Life as it happens. Time as it passes.

Posts tagged “NBA

Spurs Prove They Still Belong

The San Antonio Spurs are now up 2-0 after trampling the much-talked-about LA Clippers, 115-90.

Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 24 points, with a 5-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Richard Jefferson proved his doubters wrong and scored 19 with 3-for-4 from three point territory. DeJuan Blair, who had the unenviable task of guarding dunking phenom Blake Griffin, scored 20.

It was an impressive outing for the Spurs, despite the low output of their star player Tim Duncan, who only scored 10 points. Duncan, however, took command of the boards for the Spurs with 9. Point guard Tony Parker chipped in 14 for the team, but dropped 9 dimes out of San Antonio’s 27 assists.

The Clips’ new star Chris Paul was limited to only 3-10 field goal shooting, finishing the game with just 10 points and 9 assists. Blake Griffin led all scorers with 28 points and 9 boards. DeAndre Jordan was the only starter who was not in double digit scores with 8.

This has been relatively a good outing for the Spurs as they shot 52% from the field and a perfect 15-for-15 in the free throw line. The Clippers had a miserable 39% shooting percentage, and was out rebounded by the defensive side of San Antonio, whose big men were relatively shorter than either Griffin or Jordan.

The win gave the Spurs the continuous winning streak over the Clippers at the AT&T Center with 17 wins since January of 2002. The Spurs last won the first two games of the season in 2008.

The Spurs will hit the road for their game against Houston tomorrow, while Chicago will be visiting Los Angeles on Saturday, PST.


Duncan’s Last Dance?

When the San Antonio Spurs selected Tim Duncan in 1997, basketball life in the Alamo had changed forever. His tandem with David Robinson, brought the Spurs its first ever NBA title. And when the Admiral retired, Duncan carried on the winning legacy, along with the back court tandem of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, and the Spurs earned three more championships in alternating seasons. For his own fair share of glory, Timmy was the Rookie of the year, won the MVP award back to back in 2002 and 2003, was three-time finals MVP. As an all-star, he has had 13 appearances. And as the “Big Fundamental” of the Spurs, Duncan helped lead the franchise with the longest streak of playoff appearances since he came over more than a decade ago.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end.

Duncan is now in the last year of his contract with the Spurs. And at 35, Duncan is “old” compared to the guys running up and down the court these days. The team has never added much of a younger line-up in their starters nor in their bench, with the exception of rookie Kawhi Leonard, who was the second highest pick of San Antonio next to Duncan. The combined age of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili is 98, more than thrice the combined age of some of NBA’s franchise trios.

It won’t be long before the curtains finally come down on these three.

Last year would have been the best shot for San Antonio for a championship. With a 61-21 record last season, the Spurs posted their second best regular season record on wins and losses. However, they were sent fishing early by the 8-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, laden with a much younger roster of players. The exit from contention last season was taken by many as the clearest and most latest indication that, indeed, the glory days of the Spurs are about to end.

The same can be said about Duncan as well.

But the fact that he’s returning for one final season clearly means one thing–Tim Duncan should never be written off just yet.

They just earned their first win on opening night against the very same Grizzlies they fought plus Rudy Gay. And their mettle will be further tested when they face off with the new-and-improved LA Clippers. With all the hype surrounding the Clippers, it seems the Spurs are in for a tough night when Blake Griffin’s squad visit them tomorrow.

But like any competitor who loves the challenge, Duncan can probably be heard saying “Bring it on!”

We may never know what Duncan has yet in store for us, if indeed he is about to wrap up his colorful career with the final 66 games of his NBA life.

One thing’s for sure–Tim Duncan’s games must never be missed this year.

The Champs Are Ailing: Dallas and Lakers Suffer Two Opening Losses

You’re probably right: it’s way too early to judge the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers for losing their first two assignments of the season.

But we’re not judging. We’re just saying… it’s too early for the Mavs and the Lakers to be losing this way.

