I tried this weekly recap thing last week, using Twitter as a guide. This week, I’m at it again. Same idea, but I’m going to use video as a guide. These clips are mostly from a few fantastic YouTube uploaders, but there are a couple of NBA.com videos in here too. This won’t be quite as good as actually watching the games as they happen, but it should at least give you an idea of what you’re missing.
Monday, Nov. 16
Stephen Jackson finally got his wish on Monday morning, as he was traded to the Bobcats for Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic. Mere hours after the swap was completed, he made his debut in Orlando. I only saw the first few minutes of the game, but it was enough to decide that the Bobcats are no longer my least-favourite team to watch. Captain Jack ends up being on the receiving end of a Vince dagger, though. Magic win 97-91.
This was a crazy shot, but somehow you could feel it coming. As soon as I saw Fernandez was the inbounder, I told my buddy Cory that he would end up getting the ball back. As soon as the shot went up, we both yelled that it was going in. It did, but then Portland was unable to stop Joe Johnson in overtime. Hawks win 99-95.
Again, this was predictable, even though it shouldn’t have been with the degree of difficulty. We were rooting pretty hard for Milwaukee at Casa Herbert; trust that there was a healthy level of fear as soon as Dirkus Circus (hat tip to J.E. Skeets for that one) received the ball. Luc Richard Mbah A Moute is one of the very best defenders in the world and he did all he could do, but Dirk just knocked down the shot to give his team the win. Mbah A Moute, on the deciding play where Nowitzki brought his overtime point total to 7 (hat tip to Scott Carefoot for this one): “(Dirk’s) a good player. I probably should’ve tried harder to deny him the ball, but they just throw it up and he’s 7-foot.” I can’t imagine how frustrating that must have been for him – I was heartbroken and the Bucks aren’t even technically my favourite team. Dirk simply makes unguardable shots.
Tuesday, Nov. 17
Heh, the announcer says it’s the second game in a row Melo has made a shot like this. I think he practices these ones. I used to.
I’ve seen LeBron get chasedown blocks so many times. It still gets me out of my seat, screaming. I can’t imagine this ever changing.
Unfortunately, this is a metaphor for Anthony Randolph’s season thus far. Here, LeBron James is playing the part of Don Nelson.
I was going to say that LeBron is now playing the part of the Charlotte Bobcats here, but that doesn’t work. I don’t know if Vlad Rad is happy to be in Golden State, but if you think about it he and the Warriors are a perfect match. He is essentially the opposite of Anthony Randolph. AR brings energy, athleticism, defense, and gets most of his points on the inside. Radmanovic isn’t athletic or defensively skilled, but he can stand at the 3-point line and hit open shots. Nellie will love him.
I love Kobe’s post game. There is nothing I’m happier about this year in the NBA, besides Brandon Jennings. Kelly Dwyer says it perfectly here (and at 14:55 here, heh). My take: it might have been a long time coming, but it’s here and we should appreciate it. Going down in the post is great for us because we get to see his great footwork that other 2-guards simply can’t stop, plus it’s great for his team because it attracts attention and opens up the whole floor. Perhaps he should have done this sooner, but you have to absolutely love that the man is still adding to and refining his game in the summertime, post-30. This is part of why former haters are changing their tune: even if you don’t want to hang out with Kob’, but you have no choice but to respect his work ethic and love for the game. None.
Had to show another video of Kobe in the post. Thing of beauty. Is there any other SG who would have done that? Serious question, this. If there is someone, let me know.
I will admit it. I was kind of falling asleep as this happened. My eyes weren’t completely open, but then I heard the announcers screaming. Caught the replay – my jaw dropped and I immediately thought “MJ!” The next day, I saw this post.
Kobe woke me up, then I saw this. Man. I love blocked dunks. This is easily one of my very favourite plays of the season – two of the best highlight guys in the league colliding. It was going to be a YouTube hit one way or another, but Maxiell got the best of Brown this time.
Kobe’s getting into that zone where his numbers are so ridiculous that you can’t even properly comprehend them. He’s scored 40 points 100 times? Alright, then. I just can’t believe it has been 14 seasons already. I remember him, a skinny teenager, shaking David Stern’s hand whilst wearing a Charlotte Hornets hat. I remember him scoring 31 points in the Rookie Challenge, trying to dominate the game. I remember him being interviewed on Inside Stuff with fellow rookies Derek Fisher and Travis Knight. Now, he’s the Lakers’ 2nd-leading scorer ever? Only behind Jerry West? Really? Okay. When this kind of thing happens, I realize that I’m going to be telling my kids one day “I got to see Kobe Bryant live”. Living legend, this guy, and he’s still one of the game’s very best. We have been lucky to see his development. Also, um, that was a pretty nice shot.
