Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
Valley of the Suns says that Matt Barnes has been an unlikely, but very serviceable, replacement for Shawn Marion: "Although Barnes is no Matrix, he fills many of the voids left by Marion's trade to Miami, while lessening a burden on Hill. The decision to play Barnes with the starters seems to be a sound one through three games, as he's a perfect player to surround Nash with because of his floor-spacing shooting ability (with more range than Hill) and his proficiency at running the court."
Will Kevin Johnson be the next mayor of Sacramento? He's the favorite, but the race has turned ugly in recent days.
Matt Moore is spending the season following the Grizz as his "pet team." He offers some stellar insights on the ursine evolution over at Hardwood Paroxysm. The early takeaway?: "I can't tell you how much better this team has been coached through four games than it was last year. Iavaroni's getting through to them. They're out in transition, abusing lanes to create confusion, and playing consistent defense. Even if they whif on a steal attempt, they're planning for it. This team is growing, and it's got pieces to compete. Good start for the year."
Orlando's narrow victory over Chicago last night left Third Quarter Collapse unimpressed: "They beat the Chicago Bulls, 96-93, to pull their record to .500 last night, but they once again played poorly, owing their victory to Chicago's ineptitude more than anything else. Stan Van Gundy's team committed 7 turnovers in the final quarter, watching what had been a 17-point lead disappear against a team that, even with a brand-new coach, still doesn't play its best lineup enough."
Can't bear to peek at your own portfolio these days? Check out Celticsblog's "Stock Up, Stock Down" feature. While you're at it, short Brian Scalabrine.
Matt Watson at Detroit Bad Boys takes issue with the notion that the Pistons underchieved by winning only one ring: "I've never bought the argument that the Pistons needed to win multiple titles to justify their place in the league - by that measure, the only team worthy of holding its head high for the greater part of the last decade is the Spurs. The Pistons are what the are: consistently good, sometimes great, a champion once. They're like the NBA's version of Martin Scorsese - a body of work that makes every director drool with only one Academy Award to show for it."
Reacting to the Iverson-Billups deal, Marcus Camby takes a few more digs at the Nuggets' organization.
Why have the Lakers looked so strong defensively thus far? Kurt from Forum Blue & Gold sums it up in three words: Strong Side Zone: "Simply put, whatever side of the court the opponents have the ball on, the Lakers do two things: 1) They pressure the ball with that players' defender; 2) They try to float another defender (usually Gasol or Odom at the four) over to the side the ball is on (or strong side). The team essentially plays a sort of zone behind the man pressuring the ball (although it can look like the Lakers are playing a soft man-to-man, it is more a matchup zone)."