Sunday, December 31, 2006

Line of the Night 12/30/06

Spreading the wealth was the theme of the night as most of the winners had multiple contributors leaving the boxes a little boring. Zach Randolph was able to fill the void in a loss, getting off 25 FG attempts. But, hey, he made 16 and ended up with a nice line.

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Zach Randolph34134010

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Bobcats 113, Pacers 102: Bobcats Fire All Their Ammo

What just happened? I haven't seen the Bobcats play since opening night and everything I've heard about Adam Morrison has been coupled with disappointment. In fact for one four game stretch a couple of weeks ago, he shot 4-34 from the field. Yes, 1 FG made per game over FOUR GAMES! Last night in a high octane 3 OT stat fest with the Lakers, Ammo made one of 15 FG attempts, finishing with 5 points.

So what happens tonight? Some kid shows up in a mullet wig and wispy mustache and Morrison goes off for career-high 30 points. He was making shots from everywhere, often with a defender draped all over him. Maybe he dropped by Eli Lilly before the game to test out some experimental super insulin. If so, call the FDA, it works. Ammo's effort combined with the lack thereof from the Pacers as a whole and you end up with a head shaking chalk mark in the loss column, 113-102. Other items of interest (or disgust):

  • Morrison should think about taking the kid in the picture on the road with him. The mullet and wispy 'stache obviously cleared the cosmic gunner air for the real "'Stache" to help him find his shooting groove. What other explanation can there be?
  • Gerald Wallace may start skipping games against the Pacers. On opening night, Danny Granger sent him flying on a break away dunk attempt ending his night and keeping him out of action for a couple of weeks. Tonight, Jeff Foster smashed Wallace's shoulder as they scrambled for a loose ball in the fourth quarter. Again, he didn't return.
  • The Bobcat college all-stars got it done tonight. Along with Morrison, Emeka Okafor had 19 and 14 with 5 blocks, Sean May made some key baskets at crunch time, and Raymond Felton dished 19 assists.
  • JO again highlighted the attack for the Pacers with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks. I'm typing this bullet after every game but as hard as I've been on O'Neal in the past for not playing up to the level he talked about, I have to emphasize that very few are having a better year or more impact on their team than JO.
  • At one point in the third quarter, Stephen Jackson had seen enough shots from Ammo drop in his face so he employed a vicious hack which ended up getting him a T. Carlisle had also seen enough and worked the refs for his second T and an early exit. This did fire the Pacers up and they quickly worked down a double-digit deficit to tie the game. But, down the stretch the Bobcats had too many answers.
  • The Pacers have four days off before travelling to Dallas to take on the Mavs on Thursday.

(Photo: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

Waiting on the Pacers vs. Bobcats

The Pacers are looking to put a three game win streak together tonight, realizing last night's sweet W at the Palace will turn bland if they follow it up with a loss against the Bobcats.
"Truthfully, it's only a big win if we can sustain it," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said of Friday's victory. "This has been a situation that has been our nemesis for three years. Two steps forward and one step back. If we're going to be a team that's going to challenge anybody in the East, we have to perform with consistency and with professionalism and we have to win games we're supposed to win. That's not to take anything away from Charlotte, because they are a good team and they compete hard. (Tonight) will tell a lot."
We've been hearing similar comments from the players and coaches for a few weeks now, so if admitting you have a problem is step one, the Pacers are ready to overcome the demons.

I hate to look past the next game on the schedule (see quote above), but the Pacers have a favorable schedule over the next five games. After the Bobcats they go to Dallas (not so favorable) but then have the Hornets, Hawks, and Celtics, so winning four out of the next five is certainly plausible. Now the Pacers just need to back up their words with Ws on the court.

Line of the Night 12/29/06

Triple OT is always good for a few big lines and the Bobcats 3 OT win over the Lakers didn't disappoint. Emeka went for 22 and 25, but I'll take Kobe's 58 beans, despite the loss.

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Kobe Bryant5854004

Friday, December 29, 2006

Pacers 93, Pistons 92: Pacers Storm the Palace

In a game that had more peaks and valleys than Pamela Anderson, the Pacers ended up on top of the Pistons, 93-92. Not that I would know about Pamela Anderson, but since Kid Rock was at the Palace you can ask him. I'll stick to the game. The Pacers started the game with a quick ten point lead (peak), then suddenly fell down by 13 (valley) only to rally for a one point lead at the half (flat smooth surface). You get the idea. Anyway, after playing with the lead most of the second half, the Pacers gave the Pistons their obligatory opportunities to steal the win or at least push it into OT. Rip Hamilton tied the game with 3.4 seconds to go but Darrell Armstrong got loose with the ball near the hoop and was fouled. He made 1 of 2 with :00.9 seconds left and Pistons didn't get another shot off. A sweet, juicy, and delicious W that the Pacers should enjoy on their flight home. A few more thoughts on the game:

  • JO's game continues to flourish. He's not healthy which was obvious when listening to his post game comments -- he really sounded sick. He mustered up the strength to get it done during the game, though. With 25 and 13 plus his now routine 4 blocks, the guy is playing the best basketball of his life. Hopefully he can stay healthy because he's a joy to watch on the court.

  • Jamaal Tinsley played a tough, aggressive game tonight, doing a little bit of everything (his stat line is filled) while having to deal with not getting any calls.

  • Marquis Daniels had his marquee game of the year, answering Carlisle's call after several games with minimal minutes. 'Quis had 8 points, 4 assists, and more importantly proved to be a tough match up for Rip Hamilton by chasing him around and making him work for every point.

  • Jason Maxiell is indeed making an impact in the front court for the Pistons. Dude is huge, active and not afraid to shoot it. Quinn Buckner said it best after Maxiell hit a mid-range jumper, "Maxiell, is going to WORK!"

  • The Pacers return to Indy for a game tomorrow night against Charlotte. The Bobcats will be dealing with a back-to-back situation also after beating the Lakers tonight in triple OT. What is with the multiple OT games in the NBA this year?

(Photo: D. Lippitt/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Line of the Night 12/28/06

Allen Iverson is taking over the LoNny with another huge effort in leading the 'Melo-less Nuggs to a win over the Supes. Please nod your head while looking at Jason Terry's line which must be acknowledged.

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Allen Iverson44310021

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Waiting on the Pacers vs. Pistons

The Pacers make their first trip of the year to the Palace at Auburn Hills on Friday. The Pistons are coming off a crazy 3 OT loss to the Knicks and should be plenty hungry to get back to their winning ways. After starting out 3-5 in their first eight games, the Pistons have only lost 4 of their last 19 games to establish themselves as the class of the Eastern Conference. Here are some items to consider prior to the opening tip:

  • Here is Bruno's preview of Friday's game. He points out how the Pacers defense has improved of late, but since these are the Pacers and they appear to feel more comfortable hovering around the .500 mark, the offense has gone in the tank. Stephen Jackson took his turn with the weekly lament of the Pacers inconsistent play.
    "We can't keep trying to make up for losing games. We need to put some wins together because we're putting ourselves in a bad position. In order to change that, we have to start now.

    "We're not where we want to be. We're two games over .500 but we've got a lot of work to do. We've got to get guys healthy; it was definitely tough out there without (O'Neal). We've just got to keep grinding and get guys ready to play."