Just when the Mavericks were fresh off the celebrations they had when they opened the season, the incurred their second straight loss in as many games. This time, the whipping got worse, as the Denver Nuggets beat them by 22, twice that of Miami’s win over them. Just when having Lamar Odom and Vince Carter was about to become the Mavs’ big jackpot, it is fast turning into a nightmarish decision of sorts for the defending champs.

As for the L.A. Lakers, the rumors about their decline are growing. And while Kobe Bryant’s swagger and skills have yet to be proven outdated, his shot at winning another championship ring is getting dimmer and dimmer, courtesy of guys like Derrick Rose, whose game-winning floater cost LA’s opening night win, or perhaps Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans, two of Sacramento’s young guns who helped propel the Kings over the Lakers with a 100-91 win. Not to mention the cannot-be-ignored aging of Derek Fisher, and the new-and-yet-to-prove-himself Mike Brown as the Lakers’new coach. How much tougher can you get?

But of course, as I said, it’s way too early.

What we’re just saying here is that this is no way to start your campaign for a return to the NBA’s mount Olympus. Maybe the losses of Dallas to Miami and LA to Chicago were bearable. But for the Lakers to lose to Sacramento? Dallas to Denver?

Has pigs started flying already?

But again, we’re not judging.

Just saying.

On Paper: Clippers Hit Jackpot With Landing CP3

Chris Paul is set to help the LA Clippers contend for the playoffs this season

All of a sudden, the NBA’s perennial whipping boys for the last three decades are set to remake their image into contenders, as the LA Clippers landed a deal with the league-owned New Orleans Hornets, acquiring 4-time NBA All Star Chris Paul.

A few weeks ago, it seemed Paul was headed to the other LA Team–the Lakers–which would have pushed a deal between the Hornets and the Houston Rockets. That is, until NBA Commissioner David Stern stepped in and killed the trade for “basketball reasons.” The Clippers joined in the trading fray after the three-team deal collapsed. The Clippers sent guard Eric Gordon, big man Chris Kaman and his soon-to-expire $12.7-million contract to the Hornets, along with sophomore forward Al-Farouq Aminu and the 2012 unprotected first-round draft pick the Clippers acquired from the also-rebuilding Minnesota Timberwolves in 2005.

The Lakers, obviously, are utterly upset with the turn of events. Just recently, the Lakers let lose Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks, and may lose the chance to acquire Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic. The pressure adds up especially if you see that the team sharing the Staples Center with your team has transformed from all-time cellar-dweller to playoff contender. And, did I mention the Lakers have a new coach?

On paper, the Clips have all the reason to smile with the acquisition they’ve had in the past weeks. But to reach the playoffs–or at least to finally bolt out of the bottom of the standings–have yet to be seen when the season tips off on the 25th. And so the proverbial “wait and see.”

Nonetheless, the excitement and enthusiasm of seeing Paul wearing a jersey that looks like that of Griffin is something to be really joyous about. Brace yourselves for a lot of nifty passes and high-flying dunks as the Clippers flaunt their new line-up when the season kicks off soon.

On Paper: The Mavs and the New Pieces of Their Puzzle

Getting that elusive championship even just once is good enough for any franchise in the NBA.

The Dallas Mavericks beg to disagree

As of this writing, I am watching an NBA TV interview with Vince Carter, who’s already wearing jersey no. 25 for the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. A couple of days back, we saw Lamar Odom donning the Mavericks’ uniform as well. All these movements tell you that the Mavs are not stopping at just one championship banner being holstered up their rafters. They want one more.

And if not them, for sure Mark Cuban wants one more.

