|11.23.08 at 12:44 pm ET|
Checking in on a couple of fairly big developments in the NBA this weekend, while watching the Celtics and the Raptors. On Friday night, the Knicks moved two big contracts (Zach Randolph and Jamal Crawford) and moved closer toward fulfilling their rebuilding plan, while out in the place that stole the Sonics from Seattle, the Robber Barons axed P.J. Carlesimo.
First, the Knicks. Most fans are already sick of hearing about the 2010 free agency class, but for roughly half the teams in the league, getting cap space is their reason for being. The Knicks, meanwhile, have put a big blinking sign on the marquee at Madison Square Garden saying “OPEN FOR BUSINESS–2010,” ever since Donnie Walsh to clean up the toxic spew that Isiah Thomas left behind.
On Friday, the Knicks traded Randolph and Mardy Collins to the Clippers for Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley and dealt Crawford to Golden State for unhappy forward Al Harrington. Those moves were genius in that they replaced three players who would be due $30 million in 2010-11 with three players who will be due nothing. Nada.
|11.23.08 at 12:36 pm ET|
On Sunday Jamario Moon’s biggest concern is taking on he Boston Celtics. And while he is focused on each game at hand, the Toronto Raptors high-flyer can’t help but think ahead to February. That’s when Moon would like to redeem himself in the Slam Dunk Contest.
“It was big to be on the stage with a lot of the greats like (Michael) Jordan and Dominique (Wilkins). So to be able to be part of that, man, it was something big,” Moon said on a recent trip through Boston. “I would love to go back, love to go back because I feel like I’ve got something to prove.”
This past February Moon finished third behind Dwight Howard and Gerald Green during All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. He entered the contest as an underdog but later realized he was his biggest competition.
“I just don’t feel like I gave it my all,” he said. “I don’t know, I don’t know. I wasn’t nervous at all. I think I was holding back. I was trying to save my best for last when I should have just brought the best out and made it better at the end.”
Just as defending champ Howard did after losing in the 2007 Dunk Contest, Moon is already planning a comeback. He would like to return to the contest another year wiser.
“Already, already,” Moon said of drawing up new dunks. “You know what, I learned something about it. It’s really not too much about the dunk as it is the dramatics of it and what leads up to it. I learned a lot from it so if I go back, I know what to expect.”
The 2009 Slam Dunk Contest will be held during All-Star Weekend, February 13-15 in Phoenix, Arizona.
|11.21.08 at 12:03 am ET|
The Celtics showed no mercy on the weary Detroit Pistons on Thursday night at TD Banknorth Garden, demolishing them, 98-80. The first quarter was a wake-up call as the Green fell behind 13-2 in the first three and a half minutes. But for the final three quarters, this one belonged entirely to the defending champs. Rajon Rondo looked better than he has all season, scoring 18 and controlling Allen Iverson and the tempo all night. This was the second time this season the 11-2 Celtics have owned Detroit, beating them 88-76 back on Nov. 9. There are 69 games remaining but it’s hard to imagine anyone in the East knocking the Celtics out of the top perch. Next up tonight, Kevin Garnett gets to actually play in his return to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves. Last year, he had to sit on the sidelines because of an injury.
|11.20.08 at 10:10 pm ET|
It was early in the game and Rajon Rondo found himself driving to the basket with a clear lane to the hoop. His options: Finish the move and take it strong, or pass it out for a jump shot. As he has several times this year Rondo elected to exercise Option Two–pass it out to the perimeter. The decision elicited audible gasps from the Garden crowd, disappointment really, and a missed jump shot. That’s not what getting Rondo’d is all about.
But the most picked over, scrutinized and dissected player on the Celtics roster does not lack for confidence, and the next time Rondo found himself in the same position (clear path, decision time), Rondo elected for Option One: Take it strong to the goal.
Again and again Thursday night against the Pistons, Rondo took it strong to the basket en route to an 18-point, eight-assist performance that stands as his best game of the young season in a 98-80 win over Detroit. Read the rest of this entry »
|11.20.08 at 9:41 pm ET|
Update: On Friday, the Boston Celtics assigned Bill Walker to their NBA Development League affiliate, the Utah Flash.
To some players, the “D” in D-League stands for demotion.
Not Bill Walker. He sees it for what it’s worth.