  • After the Pacers beat the Pistons at Conseco earlier this month, I mentioned the different feel to this Pistons team, lacking that 'Bad Boy' aura of the past. The glaring issue was the less than stellar play of the Pistons' front court, namely Nazr Mohammed and Antonio McDyess. Well, since playing the Pacers last, Jason Maxiell has emerged as a productive piece to the front court puzzle. Here is a Detroit Free Press article on how Flip Saunders is shuffling minutes depending on the situation and who is playing well.
  • Jermaine O'Neal should be back although he's still not fully recovered from whatever has been ailing him. I imagine he'll make every effort possible to show up at the Palace and take on his bud, Rasheed. Stephen Jackson missed practice yesterday to rest his knee. He'll definitely be playing on Friday.
  • Speaking of Sheed, if you want more information about what's going on with the Pistons, check out Need4Sheed and Detroit Bad Boys for everything you need to know about the Pistons, and more.

Carnival of the NBA #39: Holiday Edition

Pradamaster has invited everyone over to his new digs at Bullets Forever for a festive Carnival of the NBA. Check it out.

Line of the Night 12/27/06

Big night for scoring around the Association last night with five players going for 39 or more. The 3OT Knicks-Pistons thrilla at the Garden produced some fabulous lines. Like any good holiday feast, I like some tasty side dishes with my main course, so I'm acknowledging Rip Hamilton for having a 50-50 (51 points and 54 minutes) performance. But the LoNny goes to Steph since he added some yummy treats and a W.

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Stephon Marbury4158013

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Big People, Little People, Camo People - I Love the NBA

With a couple of off days for the Pacers , I thought I'd link some items that have caught my eye or made me laugh. Actually, a couple of these items caught my eye and made me laugh until I cried:
  • Bruno has a story on the Pacers spreading some holiday cheer to those less fortunate. I knew JO had a tough upbringing but I had no idea just how tough. As a 9 year old he received the toy he desperately wanted -- a WWF wrestling ring kit with action figures. Unfortunately later in the day his older brother fell on the ring and destroyed it.
    "That had to be the most devastating Christmas memory of my life," he said.
  • Like clockwork, my man Ronnie is in the line up tonight for the Kings. Imminent trade rumors have called his bluff, so now it's time for the "Problems, what problems?" portion of the Artest drama.
  • I can't imagine the void in my life were it not for need4sheed.com. Here is a link to an uproarious version of Sheedgle Bells. Watch it multiple times, focusing on each individual at least once. Classic. Sheed is Sheed, dominates the remix. Amir Johnson plays a classic backup role. Jason Maxiell's performance is quite underrated until you focus on his subtle, ice cold contributions. Will Blalock, what can you say? The rook unknowingly carried the lead, even stopping on the final chorus to see if anyone else was singing. The vid was played during a game at the Palace. Here is a link to the reaction from the Pistons bench when the vid aired.
  • HoopsAddict has brought "Camo Night" in Memphis to our attention. Deer hunting season just started up and the Griz played the Bucks tonight. Tickets were 2 for 1 to anyone showing up in their hunting gear. Memo to the Pacers' Marketing Dept: Don't get any ideas from Memphis. Can you imagine a promotion involving guns and the Pacers? That would be like having Greenhouse Night in Portland with discount tickets to anyone who brings a plant (I know, I know, the Blazers are cleaning up their act). Apparently, someone forgot the ammo in Memphis, as the Bucks stomped all over the Griz on Camo Night.

Line of the Night 12/26/06

A.I. had the home fans buzzing last night as the Nuggets beat the Celtics. The Denver natives learned that The Answer can pass (13 dimes) AND shoot (22 FGAs) and lead a team to victory.

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Allen Iverson28213041

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Pacers 81, Rockets 76: JWB!

The Pacers minus JO beat the Rockets minus Yao, 81-76, in a game that will only be remembered for the mark added to the win column. This game was up for grabs the whole way with several swings of momentum. In the end, the Pacers made a couple more plays to seal the win. Gotta go old school after this grinder and evoke the ancient Al Davis -- just win, baby!

Tracy McGrady returned to the Rockets line up after missing several games. He had some outstanding spurts of freakishness but also showed a lot of rust. That worked out well for the Pacers, especially Jeff Foster who was in focus for a couple of poster dunks but TMac just didn't have his groove on and lost the ball both times. Just win, baby!

Jamaal Tinsley was huge offensively in the first half, almost single-handedly keeping the Pacers around for much of the first quarter. He had a few mind numbing turnovers in the second half, but that is the type of game we had to endure. Just win, baby!

Al Harrington filled the JO void with 23 and 14 but, man he left a lot of meat on the bone. He took 24 shots to get his points and had trouble finishing several layups around the basket and also fumbled away five turnovers. Al did score a nice interior bucket with less than a minute to go to give the Pacers a three point lead. Just win, baby!

Darrell Armstrong didn't bring his shooting touch to the gym tonight missing all of his FG attempts and passing up a few attempts altogether. The normally solid 80% free chucker, missed three key freebies late in the game. But, he then made three in a row, really late to put the game away. Just win, baby!

The Pacers are again two games over .500 (16-14) with a roadie at Detroit up next on Friday night. With a couple of days off, the Ps should be at full strength with JO. Just win, baby!

(Photo: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Line of Christmas Day

The Heat handled a sickly Kobe and the Lakers with a whole lotta sick D-Wade. Flash saved this game in superheroic fashion because certainly it wasn't the best game of the year. I think it is time to put this Heat-Lakers Christmas Day tradition to bed. Shaq and Kobe aren't feuding any more and there are plenty of other teams in the Association that can excite a national audience. I'm trying to extol the virtues of the modern day NBA to casual fans among my family and friends, but this game literally lost them at half time.
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Dwyane Wade40411441

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Line of the Night 12/23/06

The Big Ticket caught the caroms offered by three quarters worth of FG futility from the Pacers and led the T'Wolves to victory.
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Kevin Garnett29193210

Saturday, December 23, 2006

How a Thought on Tom Chambers Leads to Thurl Bailey

This post by Nate Jones over at the NBA Fanhouse reminded me of a story from my college days in Seattle. I was at a club with some friends a couple days after Chambers signed his deal with Phoenix. Tommy was there looking good in his late 80's pink dress shirt with sleeves rolled up. A gal in our group asked a boisterous friend who the tall guy was. While explaining, he mentioned that he had just signed a $9 million dollar contract (at least that's how I remember it). Well, Tommy picked up that part of the conversation and casually slid over to my friend and said, "$9.5." Without another word he eased back to where he was standing. We loved the hubris and always added a .5 to any statistic or statement of fact from that night on.

Googling up on Chambers led me down a couple of rabbit holes that I found interesting.

  • Prior to signing Chambers, Jerry Colangelo led a group that bought the cocaine-ravaged Suns for $44 million dollars in 1987. Twenty years later Colangelo could get six years of Bobby Simmons for about that same amount.

  • There are a lot of famous Mormons in basketball depending on how you define a lot. Chambers and Danny Ainge remain the gold standard. Which leads me to my next bullet.

  • Thurl Bailey is maxing out all of life's opportunities. Music, fashion, motivational speaking...who knew? His site's bio describes him as a "game annalist" for the Jazz and Utes. Hope that's a typo because chronicling the historical significance of every Jazz and Utes game wouldn't leave Thurl much time for anything else.

(Photo: NBAE Photos)

Timberwolves 78, Pacers 71: 'Tis the Season for Giving Away Ws

The Pacers scored 32 first quarter points and led by as many as 16 before shutting down for the holidays, scoring only 39 points over the final three quarters and giving the T'Wolves a 78-71 win. Give Minny credit for hanging in there and riding KG to a big comeback, but there was nothing impressive here from either team. Ugh, this game was painful to watch.

