Gilberts, rugby, and Uruguayan rookies

By Jason Wojciechowski on November 7, 2005 at 12:59 AM

The "game of the night" last night didn't turn out so well, as Dallas blew out San Antonio. I must've been on to something, though, because Andrew Bogut and the Bucks beat the Shaq-less Heatians. Finally, the Hawks-Blazers game finished as close to a tie as possible: Portland took the contest by a single point. I'm sure it was less exciting than it sounds.

  • Orlando hasn't won in three tries and Washington hasn't loss in the same number after last night's matchup. Orlando stayed close for a while, winning the first half by two, but the Magic scored just 37 points after the break. The Wizards got their usual performance: 53 points from Gilbert Arenas (the coolest man to ever hold the name "Gilbert") and Antawn Jamison and just 34 from everyone else. Keeping the Magic to just 31% shooting, though, enabled them to please the home crowd.
  • Detroit killed Toronto. What else is new? The Pistons were up by 16 after the first quarter and the Raptors never scored more than 22 points in a period. Seven Pistons scored in double digits, with Tayshaun Prince dropping a game-high 27. Darko even got 16 minutes of run, which is the surest sign (though lessening) of a blowout.
  • The Nets nudged the Bulls by a point in what was apparently a closely whistled game. Tyson Chandler and Mike Sweetney each fouled out for the Bulls and Jason Collins and Nenad Krstic had to take early seats for New Jersey. Krstic, by the way, looks like he's developing into the kind of solid player that wouldn't drag down a championship team if he were the starting center. That's not to say that the Nets have a championship team, but they might be better than I've been giving them credit for inside my head.

    Last night was emblematic of what they can get offensively when they're on: seventeen from Krstic; Jefferson putting up 28-13-7; Carter going for 28-12 (though it took him 27 shots to get there); and Jason Kidd tossing in a 10-11-11 tripdub with three steals for good measure.

    Neither Carter nor Kidd shot well, though, which probably explains why such superficially impressive numbers resulted in just a one point win.

  • Charlotte and Boston played the least impressive overtime ever, with the Bobcats coming out on top by winning the final period by a count of 4-2. Ouch. Six combined points in five minutes? One offensive goaltending, one offensive foul, two missed free throws, two jump balls, and about 32 missed three-pointers resulted in that ugly result. Must've been fun for the fans in attendance, though. Who knew they were getting a rugby match?

    Al Jefferson, who Bostonians are apparently supposed to be really excited about, did score 12 points off the bench, but he also committed five fouls in just 19 minutes, so he might have some things to work on.

  • Philadelphia tipped Indiana by two despite losing the fourth quarter by ten points. That's the definition of a comeback falling just short, isn't it? Every Philly starter scored at least 13 points, though that's partially an effect of the bench playing a combined 37 minutes. Consider that a team has 240 player-minutes to divvy up amongst is 12 players and realize that seven of them (58% of the roster) accounted for just 15% of the minutes. Now, obviously the minutes distribution does not result in each player getting 20 minutes of game time (the flat distribution), but that low percentage seems pretty remarkable.

    Part of the problem is that Samuel Dalembert is still hurt but on the active roster. The other part is that the bench sucks.

  • Cleveland's not going to be called a title contender if it loses regularly to mediocre teams like Memphis. I wouldn't expect a repeat of this, though, because even bad defensive teams can't be expected to have the other team shoot 57.6% from the floor and 11-18 from three-point range. LeBron scored 36, but Pau Gasol's efficiency (29 points on just 15 shots) takes star-of-the-game honors.
  • The Mavs, as I mentioned, blew out the Spurs, and they did it with defense. San Antonio scored just 84 points, shot 41%, and committed 18 turnovers. Dirk Nowitzki scored 34, but I'm most impressed with Devin Harris's 8-8 shooting off the bench.
  • New Orleans managed to beat Houston, which you just don't see happening if Tracy McGrady is around. Yao made just eight of his 22 shots, though he added fourteen boards and seven (!) blocks. Some people will probably say that Yao should be blocking seven shots every night, given his height, but those are the same people who won't be happy until Yao is averaging 35-18-7-7 for the next six years. It's not going to happen. He can, however, be the second-best player on a championship team, and those guys, especially centers, are hard to find.

    I should give a little love to the Hornets. After all, they won the game. But c'mon, who's there to talk about? PJ Brown grabbed thirteen rebounds. What's new? The hype about how many people bought season tickets in Oklahoma City is incredible. I hope they don't get disappointed when they actually watch this team, though.

  • Miami played a seven-man rotation, which is sensible when you consider that, aside from James Posey, who's hurt, the Miami benchies who couldn't get into the game are Earl "Warren" Barron, Wayne "State" Simien, Matt Walsh, and Dorell "Toothpaste" Wright. That's a championship-caliber team? If Miami has one more injury, they might have to sign Jeb Bush to run a wing position.
  • Andrei Kirilenko didn't disappoint me in the non-scoring categories, blocking four shots, grabbing fourteen rebounds, and passing out six assists, but Shawn Marion and others held him to just 4-15 shooting. Jerry Sloan has to take a moral victory out of this, though, because it's an accomplishment to hold the Suns under 100 points, even in their re-constituted form.
  • Atlanta's loss to Portland has to be laid at the feet of starting power forward Esteban Batista, a 6'10" rookie from Uruguay. Batista shot 0-1 in fifteen minutes, and if he'd only made that shot, the Hawks would have won by a point instead of losing by that margin.
  • The Clippers are the best team in LA! How did this happen? They're 3-0 after beating Minnesota in overtime. Elton Brand and Cat Mobley scored 27 apiece, helping to overcome Sam Cassell's poor shooting, not to mention KG's 25 and 15 night.

    KG is automatic for those numbers just about every night. Problem is, the rest of this team is also automatic to back him up with 1-6 shooting nights (Eddie Griffin and Wally Szczerbiak last night), no help on the boards (the Clips out-boarded the Wolves by nine), and empty minutes (Mark Madsen getting 14 ticks and putting up these numbers: 1-1 shooting, 0-2 free throws, one steal, two fouls. Yes, that's it).

Just three games tonight, probably because it's still football season. The Warriors have already beaten the Knicks by two. The other games are a Nugs-Lakers rematch in LA and a Kings-Suns matchup in Phoenix. I'll take the Nuggets in the former game, though it'll be close, and the Suns in the latter. It might be close if it were in Sac-town, but ... well, it's not.

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