While some see these movements as the Dallas owner’s uncanny way of clearing enough cap space for next year’s free agency, acquiring Carter and Odom, two veterans who’ve done their fair share in lifting their previous teams to higher levels of playing, was also a smart move as far as keeping their championship repeat hopes alive. Losing Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea was something that seemed inevitable, thus the imperative of plugging the holes they have left. For the Dallas squad to maneuver their way through the free agency traffic, landing these two players into their team, is something to give careful consideration, especially for those teams who are sketching their own paths to snatching the crown away from the Mavs.

And do not, even for a single second, be tempted to check Carter’s or Odom’s age. They maybe thirtysomethings, but they’ll just fit well into the system that Dallas coach Rick Carlisle has set up in the last four seasons. Just look at the reunion of Jason Kidd and Carter, whose duo was one among many highlighted tandems, especially during their run with the Nets. Kidd, after three trips to the Finals, finally got his championship last year. Hopefully, him getting together with VC will give Air Canada his first championship as well.

As for Odom, remember he’s the reigning sixth man. To have him along with Jason Terry as first options off the bench gives Dallas a formidable force. With Barea already out of the circulation, Terry will get more playing minutes in the guard spot, while Odom will most likely be the shooting end of the plays that either of the two Jasons will be setting up. Odom’s got two championship belts under him as well, giving him the experience leverage. If Odom were to teach a basketball class, his subject would be “How To Win Back-to-Back.”

But Vince Carter himself declared the ultimate disclaimer of them all, when he said “on paper, we’re a very capable team. But the ultimate goal is to win it all.” Carter hit the nail on the head. If Dallas wants to win another trophy, they’ll have to maximize whatever remaining days are left for them to gel and get along before tip off on Christmas Day. Everything on paper must be translated on the court when they play ball. If all goes well, you might find Dallas playing in June.

Otherwise, Dallas’ chase for the crown will be nothing more than a drawn play on the whiteboard.

Just Before Tip Off: Some Takes On the NBA Free Agency

(First off, I would like to thank the 22 spammers who kept this blog busy and high in stats in the last 26 days I did not post a thing. Nonetheless, it goes without saying that that is the only good thing they’re worth. Other than that, they’re a nuisance deserving of the trash bin.)

Seventeen days just before the NBA 2012 season begins, we see a mad dash among teams racing in terms of offers just to land the jackpot free agent into their coup. Topping the list are two franchise players: Chris Paul, who has been the court general for the New Orleans Hornets, and Dwight Howard, the “Superman” of this generation of NBA players.

You can thank the newly approved CBA for the ongoing commotion you are seeing in the free agent market, which, in reality, did not differ much from the old one. Thus, expect another six years of imbalance in the playing field.

I say “imbalance” because the new rules in the CBA doesn’t really address the issues regarding the restrictions in free agency, as well as the swapping of draft picks. According to a columnist, cited by Sekou Smith in his NBA blog, had remarked that 15 of the top 25 players of the NBA are distributed only among 6 teams. That doesn’t spell N-I-C-E for teams whose marquee stars are being lured over to these teams where the player equal their caliber are suited for. The promise of a greater chance of winning a championship, and the prospect of getting higher pays in a franchise where the all-stars are playing, is fast becoming a trend. While the idea wasn’t frowned upon when it first incarnated in Boston in 2008 (Allen, Garnett and Pierce), the reputation of forging an all-star cast in a team’s starting five soon went south when LeBron James and Chris Bosh “took their talents to South Beach.” This year, we’re awaiting the final say of either Paul or Howard, who are being courted to become LA Lakers.

This is just insane.

Let’s look at this in a more practical way: would the NBA earn more by squeezing their star players among the powerful teams, leaving behind 24 other small market teams to scavenge of whatever’s left for them? I’m afraid not. I think if the NBA fairly distributed all the top players in their list among as many teams as possible, the patronage for the sport will spread across the states more than it would at the trend it is following now. The fairness in getting the best possible option of players, whether it be through the market or through draft night, is what I believe would be the best factor to be considered of the league would want the NBA to go on. Lest we forget, while the NBA is the most lucrative league when it comes to paying its players, staff, employees, and everyone else whose clothes has the Jerry West insignia on them, they’re only a far third in followship compared to baseball and American football.

