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NBA Awards 12/14/12

Laker Woes Continue…
         The headline game of the NBA’s 3-game schedule last night was of course, Lakers at Knicks. As the game started, Charles Barkley had a funny but very truthful quote…”D’Antoni doesn’t need to worry about which Laker team’s gonna show up. They’re gonna be old & slow every time.” Later in the 1st Q, two examples clearly illustrated this, both hustle rebounds by guards. First it was JR Smith sprinting to a rebound as a Laker (forget who) was just standing there waiting for it to come to him, and then a few minutes later Raymond Felton made the same play. You don’t see the Lakers making those plays – they don’t have the legs, and judging from their demeanor in games this season, it seems they don’t really have the hunger & desire either for those hustle plays. This game, yet another loss as L.A. quickly fell behind by double digits in the 1st Q, showed a bit of desperation (experimenting?) on the part of D’Antoni. He played Robert Sacre twice as many minutes as Jordan Hill, who for some odd reason played only 3 minutes. Sacre is a rookie center who came into the game with only 23 minutes of court time all season and 13 DNP-CDs (Did Not Play – Coaches Decision). He gave Devin Ebanks 34 minutes that the inconsistent 3rd yr SF actually took advantage of, making 5 of 11 shots and grabbing 5 rebs on his way to a season high 15 pts. His season highs before Thursday? 12 minutes and 5 pts. Back to Hill, who has played with decent energy and been nicely productive in his minutes this year, this ‘3 minutes only’ game comes on the heels of his 1st start of the season Tuesday in Cleveland. D’Antoni went back to Antawn Jamison as the starting PF, and he responded by taking just 3 shots, all from long distance, and making just one, to go with 6 rebs in 21 minutes. 
        So the coach is grasping at straws looking for answers, the team continues to play lethargically, Kobe is surely steaming by now, and their great hope for the future – the return of Pau & Nash – doesn’t at all address Barkley’s early game observation, or their pourous defense (in Nash’s case). So on they march, 2.5 games out of the 8th spot in the West. At least their next game, tonight vs. the Wizards, looks winnable, but you just know Washington would LOVE to continue the Laker woes and will be playing with huge energy and effort at home. 
Other Thurs Games
On November 25th, the Charlotte Bobcats were 7-5, the surprise of the league. Now almost 3 weeks later, they are still stuck at 7 wins, while their losses have tripled to 15 after getting blown out of the water last night by Atlanta, 113-90. The Joshua Tree led Hawks starters with 18 pts while guards Lou Williams (13, 9 asst) and Devin Harris (20, 4 asst) came off the bench to help the Atl win their 14th game of the year against just 6 losses (tied for 2nd best record in East with Miami, NY first at 17-5)….In TNT’s 2nd game of the night, what looked to be a mismatch between the Blazers (10-12) and Spurs (18-6) in Portland turned out to be a tight game where Portland was able to maintain a small lead throughout most of the 3rd Q and all of the 4th as they won 98-90. Rookie PG Damian Lillard sparked the Blazer effort with 29 pts, while center JJ Hickson had his 4th straight double-double and 11th of the year. 
The Akeem Olajuwon Award — Tie between Damian Lillard  —  29 pts, 7 rebs, 6 asst, 5 FTM, 0 stl, 0 blk, 2 treys, and 11-22 shooting…and…Kobe Bryant  —  31 pts, 10 rebs, 6 asst, 6 FTM, 1 stl, 0 blk, 5 treys, and 10-24 shooting…Lillard is a remarkably poised and talented rookie who can drain from distance (2.2/gm at 36.6%) and also drive to the hoop. He plays like a veteran, and has had very little difficulty transitioning from a small college (Weber St.) to the pros. Quite impressive, considering some of his opponents last year were St. Marys, Northern Arizona, Northern Colorado, and Mayville State. He’s at 18.9/3.4/6.4 asst after 22 games so far while shooting 42.6%. As for Kobe, it’s same old, same old. Seemingly ageless, his determination, drive, and work ethic is almost unparalleled as he leads the league in scoring at 34 yrs old in his 17th season. He still forces bad shots here & there and has had too many turnovers this year (3.9/gm, 2nd highest rate of career), but with the way things are going with the Lakers, it’s expected that he’s gonna try to do too much at times – at least he IS trying! He’s at 29.3/5.1/4.8 asst with 1.6 stls while shooting a career high 48.4% from the floor. 
The Jerome Moiso Award —  Byron Mullens —  3 pts, 2 rebs, 0 asst, 0 FTM, 1 stl, 0 blk, 1 trey, and 1-8 shooting in 13 minutes…Mullens is a 4th year PF/C out of Ohio St. who’s become a semi-decent ‘stretch’ big man, as he shoots 4.6 threes a game, though only making 28.7% of them currently. After being drafted by Dallas and immediately traded to OKC, he sat on their bench for 2 years before being traded to the Bobcats for a 2013 2nd rounder. He’s averaging 11.8 pts and 7.4 rebs this year while playing 30 min/night, but shooting only 38.1%.  

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