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NBA Awards 12/20/12

Clipper Game
I was able to attend the game last night at Staples Center thanks to a cc’d Awards reader, and took my 4 yr old (who would have played pop-a-shot the whole time if I’d let him!). My friend did mention an expectation of ‘extra insights’ due to my attendance, so here’s a few from their easy, never in doubt, 93-77 win over New Orleans:
1) The Clippers have great team chemistry…they move the ball well, they move without the ball well…the players seem to play with no care or thought towards stats & numbers, which is probably why their leading scorer is at only 18/gm (Blake) & CP III is at a career-low 15.7/gm. They can and do play an ‘all bench’ lineup of Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford, Lamar, Turiaf, and Matt Barnes. Impressive depth, great cohesiveness on the squad – the opposite of the team they share Staples with.
2) Robin Lopez of New Orleans, aka the Geico Caveman, came out of the blocks on fire, scoring 14 of the their first 16 pts while grabbing 8 rebs, all before the 1st Q had ended. But for some reason, his minutes were greatly curtailed the rest of the game, until he ended up playing most of garbage time. He’s gangly and awkward to watch, but he’s damn tall and has developed a few little shots around the hoop. If I was Monty Williams, watching my starting backcourt & Ryan Anderson shoot up brick after brick – Vasquez, Rivers, & Anderson were a combined 4-24 – I’d have definitely left him in there longer to clean up some of the mess, as 6 of Lopez’ 9 rebs were offensive.
3) Speaking of the rookie Austin Rivers…he was awful. He looked like a lost puppy out there. At one point in the 1st Q, Vasquez was being double-teamed beyond the top of the 3-point line and having trouble passing out of it, but Rivers just stood there, 13 feet away, watching the struggle as CP III eventually got the steal. Later on, Rivers was at the free throw line, and the legendary Clipper Darrell (extreme, longtime Clips fan who wears a half blue, half red blazer to games – his Wikipedia page) heckled him with “you’re only in the league cuz of your dad” as he then missed the 1st attempt, then the generic “U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi you’re UGLY!” as he missed the 2nd as well. Rivers also had 3 T/O’s in the game. His first step is decently quick, but he doesn’t look like a playmaker at all (just 2.1 asst/gm in 33 min/gm last yr at Duke, 2.8/gm in 28 min so far this year). He was the 10th overall player taken in the 2012 Draft, and I suspect many taken below him will eventually have far better, more productive careers.
Other Highlights from Wed Games
Time constraints, gotta be brief today….Paul Pierce must have read the Awards yesterday and said “Old! I’ll show you old!” as he went richter (more below) for the Celtics as they won 103-91 over Clev….Durant hung 41 pts on the Hawks last night while grabbing 13 rebs in OKC’s 100-92 win at Atlanta, the Thunder’s 12th straight win….Sacto finally won, beating the red hot Warriors in an 80’s flashback special, 131-127 (no OT). The Kings scored at least 30 in every quarter, and the teams combined to sink 24 long bombs on the night….Toronto is unstoppable, as they won their 4th in row, this time over the Pistons. Mickael Pietrus, Ed Davis, Alan Anderson, Jonas Valanciunas – I mean, who can deal with a lineup of megastars like that? In all seriousness, Jose Calderon had 17 dimes, his 3rd game of at least 17 asst this season, and 5th game of at least 14 – and he’s only started 12 games!
The Akeem Olajuwon Award —  Paul Pierce  —  40 pts, 8 rebs, 5 asst, 9 FTM, 3 stl, 1 blk, 6 treys, and 13-16 shooting…He may be 35, but when you’re a borderline Top 50 all-time player, you have these epic, flashback moments. Now in his 15th season, taken 10th overall in 1998 behind such un-notables as Raef Lafrentz, Robert Traylor, and Michael Olowokandi, PP is posting rather robust numbers of 20.4, 5.5, 3.6 asst, 1.6 stl and 43.6% shooting (yes…his laser sharp 13-16 last night boosted his FG% from 41.7 to 43.6). Durant’s 41, 13, 3 asst, 2 blks, 4 treys, & 14-23 was a rather impressive runner-up performance.
The Jerome Moiso Award —  Monta Ellis  —  4 pts, 2 rebs, 2 asst, 2 FTM, 2 stl, 1 blk, 0 treys, and 1-14 shooting in 34 minutes of missing…Games like this and seasons like this (shooting a horrific 38.7% this yr) make it easy to forget that Ellis once made over 53% of his shots (2007-08, 20.2 pts/gm on 53.1% shooting). It was two years later that he added the long ball to his repertoire, taking 3.6 treys/gm in 2009-10, but still shooting a respectable 44.9% (and averaging a career-high 25.5 pts that yr). I haven’t watched much Bucks action this year, but I hope he hasn’t lost any of his absurd quickness & explosiveness. He’s still just 27 after all, having come to the league straight out of high school in 2005. Until I found this dud from Monta, I was very ready (and happy) to give the Bozo Award to Austin Rivers  – 3 pts, 0 reb, 0 asst, 0 stl, 0 blk, & 1-4 from both the field and the stripe in 21 minutes.

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