LA Lakers (14-1) at Indiana Pacers (6-10)
Pacers aren't quite as bad as their overall record would suggest... well, at least at home. At the Fieldhouse, they're 4-4. Still not dazzling... but better than their record. The face of the franchise for so many years - oft-injured Jermaine O'Neal - now finds himself sporting a Raptor jersey. When he actually makes it on to the hardwood. So, who are they now? Well, beyond Danny Granger, they're simply not that much of anything. As their roster stands now, 6-10 flatters them.
The Lakers coming to town begins a torrid stretch for the Pacers. Lakers, at Boston, at Cleveland, Boston, at Toronto, at Detroit... then even the at Milwaukee these days is a tough game.
The Indiana Pacers have travelled a very long way since the days of yore when cries of "MILLER TIME" echoed through the Fieldhouse... and distance from that time hasn't treated the franchise kindly.
Now? Danny Granger's looking the goods, and Marquis Daniels can be good. TJ Ford looks a mere shadow of who he was in Toronto. The Raptors must look at the current performance of the two point guards they had last year (Ford/Calderon) and smile a self-congratulatory smile. It would be a smirk if not for their own performance issues.
The Pacers would kindly take Reggie Miller back with loving arms, even at age 43. And it's more than likely that even if Indiana could get him to play at that decrepit age, he'd perform at a level beyond most of the Pacers roster.
And Indiana's opponent, the Lakers of Los Angeles. Of statistics not telling full stories, LA has one as well. Sure, they lead the league in points scored differential at nearly 14 per, but that's largely misleading. As often as not, the starters will be polishing pine during the 4th. Neither Bryant nor Gasol play even 35 minutes, but every other player plays less than 30. Such is the depth this team possesses.
One of the more interesting characters in Australian sport was football coach Allan "Yabby" Jeans. He was famed for his dour character, and sporting cliches. One such is applicable here: "Every win is just one game closer to a loss." Definitely a truism, albeit seeming somewhat obvious. But the message he sends is necessary for teams that win a lot (as his did): stay grounded.
That loss is more than likely to occur on the road, and the game at Indiana is the beginning of a 3 game roadtrip for LA. Indiana, Philadelphia, Washington. The target's firmly painted on LA.
LA by 5.
Will be happy to talk about this game either here, or on the forum.
Upside & Motor has the Blogger MVP/ROY Rankings Round 2: Singalong Edition up! Excellent load of info there, make sure you head over and have a look...
Third instalment of the blogger power rankings finds not a lot changing at the top levels, but movement happening within the middle to lower echelons of the NBA.
With Malice Pawaa Rannkingu
1. LA Lakers - I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!
2. Boston Celtics - The Big Mean Green Machine is rolling.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers - LeBron plays Atlas. Question: what happens to the world Atlas was carrying when he gets up and goes somewhere else... say, New York?
4. Orlando Magic - With man-beast Dwight Howard continuing to be a... ummm... man-beast, Orlando look awesome.
5. Denver Nuggets - Billups is the injection of maturity and leadership that Iverson never was. Denver just have to hope that this influence continues off the court for their young, somewhat errant star, Carmelo Anthony.
6. Portland Trail Blazers - Brandon Roy leads this team to right on the cusp of being one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA. There should be more hype about Roy - guy's very, very good. Oden's starting to play something in the area code of what he was painted to be. End result? Happy times in Rip City.
7. Houston Rockets - The Rockets started the season with a lot of hype, and quickly dismissed it with some less-than-expected performances as just that: hype. But... of recent times are actually doing very well - this time without the noise of expectation.
8. San Antonio Spurs - this surprises the hell outta me. Talk about a quick climb back into the conversation. But hey, Manu & lil' Longoria are back, so who's to say they shouldn't be here!
9. Phoenix Suns - Troubled times for the Suns, who still seem like a team with an identity crisis.
10. Detroit Pistons - The Iverson trade's paying dividends... kinda. I mean, we're talking about practice right? It's only practice. I mean... How the hell can can he make his teammates better by practicing?
