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L.O.N. NBA Basketball

Line Of The Night — 05/17/2011

May 18th, 2011

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Line Of The Night:

Dirk Nowitzki — 48 points on 12-15 shooting and 24-24 from the free throw line, 6 boards, 4 assists, 4 blocks

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again.  Big.  Dirk.  Like.  Whut.  If Scott Brooks had walked into his living room, flicked on his PS3, set the level to All-World-Pro-Star and played the Mavs, the computer might have, at it’s ceiling, produced a game like this.  Automatic.  Robotic.  And he even went a stretch in the 4th, during the Jose Juan Barea Show, when he didn’t really shoot much!  He didn’t even cap out!  This was an all-time great playoff performance.  Become legendary.

Worst Of The Night AKA Not So Bad Of The Night:

Russell Westbrook — 20 points on 3-15 shooting, 3 assists, 3 boards, 1 steal

People were all over him again last night for his shooting percentage, but he obeyed our rule — he shot less than Kevin Durant, whose ridiculous 40 point night was overshadowed by Dirk’s redirkulous night.  We are not even going to get on Westbrook too hard.  He stayed aggressive.  He lived in the lane (only 4 shots outside the paint) and foul line (14-18 there), and he shot no 3’s!  Game 2 will be his true test.  Does he go to that Kobe, hero style, our does he stick with this style game, knowing he is probably not going to miss all those shots again?  Oh, but still expect a million street MC’s to start giving us “I shoot more than Westbrook” lines.

For Threeeeeeeeee Of The Night:

Jason Kidd — 3 points, 3 boards, 3 steals, 3 turnovers, 3 fouls, 3 3-point attempts

All three everything?  Is there a numerologist in the building?

Enough with the blue outs, when the other team WEARS THAT COLOR!  We kept thinking it was an OKC home game when looking at that crowd… OKC probably is not feeling all that bad about this one.  They had this one down to 6 points late despite Dirk’s once in a lifetime game, so if they tighten some stuff up, this will be a series… Kevin Durant looked like a creature from another world on the play where he grabbed the defensive rebound and took it coast-to-coast… Should James Harden start?  Thabo Sefolosha seems to be nothing more than a placeholder in this matchup, with no real wing player for him to lock down…  The Cavs win the #1 pick in the NBA Draft via the Clippers pick they acquired in the Baron Davis deal.  Yikes, that deal looks a whole lot worse now, but it’s typical Clip Joint ish… Nate Robinson, go to your room.  Word to Tony Kornheiser…

Line Of The Night — 05/10/2011

May 11th, 2011

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Line Of The Night:

Derrick Rose — 33 points, 9 assists, 2 boards

D-Rose gets the stats, his teammates get his back.  Rose was the steady rock on offense that he always is, but the key to closing this one out was the defense supplied by the bench in the 4th quarter.  The Bulls, anchored by Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik, took the Hawks completely out of their offense in the 4th, forcing tough shot after tough shot.  Only Jeff Teague could manage much, and he was probably 5th on the Bulls emphasis list.  The defense is our backbone.

Worst Of The Night:

J-Creezy — 2 points on 1-9 shooting

Ouch.  Following Game 1, the Bulls have absolutely shut Crawford down in this series.  Locked.  Down.  For the Hawks to have any chance to do the improbable, they are going to need some offense from our guy.  C’mon, Creezy!

Executive(s) Of The Year Of The Night:

Miami Heat president Pat Riley and Chicago Bulls general manager Gar Forman have been named co-recipients of the NBA Executive Of The Year award.  Cop out.  Pick one or the other, or better yet, don’t pick either.  Riley was gift-wrapped LeBron and Bosh, as they seemed to decide amongst themselves where the wanted to play, and then Riley didn’t really do an outstanding job with the supporting cast.  Forman’s Bulls also won a little bit in spite of their roster, with the major improvement coming from within.  He does get some credit for the Thibodeau hire, though.  Our winner?  Whoever is running things down in Dallas (Donnie Nelson, we think).  Tyson Chandler, Peja Stojakovic, Corey Brewer… the list goes one.

Tattoo Of The Night:

This is what happens when NBA players are sent fishing early.  Let the “Andrei Kirilenko to Denver” rumors begin.  The real question, though:  does the dragon rider get a once-a-year free pass from Kirilenko’s wife, too?

Uniforms Of The Night:

The Washington Wizards unveiled their revamped uniforms for the 2011-12 season.  Yes!  Back to the red, white and blue.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Thank you, Ted Leonsis (Washington’s owner).  Now get on your grind with the name change.  Complete the cipher and give us a Washington Bullets renaissance.

Best Apology Of The Night:

Andrew Bynum:  “My actions … don’t represent me, my upbringing, this franchise or any of the Laker fans out there that want to watch us and want us to succeed.  Furthermore, and more importantly, I want to actually apologize to J.J. Barea for doing that. I’m just glad that he wasn’t seriously injured in the event and all I can say is, I’ve looked at [the replay], it’s terrible and it definitely won’t be happening again.”

