By Jason Wojciechowski on November 6, 2005 at 3:08 AM
Friday night's NBA action had twenty teams going at it. I watched a few of the games (Jersey beating Toronto; San Antonio blowing out Cleveland; and the overtime game between Seattle and Minnesota), but only intermittently. I don't really have any observations from my eyes, though some things might come up as I peruse the box scores.
- Orlando fell to 0-2 as Memphis took them out. Eddie Jones jacked up ten threes and knocked down five of them, leading to a game-high 25 points. Mike Miller strikes me as worthless. He's a guy who's not valuable if he's not scoring, and it never seems like he's scoring. He did grab eight boards in this game, but that's not going to happen every night. On the other side, Dwight Howard's five boards, and five fouls are disappointing, but, despite the apparently foul trouble, he played 34 minutes and scored 16 points on just ten shots. I'm curious how tall he'll end up being: he's listed at 6-11 now, but it's not unheard of for high school draftees to add an inch or two their first or second year in the league.
- Philadelphia dropped to 0-3, and what I've seen of them hasn't been pretty. Charlotte smoked them by 17 in Philly. The teams were remarkably consistent from quarter to quarter: the scores were 26-22, 26-22, 27-22, and 31-27, and the last quarter was probably pumped up a bit by the usual defense-less garbage-time play. Kyle Korver, as much as I love watching him play, is the new Mike Miller. He has to score to be effective and in this game he played 26 minutes and shot 0-5, missing his only free throw attempt.
- Richard Jefferson had one of those nights you sometimes think he should put up every night: 35 points (on just 17 shots!), eleven boards, five assists, and a steal. He did commit five turnovers, but the total package is quite nice. Out of respect for the delicate sensibilities of my readership, I won't talk about the Raptors.
- Detroit beat Boston by one with, from what I saw on the replays, an incredible finish with Rip Hamilton hitting a jumper as time expired. You wouldn't be accused of unreasonableness if you asked why the game came down to this, given that the Celtics are by no stretch on the level of the Pistons. Part of it is that Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace shot just 3-15 and 4-13, respectively, and part is that Rip turned the ball over eight times. The teams shot exactly the same percentage (39.5%), the Celtics had one fewer turnover, one fewer foul, two more rebounds, and made two more free throws. That's what you call evenly matched, and the Celtics have to feel bad about losing because they were up by one with less than a second left and won (slightly) a bunch of statistical categories.
- The quarter-scores in the Washington-New York game are a little bizarre: the Wiz doubled up the Knicks in the first twelve minutes, 32-16; the teams combined for just 30 points in the second, as the Knicks won it 19-11; the Knicks continued their strong play in the third, winning it 26-18, sending the game to the final period all knotted up; but the Knicks managed just 14 points in the fourth, so they lost by eleven. No Knick broke 20 points, with only Marbury (19) coming close. Also, it appears that Caron Butler is hurt (I didn't know that) because he's not in the Wizard box score.
- As I said above, San Antonio blew out Cleveland. The Cavs scored 17, 17, and 14 points in the final three quarters after winning the first period 28-25. The third period was particularly egregious, as the Spurs scored 32 in that frame. LeBron James, despite playing 37 minutes, scored just 20 points with six rebounds and four assists. That's suprisingly mediocre, even accounting for the fact that Bruce Bowen was draped all over him all game. San Antonio reaped the benefits of blowing the opposition out, as no player was on the floor for more than 30 minutes. The scoring was accordingly well-distributed, with Tim Duncan taking the team-high with 21 points and every player on the active roster knocking in at least one shot. That's right, even Nazr Mohammed and Beno Udrih added some points to their resumes.
- Denver smoked Portland by 39 as the Nugs finally took home a victory. This may've been a little bit of a statement game, trying to alleviate some of the concerns their first two contests gave rise to. On the other hand, maybe it's just because George Karl came back and threatened to cut off their balls if they didn't go out and take care of business. Marcus Camby was the star of the game, shooting a ridiculous 11-14, adding 17 rebounds and six blocks, all while turning the ball over just once and committing only a single foul. With the four other starters the Nugs have, any offense they get from Camby is essentially gravy. When they get a game-leading performance from him, that's way more than gravy, that's an apple and asparagus reduction.
- The Jazz and Warriors are both minor rooting interests of mine, mostly because of a single player on each team: Troy Murphy single-handedly carried my awesome fantasy team a couple years ago; and my love for Andrei Kirilenko is well-documented. Utah came out ahead in this one, winning by six. Kirilenko didn't have a great numbers game (eleven points, six rebounds, four turnovers), but Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy, who I assume he had some hand in guarding, shot a combined 6-22. Murphy tried to carry the Warriors at the foul stripe, getting their fourteen times. He also fouled out. That's a funny combination: bad shooting, lots of free throws, lots of fouls. Dunleavy, by the way, jacked up eight threes. I don't think he can be successful doing that. He's a skinny little man, sure, so he may not be able to hack it inside, but he's got to use his versatility and height inside to a greater extent than this shot-record (and his lack of rebounds) shows.
- The least televisable game of the night involved the Clippers and the Hawks. I'll give you two guesses to figure out who won. James Singleton, a 24-year old rookie for the Clips (yes, I had to look him up because I didn't know his first name or anything else about him) had the game of the night, scoring thirteen and adding thirteen rebounds (seven offensive!) in 29 minutes off the bench.
- Seattle has to be happy that they escaped with an overtime win against the T'Wolves because Ray Allen missed ten threes. The key may have been keeping Kevin Garnett off the boards: he only grabbed seven rebounds. Hell, Danny Fortson out-rebounded him despite playing 22 fewer minutes.
Tonight's top game is San Antonio at Dallas. In other games, Andrew Bogut has to be thrilled that Shaq hurt his ankle as Miami goes to Milwaukee without their big man available. Phoenix at Utah is a mismatch, but the Kirilenko-Marion matchup, assuming they guard each other, could be fascinating.
Worst game of the night is Atlanta at Portland. David Stern might show up and declare a tie just to spare those nice Oregonians of what's about to ensue.