11. New Jersey Nets - The tandem of Harris/Carter is one of the best in the NBA at the moment, and on that they climb considerably. Pity the rest of the team look like something you'd see on an outdoor court playing ball on a Sunday.
12. New Orleans - If not even the absolutely amazing play of Chris Paul can hold this team up near the top of the West, what can?
13. Utah Jazz - Maybe they would've been better with D-Will staying injured. Ok, not really... but they were playing some great ball. Not so much now.
14. Dallas Mavericks - The Mavs seem on the verge... whether it's a complete come-back into contention or a season that's a complete failure, well... hard to say just yet.
15. Atlanta Hawks - A recent run of poor play sees this team drop considerably. Still have the talent, but have to actually PLAY like it means something.
16. Toronto Raptors - Chris Bosh is amazing. Calderon's damn good. O'Neal (when present) can be a beast. So why does this team suck?
17. Miami Heat - it seems like there are a heap of teams that are trying to ride the shoulders of one superstar player. The Heat are no different to half a dozen or so teams out there. It doesn't work: ask Kobe.
18. Chicago Bulls - The Baby Bulls are being dragged along by the baby-est Bull on the team.
19. New York Knicks - Still unconvinced by recent wins, this team is at #19 despite the roster. They must be looking forward to a) waving bye-bye to Marbury... b) 2010.
20. Milwaukee Bucks - Sink a bit, but I still buy that this franchise is one that can make a bit of noise this season. On the cusp of making the playoffs.
21. Philadelphia 76ers - Without a doubt the biggest disappointment thus far this season. This team was constructed to do something. The fact that they are mired in a race with the Nets and the Knicks is testament to the lack of progess this group has made, despite adding Elton Brand.
22. Indiana Pacers - Thus far, this is a team with very little identity, and the record to match.
23. Golden State Warriors - So... new concept for you: DEFENSE!
24. Sacramento Kings -O'Neal seemed to have it right years ago with the "Queens" comment.
25. Charlotte Bobcats - There are times when this team looks like they could actually complete. Then reality sets in.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves - it's going to be a very long, very cold winter in Minneapolis.
27. Memphis Grizzlies - Two things stop me from ranking this team lower: the presence of tandem Mayo/Gasol; and that at home they're actually not that bad.
28. Washington Wizards - Only a good win over the Warriors stop this team from being ranked lower. This team has gone from being a playoff team to lottery in a few short weeks. Be careful what you wish for Agent Zero...
29. LA Clippers - Everything's normal in the world, everything's in it's place... The Lakers are at the top of the NBA, the Clippers are at the bottom. What more could a man want? Aaaah... beer.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder - The win on Saturday not withstanding, quite simply the worst NBA team I've seen in a long time. These guys suck on a level that Linda Lovelace would be proud of.
As soon as the accumulated totals are up at Empty The Bench, I'll post the link!
Finally. Up and ready for business with bloguin.
Glad to be here, I think the site looks awesome (thanks Derok) - don't forget to check out the other bloguin sites too!
Looking forward to it!
Seems only fitting that the first 'official' post at With Malice's new home be something of the NBA. And what better than to do the next instalment of the MVP/ROY rankings? So, without further ado, my votes on the MVP/ROY thus far:
1. LeBron James - Last rankings, Basketbawful called him the NBA's Moses. And it's an apt analogy. Like Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt - by sheer force of will alone, King James leads the Samsonites out of basketball's waste-lands.
2. Chris Paul - Averaging 20+ points, and 12+ assists per game. Do you know how insane that is? Thing is, whilst I'm sold on Paul, I'm not sold on the Hornets.
3. Kobe Bryant - if you ever told me I'd have Kobe in a list like this for doing less, I probably would have told you that you're nuts. But here he is. Has the Lakers at a phenomenal level, and is doing so by doing less, and letting them do more. But make no mistake, this is his team, and even by doing less - he's the reason the team's doing more. That's not to say he can't when he wants to - his manhandling of Dallas was pure Mamba. The Mavs were snakebit!
