Knickerblogger's Robert Silverman and John Kenney went to the NBA lottery. Today, their massive and glorious account of hobnobbing with the NBA's glitterati, including this exchange with Paul Silas: "ROBERT: Anyone playing today remind you of yourself? PAUL (Cackling louder): They don’t let anyone play like I did these days."
Look at the Popcorn Machine gameflow of the Mavericks' big comeback. The second James Harden fouled out, the Mavericks went on a 17-2 run. The Thunder never really scored efficiently again. My take: The Thunder offense completely bogged down. Harden was better than anybody else at creating scoring opportunities for himself and others in that environment. Without him, that was a whole lot of dribble, dribble, dribble, followed by a bad shot or a turnover. Also, did you notice how the Mavericks pressured the ball when it was in Russell Westbrook's hands? They're insulting the man's handle! (And by the way, where are the highlights of Jason Kidd's amazing steal from Westbrook? One of the best steals I have ever seen.)
Heat's defense in the playoffs has been just about as good as the Bulls', even though the Heat have played the Celtics and 76ers while the Bulls have played the Hawks and Pacers. One big reason for the Heat improvement: Jamaal Magloire, Erick Dampier, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Juwan Howard have been on the floor when the Heat defense has been horrible. And lately, they have not been on the floor. Makes a difference. (Also puts a little nick in Pat Riley's executive of the year award -- nobody hit more home runs this season, but nobody struck out as much, either.)
LeBron James' passing mocks the Bulls' commitment to crowd the ball.
A big fuss was made about referee Dan Crawford's record against the Mavericks. And that big fuss seems to have more than paid off. ESPN's Hyun Choi kept track: "Crawford called 12 personal fouls against the Thunder on Monday, and seven personal fouls and a technical foul against the Mavericks. The Mavs had 16 free throw attempts compared to Thunder’s 7 on Crawford’s calls. In 2011 playoff games officiated by Dan Crawford, the Mavs are 2-0 and have drawn nine more personal fouls (20-11) than their opponents on Crawford’s calls."
Upon review, the Mavericks may not have lost the Jason Kidd/Devin Harris trade. Michael Lee of the Washington Post notes: "When the Dallas Mavericks selected Jason Kidd second overall in 1994, John Wall was 3, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose were both 5, Chris Paul was 9 and Deron Williams was 10. But nearly 17 years later, after several other dynamic point guards have already come and gone -- Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis -- Kidd remains the best pure point guard still playing this postseason."
I'd be interested to see which of the remaining four teams has had the biggest and best runs. Seems like Dallas is the only team that rips off these periods of 17-2 and the like. All that shooting, all that Dirk ...
Word that Glen Taylor, chairman of the NBA's board of governors, is heading to New York today for more talks with players.
Mike Tokito of the Oregonian: "You might remember that when [Blazer owner Paul] Allen hired [Rich] Cho last year, Cho flew to Helsinki to interview with the owner. Apparently Allen did not feel obliged to show up or, at the very least, hook up by satellite to answer questions on why he fired Cho. Without Allen there to say so, we are left to infer that Allen fired Cho because he considers himself to be the actual general manager of the Blazers, with Cho or Pritchard or whoever else holds the title doing his bidding. Or, we are left infer that Allen simply wants a buddy with whom to bond over basketball, to share constant text messages with (as Allen used to with Pritchard). It's no big secret that Allen gets a rush out of the wheeling and dealing part of basketball. It is believed that the high he got from the 2006 draft -- during which the Blazers made seven trades and somehow turned a No. 4 pick into LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy -- convinced him to call off plans to sell the Blazers. Allen clearly likes being in the mix and maybe even wants to be more involved than ever. Fine. That's within his rights. But he can't have it both ways. If he's going to play the role of puppet master, he needs to answer the questions."
Portland acting general manager Chad Buchanan on "chemistry issues" team president Larry Miller cited in firing Rich Cho: "[Cho] allows you to do your job. He listens. He’s a great listener. He stays out of your way. He wants to hear your opinions as a scout, that’s all you can ask for. As for any chemistry issues or problems with anybody above us, I’d have to defer those questions to Larry. We worked very well with Rich on a daily basis from a scouting staff standpoint."
Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game: "Dallas doesn’t win without combined -- and I do mean combined, as their play was often in tandem -- defensive efforts of Jason Kidd (17 points, 5-9 FG, 3-6 3FG, seven assists, five rebounds, four steals) and Shawn Marion (seven points, 1-5 FG, four rebounds, four steals). They swarmed and switched against Kevin Durant (29 points, 9-22 FG, 15 rebounds, four assists) and Russell Westbrook (19 points, 7-22 FG, eight rebounds, eight assists), and Marion’s game-saving block on Durant at the end of regulation and his tandem stop with Kidd against KD in overtime were only the tip of the iceberg. These two played exquisite floor D the entire night; they doubled at the right times, contested shots, deflected anything that went over the top, helped in transition, and created a dynamic front for a scrambling defense that threw Oklahoma City for a loop. Kidd’s 17 points were huge, but it’s the four steals apiece from Kidd and Marion that really set their performances apart."