Sounds like Bynum really knows he screwed up and feels bad about it.  Good job.  He will still have to sit out the first 5 games of next season, though, after being suspended by the league for his actions.

Worst Apology Of The Night:

LeBron James:  “I want to apologize for using the ‘R’ word after Game 3.  If I offended anyone, I sincerely apologize.”

Oh, LeBron.  You used the dreaded “if I offended anyone”.  That’s not good enough.  When you say that, you are saying:  “I don’t even know why I’m apologizing, but I’ll throw one out there anyway.”  Better not to apologize at all, than give us that garbage.

Surely his Bulls teammates were thrilled with Carlos Boozer’s Game 5 victory guarantee, considering he spent much of the 4th quarter on the bench… Some of the things Josh Smith can do on the court — so sick.  We love him leading the break… Marv Albert and Steve Kerr were on a roll last night.  Comedy… Larry Bird to return as Indiana Pacers team president… Pau Gasol ends speculation, says he and his girlfriend are fine, he and Kobe are fine, and the that rumors themselves caused the emotional problems he was having…

Line Of The Night — 05/03/2011

May 4th, 2011

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Last night the L.O.N. offices caught their first solid glimpses of the 2011 title parade.  There was lots of sun and boats.  Lots of flashes of white.  Those LA cats are not done yet, but we have seen a vision, and if they keep falling asleep at the wheel, Miami is taking the chip.  They looked really, really good.

Line Of The Night:

LeBron James — 35 points, 7 boards, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block

It is absolutely wonderful watching LeBron play with this much help on this side.  It gives him the freedom to dip and dive into various roles on the court — scoring here, setting up there, oh, now he’s organizing the D.  The Heat are clicking on all cylinders.  Defense.  Offense.  Coaching.  Everyone on the team is involved.  Everyone has bought in.  It’s all there.  They continue to be the most impressive team this post-season, but the sleeping giant that is the Lakers, still lurks.

MVP Of The Night:

Derrick Rose — 1 MVP award

Rose becomes the youngest player ever to win the award in a runaway vote.  Dwight Howard finished a distant 2nd.  We would get into why we disagree with the selection, but all attention today goes to Rose’s beautiful acceptance speech (skip to the 5 minute mark).  First of all, he was looking sharp in a navy blue ensemble.  Second of all, his heartfelt thanks to his Mom was a special, special thing.  Dude is amazing.  The way he put life into perspective is something we all could take to heart.  Despite too many Dook teammates, Rose has supporters for life in L.O.N.

A Good Talking To Of The Night:

Russell Westbrook — 24 points on 9 of 20 shooting (most attempts on the team), 6 assists, 3 steals, 2 boards

Russell, Russell, Russell.  Yes, we know you won, but that is beside the point.  Yes, we know you can get an open 17-footer every time.  But have you considered that they want you to shoot that shot?  Yes, we know you dribble the ball down the court most of the time.  But that does not mean you have to shoot most of the time.  Look around you.  Do you see that tall, lanky guy over there?  His name is Kevin Durant.  He is one of the top 3 - possibly the best - scorer in the game.  He is also a very polite young man, so we are forced to deliver this message.  Believe us, he is thinking it.  GIVE HIM THE BALL!  YOU SHOULD NOT BE CONSISTENTLY SHOOTING MORE THAN HIM!  IT WILL BE YOUR TEAM’S DOWNFALL!

Ok, that felt good.  We are not sure Scott Brooks has the necessary personality meshing skills to get this team over-the-top.  Maybe he needs to take it back summer basketball camp style, and put in a quota.  Remember the drill where your team had to pass at least 5 times or whatever, before shooting?  Well, for Westbrook, he is allowed to shoot as much as he wants, as long as it is one less shot than Durant.  Shoot 50 times, just make sure Durant shoots 51!

That Ain’t Gonna Work Of The Night:

Michael Conley — 24 points, 8 assists, 2 boards, 1 steal

Very nice output from Conley, but Memphis will not win that way.  Oklahoma City clogged up the paint very well last night, turning Memphis into a mostly jump-shooting team.  To his credit, Conley (as well as Sam Young and O.J. Mayo) stepped up admirably, hitting a lot of key shots.  These guys kept the Grizz in the game long after most teams would have packed it up and headed home for Game 3.  These guys have that dog in ‘em.  But Z-Bo has to, um, Z-bound from this lackluster effort and get back in that paint.  He settled for jumpers early and often.  You talk trash, you gotta back it up.

