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Tag: Indiana Pacers

Trash or Treasure: The Lance Stephenson Edition

Pacers V Heat. A match up many didn’t think would happen with Indiana being so out of form but the Pacers lifted when they needed to and are right in their Eastern Conference Final against the defending champion Miami Heat. It’s a very intriguing match up. The superstar in waiting Paul George, up against the current King Lebron James. Roy Hibbert against his rebounding demons. The under performing Pacers bench against the canned heat of the Miami bench but I’m going to focus on an individual. Lance Stephenson. Some say he was robbed of an all-star spot. Others say he is a head case who too easily loses focus. Let’s take a look in a cheesy, radio segment kind of way. Welcome to Lance Stephenson, Trash or Treasure.   (more…)



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Finals Cooking – @jLmcKern

Boof is here with another cracking write up! Fresh off the back of our joint venture with the Hoops Podcast, the boys will be contributing articles for the site as well so keep an eye out for more great content

NBA teams are like recipes from a cookbook, the good ones are simple and subtle yet have plenty of flavor whereas the bad ones can be confusing and taste like something that expired weeks earlier.

We are down to the point in the season were the remaining teams need every little piece of the recipe to come together and perfect that ideal meal.

In the Western Conference right now it looks like a complete mismatch, it’s a cook off going on between Heston Blumenthal and a burger flipper at your local McDonalds.

The Spurs have long been the Masterchefs of perfecting a rotation and having all of the key ingredients play their part without overpowering the entirety of the meal.

This showcase has somehow, beyond the realms of possibility, gone to another level this postseason. At times you feel sorry for the team on the other side of the court but as a fan you are left sitting in your chair watching on with your jaw to the floor.

Yes the Thunder have been weakened by injuries, losing Ibaka is like making a shepherds pie without the base. They have lost their foundation and without it they have simply fallen apart and look like a complete mess.

Now they face their biggest challenge yet, yes bigger than the NBA Finals from two years ago, they find themselves in a 0-2 hole and have the advantage of being at home, they will not won’t to disappoint their home audience.

In order to showcase their abilities and get this meal back on course to being a winner, they need the rest of their ingredients to evolve into pieces they are not used to being. The big men have to stand up and take the burden on and prove that they are not simple burger flippers but master class workers.

In the Eastern Conference you find a complete different story, it’s a battle of two 3 Michelin Star teams. Something that even right before the Playoffs began seemed like mission impossible as the big teams were all falling into the post season.

As we prepare ourselves for an epic game three battle, we dissect the two courses we have already devoured and dined on. The beauty of having such a spotlight on these games is that when somebody isn’t delivering as they normally would you can notice the ripple effect on the rest of the team.

Picture one of your favorite meals and the herbs and spices that may go into it, now remove one of them and the difference is monumental.

Both the Pacers and the Heat are missing ingredients from the first two games and whichever team can find the salt shaker or locate a different herb from their cupboard to replace the original will go a major way in deciding who wins the battle.

In Game 1 the Heat severely missed one of their key ingredients in Chris Bosh, the big man went an awful 4-12 from the field and a shattering 0-5 from deep. He ended the game with a +/- of -16 and the Heat showed that without his input and impact they are not what we expect. Let’s not get carried away, his second game wasn’t a thing of beauty but he showed a lot more effort and ended with a (-4) however the Heat won.

Game 2 for the Pacers wasn’t a complete disaster however there is evidence that the kitchen wasn’t far away from burning down. Paul George was the only starter who had major struggles from the starting group but the root of the problems lay beyond the main foundations, the bench was a complete shambles.

They (Mahinmi, Watson, Scola & Butler) combined for a total of 9 points, 5 rebounds and 1 assist.

Most chefs will tell you that the best pieces of any meal consist of the hidden parts that nobody gives attention to; in basketball this is your bench. The players who hardly ever garner attention but make as much of an impact as the key players, if the Pacers bench can’t contribute to the recipe the Pacers team along with the fans will be left with a sour taste as they rue yet another lost season.

Which team will work their magic with the cookbook they possess and produce the better tasting dish?

James McKern



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NBA Nation Australia’s Roundtable Featuring Adam Howes, Tom Read and NBA Slander – April 2014

It’s been a long time coming, but NBA Nation Australia’s Roundtable is finally back, and with the 2014 Playoffs just around the corner, there are are a multitude of topics that ache for discussion. From the rise, and subsequent demise of the Indiana Pacers, to an unbelievably close race for the MVP crown, this NBA season has once again gone above and beyond. Reaffirming that we, as basketball fans can engross ourselves in this beautiful game, and lose ourselves in its ever-changing and evolving landscape. This time round, we have three fantastic guests, all of whom are well ingrained in Australia’s basketball scene in their own way. Tom Read from our country’s #1 NBA Podcast #BelieveTheHype, Adam Howes who is fast becoming what we believe to be Australia’s number one NBA journalist, and the ever controversial, and always thoroughly entertaining NBA Slander. These guys will join the usual suspects to discuss some of the NBA’s most pressing questions, and have their own say at the culmination of another season, where all fans can come together, and rejoice over this beautiful thing we call basketball. Enjoy. (NB: Answers were submitted over the course of the past 4 days.)

1.With the playoffs just over a week away, there are several teams that are battling for the 8th and 7th seeds during the course of the final few games. Who will make the 8, and who will just miss out in both conferences?

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at New York Knicks

Nathan Darby: In the East my heart wants New York to sneak in and Atlanta to miss out. Will they do anything if they make the playoffs? It’s highly doubtful but they can make for some entertaining games. I still cannot believe that Charlotte are up there and I think that Brooklyn might be able to do some damage. In the West Phoenix will stay at 8. Such a good story for a team that nobody gave a  chance of doing anything and it’s great to see Gerald Green showing he’s more than a dunker. The rest of the West will stay as is. A Clippers Vs Golden State First Round Match-Up would be mint. Bogut being a pest, niggling at Blake and DeAndre. Curry and Klay dropping bombs. CP3 running the show. If the Warriors get a roll on they’ll be tough over 7.

Ryan O’Connell: It’s the Knicks and Hawks battling it out for the final spot in the East, and I think Atlanta will take it. Both teams have horror draws to finish the season, playing teams above them in the standings, apart from the Hawks facing the lowly Bucks on the last day of the season. The Hawks should beat Milwaukee, and therefore win the right to get belted in the first round of the playoffs. Plus, let’s face it, the Knicks are putrid. In the West, it’s a lottery, with Memphis, Dallas, Phoenix, and even Golden State all duking it out for the final three spots. The Grizzlies play the Suns on the second last day of the season in a match that will probably decide the fate of both teams. I’ll lean towards Memphis’ experience getting them home in that game, which means the Suns brilliant season may not result in a playoff spot; which is ludicrous considering what an excellent basketball team they’ve been all season.

Adam Howes: I’ll start with the East. One through seven is all clinched, with some teetering between Charlotte and Washington, so really it’s just a matter of the eighth seed being filled. It’s a two horse race between the Hawks and the Knicks, but despite their struggles I think the Hawks hold onto their current spot. The Knicks are cooked, stick a fork in them, they are DONE! They still have to face the Raptors (twice), Bulls and also the Nets. I’ll be shocked if they catch Atlanta and really, do they even deserve that spot after the abysmal season they’ve had? That’s a resounding no from me on that front. Besides, Lala’s probably already got the bags packed and the travel agent on speed dial. I hear Chicago is nice in June. The plot thickens out west. GSW, Dallas and Phoenix have all been playing with reckless abandon over their last 10 or so games, whilst Memphis is still hanging in by the skin of their teeth. As awesome as it would be from a basketball purist’s perspective to have the Mavs drop to the eight spot and face off against the Spurs in the first round, my gut instinct has the Suns meeting Timmy and company, which is a little disappointing, as I think that Phoenix vs. OKC in round 1 would make for some heart pounding basketball theatre. Getting back to the Warriors, I think they stay in the sixth position. Even though they have more games remaining (5) than the aforementioned teams, only one is a Playoff bound opponent.

Brenton Harris: Perhaps nothing better reflects the disparity of the two conferences than these two races, on the one hand you have the Hawks and the Knicks seemingly doing everything in their power to NOT make the playoffs in the East and on the other hand you have three worthy teams in the Suns, Mavericks and Grizzlies slugging it out in a winner-takes-all dog-fight for the final two remaining spots. In the Eastern conference, which honestly I couldn’t care less about I think the Hawks will unintentionally find themselves in the playoffs and subject to a sweep at the hands of the Heat, but I won’t be watching them do so. My eyes will be locked on the far more exciting West where entertaining story lines such as the Cinderella run by the Suns, Dirks last stand and the grit and grind Grizzlies search to rediscover their identity, coupled with some rather fortuitous scheduling that sees the teams all play each other over the course of the last few days of the season, should make for some utterly enthralling viewing. As a Suns fan, who infamously gave them NO CHANCE of achieving anything this year, I’d love for the Cinderella run they’ve been on to continue, however my head tells me that I’ll be sweating it out on the result of the final game of the campaign as the Suns square off against the Grizzlies in a ‘play-in’ game for the ages. The Mavs, with an easier schedule will have sewn up their spot already. This whole situation is yet another example of why the NBA is awesome. No matter what happens, I’d just like to take the opportunity to once again reiterate that I was WRONG about the Suns and that I love them dearly for what they’ve done for me as a fan this year. Bring on that last game against the Grizz, and then bring on those Spurs!

