Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2/8: A Wild One in Oakland...

Greetings everyone...
  • Am I leading with a regular season NBA game featuring a team with little-to-no playoff hopes? Yes, I am! Oklahoma City outlasted Golden State 119-116 in Oakland on a night that saw just about everything you'd want in a basketball game. The big story early was the fact that Monta Ellis had 40 (yes, 40) points with 7 minutes to go... in the 3rd quarter! Ellis finished with "only" 48 points as he went without a field goal attempt for the rest of the 3rd quarter and lost a bit of that momentum, but he put on an absolute show for much of this game (18 of 29 FG, 3 of 6 on threes, 9 of 10 FT). For OKC, Kevin Durant knocked down a go-ahead bank shot (lol) with 12 seconds to go and finished with 33 points, 10 boards, and 7 assists to go along with 31 and 7 from Russell Westbrook (despite a ridiculous 9 turnovers), and 19 points, 7 dimes from the smooth James Harden. Did I mention that Golden State got a triple-double from David Lee (25/11/10), and an ultra-efficient 16/10/7 from Steph Curry on just 9 shot attempts? There was some wretched defense on both sides of this one, but the offensive prowess was certainly there on this night in notching a combined 235 points, shooting 39 of 44 on FTs, and over 53% from the field. Beautiful hoops.
  • The University of Memphis is joining the Big East in 2013-2014. This is a huge coup for the Big East in hoops as Memphis is an upper-echelon program that can soften the loss of Pitt and Syracuse, but in football terms (and that's all that seems to matter), this isn't a huge windfall.
  • The LA Clippers suffered a huge blow yesterday when Chauncey Billups was diagnosed with a torn achilles that will sideline him for the remainder of the season. I've been on record in this space that I thought Billups was sucking the life out of that offense with some questionable shot-making, but there's no denying the severe drop-off between playing him and a guy like Randy Foye. The loss may be overstated in some circles (people think Billups is better than he is), but it doesn't change the fact that he was the best equipped guy on that team (by default) to defend opposing 2-guards, and that the best available option in the market is JR Smiff. That's a bad combination if you have Clippers championship stock.
  • Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers have agreed to a 2-year, $19 million deal that will double as one of the best bargains in baseball. Obviously, this number is so low because he's arbitration-eligible and wouldn't have gotten much more on a 1-year deal, but that doesn't change the fact that Kershaw is a top-5 pitcher in the league, and will earn less than $10 million per in the next 2 seasons. If only the Dodgers had an owner...
  • Paul Pierce passed Larry Bird on the Celtics all-time scoring list. Do I even need to detail how impressive that is?
  • NBA Box Score Check - Darren Collison scored a season-high 25 points for Indiana in their 1o4-99 home win over Utah. Both Paul Millsap (18 and 10) and Roy Hibbert (17 and 10) boosted their all-star profiles in this one with impressive performances. I'd like to say something positive about the game Charlotte and Boston, but after the Bobcats lost yet again and fell to 3-22 on the season, it's clear that we may be watching the worst basketball in a decade from them. Remember when Miami vs. Cleveland was a big deal? They played last night amidst absolutely no buzz, and Lebron scored 24 while Wade had 26 for the Heat in an easy 16-point win. Minnesota beat Sacramento last night without Kevin Love AND with Michael Beasley doing a Michael Beasley routine with 7 of 21 shooting. How does that happen, you ask? Nikola Pekovic put up 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Rick Rubio notched 14 assists. Oh, and Sacramento is dreadful. Done and done.
  • College Hoops! Kentucky absolutely breezed by #7 Florida last night by 20 points after holding the Gators to 35% shooting from the field, and making 9 of 15 triples. Kentucky may have the highest ceiling in the country (UNC is the other candidate), and if they have it going, good luck. Ohio State snuck by Purdue at home 87-84 thanks to 29 points from William Buford, but this gives me an opportunity to point out, again, that the Big 10 is the best league in the country this year. And finally, Creighton drops an ugly game to Evansville on the road. What does that mean? Well, Creighton is firmly entrenched in the tournament barring a collapse, but that will hurt their seeding a bit.

What to watch for on Wednesday... (here's a hint, college hoops has a BIG night)

  • NCAAB - #9 Duke @ #5 North Carolina - ESPN 9:00 - The best rivalry in college hoops returns with yet another top-10 battle. North Carolina is unquestionably the more talented team, and they're playing at home, so it'd be a mild upset if Duke stole this one, but in this rivalry, anything is possible.
  • NCAAB - #11 Georgetown @ #2 Syracuse - ESPN 7:00 - Another throwback/awesome conference game as underrated Georgetown goes into the Dome. Syracuse has, by far IMO, the best and deepest roster in the Big East, and they should hold serve.
  • NCAAB - #10 Kansas @ #6 Baylor - ESPN2 7:00 - THREE awesome games?!?! Anyway, Baylor is the talent. Kansas is the mystique, experience, and they have a top-5 player in the country in Thomas Robinson. Really intriguing.
  • NCAAB - #25 Michigan @ Nebraska - Big Ten 8:30 - This game is nowhere near the class of the other three, but I'm invested (obviously), and Michigan really needs a road win somewhere.
  • NBA - Knicks @ Wizards - 7:00 NBA-TV - John Wall vs. Jeremy Lin!
  • NBA - Pacers @ Hawks - 7:30 SportSouth - First round playoff preview? It's certainly possible, and while Indiana is the better team IMO, Atlanta had the day off yesterday, and will be at home in this one.
  • NBA - Rockets @ Blazers - 10:00 NBA-TV - I think Portland may blow the doors off here, after a frustrating loss on Monday, and playing at home.


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