Mike Bibby having his giant cross tattoo removed?  We need the inside scoop.  Is he starting an acting career?  Is he replacing it with something bigger and better?  What’s the deal?…  Chris Paul courtside at the Heat game.  Let the rumors begin!  Oh, not about where he wants to play, but what was up with his eyes?  He had the hat pulled low, with a really strange look on his face… If you didn’t notice, Russell Westbrook drives is crazy.  Laughing after he blew that wide open dunk did not help things… We see you, Darrell Arthur.  Serge Ibaka left his table just in time though, to avoid his breakfast… Wow, so Kevin Garnett is the healthiest of the Celtics right now?…

Line Of The Night — 05/02/2011

May 3rd, 2011

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Andre 3 Stacks told us back in 1995 that “the South got something to say”.  That sure rang true as the 2nd Round began.  The Dirty Dirty South was definitely in the building with Memphis and Atlanta pulling off their surprising Game 1 upsets over Oklahoma City and Chicago, respectively.  Dallas and Miami are more South by geography than culture, but they held up their end of the bargain.  We’ll see if the South keeps talking.

Line Of The Night:

Joe Johnson — 34 points, 4 boards, 3 assists, 3 steals

Jamal Crawford — 22 points, 3 assists, 1 board, 1 steal, 1 block

Last night Chuck said he wished he could put Jamal Crawford’s brain in Joe Johnson’s body.  While we appreciate Barkley’s ruminations on brain-swapping — on of our favorite pasttimes — if they play like they did last night, they are the perfect fire & ice combo.  In fact, they meet one of Barkley’s other favorite scenarios.  To win a championship, he claims, you must have “That Dude” (Johnson) and a “Crazy Guy” (J-Creezy).

No doubt, Johnson was at the top of his game last night, with the perfect combination of efficiency and assertiveness.  While Creezy’s crazy is there every night, this type of game is not always what the Hawks get from Johnson.  OutKast went on to be one of the greatest Hip-Hop groups of all-time after Andre’s statement.  Only last night’s version of Joe Johnson can lead the Hawks to a similar post statement impact.

Worst Of The Night:

The Los Angeles Lakers blowing a 16-point 3rd quarter lead.

How did that happen?  Other than Dallas’ end of half mental gaffes, the Lakers seemed to be dominating on their own accord.  They seemed to be maximizing every offensive advantage their unique lineup provided.  They made Dallas look like Dirk and a bunch of mismatched one-way players.  Dallas lived on the perimeter, which is usually assured post-season death.  Then just like that, whether it be lost mental focus, or the genie going back in the bottle, the Lakers looked like a mess.  They were powerless to prevent the Mavs from slowly creeping back in.  With about 2:30 left, they had the ball, still up 3.  Their game, still, right?  But from then on, it was a string of bad possessions (other than Kobe’s final shot), largely due to some tremendous Dallas defense.  Mix in a couple breaks that went Dallas’ way, as well as some crazy shots from Dirk, and the Lakers found themselves in a familiar 0-1 deficit.

And is it a coincidence that Kobe’s two highest shot games this post-season have been the two Lakers Game 1 losses?  He looked outstanding in the 1st quarter, as he looked to but his imprint on the game and series, but as game clock wound, he maybe should have followed that 1st quarter output up with at least 1 assist.  Might have been the difference in this nailbiter.

Big Dirk Like Whut Of The Night:

Dirk Nowitzki — 28 points, 14 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block

He played damn near flawless.  We could have done without that “fake tough guy” chicken wing he threw towards Artest, and there was one play in which he tried to finish at the rim in a hopelessly soft manner, but we cannot hate on his output.  Redirkulous.

Coach Of The Year Of The Night:

Tom Thibodeau received his Coach Of The Year award before the game last night.  After falling behind to the Hawks 0-1, he has to prove his worthiness all over again.  Larry Drew was like Hakeem Olajuwon after David Robinson won the 1995 MVP.  Drew was Dream Shakin’ on the chalkboard and dropping 50 in the huddle.  Now who’s coach of the year, Tom!

The Bulls did show one strategy change late in the game — trapping the ball as crossed halfcourt — that did prove at least bothersome to the Hawks.  All the coaching in the world won’t make Korver quicker than Teague, anyone capable of stopping some of those Johnson and Creezy shots, or heal Derrick Rose’s re-sprained ankle, but the Bulls have to come up with something better on offense.

Al Horford on the Hawks, Joakim Noah on the Bulls, Corey Brewer on the Mavs, and Taurean Green on the ???  Seems like some team out there fishing right now missed an auto-pass to the 2nd Round by not handing out a minimum contract to the fourth Gator… The Kings are back in Sacramento for at least one more year…

Line Of The Night — 04/29/2011

April 30th, 2011

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Line Of The Night:

Zach Randolph — 31 points, 11 zbounds, 2 assists, 1 steal

That is how you close out a series!  Despite being blanketed by Antonio McDyess in the 4th quarter, Z-Bo hit difficult shot, after difficult shot, after impossible shot to finish off the Spurs, completing only the fourth 8th seed first round victory in NBA history.  They outplayed the Spurs the entire series, but you have to wonder — or even obsess, if your name is Manu Ginobili — what might have happened if the Spurs best player had not missed Game 1.  That is no discredit to the Grizz though, as they earned every single win.