Nick Caro: It’s getting clearer by the day! Just this afternoon (Thursday) the Hawks ensured the Cavs won’t make the postseason, and made things very difficult for the Knicks with a win over Boston. At this point it’s hard to see New York overcoming the deficit, so I am saying the Hawks will definitely claim the 8th spot, and get booted by Miami or Indiana in the first round. The West is a bit tougher to call, with the Grizzlies and Suns battling hard for 8th, while the 7th placed Mavs aren’t yet a sure thing. Even Golden State could technically fall out at this point. While I love the story of the Phoenix Suns, I have to think the Grizzlies will push themselves into the 8 spot, and enjoy a huge first round match up with the Spurs.

NBA Slander: In the East, I think the Hawks will hang on to that 8th spot. They are two games in front of the Knicks at the moment and both teams have three games left to play. I don’t see the Knicks winning their last three against the Bulls, Nets and Raptors who are all in the playoffs. The Hawks, however, have the Heat, Bobcats and Bucks. The West is a much closer race between the Mavericks, Grizzlies and Suns (all within half a game of each other). Assuming the Grizzlies beat the Lakers, they have to play against the Suns and the Mavericks for their final two games. I’m going with the Mavs to hold the 7th spot and the Grizzlies to hold 8th.

Tom Read: In the Eastern Conference, it’s pretty safe to say that the Atlanta Hawks will lock down the 8th seed. They are 2 games ahead of the New York Knicks with 3 games remaining. PLUS they hold the tie-breaker over the Knicks. So, basically… They’ll have to lose all 3 of their remaining games vs the Heat, Bobcats & Bucks plus the Knicks would have to win all 3 of their remaining games against the Bulls, Nets & Raptors for them to fall out of the Playoffs. In the West, the Playoffs basically start now as the Mavericks, Grizzlies & Suns all play each-other over the final week of the season. (How’s that for scheduling!) I see all 3 teams finishing on 49 wins & Phoenix finishing in 9th place due to the tiebreaker.

 2. A big talking point over the last couple of weeks has been the Indiana Pacers and their apparent fall from grace. From league leading title favorites, to underdogs in a first round match up, what is wrong with this team?

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ND: I’ve still got the Pacers winning it. I said it at the start of the season and I can’t change my mind now. I like to think of it as tapering. They’re just priming themselves for the big show.

RO: Their offense sucks, to put it bluntly. Though there have been reports that chemistry has also been an issue since the Danny Granger/Evan Turner trade, the fact remains if the team was scoring more, and therefore winning more games, chemistry wouldn’t be an issue. Though in a classic ‘chicken versus egg’ scenario, maybe the offense would be better if the chemistry was better? Hhhmm. Back to the offense, and the Pacers hot start to the season may have been fool’s gold. Indy still lack an elite-level penetrator/point guard that can get easy buckets for teammates when the offense stagnates. Roy Hibbert is much improved down low, but remains mechanical at times. And I personally believe that the team overrates Lance Stephenson. Put it this way, I don’t think you can win the title if Lance is a vital part of your team. Their defense will win them their fair share of games, even in the playoffs, but sadly, this is no longer a championship team. If indeed it ever was.

AH: where is Roy Hibbert? Talk about underachieving, he’s over seven feet tall for crying out loud. Seriously, how is this supposed “All-Star” not dominating? Is it because he’s not seeing enough of the ball, his recent protests alluding to that as possibly the cause, unless he was referring to THIS? As for George, perhaps he should just take a social media sabbatical and focus on basketball and his leadership skills. In regards to that early season MVP discussion, shame on those of you who indulged in that nonsense. Such utter Poppycock! (If I’m to be remembered for anything in my first ever round table, let it be said that it was for using the word poppycock in reference to Paul George’s MVP legitimacy). All I know is this, if there is actually any tension between the two, Vogel or David West better sort it out quick fast or else their season will go down in NBA history as a bitter disappointment or at best be turned into a question on a TV game show… ‘This once lauded team won over 50 games in the 2013-14 NBA season, until dysfunctional set in and they were eliminated in the second round”.

BH: Simple: They’ve lost confidence in their own abilities and basketball is such a confidence driven game. Fans had better hope they regain that belief quickly because there is a team in Toronto and one in Chicago that are both brimming with confidence in their systems and in their own abilities that could easily upset the Pacers and find themselves facing the Heat for a spot in the finals.

NC: I’ve run through this a thousand times in my head and the only word that keeps popping up is chemistry. This team has lost ALL of it. Not just a player causing problems, or a bit of a feud between some guys. No. This team has somehow lost every single shred of chemistry which made them the NBA’s biggest threat to the Heat. Now, without that chemistry, and a dramatic drop in form from their stars, the Pacers have been relegated to a pack team, simply scraping their way to the end of the season. Coach Frank Vogel today rested their entire squad against the Bucks. A move scoffed at by yours truly. Why would a coach, on the verge of losing his team, sit his guys when the one thing they need is to re-learn how to play together? Rest? Ridiculous. They don’t need rest. Their average age is 26. They don’t need rest. They need to learn how to play together. Find that defensive, stifling style that made them so great to watch. This team simply HAS to find it soon, or I guarantee you they won’t make it past the first round.

NS: Absolutely everything. Many of us pegged them as legitimate contenders earlier in the season. Since then, many of us have changed our minds. We don’t know if they can right the ship. Let’s start with Roy Hibbert, a starting Center that managed to grab a grand total of 1 rebound in a game against their rival Miami Heat that may decide homecourt advantage. Utterly pathetic. And I’m not even going to use his name but a starting point guard for a championship caliber team cannot be averaging 2.8 assists in the last 5 games and 3.5 assist per game in the entire season. They better get their act together or they’re not going to make it out of the 1st round.

TR: This is a really perplexing situation at the moment. It’s amazing to see a team that only 2 months ago, looked like it would run away with the Eastern Conference #1 Seed & be well on their way to knocking the Heat off their mantle as the best team in the Conference. I don’t believe there’s just one thing that has gone wrong with the Pacers, but it’s a whole lot of little things that have mounted up into this situation. The biggest thing to me would be the deadline deal that sent Danny Granger to the 76ers in exchange for Evan Turner & Lavoy Allen. Whilst on court, this looked like it was a minor upgrade… Turner’s younger & more athletic than Granger… However, I think we may have all discounted that even when he was injured, this was still Danny Granger’s team. He was the first star from this new generation of Pacers & has been the locker room leader for this group. Throughout last season when he was sidelined, he was still at every game, training & was a functioning part of the team even though he wasn’t on the court. His leadership has allowed the Pacers to get the best out of their young guys in Paul George, Roy Hibbert & Lance Stephenson. However, now he’s gone, that leadership has fallen on the shoulders of the above mentioned guys & to a lesser extent, David West & George Hill. It has become clearly noticable that they aren’t ready to take on this level of responsibility just yet. Furthermore, Granger’s departure came at a time where there was a few off-court rumors & controversies surrounding Paul George. With the nature of these incidents, how hard would it be for him to demand leadership in a locker room full of guys in their twenties? Also, their offense has been really bad lately. They have been relying too much on isolation plays from George, Stephenson & Turner instead of trying to set picks or playing through the post. One of their major problems recently with their offense was the fact that CJ Watson had been sidelined. I’m not a huge fan of George Hill, he’s plays the game too safe. With Watson back in the team now, Hill won’t be as heavily relied on & CJ can start to get the offense working a bit better again.

3. It wouldn’t be a roundtable without discussing the MVP race. There are a multitude of contenders, but really, it is just a two horse race. To this point, who is your MVP of season 2013/14 and why?

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ND: Durantula. No doubt. He ran the show at OKC with Westbrook out and didn’t miss a beat. KD has bulked up and doesn’t just rely on jumpers anymore. His game has evolved and has taken over Lebron as the best in the league. Just remember back to Durant’s complete domination of Lebron earlier in the season. On a side note, how good has Noah gone this season? MVP calibre season but there’s two greats ahead of him.

RO: Kevin Durant. It’s very close, and you could easily make a case that LeBron James’ superior defense and passing gives him the edge, but I simply believe that Durant has had a slightly better season. Throw in the fact that Durant plays in the ultra-tough Western Conference, has been without his sidekick Russell Westbrook for large parts of the season, and honestly, some dreaded voter fatigue for LeBron, and I think KD will be the 2013/14 MVP. And he’ll thoroughly deserve it.

AH: Joakim Noah. There I said it. I can’t front, that’s my guy. If I was eligible to cast an MVP vote for him I would. (To be fair guys, you did ask who my MVP of the 2013/14 season is) Now yes there is definitely some bias thrown in the mix when it comes to my answer, but look at the facts:-

* On a team with no active superstar, his spirited play and never say die attitude has the Bulls almost  at the 50 win mark. Who foresaw that?
* The Bulls have played 78 games, he’s lead the charge playing in 76 of those.
* He leads the Bulls in assists, rebounds and blocks and is on pace to set career highs in two of those categories and also scoring. In fact, he only needs four more points, two assists and thirty two rebounds across the remaining four games to become only the fourth center in league history to average 12 ppg, 11 rpg and 5 apg in a season. The other three gentlemen he joins, Bill Russell, Wilt and Kareem.
* He’s tied with Lance Stephenson in leading the league in triple doubles (4), which is remarkable as it’s not a common feat for big men. In fact, he’s become only the fourth center in NBA history to have four triple doubles in a season, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and David Robinson. He’s also seventh in the league in double doubles.
* Also achieved his second consecutive All-Star berth this season. I’ve even left some other things of note out so as not to prattle on too much. Simply put, you take the emotional spark plug off that Bulls squad and they are nowhere near where they are in the  standings right now.

