Sunday through Election Day in the NBA

By Jason Wojciechowski on November 6, 2008 at 4:42 AM

Sunday was a short night, with just two games. New York took its second loss, falling to Milwaukee. Milwaukee won the midwestern way, with six guys over ten points and nobody over 18. Luc Mbah a Moute is showing that maybe he was right to leave UCLA after all, with 11/10 and 4-6 shooting. Ramon Sessions, who I hadn't even heard of before this year, had 18/7/8 and three steals. Joe Alexander even got into the game, but didn't do anything. Milwaukee ... I wonder about them. They could be interesting. Jefferson can score, Redd can shoot, Bogut can rebound and defend the rim, Villanueva is Boozer-lite, and Sessions is apparently a good PG. The problem looks like the bench. Mbah a Moute can be a nice multi-dimensional player, but beyond him, you're looking at Tyronn Lue, Dan Gadzuric, and Charlie Bell. If you can get 40 minutes a night out of your starters all year, you'll be fine, but that can't happen. And if someone gets hurt? Forget about it.

My two fantasy Knicks had awful games, including Jamal Crawford going for exactly one point. Quentin Richardson had a 28/9 and Z-Bo had 15/13. Gallinari didn't get into the game.

Seattle squeaked out a win over Minnesota in a battle of bad teams. The game was played in Oklahoma City for some odd reason. Kevin Durant must have more 7-21 shooting nights than anyone else in the league. Who else gets to take that many shots when he's missing 2/3 of the time? So yeah, 18 points on 21 shots, five boards, and an embarrassing zero assists. But hey, no fouls. Rookie point Russell Westbook had 14 points in 25 minutes off the bench.

Randy Foye had the most brutal night of all, though, with 0-10 shooting and five turnovers for the Wolves. Al Jefferson bailed him out with a 24/13, though. Obviously, the Celtics wouldn't trade their championship for anything, but Jefferson is shaping up to be basically Kevin Garnett all over again in Minnesota. Maybe he'll end up traded to the Knicks in ten years to bail them out of a lengthy period of mediocrity and bring a championship to the team. Danilo will be the Paul Pierce. The shooter in the Ray Allen mode? JJ Redick? Yeah, your 2018 championship winning Knicks, led by the Big Three of Al Jefferson, Danilo Gallinari, and JJ Redick.

And hey, speaking of JJ Redick, he's back to getting DNP's. Like on Monday, when Orlando edged Chicago by three. Dwight Howard had 22/15, including eight offensive boards, and five blocks. As usual, half of Heshard Turkowis was good, and half was not. Rashard had 21/11 while Hedo shot 3-16. (Although to be fair to Hedo, he contributed seven boards and seven assists. This is what's made him such a valuable player. Even when he's not putting the ball in the bucket, he's involved in the offense, creating for other players, and even his size to crash the boards.)

Chicago had a weird mix: Gooden, Rose, Nooch, and Little Kobe all had 14+ points, and all shot 50% or better, but Luol Deng shot 0-8, Gooden fouled out, and the team shot only 18 free throws. This is the classic problem with a team that shoots jump shots like Chicago: guys get a little bit off with their shot (Deng) and nobody gets to the line for easy points. Nocioni had nine free throws (missing four, though), but no one else had more than three. You can make it your style, your offensive philosophy, to shoot midrange jumpers all day, but you'll lose games because of it along the way, even if you do have talented offensive players.

Philly sent Sacto to 0-4 by beating them by 34. This might mean PT for the rooks, except that Marreese Speights already gets run for the Sixers, the same as Jason Thompson does for the Kings. The Sixers put eight guys in double figures and only one player was on the floor more than thirty minutes (Thaddeus Young, who led the team in scoring with 18). Donyell Marshall had the awesomest line: 4-5 shooting, all on threes, in just eight minutes. On the other side, Jason Thompson had yet another impressive game, with 17/6/5 off the bench, with 8-12 shooting. He did have four turnovers, but when you're getting 17/6/5 from a rookie power forward from Rider, you don't nitpick. Especially if you're in a city where you mayor is now Kevin Johnson.

