In with the old, and out with the new.
Dropping ball on resolutions
The NBA does New Year's backwards Monday, ringing 2007 in with the old (ball) and out with the new (the loathed microfiber composite sphere). Bouncing along with these changes, here's a handful of New Year's resolutions dished with cut hands for your consideration.
Be it resolved in 2007 to . . .
Jason Collins, Nets 7-footer -- Raise that woeful PER of 4.25 (15 is league average). Your Hollinger number is the lowest among the 219 players currently on track to play more than 500 minutes.
• Gilbert Arenas, Wiz guard -- Forget "hibachi." Say adios to "quality shot." Zero, resolve to come up with more phrases to announce the launching of your latest shot. Suggestion -- "Sir Isaac Newton!" (what goes up, must come down -- in the hoop). But there's no doubt you'll come up with something.
• DeSagana Diop, Mavs center -- Dish another assist. Big guy, this is the giving season. We know you're no Vlade Divac, but your last assist came on Nov. 27, giving you five for the season. With 34 turnovers, the assist-turnover ratio could be better. Not Yinka territory here, but you're daring to come close.
• Allen Iverson, Nuggets guard -- Make people utter that Nash-applied phrase, "he makes his teammates better." It helps that you will have better teammates by month's end.
• San Antonio Spurs -- Increase the ease with which you whoop up on your foes. You can push the point differential, currently an NBA leading plus 9.4, to an even 10. Take the sweats off. Put the cellie away. You can do it.
• The Atlantic Division -- Look more ashamed. Honestly. If Portland, Maine, not Oregon, had the ail Blazers in the Atlantic, there would now be a three-way tie for first at 13-18.
• Boston Celtics -- Win at home. Is it the new cheerleaders? You have the NBA's worst mark (4-10) in your soulless crib, the TD Banknorth Garden. Maybe the beloved Cedric Maxwell can go on a "quack" strike until things improve.
• Vassilis Spanoulis, Rockets guard and Walter Herrmann, Bobcats forward -- Get comfy. Make yourself at home here in North America. It will help your shooting. Maybe watch a Toby Keith video like 43 times in a row. The stars from Greece and Argentina, respectively, are both shooting a masonic 31 percent in their first NBA seasons. You two might not be Ray Allen to begin with, but you can do better. Now go enjoy the old ball.
• Toronto Raptors -- Stop being so nice, Canada's team. There's no Lady Byng Trophy to win here. We love the theatrics of the technical foul, but you have a league-low four Ts. That's not getting it done. More Airing of Grievances, please. Barge over a scorer's table, Bargnani. Raps could learn from New York's theater district, which features the Knicks 26 Ts, tied with, no surprise, Detroit, for the league lead.
• Adam Morrison, Bobcats forward -- Sell your see-saw. One day you're a soaring Bird, the next you're a duck-billed platypus. Saturday you made 9 of 17 FG attempts and netted a career-high 30 in the win over the Pacers. On Friday, you missed 14 of 15 shots in a triple OT win over the Lakers. Rookie of the Year or Wookie of the Year? It's up to you.
• Dwyane Wade, Heat guard -- Heal that wrist and begin an ironman streak worthy of Ron Boone. Because, if you removed one player from any team, perhaps no team would be as simply terrible as yours is without you, Shaq or no Shaq.
ESPN.com editor Andrew Ayres resolves to put words to the NBA League Pass "goodnight" theme in 2007.
• Talk back to The Daily Dime gang
Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Suns center Amare Stoudemire brings it on home against the Pistons and Nazr Mohammed on Sunday night. Up next for the Pacific Division leaders: Big Ben and The Bulls on Tuesday night.
Chad Ford writes that Texas forward Kevin Durant ranks as the nation's top freshman:
Greg Oden may be the consensus No. 1 pick in the draft because he's a center, but he's not the best freshman in the country. That honor goes to Durant. You'll have to go back to Carmelo Anthony to find a more dominant freshman in a major NCAA program.
Durant has been nothing short of spectacular in almost every area of the game. He can score both inside and out, and has been nearly a double-digit rebounder despite his wiry frame and outside-in game. He's been a fearless leader on the court and has drawn comparisons, from some scouts, to Kevin Garnett with a jump shot. Barring injury, he's a lock for the No. 2 pick in the draft and will likely go No. 1 if Greg Oden decides to stay at Ohio State as a sophomore.
• Chauncey Billups is scheduled for an MRI on Tuesday. "It's feeling better today, but I don't know. I'm not going to play until I feel all the way right."
• Raja Bell got his first technical in the second quarter for arguing a call, then loudly swore at a fan seated behind the scorer's table. Bell only shook his head when asked about the incident after the game. Amare Stoudemire was also called for a technical in the second quarter.
-- The Associated Press
No Chauncey: Nash dissects Detroit
Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
Nuggets guard Allen Iverson (28 points, eight assists) found Devin Harris and the Mavs too much to overcome, even without Dirk Nowitzki (sinus infection). Dallas won its tenth straight, giving Avery Johnson his 100th career coaching win.
Quote of the Day
-- Andrew Ayres
Fear not. NBA players should have had some time to get reacquainted with the reintroduced ball.
A few facts about the ball-changing that occurs Monday, according to the NBA's home office in NYC:
• Spalding sent a shipment of 10 new leather balls to each team which arrived on Dec. 14, allowing time for teams to break in and get reacquainted with leather basketballs.
• A second shipment of balls, including 10 in new condition and four in used condition which were all secured from the teams, were redistributed on Dec. 20. Each team currently has a minimum of 24 leather basketballs.
• By the end of January, each team is scheduled to receive an additional shipment of leather basketballs from Spalding. That shipment should bring each team's total to about 50.
• The process for selecting the game ball will continue to include having the crew chief consult with one member from each team to make the selection.
• New elements of the process will include the crew chief measuring the inflation of the ball to ensure it meets NBA specifications and checking the ball for wear and tear.
Carl (NYC): Do you think the New Jersey Nets will be able to turn their season around and make the playoffs and contend for a NBA title?
John Hollinger: I really don't. I suppose it's possible they could be the least-bad team in the Atlantic and make the playoffs at 35-47 or so, but that's about the best-case scenario. Mr. Thorn, it's time to get the dynamite.
Tom (Tempe): The way the NBA does voting for the All-Star game is a travesty. It's become nothing more than a popularity contest and Yao Ming is a lock until he retires. Do you see the comish changing any of this next year or in the future?
John Hollinger: What do you mean "it's become" a popularity contest? Hello, McFly -- it's always been like that. Only thing commish is likely to change is how the online voting works, because having a billion Chinese people to pull the lever for Yao and T-Mac is overwhelming the system.
LeBron James, on his 22nd birthday on Saturday, scored 33 points for the Cavaliers. Two players in NBA history scored more points on their birthday at age 22 or younger: Terry Dischinger (37 points for Chicago on his 22nd birthday in 1962) and Amare Stoudemire (34 points for Phoenix on his 22nd birthday in 2004).