Please note: In saying all this, I’ve had my money on Kevin Durant since the start of the year to take home the Maurice Podoloff trophy (I may be a Bulls fan but I’m also a realist). If KD doesn’t win it, I’m going to have some serious conspiratorial thoughts about Adam Silver and his cronies.

BH: Kevin Durant will be the MVP this year, and it will be thoroughly deserved. His season passes both the statistical and eyeball tests and the combination of his stellar performance and a bit of voter fatigue should see him awarded the trophy for the very first time. LeBron remains the best and most complete player on the planet though.

NC: This is so tough. I picked KD as the MVP at the start of the season, and honestly, he’s exceeded my expectations. The 40+ streak, the 25+ streak, countless game winners, defensive prowess not seen before and an ability to win games all on his own without his right hand man there to help him. I just cannot go past him. LeBron has had another great year, but hasn’t impressed me to the point where I believe he deserves the award over KD. Simple stats will tell you he hasn’t surpassed Durant in any area aside from FG%, and we all know LeBron’s points come primarily in the paint. With the current climate being very luke warm in the Eastern conference, I don’t see how LeBron James could be handed the trophy over Kevin Durant, who dominates the white hot west.

NS: In my opinion, Kevin Durant is the clear MVP. He has had a more consistent season where he’s improved (and beat LeBron James) in nearly every statistical category. Furthermore, his player efficiency rating (PER) is a league-leading 30.22, edging out LeBron’s 29.52. What more is there to say? Mr Durant deserves the award and it would be daylight robbery if LeBron won MVP.

TR: This isn’t a conversation… Kevin Durant is the MVP. You can make an arguement for LeBron James. But any other player in the NBA doesn’t deserve to be included in discussing an ‘MVP race’… There’s daylight between 2nd & 3rd.

4. It is sure to be a fascinating playoff series this year, with the West consisting of so many great teams, while the East has gotten considerably worse. What is your ideal meeting in each conference, and why would the two teams match up so well?

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ND: Golden State Vs Clippers. Just look at how good their match-ups have been this season. Imagine that in the heat of the playoffs over 7 games. The rivalry between these two sides has just grown. Watching these two play, you can feel the emotion in the match. Plus they are two action packed teams to watch. Indiana Vs Miami. The only two teams capable of doing anything in the East. This would be a beast of a conference battle. George Vs Lebron will be massive and Hibbert trying to exploit the lack of reliable centres on the Heat line up. They’ve had some great bouts during the season and I would love to see Indiana roll the Heat in 7.

RO: As mentioned earlier, the Pacers have dropped off so much that the Eastern Conference Finals match-up with the Miami Heat that was anticipated all season might actually be a fizzer – if the Pacers even make it that far. You could argue that a Bulls vs Heat series would have more emotion and intensity, while the Nets swept the Heat during the regular season, which sets up a tantalising subplot should they meet in the Conference Finals. However, let’s not forget that even in the Pacers limp finish to the regular season, they still defeated the Heat in a close game in Indiana. Despite Indy’s offensive struggles, it’s still the series we want to see in the East. In the West, I’ll keep it simple: Spurs vs Thunder. They’re the two beat teams, and present serious match-up troubles for each other. It would be a great, great series, and a worthy decider of who comes out of the West, the far superior conference
when it comes to depth of quality teams.

AH: In the East, I can’t go past the Heat vs. the Bulls. I’ve never heard anyone say they don’t enjoy watching those teams go head to head. The way the Bulls are playing out of their minds and with such confidence at this present time, I’m 100% positive they want that match up to happen as much as the fans do. Miami haven’t looked as sharp of late, but of course we know how they are capable of rounding into form once the Playoffs hit. The question is, with all the basketball mileage they’ve absorbed over the last three seasons, can they dig into those reserves of energy and experience to appear again on the grand stage? I’m not as confident as most Heat fans are and I know if they do meet Chicago, Tim Thibodeau’s team will be the toughest obstacle in the East that they have to get past. Key match-up to watch: Butler versus James. Jimmy has become an elite defender in his short time in the NBA, can he keep James’s output to a minimum and frustrate him on the defensive end? That remains to be seen. As for the West, in a perfect world it would be an OKC/GSW Western Conference Finals meeting, but even if that doesn’t take place I really want to see these two teams clash. You have two teams with volume scorers, you have a solid of mix of veterans and youth and on top of this you have two of the most exciting teams to watch that make a League Pass subscription one of the greatest joyful luxuries in our lives. Key match-up to watch: Hard to go past Curry and Westbrook, but from a purely Australasian standpoint, Andrew Bogut vs. Stephen Adams. Chippy doesn’t even cover it, fireworks is still understating it. Let’s just say it could lead to some hardnosed, gritty, slug fests.

BH: I know it’s probably sacrilege not to say the Heat and the Pacers in the East, but there’s a part of me that really wants the Raptors to find a way into a conference finals showdown with the Heat. It’d be an amazing story, and would gift the Heat haters a fun, underdog team to pull for, while giving the profile of basketball in Canada a massive boost, perhaps finally making Toronto a destination city for free-agents like it deserves to be. RAP, RAP city bitch, will lose in 5 or 6.  In the West, I’ll take anyone vs anyone and be happy, however in an ideal world I’d like to see the Western Conference finals be a Thunder vs Clippers affair, with the Clippers reigning supreme so we can have ourselves a Hollywood as hell finals series. Either team would prevailing would make for a worthy finals though. My head says it’ll come down to the Spurs vs Thunder though, with the Thunder prevailing in 6.
NC: The West NEEDS Memphis to claim the 8th seed and face the Spurs in the first round. What could easily be a WCF series in the first round would set in motion a playoffs series for the ages, with the grit and grind of the Grizzlies, against the fundamental dominance of San Antonio playing out in an epic battle of two western conference powerhouses. In the East, bring on the Bulls and Nets. The Bulls have prospered without Derrick Rose and are still a threat in my eyes, while the Nets have overcome early struggles to become a very legitimate force in an average conference. Their playoff experience is invaluable with guys like KG and Pierce at the helm, and would go a long way in helping them overcome this first round match up with Chicago.
NS: There are too many fun matchups in the West but I’ll be looking forward to a Spurs Vs. Thunder conference final. It would be a great rematch of the 2012 Western Conference Finals where the Thunder won 4-2.In the East, a Bulls Vs. Heat conference final would get me as happy as a clam. LeBron James has averaged only 18.3 points against the Bulls and with the exception of the Spurs, he has averaged around 27.4 points against the rest of the league (I’ve done the Math). Yep, you guessed it, defense and LeBron struggling makes me happy.
TR: Houston v Portland is a potential series that i’m really looking forward to. These two teams match-up really well & have had some high-scoring encounters this season. Patrick Beverley should be back in time for the Playoffs & he defends Damian Lillard better than most other point guards. It’s a match-up of two top 5 offensive teams & it should be a super-fun first round series. Plus, Dwight Howard hasn’t won a Playoff series since 2010.

5. The NBA draft is touted as one of the most talented in recent memory with a multitude of prospects impressing teams, players   and fans alike. With the lottery just around the corner, how do you see the dominoes falling?

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ND: Hopefully Boston gets whoever they want (Could be Dante Exum??) but I’ve always liked Jabari Parker. I think he looks like a complete player. Scores well. Can rebound and block shots. Things didn’t go his way this season but the dude’s a competitor. Has that winners instinct and you could tell that by how disappointed he was with Dukes performance this season. Wiggins will probably go #1 but I see Parker being the better player.

RO: Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I’m not sure this draft is going to be as amazing as everyone – myself included – first thought. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very deep, and there are still a lot of very talented players in it, but is it really going to have six or more ‘can’t miss’ superstars in it? I’m not so certain. In terms of who is going to be drafted where? I’ve got no idea! Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum and Julius Randle could all go first overall, and then the rest could fall into any order imaginable. I’ve seriously got no idea, and a lot will depends on the draft order. I do like Randle though, if anyone’s asking . . .

AH: To be completely honest as someone who follows the NCAA from afar, in recent years I’ve paid little attention to the lead up to the Draft until the day arrives, but this year I’m definitely more engaged. In terms of who falls where, it’s hard to say at this point until a clear picture is painted of who is declaring eligibility. Of course the big names like Parker, Wiggins and Embiid will no doubt go high, but like majority of the avid basketball fans who reside in Australia, I’m most interested to see how things end up for our home grown top prospect, Dante Exum. Analyst Fran Fraschilla recently likened him to a young Michael Jordan, a comparison some thought was too much too soon. I’d made the same comparison in my own mind only days prior whilst watching THIS. Can he reach such levels of greatness? Will the lottery bound Lakers manoeuvre their way towards him as has been suggested? Will he become the next in line to take Kobe’s spot or is he just a more skilled Nick Young? Only time will tell.

BH: I foresee the 76ers usurping the Bucks and landing a much-needed number one overall pick which they will use on Andrew Wiggins and it’ll prove to be the right call. The city of brotherly love deserves a break. As for the Bucks, I see them landing the number two pick and doing the very Bucks like thing of drafting Embiid and using him as the basis of their franchise overhaul. From there a lot depends on how the balls drop as each of the different teams have very different needs. If the Lakers or Magic find themselves in the top-three then Dante Exum will find himself starting for one of those two franchises as each has a desperate need for a point guard. Outside of that I think it’ll come down to teams just picking the best players available. With the uncertainty surrounding several top prospects intentions, I hazard to guess who they’ll be.

NC: As a Laker fan, the draft is actually stressing me out this year. It’s so important that LA drafts well, and acquires some young talent to be mentored by Kobe. That said, plenty of teams are thinking the same, With the Sixers, Bucks, Magic, Celtics and Jazz all vying for the top picks. Of course, the lottery means that standings are simply an indication of the chance you have at garnering the top pick. Nothing is guaranteed. I see the Sixers getting the top pick and taking Andrew Wiggins, followed by the Bucks and Joel Embiid, Magic with Jabari Parker, Celtics with Dante Exum and the Lakers with Julius Randle or Marcus Smart. As much as I’d love one of the top 4 picks, I don’t think the chips will fall the Lakers way there. I like Julius Randle however, and feel he could benefit the Lakers with some TLC throughout the next year. As far as these teams go, I think that’s not only how it will fall, but what is best for each team going into next season.

NS: The Bucks look like they will be getting the 1st pick percentage-wise but it is called a lottery for a reason, anything can happen. I have a sick feeling in my stomach that the Lakers will somehow end up with a top 3 pick no matter what their record is so here is my order for the first 5 picks based on absolute guess work and limited consideration for percentages: Bucks, 76ers, Lakers, Jazz and Kings. Once again, my Celtics will get screwed out of a top 5 pick, the “unluck” of the Irish…

TR: I still see Andrew Wiggins going #1. I think every team that could potentially land the #1 spot will pick him. He’s clearly the most talented & athletic player in the draft. He’s 6’8″, has a 7′ wingspan & clearly has the biggest upside out of anyone in the draft class. Whist he’s still very young & does have his flaws, such as his shooting, he’s got the basic skillset that can make him into an elite NBA All-Star. One thing I love about Wiggins is the fact he’s an elite defender for his age. This is something that he has over guys like LeBron James & Kevin Durant when they came into the league. LBJ & KD took years to become capable NBA defenders & Wiggins looks like he’ll be a solid defender from day 1. His ability to get to the hole, transition game & how effective he is in pick & rolls show that he’s tailor made for today’s NBA game. I see Jabari Parker going next. If Wiggins isn’t on the board, he’s a sure thing to go next. He’s a perfect 4 for today’s NBA game. He shot 47% from the field this year & 35% from beyond the arc (50% from 3 in November!). People say that the knock on him is that he’s a mesh between Carmelo Anthony & Rudy Gay… But, is that really a bad thing? I mean Melo’s one of the best scorers in the NBA & Rudy Gay isn’t as bad as people think he is. Under the right coach & situation, he could become a very dangerous offensive weapon. I actually think that Joel Embiid will fall out of the top 3. After the plethora of elite young big-men injuries over the last few decades, the fact that Embiid has had back & knee issues already in his short career will pose a red flag. I think he’ll still go top 5, but if the Lakers, Sacramento, Detroit or Orlando are picking at 3, I can see one of them taking Dante Exum. These 3 teams are really high on what Dante has to offer. He’s an athletic, big combo guard who can get to the hole & is an extremely creative offensive general. His biggest weaknesses are his ball handling & his shot. His arc is a big flat, but there has been noticeable signs of improvement on that over the last 6 months. People say he’s an unknown, but it’s really not the case. There are 4 years worth of footage of him playing in FIBA tournaments & invitational, against the very guys who he’s pitted against in the draft. He capably held his own against them all. Dante’s currently working out in Anaheim & from what i’ve heard coming out of there… Everyone who’s caught some of the workouts have been extremely impressed with what they’ve seen. Shout-out to Julius Randle, he’d be a great fit for Boston or Utah if they pick 3rd.

6. This season has seen many players improve, while also witnessing many regress. Who, in your opinion, has claimed the crown of ‘Most Improved’ and adversely, who has disappointed more than anyone else?

jr-smith-clubbing

ND: This is always tough to pick. Do you pick someone who has gone from good to great or someone who has gone from nothing to something? I’d love to see Shaun Livingston get it just for the story that comes with it but I don’t think that MIP are based on heart warming stories alone. It’ll be either Bledsoe, Dragic or Green. These three turned Phoenix from nothing to something. I can’t give it to Bledsoe because of his injuries and Dragic has always been a solid baller but my pick is Gerald Green. From the D-League to dominating the NBA if that doesn’t hit the pre-requisites for MIP then I don’t know what does.As a Celtics fan I am constantly disappointed with Jeff Green and his inconsistent performances. This year was supposed to be his big break out season but it just did not happen. Anthony Bennett already looks a bust as the 2013 #1 draft pick and basically anyone on the Bucks roster has been a disappointment.

RO: There are a lot of candidates for the MIP award, with Goran Dragic no doubt being a popular pick due to his ascension to bona fide star in a great season for the surprising Phoenix Suns. However, for me, it’s the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis, who, in just his second season, made the leap from ‘potential star’, to ‘oh my god, he might be an all-time great!’. His all-round game and potential is scary, and he developed so much in his sophomore season that it suggests we may have something very special on our
hands. In terms of who regressed, an obvious answer might be Pau Gasol. Though questions remain over whether he’s regressed, aged, or has just been marginalised by a coach that has no idea how to use him and his skill-set. For me, the player that really took a downturn was Raymond Felton. He went from being an important part of the Knicks success the season before, to a liability on and off the court this season. In fact, can I name the whole Knicks squad here?

AH: Oooooh this is a tough call for me, I’d love to see Taj Gibson take it home as well as the Sixth Man Award. The Bulls have promoted him for both awards, but I’d say the chances of him being a recipient of both is slim. Besides field goal percentage and blocks, his numbers have increased across the board so he is a worthy candidate, but I think it may be Goran Dragic’s at seasons end. I’ll be Hulk like angry if Tajy Woo receives neither. Once again you have a player who’s numbers have increased across the board, with only a slight dip in the assist column, keeping in mind he does share the back court with another point guard who’s no slouch either (Eric Bledsoe) so that makes his numbers even more impressive. After Dragic was snubbed from the All-Star game, he’s been playing with a meteor sized chip on his shoulder and in the process helping lead the Suns to a Playoff berth that I don’t think many people saw coming before the season commenced. I think the panel of sportswriters that cast their votes for the award, will make things right for The Dragon. As for the most disappointing, I’m going to sum that up with one name in one sentence – J.R. Smith.

BH: Is there a way we can give this award to the entire Phoenix Suns team? The evolution of the games of Dragic, Green, Plumlee and both Morris twins borders on the unfathomable. Of these Suns I think Dragic is the pick of the bunch. He has developed into a genuine all-star caliber player and has become the face of the organisation in the process. He should have been an all-star.  Suns homer picks aside, the other  candidates for the award as I see it are Anthony Davis who at 21 years old is already an absolute monster and DeMarcus Cousins who finally seems to have grown into himself. My heart says Dragic, but my brain says this one is going to The Brow. 

NC: Anthony Davis. Undoubtedly the most improved player in the NBA by a long, long way. The Unibrow has upped his scoring average by a whopping 7.6 points per game to 21.1ppg, and increased his rebounding average by over 2 per game. He’s also averaging 2.8 blocks (leads the league), a huge improvement from 2012-13’s 1.8bpg. To top it off, Davis is one of just five players in the NBA averaging 20+ points and 10+ rebounds. Hard to argue that with a significant improvement in every statistical category in just his sophomore year, Ant Davis is well on his way to NBA super-stardom. (Honorable mention to Jodie Meeks). Adversely, it’s hard to go past the Bucks’ $24 million man OJ Mayo. Mayo, who was showing real promise with the Mavs just last season, has regressed with the Bucks shooting a career low 40% from the field for 11.8 ppg, down signifigantly from last season where he averaged over 15 points a game. Assists and per/48 are also down, indicating that Mayo is in fact one of the worst performing players on the team. Not exactly what you expect when signing a guy to 3-years/$24 million. (Honorable mention JR Smith).

NS: There have been many surprises! Kyle Lowry, Lance Stephenson, Gerald Green and Goran Dragic but I’m going Anthony Davis. His numbers have gone from 13.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 51.6 FG%, 75.1 FT%, 21.7 PER in his rookie year (2012-2013) to 21.4 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 2.9 BPG, 52.7 FG%, 78.7 FT%, 27.1 PER, this season. I’m looking forward to seeing another big leap from him next season. The biggest disappointment has been Larry Sanders, hands down. I thought he would build upon his great season last year where he averaged 9.8 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.8 BPG. I was dead wrong. What’s wrong with him? Everything is wrong. He managed to take himself off the court with a bar fight https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJ7KceTzB-s that tore a ligament in his right hand, which caused him to miss 25 games. And when he managed to get on the court, he didn’t stay there long, racking up fouls and ejections at an alarming rate. Not to mention his violation of the league’s anti-drug policy. The hits just keep coming (pun intended). Hang in there Milwaukee, only 4 years left on his $44 million dollar contract. 
TR: Blake Griffin has been the most improved player for me this season. I truly believe that the leap from NBA All-Star to Superstar is a bigger leap than from being an ok-to-good NBA player or from good-to-All-Star. His offensive game has come on rapidly. He’s developed a dangerous mid-range game & has implemented some very good post-moves. Furthermore, his leadership & ability to close games when Chris Paul was injured earlier on this season has just highlighted how far he has come.As for the most disappointing player this year… You’ve got to go with Andrew Bynum. I mean, yes he does have some very bad injury problems that must be very hard to deal with. It takes him forever to get his body ready for games & he spends hours after a game he plays icing his knees & warming down. BUT, the way he just threw away the opportunity that the Cavs gave him & he just didn’t seem to care, THEN demanding that he’d only sign with a contender for the remainder of the season makes you realise just how out of whack his priorities are. The only side note is that when he has been on court & engaged this season he has been very effective. Now if he could just change his attitude & seemed like he cared, maybe I’d have a bit of sympathy for how difficult it is for him to play basketball these days. Either that, or retire. It kills me seeing him like this.
There you have it folks! Another cracking Roundtable with some of the best this country has to offer. Thanks for reading, and a special thanks to Adam Howes, NBA Slander and Tom Read for taking part. You can find their twitter handles and where else you can find them below!
NBA Slander: Pick n Roll AU Twitter: @NBASlander
Tom: Believe The Hype Podcast Twitter: @traread


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Coach-of-the-year award wide, wide open

When it comes to voting for the 2013-14 NBA Coach of the Year, I wish those ‘fortunate’ enough to be asked to fill out a ballot all the very best of luck.

Always a hotly contested award, this season has an even deeper field of worthy recipients, for which I personally struggle to nominate the one eventual winner.

Though there remain roughly 20 games left to play for each team in the regular season, it’s already evident that a number of coaches will be deserving of the accolade.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich has done a remarkable job of managing his roster through injures and advanced age, and once again has the Spurs positioned as one of the best teams in the West.

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

Pop’s use of his bench has once again been brilliant, and the Spurs propensity to move and share the ball is a credit to their coach. They’ll once again make the playoffs, and it would be a brave man that writes off their chances of making the Finals for the second year in a row.

At the beginning of the season, I struggled to see how the Phoenix Suns would win double figure games. They promptly achieved that feat in the opening month of the season. Egg meet face.

Ex-Suns guard Jeff Hornacek has done a wonderful job with the team, who compete every night, and despite lacking the elite-level talent of other teams, play with energy and hustle.

Though any young team should play with enthusiasm, the most surprising aspect of the Suns’ season is their intelligence. The team plays smart basketball, and full praise for that must go to their coach.

Chicago Bulls Tom Thibodeau has become a victim of his own success. It’s now simply a given that his teams will be outstanding defensively, hustle their butts off, and do their best of overcome their offensive limitations via solid teamwork. And do so in every single game.

Never mind the fact the Bulls are once again without their most talented player and only true creator, Derrick Rose. Never mind the fact that Chicago are currently third in the Eastern Conference. Never mind the fact that they are still beating the league’s best teams despite all evidence suggesting they shouldn’t be.

Image Courtesy of NBA.com

Image Courtesy of NBA.com

‘Thibs’ deserves way more recognition than he gets. The Bulls aren’t just staying afloat and competitive; they actually remain an upper echelon team. It’s an amazing achievement, which could see Thibs take home his second Coach of the Year award.

Not much was expected of the Dallas Mavericks at the start of the year, but via a resurgent Dirk Nowitzki, the surprisingly steady play of Monta Ellis, and the tactical brilliance of Rick Carlisle, the Mavs are right in the thick of the playoff hunt in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

The Mavs execute extremely well, and though the players receive the ultimate kudos, Carlisle is the mastermind behind it all.

Erik Spoelstra is criminally underrated as a coach. I can only assume he doesn’t receive the respect he deserves because people believe that any coach should have success with the stars on Miami’s roster. While there is unquestionably some truth to that sentiment, ‘success’ is subjective until you actually win the title, something Spoelstra has now done twice.

It also shouldn’t be forgotten that handling egos is a difficult but vital aspect of NBA coaching, for talent alone doesn’t guarantee championships.

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Image Courtesy of ESPN.com

Yet even beyond the excellent man-management skills, Spoelstra has shown himself to be a great tactician. It was Spoelstra who implemented the offence which capitilises on LeBron James’ unique skill set. It was ‘Spo’ who refuses to give players traditional positions, but rather relies on a system that has constant movement and flexibility.

Miami’s smothering defense – particularly their half court press – is further proof that the Heat are a well coached side, of which Spolestra is the chief architect.

Scotty Brooks deserves credit for keeping the Oklahoma City Thunder at the top of the Western Conference standings, despite the fact he has been without the services of his second best player, Russell Westbrook, for large chunks of the season.

Brooks has made some subtle changes to OKC’s offense, however one feels that Kevin Durant will receive much of the kudos for keeping the Thunder rolling – rather than their coach – with KD’s sublime season probably having the averse effect of robbing Brooks of some votes.

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

Image Courtesy of BallerBall.com

That’s six coaches I’ve already named as potential recipients of the Coach of the Year award, yet it is far from an exhaustive list.

I could very easily be talked into Portland’s Terry Stotts, Indiana’s Frank Vogel, Los Angles’ Doc Rivers and Houston’s Kevin McHale being legitimate candidates as well.

Even the Charlotte Bobcats’ Steve Clifford has done a fantastic job reconfiguring the team around the offensive skills of Al Jefferson, and may be lucky enough to have the odd ballot with his name on it, yet I doubt he’ll actually take home the hardware.

Likewise, would anyone be really upset if Dwayne Casey’s effort in Toronto was recognised? The Warriors’ Mark Jackson? The Grizzlies’ David Joerger?

It’s a large field, and to those tasked with naming the NBA Coach of the Year, I don’t envy your job one little bit.



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Old Scores, New Glories

So last week I wrote over 6000 words for NBA Nation Australia’s Weekly Hoop Scoop piece and while it wasn’t a problem to do, it was very time consuming. With that in mind, I’ve decided to change up the weekly recap to a more streamlined one. There will be a highs and lows for each day as well as some highlights but gone is the recap of every single game. Hey, I need more time to drink beer you know!

This week has been an extremely hard one for Bulls fans, me included. Unless you have been living under a rock or have just come out of a coma then you know Derrick Rose has injured his other knee and its put a bit of a dampener on things for fans of Chi town basketball. I wrote a few words immediately following the injury if you’re interested in them, here’s a link – http://nbanationaustralia.com/2013/11/23/so-now-we-wait/

Anyway, what’s done is done regarding the former MVP and it’s time to move on, so welcome back to the week that was in the NBA for NBA Nation Australia, or as I’m calling it, Old Scores, New Glories.

Monday 18th November

The Highs

There were three games on the schedule to start the week with the best performance coming from the Los Angeles Lakers Jordan Hill, career highs in points and rebounds and a win over the Detroit Pistons. Hill had 24 points on 11 of 16 from the field and 17 rebounds. Talk about a much improved player so far this year!

Rudy Gay has been having a year to forget so far but was actually very good for the Raptors in their loss to Portland. He had 30 points on 12 of 27 from the field, which for him is a very high percentage this year, he also grabbed 10 boards and hit the shot to take the game into overtime.

Nic Batum continues to impress this season as he had 24 points including 5 of 8 from downtown in that same game for Portland.

Zach Randolph was huge for Memphis in their win over the Sacramento Kings. He scored 22 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the field, including 9 in the fourth period, and grabbed 10 boards.

The Lows

Robin Lopez contributed very little for Portland in their win over the Kings. He played 24 minutes, shot 1 of 2 from the field for his 6 points and grabbed 5 boards before he fouled out of the game. His plus minus was -7, which was the worst on the Trail Blazers roster for the game.

The Detroit Pistons bench, minus the efforts of Rodney Stuckey who had 16 points, could only manage a paltry 4 points for the entire game.

Highlights

Tuesday 19th November

The Highs

Kevin Durant had 38 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s win over the Denver Nuggets. His partner in crime, Russell Westbrook added 30 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists proving that OKC have one of the best one-two punches in the league.

#MontaHaveItAll. I’m sure we’re all well aware of the player Monta Ellis once was but are we all aware of the player he’s becoming? Ellis is becoming an efficient shooting, defensively adept and a real team player in Dallas and he was great for the Mavs in their win over Philadelphia. He had 24 points on 7 of 14 from the field, 10 assists and 4 rebounds.

Z Bo done it again on Tuesday with his 26 points on 10 of 16 from the field, 15 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in the Grizzlies big win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Lows

The Bulls Bobcats game. Not one for the faint of heart or casual viewer. Both teams shot the ball at less than 37% in a total snooze fest of a game. Kemba Walker shot 3 of 14 for his 8 points in the contest and Derrick Rose 4 of 13 for his 12 points.

The Brooklyn Nets continue to be a major disappointment. Paul Pierce shot 2 of 12, Joe Johnson 4 of 12 and the team shot 36.5% for the game. Going nowhere fast!

Wilson Chandler’s 3 for 12 from the field, 8 points in Denver’s loss to OKC wasn’t particularly pretty.

Highlights

Wednesday 20th November 

The Highs

DeMarcus Cousins is looking like he may have gotten a handle on his erratic behaviour, not to mention his inconsistent play. He was sensational for the Kings in their win over the Phoenix Suns. He had 27 points on 9 of 18 from the field, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks.

The Washington Wizards pulled off an upset win over the Minnesota Timberwolves and it was John Wall who led the way with 14 points, 5 rebounds and he tied his career high with 16 dimes. Kevin Love was good for Minnesota in the loss as he put up 25 points and grabbed 11 boards.

Terrence Jones was great for Houston in their big win over the Boston Celtics. He scored 24 points on an amazing 10 of 12 from the field. He added 9 rebounds and 2 blocks in the 109-85 win.

The Lows

The Boston Celtics lost by 24 points to the Houston Rockets, shot the ball at 32.3% from the field and 35% from downtown and just thoroughly embarrassed themselves. Avery Bradley was 5 for 22 from the field in the game and had a shocking plus minus of -36.

The Atlanta Hawks starting five were out scored by their bench in the loss to the Miami Heat 46-42. The Hawks never really looked like a chance of downing the defending champions as they went down 104-88.

Ben McLemore shot 5 of 13 from the field in the Kings win over the Suns. 38.5% from the field for the game with no assists. Hes also shooting 37.6% on the year and averaging only 0.8 assists per game. Inefficient and not much vision.

Highlights

Thursday 21st November

The Highs

Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki are proving to be quite the combination. They combined for 72 points in Dallas’ 123-120 win over Houston. Ellis had 37 points on 13 of 18 from the field with 8 dimes whilst Dirk had 35 points on 13 of 20 from the field and 7 boards.

Paul George’s MVP caliber season continues as he put up 35 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in the Pacers dramatic overtime win over the New York Knicks. He shot the ball at 12 for 26 from the field and had 5 steals to boot.

Anthony Davis has been nothing short of a revelation this season and his fine form was once again on display as the Pelicans downed Utah 105-98. Davis had 22 points on 9 of 12 from the field, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 8 blocks.

Dwight Howard showed off some of his low post moves in Houston’s loss to Dallas. He was a perfect 8 for 8 from the field at one point before finishing with 33 points on 12 of 16 from the field and 9 of 13 from the free throw line with 11 rebounds.

The Lows

Paul Pierce had just 12 points on 3 of 11 shooting in the Nets loss to Charlotte. He is now averaging 37.8% from the field for the season. Could be time to farewell the NBA if this keeps up.

The Cleveland Cavaliers starting line-up. Whilst Kyrie Irving scored 28 points, the other four starters only managed to score 7 points in the game. If they have any hopes of making the playoffs they will need this to improve out of sight.

The Orlando Magic bench was poor in their loss to the Miami Heat. They only managed 14 points for the game, despite four of them playing 15 minutes or more.

Another poor shooting night for Rudy Gay, 6 for 16 from the field. Becoming all too familiar really.

The Utah Jazz. Do I need to say anymore?

Highlights

Friday 22nd November

The Highs

Only two games played today, the Denver Nuggets beat the Chicago Bulls and were led by the play of Jordan Hamilton who had 17 points on 6 of 12 from the field and 6 rebounds.

The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers 105-91. Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 28 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists while shooting 10 of 19 from the field.

The Lows

Luol Deng managed to grab 13 boards in the Bulls loss to Denver but he struggled to score, shooting just 3 of 18 from the field. A game to forget for Deng.

JJ Reddick shot 3 for 11 from the field for his 8 points in the Clippers loss to OKC.

Highlights

Saturday 23rd November

The Highs

Pau Gasol had 24 points on 11 of 19 shooting as the Los Angeles Lakers took out the victory against the Golden State Warriors. Gasol also added 10 rebounds and 3 assists in the win. Vintage Pau.

Caron Butler dropped 38 points including 4 of 8 from long range in the Bucks loss to the 76ers.

Spencer Hawes is having an unbelievable season so far and he was big for Philly in their win over Milwaukee. He scored 25 points, including the game tying three to take the game into overtime, 12 rebounds and 2 assists.

Kevin Love played just 28 minutes in Minnesota’s win over Brooklyn but he was big in those minutes. he had 17 points on 5 of 11 from the field and 16 boards.

The Portland Trail Blazers. They won their ninth straight with a victory over the Chicago Bulls.

The Lows

Derrick Rose, Andre Iguodala and Marc Gasol all left their games with serious injuries and all three of them are listed as out indefinitely for their teams. The Rose injury was especially bad considering he was only eleven games into his return from a torn ACL.

There were some other ordinary performances throughout the league but the real low was the injuries to the three big name players. A sad day in the NBA.

Highlights

Sunday 24th November

The Highs

The Portland Trail Blazers won their tenth straight with a win over the Golden State Warriors and it was LaMarcus Aldridge who led the way with 30 points and 21 rebounds.

Roy Hibbert’s 27 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks ensured the Pacers would continue on their winning ways.

John Wall had 31 points on 10 of 18 from the field and 7 assists as the Wizards downed the hapless Knicks.

Leading candidate for Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams scored 29 points in the 76ers loss to Indiana. He shot 11 for 21 from the field and added 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 7 steals.

DeMarcus Cousins had 23 points, 19 rebounds and 7 assists in Sacramento’s loss to the Clippers.

The Lows

The Sacramento Kings only had three players score in double figures in their loss to the Clippers.

The New York Knicks. Yes they really are 3-9 this season.

JJ Barea shot 1 of 10 from the field and had only 1 assist in 18 minutes of court time in Minnesota’s loss to Houston.

The Milwaukee Bucks dropped to 2-10 for the season with a loss to the Bobcats. They shot a paltry 35.3% in the game and only one player scored more than 10 points in the loss.

Highlights



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Weekly Hoop Scoop #2

So last week’s edition of the weekly hoop scoop was M.I.A due to some much deserved, OK, maybe just needed, holiday time for myself and now that I’m back in the realm of weekly drudgery, a few kilos heavier and with an even bigger drinking habit than before I left, I felt it was time to get back to informing our loyal readers with all that’s been happening in the world of the NBA.

There’s been a veritable plethora of action as per usual this week so welcome back to the Weekly Hoop Scoop at NBA Nation Australia.

Monday November 11th

San Antonio Spurs 120 – New York Knicks 89.

The New York Knicks horror start continued when they were blown out by last year’s NBA finalists the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs were led by the stellar three point shooting of Danny Green and by the ever improving Kawhi Leonard. Green had 24 points and went 6 of 9 from the behind the arc and Leonard added 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting.

The Knicks shooting was abysmal, 37.8% from the field and 27.3% from three point range. Carmelo Anthony had 18 points and 8 rebounds but it was nowhere near enough to keep the Knicks in the game. The pressure mounts for Coach Mike Woodson.

Oklahoma City Thunder 106 – Washington Wizards 105.

OKC and the Wizards fought out a memorable clash in Oklahoma City. The Thunder got the win in overtime thanks to superstar Kevin Durant’s 33 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists, including a game tying 3 point shot in regular time and the go ahead free throws to win in overtime. The game was a fierce battle which included a heated exchange between Russell Westbrook and Nene which ended with both players being ejected. Westbrook might want to hit the weight room or try pushing someone more akin to his own size next time, I don’t think Nene moved at all!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6qeaMpYRvM

Bradley Beal was superb for the visiting Wizards scoring a career high 34 points, which included 6 of 8 shooting from behind the arc. John Wall had a particularly frustrating night shooting just 3 of 13 from the field.

Phoenix Suns 101 – New Orleans Pelicans 94.

Markieff Morris and Eric Bledsoe continued their scintillating, early season form as the Phoenix Suns brought up win number five for the season over the New Orleans Pelicans. Morris had 23 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks on 9 of 12 shooting and Bledsoe had 24 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds as he continues to flourish in his new role out of the shadow of Chris Paul.

The Pelicans were led by the play of big man Jason Smith as he scored 22 points and grabbed 8 boards. They dropped to a 3-4 record after the loss.

Minnesota Timberwolves 113 – Los Angeles Lakers 90.

The ‘Dwightmare’ may be over but the nightmare continues for the Lakers. They lost to Minnesota after having won the last 22 times against the Timberwolves. Minnesota were led by the maestro, Ricky Rubio. Rubio registered a triple double with 12 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds on 5 of 9 shooting and had a +/- of +27 for the game. Kevin Love added 25 points and Kevin Martin, who looks to have found a suitable home in Minnesota added 27.

The Lakers are a mess; they shot 38% from the field and 55.6% from the line, were out rebounded and only had three players with double figure points and not one player score more than 19 for the game. Next seasons draft is shaping up as a very important one for this proud franchise.

Tuesday November 12th

Chicago Bulls 96 – Cleveland Cavaliers 81.

The Chicago Bulls started the season with very high expectations and so far, its safe to say they have been way below them. They may have got the win against their Central Division rivals today but it came at the cost of an injury to Derrick Rose.

The Bulls were led by the one player who has been phenomenal for them so far this season, Carlos Boozer. Boozer is probably the most unheralded of the Bulls starting five but has produced so far this season when others have not. He had 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in the victory.

The game was billed as a matchup between two of the NBA’s best point guards, Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving, two stars who hadn’t played each other in a game before but neither point guard played well in the contest.

Derrick Rose left the game with a strained hamstring as his horror start to the season continues.

Atlanta Hawks 103 – Charlotte Bobcats 94.

The Atlanta Hawks got the win on the road against the Bobcats thanks to the play of big man Al Horford and some great fourth quarter shooting from Cartier Martin. Horford had 24 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists and shot 9 of 15 from the field whilst Martin added 16 points including three triples in the final term to help the Hawks secure the win.