4. Dwight Howard - if LeBron James is a 'man-child', then Dwight Howard is a man-beast. Plays the game as if it's a personal vendetta, opposition rebounds are an afront.
5. Chris Bosh - What would you get if you took the best parts of LeBron James and Dwight Howard and put them together? Probably Chris Bosh (the left-overs might look something like Chris Kaman). Toronto sucking for air despite Bosh's play of late - boy, do they miss Jose Calderon!
6. Dwayne Wade - Here due to the fact that despite his stats, Miami haven't really beaten anyone. He's an amazing player, and will most likely climb these rankings, but only if and when he does 'it' against teams better than the likes of Indiana/Washington... and on a regular basis.
7. Vince Carter - say what? Vince Carter is playing like VC classic II. His game on Kobe in LA was awesome. Unfortunately whilst that will work against, say Atlanta, against LA you gotta have a team effort.
8. Chauncey Billups - how happy must the brass at Denver be watching Iverson's antics from afar? Billups has led this crew to a respectable level, and finally, the Nuggets have a leader worthy of being called a... well... ummm... 'leader'.
9. Brandon Roy - No Oden? No problem. Now that he's back, there's still no doubting who's team this is. Roy's quite literally the old head on young shoulders (even if that's what Oden looks like!). This guy is only 24!
10. Tim Duncan - Just quietly, the Spurs have one 3 in a row, and are 7-3 over their last 10. Who you gonna call?
Other guys I thought about putting in there: Joe Johnson (still finding it hard to believe that I didn't put him in - it all came down to him, Roy or Carter... and Johnson just doesn't look like the guy he did for the first few games of the season); Paul Pierce (the fact that I didn't is testimony to Boston's team as a whole); Carlos Boozer (something about Utah just isn't gelling for me); Dirk Nowitzki (funnily, Dallas miss Avery).
1. Derrick Rose - clearly one of the the two players considered the class of the rookies thus far, and it's not to far-fetched to think that in seasons to come, we'll mention him in the same conversation as names like "Paul" and "Williams". Still has moments of pure inanity, but hey... what do you expect - guy's a rookie.
2. OJ Mayo - Exceeding expectations? Hard to believe, but his game against the Spurs was fantastic: 32 points against quality opponents. Over the last 5 games, has averaged over 24 points per game.
3. Marc Gasol - the surprise of the group, proving that Pau's not the only Gasol with game, and Marc brings a physicality to the table that Pau sadly lacks. With Gasol and Mayo, Memphis are in good stead for the future.
4. Michael Beasley - Many predicted that he'd be the pick of the bunch, and that might end up being so... just not this year.
5. George Hill - a new entry here... but Fernando's struggles of late have promoted Hill into the 5. Just quietly doing his job with little fanfare or noise - typical Spurs.
In the next day or so, I'll put up the link for the accumulated votes from all the bloggers involved...
November 30th - Toronto Raptors (8-7) at Los Angeles Lakers (12-1)
The man who would be MVP (at least... he says he could be) playing against the man who is (reigning) MVP.
Yup, that's right: Chris Bosh is in town to play Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Bosh'll get every chance to show exactly what he's made up, going up against the Lakers, who haven't lost to the Rap-pack at home in 7 years.
Toronto have really yet to impress, regardless of the start to the season that Bosh has had. Sitting a game over .500, the Raptors looked at the start of the season to be one of the teams to beat out East, with the addition of Jermaine O'Neal, and the expected emergence of Jose Calderon. O'Neal does look the goods, if somewhat frail still... and Calderon has impressive - all in addition to CB4's near-MVP-like play... yet the Raptors
still manage to lose games that you'd think they'd win. Losses to Boston are explicable, but losing to teams like Philadelphia (perhaps the biggest under-performing unit in the NBA thus far) and New Jersey - both at home - beggars explaining.