Several times this year, the Pacers have started out slow in the first quarter and then rallied to win. This has been considered a problem area. Well, they flipped the script completely tonight and left me longing for the slow start formula. With the big early lead, it appeared all of the Pacers figured they could ease it on into the off days and let someone else finish the game off. Unfortunately, when EVERYBODY does that, there's no one left to actually finish the game off.

Eight third quarter points and 21 in the second half?!?!? There appeared to be no sense of urgency to win a third straight game and keep the positive momentum going in the suddenly tough Central Division. Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and Milwaukee all won tonight making this W donation sting even more.

Minnesota won't be using much of this game film in the '06-'07 highlights DVD. Mark Madsen captured the quality of play with a airball from the line that broke everyone up. In the final three minutes of the game, Minny had a five point lead. There were at least ten scoreless possessions between the two teams and several of those possessions never came close to delivering a score. I mean, the game was in the balance and no one can make a play. In hindsight, it was the perfect finish for this game.

The Pacers have a couple of days off before hosting the Houston Rockets. Yao Ming went down tonight with a knee injury. It sure looked bad but the extent of the injury in not known yet. Tracy McGrady has missed several games with back spasm so he may be out, as well. I'd almost prefer if both players were healthy and ready to go just so they'd get the Pacers full attention. But, then again, I'm just a cynical pile of goo right now after enduring that game tonight.
UPDATE: Yao's knee will keep him out six weeks so the Pacers will deinitely miss him on Tuesday.
(Photo: AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Artest Starts Holding the Kings' Season Hostage

Ron Ron loves to have our undivided attention and it's been some time since he's garnered headlines and media focus. He probably figured with the dust settling on the A.I. trade it was prime time for some publicity and we all know what that means. Ronnie's publicity playbook relies on leaving his team hanging, acting aloof, and leaving his coaches, front office, and fans shaking their heads. I think (believe me, I dare anyone to say they understand the Artest thought process) he generates this drama to try to prove how valuable he is to the team. Most players try to accomplish this on the floor, but not Ronnie, he thinks his absence will make the heart grow fonder. The problem with this tactic is, it highlights in 72 point, bold font exactly what makes Artest's value pretty paltry.

I love watching Ron Ron play when he's into it. His unorthodox game and savvy on both ends of the floor can be spectacular to witness. Because of his game, it took me about two years too long to come to the above conclusions. Looks like Sactown Royalty has seen the light in less than a year.

Even though he's not the Pacers' problem any more, it still bums me out seeing Artest begin to waste another season. I love the NBA and really get a charge out of unique talents that come along to provide on court thrills. So, to all Kings fans -- I empathize with your frustration and wish you good luck. You'll need it.

Pacers 100, Hawks 90: Hawks get Jacked Up

The Pacers started out hot and handled the Hawks with a strong defensive effort and timely shooting, 100-90. Here is a recap from Mike Wells. What else:
  • Stephen Jackson was indeed the difference maker stepping up at both ends of the floor. Jack's 27 points wiped out Joe Johnson's 31 point effort for the Hawks allowing the Pacers to win other match up areas. Johnson only scored nine second half points and had a face full of Jack down the stretch.

  • Big Thirst enjoyed his first trip back to Atlanta as a Pacer. He obviously has a lot of love for his former team and saw that love reciprocated with a warm reception line just prior to the opening tip. Al struggled a bit in the first half but settled down and really produced in the second half, reminding the locals of what he can do.

  • Darrell Armstrong gave Salim Stoudamire a masters level seminar in hard work and hustle at the NBA level. For some reason, Salim Stoud brought his pouty, too cool for you act to the NBA. He could get away with that junk in college 'cause the kid can flat out light it up from distance. But DA saw a kid unwilling to get dirty last night and started running and diving for loose balls headed Stoud's way. DA was able to pilfer four of 'em making Stoud look slow, silly, and not entirely interested in the game he was playing.

  • With Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, and Zach Pachulia the Hawks seem to have a lot of pieces to a quality NBA team puzzle. They're just a little young and dumb at times, playing with an inconsistent effort. They are fun to watch, though, and definitely an improving team.

  • JO wasn't on top of his game, still battling a lingering bug. He ended up in the locker room at one point to tap an IV for a little extra fluid. No worries, he still manage a routine double-double.

  • The Hawks hung around most of the night thanks to the Pacers poor free throw shooting. The Ps shot 50% missing eleven charity stripers.

  • The Pacers jumped to two games over .500 and finish up a back-to-back at home tonight against Minnesota.

(Photo: Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)

Line of the Night 12/22/06

It took a heroic "Hibachi!" effort to make the Suns wins streak set in the west. Agent Zero was the super hero up to the task, dropping fiddy plus to stand above all others on a night when the box scores around the league were filled with goodies.

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Gilbert Arenas5434016

Friday, December 22, 2006

Who's in your Top 5?

Who do you consider among the elite at each position in the NBA? Jack at 3manlift offers his opinion with his lists of the top 5 PG, SG, SF, PF, C, and coaches in the NBA. Jermaine O'Neal represents the Pacers as a top 5 Center. Sounds good to me, although I'd mix him in at Power Forward.

Waiting on the Pacers vs. Hawks

The Pacers head to Atlanta Friday night to attempt to win back-to-back games on the road. Here is a link to Bruno's preview of the game. What else:

  • Slow starts and shooting inconsistency from Big Thirst and Tins are the issues du jour facing the Pacers. The fact that Al and Tins aren't shooting at the high percentage rate they were a few games ago is actually a sign of consistency. If they were players who could maintain that level of production, they'd be perennial All-Stars and probably be hogging someone else's salary cap.
  • Al returns to Atlanta for the first time, so he'll be looking to break out of his scoring slump to remind the Hawks of what he can do. Al's emotions are part of his game for better or for worse. Normally, when he's hyped and forcing it to make an impression, the end results are poor. This is a great opportunity to show some maturity and play under control. Smart basketball people call it, letting the game come to him.
  • Hawks coach and former IU hoops legend Mike Woodson was on JMV's local radio show tonight. He seems pretty happy with his young squad, yet frustrated with the way they've thrown away a couple of potentially nice wins lately.
  • When the subject turned to his college coach, Bob Knight, breaking the all-time wins record, Woodson's demeanor completely changed. The intensity and excitement in his voice dialed up to a Nigel Tufnel eleven. He was so hyped he started commenting on Knight's ability by saying that Coach Knight can "flat ass coach." It was said with such authority, it took a minute before I caught myself and thought, "Wait a minute, what did he say?" Flat ass coach...hmm. What did he mean to say -- he can flat out coach... he used to have a flat ass...he's a flatten your ass coach. All seem plausible to me.

Line of the Night 12/21/06

Antawn Jamison took advantage of Ron Ron's night off and teamed up with Agent Zero for a Wiz road win against the Kings.

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Antawn Jamison33131045

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pacers Not as Interested in Iverson as Reported

This recap of the Pacers-Sixers game has a quote from Larry Joe Legend regarding the Pacers involvement in trade talks for A.I.

Pacers president Larry Bird said Indiana was never a serious contender in Iverson trade talks. "We made one call, I think, and the price was too high," he said. "Allen's been a great player over the years. When a player stands up and wants out, you've got to do something to try and help the franchise. Billy did a good job. It's tough under the circumstances."

