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Tuesday Bullets

  • The top photo here has got to be my favorite Kobe Bryant portrait ever. Friendly, human, approachable, real and wicked high-resolution. Other work from the same photographer.

  • What all kinds of people have asked me: OK, Gilbert Arenas has learned his lessons about guns. He called them a "problem." But does he still have all those guns, or is he getting rid of them? If he is selling the collection, that would be a great point to make. If he isn't getting rid of them, then he might want to explain that decision, too.

  • Just for fun, watch the video of Duke's "miracle minute" against Maryland in January 2001. So many NBA names in this game. Jay Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Shane Battier, Steve Blake, Juan Dixon, Dahntay Jones, Chris Duhon, Lonny Baxter, Chris Wilcox and ... current Barack Obama aide Reggie Love. (And as long as it's "celebrate great moments of Duke basketball" also check out the best part of Christian Laettner's famous shot: Duke's Antonio Lang, #21, under the hoop. After Laettner makes the big bucket, Lang launches a one-man high-risk tornado of joy that, if executed a dozen times, would surely cause 11 knee injuries.

  • John Hollinger (Insider) on the Celtics: "On the surface, everything seems fine, but warning signs are all over the place if you look hard enough. That's especially true with the offense, which ranks only 13th in efficiency. There's an obvious reason: Four of Boston's top six players are in their mid-30s and fading fast. Garnett is the most obvious case, and since I wrote about him Thursday night, I won't drag the dead horse out for another beating. But what of Ray Allen? He's shooting only 34.1 percent on 3-pointers, well off his career mark of 39.8 percent entering the season. The probability of this happening by random chance is only 4.6 percent, so we have to consider the possibility that there's been a loss of ability here for the 34-year-old guard. Even if his 3-point shooting numbers bounce back, his overall body of work is worrisome. Allen's other numbers are slightly worse across the board, too, and his splits are those of a tired vet -- instead of ramping up his numbers when Garnett went out earlier this month, for instance, he averaged fewer points and assists per minute in January than in the first two months and shot 31.9 percent on 3s. Rasheed Wallace is in a similar funk, channeling his inner Antoine Walker by hoisting more than half his shots from beyond the 3-point line but converting only 30.1 percent. Wallace also seems noticeably out of shape, and at this point, it's fair to argue we set our expectations too high. He put up similar numbers last season in Detroit, and it now seems optimistic to expect a 35-year-old to revert to the production from earlier in his career. Even the 32-year-old Paul Pierce has shown his warts."

  • Zach Lowe of CelticsHub points out that the Celtics' offense would have to change mightily if the Celtics traded Ray Allen away. "You’re talking about erasing a huge chunk of the playbook and replacing it with ... something unknown. A large portion of the C’s offensive sets involve Ray Allen running through screens along the baseline and curling up along the wing or near the elbow. Ray isn’t always option #1 or even option #2 in those sets, but his presence creates options #3, #4 and #5, some of which are built-in parts of the C’s offense and some of which present themselves spontaneously as the defense moves around."

  • Brett from Queen City Hoops on the Bobcats' use of the two-for-one: "The Bobcats had a strange sequence to end the first half. I am not sure if they just recently learned of trying to get a two-for-one possession advantage at the end of a quarter or what -- but it sure seemed like it. After the Blazers scored with 38 seconds left, Raymond Felton pushed the ball up court, curled around a screen near the top of the lane and fired up a running, leaning jumper from 20 feet just seconds into the shot clock -- it did not go in and the Blazers rebounded with 29 seconds left. After working the ball around, Martell Webster missed a look from three as the shot clock ran down -- and Portland got the offensive rebound that the Bobcats had been looking for with about five seconds left. Fortunately for the Bobcats, Ronald Murray was able to pick off Andre Miller's pass and the Bobcats were able to get off another attempt to complete the two-for-one -- this time the shot came about mid-court as the horn sounded. It also missed. To recap: Rather than one good shot, the Bobcats managed to take two bad shots in the final 30 seconds -- and only got the second one because of a bad pass by the other team. That kind of defeats the purpose of going for the two-for-one."

  • Charles Barkley says Joakim Noah should be an All-Star.

  • New York is horribly inefficient on the fast break, which can be taken as an indictment of Mike D'Antoni's offensive system. My view is that, lacking a transcendant point guard, the Knicks' offense is almost nothing like that which made D'Antoni famous in Phoenix. I'm sticking with the theory that up-tempo teams can really work well, if and only if they have that special player to handle the ball. In that regard, this year's Knicks are a red herring.

  • At the moment, in a poll on Valley of the Suns, Phoenix fans are calling for the team to trade Amare Stoudemire.

  • Similarly, Spurs blogger Tim Varner muses about trading Manu Ginobili.

  • Five games into his return from injury, Nicolas Batum has been sensational. Dwight Jaynes, who does not often gush, writes: "Batum has the most potential of ANY of the young Trail Blazers. The kid is downright Pippen-esqe -- highly skilled and magnetic to watch at both ends of the floor. You can’t take your eyes off him. In the last three games he has defended Aaron Brooks, Dirk Nowitzki and Stephen Jackson. And done it well. On offense he’s on fire, making outside shots and finishing around the basket as well as a Trail Blazer has done in years."

  • In praise of Nene and Chris Andersen.

  • Analyzing basketball can get pretty geeky these days, especially here on the internet. Here's a blog to help us brush up our math.

  • Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune: "Everybody's trying to pinpoint the reason for the Jazz's turnaround, which has coincided with both Sundiata Gaines' arrival and Kirilenko's return to the starting lineup. It also has coincided with a locker-room switch in which Kyrylo Fesenko and Wesley Matthews swapped stalls. Matthews is now next to Kirilenko while Fesenko is in the far corner next to Ronnie Price. The Jazz are 9-1 since the move."