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Lakers lose in spectacular fashion.

When the Lakers lose in the playoffs, they don’t mess around. Consider:

2004- they lost in the NBA Finals 4-1 to the Detroit Pistons.

2006- they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Phoenix Suns after having a 3-1 series lead.

2007- Phoenix knocked them out again with a 4-1 first round win.

2008- the Lakers make it to the Finals to face the Boston Celtics, but lose in Game 4 after having a 24 point lead and then got blown out in Game 6 131-92.

You can add yesterday’s display to this list, after the Dallas Mavericks completed their second round sweep of the two-time defending champs  with a 122-86 shelling. And really, it’s not just yesterday’s display that will be remembered. The entire series, the Lakers did not look like they were into it as they failed to close out games and allowed the Mavs to do whatever they wanted. Pau Gasol was so out of it that he might as well have been on the disabled list due to a removed spine.

The bottom line is, the Lakers quit. The Mavericks were definitely on fire the entire game, but the Lakers had lost that game by halftime when they were down 63-39. I would have expected them to come out after the half and play like they did when they won the last two NBA championships. You can come back from 24 points in a half and win a game. It’s entirely possible, but not if you quit, which is why the lead was 36 when the game ended. I would have expected Kobe Bryant to come out of the locker room like a bat out of hell, but he finished the game with a pedestrian 17 points and I can hardly remember seeing play in the 2nd half.

The Mavs’ scoring.

It was amazing to see the Mavericks tossing in three-pointers from all over the place; for my part, I’ve never seen anything like that happen. They tied the NBA playoff record for threes in a game with 20, hit 63% of their three point attempts, and shot 60% overall from the field. And to add to the fun, most of that came from the bench. Peja Stojakovich scored 21 points on 6-6 shooting from behind the line (7-7 overall). It seems like it’s been years since he’s played as well as he did during the series. J.J. Barea, all six feet of him, scored 22 points on 9-14 shooting. And finally, Jason Terry played like an “on fire” Reggie Miller in NBA Hangtime, draining threes from all over the place. He finished the game with 32 points on 9-10 shooting from behind the arc (11-14 overall). Dirk Nowitzki was the only starter to score in double digits with 17 points, but when the bench by itself scores as many points as the other team, it doesn’t matter too much what the starters do. In fact, things were going so well for the Mavs that the record tying three was hit by Brian Cardinal.

Andrew Bynum is still a loser.

Just when I was starting to believe that Andrew Bynum was a becoming a respectable player, he goes and does something like this:

Bush league is right, Mike Tirico. Not only was that elbow a dirty play, but Bynum did it against someone a foot shorter and 110 pounds lighter. And Barea still hit the shot. Lamar Odom was also ejected for a hard and unnecessary foul against Dirk Nowitzki. Odom’s take on the series was especially pathetic.

A Tale of Two Flops.

These are both ridiculous.

Exhibit 1

You will never see a worse flop as long as you live, unless you watch wrestling or soccer (as the next example will demonstrate). Earlier this season Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant called Bosh a “fake tough guy,” which made Bosh, the rest of the Miami team, and their supporters all indignant. “Durant’s just upset he lost,” they all said. And now he does this. Is there a worse way to make people think that you’re not a fake tough guy? If I wanted to make people think I was tough, I wouldn’t do this. I also wouldn’t keep getting punked by the Boston Celtics, but that’s another story. Predictably, he’s been shredded on the Internet; “Bosh Spice” was a trending topic on Twitter.

Exhibit 2 (+1 for sound effects!)

While Bosh’s flop was pathetic and sissy, this one is just stupid. Actually, it’s laughable. In fact, I think I’ve seen this shtick before in episodes of The Three Stooges. And what’s even more outrageous is that it worked! No one saw this? The camera saw it, of course, but they don’t use instant replay in soccer, so what good does that do anybody? Bosh’s flop makes me seethe with anger because it’s people like him that make the NBA unbearable to watch, but this one just makes me laugh. Pro-soccer honks keep harping about how “beautiful” a sport soccer is (and it is if you’re watching the World Cup), but for every amazing goal there’s an equally egregious flop. Could it be that soccer is the Chris Bosh of professional sports?