I'd love to know what price the Sixers were asking for from the Pacers. Danny Granger and/or a #1 pick must've been involved. The speculation was fun while it lasted. A.I. will bring a lot of excitement to Denver, as he would've anywhere he played. I was ready and willing to ride out the Iverson era with the Pacers. But, for the long term the Pacers are better off focusing on other ways to improve the roster.

Line of the Night 12/20/06

Finally, a road win and a Pacer box score line worthy of LoN status from JO. Indiana bias admitted, with a appreciative head nod to the Bucks' Mo Williams.

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Jermaine O'Neal34114300

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pacers 101, Sixers 93: Ps Grind Out the Roadie

The Sixers showed some signs of life as they played game one A.I. (After Iverson). After taking advantage of a typically slow start by the Pacers, Philly ran out of juice and talent as the Pacers closed the deal down the stretch, 101-93. The game was a grind until the last two minutes so the Pacers get props for a solid effort on the road.
  • JO had a big time night pumping in 34 as he took advantage of Sal Dalembert early and often.

  • A few sour possessions for the Pacers combined with Ashton Korver snapping off some wild jumpers let the Sixers back in the game midway through the fourth quarter. I think it's safe to say Korver's supposed shooting slump is history.

  • JO and Jack stepped up and took over during the final four minutes of the game.

  • Chris Webber sat out the game, leaving the Sixers thin up front. Dalembert had his moments, but Professor JO taught Sal the finer points of scoring from the low post.

(Photo: AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

Pacers Arrive in Philly as A.I. Leaves for Denver

Wow! Seeing the Allen Iverson in a Nuggets uniform is a strange sight indeed. With the Pacers in Philly to face the Sixers on Wednesday night that strange site is nice to see on a couple of fronts. For one, A.I won't be able to catch fire tonight and torch the Pacers. Also, trade speculation that always seemed to include the Pacers has vanished. At least for now, the Pacers are goin' with what they got.

However, Bruno makes a great point in his game preview. With the speculation over, the Sixers can also focus on moving forward with what they have. I'm assuming the former Nuggs won't play (or have much impact if they do). Still, as the Pacers proved after the Palace brawl, a shorthanded squad can rally around each other, show some pride, and dig out a couple of hard earned wins. Sounds like CWebb will be back for the Sixers, so they will be in about as good a shape as possible.

With all of that said, the timing of this game should still be considered quite favorable for the Pacers. The dust hasn't settled in Philly yet and if the Pacers can come out and play with strong energy and effort they should be able to run down this Sixers team for a rare road victory. The Pacers have talked recently about consistency and putting a string of wins together. If not now, then when?
(Photo: ESPN.com illustration)

Line of the Night 12/19/06

Light night on big boxes for an NBA Tuesday, so I'll pay tribute to the Suns 15-game win streak with a nod to Amare.

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Amare Stoudemire28100100

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Perfect Gift for the Hoop Crazed

Paddy on the Hardwood: A Journey in Irish Hoops by Rus Bradburd has become my hoops related stocking stuffer of choice this holiday season. Never heard of it? Who's Rus Bradburd? Listen to this HoopsAddict.com podcast with the author or read this post from TrueHoop to find out more. After hearing from two of the NBA blogosphere's finest, you won't be able to deny the pull of this book.

Line of the Night 12/18/06

The Griz and the Supes made the scoreboard sparkle in double OT. In the end, the Griz get the W and Mike Miller the LoN.

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Mike Miller29117025

Monday, December 18, 2006

Genius Schedule for Jazz

How much influence do individual teams have on setting their schedule? For the past three months I've heard the Pacers complaining about starting out the season with 13 of their first 19 games on the road. Was that actually by choice? It is nice to have those roadies out of the way now. I ask because I always assumed teams didn't have much input on their schedule, other than working around shared venue logistics.

Mark Boyle on the Pacers radio broadcast today mentioned how the Jazz are starting their annual road trip the week before Christmas. He and Slick went on to discuss how it started back with Frank Layden and continued with Jerry Sloan. The idea is that the week before Christmas is crazy at home. Lots of family obligations with shopping, holiday gatherings, and school performances. All of this added stress takes a toll on a player's focus, so if they are on the road they don't have to deal with it and can focus solely on playing games.

Sure enough, I went back and looked at the past six seasons and the Jazz were on the road during the week leading up to Christmas, getting home just in time to celebrate Christmas Day with the family. Almost every year, the first game following Christmas Day is at home, too.

Wouldn't every team want to do this? Maybe some teams haven't thought about it but it seems like the Jazz are getting over nicely with this little scheduling quirk. If anyone can give me some info on how the NBA schedules games I'd be quite interested.

Line of the Night 12/17/06

Gil Arenas goes back to Cali and outduels Kobe in a game that showed all that is good about the NBA on a day when the NBA needed it.

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Gilbert Arenas6088025

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Jazz 104, Pacers 94: That's Some Luther Vandross Type Smooth Jazz

Yep, the Jazz are pretty good. That much is obvious after they easily handled the Pacers Sunday afternoon, 104-94. Here is the AP recap of the game. Hard to say the Pacers were blown out, but I never felt like they would get in position to win. Look at the Jazz on paper and you might shrug, but they have all of the right pieces to play a precise, team game, which is when basketball is at its best. JO captured the essence of the Jazz after the game.

This is probably the best team we've played all year," said Jermaine O'Neal, who led Indiana with 31 points. "And they really showed why they're the best team in the NBA, because no matter what happens, they don't show very many emotions. They just come out with their hard hat and just play basketball, no matter what."

What else:

  • Maceo Baston missed the game today with the toilet sprint flu that hit some of his teammates in Chicago.

  • Jerry Sloan will get his just due as an incredible coach and teacher of basketball as the year goes on. He's molded this roster and talent into an incredibly efficient, hard working unit.

  • Lots of Illini orange at Conseco today to watch Deron Williams, Dee Brown, and Roger Powell. Dee and Deron made it worth the trip.

  • Lots of fouls called today. Al Harrington was saddled with foul trouble and never really got into the game, finishing with a goose egg in the scoring column.

(Photo: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

It's Gotta Be the Bass, Money!

Mark Montieth has an article today on Jamaal Tinsley's effort to play all 82 games this year. This topic has been thrown around for a couple weeks now, as Tins played a couple of games with obvious pain in his left leg and then gutted out a solid performance in Chicago after clearing out his gut all day with a stomach ailment that sidelined a few of his teammates.

Over the past three seasons JT was often found in street clothes on the bench for extended periods of time. There didn't ever seem to be a sense of urgency to get back on the court which became a source of criticism for the guy who was supposed to be running the team from the point. Looks like he finally found an offseason program that has him mentally and physically ready for the grind this year. Rick Carlisle made a visit and approved:
"After his workout we went to his house and his chef cooked the best bass I've ever had in my life," Carlisle said. "It was all healthy stuff. Very low fat, a lot of roughage, a lot of vegetables.
"You can tell the commitment has been there from the beginning of the year."
Must be some good bass to turn the Tin Man into an Ironman looking to play all 82. Long ways to go, but I like the fact that he's putting pressure on himself to make every game by telling everyone he can that 82 is his goal. Hopefully this isn't just a one year commitment.

Line of the Night 12/16/06

Dwyane Wade was back on the court and made his presence felt.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Dwyane Wade4157150

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Off-Day Items of Interest: Mini Sheed?

