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Monday Bullets

  • After criticizing the shot selection of some Bulls, and lecturing anyone who would listen about what a great winner and teammate he is, Scottie Pippen goes to Scandinavia and jacks up a bunch of threes. He hit two out of 16 over two games, although his team won both times.

  • Brian Windhorst of the Akron Beacon-Journal outlines how Danny Ferry might be able to get Mike Bibby (those two, by the way, share an agent -- David Falk) to the Cavaliers: "A year ago, Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie was determined to get back a starter-quality point guard if he traded Bibby. That was the problem -- the Cavs didn't have one to trade and couldn't find one in a three-way deal that Petrie wanted. That has changed somewhat with newcomer Beno Udrih showing promise with the Kings in Bibby's absence. Petrie has also made it known since then that his goal is to clear salary-cap space for the summer of 2009. ... If the Cavs want Bibby bad enough, they do have the ammunition to give the Kings what they want. It would take a package that would probably involved a talented big man such as Drew Gooden, a prospect such as Shannon Brown or a draft pick and contracts expiring in 2009. The Cavs have numerous ones, especially Eric Snow, Damon Jones or even both."

  • Chris Paul, international superstar, MVP candidate, and the leader of one of the best teams in the NBA, will play on ESPN this Friday. If my reading of the schedule is correct, he won't be on national TV again this regular season. TrueHoop reader Andy has some other insights into the national TV schedule: "After perusing the rest of the years schedule, I found that Phoenix and Cleveland both have the most national (TNT, ABC, ESPN) TV appearances left with 16. This does actually make sense, the league is selling its (arguably) most exciting team (Phoenix) and (inarguably, in my opinion) its most exciting player (LeBron). After that it gets interesting, with the leagues currenty second worst team (Miami) getting FIFTEEN appearances from here on out, nearly twice as many as the leagues best team, Boston, with nine. In addition, Chicago also has fifteen left, despite the fact they are toiling in the bottom of the East. The East's number two, Orlando, only gets two appearances." I know not TV programming and contracts, but it seems it would be easier to show great games if they could be picked closer to showtime.

  • Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press points out that the Pistons' loss to the Celtics looked like a lot of Piston losses of recent years. Here's the recipe: "The Pistons get stagnant on offense. Billups misses shots and nobody else can drive to the basket consistently. An unsung opponent (in this case Glen Davis) scores a bunch of points. Rasheed Wallace lets a few bad calls drive him off a mental cliff. (Wallace, I'm told, left the arena in full uniform Saturday night.) And one important Piston struggles mightily -- in this case, as in last year's Eastern Conference Finals against Cleveland, that Piston was Tayshaun Prince. Prince is now 4 for 22 in two games against the Celtics. And at least twice in the final minutes, Paul Pierce blew past Prince, leaving Prince with a befuddled look on his face ..."

  • Basketbawful on Sasha Pavlovic: "Remember how excited the Cavaliers were to finally resign Pavlovic? I would guess they're decidedly less excited right about now. Sasha's currently shooting a career-worst 33 percent from the field and 29 percent from three-point range (compaired to 45 and 40 last season). He hasn't hit 50 percent of his shots since December 11th; in fact, he's only shot 50 percent or better five times in 31 games this season. He's only 20-for-70 over his last 10 games, including two games this weekend in which he was 4-for-11 and 0-for-7. Bottom line: He's not quite the zone-buster the Cavs had hoped."

  • Tommy Beer of Hoopsworld: "The Timberwolves had never won more than 45 games in their franchise's history when they traded away Marbury in 1999. Over the next five seasons, from 1999-2004, the T-Wolves averaged over 51 wins per season. Meanwhile, in his two full seasons in New Jersey, the Nets averaged just 28 wins and failed to make the playoffs. In the summer of 2001, the Nets traded Marbury to Phoenix in exchange for Jason Kidd. Kidd would immediately carry New Jersey to two consecutive NBA Finals appearances in his first two seasons. New Jersey has yet to miss the playoffs or win fewer than 41 games in the six seasons since swapping point guards. Meanwhile, the Suns lost 84 games over their first two seasons with Marbury at the point." I have long wished that when players' career statistics are listed, their W-L records would be included, too, like they do for coaches. Just like points and rebounds, it would be misleading much of the time, but I think it would, over the long run, change the dynamic of who does the bragging.

  • TrueHoop is a candidate to be named Performancing's best Sports Blog of 2007. The power is in your hands, as long as you put down that sandwich and use your hands to mouse over there and click in the right place.

  • Isaiah Rider, ex-fantastic basketball player, is arrested again. His reputation is so damaged, that at this point Rider's most lasting contribution to the NBA is inspiring untold millions to add an extra "a" to Isiah Thomas's first name.