Wednesday, Nov. 18
Rajon Rondo is nice, but that’s not why I’m showing you this. Watch it again, and look at who the Warriors have on the court. Anthony Randolph at the 5, Corey Maggette at the 4, Anthony Morrow at the 3, Monta Ellis at the 1, and… Raja Bell at the 2? When he was traded to the disaster factory that is the Warriors organization, it was reported that he would go ahead with the wrist surgery he delayed in Charlotte. After all, he needed the surgery and he wasn’t part of Golden State’s long-term plans. But the Warriors only had seven healthy bodies this night and Bell decided to take one for the “team”. Instead of sitting on the bench like everyone expected him to, he decided to give it a go against the very physical Boston Celtics. Let it be known that the only guy playing his proper position really had no reason to chase Ray Allen and Paul Pierce around, as he had a torn ligament in his wrist and was leaving the team to have surgery the very next day. It would be easy to forget a 109-95 Boston victory in November, but I always want to remember that Raja played this past Wednesday. Hence, this paragraph and the picture at the beginning of this article. “Respect” isn’t a strong enough word here.
This was a GREAT basketball game. I missed it live because of Nuggets/Raptors, but got to it on the weekend. Can’t ignore two of my favourite teams going up against one another. So much ball movement, so much effort in this one. Not even sure if this was the best dunk of the night, but I can’t find Budinger’s slam on YouTube. Anyway, my guy Carl Landry had 27 points on 18 shots and added 9 rebounds. Steve Nash took a while to get going, scoring-wise, but finished with 12 points along with his 16 assists. Suns win 111-105, but the final score didn’t seem important.
This is a nice dunk, but I’m posting it here mainly so I can link to this picture of the reaction on the Raptors bench.
I can’t say enough about this clip, or how Dirk is playing right now. Dirk is having an MVP-level season, and I’ve watched this video 4 times now and still get goosebumps.
Left handed? Okay, LeBron. You win. I’m now convinced you will kill it in the dunk contest this year. Had my doubts, as I thought your HS contest stuff was a bit lacking in the creativity department, but I know you’ll get it right this time. With your hops, strength, and coordination, I’m expecting to see some stuff I’ve never seen before.
Insane. New rule: if your shot attempt is from beyond 70 feet, it counts even if it’s up to 1 second after the buzzer sounds. Anyone have a problem with this?
Legendary Clippers announcer Ralph Lawler and partner Mike Smith were suspended for one game for their comments about Hamed Haddadi, the league’s fist Iranian-born player. I wanted to reserve judgment till I saw/heard what actually happened. Now that I’ve watched this? Well, it was a blowout, and they had little to say. They were joking around, but were proven to be very ignorant. Not hateful, but ignorant. The 1-game suspension was about right, methinks.
Thursday, Nov. 19
Peja had 25 points and 13 rebounds, shooting 7-11 from downtown. In 2009. He got WAY too many wide open looks, but this is still impressive. I thought he was done after what we saw last year; if he keeps up anything close to this, I’ll be so happy being wrong. The Hornets, sans Chris Paul, beat the team with the West’s best record on national TV. And they followed it up with a win against the team with the East’s best record two nights later (before losing a heartbreaker to Miami on Sunday). Remember what I said about their rookies? Well, they’re playing now and they’re playing very, very well.
You hear what Doug Collins said there? We are “waiting to see what his effect will be on the team.” Well, we saw it. He makes the Lakers much, much better. And they were already a great team. With his high-post passing and everything else, plus Kobe taking it down to the block, you could make the argument that Tex’s triangle has NEVER been in better hands. After watching for five minutes, I completely forgot that this was Pau’s first game back. You couldn’t tell. The Lakers toyed with the Bulls all night and won easily. They’re still the favourites, people.
Friday, Nov. 20
So, this rookie has some hops, eh? Get on the bandwagon now, while there’s still some room. Not sold? He also did this.
A couple of things: this was a very weird game in the first half. There were numerous crazy plays, but this one stood out. As Julian Guy-McCarvill said, you normally know exactly what you’re going to get with Amir Johnson. No one knew we were going to get this, though.