Saving the best for last, the Indy Star Pacers Notebook today included this nugget from Darrel Armstrong on how his energized interaction with the refs earned him a T last night.
Darrell Armstrong was called for a technical foul in the fourth quarter after telling a referee to "keep your head in the game." He was ejected from a November game in Chicago. "I'm a mini Rasheed Wallace," he said
Jeff Foster is crying foul on his five (yes, five, 5, cinco!) missed bunnies...well, not all of 'em.
"I blew two," he said. "I know it. But I got fouled on the rest."
Foster's not one to get a kind whistle from the refs, but if he'd slow it down a tick I think he'd draw a foul call or (gasp!) make the layup.

Speaking of missing whistles, we all know about the unwritten levels of calls in the NBA. From MJ, to superstar, to veteran, to rookie, the refs whistles have a sliding scale of favorability. But we're witnessing a new category emerging with the way refs are averting their eyes whenever Stephen Jackson has the ball. The guy has to get absolutely mauled to get a call. This must be the public enemy #1 level where the refs realize whether at home or on the road, no one will shed a tear for a guy not getting a call. Jack will cut loose on the refs sooner or later, and I won't blame him when he does.

Sunday afternoon's game against the Jazz has turned into a huge game for the Pacers. The Pacers are defending a six game home win streak and the Jazz have the second-best record in the league. Of course, this game isn't being televised locally. I'm sure when the schedule was set the decision to not televise a game against the nondescript Jazz played during an NFL football Sunday seemed logical. Now that the Jazz have emerged as a great story of the early season, that decision has turned cruel for Pacer fans.

Line of the Night 12/15/06

Kobe Bryant missed a couple of game winners but that just let him go off in the second OT, as he and the Lakers outdueled Yao and the Rockets.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Kobe Bryant53108125

Friday, December 15, 2006

Pacers 112, Knicks 96: Pacers Cruise Past Knicks

After the Knicks pushed their lead to seven points early in the second quarter, the Pacers went on a 10-0 run and then continued to stretch the lead to as much as 24 on their way to a 112-96 win over the Knicks. Danny Granger sparked the Pacers huge second quarter, scoring 21 of his career-high 25 points. Observations from the game:

  • Eddie Curry picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter and then battled Jeff Foster and friends and never found his rhythm. Curry finished with only ten points on six FG attempts. The Pacers' frustrating front court defense also forced five Curry turnovers.

  • Isiah Thomas felt some pre-game love, as JO, Foster, and Tins all walked over to give him a hugshake as they went out to line up for the opening tip.

  • Aside from Granger's second quarter outburst, the Pacers relied on solid play from nearly everyone in the regular rotation. Nothing spectacular, but great team defense and patient half court sets really made this a complete team effort.

  • The Pacers missed a ton of bunnies in the first half and had to rely on the 3-ball to hang around until they got rolling in the second half. Jeff Foster has to be on pace for the most missed layups for a season. Whether he's trying to put back a rebound or gets a feed at the hoop he seems to rush the ball to the glass and it doesn't go in. His reaction tonight revealed he's thinking about it too.

  • The Knicks appear to have a better collection of talent than last year. Obviously they don't have the perfect mix but looking at the talent of Crawford, Marbury, Curry, and David Lee coming off the bench, it seems they shouldn't be as bad as their record reflects. You could really sense the let down when they fell behind by double digits. In the Pacers last game, the Pistons exuded complete confidence that they were never out of the game and would make a run to give them a chance to win. Tonight there was no hint of confidence that the Knicks felt they could put together a run to get back in the game.

  • The Pacers are back over .500 at 13-12 and looking forward to a big test against Utah on Sunday. The six game home win streak will be tested by the Jazz who come to Conseco with the best record in the NBA.

(Photo: AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Waiting on the Knicks vs. Pacers

Bruno has a preview up for tonight's game against the Knicks. The preview highlights the fact that the Pacers have a five game home winning streak, although the streak stretches over a three week period with 11 roadies intertwined. Still, the wins at home have been valuable since three Ws were against Orlando, Cleveland, and Detroit. Other thoughts while waiting on the Knicks:
  • I wonder how Isiah Thomas feels coming to Indy with the Knicks tonight. Despite his ouster by Larry Joe Legend, Conseco is not hostile territory for Zeke. He left a team that went to the Eastern Conference finals. Plus, he's always welcomed for leading the Hoosiers to the 1981 National Championship. Getting a mild-to-positive reaction from the crowd would be a welcomed change from the reception he's been getting at Madison Square Garden.
  • I imagine a couple of Knick's scouts will stay in town tomorrow to watch Ohio State take on Cincinnati in one of the John Wooden Tradition games played at Conseco Fieldhouse. I just happened to see Greg Oden and the rest of the Buckeyes carb loading at Iaria's last night. I recommend the Baked Penne, mmm.
  • Former Indiana Mr. Basketball, Jared Jeffries appears set to start for the Knicks tonight. Jeffries is a class act and seems to have found a niche, not to mention riches, as a role player willing to play great defense, and hit the boards to scrap for points. As I mentioned in this post, I've seen him play soft when he was the focal point but there's no denying he's long, athletic, and knows how to play the game. Nice to see a good guy's game mature turning him into an established NBA player.
  • Speaking of maturing players, I can't speak for Eddie Curry's maturity off the court but the kid's game has taken a leap this year. He will present a serious problem for the Pacers tonight. David Harrison is the only player the Pacers could throw at Curry to match his size and girth, but he's unavailable.
  • The A.I. trade circus continues to roll on. Most reports continue to throw in the Pacers, but Denver and recently the Heat seem to be where the most logistical speculation is focused. The Sixers are on ESPN nationally tonight so maybe that will push things along tonight. Philly may want change the subject from the trade and poor product they currently have on the floor by announcing a deal. Plus, Jim Gray will probably have A.I. on split screen (just to prove it is him) for an interview that won't shine a good light on the Sixers' front office.

Line of the Night 12/14/06

The Rockets came up a bucket short against the Warriors, but Yao did his part.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Yao Ming38183200

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Line of the Night 12/13/06

Speaking of Big Ben, he earns the honor for a big defensive night against Seattle. Check out the Nets too, following a similar formula of a pedestrian triple-double by JKidd and Vinsanity throwing his arms in the air, shooting 3s like he just don't care. Seems to be working well.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Ben Wallace15202520

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pacers 101, Pistons 90: Not Too 'Bad'

The Pacers played arguably their most complete game of the year beating the Pistons, 101-90. By playing solid defenes and minimizing the turnovers, the Pacers withstood every challenge the Pistons could throw at them. Jamaal Tinsley carried the offense through the third quarter and then turned it over to JO to finish off the Pistons for good. As the go-to-guy down the stretch, JO hit several key baskets in the paint and all of his free throws to eventually kill the will of the Pistons. Other Pistons vs. Pacers observations:

  • This was a big game for the Pacers coming off a trying past four days. The importance of this game showed in the tight playing rotation, relying on the starters to play the bulk of the minutes. Of course, their solid play had a lot to do with it too.
  • Speaking of playing rotations, Shawne Williams was close to heading to Alburquerque for some time in the D-League when he was forced into action against Chicago. His solid play earned him more active roster status tonight and some critical playing time. His box line doesn't show anything but gave some solid minutes, including a great pass on a fast break that led Danny Granger to the hoop and eventually the free throw line. In light of how Rick Carlisle used, or should I say didn't use, Tayshaun Prince in his rookie year in Detroit, I was interested to see if Shawne would get any meaningful minutes again. Ironically, there he was playing against Tayshaun Prince tonight.
  • The Pistons/Pacers games are still excuses for the media to analyze the brawl impact and the rivalry between the teams. The Indy Star and Detroit News (which Pacer Pundit took exception to) both had articles on the brawl today. I don't get it, so I guess I'm with Detroit Bad Boys on this one. How many ways are there to look at the same thing? There really isn't any juice left in the story with Artest and Ben Wallace no longer involved. It's really hard to work up a lather over the Pistons this year. Their coach, Flip Saunders is benign, not one to stir up the opponent. Chauncy Billups and Rip Hamilton certainly aren't "bad boys" and play a beautiful brand of baskteball. Tayshaun Prince? Seems like a pretty solid dude and a sick talent. Rasheed Wallace may still draw some smack from fans but the guy and his antics have become a caricature of late, far more comedic than contemptible. So until the Pacers can get back into a playoff series against the Pistons there's not much to bring an edge to the match up. These days the only "bad boys" in Detroit are in the stands pounding beers.
  • Al Harrington and Jermaine O'Neal ran the floor in the sweet, all-white Nike Air Force 1's as part of the Air Force 1 25 year celebration.

