- Kirk Hinrich returned to action for the Atlanta Hawks last night. Oh, did you forget he was on the team? I feel like most people have, but with all of the headlines and subsequent misery that the Horford injury created (myself included), it's nice to have a real, live NBA player to add to the rotation. Hinrich posted 7 points in a limited role (14 minutes) last night in the 103-83 lambasting in San Antonio, but I thought he looked fairly crisp, and he converted 3 of 4 field goals. What does his return mean for Jeff Teague? My guess is not a whole lot. Teague has cemented himself as the starting point guard, and for as much of a Hinrich fan as I am, I feel like Teague should remain the starter. Hinrich should be in a 20-25 minute a night role as the primary (only) backup PG, and I feel like he'd be a better 2-guard option than the magnanimous Willie Green as well. The Hawks 9-man rotation on nights where the opponent doesn't have Dwight Howard should be: Teague, Hinrich, Johnson, McGrady, Williams, Radmanovic, Smith, I. Johnson, Zaza, with Collins as an emergency big and Willie Green as the guy who only plays with foul/injury issues. Done.
- The Colts have hired Ravens DC Chuck Pagano as their head coach. The line of Baltimore DC's to be promoted to other jobs (or do fantastic college work like my man Greg Mattison) is getting longer and longer, and while I had honestly not heard of him, that position brings some instant credibility. I would've liked to have seen what Jim Tressel would've done with an NFL job because, as much as I hate him, I think he's a very good football coach, but this may work out in Indy.
- Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in tennis in the middle of the night last night. I saw about half of a set because I'm an insomniac, but the overall "draw" of that duo matching up is kind of washed out by the start time. It's really unfortunate for tennis, because that's really the only battle with any sort of mainstream buzz.
- Kevin Love and the Minnesota T-Wolves have agreed on a 4-year max extension. The curious portions of this move are two-fold. First, the Wolves explicitly refused to give Love the 5th year, and I'm confused as to what they're holding out for. Secondly, because of that refusal, Love apparently insisted on an opt-out after the 3rd year that not-so-coincidentally lines up with the end of Rubio's rookie deal and Rick Adelman's contract. I have a feeling that Love will be a free agent after 3 years, but if Kahhhhhhnnnnnnn can assemble some talent that actually fits around him, and Rubio blossoms? He could stay.
- Pacers 95, Bulls 90 - This game gets its own bullet because of the bad blood that is boiling between these two squads. There were multiple quotes post-game from the Bulls vowing revenge for how the Pacers celebrated about a regular season win, and with the two being division rivals, this is heating up. All ten starters in the game notched double-figures in scoring, and Ronnie Brewer may have had his best game of his career with 20 points and 10 boards while filling in for Luol Deng. The Bulls got an ugly 6 for 20 from Rip Hamilton, and he'll be crucial to keeping them afloat without Deng for an extended period.
- NBA Box Score Round-up - On the court, San Antonio throttled the Hawks 103-83. I mentioned Hinrich above, but the key to this game was the Hawks (lack of) defense. San Antonio shot 51% from the field and nearly 50% from 3 while out-rebounding the Hawks by 10, and that tells the story. DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner had 17 apiece for the Spurs. Yes. Remember when the Knicks solved all of their issues in that thrashing of Charlotte? Well, they dropped a road game to Cleveland last night to fall to 7-11. Break up the Knicks! (lol). Philly dropped a surprising home tilt to the Nets last night in OT, as Deron Williams spurred NJ with 34 points (14 of 28) and 11 dimes. The Wiz won a basketball game last night. We won't talk about the fact that Charlotte started Matt Carroll, BJ Mullens, and Derrick Brown in the game. Chris Bosh and Lebron James combined for 59 points in the Heat's 101-98 road win against hapless Detroit. That's kind of ho-hum, but Austin Daye exploded for 28 for the Pistons in just 30 minutes and Greg Monroe posted yet another 20-10. Like both of them. Man, I love James Harden. 18 points on just 5 field goal attempts last night (9 of 10 FT) in their 10-point win over NO, and he continues to be one of the most efficient perimeter scorers in the league, and I'm growing a similar beard to his. Take note. Minnesota spoiled the Dallas ring ceremony night with a 105-90 pounding of the Mavs in Dallas. Kevin Love had 31 and 10 (ho-hum), and Ricky Rubio was Ricky Rubio with a splendid 17-point, 12-dime, 7-rebound, 4-steal game despite shooting just 4 of 16. If he ever shoots the ball at a league average level, he's a star. Period. Is Paul Millsap an all-star? I don't know who he'd make it over, but there's some buzz about the Jazz forward after a 31/11 last night in their double-OT win vs. Toronto and his 18/9 averages on a team that is better than expected. Denver absolutely obliterated Sacto on the road last night 122-93, and there's not much to say about it other than one team is much, much better than the other. Oh, and congrats to Dan the Italian on a big contract extension (4 for 42). The Dubs got a 32/6/7 from a suddenly-upright Stephen Curry, and that, coupled with 26 from David Lee, was enough to hold serve at home against the Blazers. Ray Felton is really struggling for Portland (2 for 10 last night) as his shooting dips below 37%. Eat a salad, Ray! And finally, the battle of LA was a physical battle last night. The Lakers won the game 96-91 behind 66 from the big 3, but I thought the key to the game for them was the random outburst from Andrew Gaudelock off the bench who notched 14 points in 20 minutes. Also, big-ups to Ron Artest (yep) on lock-down D all night and his non-coincidental +20 in 38 minutes. For the Clips, it was as simple as a dreadful game for Mr. Bad Shot (1 of 8 and it seemed worse), and a 6 of 16 from Mo Williams. It was bound to happen.
What to watch for on Thursday...
- NCAAB - NC State @ #8 North Carolina - ESPN 7:00 - The "other" battle of North Carolina. NC State has been a pleasant surprise early going 4-1 in ACC play, but they start playing the cream of the crop from here on out, and they'll get a wake-up call in Chapel Hill.
- NCAAB - #13 Florida @ Ole Miss - ESPN2 7:00 - Road games in conference. Also, Florida is a bit enigmatic, and it'd be nice to see them take care of business against a real, live team on the road.
- NBA - Celtics @ Magic - TNT 8:00 - A rematch of that putrid game from the other night that saw Orlando put up 56 points. Something tells me Dwight and the fellas will actually show up tonight at home.
- NCAAB - #17 Indiana @ #25 Wisconsin - ESPN2 9:00 - No one generally wins in Madison.
- NBA - Grizzlies @ Clippers - TNT 10:30 - This is a quietly nice game. Looking forward to see that front-court matchup, and I wish Zach was involved. Also, Mike Conley gets a stiff test.