Welcome back to Toronto, Pops. Wish I could have found video of the ovation he received when he entered his first home game of the season for the Raps. With Amir in the lineup, Mensah-Bonsu is only going to see limited minutes, but he’s the type of guy fans really love. Plays like this show you what he brings – energy, athleticism, and tenacity.
I see how it is, Joel. You show up to play Canada’s team and dunk all over one of their fan favourites. Some patriot you are. Hmph.
Shocking when it happened. Thought this one was going into OT. How do you not box out Josh Smith on a play like this? Anyway, this seems an appropriate time to talk about how great Smith has been this year… You can start with Dave Berri’s statistical stuff if you want, or you can just listen to me. Josh Smith is a different player now. We’ve all seen flashes of this Josh Smith. In fact, two seasons ago, he looked like he was headed in this direction at a rapid pace. With the way he runs the floor; leaps for rebounds, alley-oops, and blocks; guards multiple positions; and scores easily on the inside, we always knew he had star potential. He just had to put it all together. Unfortunately, he regressed in 2008-2009. This year, though, he’s doing it right. Playing hard and smart at both ends of the floor, Smith has been by far the biggest reason for Atlanta’s 11-3 start. He’s ditched the 3-pointers and is occasionally even looking like a point-forward, with five 7+ assist games under his belt already. I can’t overstate how great this is to see, and that’s not because he’s been a beast for my fantasy team. Watching young players (he doesn’t turn 24 for another few weeks) develop, especially those who have been knocked for problems with focus/decision-making/maturity, is one of the most rewarding parts of following this game.
Seeing Harden do this stuff doesn’t make sense to me yet. With his beard, his demeanor, and his sweet shot, he doesn’t seem like the guy who should be making highlight-reel plays. He’s the most sneaky-athletic player since Eric Gordon debuted last year. Haven’t watched enough Thunder so far this year, bad James.
Appreciate this man. He will be done in a couple of years and nobody talks about him anymore. He’s been on my fantasy team for years and his name sometimes comes up in trade conversations, but nobody wants to give up anyone decent for him. Fine with me; his assists, steals, rebounds, and threes can stay right where they are. I don’t know when J-Kidd stopped being cool, but it’s bullshit. He still does things like this, things that not even a handful of other NBA players do. Gotta love it.
That this was the best highlight I can find of Jason Thompson from the past week should tell you a couple of things: he’s not yet anywhere near to a household name and he doesn’t have a hell of a lot of flash in his game. You should start paying attention to him, though. The guy has really improved from last season, even relative to other 2nd year players. On this night against Dallas, he totalled 18 points (on 9-13 shooting), 8 rebounds, 1 steal, and 2 blocks in a 2-point loss. His defense is very good and he’s doing a much better job at drawing fouls. Good thing he has improved his free throw shooting to 80% from 69% last year. Late Saturday night, I heard extremely positive things bout him from two very different, but very trustworthy sources. Seems like he’s the real deal.
The in-game clips here are not actually from this week; they’re from an earlier matchup between Houston and Memphis. This video surfaced on Friday, though, and it’s great. I love how these Rockets seem to care more about the little things than every other team in the league. Even outlet passing. That is a skill. Just like post defense, showing on screens, recovering, closing out on shooters, boxing out, etc. Please don’t think Chuck Hayes’s worth to the Rockets is just having a good build and “effort”. He IS built perfectly to guard multiple positions, and he DOES exert a hell of a lot of focused energy out there, but he wouldn’t be so damn good if not for his brain. If he didn’t play smarter than everybody else, he wouldn’t be in the league. But right now he’s starting at the 5 for the Rockets, at 6’6. And he’s improved immeasurably on the offensive end. Smart guy.
Saturday, Nov. 21
Some would say this sums up the Knicks’ miserable season thus far. Can’t argue; it’s been a mess. My take, though: D’Antoni overreacts a bit here when he jumps on Nate. The shot was clearly after the buzzer sounded – there was only half a second on the clock when the ball was inbounded. Players do this type of thing all the time… except they usually wait a few seconds. Nate Robinson is just impatient, man… Right?
Welcome back, Devin! We’ve missed you. Your team has missed you more. It would have been great if your return had resulted in a win, but I’m sure you’ll get that monkey off your back soon. Oh what’s that, you’re going on a Western road trip now? Um, I gotta go. We’ll talk some other time? Say, two weeks from now? Cool.