(Photos: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

Line of the Night 12/12/06

Nellie Ball delivers another LoN, with Matt Barnes taking advantage of some extended PT to fill up the box scores with all kinds of goodies.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Matt Barnes32113136

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

More Cow Balls!!!

TrueHoop has PETA's reaction to the return of the leather ball in the NBA. It's actually pretty funny as PETA takes shots at the complaining players and offers cruelty-free hand cream if the the Association will stick with the composite ball.

Donnie Walsh Podcast on A.I. Situation

Donnie Walsh gave a great interview on Chad Ford's always excellent ESPN.com podcast. Click this link to listen to the podcast.

Of course, the topic is the Allen Iverson trade situation. Donnie discusses his experience and the process of trading a disgruntled talent in mid-season. We find out that DW even contacted Utah about moving Artest last year.

Despite Chad's best efforts, DW also gives the Heisman stiff arm to any insights on the Pacers status in the A.I. talks.

Bulls 106, Pacers 91: Pacers Hurl Up an L

The Bulls shot many open shots and made most of them as they cruised by the short-handed Pacers, 106-91. The Pacers played without JO (hammy), Jack (mouth/suspension), Al and 'Quis (blowing chunks). Surely, the Pacers aren't covering up a pending trade are they? Tinsley was hurling earlier in the day but managed to suit up and give it a try. His "gutty" performance (I'm killing me) was needed early as he poured in 16 first half points and finished with 21. Read the game recap here. Other observations:
  • Shawne Williams saw the first NBA action of his career. He looked comfortable on offense scoring 13 points including a three and throwing down a beautiful, driving, one-handed dunk. He was out of position a few times on defense and didn't seem real interested in mixing it up on the boards. But, overall a very impressive debut from the young rook.

  • The Pacers came out scrapping in the second half led by the assertive play of Danny Granger and Maceo Baston. They kept battling but could never get the lead below nine points as the Bulls hit shot after shot to keep the Pacers at arms length.

  • Seemed like Ben Gordon had 50 points in the second half. Every time the Pacers scored, Gordon would answer by draining a jumper.

  • The Pacers had high hopes heading into Cleveland on Saturday with three straight games against the teams ahead of them in the Central. Through two games things couldn't be going any worse. It is possible the Pacers will be at full strength against Detroit on Wednesday. They'll need it since the Pistons have won 8 of 10 and always cause match up problems with the Pacers.

UPDATE: Here is Mark Montieth's article on the game with more info on the upchuck outbreak.

Either there's a serious bug going around or this is the best trade cover up ever.The curious thing was that some people in the traveling party who went to different restaurants also got sick. Tinsley, Harrington and Daniels went to the same restaurant. Jermaine O'Neal, who was going to sit out the game anyway with a sore left hamstring, didn't join them, but became ill Monday afternoon. Joe Smith, a member of the security team, also missed the game. So did Jamie Berns of the broadcast production crew.

(Photo: AP Photo/Brian Kersey)

Line of the Night 12/11/06

The Nets were at it again as they dispatched of the Memphis Grizzlies. JKidd had another triple-double (yawn), but the eye-popping numbers came courtesy of Vince Carter. Vinsanity lived up to his nickname by tossing up 20 3-balls! The fact that he made nine which helped pad the box makes his selection a no brainer.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Vince Carter3785049

Monday, December 11, 2006

Real Balls of Genius

The Leather is reportedly back on New Year's Day.

So, good-bye, Mr. finger ointment required ball.

Good-bye, Mr. off-target shot that hits the back iron only to stick like a Tiger Woods 9-iron and drop in the hole ball.

Good-bye, Mr. odd bounce dribble ball.

Good-bye, Mr. blogosphere firestorm over who owns your cartoon rights ball.

You'll be missed but never forgotten.

Pacers in Bad Shape for Bulls

Mark Montieth is reporting that the Pacers may be without five players for tonight's game against the Bulls. Al Harrington, Jamaal Tinsley, and Marquis Daniels are dealing with food poisoning so it sounds like they'll join JO and Jack on the bench tonight. Actually, they better stay away from the UC.
Harrington and Tinsley stayed at the hotel. Daniels attempted to join the team, but was vomiting on the bus and was returned to the hotel.
If you're keeping track, that is four of five starters and a key reserve out for the game. Plus, the rest of the team had to endure the trauma of Daniels fouling up the bus. Might as well take all of the pain at once.
On the bright side, Shawne Williams is poised to put on a real NBA uniform for a real NBA game. Good luck, kid.

Yakity Jack, Don't Talk Back

Stephen Jackson is suspended for tonight's game against the Bulls according to this story. Jack is talking and blaming the incident on his competitive emotions getting the best of him.
"I'm going to take it, because anything that happens to me I stand up and take it," he said. "If I'm wrong for anything, I'm wrong for challenging (Carlisle's) authority to take me out. Rick and (CEO Donnie Walsh) have always supported me 100 percent and I have great respect for them, but at the same time I don't think I should be the target when the team is playing bad."
Jack's right about the Pacers brass supporting him. At times last year they enabled the sort of behavior they now call detrimental. This suspension is clearly an attempt by RC to set a precedent going forward that he's not putting up with the BS any more. Just play the game and forget the drama.

Unless Jack blows it up with more words of wisdom this should blow over quickly. The timing of this incident actually worked well for the Pacers. It happened on a Saturday night after Indiana lost a big rivalry game to Kentucky and Purdue had a big home win over Missouri. Then by the time the average fan was hearing about the incident the Colts were down 7-0 and headed for one of the worst performances since the Rod Dowhower era. The Colts defense, or lack thereof, is dominating the sports discussion in Indy. Plus, Pacer fans have endured some major problems over the past three seasons, so this incident is quite mild. At worst it simply bolsters the get-rid-of-Jack-at-all-cost faction of fans and leaves the rest to just shake their head and look forward.

Line of the Night 12/10/06

Kobe had a nice night, but I'll take Lamar Odom's contribution to the Lakers win over the Spurs.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Lamar Odom18119013

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Jack Back for Bulls: So What Happened?

Mark Montieth has some Carlisle quotes on Stephen Jackson's conduct detrimental to the team, city, country, world, blah, blah, blah. If there is not more to the story, then this sounds like much ado about nothing.

"He came to the bench and an exchange ensued that I thought was inappropriate and detrimental to the team, and so I made a decision to remove him from the bench," Carlisle said afterward.