Could you have made the Carmelo trade?

Now we can talk about something else. (Yahoo! Sports)


All rhyming aside, I don’t know if I could have pulled the trigger on this trade. Every trade in every sport has the risk/reward element attached to it, but there was a lot to weigh in New York’s pursuit of Carmelo Anthony. On the one hand, Carmelo is a superstar in the NBA and, you could argue, the best pure scorer the league has. Compare him to some of the other big scorers. He can shoot from the perimeter better than LeBron James and he’s a better post player than both James and Kevin Durant. There just aren’t that many players around with his skill set, and if you have the opportunity to get a player of his ilk to pair with someone like Amar’e Stoudemire, you have to make it happen.

On the other hand, just look at who all they gave up. And not only that, consider how young these guys are. Point guard Raymond Felton, forwards Danilo Galinari and Wilson Chandler, and center Timofey Mozgov. Any team would be glad to add them to the roster and they are all 26 years old and younger, so there’s room for them to get better. Galinari and Chandler have improved every year while Felton is putting up career highs in points (17) and assists (9). Mozgov is still just a rookie, but he’s shown promise.

So what do you do? We know what the Knicks and Nuggets did, but I’m not sure I would have the guts to pull that trade if I’m the Knicks. Sure, if I’m the Nuggets I do it in a heartbeat because there’s no way Carmelo was coming back next year. When faced with a scenario like that, you make sure absolutely you don’t become the next Cleveland Cavaliers or Toronto Raptors. I think everybody would take the deal they got for him. You’d have to be pretty dumb to pass up the package they got from the Knicks. But if I’m the Knicks? It’s hard to trade that much youth and potential, regardless of who you’re getting.

I think both teams came out looking pretty good in this trade. The Knicks got their second superstar in Carmelo and also got one of the better point guards in the league in Chauncey Billups, the afterthought of this trade. For the Nuggets, they’ve got a good core of young players to rebuild around if they want it. The problem, though, is that none of them are superstars. They played off of Stoudemire very well in New York, but now in Denver they won’t enjoy the same open jump shots that he provided them.

It’s going to be interesting to see how both of these teams do for the remainder of this season, as well as in the future.

Cleveland’s not looking so hot.

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE.” – Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert

Hnnnnnnnng! (Yahoo! Sports)

This is a good example of why you shouldn’t write things when you’re mad. After LeBron James famously left Cleveland for Miami during his ridiculous free-agency, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert fired off this angry letter. I’m sure it probably felt good at the time, but it was about as thoughtful as LeBron’s absurd “The Decision” infomercial.

Fast forward to tonight, and the Cavaliers are a miserable 8-44 and just set the NBA record for consecutive losses at 25 with a 99-96 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. It’s hard to fathom a team being so bad. All they lost was one player and they’ve been set back 10 years after being contenders. For his own sake, I wish Dan Gilbert had waited to issue that kind of a statement. Had he thought about it for the night, he might have come up with something better than the above quote. In fact, he probably could have gone the entire letter without using the caps lock. He could have inspired his team and the city of Cleveland. He could have handled the situation with grace and come out of it looking pretty good compared to LeBron. Instead, he sunk to LeBron’s level, wrote an angry letter, and now finds himself in charge of one of the worst teams in NBA history.

So kids, don’t write while mad.

The start of the 2010-2011 NBA season.

I’m going to try to write about every game I watch this season, so why not actually start at the beginning? Read More…

New NBA fundraiser: hand out more technical fouls.

