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Friday Bullets

  • Brian Windhorst of the Akron Beacon-Journal: "James scored just 14 points on a woeful 4-of-16 shooting, which indicated just how off his normal production he was as he struggled to find space to operate. Unlike previous games in these playoffs when the opponent has been made to pay for loading up on James, the Spurs escaped the other edge of the sword. Even running a variety of pick-and-rolls and other sets, James rarely was able to find an open teammate and often threw it to the wrong spot on the court. 'It was crowded; they did a great job of shrinking the floor,' James said. 'If I got by one guy, there was another guy there. You have to give them credit.' In the 16 games leading up to the Finals, James averaged three assists for every turnover. On Thursday, he managed a meager four assists -- half his playoff average -- and six turnovers."

  • Basketbawful: "While there's no denying that the Spurs' single-minded "Stop LeBron" defense only further proves how good this guy is, there's also no denying that the Spurs are a well-oiled Championship machine. They are all business, they have done this before, they play unselfishly, and, well, they're the better team in these finals. That said, I feel a disturbance in the Spurs Force, like thousands of voices (those in the SBC Center) cried out, and were suddenly silenced (like when LeBron hit that second three-pointer in the 4th). Really, Obi Wan? Tell me more. Good teams make adjustments. The Cavs lost on the offensive boards 13-9, lost on the defensive boards 30-23, and LeBron was held to 4-of-16 shooting - and the Cavs only lost by 9. The Spurs played a great all-around game, but the Cavs can play better, and if LeBron studies enough film and figures out where and how he can get his shots (and I believe he is savvy enough to do that), the Spurs could be in for a fight. Don't forget, the Cavs were down 2-0 against the Pistons and then won four straight."

  • Washington Post's Mike Wise says don't read too much into one bad game: "Why don't we let LeBron James be a basketball player for a night and worry about the icon-building business in the offseason."

  • Everybody wants more Boobie. ESPN's John Hollinger (Insider) makes the case.

  • According to one David Berri formula at least, Daniel Gibson outplayed Tim Duncan last night.

  • In language that is not safe for children, Ron Hitley of Hornets247 tackles a thin rumor that Chris Paul will be traded to the Sonics.

  • Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel on Stan Van Gundy and Pat Riley: "Still untold is the story of the breakup between the two, when Riley stepped in for Van Gundy as coach in December 2005. A confidentiality agreement likely will keep those full details from ever emerging."

  • Sign of confidence: now that Portland has the top overall pick, you'd think it would be time to hit up sponsors for long-term deals, right? Wrong. Now they're after short-term deals, just sure that the negotiations will be even sweeter for the team in a few years.

  • Insight from a chat with the Oregonian's Jason Quick: he says Greg Oden is 99.99% likely to be the top pick, Jarrett Jack and Zach Randolph are on the trading block, the Blazers are more or less out of the running for Rashard Lewis but are in the hunt for a big name small forward like Shawn Marion, Sergio Rodriguez is in the long-term plan, and the only player the Portland would consider trading the top pick for is LeBron James (they have been offered, he says, two Western Conference Hall of Famers and turned both down, he says). (Notes from the chat here.)

  • Speaking of classy small forwards who might be available: Grant Hill is keeping his options open.

  • SLAM's Sam Rubenstein on last night's half-time feature on Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan (which I swear I saw online last week): "It was a well-done and enlightening perspective on the beautiful relationship between two grown men. It also reminded me of a video I once saw about David Koresh and the Branch Davidians. Wow, the San Antonio Spurs sure are tight family for people that are not blood-related. Maybe it's because the father figure's name happens to be Pop, so you have grown men referring to some random authority like he is their daddy. I guess that's how you win championships and stay so grounded and solid in an NBA landscape of chaos. Can we fly a satellite with infared over their practice facility and find out how many guns they have? Robert Horry, put the kool aid down."

  • The Painted Area: "Liked to see Coach Brown put LeBron on Parker a little more. Thought the instances where Bron checked Parker he did a good job sagging off Parker and forcing jumpers."

  • The idea that maybe Stan Van Gundy, a "grinder," was never the best fit for the Kings. Is Terry Porter? Why did they fire Rick Adelman again?