Worst Of The Night:

Richard Jefferson — 6.5 points, 4.2 boards, .8 assists, .5 blocks, .5 steals

So much for this year’s “revitalized” Jefferson.  After playing well in the first 2 games, RJ completely fell off the map, thoroughly out-played by Memphis’ Sam Young.  Jefferson is due about $30 million over the next 3 years… any takers?  He is perhaps the biggest question mark on the existing roster of a Spurs that is sure to be active this offseason.  They will still be poised to make regular season noise next year, but they need some young height in that frontcourt to be a postseason factor going forward.

MEM vs. OKC Of The Night:

By the time you read this, it will be less than 24 hours until Memphis has to get right back at it.  No time for celebration on Beale street for the giant slayers.  They will face a very different challenge in the 2nd round.  Can Tony Allen have the same defense impact against Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook that he had against Manu Ginobili?  If Allen is charged with Durant, will Westbrook eviscerate Mike Conley like Tony Parker started to do towards the end of their series?  Will Z-Bo have the same offensive impact matched against the Kendrick Perkins/Serge Ibaka frontcourt?  If he does not, we are not sure the Grizz have a plan B.  We see the Thunder taking this one in as little as 5, as they vie to complete the changing of the guard in the West.

DAL vs. LAL Of The Night:

It is somewhat shocking that Dirk’s Mavs have never met Kobe’s Lakers in the Playoffs.  Chalk that up to Lakers’ lull several years ago and Dallas’ choke jobs the past few years.  Dallas looked better than people expected in the first round, while the Lakers looked a little worse.  This is a “prove it” series for the Mavs, and a “ya’ll better have won that one” for the Lakers.  The Mavs have the size to at least battle the Lakers bigs, so this one might come down to the strictly star power — Dirk vs. Kobe.  The Lakers have Lamar Odom to at least give Dirk trouble, but do the Mavs have any one to do the same against Kobe?  Looks like (hopefully) a 7 gamer.  Until we see actual evidence to the contrary, we have to begrudgingly pick the Lake Show.  AARP watch:  Jason Kidd vs. Derek Fisher.

ATL vs. CHI Of The Night:

People are saying the Bulls D will give the Hawks fits, but the Hawks LOVE terrible shots… so does defense matter?  They definitely have more offensive firepower than the Pacers and we saw how much of a battle that series was.  The Hawks have been literally hamstrung by starting point guard Kirk Hinrich’s injury, who will miss the series.  Big blow.  Since they drafted Marvin Williams ahead of Chris Paul, do they reserve the right to make that trade for the next round?  On the other side, it looks like Carlos Boozer will be suiting up in Game 1 despite an injured toe.  We think the Hawks will surprise people by pushing this one 7, but that Derrick Rose and the Bulls eventually pull it out.  Gator stomp watch:  Al Horford vs. Joakim Noah.

BOS vs. MIA Of The Night:

Awwwwww, sookie socky.  We have been waiting all season for this one.  De facto Eastern Conference Finals?  We think so.  Not much to be said about this one that will not be covered ad nauseam, other than WATCH.  AND ENJOY.  Heat in 7.  Guard changed.  Get Boshty with it.  Castoffs watch:  Jermaine O’Neal, Shaquille O’Neal (maybe) and Carlos Arroyo vs. Eddie House…

Argh, Shane Battier takes down Danny Green, and with Denver going out, the Carolina influence has been hamstrung.  They are left with Marvin Williams, Brendan Haywood and Mitch Kupchak if you want to dig deep, vs. Battier and Boozer… Antonio McDyess had a very long and solid career in which he had to remake himself following atheleticism-robbing knee and leg injuries.  No doubt the Spurs would love to have his consistent jumper and expert post D back, but if that was your last game Antonio, we wish you well… Unless there is behind-the-scenes stuff we don’t know, it only makes sense to us for the Pacers to bring back both Larry Bird and Frank Vogel…

Line Of The Night — 04/28/2011

April 29th, 2011

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As seen on SLAMOnline:

The madness is officially over.  It’s all double-headers, single games, or [gasp] nights off from here on out.  After the trailing teams went 0-3 in for Game 7’s last night, the Spurs are the last hope for one in the first round.  Second round is when we start to realize the realism of life and actuality, though.  Word to AZ.  So fasten your seat belts.  Word to Ralph Lawler.

Line Of The Night:

Dirk Nowitzki — 33 points, 11 boards, 4 assists, 1 block

Big.  Dirk.  Like.  Whut.  Chris Johnson hit him with a shot to the head and lit a fire under Dirk.  He was the Dirk we’d like to see more often in the Mavs closeout game.  Fiery.  On fire.  Virtually unstoppable.  But is it going to have to take a bump to the head to get him going like this against the Lakers?  At least he’ll have Ron Artest around to potentially provide such a blow.  It was a true team effort to close this one out though, as Dirk, Jet, Kidd, Shawn Marion and J.J. Barea all had key baskets in the clutch.  Oh, and Tyson Chandler on D against LaMarcus Aldridge.

