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NBA PM: 10 NBA Tricks And Treats
Posted By Bill Ingram On November 1, 2012 @ 5:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
The NBA season is just two days old, and yet some interesting storylines have already begun to surface. Here’s a look at some of the treats (and possible tricks) the NBA served up on Halloween night:
1) The Los Angeles Lakers – Despite a starting lineup made of primarily of NBA All-Stars, the Los Angeles Lakers are 0-2. The media swarming around Los Angeles is in full-on panic mode, just sure that the Lakers, who went winless in preseason as well, are embarking on an 0-82 season. This one’s a treat for those across the NBA who want to see the Lakers fail, but it could also be a trick, as well. It’s never a good idea to put too much weight on a couple of early losses, especially for a team that is implementing a new offense with a lot of new players, like the Lakers. It took the Miami HEAT the better part of a month to get their act together in their first season with LeBron James and Chris Bosh playing alongside Dwyane Wade. The Lakers do have some issues, with their lack of depth being a big one, but given time they’ll be just fine.
2) Fear The Beard – James Harden made his Houston Rockets debut last night after signing a five-year, $80 million contract extension. He put his game where his money is, scoring 37 points, dishing 12 assists and even coming up with four steals. The Detroit Pistons aren’t exactly a defensive juggernaut, and their backcourt is very small, but Harden delivered in a big way to make sure his team got their opening night win.
3) Tim Duncan – San Antonio Spurs fans were treated to an outstanding performance from Duncan last night. One of the league’s elder statesmen showed he can still do it at an elite level, recording 24 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three blocks in a 99-95 win over a very spirited New Orleans Hornets team. Both teams were missing key players, as Manu Ginobili was out for the Spurs and Eric Gordon was out for the Hornets. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich doesn’t want Duncan to shoulder that much of the load night in and night out, but Duncan served notice that he is ready to step in and do it when called upon.
4) Paul George – Danny Granger injured his left knee in last season’s playoff run and he aggravated that injury during the preseason. That’s why Paul George started in his place last night, and George’s performance was a treat, indeed. He scored 14 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and dished five assists for the Indiana Pacers, who held off an energetic and determined Toronto Raptors squad. George’s play will no doubt fuel the ongoing speculation that Granger is expendable and could be traded, but Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard recently told HOOPSWORLD in no uncertain terms that Granger is still Indiana’s franchise cornerstone.
5) The Toronto Raptors – The Raptors fell just shy of upsetting the Pacers in their season-opener last night, but there were some very encouraging signs for the Toronto faithful. First of all, Kyle Lowry looked like an All-Star point guard, recording 21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals going against a solid defender in George Hill. The team also got a double-double from rookie Jonas Valanciunas, whose arrival has been highly anticipated. Landry Fields was 0-for-6 and failed to score, but his defense was a factor, as his team was +6 with him on the court. The Raptors are going to be very tough this season.
6) Nuggets vs. Sixers – Andre Iguodala would have liked nothing better than to lead his Denver Nuggets to a win over his former team last night, but it was not to be. With Danilo Gallinari out nursing a sprained ankle, Denver simply didn’t have the firepower for deal with the Sixers, even though Andrew Bynum was watching in street clothes. Double-doubles from Jrue Holiday and Spencer Hawes powered Philly to the win as the Nuggets shot 37.5 percent from the field.
7) The Chicago Bulls – There are plenty of pundits who have already written off the Chicago Bulls, even as the Derrick Rose commercials run 0n endless loops. Rose won’t be back for a while, but on Halloween night we saw some of the reasons why Chicago should be able to hold their own until their leader returns. First and foremost, Carlos Boozer continued the strong play he showed in preseason, scoring 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting and grabbing eight rebounds. Alongside him, Joakim Noah showed his more diversified offensive game in scoring 23 points to go with 10 rebounds, five steals, three assists and three blocks. Rip Hamilton also poured in 19 points as the Bulls beat the Sacramento Kings, 93-87.