So, Jack's frustrated by being the closest Pacer to LeBron as he (LeBron) seems unchallenged in scoring repeatedly. So basically, RC gives him a little, "Mix in some D." And Jack snaps with a CDtT retort that offends the sensible sense of his head coach.
"As of right now, this is a one-game situation," Carlisle said.
Again, why not take a page from the Belichick handbook and diminish the exchange to minimize the public scrutiny? So now a quick round of stories, once again outlining all of Jack's trangressions since joining the blue and gold. Oh, well, if they clear the air and Jack is back against Chicago tomorrow night then this blip on the radar will fade away quickly. If that's the case, I hope we at least get to hear the snap that started the drama, for entertainment purposes only.

Line of the Night 12/9/06

Eddie Curry led the Knicks to a win over the Bucks. Hmm, never thought I'd put together a sentence like that this year.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Eddie Curry3691320

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Cavaliers 107, Pacers 73: Conduct Detrimental to Winning

The Pacers witnessed LeBron and the Cavs run by them for an easy win, 107 - 75. With JO modeling a little prep school look on the bench, the Pacers fell behind early and stayed down the whole way. So, there isn't anything worth noting from the actual game, here's the AP recap. To let you know how bad it was, the Pacers TV crew named Darrell Armstrong the Pacers' Player of the Game for his 13 points in ten minutes. Yes, the player of the game only played ten minutes!

The big news from this game came as the second half started when Stephen Jackson was nowhere to be found. OK, he's been dinged up a little, maybe he strained something and needed the rest of the night off. Nope, the Pacers announced Carlisle tossed him from the bench in the second quarter for conduct detrimental to the team. Last time Pacer officials made a statement like that, Ron Artest never put on a Pacer uniform again.

Life in Pacerland seemed so tranquil last night. Jack and Tins led the team to a big win without JO. A few guys stepped up from the bench and appeared ready to fill the void for JO in the short term. Then, Iverson trade rumors start flying around with the Pacers mentioned a suitor, the team gets knocked to the canvas early in Cleveland, and Jack stirs up a fresh hornets nest.

Hmm, no Rick Carlisle post-game comments on the TV broadcast. OK, now we're left to speculate. Even if there was detrimental conduct, it didn't appear to be an overt act. Why not say Jack tweaked a hammy? Why immediately come out with the conduct detrimental? Paging Bill Belichik. This story is just starting so I'm sure there will be more to come.

Weekend Dime with High Praise for Carlisle

ESPN.com's Weekend Dime has a Chatter Box section with an unnamed scout's praise of Rick Carlisle.
"[Rick] Carlisle is doing a really good job, as usual. A lot of people said he wouldn't be able to open up the game, or that he wouldn't want to, but the Pacers' offense is a lot more random than it used to be. I don't mean like Philadelphia, where it looks totally disorganized. I mean random in a good way. It's a systematic randomness.
Now if the players can just eliminate the junior high level turnovers.
"And he's so good at teaching spacing -- he and Pop [San Antonio's Gregg Popovich] are the best -- that his players are always in the right place. Organization is sometimes perceived as just running the play that's called. But they can look organized even when they're not running a play, because they're so well-coached on how to space themselves in relation to the basketball.
This coming off a night when RC is credited with lighting a fire under Tinsley at half time that sparked his near perfect half running the show. With everything that has gone on with the Pacers over the past two and a half years, imagine what RC could do with a hassle-free, healthy roster.

AI to Indy Rumors

The Pacers know all about a great player demanding a trade early in the year. Last year, Ron Ron made his trade demands public which destroyed Indy's bargaining position and delayed a trade until late in the year when the Kings were desperate to make a move. Now, Philly is in the same position with Allen Iverson. They're keeping him out of the next two games but there's no indication he'll be "suspended" until a trade is completed. Of course, a motivated AI should be a little easier to move than an unstable Ron Ron.

With the Sixers in a bind, speculation about the Pacers being able to move Jack or Tinsley or both to get Iverson have come up. Philly may be intrigued if they only saw last night's game, but I find it hard to believe they would take two players with such a checkered recent past. Not to mention, Jack still has multiple legal issues to resolve that MAY include jail time.

Donnie Walsh isn't talking -- simply indicating he's had no contact with Philly. I really can't see a deal working out for both teams, but we'll just have to sit back and ride this one out. Mark Montieth breaks it down nicely, pouring more cold water on a possible AI to Indy scenrario. Last night, speculation of trade partners for Philly heated up around the Pacers and Timberwolves. This morning it sounds like Boston, Dallas, and Denver want to join the party. Before it's over I'm sure more teams will be in the mix.

While players' futures are debated, the Pacers still have a big game tonight on the road against division heavyweight, Cleveland. With JO's hammy status sounding a little worse with each report, grinding out a win tonight is the top priority.

Line of the Night 12/8/06

KG must've been aroused by the thought of AI possibly joining him in Minny.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Kevin Garnett31151322

Friday, December 08, 2006

Pacers 108, Blazers 95: Tin Man Does the Damage

With JO on the bench wearing his Sunday's best, Jamaal Tinsley imposed his will on the game and the Pacers ran by the Blazers, 108-95. The Pacers jumped out to a 13-2 lead to start the game, on to start coughing up ugly turnovers which gave the Blazers life as they turned it around on the Pacers to go up by as many as 13 points before the half. Maceo Baston started in place of JO and played well. But to start the second half Carlisle went small, starting Saras instead of Baston. JT took it from there as the Pacers erased an eleven point deficit in seemingly no time. Other observations:
  • The first half turnovers were excruciating to watch. I mean, the careless passes seem to become contagious with these guys. 12 turnovers in the first half gave the Blazers 20 points and they all seemed to happen in about a six minute stretch.

  • Tinsley had five of those turnovers early but came out a different player in the second half, scoring 18 of his 20 and finishing with 8rebs, 8 assists and 4 steals. JT's highlight play was a one on four break. When no one stopped his dribble he kept taking it to the hoop and threw off any block attempts by taking the ball around his back once before laying it off the glass.

  • Stephen Jackson and Danny Granger did a nice job filling the scoring void in JO's absence. Both made an effort to drive to the bucket several times. In fact, Jack had at least five buckets after slicing through the lane including a couple of and 1s. One of Jack's drives ended in a feathery finger roll that would've made Ice Gervin smile. The ball dawdled around on the rim for awhile but never gave any indication it wasn't going to fall. Beautiful.

  • I'm pretending I didn't see Tins wincing and favoring his left leg at any point in the game. He played too well tonight, so I don't want to think about him joining JO for a couple of games. Kind of like hearing a rattle in you car while your driving and just turning up the radio until you get home.

  • Zach Randolph had a rough game tonight. He finished with 29 points, but had to scratch and claw for every one of them before fouling out late in the game. He did have a gorgeous middle finger salute to a heckler as he strutted off the court after his sixth foul. It really came out of nowhere, completely in stride. Now, I did see Nate McMillan wince as he saw that move from his star player.

  • The Pacers jump back over .500 at 11-10 as pop over to Cleveland to take on the Cavs on Saturday night.

(Photo: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

JO Out for Blazers and Cavs

JO will be sporting his appropriate ultra-lounge Seven attire on the bench this weekend for the Pacers back-to-back games against the Blazers and Cavs. The same hammy that kept him idle in the preseason and has been bugging him the past couple of weeks is the culprit. Click here for the full story.

After returning from a harsh road trip to beat the Magic at home, it appeared the Pacers had regrouped and were ready to make a run into plus five hundy land, but once again things are unsettled. In past years, the team played pretty well when JO was out short term. This year he's missed one game and it turned out to be the worst performance of the year against the Wizards.