Worst Of The Night AKA Near Triple-Double Of The Night:

Chris Paul — 11 assists, 10 points, 8 boards, 2 steals

Wow, did we just write that?  Probably a first in L.O.N. history to have these two categories coincide.  Paul would tell you himself it was not his best effort.  Hard to say exactly what happened, but it seemed like he — and his teammates — did not show the expected desperation until way late.  The Lakers even game them a little opening to start the game, as they came out lethargic as well.  Tough pill to swallow for CP3, but you cannot fault him much, given his amazing effort throughout the rest of the series.

Strategery Of The Night:

Kobe Bryant — 24 points, 3 steals, 2 assists, 1 rebound

The stats are whatever, but what we noticed was how good a job he did bringing up the ball quickly and getting it to the big men early before the Hornets’ D was setup.  And credit to Bynum and Gasol for getting down the floor and establishing position at an equal pace.  That strategy killed the Hornets all night long.

Don’t Blame Him Of The Night:

Dwight Howard — 25 points, 15 boards, 3 blocks, 2 assists, 1 steal

Beastly all series.  Perhaps his greatest playoff series off his career, individually.  But like Chuck says, you don’t live by the 3, you die by the 3.  Save for Game 5, the Magic could not hit the shot they launch in bushels, and it was their downfall. The Magic face a tough situation heading into this offseason.  With expensive guys like Jameer and Gilbert Areneas duplicating roles, will management blow it up again?  And do they even have movable pieces to do something like that?  Big, big offseason for this squad.

Blame Him Of The Night:

LaMarcus Aldridge — 24 points, 10 boards

Your best player has to be your best player.  Aldridge’s production stayed roughly the same — even went down a little — in the postseason.  It’s gotta go up.  Much was made during the regular season, especially regarding All-Star selections, of Aldridge raising his game following Brandon Roy’s injuries.  He wasn’t ready to take that next step this year, at least not with Tyson Chandler hounding him.

Whew, Tyson Chandler saw the waitress coming with his breakfast, but got out of his booth just in time… Maybe in person it was a good look, but from afar, on tv, it looked like Monty purely put on the wrong suitcoat.  He sorta looked like the beach — ocean on the bottom, sand up top.  God was willing, but the creek didn’t rise… Josh Smith is a debacle, albeit an entertaining debacle… Individually, this series goes to Ariza over Artest, right?  It still seems like the Lakers should have picked him… Larry Drew and Stan Van Gundy thought there was one more competition in the series — who could talk more in the post-game presser… Chalk one up for Carolina over Duke.  Marvin Williams > J.J. Redick…  WE DID IT CREEZY!!!!!

Line Of The Night — 04/26/2011

April 27th, 2011

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It took eleven nights, but we finally had a “bad” night of the Playoffs.  Three games, three blowouts.  Enough drama unfolded to keep things interesting, though.

Line Of The Night:

Derrick Rose — 25 points, 6 assists, 2 boards, 2 steals, 2 blocks

M-V-P!  M-V-P!  M-V-P!  It wasn’t the ankle injury from the previous game that slowed down Rose and the Bulls in this one, it was foul trouble.  Rose went out early in the 3rd with his 4th foul, and Indiana started to get it in.  Tom Thibodeau quickly put his entire offense back in the game, and it was on.  Donkey Kong.  Derrick Rose assist.  Derrick Rose three.  DERRICK ROSE BLOCK!!!!  Derrick Rose three.  Derrick Rose foul shot.  Derrick Rose three.  Game time.  Series over.  On to the next.

Worst Of The Night:

Darren Collison — 7 points, 5 assists, 3 boards

Collison started off this series balling, needing no time to get acclimated to these Playoffs.  It was almost enough to lead his team to a Game 1 upset.  Almost.  He looked to continue this breakout performance in Game 2, but was injured after falling on a camerman under the basket.  He was never the same.  Maybe it was the injury, maybe the defensive-minded Bulls figured out an anti-Collison elixir, but either way, the rest of the series he was a shadow of the guy that was everywhere for the Pacers in Game 1.

Contraction Club Of The Night:

Atlanta Hawks, 76 points vs. Orlando Magic

Guess they really wanted to close this thing out at home, instead of on the road.  But guess what?  There are no guarantees, and you just let a team that bombs 3’s get loose from outside and you gave Dwight Howard a virtual night off.  Momentum just swung hard in Orlando’s direction.

Eat Your Breakfast Of The Night:

Wah, wah, wah.  I’m Kobe Bryant and my ankle hurts.  Wah, wah, wah.  Not really, but I desperately need the attention.  Wah, wah, wah.  Eat your breakfast, Emeka.  Wah, wah, wah.  Plays like that alone would get me the attention, but I need more.  Wah, wah, wah.

NBA-Tinged Lyrics Of The Night:

“But I’m Bynum and Gasol, this is all my lane/Your little Calderon raps too small to hang”, Shad, “Give You All I Can”

Switch Calderon with Okafor, and you have a literal description of what went down last night.  The Lakers dominated the offensive boards and second chance points, which they really should do every game against this Hornets squad.  As usual, a motivated Lakers team is a winning Lakers team.

