1) I will institute the policy of using paragraphs in my picks and pick recaps!
2) I will not talk about games that bored me or teams about whom I feel I have adequately vociferated (shout out to Walt Clyde Frazier) my opinions.
I know things have been changing a lot over here lately, what with me bolding my winning picks, using a picture. Well, I'll just have to hope that my vast readership is able to adapt well to change and is equipped with a scroll wheel.
Stat of the night: New York beats Detroit despite the fact that Detroit had 36 more field goal attempts.
Washington beats Charlotte: Gerald Wallace had a monster game (40 points, 14 rebounds, 6 steals, 4 blocks) and kept Charlotte in this game. Many people have questioned whether Wallace's big concussion-inducing fall early in the season had permanently affected his all out style of play, making him less aggressively pursue shot blocks (last year he averaged 2.1 bpg, this year only .6). After 9 straight games without a block, and 19 straight with no more than 1 block in a game, Wallace has shown signs that the scar wasn't permanent. He's blocked a shot in each of his last 6 games and had multiple blocks in 3 of those games. When he stays healthy, Wallace is a big time player. If he had put up the same #s he did last year on a good team, he probably would have made the all-star team.
It's too bad that Bobcats ownership isn't committed to winning, because they have a nice young group and are only a piece or two away from being a competitive team. Not only are they below the cap, but their total salary is lower than the league minimum. Their total salary is about 9 million lower than the next lowest team. They could easily have played the role of facilitator in the Iverson trade, and had their choice of role players with middle salaries, without giving up a thing (Maggette, Troy Murphy, I'm sure if they had investigated there would have been even more options).
Word is that they are losing money (they recently laid off employees and dropped ownership of the WNBA's Sting) and they believe the best way to not lose money is to be tightwads. No doubt, particularly in a small market, it's important to spend your $ carefully, and I'm no expert on building a financially robust NBA franchise, but if I turn to the rest of the NBA for evidence, refusing to even give your team an opportunity to be successful is not the key to winning over fans or being a profitable team. There are plenty of other small market teams, but the only team below the salary cap (different from the luxury tax threshold) is the Atlanta Hawks, and that is only because their ownership situation is in disarray. You can't tell me that Charlotte is a unique city in terms of what the best strategy for making money off of an NBA team is. Hell, all you have to do is look back to when the Hornets were in Charlotte. They had big stars in Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson, Vlade Divac, Glenn Rice. When they were winning, Charlotte was hopping with crazy Hornets fans. It wasn't until George Shinn traded away LJ, Mourning and all the rest of their popular guys that the fans turned away.
So far Charlotte's strategy has been to draft local products and to draft guys that they think have fan appeal. Coincidentally, Charlotte came into the league at a time when Euro hype was at an all time high, and the "go to college" rule wasn't in effect yet, so many solid college players were overlooked, and Charlotte stole Sean May with the 13th pick. They also lucked out with the underrated Brevin Knight. Knight came to the Bobcats after bouncing around with 4 different teams the previous year. In his last 6 years as a pro he had averaged 53 1/2 games per season. In his previous four seasons, his highest ppg was 7 and his highest assist/game was 5.9. In his first two years in Charlotte he is averaging 11 points and 9 assists. Last year was the first time he'd averaged over 30mpg since his second season. This guy came out of nowhere and was a real gift. Not only that, they stole a gem from Sac in the expansion draft in G. Wallace , and got a solid backup big in Primoz Brezec from Indy.
They already screwed up by drafting Morrison, a guy that was way overhyped and who I don't have a hard time imagining fighting to stay in the league when his rookie contract is up. This was a weak draft so they didn't miss too much, but Roy, Foye or Gay would have been much better selections. And don't tell me Charlotte didn't know this. They chose morrison in another ploy to try to get fans to the games. I even have sneaking suspicion that adding Michael Jordan as an advisor, or whatever he is, was just another ploy to try to generate interest in this team. He doesn't seem to be doing anything.
What am I getting at here? Opportunity is knocking for Charlotte. These guys are in a situation where if they go out and spend 20 million next summer, upgrade their bench and their shooting guard spot, move felton so we can stop pretending Knight isn't the leader of this team, stop playing morrison 35mpg, and they, still well below the luxury tax, are probably a dangerous 4 or 5 seed in the east.
Fans will show up then.
Cleveland beats Atlanta: (see? I'm not gonna talk about this one)
New York beats Detroit in Triple OT: I didn't catch the Phoenix/Nets game so for me this was by far the most exciting game I've watched all year. There were about 5 different instances where I was sure the game was over:
1) New York up 3 with 9 seconds left in regulation (Delfino hits a 3)
2) Detroit up 3 with 25 remaining in the first overtime (Billups fouls Marbury on a 3).
3) Marbury fouls out with 2:06 left in the second OT and the knicks down 3
4) Detroit up 4 with 18 seconds left in the second OT, then by 1 with Billups going to the line for tw FTs (billups missed 1 of 2, Frye makes a buzzer beater to tie).
5) New York up 6 with 13 seconds left in the 3rd OT (this time I was right).
This game could easily have ended up in a 4th overtime if Hamilton hadn't been dead tired. He was 0-4 in the third OT.
What made this game veer a little away from the historic and towards the absurd was the number of EASY opportunities the teams, particularly Detroit, screwed up in this game:
1) The Knicks had a foul to give on Detroit's possession of regulation. They had ample opportunity to give it and make Detroit try to get a 3 with even less time. No one did.
2) Even if he Knicks chose not to foul, why wasn't David Lee up on Delfino? The pistons needed a three. There was no need for him to step away.
3) Billups blatantly fouls Marbury on a 28 foot three point attempt, then goes down the court and instead of getting hte ball to the red hot rip hamilton, decides to take a 28 footer of his own, even though he had been cold all night. Billups clearly wanted to make up for his blunder on the previous play by being a hero. I thought the Pistons were ego-less.
4) Mohammed caught Billups' missed three and missed an easy layup.
5) Detroit missed two dunks in this game and Mohammed missed countless chip ins and layups off of offensive rebounds. There were sequences where the Pistons got 3 straight offensive rebounds and still failed to convert.
Despite the mistakes, this game was still really exciting. It was close the whole way - no team led by more than 5 after the halftime until the Knicks went up 6 in the 3rd OT. The Knicks are one game behind the Raps for first in the Atlantic, but they have to go on a West coast trip, so I don't know that they'll be taking the lead for a bit.
One last thing to note is that the Knicks beat Phoenix last year in triple-OT and went on to win six straight games.
Milwaukee beats Memphis: Bucks are good.
Chicago beats Miami: Wade goes down. Doesn't sound too bad (X-Rays negative). he stayed in at first, then left for precautionary reasons. The Bulls are confirming that their recent hot streak was something of a mirage. They have lost to the T-wolves, Knicks, and now only managed a 6 point win against the heat. They were playing against guys who would ride the pine on any healthy and competitive team. They were also playing the team that they beat by 40 on opening night. Go figure.
Portland beats New Orleans: I'm shedding a tear for the poor hornets.
Sacramento beats Philadelphia: Andre Miller is already frustrated. Why else would he attempt 19 shots. DOn't worry Andre, Larry Brown should be wise enough to advise his team to move you.
Minnesota loses to Toronto: Couldn't minny have scored 1 more point so they woulda covered? Toronto's tough at home. Mo-Pete gets a DNP? This is killing my fantasy teams too. We have confirmation, what I conceded could be true appears to be the reality over in Toronto: TJ Ford is good.
"But Max, why weren't the more talented Bucks more successful when Ford was with them?"
"Brain, if you weren't such a moron you would understand that the dude had just missed 108 straight games with a bruised spinal cord. Why don't you do your job and think."
"But he showed no signs of being held back by the injury last year and he didn't impress too much his rookie season."
"Hmm your right. Maybe just Brian Colangelo's presence as a GM makes point guards like five times as good as they used to be."
"Now you're thinking, Max."
Blah. Minny sucks. Trade Garnett.
Lakers beat Orlando: There's a reason I rated my confidence in my pick as 1/5. I didn't trust that Kobe wouldn't get his act together. He actually didn't play all that well, but Orlando really sucks. Where has their mojo gone? Hedo played.
Houston whoops New Jersey: I am at that point where I am pretty much ready to count the Nets out. A team that is ready for a turnaround doesn't mail in a game against a team missing it's best player, especially when they are coming off a hard loss. No, they channel that frustration and abuse the Rockets. The Nets played tired, but the Rockets were the ones who should have - T-Mac hadn't played in weeks, and Bonzi is still out of shape. The Rockets, outside of Battier, played a bad game. They turned the ball over 24 times. Yet they still blew out the Nets. I think the Nets would have lost to a CBA team last night (especially if that CBA team featured Matt Barnes).
Clips swat Boston: Wally and Perkins were back. Didn't matter. Al Jefferson falling back to earth? Brand has to shoot 11/15 just to get to 25 points? Clips still are in trouble.
Last night: 7-4
Overall: 42-40 (woo hoo, I've covered an NBA season's worth of games! Hopefully I've also predicted the Knicks' record!)
Pick of the night: 2-1