NBA 11/20 by Jason Wojciechowski Tuesday, November 28, 2006, 03:25 AM
Charlotte lost its second in a row, falling to Dallas despite Emeka Okafor turning in what's turning into a routine performance for him: 22 points, 13 boards, eight blocks. Adam Morrison's poor shooting (3-14) hurt, since everyone else shot the ball pretty well.
Dirk is turning into Mr. Consistency, following up a 24 and 13 game last time out with 24 and 14 this time around. The bench shot just 5-19, but that's not unexpected when it's populated with guys like DeSagana Diop, Anthony Johnson (not a bad point, but not a shooter), and Maurice Ager.
Houston matched up with the Knicks for the second time already. Yao had an enormous game the last time out, but was merely good this time, with 26 points, nine boards, and three blocks. Tracy McGrady scored 24 despite 40% shooting. The key to the game was either Houston's defense or a bad Knicks' offense. Most likely, it was a little of both. Channing Frye, of all people (given his struggles so far), had a good game, scoring 22. But the team's points leader, Jamal Crawford, needed 21 shots to get his 25 points and shot just 1-7 from behind the arc. Q Richardson and Eddy Curry combined to shoot 5-20, and Steph Marbury and Steve Francis took only seven shots, making three. Nate Robinson, despite playing 27 minutes, shot only two times.
The really odd lines out of the Knicks' guards so far this year show, more than anything else, that they really don't know what they're doing in Isaiah Thomas's offense. Some might blame this on the four guards. I blame it on Thomas. If you take over as coach and you've got these four guys, one of whom is a good scorer and a great passer, one of whom is a great scorer, and the other two of whom are good scorers, don't you figure out some kind of offense where you don't get the kind of result you had in this game, where the worst of the four players shot more than double the number of times the other three guys had combined? Are Marbury and Francis suddenly not good players? Why does Isaiah need an exotic offense that actually needs thinking to figure out?
My favorite outcome for the Knicks is that David Lee has turned into their best player. He scored 15 on 6-10 shooting and had eight offensive rebounds (12 total) in this game, along with four steals.
Memphis finally won their second game, beating Orlando by nine. Dwight Howard had another ridiculous game with 24 points on just 12 shots and twenty-three rebounds, including eight offensive. Hell, he had more offensive boards than any Grizzly had defensive, and more than all but two Grizz had total (Hakim Warrick with 10, Jake Tsakalidas with 9). This was all for naught, though. The difference in the game was really the secondary guys. The top five scorers for Orlando (the five starters) combined for 74 points. The top five for Memphis (two starters, three benchies) combined for 73. The bottom five for Orlando, though, only managed 12 points, including 0-5 shooting in 18 minutes from Darko (though he did have five boards and three blocks), while Memphis's bottom five scored 22, with everyone contributing at least three.
Rudy Gay went back to rookie mediocrity, shooting 2-12 and not really contributing much secondarily (three boards, one assist, two steals).
Utah beat Toronto to become the first team to ten wins on the year. Six players scored in double digits for the Raptors, and Morris Peterson had nine, but Chris Bosh was the leader at 17, and the team shot just 42%, so what the spread of points indicates is that the sucking was spread around instead of being concentrated in one or two guys. The Jazz got a ridiculous game from Carlos Boozer, who shot 14-16 on his way to 35 points. Paul Milsap continued to put up nice lines off the bench, shooting 8-10 for 20 points and grabbing five offensive boards.
San Antonio won on the road again, beating Portland by nine. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli had 25 apiece for the Spurs, though they combined for just nine rebounds between them. This was partially because both teams shot at least 50%, so there just weren't that many bricks to be gathered. Zach Randolph shot 10-17 but only got three trips to the line, so he scored 23 points instead of the 28-30 that he often puts up when he makes ten or so shots.
Seattle beat New Jersey by 12 behind Ray Allen's 29 points. Allen took eleven threes, which is kind of a lot. He made four of them, so his percentage is fine, but it's pretty remarkable that only three guys in the game took more total shots than he took threes.
Slightly more remarkable is that Antoine Wright, still filling in for Richard Jefferson, was one of those guys, shooting 5-12. He also grabbed eleven rebounds, which led everybody. Vince Carter had a typical line for him: 27 points on 22 shots, three rebounds, three assists, eight turnovers. He's electric, and he's a great athlete, and he can certainly go on remarkable tears, but on average, looking at his point volume probably seriously overstates his value to a team. Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady also have lower shooting percentages than you'd like and don't really rebound, but at least they're playmakers, and Bryant, at least, is a good defender besides. Carter's rejuvenated in Jersey, but I hope no one gets carried away fifteen years down the line and starts talking about the Hall of Fame for him or anything.
Steve Nash took Phoenix in to meet the NBA's latest run-and-shoot team, Don Nelson's Warriors, and came out with a three-point win, 113-110. Nash himself had 19 points and fifteen assists and almost certainly benefited from not having to chase Baron Davis around the court on the other end (Davis was inactive, it appears). Leandro Barbosa had 21 points and shot 5-7 from three off the bench, and Raja Bell shot 5-11 from three for 22 points.
Monta Ellis led all scorers with 31 points, but needed 26 shots to get there. Mickael Pietrus was a little more efficient, scoring 24 on 18 shots and also blocking five Sun attempts. Andre Biedrins (if the box scores are any indication, you'll want to remember the name) shot 6-8 and led everyone with fifteen rebounds. Even Mike Dunleavy contributed 16 points on 7-12 shooting off the bench.
It's kind of amazing how Nellie went into Oakland, instituted a relatively simple system (his offense ain't the triangle, that's for sure), and suddenly the Warriors are respectable, with a 7-4 record and completely able to hang with the Suns (the Warriors, in fact, led by five at halftime before losing the third quarter by ten).