Playoff Beards Of The Night:

What is going on Orlando?  Are they the first group to grow groomed Playoff beards?  Are they not united on the movement?  Is it purely a coincidence and it is simply a bunch of guys with facial hair?  Is it all a big prank on J.J. Redick and Earl Clark?  The people want answers.

Objection, your honor!  Please disallow Exhibit A.  Sustained!… Think the Spurs are hoping for an Orlando-like performance in Game 5?  They have similar role players that have not done much, that would love to get rolling… Malik Allen alert… It pains us to say it, and hopefully this is buried well enough that no one actually reads it, but we love Dahntay Jones’ mentality and wish more guys played the game like him… No doubt the Bulls are seriously considering keeping Joakim Noah’s grandfather on-call to show up for important games.  Noah had next level energy last night… Looks like we can all agree that, while a very, very good player, Danny Granger is officially not an “impose my will” guy… The Bulls series victory over the Pacers means one thing:  The Jersey Neckline Gods have ruled:  classic beats that wishbone garbage… QUEENSBRIDGE!!!!  Ron Artest won the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for his work raising awareness of mental health issues.  Representing lovely… Carlos Boozer injured his toe during last night’s game.  It is unknown if it will cost him any time… FREE T.J. FORD!!!

Line Of The Night 04/23-04/24/2011

April 25th, 2011

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As seen on SLAMOnline:

Line Of The Night:

Chris Paul — 27 points, 15 assists, 13 boards, 2 steals

This was the output we thought we were gonna get in Game 3.  Maybe it was “returning home” hangover or the Lakers’ focus, but Paul couldn’t put on his closer cape in that one, because the game was pretty much out of reach.  Game 4 was a different story.  Donning a GaGa-esque black bandage on his eye, the Hornets went back to a pick-and-roll emphasis, and we once again reveled in Heaven:  CP3 dancing and destroying whatever Lakers big man covered him following the pick-and-roll switch.  Oh so lovely.

Worst Of The Night:

Illadelph 76ers 86, Miami Heat 82 — Ya’ll let one get a way yesterday, Miami.  Not only was your season-long crunch time weakness once again exposed, but your 2nd round opponent, the Celtics, take care of business.  Ya’ll needed to keep the pressure on them, getting them back on the court ASAP.  Now you give the playoff team that probably values rest the most, a little more of that, as well as additional preparation time and maybe even enough time to get Shaq back in the picture.  Round 2 might be the virtual Eastern Conference Finals and maybe even the NBA Finals.  Ya’ll let one slip.

Worst Of The Night Part II:

The New York Knicks 1st Round performance.  We are not fully blaming them — the injuries were certainly out of there control — but overall, having the Knicks back in the Playoffs wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  They were swept, and even Melo’s inspired Game 2 performance was overshadowed by the team’s comedy of errors down the stretch.  The crowd was even underwhelming in Game 4.  Ya’ll gotta will them out of that shotting funk, Garden!  If you are looking for a silver lining, at least they were the first playoff team featured in Inside The NBA’s “Gone Fishin’” segment!

Hollywood Ending Of The Night:

Brandon Roy — 24 points, 5 assists, 4 boards

The scene was so beautiful.  Fans going crazy.  The former superstar turned soul-searching injured bench warmer all of a sudden once again finding his stride.  He did not find it during practice following a standard rehab schedule.  He did not find it a few games into his return, after shaking off the rust.  He found it while swirling in maelstrom of desperation.  Individual desperation and team desperation was in full effect.  In the weeks, even days, even hours, prior, it looked like Roy had lost his game.  Lost his aura.  Another name on the too long list of stars failed by their bodies.  Meanwhile his team, the bandwagon pick to pull off a first round upset, was about as close as you can get to falling behind 3-1 with a trip back to the other team’s gym on the horizon.  Then he found it.  He probably could not explain it if he tried, but there it was.  The superstar game was back, resulting in 18 4th quarter points, a frenzied crowd, a Portland win and a tied series.  This may have been a one night experience, but if you can close your eyes and let the credits roll, it is an unforgettable Playoff snapshot.

Jamal Crawford — A Love Affair Of The Night:

It was a cold Ann Arbor winter night.  Or maybe a Sunday afternoon.  Kevin Gaines, Josh Asselin and maybe even Peter Vignier had kept it close, but they needed a little help from this tall, hockey stick-thin kid with wide eyes and ever wider range.  This guy not only lit you up with this crossover and J, but with his teenage smile.  On a team overrun with talent mediocrity and coaching ineptitude, he stood out like the rose that grew from concrete.  His name?  Jamal Crawford.  He came from overcast, rainy Seattle to overcast, snowy Ann Arbor with only a headband and a dream. He left with at least the eternal love of one fan, incepting memories that cannot be erased.