  • Matthew Powell of the Spurs blog Pounding the Rock: "The Spurs are the best help defense team in the league by a wide margin and the Cavs kept playing right into their hands. The only duo that can repeatedly have success running the pick and roll against the Spurs is Nash and Amare. That's it. End of list. Lebron isn't the passer or ball handler that Nash is and Gooden, well, he isn't the shooter, player or personal stylist that Amare is. LeBron isn't blameless in all this. Why the hell didn't Lebron wave off the pick and roll? This guy is unguardable one on one, right? And Manu, for the 10 or so possessions he was guarding him, was giving him uncontested 20 footers. You think Kobe passes those shots up? Uh. No. He doesn't."

  • All you who are reading a whole series into one game (I see you Dan "Even LeBron can't save these NBA Finals" Shanoff), don't make me haul all the dumb things people wrote after Game 1 of last year's Finals. Or Game 1 of this year's Eastern Conference Finals. Or Game 1 of any series. Not saying Cleveland will win, but I am saying that a lifetime of watching basketball has taught me that watching one game of a playof
    f series is like reading one chapter of a book: not usually all that helpful in determining the end.

  • When Lawrence Frank first became coach of the Nets, every article about him obsessed about his height (or lack thereof). Now Seattle's new GM Sam Presti is getting the same thing with his age. I'll be happy for him when that's over. (He'll probably be about 45 by then.) Presti's press conferenece was a good opportunity for Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer to take a shot at Danny Fortson: "Asked about his vision for the Sonics, Presti said: 'We want resilient players. We want competitors. We want professionals.' Guess that means no more Danny Fortson."

  • A special session of the Washington legislature is the only way the Sonics and Storm get timely public funding for the arena that would keep them in town. The governor's office says Clay Bennett has not even asked for that session to be called. You have to wonder: all this talk about staying in Seattle, about Kansas City, or about Las Vegas, is it theater? Is this thing on rails to Oklahoma City?

  • Devin Harris: bursting with potential that's coming due. Will he get his chance to explode in Dallas? Somewhere else?

  • Shaquille O'Neal tackles obesity. Make your obvious jokes.

  • The owner of the Jazz, making it sound like he'd love to move Andrei Kirilenko's contract but doesn't expect to find any takers.

  • Thank you TrueHoop reader Scott: while liveblogging last night's Game 1, I wondered if we could still consider Donyell Marshall a three-point threat if he hadn't hit many at all since his big game in New Jersey. Scott looked up the totals: "As expected, he hasn't done too well. Here's the numbers: Entire playoffs: 13-38 (.342) Since Game 6 (NJ): 5-18 (.278) In fact, if you take away game 6 against the Nets, he's only 7-28 (.250)."

  • Mike Wise of the Washington Post talks about the first time he met that really nice young man Bruce Bowen, who Wise says once sold phone books door to door for cash. That's just the beginning. Worth a listen.

  • Attention major American sports fans: Soccer fans appear to be having more fun than you. Time to work on your costumes and chants. Steven Wells of Guardian Unlimited on what's happening in American soccer stadiums: "In most other US pro-sports (college sports are different) the majority of fans sit sipping pissy beer and munching tasteless hot dogs or nachos slathered in fake cheese while some blandroid on the PA makes all the noise. Which makes soccer's new breed of self-organised, scarfed-up, singing, chanting, banner-hoisting, flag-waving, noisy-as-hell ruffians the sport's clearest brand differential - and potentially its greatest asset."

  • Sun Yue video.

  • Who doesn't love Corey Brewer? Doc Rivers talks to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald about the workout Brewer just had: "'He has terrific instincts. It's amazing,' Rivers said. 'You can tell he's been coached (at Florida by Billy Donovan). Defensively, I bet he blocked six, eight, nine shots today, some on his own man, some on the weak side. He made some nice passes. He can do about everything.'"

  • UPDATE: The Bulls evidently think Chris Duhon is too short.

  • UPDATE: David Stern encourages players to be activists, and specifically mentions Darfur.

  • UPDATE: A very interesting proposal to realign the league to limit travel, which would have to improve the quality of play.