8 ) Carl Landry – The Golden State Warriors have high hopes for this NBA season, with the talk of the playoffs nearing fever pitch. They even managed to pull off an opening night win despite Steph Curry and David Lee going a combined 4-for-30 from the field. The reason? Carl Landry. Landry scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter as the Warriors fought off the resilient Phoenix Suns to bring home an 87-85 road win. Landry was 7-for-9 from the field and grabbed seven rebounds in his 23 minutes of action.
9) The Utah Jazz – It’s tempting to single out Marvin Williams here and talk about how well he played in his first game with his new team, but the reality is that the entire Jazz squad played so well that they really warrant a mention. Williams was impressive with 21 points, but all five Jazz starters scored in double figures, including double-doubles from both Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Mo Williams poured in 21 points to go with six assists and Randy Foye added 13 points off the bench. The Jazz have a great deal to prove this season, as do players like the two Williamses, and they took a strong first step in that direction with their win over the Dallas Mavericks last night.
10) Rounding out our ten Halloween tricks and treats is Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers. Lillard tore things up in Las Vegas this summer, easily the best player in the field, but that doesn’t always mean a player is going to do as well once the games start counting in late October. Going against none other than Steve Nash (until Nash bruised his left leg), Lillard tallied 23 points and 11 assists in his regular season debut, and while he did commit six turnovers, the Blazers were +16 with Lillard on the court. It’s always a treat for Blazers fans to see their team take down the rival Lakers, but watching their young point guard show signs of stardom was icing on the cake.
Wesley Johnson’s Big Shot
When he’s on, Wesley Johnson is one of the purest shooters in the NBA, and while he struggled to find his shot in Minnesota, he found it early in preseason with the Phoenix Suns. He played significant minutes in the Suns’ first four games, and in those games he averaged 14 points and shot 46 percent from the field, including 41 percent from three. Johnson recently sat down with HOOPSWORLD to talk about what he took away from his time with Kurt Rambis and Rick Adelman in Minnesota, why he thinks he can find his game in Phoenix and more in this exclusive interview:
Michael Jordan In For Long Haul
The Charlotte Bobcats have not exactly been among the NBA’s elite teams during Michael Jordan’s tenure as an owner. In fact, the team has been at or near the bottom of the league, vying more for lottery position rather than playoff position. Jordan, however, is not deterred, telling the Charlotte Observer‘s Rick Bonnell that he is in for the long haul. Here are some of the highlights of that interview:
–He said the franchise is open to a nickname switch should New Orleans Hornets owner Tom Benson follow through on changing that team’s name. Some fans want the Hornets name and logo back in Charlotte.
–He said he told the players to stop griping about new coach Mike Dunlap’s long practices, that they need the fundamental drills he’s employed: “You can’t say we don’t need that stuff. If so, we wouldn’t be going 7-59 as a team.’’
–Jordan also said he’s advised the players, “Either you’re in or you’re not going to be here.’’
–Jordan described rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as a “connector,’’ comparing him to former Chicago Bulls teammate Scottie Pippen: “He’s a very versatile guy. He’s motivated. He loves to play and play hard.’’
–He said the Bobcats “made a couple of calls’’ about shooting guard James Harden’s availability before the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Harden to the Houston Rockets this week.
–He said co-captain Gerald Henderson “gets it. He shows signs of being a leader. These are the things we’re expecting from Gerald,’’ adding he’s “pretty sure’’ Henderson will be asking for a big raise to stay here in his next contract.
–Jordan said he still believes the Bobcats could be an attractive destination for major free agents down the road, but “I also understand we’ve got to get our house in order, to make that attractive to people.”
The Bobcats’ worst days appear to be behind them, as they have a solid GM in Rich Cho calling the shots and a nice crop of young players around which to build for the future. It’s easy to see why Jordan would want to stick around, as the team appears to be on the right course for a return to respectability sooner than later.
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