By Jason Wojciechowski on November 4, 2009 at 10:30 PM
Game Six of the World Series has gone almost the exact opposite of what I expected: I figured Philly to jump on Andy Pettite for five runs in three innings and a 7-3 win. (I think I said 7-3. I'll have to check with E-Sex, though.) Anyway, it's the Yankees winning 7-3 at this point, in the bottom of the eighth, and it's Pedro who got jumped on by the Yankees. I missed the first inning, watched the middle innings, and have missed most of the end of the game until now due to a Lakers-Rockets tilt that I forgot was on. L.A. managed to hang on in overtime against a Rockets team that has given them fits every single time they play for the last few years.
Houston's got this "scrappy" rep that even their home announcers play up, but I think that undersells their talent. Aaron Brooks is incredibly fast, quick, and a good shooter. Carl Landry, Luis Scola, and Chuck Hayes all define "undersized", but they all have tremendous touch around the rim, they're very intuitive rebounders with a great sense of timing on their jumps, they are remarkable at using their bodies to get defensive and rebounding position, and Scola has a nice mid-range jumper in addition. And of course Shane Battier shoots a great corner three, for all the press about how hard he works on defense, and how much study he puts into it, he has the physical skills to put that study and that work ethic to good use.
Anyway, speaking of local announcers, isn't it infuriating to listen to them when they're not your own? The Lakers won a thrilling game by stripping very recent ex-Laker Trevor Ariza of the ball with a few seconds to play in overtime, and the announcers acted like Derek Fisher killed their puppies. They were positive morose, and they combined it with a sense of "the injustice of it all" by insinuating that Fisher had fouled Ariza and gotten away with it while pretending to be gracious ("Well, they never call that foul, so ..."). I love listening to Glen Kuiper and Ray Fosse when they call A's games, partly because of how indignant Ray can get at the other team (his "sometimes you just want to tell them to hit the ball like a man" this season was a classic). For fans of other teams, though, I can imagine listening to this can get a little old.
Wizards 90, Cavs 102: LeBron? 27/8/6 with three steals. Yawn. Now Boobie Gibson and Mo Williams! Combining for 7-9 from three! That's exciting! (Shaq also scored 21 on 7-9 shooting, which is pretty good, especially considering how bad a free throw shooter he is.) The other team? I dunno. Brendan Haywood fouled out in 27 minutes. That's somethin'.
Denver 111, Pacers 93: This was a mismatch all the way, even with Denver on the road, as the Nuggets moved to 4-0 and the Pacers fell to 0-3. Carmelo shot poorly but made it up by getting 14 free throw attempts, and Nene had six offensive rebounds. Kenyon Martin didn't do much in the box score, but he was presumably mainly responsibly for holding Troy Murphy to a goose-egg on the night. Former Nug Dahntay Jones led the Pacers in scoring with 20 off the bench, which is pretty damning.
Celtics 105, Sixers 74: Philly had been absolutely rolling on offense, but the Celtics just mauled them in their own house. Boston is now 5-0, and they look unfairly good. Kevin Garnett only scored three, Ray Allen had five, and Rajon Rondo added eleven with just five assists. And that's a team that won by 31.
Magic 80, Pistons 85: Now that's an old-school Detroit box-score, right down to the win. The Magic lost for the first time in Vince's return, which was less than triumphant, as he scored 15 on 16 shots, with just one assist. Da-wight Howard fouled out in seventeen minutes, as Orlando was whistled for 30 fouls to Detroit's 17. Free throws? 38 to 16. Turnovers? 15 for Orlando to 9 for Detroit. You look at all those numbers and you wonder how on earth Detroit only won by five. A big part of the answer is "37.5% on field goals, 0-6 from three". "Jonas Jerebko" started for the Pistons. Predictably, he did not score.
Suns 104, Heat 96: Phoenix is a shocking 4-0 after this win, led by Steve Nash's 30 and eight. Dwyane Wade had his usual 23/9/7, but Miami lost the fourth quarter by a count of 29-15. You'll notice, as I'm sure you're quite the math whiz, that the 14-point gap in the fourth quarter and the eight-point gap in the final tally mean that Miami had a six-point advantage entering the period. You can't blow too many leads like that at home if you want to contend. Not that anyone's actually suggesting that the Heat are contenders.
Milwaukee 81, Bulls 83: Bogut! Deng! The NBA on Beaneball! Well, let's be fair: Deng did have 24/20, the same as Gerald Wallace had the night before. The Bucks somehow lost and scored only 81 points despite putting up 91 shots and making a higher percentage than the Bulls. Giving the other team 31 free throws while only taking ten yourself isn't a recipe for success. Note: the foul disparity was only 23-18. Brandon Jennings is putting up scintillating scoring numbers for a rookie, especially such a young rookie, but let's note that his 25 points on this night came on 23 shots, and came with a not-very-point-guardly four assists.
Lakers 101, Thunder 98: L.A. wound up playing back-to-back road overtime games -- this was the first one. Kobe had 31, but it was a weak night, as he shot 9-22 and had seven turnovers and five fouls. But Kevin Durant matched Kobe's seven turnovers, and nobody could match Ron Artest's 20 on 6-8 shooting, 2-3 from three, and 6-8 from the free-throw line. I hadn't really gotten a chance to see Artest in action until "tomorrow" night (i.e. tonight), against the Rockets, but I can tell you I'm shocked by the efficiency in this box score, because watching him, he dribbles around, he stops the ball movement, he takes awkward shots ... I'm very concerned about the state of the Laker offense in the Ron Artest era.
Utah 85, Dallas 96: Dirk had 40/11/5 and added two steals and five blocks. That's an insane night, and the blocks, rebounds, and sixteen free throws tell the story that Dirk did dirty work: Dirk's the last guy you think would get 40 points while only taking three three-point shots. Big Damp added six blocks of his own, and Kirilenko had three for the other side, so it was one of those famous TNT "it's a block party! And everyone's invited" things.
Atlanta 97, Portland 91: Jamal Crawford did one of those things he does, scoring 27 in 34 minutes. The un-Crawfordian thing he did, though, was dish out seven dimes. Where'd that come from? Greg Oden had nine rebounds in 16 minutes, but also five fouls, which is probably why only played 16 minutes. At some point, he will have to get to a point where you can expect 35 minutes a game from him, not in an injury way or a fatigue way, but simply in a non-foul-trouble way. When it became clear that Pau Gasol was going to miss the early part of the season for the Lakers, this is what I worried about most with Andrew Bynum: he has games where he reaches a lot, gets frustrated, and picks up a lot of fouls, and when you're the #1 big man, you can't do that. Bynum, though, is playing 38.8 minutes per game with just three fouls. He had five in the Oklahoma City game, but he played 49 minutes, so you can excuse that, and more importantly, he didn't foul out.