Sunday, November 9, 2008

Westside Connection Pt. 2

-Clippers got their first win and guess who played 30 minutes? Eric Gordon. He got some time and, oh my god, he shot 50 percent and hit 3-4 from beyond the arc. Sure, he wasn’t the only reason the team got the monkey off their back, Baron did have 22 and 10 and Camby added 14 rebounds and 2 blocks. But, this is the team that we should see more and more. The one that will have the most success. Ricky Buckets still can’t seem to find his shot. And, Cat? Cuttino Mobley still got 33 minutes, but put up only 8 shots. I really don’t hate Mobley. He got some time at SF because Thornton, who had a good game, was limited by foul trouble. The team held the Mavs (minus Josh Howard) to 92 points. The defense is starting to jell, and the Clips are learning how to play with each other. The Kings, Warriors, Spurs and Thunder are the upcoming games...all very winnable. The Spurs were struggling with Tony Parker playing as the best player in the league. They’ll be without him for a month, so the Clips should have more than enough to get by San Antonio. In fact, the brutal part of their early schedule is out of the way. After the Thunder, the Clips travel to play a worse-than-expected Philly team, and Mike Dunleavy should be plenty fired up to win that game. Then they’ve got New Jersey, New Orleans, Denver and Miami. They could realistically go 7-2 which would put them back at .500. It’s going to be an uphill battle for them the rest of the way, but Baron helped lead a less talented team to the brink of the playoffs last year. Still think this team could win 45-48 games.

-The Grizzlies had a disappointing second half against Denver, a great deal of it because O.J. Mayo went stone cold after being scalding hot dropping 20 points in the first quarter where he shot 8-9 with 3-3 from beyond the arc. He still ended with 31, but only had 5 in the second half. The team just won’t be able to win if Rudy Gay shoots 4-17. Just won’t happen. One problem the team has is that Gay and Mayo fall in love with their jumper too much. Both players need to get to the basket more or work the ball inside to Marc Gasol. Gasol can’t play 40 minutes and only shoot the ball 4 times. And the jumpshot-itis is not just confined to the team’s two stars. Everyone on the roster jacks up way too many jumpshots—you just can’t win consistently like that. Even still, they held a high scoring Denver team under their season average as they’ve done with every team they’ve played this year. Defense is keeping them in it. They’re sitting at 3-4 on the season, but, tell me one person who thought they would have as many wins as the Spurs and Mavericks combined? Love Darrell Arthur’s game. A bit like a bruiser version of Trevor Ariza. They just make things happen. Ditto with Kyle Lowry. The point guards just need to learn to shoot the three. If and when that happens, this team will get a whole lot better. Q Ross was a good pickup for this team. He and Greg Buckner come off the bench and offer great defense.

-Denver looks a lot more balanced now with Chauncey, even though dude has yet to find his shot. 2-13 is putrid for any player. But the 16, 6, 10 and 3 steals is very nice. Part of the reason he couldn’t find the hoop was due to the pressure he was seeing from Mayo and Lowry and whoever, but if Chauncey could’ve hit four more shots, this game wouldn’t have been as close as it was. J.R. Smith hasn’t taken to Billups as fast as I thought he would. But Renaldo Balkman and Nene are loving him. Melo too, though he missed some absolute gimmes including a wide-open two-handed jam. Denver’s defense looks a lot better though. A lot better. They’ve got someone who can actually play defense at the one. Once Chauncey gets more comfortable with his shot and K-Mart comes back, this team will start to climb back into the race in the Northwest, though the rest of their schedule this month is tough. They’ve got the Cavs, Celtics, Lakers, Hornets and Houston, and, though people might laugh at me, I’m going to put the Clippers into the equation as well. Don't let their 1-6 record fool you. The Clips are a good team. Denver's got an uphill battle going forward, but they've added defense to a still potent offense. They are not as flashy, but they are definitely a better team. If Antonio McDyess wasn't such a baby, he could really help this squad out.

No comments: