Chris Webber's time in Detroit continues to be a triumphant homecoming. The latest success came with a 92-74 win over the Clippers, with Webber's 19 points and nine boards helping Detroit take its seventh straight win. The East-leading Pistons are now 11-3 with Webber, who averaged 14 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 3.2 apg over his last five games entering Monday's win.
Substance is Webber's style
Answering a few questions about Webber's time in Detroit
Are you enjoying the crafty veteran stage of his career?
Very much. I like this Webber, who underwent microfracture surgery in 2003, even more than the explosive Fab 5 guy who first came into the NBA. But I'm admittedly a weird guy, because I liked watching Michael Jordan with the Wizards better than with the Bulls. I enjoyed seeing the game he had beneath the great athleticism. You see that now more and more with Webber.
But how would he match up with Shaq in the playoffs, giving up 2 inches and maybe 75 pounds, at least?
Shaq's going to dwarf most anybody, and that's true when he faces Webber in the paint. But Webber can step out and hit the 15-footer. When Shaq defended former Pistons center Ben Wallace in the past, he knew Ben would be coming in and cutting to the hoop. Webber's a tougher matchup.
OK, then how about Big Z in Cleveland?
That's a guy he can even post up. As big as he is, Zydrunas Ilgauskas is not a threat to block a lot of shots.
Which ex-Philly star is thriving best?
Looks like Webber's doing better than Iverson, who's been injured, in Denver. It's no fun when you're upset with your role, like Webber was in Philadelphia. Going to the lottery is no fun at this stage of his career.
Kobe Bryant said after facing Webber recently: "When he comes in the game, you can see all of those guys start licking their chops and cutting even harder to the basket, because they know what he will be giving them.'' OK, whose chops are getting a big workout?
Rip Hamilton. He's a guy who moves well without the ball, and benefits from a big man who can get him the ball. Good basketball players want to play with other players who have a high IQ for basketball. Webber's played with some like that in Sacramento (Vlade Divac, Mike Bibby) and Washington (Rasheed Wallace, Rod Strickland).
Anybody else who bears watching as his physical skills erode?
If you take away Vince Carter's ability to explode, I think he could still be effective. Bryant, Iverson (as a point guard more than a scorer he could be highly effective) and Steve Nash. Down the road, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony could emphasize a different part of their games.
What's the immediate future look like for Webber?
This is when the vets rest up during the All-Star break, and then get dialed in. Pat Riley's doing it -- it looks like he's coming back after the break too. Look for the East contenders to raise their games.
Webber's 33 and looking for that first ring. Will he have many chances to reach for it?
A friend always says, "You don't know how many jumps you have in your body." It's not a gradual thing -- sometimes losing it just happens, and you're not the same. That's where technique can keep your career going. I think Webber has some good years ahead.
ESPN analyst Jamal Mashburn retired last season after averaging 19.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game over 12 NBA seasons.
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Rasheed Wallace and Flip Murray enjoy the dance show put on by the Detroit Pistons' Male Dance Team, The Spare Tires, during a game against the visiting Clippers.
The idea that's gaining momentum is to put either Utah's Mehmet Okur or Deron Williams on the West All-Star team, because at 34-17 the Jazz deserve representation on the team and won't have any with Carlos Boozer out.
This is what I call the Parliament argument, because it makes it sound like we're electing some kind of basketball government and that the principality of Utah simply must be represented. As you can probably tell, I'm not a big supporter of this line of reasoning.
Not only has it been the basis for nearly every awful All-Star selection in recent history (take a bow, Tyrone Hill), but the basic premise turns the entire logic of selecting an All-Star team on its head. Everyone seems to forget that the idea is to put on a game for the fans by selecting the 12 best players. Somehow, that's been perverted into putting on a game for the coaches by selecting the 12 players with the best teammates.
Chad Ford and John Hollinger break down trade rumors involving the Nets and Pau Gasol possibly going to the Bulls. Hollinger likes shipping Luol Deng over Ben Gordon as the main piece in any deal. They also take a look at who will be the first pick in the NBA draft.
Jazz win fifth straight, top Hawks
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Jazz center Mehmet Okur heads to the hoop for two of his 19 points in Utah's win over the Hawks.
Quote of the Day
-- Andrew Ayres
Soham (Chicago): Is it time to give the Heat any credit? Having won 6 out of 7 with a really good showing against the Spurs Sunday. I like the formula of Shaq first half and then hand it over to Dwyane Wade? Also what about Eddie Jones, like the pick up?
John Hollinger: I still have my concerns over he Heat -- the one loss was a doozy. But as I've said at other times, Wade has been the best player in the league this year (though Dirk Nowitzki's superior durability makes him MVP in my book). The key thing with Jones is that he enables them to trade James Posey for a point guard -- hopefully they can pull that off this week.
February 14, 1966
Wilt Chamberlain scored 41 points in a 149-123 Philadelphia win over Detroit to pass Bob Pettit (20,880 points), becoming the NBA's all-time scoring leader, a distinction he held for more than 18 years until passed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1984.
February 14, 1986
February 14, 1995
-- ESPN Research
The Nuggets and Warriors played their third high-scoring game of the season on Monday, a 123-111 victory for Denver. (The Nuggets also won the previous two games, 115-112 and 140-129.)
With one game left to play this season (March 7 in California), the two teams have combined to average 243.3 points per game in their three meetings. Over the last 15 seasons (since 1992-93), the only teams to have such a high average in at least three games were the Suns and SuperSonics, who with the help of a triple-overtime game, averaged 243.5 per game last season.
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