If ever at all somebody in the NBA would chance upon this blog and read it, please hear this fan’s sentiment out: we would like to see the NBA as fair as it can possibly be to everyone, players, owners, employees and fans.

The Annoyance That Is The NBA Lockout

The harsh reality has finally bitten two days ago–the NBA did not open as expected last November 1 due to the ensuing lockout between the owners and the players.

That means one less sports feature in cable sports channels.

That means one less source for sports news writers.

As for me, that means one less source of motivation to keep on blogging.

The truth is, it always helps to have a story to write about, especially for those coming from a country whose people are largely followers of basketball. At this time of the year, college hoops here in the Philippines have long concluded, and the pro-level basketball games here don’t carry as much hype as those in the collegiate. It is for these and many more other reasons that the NBA is expected to be rolling during this time.

But for lack of amicable agreements between the owners and their players, opening night will have to wait. That means this season will forever have a footnote accompanying it, and everything else that will transpire in whatever stretch of games it can hold from the time the season finally gets to kick-off until June.

Still, this season’s lockout is not hopeless…yet. It still is a far cry from the last time a lockout occured in the NBA 13 years ago. But as each day comes and goes without any settlement being agreed upon, the more this lockout takes a semblance of its recent precedent, if not a full copy of it. Everybody is hoping that by Christmas, we’ll be hearing Spaldings dribbling on the hardwood, swishing through nets, and rolling across the full court.

From this humble blogger to every agitated but expectant fan of the NBA, we’re hoping for the best, and expecting the worst.

Mavs and Heat Meet Again In NBA Finals

That the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat are back to face each other in the NBA Finals isn’t exactly you would call officially a “rivalry.” Not even “destiny” could be used to describe their arrival at the grandest stage of world basketball. Amidst their various similarities with, and stark contrasts against each other, hardly anyone would buy the idea of fate in bringing together these two franchises back in the last leg of their quests for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Let’s just simply call it an “interesting match-up.”

In my opinion, it will take more than just them facing each other in this season’s Finals to officially dub their match-up as a destined rivalry. They only faced twice in the regular season, and Dallas won both games. But like any other analyst, the outcome of their regular season match-ups hardly have anything to do with how they will be squaring off in the Finals. Truth is, Dallas wasn’t really the  number one bet to take it all the way to the finals. When they entered the Playoffs, the dethroned Los Angeles Lakers were still expected to emerge out of the fray for a third shot at a championship just before Phil Jackson retires. But Dallas overcame their ghosts of playoffs past, and armed with their belief in their own selves, they vanquished the defending champs with a convincing sweep. Facing a younger team in Oklahoma City, Dallas proved that they have earned enough bruises in the past to finally advance again to the Finals for a second time.

On the eastern side of things, everybody was either rooting for Boston, the fitting rival of LA, or Chicago, owner of the best record, MVP in Derrick Rose, and Coach of the Year in Tom Thibodeau. Miami, unfortunately, was nursing hate sentiments against them, thanks to the formation of their own version of a Big Three. But the focus was strong and the will was firm for Miami. Their goal wasn’t to please everyone. They suited up to win a trophy. And that’s exactly what they did. They outclassed the top seeded Bulls, and proved that their time was also now. And even after earning the Finals spot, and still carry the title of “villains”, the Heat are confident that all that will end once they earn the championship.

There’s a lot more to say about this renewed square-off from five years. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry knows more than anyone on their team what they’re playing for. So does Dwayne Wade and Udonis Haslem on the side of the Heat. LeBron James and Jason Kidd have had the same experience of being in the finals and losing (to the same team, actually, the San Antonio Spurs). This time, the chance to earn a championship ring has come for them. One will finally have it, the other will go on still hoping.

An interesting match-up indeed.