Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
The Painted Area's travelogue from Dallas is chock full of good stuff -- Texas' best taco stands, a trip to American Airlines arena, shopping for used books in a converted opera house, and a close examination of both O.J. Mayo's game...and the Dancin' Dirk doll.
FreeDarko hopes that the dawn of a new political era means that basketball will be seen through a softer lens: " The world is ready for a more nuanced view of the game, one where Cleveland's ascendance doesn't take anything away from what Boston and LA have going on, where the Hawks can be both up-and-coming and taken seriously at the same time, and where Devin Harris doesn't need a counterpoint in Paul, Williams, or anyone else to be understood and appreciated."
Peachtree Hoops reminds us that just because a game features a lot of possessions doesn't mean it's "up-tempo": "Helped by all the loose ball fouls following missed Pacers shots, the third quarter had 26 possessions for each team. That's more possessions than any other quarter but I wouldn't call it an up-tempo quarter of basketball. Conversely, the fourth quarter, which certainly featured a lot of half-court basketball but despite that (and following the third quarter) felt like it was played at a higher tempo than the third featured just 20 possessions for each time."
Brew Hoop has a nickname for Luc Mbah a Moute: "Luc really has a smooth, soothing effect on both ends of the court. Tonight he ignited the Aussie, who dunked early and dunked late. Call him the Principal, because he's royalty, and he's in command."
For 48 Minutes of Hell, the Spurs' loss to the Bucks was a flashpoint: "[C]urrently, this is a mediocre basketball team. Honestly, I don't think they are as good as their 20-11 record suggests. Of their 31 games, 5 victories are by 3 point's or less, two of which were on final, have as much validity as a coin flip, shots. The Spurs have won a remarkable three games by way of double overtime. They've beat Dallas, Denver, Houston, Utah, and Phoenix, but those teams were at varying degrees of strength. They're yet to beat an elite team."
Rob Mahoney on the Thunder's Nenad Krstic pickup: "Pretty sweet pick-up for the Thunder, though. The team has been ridiculously competitive this season in relation to their laughable record; it seems as though every time I tune in or check a mid-game box score, they're nursing a tiny lead or facing a manageable deficit. The issue isn't one of effort, and you'd know as much if you watch the Thunder regularly (the few, the proud). There just isn't enough talent on the roster for the bunch to be a good team, and Krstic certainly helps there. Dude can play, though he's certainly not without his flaws. His presence suddenly makes Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith's expiring deals just that much more expendable, and one can only hope that OKC will get back prospects or picks in return."
Khandor's Sports Blog says that Jose Calderon gets an unfair rap for his defense and is "far from being an atrocious defender at the PG position in the NBA." Khandor ranks the defense of all 30 NBA starting point guards. According to Khandor, there's actually a worse defender at the position than Luke Ridnour.
Brett Pollakoff at NBA Fanhouse offers us a sneak peek at the 2009 All-Star jerseys and wonders, "[W]hat is it about the Phoenix game that brings out the worst in the people that design the uniforms? Remember the purple monstrosities from the 1995 game with the big cactus on the front? Sure you do."
Hornets247 on New Orleans trying to integrate Peja Stojakovic back into the offense: "The Hornets were force-feeding Peja looks from deep all night. It was probably a good game to try it, since we were up against the lowly Wizards, and they ran double screens, down screens, cross screens and simple pick and pops for open threes for Peja. He only managed to hit one of the nine open looks he got. Come back to us, Peja."