Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
Brew Hoop wants to get excited about the improved Milwaukee Bucks, but is having horrible flashbacks of the optimism of seasons past: "As of last night the Bucks were clinging to the 8th and final playoff spot in the East despite a road-heavy schedule and their fair share of injuries. Not bad. But you're probably also a bit wary, because the Bucks always seem to offer some early-season hope...and then the New Year hits and the wheels come off. And the wheels explode into fireballs." Brew Hoop is hopeful that Scott Skiles could be the difference-maker this time around.
Celticsblog offers very gracious words for Pau Gasol: "Pau Gasol has received a lot of grief over the last couple of seasons regarding his perceived softness on both ends of the floor and an inferred tendency to shrink in big spots. Whether that reputation is entirely fair overall, I'm not sure. What I am certain about is that if we are going to call Pau's toughness and play in the clutch into question, it would be disingenuous not to recognize him when he does step up in crunch time. That is exactly what he did in yesterday's Christmas Day circus with the Celtics."
The league has upheld Rasheed Wallace's two most recent techincal fouls, which means the current count is at 10. When and if Wallace hits 16, he'll be suspended one game. Each subsequent T will cost him another game. [Hat tip: Detroit Bad Boys]
Blazers Edge wishes it could be Jason Terry...at the bank?: "Speaking of shooters, this isn't news or anything but Jason Terry can get any freaking shot he wants at any time. Something about those Seattle boys. That is one skill I wish I had. Just walking around during life pulling up and dropping buckets at any random moment. In line at the ATM, swish. There goes the teller. She doesn't faze me. I'm wet."
Former NBA center Todd MacColloch is a pinball wizard, and is a real comer on the professional pinball circuit: "MacCulloch bought pinball machines. So many, in fact, that they spill from the basement of his sprawling, 6,000-square-foot house on this island a half-hour ferry ride from Seattle, taking over a guest room, an eight-car garage and all of the lower storage room beneath the garage as well as half of the family room upstairs."
Clippers rookie DeAndre Jordan has had just about enough of the team's strength and conditioning coach: "Rich Williams, our strength and conditioning coach, always gets so mad at me when he knows that I'm eating sweets. Let me tell you something about Rich. Okay look, I'm not the biggest guy in the world at all, but Rich seems to think that I'm going to be overweight when I finish playing basketball. If I'm drinking a Gatorade, he'll take the Gatorade out of my hands and give me water. If we get Krispy Kreme donuts, he'll take the donut out of my hand and give me a protein bar. Before games, I'll get a little thing of popcorn and hide so I can eat it in peace. Then he'll come out of nowhere, take the popcorn and give me a plate of fruit. He always tells me, "DeAndre, you're going to be 400 pounds when you're finished playing if you eat like this." No way! It's not in my DNA. I don't like Rich."
FreeDarko was struck by comments in Ric Bucher's recent column about Anthony Randolph, namely that "some believe [Randolph] has the talent to one day be among the league's top 10 players." (FD has been bullish on and devoted to Randolph for some time): "I might be treading on the old 'potentially potential' territory, but at this point, I think the real drama is seeing what kind of prospect Randolph develops into, not projecting what he might do as a refined NBA player. I'm especially attached to the kind of athlete who forces this kind of thinking. The charm, and the irony, of it is that you've got the fantastic doubling as the height of scouting acumen, the whimsical and the shrewd forced to pull in the same direction. But there's a big difference between venturing there selectively (less so if you're a half-serious blog) and applying it as a matter of course, as front offices once did; it's also bizarre to see it show up at all now, seeing how the climate has changed, the age limit has sobered everyone up, and there are so many embarrassing quotes on the record about past duds."
The Kings' lackluster season has inspired Tom Ziller to consider the nuances of team-building. Ziller concludes that, whether the Kings turn to Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto or try to replicate the San Antonio Spurs' "three-star model," all the evidence points to one unequivocal truth: "Sacramento needs a megastar."
Down goes Paul Millsap: "Jazz forward Paul Millsap will be sidelined 7-to-10 days after suffering a sprained posterior cruciate knee ligament on Tuesday night at Milwaukee. Millsap attended the Jazz's shootaround on Friday morning, when the Jazz announced the results of an MRI exam done on Wednesday. Millsap's PCL is not torn and surgery will not be required, but he will likely wear a knee brace when he returns."
It's safe to say that NBA ref Joe DeRosa has a boatload of Starwood points: "On Christmas Eve, the Ohio native and North Canton resident checked out of a Detroit hotel after working a Chicago Bulls-Detroit Pistons game and was told it was the 173rd night he'd spent in a Marriott Hotel this year." The good news for DeRosa was that he got to spend Christmas at home in Ohio...working the Wiz-Cavs game.