The Chicago Bulls took a 1-0 lead in their second round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers last night, stealing home court advantage and setting up something close to a must-win game for the Cavs in Game 2.
At the heart of the Cavs’ loss was a lackadaisical, curiously careless performance from their leader LeBron James.
James put up 19 points on 9-for-22 shooting with six turnovers – his lowest output since a 2-for-10 night in Game 5 of last year’s Conference Finals. He appeared to lack focus and a sense of urgency.
With a quarter of the regular season in the books, NBA All-Star balloting began in earnest yesterday.
Of course I took the first available opportunity to vote for my ten most deserving starters – three frontcourt players and two guards from each conference:
FC: Anthony Davis (New Orleans)
25.1 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.9 BPG, 32.9 PER, 10-11 record
The Nick “Swaggy P” Young experience is an eventful one. He recently attempted a ridiculous 540-degree layup, and the next ill-advised shot is never far around the corner.
Last night, he put the cherry on the top of this brutal possession by wedging the ball between the rim and the backboard – a huge rarity on a 3-point shot:
Last year’s Lakers were full of bad fits even before they suffered a slew of injuries:
- Two back-to-the-basket centers who need the ball in the low post (Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol).
- Two ageing, ball-dominant guards allergic to playing defense (Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash).
- A designated outside shooter and perimeter defender who has shot 39% from the field over the last three years and can no longer run or jump (Metta World Peace).
- A slow, un-athletic bench to back up an ageing starting lineup (Antawn Jamison, Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks).
- A run-and-gun coach to coach them all (Mike D’Antoni).
Alas, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak were able to put together a “super team” but lacked the foresight to manufacture a contending team, much less a championship team.
They then lost their so-called future “face of the franchise” for nothing, as Dwight bolted for Houston. What now? Most predictions are grim, with many expecting the 2013/14 Lakers to miss the playoffs and one columnist even claiming that a 37-45 record would be too generous a prediction.
Waffling Dwight Howard finally made up his mind: he will leave the Lakers to sign with the Houston Rockets.
Houston offers numerous benefits: desirable city, no state tax, a young and uncluttered roster, a budding young superstar in James Harden, a coach who knows a thing or two about post play, and, perhaps most importantly, the chance to be the top dog without facing the media scrutiny and pressure to win that comes with being a Laker.
Alas, Dwight and the Lakers were never a good match. We all thought it would work just fine: Howard transforming LA’s defense, feasting on alley-oop lobs from Kobe, and forming the most formidable pick-and-roll partnership in the league with Steve Nash. When I spoke with Bill Simmons at the Olympics, we agreed that the Lakers were now overwhelming favorites to win the Western Conference. We were wrong.