Tuesday, December 27, 2011

12/27: Brees, "Regular" NBA, etc.

Greetings all... lots to cover today... we'll save the NBA for last in case you want to scroll past it...
  • Saints 45, Falcons 16 - I tweeted this last night, but I stand by it... this was pretty much a mirror image of the January '11 playoff debacle against the Packers except with different color jerseys. Numerous misses when trying to get Brees on the ground? Check. Receivers running absolutely free all night? Check. Dropped Interceptions? Check. Stubborn willingness to send Michael Turner plowing into the line (while Darren Sproles looks like the fastest man alive on the other side)? Check. It was all there. At any rate, I'll save the vitriol about the Falcons for a different post, and say that Drew Brees broke the passing yardage record last night. I'm not sure what that means in this particular day and age with the absurdity that has become the NFL defensive rulebook, but 5000 yards is 5000 yards and it's impressive. But hey, Sean Payton, can I get you to get out of the shotgun when you're up by 22 points with 3 minutes left? Thanks! You shouldn't have!
  • Missouri 41, North Carolina 24 - I won't be breaking down bowl games with any passion whatsover until the real games begin about a week from now, but since I saw a good portion of this, I figured I'd comment. Missouri's offense looked virtually unstoppable throughout, and I was very impressed with James Franklin. This was such a typical UNC performance in that I'm pretty sure they had the superior talent, and yet, they managed to get trounced.
  • Yorvit Torrealba receives a 66-game suspension from the Venezuelan league for hitting an umpire. I'm not sure if you've seen the video, but it's pretty disturbing, and I feel like Bud Selig and company should be able to pull him off the field in the US if they so choose. There's no excuse for striking an official, and I'm not sure it matters what continent you're on when you do it when there's widespread video.
  • And the award for craziest story goes to.... Louis Williams. The former South Gwinnett product told the Philadelphia Daily News that he was being robbed at gunpoint, but convinced the would-be robber to let him go based on the charity work he's done in the community. And no, this is not a joke. I have absolutely no idea.

To the Association... There were 12 games, and we'll hit on all of them (albeit briefly on some)... League Pass is a beautiful thing, ESPECIALLY when you can watch games on broadband AFTER the fact...

  • Raptors 104, Cavs 96 - Not a whole lot of excitement with the fact that these teams are pretty terrible, but the debut of Kyrie Irving was lukewarm at best. He shot just 2 of 12 in 26 minutes, and while he finished with 7 dimes, his team was -10 with him on the court. On the Raps side, one positive note is the play of former UNC big Ed Davis who shot 7-7 from the field for 14 points and 7 boards in just 18 minutes of play.
  • Pacers 91, Pistons 79 - It's going to be a long year in Detroit. Okay, it's a bit early for that characterization, but I said it preseason and I stand by it. One bright spot for the Pistons was Jonas Jerebko who showed flashes of the promise he had pre-injury in putting up 17 points despite the curious decision to play him a team-high 38 minutes. On Indiana's side, they had 5 guys in double-figures, and it was encouraging to see Roy Hibbert (16 points, 14 boards, 3 blocks) pretty much dominate a game where he was the biggest man on the court all night.
  • Orlando 104, Houston 95 - Welcome back, Hedo Turkoglu. To be clear, I still can't stand him, but Hedo was pretty darn good last night, shooting 10 of 14 for 23 points, 6 boards, and 5 assists to lead the way for Orlando. Dwight added 23 points, but just 7 rebounds (what?), and they got a huge 20 points on 12 shots from JJ Redick. For Houston, it was a typical across-the-board effort with 5 guys in double-digits led by my man-crush Kyle Lowry who had 20 points, 12 dimes and 7 rebounds. It'll be difficult for Houston to win many games when the ultra-efficient Kevin Martin shoots 1 of 10 from the field, however.
  • Nets 90, Wizards 84 - This was the most hilarious game of the night. Washington led 33-13 after about 15 minutes of game action, and New Jersey was insanely inept early, but the Nets staged a comeback and beat the hapless Wizards. Kris Humphries-Kardashian (his name forever on this blog) put up a monster 21 point/16 rebound effort, and Deron Williams reminded everyone that he's pretty good (23/8/8). The real story of the game IMO was the Nets 53-33 rebounding edge, as it's pretty difficult to get murdered that badly on the boards and even be competitive, much less be forced to blow a 20-point lead. John Wall had a tough night (shooting 3 of 13), and while Jordan Crawford actually shot a pretty nice 7 of 12, it's still clear that he has no concept of what good shot selection is, to say nothing of Andray Blatche and the same issue.
  • Bobcats 96, Bucks 95 - For all of the garbage we've said about the Bobcats already pre-season in this space, it almost hurts that they're 1-0. Five guys in double figures (and seven with 8 or more points) were enough to outlast the Bucks. I was really impressed from what I saw of this game from Gerald Henderson, who finished with 18 points and 9 boards, and he's really a key to the Bobcats being semi-respectable. On the Bucks side, they were without Delfino, but the real issue was the fact that Stephen Jackson (their only wing scorer without Delfino) played just 17 minutes before fouling out. How do you do that as a guard/wing? Anyway, Jennings picked up the shooting slack, taking 21 shots in 37 minutes, but it wasn't enough. One thing to watch going forward was that Paul Silas played both point guards (Augustin and Walker) together down the stretch. They won't be able to do that against many teams because they just can't defend with it, but against teams without a top wing option, it could be an advantage.
  • Zombies 104, T-Wolves 100 - This was probably the most entertaining game of the night, so much so that I DVR'd and watched the game in it's entirety at about 3 am. Durant and Westbrook were typically electric, combining for 61 points on 44 field goal attempts, and that's all you need to know about them. My obsession with James Harden continues as well after an ultra-efficient 16 point, 6 rebound effort (on just 9 shots), but the real intrigue about this game is about Minnesota. Yes, the T-Wolves lost this game at home to one of the West favorites, but I kind of liked what I saw. You know about Kevin Love (22 points, 12 boards, 5 dimes), but he looks to be in the best shape of his life (noticeably slimmed down and cut). I really liked what they got from Derrick Williams (13 points, 6 boards in just 24 minutes), and Rick (no "y") Rubio showed a few glimpses of that now-legendary basketball IQ we've heard so much about (6 dimes in 23 minutes). The key to whether they win more games will probably come down to Beasley (yikes) simply because he seems to content to launch shots from every angle (27 attempts last night), but if that's all he's asked to do, it won't kill them. Oh, the Minnesota point guard rotation is going to be something to watch, as I watched this whole game and I still have no idea. Ridnour played 18 minutes, Barea played 27, and Rubio played 24. Right.
  • Nuggets 115, Mavs 93 - Trouble in Dallas? I won't go that far, but it's a bit disturbing to see them get housed again at home in the 1st half. The half-time score was 69-42, and it was over from there. The Nuggets got a 27-point explosion from Ty Lawson, who, when guarded by Jason Kidd, did absolutely anything he wanted. Denver showed that 10-deep rotation that has pundits giving them a home-court prediction in the West, and they basically ran weary Dallas out of the gym. For Dallas, I'm not sure what you say other than that they need better than 1-10 out of Odom, who is suddenly on the hot seat now that everyone realizes that a) Tyson Chandler was great for them last year, and b) Ian Mahinmi is the Mavs backup center. Okay then.
  • Spurs 95, Grizz 82 - This game warmed my heart. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has forgotten about the Spurs, and potentially for good reason, but when the old guys dismissed the "trendy" Grizzlies with a dominant second half, it was nice. Manu looks healthy and rejuvenated (24 points), and I really liked what I saw from the young guys like Splitter, Kawhi Leonard (who's a beast), and James Anderson (a straight gunner off the bench). It would be really nice for them to have some legitimate young legs off the bench for this shortened season when Pop inevitably sits the big three down. For the Grizz, I can't fathom how OJ Mayo plays less minutes than Sam Young, and identical minutes to Jeremy Pargo and Quincy Pondexter. Get him out of there. Now. One note of encouragement for Memphis fans is that Rudy Gay looked be back at 100% with 19 and 10.
  • Hornets 85, Suns 84 - A Phoenix game in the mid-80's? What? This is a game I chose to pass over on the viewing dial, but it's as simple as the Suns shooting 40% from the field and 20% from three. That'll do it. Pretty impressive for the Hornets to win this one without Jarrett Jack since he's the only legitimate point guard on the roster, and they did it while starting Gordon and Belinelli together. That's interesting.
  • Blazers 107, Sixers 103 - I got in late on this one as well. Six guys in double-figures for the Blazers led by the still-undervalued LaMarcus Aldridge's 25 and 7. Really liked what Nate McMillan did down the stretch going offense/defense with Batum and Crawford, and although that seems to be a blatantly obvious move, I'm not sure half the coaches in the league would do it. For Philly, it's curious that they only played 8 guys when it seems EVERYONE in the league is lengthening their rotations, but that's Doug Collins for you. Lou Williams (fresh off the robbery!) put up a Nick Young-like 25 point, 1 assist, 1 rebound line including 2 huge threes late that kept Philly in the game, and Spencer Hawes nearly notched a triple-double with 10/14/9 here.
  • Kings 100, Lakers 91 - Your 0-2 LA Lakers! This game comes down to one stat and one stat only. LA shot 1-16 from 3-point land, and Sacramento shot 9 of 18. Game. Over. It didn't matter that Kobe put up 29 points (he looks good), and even Ron Artest (yes, Ron Artest) added 19 off the bench. It's simple math at this point. The Kings started Thornton and Evans together, which I find curious, but when they combine to shoot 15 of 26, it won't matter on most nights. Also, I've decided that Chuck Hayes is a pretty ideal fit next to Boogie Cousins. Hayes is undersized, but he's an elite post defender (the reason he's employed) and a top-level rebounder, which frees up Cousins to use more energy on offense, where he's good, and not be forced to guard the opposing team's best post scorer. I like it. It's not time to panic in LA yet, but these 2 games do show much they need a healthy Bynum with this roster composition.
  • Warriors 99, Bulls 91 - I don't know if it was dead legs on the back-to-back or what, but I was not impressed by the Bulls for the second straight day. They can't afford when Rose goes 4 of 17 on most days anyway, but the decision to play Boozer (and Noah) just 26 minutes, and have him attempt just 7 shots? I don't get that one on a night where he was paired against the non-defensive David Lee. The Curry/Ellis/Lee triumvirate combined for 69 points, but that wasn't the stat of the night. Kwame Brown posted a +21 +/- rating last night. Kwame Brown! He actually did play well, notching 4 steals and 6 boards in just 23 minutes, but wow.

