that Lowry and his lawyer will take into consideration.

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