That day (or was it night?), he hit a game-winner.  He probably crossed up some poor Big 10 defender en route.  He definitely celebrated euphorically as ran to the opposite end of the court, hands in the air.  Maybe he hit a few more game-winners.  Maybe it just seems like that, but if you were there that night (or was it day?), a love affair was born.

He was gone too soon for us, probably too late for him.  The students that showed him love represented a university that was sinking into a pit of basketball rubble that would take years to excavate.  But if you were there, you did not forget.  You carried him with you.  The masses may have viewed him as a mere distraction to the 11-man and 6-man teams deemed more important on campus, but sitting right there in the 5th row, only feet away from the magic he created, you knew the truth.  From thousands of miles away, even when it appeared on the surface that maybe he had become lost in the abyss of lottery-bound NBA basketball, you knew the spark could not be completely extinguished.

That’s why we scream out J-Creezy, randomly, for no apparent reason.  That’s why after hitting a Playoff game-winner Friday night, and leading the Hawks in scoring for another Playoff win Sunday shouts of “CRIZZLES!” rang throughout the L.O.N. offices.  That’s why you can’t judge basketball by a boxscore alone, and why no two fans have quite the same opinion of any given player.  Basketball is an art.  A lot of guys have scored 25 this season.  Several have hit game-winners.  But none did it quite the same way J-Creezy did.

Explain It All Away Of The Night AKA (Valid?) Excuses Spurs Makes Of The Night:

Game 1 — One excuse, and one excuse only:   Manu was hurt.  Bottomline.

Game 3 — A Zach Randolph 3?  Darrell Who?  Marc Gasol shooting from where?  The Spurs missed a quadrillion open shots, were uncharacteristically careless with the ball (um, that means you, Tony Parker), failed to even get a potential game-tying shot off on the final possession, and generally played with their head in a fog all night.  All that said, the Grizz barely pulled it off.  We got this.

Sounds reasonable.  It has been one bad bounce after another for them, but at some point, the other team gets credit.  Game 4 will go a long way to show us which way the scale will tip.

Fab 5ism Of The Night:

Chris Webber speaking on Phil Jackson’s post-game comments:  “When I think of punk, I think of tall people letting little people do stuff to ‘em”

Real.  Talk.  The Lakers generally have a height advantage at every position against the Hornets.  It is pretty sick and very frustrating.  It almost seems unfair, but then they manage to lose the game.  Height ain’t heart, we guess.

Did the League rig the Pacers into the Playoffs to add a little hot sauce in the form of drama, to the first round?  Good lord they tried to give away that victory too… Usually championship teams don’t really have holes in their starting lineups.  The prosecution presents to you Exhibit A:  Keith Bogans… Has Ariza’s 3-point game regressed?… Same ol’ Nuggets… But, J.R. — we feel ya.  THAT WAS A FOUL!!!… Exhibit B:  Zydrunas Ilgauskas?… For the positive spin read above, but on the reals, that was a Dallas choke.  Or should we say, another Dallas choke.  We praised Dirk just a few days ago, but c’mon man.  Get it done… We love that each member of the C’s Big 4 lead the team in scoring in one of their games against the Knicks… Exhibit C:  Mike Bibby?… Gilbert tried to get on his Brandon Roy grind, but Stan Van ruined the final scene.  Give Gil the ball for the tie!… Emeka Okafor has not quite mastered that “Throw The Ball As Hard As I Can Against The Backboard” shot… We can see Hornets fans pulling out their Willie Green (missed a key free throw and decided to go for the score instead of running clock, in the crunch time) and Marco Belinelli (really, stop shooting) Voodoo dolls now… That Eastern Conference #1 seed is looking more advantageous by the day.  Is anybody threatened by either the Hawks or the Magic?…


Line Of The Night — 04/21/2011

April 22nd, 2011

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Line Of The Night AKA Near Trible-Double Of The Night:

Dwyane Wade — 32 points, 10 boards, 8 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal

And it seemed so easy.  The scary aspect of these Heat, is it does not seemed they have kicked it into overdrive yet (assuming they have that gear).  There are sorta cruising by the Sixers, just taking care of business.  In a very quiet way, they are perhaps the most impressive team of the Playoffs, thus far.

Not As Bad As You Think Of The Night:

Derrick Rose — 4-18 from the field

Rose was frustrated early.  Maybe even a little rattled.  But he battled, then battled, then re-upped on the battle.  He managed 23 points by going to the line 15 times and despite his very difficult time from the field, drove to the basket and hit the go ahead basket in the waning seconds.  However, while his offensive doggedness was oh so necessary for the win, the story of this game was the Bulls’ defense, especially in the paint.  Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough both shot 3-12, unable to finish inside.  Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones were the only Pacer with significant shots that hit 50%, they only hit 4 and 5 shots, respectively.  Then on the final possession, the Pacers were kept in a jail cell outside the 3-point line.  The defense is the backbone.

NBA-Tinged Lyrics Of The Night:

“Let the world listen, if a hater’s caught slippin’/Then my niggas stay tight, got my back like Pippen”

Need to wind down from the intensity of the Playoffs?  Vibe out to new R&B cat The Weeknd’s free mixtape, House Of Balloons.