All I saw of the game was the first quarter but it was phenomenal for the Cavs (36-23). Philly’s D was not stifling, but what the Cavs did was encouraging regardless. It wasn’t just high screens and isolations for LeBron. There was a lot of ball/player movement with plays like these, and LeBron even had a nice post-up move. I want more of this, but it would seem it didn’t last. After the electric first quarter, the Cavs only scored 18, 21, and 22 points in the next three. If not for stepping up their D to hold Philly to just 10 points in the final period, this would have been a loss. I’m still kinda worried about the Cavs.
I’m showing you this dunk because it’s awesome, but J.R. Smith is not just a dunker. He has come a long way since the Hornets and Bulls gave up on him, but some of his “knucklehead” reputation (unfairly) remains. The “problem” (I wouldn’t really call it that): he can still be inconsistent from quarter to quarter and game to game. On this night, J.R. impressed with ludicrous long-range threes and very nice passes. We’ve seen this before – remember the surprising defense and passing he exhibited in last year’s playoffs? Smith has a complete game and the potential to look like an All-Star on any given night, but, fine, you can’t quite count on him to do it all the time. Holly Mackenzie says, “J.R. Smith WILL put the pieces together one day. Just on his own watch, not on ours.” I couldn’t agree more. And even though it might sometimes be sorta frustrating waiting for everything to click, we should remember that the man just turned 24. He came straight out of high school in 2004. You know who else did that? Josh Smith. It’s come together for him seemingly out of nowhere this year, so don’t be surprised if J.R. makes that leap soon. Stay patient.
Sunday, Nov. 22
Vince was determined to get to the basket early against Toronto. You just know he gets up for these games, where almost everyone in the building is booing him every time he touches the ball. On this play, he succeeded, but for most of the first half his aggressive drives to the basket didn’t end well. Unable to draw fouls or convert around the basket, the Raptors were lucky to not be punished more for being unable to stop Vince getting where he wanted to on the court. In the second half, though, he played more controlled basketball and shifted his game to the perimeter. In an amusing sequence at the end of the third quarter, he ran down the clock for 20 seconds while Toronto fans attempted to defy their lungs and boo for all of eternity. At the end of the shot-clock, he hit a very difficult baseline jumper over good defense. Silenced the place. Finishing with 24 points on 24 shots, he didn’t have an efficient night, but it was enough to beat the Raptors 104-96 despite Amir Johnson’s best effort (rebounding, defense, scoring around the basket, seeming to be all over the court at all times). I was at the game and feel confident saying Amir and J.J. Redick were the two most impactful guys this afternoon – Redick scored 19 points on just 10 field goal attempts and added 5 assists for Orlando. This is two consecutive meetings where he’s murdered the Raptors – you have to think they’ll limit his wide open looks next time out. If not, my brain might fall out of my head.
It has to be a bit worrying for Boston fans that it came to this against this year’s Knicks, but an ugly win is still a win. Paul Pierce dominated the overtime period, setting the stage for KG to step in and hit the open straightaway jumper to win the game despite his and Ray Allen’s poor overall shooting performances on the day. Also, it’s worth noting that Eddy Curry scored 6 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in 15 minutes. The big man has appeared in three games for the Knicks this season, already playing more minutes than he did all of last year. It looks like he’s lost about 70 pounds and I’m not even close to being used to seeing him out there yet. Really hoping the comeback works out, as he does have serious offensive skill and he has been through some legitimately terrible things since he was last in the Knicks’ rotation.
Update, Monday 11 AM: Speaking of Curry, this cheap shot on Rondo is sure to lose him some goodwill. This is a dangerous play that came in a thoughtless moment. I just became aware of it now and have watched the clip a few times, repeatedly getting squeamish right before seeing Eddy knock down the Celts’ point man. To his credit, the big man apologized for it afterward, saying “I felt like he was holding me, but I can’t let frustration get to me. It was [the] heat of the moment. I can’t let emotions get the best of me. It was just stupid.” Agreed, man.
Alright, let’s talk about the last game of the week. Lakers vs. Thunder. I spoke earlier about how great the Lakers looked against the Bulls – this was the same. This group again looked like they didn’t belong in the same league as its opponent. The game was over after the first quarter, where Kobe Bryant put on a show that I can’t describe properly with words. I’m serious, I can’t describe it. I’m just going to show you the videos of what he did, in addition to the videos of Shannon Brown’s garbage time brilliance You will enjoy them, even if you’ve seen them twenty times already.