“It’s not a demotion at all. So you have you to get that out your mind,” Walker said before Thursday’s game against the Detroit Pistons. “It’s the reason that why they created the D-League, so that instead of having guys sitting on the bench, not staying in shape, they can go down there and play.”
The Boston Celtics rookie has played just six minutes in two games and hasn’t been given the nod since November 9. It’s only natural that Walker would like to play more, but if it’s not going to happen in Boston he isn’t too proud to go elsewhere. Even if that means going all the way to Provo with the Celtics affiliate Utah Flash.
“I welcome it,” Walker said. “If it happens, I’m looking forward to going down and playing against someone other than my teammates.”
The place he gets minutes is in practice, and even those have been few and far between this season.
“It’s tough. We’re not having a lot of practices,” said head coach Doc Rivers. “The individual work he does with Coach (Kevin) Eastman is valuable for him and he’s doing it. Other than that, that’s all he can do and he just has to continue to do that.”
Since Walker can’t learn by playing he’s trying to gain as much as possible from his veteran teammates.
“[I've learned about] just having a pro pace without rushing yourself, knowing your limits, staying within your game,” Walker said. “Just little things I’ve been learning, picking up stuff from Paul (Pierce) and the pace he plays at. He doesn’t go any faster than he wants to and he makes use of every move he uses.”
Walker looks forward to putting his knowledge to use. He expects that opportunity to come in the near future.
“I’m pretty sure it’ll happen sooner than later,” he said, “Because guys are playing so well right now and there’s not a lot of minutes for us.”
Until that decision is made, he’ll make the most of his time on the Celtics bench. If he gets that call, though, don’t expect him to be disappointed.
“I’m not worried about it,” he said. “But if it happens, I’m looking forward to it.”
|11.20.08 at 8:19 pm ET|
Game Over: Celtics 98, Pistons 80 … More from the locker rooms to follow.
- Gino time. The crowd is clearing out with 52 seconds left and Gino is shaking it on the big screen.
- Amir Johnson hasn’t shown much in his four-year career with the Pistons but tonight offered glimpses into his potential at the hoop. Johnson has a long wing span and can glide his arms to the basket for easy lay-ins. He’s only 21 and has more time to prove himself.
- Was that Nate Robinson or Will Bynum? The little guard can jump and surprisingly slammed home a Pistons fastbreak.
- With a bucket from O’Bryant, everyone on the Celtics active roster has scored.
- House is out, Scal’s in. And here comes … Patrick O’Bryant. It’s officially only a matter of time before we see Gino dancing.
- There are competing “Let’s Go Celtics” and “Scal-a-bri-ne” chants going on right now. Apparently they didn’t get the memo that Scal isn’t a fan.
- Pruitt is clearly excited to be in the game and tried to run the ball up the court off a Detroit miss. Doc quickly put his hands up to slow down. The Celtics may be up by more than 20 but it’s never a good idea to start getting too flashy against a veteran squad. Plus Pruitt is in the game for experience, not showtime.
- Doc is starting Gabe Pruitt with Davis, House, Powe, and Tony Allen. Curry is going with Sheed, Hamilton, Maxiell, Iverson, and former Georgia Tech player Will Bynum.
- The Celtics kick off the fourth quarter with Lucky the Leprachaun trying to wow the TNT crew with slam dunks. He tried for SportsCenter before and it doesn’t look like he’s giving up until he’s on national tv.
At the start of the fourth … Celtics 77, Pistons 57
|11.20.08 at 7:41 pm ET|
Some interesting things to watch in the second half. As Jess pointed out, although no one’s been able to pin down the exact nature of it, there appears to be some sort of ill feeling between former UConn-ers Ray Allen and Rip Hamilton (Ray started wearing the sleeve last year because he said Rip was scratching him). Add to that the little Kendrick Perkins-Jason Maxiell shoving match, the usual (clean) fun between Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace, and two of the fastest players in the game in Rajon Rondo and Allen Iverson, and we’ve got a big game with all kinds of fun personal matchups.
Before the game, Ray Allen was saying that the Celtics fully expect to see Detroit in the playoffs again this spring. Don’t think for a second that Detroit wants to go down 0-2 in the season series (funny how this rivalry completely flipped in one year from the C’s being the hunters to the hunted, isn’t it?)
Onward… Read the rest of this entry »