The Bobcats dropped to a 3-4 record and a 2-2 home record with the loss. Josh McRoberts led them with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists.

Indiana Pacers 95 – Memphis Grizzlies 79.

The hottest team in the NBA right now continued to sizzle with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies to take them to a league best 8-0 start for the season. Lance Stephenson registered his first career triple double with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists and Paul George added 23 points on 9 of 16 shooting with a +/- of +24 for the game.

The Pacers are the first team since 2000 to start 8-0 and the 18th in NBA history to achieve the feat.

The Grizzlies Marc Gasol top scored for the visiting team with 15 points as the Grizz drop to 3-4 for the season.

San Antonio Spurs 109 – Philadelphia 76ers 85.

Danny Green continues to shine, he drained 5 of 7 threes as the San Antonio Spurs made light work of the 76ers. Green top scored for San Antonio with 18 points and added 7 rebounds and 3 assists.

Sixers rookie Michael Carter-Williams fell back to earth as he shot 2 of 11 for the game and Evan Turner top scored for Philly with 20 points on just 9 of 21 shooting.

San Antonio led for the entire game apart from a brief period where they were down by one point but they were quick to regain the lead and take a fairly easy victory.

Boston Celtics 120 – Orlando Magic 105.

The Boston Celtics had a fairly convincing win against the Orlando Magic at the The Garden in Boston. Avery Bradley top scored for the Celtics with 24 points on 10 of 15 from the field and Jordan Crawford had 16 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds. Boston shot a phenomenal 60% from the field for the game and 41.7% from three point range and only turned the ball over 13 times in the win.

The Magic’s Nikola Vucevic had 15 points and 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in the loss as the Magic’s record dropped to 3-5 for the season.

Houston Rockets 110 – Toronto Raptors 104.

The Houston Rockets took out a thriller at the Toyota Center in Houston as they defeated the Toronto Raptors in double overtime. James Harden missed a shot to win the game in regulation which sent the game into overtime where it was Rudy Gay who had the final shot for Toronto to send it to double OT, where James Harden took over to close it out for the Rockets.

The Rockets were led by the trio of Jeremy Lin, Dwight Howard and James Harden. Lin had 31 points on 10 of 17 from the field, Howard had 18 points and 24 rebounds and Harden had 26 points and 10 dimes in the game.

The Raptors shot the ball poorly at 33.3% for the game and Rudy Gay, whilst he had 29 points went 11 for 37 from the field.

Denver Nuggets 100 – Utah Jazz 81.

The hapless Utah Jazz are still winless this season as they fell to the Denver Nuggets at home. They have now started the season 0-8 and things are looking decidedly glum in Utah. The Nuggets were led by Ty Lawson’s 17 points, 10 assists and 6 rebounds. J.J Hickson had a huge dunk over Marvin Williams which pretty much sums up just how much every team is abusing the Jazz so far this season.

Utah shot 40.3% from the field and an abysmal 17.6% from behind the arc, were out rebounded 52-35 and the question still remains as to when they will get their maiden win this season.

Portland Trail Blazers 109 – Detroit Pistons 103.

Portland registered its third straight victory with a win over the Pistons at home. Their three point shooting continues to impress as they went 11 for 23 from behind the arc. Last year’s Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard had 25 points including 5 of 8 from three, 5 rebounds and 4 assists for the game.

Detroit’s ball control was excellent throughout the game as they only turned the ball over 8 times but struggled with their shooting, 46.2% from the field and 21.4% from three point territory. Brandon Jennings top scored with 28 points and Andre Drummond added 16 points and 16 rebounds.

Los Angeles Clippers 109 –Minnesota Timberwolves 107.

The Los Angeles Clippers won a tight one at Staples against the Minnesota Timberwolves in a game where two of the games best power forwards, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love went at it. Griffin had 25 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists for the game whilst Kevin Love had 23 points including 4 of 8 from long range, 19 rebounds and 7 assists but missed a tip in to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Jamal Crawford added 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting for the Clippers whose record improves to 5-3 as the Timberwolves record drops to the same mark, 5-3.

Wednesday November 13th

Miami Heat 118 – Milwaukee Bucks 95.

The Bucks were never in the contest against the Heat as LeBron James dropped 33 points on 13 of 21 shooting, including 4 of 7 from long range.

The Bucks defensive efforts were all but in vain as Miami shot 58.2% from the field, 52.2% from behind the arc, turned the ball over only 13 times, in fact the box score really doesn’t do the Bucks any favours, the only major statistical category they bettered Miami in was steals, 10-9.

A rout if there ever was one.

Dallas Mavericks 105 – Washington Wizards.

Dirk Nowitzki passed Jerry West on the NBA’s All Time Scoring list as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Washington Wizards courtesy of a big second quarter where they outscored the Wizards 28-15.

Nowitzki had 19 points which took him to 16th in career scoring in the NBA, surpassing Jerry West’s 25,192 points. He also had 8 rebounds and 2 assists in the contest.

The Wizards Trevor Ariza had a game high 27 points on 10 of 17 shooting including five treys.

Golden State Warriors 113 – Detroit Pistons 95.

The Golden State Warriors got the jump out of the gate, basically winning the game in the first quarter thanks to a 35-16 start. Steph Curry led the Warriors with 25 points on 7 of 10 shooting with 8 assists and 2 rebounds. Jermaine O’Neal turned back the clock with his performance, scoring 17 points on 7 of 8 shooting with 6 rebounds.

Golden State shot 60% from the field, 50% from three point range, were +9 in rebounds, +12 in assists but turned the ball over 23 times.

Detroit shot just 16.7% from three point range, 3 for 18 for the game.

Los Angeles Lakers 116 – New Orleans Pelicans 95.

Jordan Hill had a night to remember for the Lakers as he posted 21 points on 7 of 12 shooting, 11 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals as the Lakers got a big win over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans.

The Lakers were very efficient in the win; shooting 55.7% from the field, 55% from behind the arc and 81% from the charity stripe.

The game will be best remembered for Xavier Henry’s huge dunk over rookie big man Jeff Withey. Henry completely posterised Withey as he attempted to take the charge under the basket. Check it out here – http://nbanationaustralia.com/2013/11/13/put-it-on-a-poster-lakers-xavier-henrys-gigantic-slam-video/

Jrue Holiday continued his shooting woes for the new season going 2 for 11 in the loss.

Thursday November 14th

Orlando Magic 94 – Milwaukee Bucks 91.

The Orlando Magic rallied back after a slow start to get a victory over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks. The Magic were led by Aaron Afflalo who scored 36 points on 11 of 15 shooting with an amazing 8 treys. He also had 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals in the huge performance.

The Bucks had the better of things early on and took the lead into the break but the Magic came home strong and took the win in a close fought affair.

O.J Mayo top scored for the Bucks with 25 points and Khris Middleton added 19 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.

Philadelphia 76ers 123 – Houston Rockets 117.

A bruised left foot was the catalyst for keeping both James Harden and Michael Carter-Williams out of the game and the loss of Harden proved to be too much for the Rockets as they went down to the surprisingly good Philadelphia team.

Tony Wroten, in his first career start, registered a triple double for Philly with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists whilst James Anderson added a career high 36 points on 12 of 16 shooting.

The Rockets Jeremy Lin scored 34 points and dished out 12 assists but it wasn’t to be enough to beat the underdog 76ers.

Charlotte Bobcats 89 – Boston Celtics 83.

The Charlotte Bobcats biggest off season signing Al Jefferson led them to a victory over the Boston Celtics at The Garden in Boston. Jefferson scored 22 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and had 3 assists and 2 blocks in the victory.

The expectation of both teams at the commencement of the season was quite low and whilst they have both exceeded expectations so far this game wasn’t one for the casual fan. Both teams shot the ball poorly, below 40% as the low score line suggests.

Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green were the only Celtics to score more than 10 points in the game.

Toronto Raptors 103 – Memphis Grizzlies 87.

The Memphis Grizzlies disappointing start to their 2013/14 NBA campaign continues as they lost to the Toronto Raptors at home in Memphis. The Raptors ball control, (13 turnovers) and defense, they kept the Grizzlies to 42.7% shooting, were the main reasons behind the surprise win for Toronto.

Rudy Gay led the charge with 23 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists but his shooting woes continue as he shot 5 of 18 from the field and his field goal percentage sits at 36.5% for the season so far.

The Grizzlies won the battle in the paint by outscoring Toronto 36-24 but their 17 turnovers and overall shooting percentage cost them the game.

Minnesota Timberwolves 124 – Cleveland Cavaliers 95.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are beginning to look like the real deal this season. Led by the stellar play of stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio they completely blew out the Cleveland Cavaliers to take their record to 6-3 this season.

All five of their starters scored in double figures for the game with Kevin Love leading the way with his 33 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists whilst Corey Brewer added 27 points and Ricky Rubio had 16 assists.

The Cavaliers, a team that many people were banking on having a big season, have started poorly and drop to 3-6 for the season. Kyrie Irving led them with 20 points in the loss.

New York Knicks 95 – Atlanta Hawks 91.

The New York Knicks won for the fifth straight time against the Hawks with Carmelo Anthony and Andrea Bargnani leading the way. Anthony, playing in the power forward position for the first time this season scored 25 points and Bargnani continued his surprising recent form by adding 20 points and 11 rebounds on 8 of 15 shooting.