  • George Karl loves Andre Miller, wishes the Nuggets could have had him play alongside Allen Iverson, and hopes Miller will stop being mad at him one day. By the way, the Nuggets need a point guard, and Miller is said to be available.

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle on Rafer Alston: "Last season, Alston finished on 49 percent of his drives, about 12 percent off the NBA average. This season, he is at 59 percent, roughly the league average and well ahead of the average for guards. That doesn't make him Steve Nash or Tony Parker in the lane, but it has led to a better Alston." The difference may be a series of finishing drills the Rockets put him through routinely -- mastering angles, spin, arc, and big-man avoidance -- that are left over from former Rocket assistant and current Bulls head coach Jim Boylan.

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Not only is Shaquille O'Neal's hip injury legit, it might be more serious than initially thought."

  • Amare Stoudemire misses practice. No one knows if it means a lot or a little.

  • Kevin Arnovitz of ClipperBlog wonders if it's better to play hard, get some quality wins here and there, or tank for lottery positioning. "I'm willing to suggest that there's future value that exceeds a couple of draft positions in having a team that finishes the season playing well together. An interesting stat to see would be the correlation between lottery teams' post-All-Star records and their following season records."

  • Courtside at an NBA game, where not even LeBron James matters more than schmoozing. Michael Grange of the Globe and Mail: "King James is a big star and all, but some folks are just difficult to impress. Strange moment midway through the first quarter: James is on the sideline near mid-court, waiting to inbound the ball when Heather Riesman and Gerry Schwartz are making their way to their courtside seats. Already seated are Michael Budman and -- I'm guessing -- his wife. Up pop Mr. and Mrs. Roots as they greet Ms. Indigo and Mr. Onex with hugs and an enthusiastic round of air kisses and handshakes, this being the first Sunday game of the New Year and all. Meanwhile, no more than two feet away, the bestish basketball player on the planet is standing, ready to go to work. No air kisses for him. Not even a glance or a 'hurry up let's sit down, we don't want to miss anything!' Then again, LeBron didn't really get rolling until the fourth."

  • Actually, it turns out some people sitting courtside may have been LeBron James' motivation for one of the best quarters of basketball anyone has played all season.

  • Speaking of great quarters, the Blazers were down at halftime to the Utah Jazz, and Brandon Roy was too injured to play in the second half. Then Martell Webster did this in the third quarter, and Portland cruised to their 16th win in 17 games. (The Blazers are three games behind the conference-leading Spurs.) Steve Luhm of the Salt Lake Tribune has a good line: "On a long-ago night against Boston, Larry Bird was putting on a clinic. The Jazz couldn't stop him. During an timeout, Layden looked at his players at screamed, 'Forget Boston, let's beat Bird.' In Saturday's game, the Jazz couldn't beat Martell Webster, who is a nice young player but probably won't ever again end up being mentioned in the same breath as Bird."

  • Local hero Gary Payton is said to be a candidate to fill the roster spot Golden State created by waiving DJ Mbenga.

  • Randy Wittman's coaching is not impressing Britt Robson of the Rake: "Listen folks, I really would like to be more original in my criticism of this ballclub. But when a squad is losing 29 of its first 33 games, including the last 8 in a row, and is getting demonstrably worse, not better, I feel it is important to point out the main reasons why this seems to be happening. And with precious few exceptions, it has to be said that when Jefferson plays center and Smith plays power forward, the Timberwolves get their ass kicked. You have a wealth of stats to back this up, and I won't go back and get them (scroll back on previous posts if you want). Let's just focus on this afternoon. By what logic do you send out a beefy undersized former second round draft pick, who was twice benched in the last game for not getting back on defense, and who has trouble guarding players outside the paint, as the one to match up against the reigning league MVP, who just happens to be a half-foot taller, quicker, and a deadly outside shooter? Do we really need a manual with the words Craig Smith vs. Dirk Nowitzki = bad matchup in bold print to prevent this from happening?"

  • If you want the Knicks to win, you're going to have to fix the defense. Some of its many flaws are explained with real-world examples.

  • Section214 of Sactown Royalty reviews 1990, when the Kings failed to hit paydirt with any of their four first-round picks: "Let me start by saying that none of these guys were a disaster individually, but if you combine the stats of Lionel Simmons (7th pick), Travis Mays (14th), Duane Causwell (18th) and Anthony Bonner (23rd), you would wind up with a guy that averaged 9 pts., 5 rebs., 2 asts., 1 stl. and 1 blk. over the equivalent of a 14 year career. In other words, we spent four 1st round draft picks and wound up with Mikki Moore."