Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2/21: Pitchers and Catchers, Hoops, etc.

Greetings everyone... lots to get to this morning...
  • Pitchers and catchers have all arrived at various spring training facilities in Florida and Arizona. What does this mean to you? Well, mostly that real, live baseball is about 5 weeks away, and that everyone who hates basketball can grab on to the hope that there's another sport coming. I don't hate basketball (obviously), so my attention will be focused elsewhere, but if you don't think there's a 30-team preview coming, you're out of your mind.
  • Speaking of baseball, the lead story as I woke up this morning on ESPN.com was that Manny Ramirez signed with the Oakland Athletics. I can't think of a less relevant story that's ever led the way on that website, as Manny is a) over-the-hill, b) suspended for 50 games, and c) playing for a team that won't be competitive no matter what he does. Great work!
  • New Jersey 100, New York 92 - Quick, everyone blame Carmelo for the Knicks losing! Anyway, Deron Williams eviscerated Jeremy Lin last night, to the tune of 38 points and 6 assists, and while that's more of an indication of how good Deron is (very good) than Lin is bad, it does bring some reality. Lin actually played pretty well, notching 21/9/7 on 7 of 18 shooting with just 3 turnovers, but when the Knicks defense allows 15 threes by the Nets and loses the rebounding battle, it's tough to win. Carmelo went just 4-11 in the game and showed some rust, but he's not to blamed here. Oh, and Baron Davis came back for the Knicks. You think that would've enjoyed more fanfare pre-Lin?
  • San Antonio 106, Utah 102 - The Spurs have won 11 games in a row, including 7 straight road games on their annual "Rodeo Road Trip". If there's ever been a quieter 11-game win streak that was this impressive, I've never seen it. Last night, Pop's team took to the court without Manu (sidelined 2 weeks with an oblique injury) AND Tiago Splitter (also out 2 weeks), and still went on the road against a decent team and won. Tony Parker notched 23 and 11, while Timmy D added 20 points and 7 boards. This squad never ceases to amaze me, and if I had to pick a team NOT named OKC to come out of the West, it's the Spurs.
  • On a sad, non-game, note, Greg Oden has undergone a 3rd microfracture surgery. While the procedure was initially intended to be minor, the surgeon reportedly found additional damage and had to do microfracture work. I've always been on the more positive side when it comes to Oden's hopes to return as a contributing factor in the NBA, but this is the biggest blow yet IMO. Hopes and prayers for quick and long-lasting healing.
  • In the first significant free agent signing of the NFL season (that I remember), the Chiefs have inked former Oakland CB Stanford Routt to a three-year deal. Routt was the player that Oakland signed to a massive 3-year deal, and then inexplicably cut a few weeks ago, and KC will get him cheaper than expected because of that. Nice signing.
  • Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has maintained, in the aftermath of Kobe's complaints, that Pau Gasol is still available. I'm unsure as to when Gasol became the whipping boy for the Lakers this year (not his fault), but if they're totally intent on keeping Bynum, I can see the rationale because they desperately need multiples pieces back to improve their non-existent depth.
  • NBA Box Score Check - Derrick Rose returned to the Bulls' line-up with 23 points to key the Bulls cruising win over the Hawks yesterday. I also really like what I saw from Joakim Noah, who notched 16 boards and took just 5 shots (a throwback Noah game). On the Hawks side, Josh Smith notched 17 and 12, but shot just 7 of 21 including an utterly RIDICULOUS 0 for 11 on jumpers outside of 12-feet. ZERO FOR ELEVEN!! Ok, I'm breathing again. Dallas beat up on the suddenly mediocre Celtics 89-73 thanks to a full-on return to form from Dirk last night. Nowitzki put up 26 points and 16 boards and really keyed the Mavs. Dwight Howard is better than everyone. 28 points and 16 boards for the best center alive in Orlando's road win over Milwaukee. Kevin Durant and Russ Westbrook both stayed hot for OKC with 31 points each to follow-up on their 51 and 40 respectively from the night before in OKC's win over undermanned New Orleans. Never a chance. And finally, Portland fell behind 35-7 to start the game in LA last night, and never fully recovered in dropping a 103-92 decision. I thought Portland fought valiantly to make the game competitive, but that's a pretty impossible hill to climb over. Kobe led the way with 28 for the Lakers, and Bynum added 19 boards.

What to watch for on Tuesday...

  • NCAAB - K-State @ #3 Missouri - ESPN2 7:00 - Missouri isn't deep, and they have no size, but there's a reason they're #3 in the country and it's fantastic veteran guard play.
  • NBA - Kings @ Heat - NBA TV 7:30 - Sacramento is among the league's most unwatchable teams, but Miami is playing great basketball right now, and Lebron is having one of the best statistical seasons of all-time. Watch him.
  • NCAAB - #13 Michigan @ Northwestern - BTN 8:00 - We're in must-win territory for everyone that's rooting for Northwestern to make the tourney for the first time. I'm not one of those people tonight.
  • NCAAB - #1 Kentucky @ Miss State - ESPN 9:00 - Kentucky is the best team in the country at the moment, but this is a legit test on the road against a talented MSU team, even if we have no idea which Bulldog team shows up.
  • NBA - Spurs @ Blazers - NBA TV 10:00 - This could be an angry Blazers team after their performance last night, and they get San Antonio at the end of a very long trip. That said, SA is playing fantastically right now.


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