Detroit, playing its first game without Chauncey, moved to 3-0 by beating Charlotte. The M.O. didn't change, as Rip led the team in scoring with 19. (Things will be different when A.I. gets there, so enjoy the spread-the-wealth ball while you can.) Detroit dominated Charlotte's glass: 16 offensive boards compared to just 23 defensive rebounds for the Bobcats. Gerald Wallace had ten of those rebounds by himself, but shot 3-10, nearly matching Jason Richardson's 2-10 effort.

Golden State lost again, this time in Memphis. Marc Gasol makes me cry for the Lakers having traded him. Granted that Golden State plays small ball, the rook playing his fourth NBA game shot 9-11 from the floor and the line for 27 points and grabbed 16 boards. That's just dominance. He did have six turnovers, but again, as with Thompson, you'll take that. This was supposed to be Rudy Gay's team with OJ Mayo a strong second and Marc Gasol learning the game. Suddenly you have to wonder whether this is Marc Gasol's team and the backcourt are just along for the ride.

Golden State missed nearly 2/3 of its shots, but Andris Biedrins had a preposterous 22 rebounds, including nine offensive, while shooting 8/14. The two centers combined for about 1/3 of the total rebounds grabbed in the game. That's crazy.

Cleveland sent Dallas down by 19, in Dallas. That's not impressive for Rick Carlisle's troops. Dirk was held to eight points, Jason Terry shot 1-8, and the team got outrebounded by 17. Lebron went to the line 15 times and Ben Wallace had a "Pistons Ben Wallace" game: 0-4 shooting with 13 rebounds, eight of them offensive.

Utah went to 3-0 and the Clippers dropped to 0-4. Kosta Koufos got into the game for the Jazz, and shot 0-1 in one minute, with no other stats. Nicely done, Kosta. AK47 is worrying me more and more: 15 points, 11 boards, and four steals in 32 minutes off the bench. Paul Millsap had 24 points on just 12 shots. Remember, Utah is 3-0 without Deron Williams. Kyle Korver hasn't really gotten going, Okur hasn't had a great game ... but Kirilenko and Boozer are carrying the team. Let me say it again: Utah scares me a lot.

Baron Davis came off the bench to try to work back from his injury, and missed a lot of shots: he hit just 5-15 from the floor and only 1-4 from the free throw line. He did have nine assists. Marcus Camby also played off the bench, blocking three shots.

Three teams were forced to play on Election Night instead of getting to sit at home and watch CNN. Phoenix won by 28 in New Jersey in the first Lopez-brother matchup ever. They combined for 2-10 shooting and five blocks, but Brook outrebounded Robin 6-1. They also combined for seven fouls in just 39 minutes. They are nothing if not "active", those two.

Anyway, the game also involved other players, such as Ryan Anderson, the Nets rookie, who had 8/7 in 17 minutes, and the Suns six best offensive players (Nash, Amare, Shaq, Barbosa, Hill, and Bell; we could argue whether Diaw belongs there, but he doesn't fit into the stat I'm about to say) shot a combined 34-47, which is really good. Obviously.

Boston snuck past Houston by four in Texas. Ray Allen had 29 points to overcome Tracy McGrady's 26, and the Celtics shut down Yao and Ron-Ron, who shot 7-30 combined. Joey Dorsey may have picked the worst possible team to have taken a shot on him in the second round: he's a short, strong hustle player at the power forward spot. Hmmm ... Luis Scola and Carl Landry? Yeah, whoops. Such are the vagaries of the NBA draft, I guess.

Dallas bounced back from Monday's home loss to beat San Antonio convincingly at the Alamo, sending the Spurs to 0-3 and making everyone wonder if maybe it was Manu all these years and not Tim Duncan who drove the team. Dirk came back with a vengeance, scoring 29, and Jason Terry, added to the starting lineup, scored the same. Jason Kidd had a classic Kidd-near-triple-double, with 9/8/10. George Hill got off the bench for San Antonio, scoring 11 points in 16 minutes. Granted, he was probably playing against JJ Barea, Gerald Green, and James Singleton, but still.

The Lakers finally play again tonight, in a rematch against the Clippers.