Metta, Kobe, Parsons, Fisher

  • Ron Artest was in the lockerroom before the game last night, just shooting it with L.A. traveling media.  I guess he was sort of injured because someone asked him if he would be playing.  “Yeah I’ll probably get in for at least a minute or two,” he replied.  “So you’ll be playing?” responded the questioner.  Artest: “Yeah, if you’re in for a minute, that’s it.  You’ve played that game.  You can’t go back and take it out.”  Hilarious.
  • Yao Ming has gained quite a bit of facial edema.
  • I have ESPN Classic on in the background as I write this.  It’s Mavs-Lakers.  Then I’m going to watch Mavs-Lakers on ESPN tonight.  Seriously though, I could watch Kobe play all day.  And this is coming from a guy that just wrote a Dime Lead on Bryant losing the game for his team.  He’s not anywhere near the best.  He’s actually never been the best.  But he’s certainly the most skilled, talented, and most pleasing to watch.  I think that distinction is lost on far too many people.
  • I think losing Demeco Ryans is like losing Chuck Hayes if Hayes had fallen off.
  • I’m not sure what to say about Chandler Parsons right now.  David Thorpe wrote today that he was the best defender against Kevin Durant he had ever seen.  This after he won the game last night, locking down Kobe Bryant.  If you had a veteran producing like this, you’d feel fortunate.  This is a rookie.  And not only that, but he’s going to get much, much better because the biggest weakness in his game is his shooting and that’s the single easiest thing to fix.
  • I’m getting extremely worried right now about Goran Dragic because he is pricing himself out of our pay range.  I prefer Kyle Lowry long term.  I think he’s more in control and better at running an offense.  But you might have to trade Kyle to keep Goran because you simply cannot allow just losing Goran for nothing at this point.  Goran and Lowry’s trade return is preferable to Lowry alone.
  • I didn’t touch on this yet, but the Rockets pulled off another great stroke with Fisher’s buyout: none of the cap hit from the player option extends to next season.  It should also be mentioned that draft picks will be much more difficult to purchase under the new CBA than in years past, due to the new annual limitations on cash inclusion in all transactions.  Good work, Rockets.

in columns

Hard as it may be to admit, the Houston Rockets are not a particularly good NBA team. Do not misunderstand; they have a fair amount of talent, skills that usually show up on both sides of the ball, and Houston has won several more games than it’s lost in this farcical slight of a season. Instead, what I mean is simply this: the Rockets can simply not overpower any team with its talent on almost any night. Never can this team take a game off in regards to either its defensive or offensive schemes and expect to not be staring at a double-digit defeat. Eh… such is the function of winning through a strategy of calculated risk.

[read more…]

in essays

Our editors determined that this was the game of the night, and rightfully so, and thus, I did the Dime lead.  You can read here about what I saw as the main storyline from last night’s win:

With the Rockets trailing by just four, Kobe Bryant checked in at the 4:23 mark and proceeded to miss a 3-pointer, a jumper and a fadeaway, and had the ball stolen away from him over the course of the next two minutes, during which Houston took the lead for good. While Kobe did recover to hit three awe-inspiring jumpers to close the game, the damage had already been done. Houston had sealed a 107-104 victory at the Toyota Center. The decision to abandon Sessions, who finished with 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting, was baffling.

Still, while Kobe may have caused that loss, he is one hell of a spectacle – the local faithful got more than their money’s worth:

Bryant dazzled the locals with an assortment of moves early on, going behind his back on one occasion to set up a left-handed jumphook. When he spun baseline to split two Rockets, the crowd got a taste of the greatness they so desperately craved. It was a reminder of why people come to watch.

I spoke with another writer at length last night about this, but there’s just something about watching a guy like that that you simply can’t put into words. He’s not Jordan, no, but you have to remind yourself, “enjoy this.  This is this generation’s guy and it won’t be around much longer.”  And ultimately, as I wrote for the mothership, men of his ilk are why we, or at least I, watch.  I like winning teams, don’t get me wrong.  But it’s why I’ve never really been able to get into college hoops much.  I watch basketball for individual greatness.  I’m just being honest – that’s why I fell in love with this sport.  While obviously, I’m nowhere near as good as anyone on the Rockets, in your own mind, you can sort of conceive of yourself practicing enough to be able to do the things they do at your own level.  But Kobe, and guys like that, just let you marvel…you could never do that.  Hit fallaway baseline jumpers with three men draped on you.  Hit hanging double-pump 3’s.   You move to the edge of your seat when this guy has the ball. It’s just art.

That was the great irony of last night.  Kobe might have lost his team the game. But he reminded us of why we watch.

in musings

Post-game interviews: 3.21.12

[read more…]

in multimedia

[video] Yao Ming still has it

in multimedia