What to watch for on Tuesday...

  • NBA - Hawks @ Nets - SportSouth 7:30 - The opener for the Hawks! New Jersey is on game 2 of the back-to-back, and that should help, but there's no rest for Jeff Teague and that banged-up ankle with Deron Williams awaiting.
  • NBA - Celtics @ Heat - TNT 8:00 - Not sure if Pierce is healthy enough to go here, but they'll definitely need him. I think Miami kind of runs them out of the gym with or without Pierce, but if Rondo plays like he did on Christmas, they'll hang around.
  • NBA - Jazz @ Lakers - TNT 10:30 - In a scheduling oddity, LA is playing a back-to-back-to-back to open the season, and this is Utah's first game. Um, advantage Utah. LA is the better team, but I don't think anyone can account for 3 games in 3 nights and with Utah's depth, they could make this a track meet.
  • NCAAF - Little Caesars Bowl - Purdue vs. Western Mich - ESPN 4:30 - If you like live afternoon sporting events on a Tuesday, this is for you.
  • NCAAF - Belk Bowl - Louisville vs. NC State - ESPN 8:00 - If you're watching this, you literally HATE basketball.
  • NCAA Hoops - Wisconsin @ Nebraska - ESPN2 9:00 - Lost in the NBA opening slate is the fact that college hoops is entering the conference schedule, and this is a nice test for Wisconsin in a historically tough road environment in Lincoln.
  • NCAA Hoops - Pitt @ Notre Dame - ESPN2 7:00 - I can smell Notre Dame from here. Sorry Mike Brey.


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