Smile For Me Of The Night:

Brandon Roy — 16 points, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 board

That is all you could do while witnessing Roy’s impressive effort last night.  After barely playing and having even less of an impact in Game 2, Roy showed glimpses of his former self in Game 3, and it helped get Portland back in the series.  After all his injury struggles and fall from the top, it was good to see him ball out a little bit.  In the first half Wes Matthews was on fire, and in the 2nd half it was Roy, but the Blazers may be a little to jumpshot dependent to win this thing.

We Are Impressed Of The Night:

While we are admittedly not the biggest Dirk Nowitzki fans here at L.O.N., we were taken aback and very impressed when we found during last night’s broadcast that Dirk is one of only 4 players all-time to average at least 25 points and 10 boards in their playoff careers.  The rest of the list:  Bob Pettit, Elgin Baylor and Hakeem Olajuwon.  Daaaaamn, homey!  That is legit.  Even more surprising than seeing his name on that list, is seeing the short length of the list.  There are a lot of other guys you might think would be on there.  Wilt?  Shaq?  Barkley?  Nah.

Paul George seemed way more aggressive back at home, although his shot was still not falling.  If he had finished that one dunk attempt though, wow… About time Dahntay Jones got some minutes.  He seems like the perfect irritant to serve up to Rose for a few minutes every game.  And he even made some noise on offense… In the past few years the NBA has seemed too sensitive with the flagrants, but it looks like they have lightened up a bit.  A couple could have been called last night that were not… It was a bad night to be a former Pistons coach, apparently… Love those Portland fans.  Anybody that loves NBA basketball that much is alright with us… Kevin Love wins Most Improved award, which means it should be renamed the “Player Whose Minutes Increased” Award…

Line Of The Night — 04/19/2011

April 20th, 2011

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As seen on SLAMOnline:

Line Of The Night:

Carmelo Anthony — 42 points, 17 boards, 6 assists, 2 blocks

Spectacular.  With Chauncey out from the start, and Amar’e knocked out midway through with back spasms, it was an all-time performance, but… the Knicks still lost.  Doc Rivers smartly doubled the ish out of him in the final few minutes, and we were all shown that “point forward” is not an accurate descriptor of Jared Jeffries.  You think Melo looked around at any point and thought, “Wait… I thought I rejected the trade to the Nets?”?

Honorable Mention Of The Night:

Rajon Rondo — 30 points, 7 assists, 4 boards, 2 steals

We could not give him the L.O.N.nie because, well, he BETTER score 30 when given that many wide open lanes to the basket!  After he picked up an early foul, Toney Douglas did not even try to guard Rondo in transition, but what was worse, was the lack of help.  With Billups sidelined Douglas was probably making the smart play, in an effort to remain on the floor, but the 4 other guys out there need to be aware of the situation too.  But then what in the world was that play where it looked like he intentionally fouled Rondo close to halfcourt?  Bizarre.

Worst Of The Night:

Bill Walker — 2 points on 0-11 shooting

Ouch.  And he got a dumb technical, giving the C’s a free point which proved fairly important at the end of the game.  This was the Knicks downfall in a nutshell — the side cats did not come through.

Near Beast Of The Night:

Dwight Howard — 33 points, 19 boards, 2 steals, 1 block in 48 minutes

That’s EVERY minute in case you didn’t know.  Another dominating performance from the guy who received the L.O.N. M.V.P. vote.  They almost blew this one, though, despite a seemingly uninspired (except for J-Creezy) effort from the Hawks.  Seriously — Josh Smith and Joe Johnson — the Playoffs started a few days ago.  Ya’ll are invited to participate.  Special note to Josh — you are allowed to drive to the basket and utilize your insane physical gifts.

Sixth Man Of The Night:

Peja Stojakovic — 21 points, 5 boards, 1 steal

This role is filled by different guy every night from a seeming cast of thousands in Dallas.  Sometimes guys like this falter on the road, though, at least that’s what the Blazers are telling themselves.  Also, given the fact that Peja is a virtual statue at this point, why isn’t someone in his pocket out there?

RAY.  ALLEN’S.  MOM.  Fan.  Bedazzler.  Stander.  Clapper.  Marathon Runner.  STAR…  Dirk’s Dad?  Not so much… Our congrats go to Lamar Odom — the official player of L.O.N. — for his Sixth Man Of The Year award.  L.O.N. fo’ life… The Andy and Landry Shooooowww, duh, doom, doom… Love, love, love the successful K.G. post move in the clutch… Maybe the Hawks should have shot strictly from 30+ feet the whole night.  J-Creezy and Joe Johnson got it done from out there…  Are those playoff beards in Orlando?  But Dwight is only giving us the goatee?… Orlando is part of the “Unnecessary 3-Man Booth” Club.  Pat Garrity sounds very similar to Matt Goukas (who’s a pro), and adds basically nothing interesting to the conversation…