The Hawks were led by Jeff Teague with 25 points but lost their first game at home for the season and drop to 4-4 for the year.

San Antonio 92 – Washington Wizards 79.

The Spurs have always been a team that doesn’t garner too much mainstream media attention in the regular season and this continues to be the same as they racked up their eighth win of the season against the Washington Wizards.

San Antonio had it all their own way as they led the contest from start to finish and never looked in any serious trouble. Their brand of team basketball was reflected in the box scores as they had six players score in double figures.

8-1 on the season and 4-0 at home, you know this team will be as dangerous as ever come the post season.

The Wizards however are a team that’s struggling to find their rhythm and they drop to 2-6 for the year.

Denver Nuggets 111 – Los Angeles Lakers 99.

Kenneth Faried may have been the target of many a trade rumour recently but he hasn’t let it affect his game. He scored 23 points on 8 of 13 shooting and grabbed 13 boards to lead the Denver Nuggets to a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Nuggets led the game from start to finish and despite having the inferior record to the Lakers, they had things mostly their own way. Timofey Mosgov had 23 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks in the win.

Jordan Hill continues to impress for a Laker team that’s in fairly unfamiliar territory as they struggle to keep close to .500 this year.

Utah Jazz 111 – New Orleans Pelicans 105.

It was bound to happen eventually. The Utah Jazz registered their first win of the season in their ninth attempt with a victory over the Pelicans.

Gordon Hayward has been putting up some huge numbers but to no avail as the Jazz have been on the losing end of things until now. Hayward scored 27 points and dished out 10 dimes in the win and his season averages stand at 20.3 ppg, 6 rpg and 5 apg.

The Pelicans Anthony Davis continued his break out season with 29 points and 15 rebounds but the Pelicans drop to 3-6 for the season.

Portland Trail Blazers 90 – Phoenix Suns 89.

A late layup basket by Damian Lillard sealed a close fought win for the Portland Trail Blazers over the Phoenix Suns at the Moda Center in Portland.

The Blazers were led by the play of big man Robin Lopez who had 13 points and 15 rebounds in the win. Thomas Robinson top scored for Portland off the bench with 15 points as he attempts to find his way in what has been a fairly underwhelming NBA career to date.

The Suns Eric Bledsoe was their best on court, scoring 23 points with 6 assists and 3 rebounds.

Sacramento Kings 107 – Brooklyn Nets 86.

The Brooklyn Nets, the super-rich, fully stacked, albeit long in tooth team with a payroll bigger than most countries GDP have endured a more than disappointing start to this season and the disappointment continued with a blowout loss to the Sacramento Kings.

The Kings were led by the play of Marcus Thornton with 24 points and Greivis Vasquez with 17 points and 12 assists.

Brooklyn shot the ball woefully at 37.8% from the field and 23.1% from behind the arc. They fall to 2-5 for the season and a certain Russian billionaire is undoubtedly fuming at his lack of return on his big investment so far this year.

Los Angeles Clippers 111 – Oklahoma City Thunder 103.

The Clippers got the win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in a controversial game where both Matt Barnes and Serge Ibaka were ejected.

The ejections came after a scuffle that occurred in the dying seconds of the second quarter. Ibaka became tangled up with Blake Griffin, a player with which he has some history with, and pushed him off before Matt Barnes took offense at Ibaka and shoved him. The ensuing scuffle, or lack of, caused the ejection of both players.

The Clippers would go on to win the game led by Griffin’s 22 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists. Chris Paul had 16 assists in the game and he continues to lead the league in dimes.

Kevin Durant had 33 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists in the loss between two of the western conference’s better teams.

Friday November 15th

Houston Rockets 109 – New York Knicks 106.

Carmelo Anthony dropped 45 points and grabbed 10 boards, Andrea Bargnani bested Dwight Howard and kept him to just 7 points on 1 of 5 shooting but it wasn’t enough to see the New York Knicks get the win at Madison Square Garden.

The Rockets won a hard fought battle thanks in most part to the play of James Harden, who scored 36 points and added 9 boards for the Rockets.

Howard was disappointing in a matchup which for all intents and purposes looked to be one that favoured him. He did well on the glass grabbing 15 rebounds but will need to have more of an impact offensively should the Rockets look to be a serious contender come playoff time.

The Knicks fell to 3-5 for the season and the pressure of playing in New York City just never goes away, especially when they’re losing more than they’re winning.

Golden State Warriors 116 – Oklahoma City Thunder 115.

The Oklahoma City Thunder lost their second game in two days with a close loss to the Warriors on the road in Oakland.

Golden State were led by the stellar play of sharp shooter Klay Thompson who scored 27 points on 10 of 15 shooting including 6 three pointers. His partner in crime Steph Curry added 4 threes of his own and 22 points.

The Warriors ball control was excellent as they only turned the ball over 7 times in the contest and shot the lights out from long range hitting 60.9% of three pointers.

OKC were led by Russell Westbrook’s 31 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.

Saturday November 16th

Chicago Bulls 96 – Toronto Raptors 80.

The Chicago Bulls Derrick Rose sat out this one due to a strained hamstring and the Bulls looked none the worse for it as they completely dominated the Toronto Raptors on the road. All five of the Bulls starters scored in double figures for the game as they kept the Raptors to 35.4% shooting.

Luol Deng led the Bulls with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists and an impressive +/- of +24.

DeMar DeRozan dropped 37 points and Rudy Gay added 20 points but the other ten players to see court time for the Raptors could only manage a combined 23 points, a truly forgettable game for Toronto fans.

Indiana Pacers 104 – Milwaukee Bucks 77.

The difference in class was more than apparent in this game between the undefeated Pacers and the 2-5 Bucks.

The Pacers made easy work of Milwaukee and were led by the play of big man Roy Hibbert who scored 24 points, grabbed 10 boards and blocked a phenomenal 8 shots on the game. Hibbert is now averaging 4.78 blocks per game and whilst its early days that number would be good enough for fourth all time for a single season in NBA history.

Paul George added 22 points for the Pacers in the win but it was the defensive efforts for Indiana which kept the Bucks to 34.1% shooting that led them to such a blowout win.

Atlanta Hawks 113 – Philadelphia 76ers 103.

Jeff Teague scored a career high 33 points to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 113 -103 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Teague shot 10 of 16, grabbed 4 rebounds and dished out 10 assists in the win. DeMarre Carroll added 21 points and Al Horford 20.

Evan Turner continued his great season by top scoring for the 76ers with 27 but it wasn’t enough as Philly drops to 5-5 for the season.

Portland Trail Blazers 109 – Boston Celtics 96.

The Portland Trail Blazers won their fifth straight game when they defeated the Boston Celtics at The Garden in Boston. They take their season record to a surprising 7-2.

LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 27 points and 12 boards. Nicolas Batum added 18 points including four treys and Mo Williams had 18 on 8 of 13 shooting.

The Celtics Jared Sullinger had 26 points in the loss on 11 of 18 shooting but the Celtics were badly beaten on the glass being out rebounded 47-34.

Charlotte Bobcats 86 – Cleveland Cavaliers 80.

The Bobcats, led by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist defeated the Cavaliers on the road to take their season record to 5-4. Kidd-Gilchrist had 16 points and 8 rebounds in the win which was the Cavaliers the first home loss this season.

Charlotte had five players score in double figures in the game.

Cleveland who were led by Kyrie Irving, 18 points and 10 assists, drop to a disappointing 3-7 for the year.

Miami Heat 110 – Dallas Mavericks 104.

LeBron James scored a season high 39 points as the Heat won a hard fought battle over the Dallas Mavericks in Miami. James shot 14 of 18, grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out 4 dimes in the win.

Both teams shot over 50% in what was a very entertaining clash. Dallas suffered with their ball control as they turned it over 24 times in the game.

Dirk Nowitzki had 28 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in the loss and Monta Ellis added 20 points.

Denver Nuggets 117 – Minnesota Timberwolves 113.

Expectations for the Nuggets weren’t exactly sky high this season for most pundits, but they continue to play hard and sit at 4-4 after a good win against the Minnesota Timberwolves at home in the Pepsi Center.

Kenneth Faried led the way with 16 points and 10 rebounds and Wilson Chandler in his second game back scored 19 points including 3 of 4 from long range.

Kevin Love’s big numbers were once again on display as he put up 28 points on 10 of 20 shooting with 10 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks but the Timberwolves drop to 6-4.

Brooklyn Nets 100 – Phoenix Suns 98.

Joe Johnson was responsible for Brooklyn escaping with a last second win over the Phoenix Suns. Johnson hit a floater with 30 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime and then with the clock winding down in the overtime period he hit a buzzer beater to win the game for the Nets.

Despite hitting two very important shots Johnson didn’t have the best of games shooting just 6 of 19 for the game. Big man Brook Lopez was Brooklyn’s best with 27 points and 7 rebounds.

The Suns who were led by Goran Dragic’s 19 points drop to 5-4 on the season while the Nets improve to 3-5.

San Antonio Spurs 91 – Utah Jazz 82.

The Utah Jazz started their game against the Spurs with a 29-16 run in the first quarter but the Spurs were good enough to weather the storm and when it really counted they made their move, outscoring the Jazz 31-15 in the fourth.

Tony Parker led the Spurs with 22 points and 6 assists as they improved to 9-1 on the season.

The Jazz drop to 1-9 for the season and it seems the lottery is their final destination this season. