Monday Bullets

  • Shaquille O'Neal, finally back from injury, comes up hobbling with a calf strain and Doc Rivers is sounding a little desperate.

  • Those Kobe Bryant crunch time numbers I cite sometimes are not created by tricks of statistics. They come from games like yesterday, where the Lakers were in a dogfight, and Bryant missed his last four shots. I think maybe one of those hit the rim. The world hears about it, loudly, whenever shots like those go in, but if we're going to consider him as a crunch time scorer, we have to remember these nights, too.

  • The Rockets are still playing much better than they did before the trades -- even though the trades shipped out talent for draft picks and youth. Basically, their rotation is better. Which, if you think about it, suggests issues with how Rick Adelman distributed minutes before the trades. And on that topic, consider Kevin Martin, quoted on Rockets.com, after the Rockets beat the Hawks on Sunday: "We know Coach is playing the best players at the end of the game and whatever the case was, that wasn’t always the case before the trades."

  • Mark Cuban says ESPN.com has a Twitter problem. If I could get 450,000 of you to follow me on Twitter in the next few hours, I bet he would stop saying that.

  • Today's New York Times sports section has a full-page ad for Goldman Sachs. That's not that weird. But it gets weirder. See, it's an ad bragging about the social benefits of a stadium deal they put together in Louisville -- the big picture is of a waitress who got a job near the stadium. So, weird thing number one is: It's hard to find economists who really really believe, in a convincing way, that publicly financed stadiums have social benefits. Is Goldman Sachs putting its considerable expertise behind the idea that, to serve social goals (as opposed to wealthy clients) stadiums are the best use of public money? Weird thing number two is: What's the point of the ad? How might this bring Goldman Sachs new clients? Like people are going to hire them to help get more waitresses employed? I don't see that happening. Seems to me a lot more like an exercise in showing that Goldman Sachs are the experts who can make public stadium funding look palatable even in this economy.

  • One of the strangest plays ever. (Via Basketbawful)

  • Big markets matter. Case in point: Carmelo Anthony, not in New York, is simply not this kind of star.

  • Strange NCAA tournament year, huh? I got slaughtered. Had one of the Final Four. Have zero of the Finalists. And still in the top ten percent somehow.

  • The story is that the Lakers slipped against the Nuggets (this key offensive rebound, for instance) and maybe they did, but let's be honest: The Nuggets have been playing like that.

  • Derrick Rose has more blocks and offensive rebounds than LeBron James.

  • John Krolik of Cavs: The Blog: "How do you get blown out while shooting better than 50 percent from the field? Sloppy play."

  • The Blazers beat the Mavericks, increasing the chances they will face Dallas in the first round, which has to be preferable to facing the the Lakers or Spurs. But the team clearly has marching orders not to say they really hope to face Dallas.

  • There is a sloppy habit of assuming younger NBA players have a monopoly on bad judgment. But I'll tell you what, for whatever reason, it seems to me that a huge percentage of today's young players have tremendous good sense. Typical of that trend is this comment from Marcus Thornton, who tells James Ham of Cowbell Kingdom that if a lockout comes he's: "Very prepared. I’m not the type of guy to go blow my money. I’m very conservative with my money so I’m very prepared." Arron Afflalo spoke similarly the other day.