Maceo Baston will need to play some extended minutes to try and help fill the JO void, plus David Harrison returns from a shoulder injury. Uh-oh, hear that creaking noise? It must be the David Harrison expectation machine getting cranked up again. It's been shut down for a few weeks, so past frustrations over his inconsistent play have faded a bit. I'm ready to get optimistic again as long as DH can stay healthy. Actually, I'm not so concerned with the health of Harrison's shoulder as I am with his basketball brain being in shape. If the "good" David Harrison shows up and just tries to fulfill his role, focus on rebounding and defense, not try to do too much (the ol' let the game come to him adage), then his time on the floor will be valuable. If not, well, don't be a alarmed by the rattling noises and puffs of smoke coming from Conseco tonight, it will just be the DH expectation machine going on the fritz again.
(Photo: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Line of the Night 12/7/06

Forget line of the night, this will be box score of the year. Phoenix beat New Jersey in double OT, 161-157. Look at that thing! It's incredible! I could make a Sinkonian demand to see a better box score in the history of the NBA, but for now I'll just enjoy this one. I at least have to display the best line from each team, so of course that means Jason Kidd and Steve Nash.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Jason Kidd381414013
Steve Nash42613036

Pacers at the Quarterpole

With 13 of the first 19 on the road, a 10-10 record at the quarter pole would actually be a nice start. I'm sure it wouldn't excite the fanbase but it would be a good building block for the rest of the year.

The above lines are taken from my realistic season preview back in October. Well, here we are after 20 games and the Pacers are -- ta-da! -- 10-10. If things went their way, they could've won a couple more games (at Seattle, at Orlando). But they also could've lost one they won (at Golden State). So, 10-10 is telling at this point. The inconsistency was expected. But when the Pacers are in sync, the quality of play is much better than I expected. The bench can win games on their own when they are aggressive and taking it to the opponent. It looks like Maceo Baston has emerged lately as a solid second unit contributor. With a familiar former teammate on the floor Saras seems much more confident directing the reserves. If the key players stay healthy, making the playoffs in the East should be a given. With 62 games left, there's plenty of room and time for growth as a team.

Bruno looks ahead after digesting the first quarter of the season with quotes from JO, Al, and Carlisle on their lack of satisfaction so far. The three all said the same thing in different ways. Basically, we think we're better than a .500 team, just because we had a tough schedule to start the season we can't use it as an excuse, and we didn't always bring a full team effort and that must change.

As always, I like the attitude, but will be more encouraged when those words are played out on the court and I see a consistent, total team effort.

Happy Bird Day - LJL turns 50

In case you haven't heard, Larry Joe Legend turns 50 years old today. ESPN.com's NBA page and NBA TV are giving the event full, over-the-top retrospective treatment. Also, the Boston media offers their best wishes to LJL and give Celtics fans a nice break from their current frustrations to reminisce about the "Hick from French Lick" who brought so many good times to the Boston Garden and all of New England.
Here are some links:
A Day to Celebrate Bird's Greatness
A Legend Turns 50
Larry's Life: Timeline of a Legend
With Bird, all possible
The Magnificent Seven

Could Donnie be giving Larry the reins after this year? Jackie MacMullan's article on Donnie Walsh's future with the Pacers has some interesting quotes that imply he's strongly considering stepping down when his contract expires in July to give LJL full control of the franchise.
"I really believe Larry is going to be great at this job. But as long as I'm here, it isn't his deal. I want him to have his shot."
I guess we'll see what happens this summer. It's funny how local criticism for the current state of the Pacers roster and problems over the past couple of seasons always falls on Bird, when Donnie Walsh has had the final approval on every move. Oh, well. One thing's for sure, local criticism will never bother Bird.

Line of the Night 12/6/06

The hibachi was sizzling last night, as Gilbert Arenas got it going on the road. Notice his front court running mate, Antawn Jamison found the range himself. The two combined for 12 3-balls.

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Gilbert Arenas3834036

Pacers 94, Magic 80: Pacers Wear Out Magic

On Monday night in LA, the Pacers saw firsthand how to take out a tired team finishing up a six game road trip. Just as the Lakers appeared a step quicker all night in dominating the Pacers two nights earlier, the Pacers were energized early and killed the will of the Magic by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, ending with a 95-80 win. Another reminder that after you strip away the exorbitant salaries, individual physical skills, and bright lights of media coverage, the NBA is still played by human beings. They can have day-to-day swings in the health of body and mind, just like the rest of us. Other observations from tonight:

  • High energy and effort were the themes of the night for the Pacers. Jeff Foster's play seemed to spark the team as he was relentless on the glass, finishing with 18 boards.

  • JO didn't have a huge night but played great defense and ended up with 11pts, 11rebs. He did have an epic battle with Bo Outlaw in the fourth quarter, though. The Pacers were up by 18 and Outlaw made it his mission to get under the skin of JO. He was like the guy at the Y who starts full court pressure on his man during a pick up game. Outlaw fought every move JO made to establish post position. After not getting the ball a few times, JO turned his attention to trying to draw a foul on Outlaw. At this point, Bo has officially taken JO out of the game. He even drew and offensive foul on JO as he tried shove/flop his way to a foul call. I found it quite entertaining. Mind you, while this was going on the rest of the Pacers continued to maintain the comfortable lead.

  • Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington threw up a pair of 26 point performances on nice shooting nights. Jack spent the morning in court, appearing for his pre-trial hearing on the Club Rio charges. The actual trial date was moved to February 12th and appears that it will be moved again at that time. Here is the story from court.

  • Just as I was getting used to the Big Thirst's mohawk, he came out clean shaven tonight. I imagine after enduring a three game losing streak, Al figured it was time for a fresh start. Since he played well and shot incredibly well for the duration of the roadie, Al's quest for a fresh start was all about getting a W.

  • Saras has played well lately and don't throw his box score lines at me to try to convince me otherwise. Tonight his body language and effort exuded confidence. He looks more comfortable, making definitive moves as if he is just playing the game, as opposed to trying to think and play at the same time. In the second half, he pushed the break and one time threw a gorgeous 2/3 court pass that Al caught right at the hoop for an easy lay up. The ball arched perfectly over the fully extended, jumping reach of Carlos Arroyo. Great stuff.

  • The Pacers have an off day at home to celebrate Larry Joe Legend's 50th birthday. Then Portland comes to town Friday night as the 10-10 Pacers try to move past .500, again.

(Photo: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Line of the Night 12/5/06

Elton Brand stepped his game up as the Clips beat the Heat.

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Elton Brand33172100

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Six Year-Old Hoop Prodigy? Bring It!

The NBA Fanhouse on AOL launched recently with a collection of top-shelf NBA bloggers covering the Association and the tangents owners, coaches, and players (commissioner, referees, basketball, etc.) often take us. J.E. Skeets from The Basketball Jones, has a funny YouTube clip of Stephen Jackson talking to a camera with the supposed best six year-old hoopster in the country. Here is a link to the post.

By the way, being anointed the "best six year-old basketball player in the nation" is pretty funny, if you ask me. I mean, let's face it -- six year-olds stink at basketball. They're too small, can't shoot over anyone taller than 5'10", and don't have the hops to take it strong to the rim. So, bring it. Line up your best six year-olds and I will take 'em down one at a time.

Sure, one six year-old may be better, or a lot better, than all of the other six year-olds, but all the other kids stink, too. So, to all six year-olds -- keep working on your handle, practice shooting, do your school work and talk to me when your game has grown up. You know, after your 12th birthday.

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