What’s good, basketball fans?
Before we get down to business, I’d like to announce the debut of a new feature we’ll be calling Ask Chuck. Several times a week, I (Chuck, for those who didn’t know) will be responding to your emails and comments at the start of the daily recap. If you have a question you’d like answered, email me at [email protected] or leave a message in the box at the bottom of the page. Check back the next day, and you should find my response in the article. How’s that for service?
Just a quick note: please keep the queries basketball-related; I can’t help you with your funky rashes or give you advice on how to deal with an overbearing wife. I’m talking to you, Doug Christie.
In today’s edition, I’ll be dealing with a few emails I should have addressed a long time ago.
From Roberto Ramirez:
If the eastern conference repeats, do you think the heat has improved defensively? For example, do you think James Posey can guard or at least do a good job against Rip Hamilton? Jason Williams and Gary Payton against Chauncey Billups? Udonis Haslem or ’Toine Walker against ’Sheed Wallace (or ’Toine Walker against Prince)? Shaq vs. Big Ben?
That’s an interesting question, Roberto, and one I’ve considered myself. James Posey, though not an elite defender, is certainly equipped to limit Rip somewhat. The Posey we saw last year was nowhere near his best, and with his foot injury behind him, he should be the athlete he was earlier in his career. Quick, long and hard-working, I’d expect him to do a decent job on Hamilton.
Jason Williams may have difficulties guarding his man one-on-one, but Gary Payton remains one of the toughest perimeter defenders around. Even at his age, he has the ability to bother the best point men in the league into poor performances. Tony Parker may have done a number on him two years ago, but The Glove is still the smothering defender we remember from his Seattle days, if a little slower.
I think Antoine would have difficulties containing ’Sheed, and, as we have already seen, the same can be said for Udonis Haslem. Call me crazy, but if I were Stan Van Gundy, I’d put Shaq on Rasheed and leave Udonis with the shorter Ben Wallace. Of course, changes would have to be made if Rasheed started to float out to the arc, but that’s why NBA players are taught rotation defence.
From Charles Hoeveler:
What do you think of Chris Paul and J.R. Smith?
My thoughts on the pair are this: if any situation is perfect for cultivating a young player’s talent, it’s the one they have with the Hornets. With absolutely no expectations and the freedom to experiment with different positions, styles of play and game approaches, these two young ’uns will thrive now or never. I wouldn’t like to guess exactly how well they’ll perform, but I will say that talk of J.R. Smith averaging twenty points a game is very optimistic. He exceeded expectations last year and should go for fifteen or so a night this time around, but let’s not forget that the guy is barely out of his teens.
Thanks for your comments, Roberto and Charles.
Let’s take a look at last night’s games.
Minnesota Timberwolves 97, Chicago Bulls 89
– On one play, Kevin Garnett scores, begins to run back to play defence, then turns and attempts to steal the inbounds pass. How many seven-footers do that?
– Rashad McCants had another disappointing evening, shooting three of twelve. He does, however, finish in double figures.
– K.G. fouls Othella Harrington and strips the ball after the whistle has been blown. Harrington tosses the ball lightly at Garnett, and Kevin throws it right back. Harrington responds with a shove, but it doesn’t look as if this one is going to be serious.
– Tyson Chandler steps in and starts mouthing off at The Big Ticket, in the process becoming the third player awarded a technical foul.
– K.G. finishes the first half with a double-double.
– Kirk Hinrich scores sixteen in the third quarter. Whatever moves the Bulls make in the future, they won’t be trading him.
Houston Rockets 93, Seattle Supersonics 85
– Yao sat this one out with a sore big toe. In fairness, it is a very big toe.
– The players complain about the sponsor’s logo on the court, and it is pulled up.
– Ray Allen swishes a high-arcing buzzer-beater at the end of the second quarter over two defenders. He seems to have a knack for those.
– Luther Head hits a reverse layup off of a baseline drive. Unlike many rookies, he looks very composed on the court and doesn’t often panic with the ball in his hands. He’ll have worked his way into Houston’s rotation before the start of the season.
– Jon Barry makes a long outlet pass to Ryan Bowen, who barely manages to dunk it.
– Misaligned elbow or not, Ray Allen still has one of the most beautiful jumpers in the game.
– Barry throws an alley-oop pass to Stromile Swift, who takes off from a standing start, catches the ball, turns and dunks it all in one motion. He may not have mastered the game of basketball yet, but he’s a freakish athlete.
– Derek Anderson hits an improbable and-one, connecting on a long jumper as he is knocked nearly into the bench.
– The Stro’ Show scores twelve points in the fourth quarter.
– Luther Head hits three of four triples in the game, finishing with thirteen points.
Charlotte Bobcats 94, Atlanta Hawks 88
– A moment of silence is held for Jason Collier before the game, and the players look shaken.
– The Hawks have a black patch on their uniform, and several have messages written on their shoes.
– Eight Bobcats are on the injured list for this one.
– Atlanta turns the ball over on their first three possessions. Their heads just aren’t in it at this point.
– Kareem Rush starts, but plays a mere six minutes before leaving in the second quarter with a bruised shoulder.
– Joe Johnson scored only eight points in thirty-eight minutes. He dished out five assists, but also had four turnovers.
– Raymond Felton put up an easy twelve, also adding three steals.
– The Bobcats outscored the Hawks sixteen to two on the break.
– Second pick Marvin Williams converted four of his seven shots for eight points in twenty-seven minutes.
Phoenix Suns 106, Utah 95
– Pat Burke sits out with “abdominal discomfort”. I’m no expert, but it sounds as if he just needs to go to the bathroom.
– Andrei Kirilenko’s mask is freaking scary.
– Deron Williams starts, but plays only eight minutes in the game. In that time, he misses all three of his shots and commits three fouls.
– Steve Nash picks up where he left off last year, handing out eight assists in twenty-five minutes.
– Andrei Kirilenko, Shawn Marion and Raja Bell score eighteen, nineteen and twenty points, respectively.
– Kurt Thomas has a line of fifteen, eleven and five after only twenty-nine minutes of play. It’s definitely the preseason.
– Seeing the name “A. Owens” in the box score makes me think for a moment that A.O. of And 1 fame had caught on with the Jazz. I quickly remember that it’s actually Andre Owens, the guard from Houston.
In Other News
Dress Code Revealed
The league finally announced the details of the dress code, and it turned out to be roughly what I’d expected. The code requires business casual wear for all official team events, excluding special appearances such as basketball clinics and the like. Additionally, those attending a game who do not dress to play are required to wear a sport coat and dress shoes in addition to a dress shirt and slacks.
The dress code will come into play for the beginning of the regular season on November the first. Let’s see who draws the first fine (the penalty for violations will be announced next week). My money’s on Allen Iverson.
Julius Hodge Accused of Sexual Assault
Denver police have confirmed that the Nuggets’ top draft pick is under investigation for sexual assault following an alleged encounter with a thirty-seven-year-old woman. As with ninety percent of these cases, the early word from the inside is that there was “financial motivation” on the part of the accuser. While it’s too early to make a call on this one, the Hodge camp seems confident that he’ll be proven innocent of having attempted to rape the woman involved.
You can reach me with your comments, questions and suggestions at [email protected]
or via the box below. Until tomorrow, take it easy.