They will have their work cut out for them against a Laker unit that hasn't enjoyed a start like this for several years. Gasol, Bynum and Odom make life very, very difficult for opposition big men - there's simply no respite. Trevor Ariza has been phenomenal off the bench, with his play he should be in 6th Man conversations (as a 'true' sixth). And Kobe is still Kobe, despite playing the fewest minutes many a year.
LA will win this one.
Dallas Mavericks (7-7) at Los Angeles Lakers (11-1)
The last time the Mavs played the Lakers, LA managed to only just eke out a win. Dallas come to town with high hopes and a fully-loaded Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk's been firing of late, averaging a handy 28.8 points and 11.6 boards over the last five games. Even tho' the Lakers boast one of the best teams in the NBA at both ends of the court, Dallas would have to rate themselves for this game.
LA. Quite simply they are the cream of the crop at the moment. Used to be that if you shut down Kobe, then you shut down LA. Not any more. Even when Kobe's not hot now, LA are winning... and by a league-best average of 14+ points per. You can't just stop #24, you have to stop the entire team. No-one's playing big minutes yet, largely because they haven't needed to. It's a well-balanced team that comes at you from all angles. Phil's got them playing very, very well.
Dallas have found recent form that might come close to doing that. Having won 5 on the trot, not only is Nowitzki playing well, but you can also look to wily ol' veterans Jason Terry and J-Kidd as well. Funny that. You have to wonder if it's the lesser impact of a somewhat distracting owner.
The Lakers will be looking to extend their own 5 game winning streak, and move to an impressive 12-1 thus far this season. I see that happening. LA by 17.
There comes a point in most undertakings in life where it's time to walk away. When two (or more) parties are involved, it becomes a little tougher, but the theory remains the same. Sometimes it's best to just get the hell outta Dodge.
Kenny Rogers was right smack on the money with his song The Gambler.
"You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em, Know when to walk away and know when to run. You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table. There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done."
There aren't many better images than this for where the New York Knicks and Stephon Marbury now find themselves. It's the classic stare-down. New York doesn't want to just tell Marbury to get out, and there's too much money on the table for him to walk away.
At the beginning of the season, the New York Knicks embodied by Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni made it abundantly clear to Stephon Marbury that he was in no way, shape or form part of their plans for the future. Fast-forward to now: two massive trades involving guards Jamaal Crawford and Mardy Collins (and forward Zach Randolph) occurred. Then an injury to Nate Robinson... and health concerns for new-Knick Cuttino Mobley - this left the Knicks with only two healthy guards: Chris Duhon and Anthony Roberson. Marbury was told prior to at least two games (against the Bucks, and the Pistons) that if he wanted court-time, it was his for the taking.
Whilst his refusal to have anything to do with the Knicks (other than cash paychecks from them) must be infuriating for the Knicks hierarchy, the implications for Marbury himself are even greater.
It's easy to understand Marbury's continued refusal to play. The Knicks made their opinion of him clear, but now that they need him, they turn up on his doorstep cap-in-hand and expect it of him. Most people would have the same reaction: thumb their nose at the arrogance displayed by these people.
Aside from the fact that it's a reasonable request made by the people who give him a very sizable amount of money, it could have repercussions on his career post-Knicks.
There was every possibility that a team would pick up Marbury for a deal once he finished with the Knicks (which could be any day now). But his "no thanks" and refusal to be a part of the team are indicative of an attitude that might end up making him as big a pariah in basketball as Barry Bonds is in baseball.
What should the Knicks do?
Cut their losses and run. Marbury's very presence is a cancer. He's clashed with pretty much every authority figure within the New York office - Larry Brown, Isiah Thomas, and now Mike D'Antoni/Donnie Walsh. This is a man that was once called "the most reviled athlete in New York" (New York Daily News).
It's well past time for New York to bid Stephon Marbury adieu.
Know when to walk away and know when to run.