(Photo credit: NBC Sports)

If you watched any of the NBA playoffs earlier this year, you know that the league is full of whiners. Actually, you know this if you watch the NBA at all, but it was especially bad during the postseason. Every time there was a whistle (and there were a lot of them) the guilty party would rush over to the ref to plead his case while waving his arms as if he were directing air traffic on a runway. Everyone from players like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Rasheed Wallace, and especially Kendrick Perkins to coaches like Doc Rivers and Stan van Gundy got upset at every call against them. Perkins is especially uppity. Whenever he’s whistled for a foul, he acts as if he’s never had a foul called on him even if it was obviously a foul. He’ll club someone over the arm while they’re shooting and then go into hysterics for getting called for the foul. Which is why with the NBA’s new rules about techs, I think he’ll be in debt by the end of the season thanks to fines, which have been doubled.

Additionally, the refs are going to have an even quicker trigger when it comes to handing out technicals, as well. This means that hotheads like Joey Crawford will be handing them out like Mormons hand out pamphlets. Here’s what will get players called for techs:

• Players making aggressive gestures, such as air punches, anywhere on the court.

• Demonstrative disagreement, such as when a player incredulously raises his hands, or smacks his own arm to demonstrate how he was fouled.

• Running directly at an official to complain about a call.

• Excessive inquiries about a call, even in a civilized tone.

(from ESPN)

Basically, everything that a player has always done to express their displeasure at a foul call, injustice or not, will get them T’d up. However, some things like “heat of the moment” reactions (a defensive player showing he had position, for example) will not be penalized. So instead of getting mad and arguing a call, which is also “heat of the moment”, they want players to just walk back down the court like nothing happened as if they were robots. I find this kind of ironic, actually, because if a player sarcastically walked back down the court like a robot, he’ be assessed a technical foul. Interestingly, the NBA’s senior vice president of referee operations, Ron Johnson, says that this new crackdown on complaining is because of the fans. Concerning players whining:

That’s not what our fans want. They tell us in many many ways and I think we have to adjust to meet the needs of our league and our fans. It’s a business.

I think the NBA is missing the point here. Us fans want better officiating. If you have better officiating, there’s less to complain about. Now they’re putting even more responsibility into the hands of the refs, who are already sketchy as it is. They aren’t consistent with how they call the game and they obviously play favorites with some of the players. And now they’re going to have even more influence over the game, which I think is a bad thing. If commissioner David Stern and the NBA would like to get away from the idea that the league and its refs have an agenda as to who wins games, then they might want to reconsider giving them more power. I can see a scenario where the Orlando Magic are playing the Miami Heat in the playoffs and Dwight Howard is not getting the calls he feels he should, so he argues a call and gets tossed while at the same time LeBron James has been arguing the entire game with no consequence. Same goes for a game between the Boston Celtics and L.A. Lakers. Demonstrative guys like Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett are going to get whistled for techs while Kobe Bryant will simply be warned. It will happen, trust me. And when it does, fans, players, and coaches alike are going to be pretty mad.

Johnson also said that “we don’t want our players looking like they’re complaining about calls on the court because it makes them look like complainers,” which is a statement so dumb that I can’t figure out where to begin. Is this the sole reason they’re doing this? To make it so that we don’t look at players with disdain because they’re “complainers?” I don’t see why that’s a big deal. As fans, we’re right there complaining with them! Whenever there’s a bad call (which is often) we’re complaining as well, whether it’s in the form of booing or yelling at our television screens. I don’t think there’s an image problem for the NBA concerning complaining players because players in every sport complain.

I see this ending in one of two ways. 1) It might fix the complaining problem, or 2) the amount of technical fouls will be so out of hand that the league has to soften its stance on complaining. I think the latter is much more likely.

NBA expands rules on technicals (ESPN)

LeBron fires another brick.

LeBron James is in the news again thanks to the idea that the fallout from his “Decision” is all because of race. Yeah, of course it is. Nevermind the narcissistic way he went about his free-agency or how childish he’s acted because of it. Here’s why we’re talking about this: Read More…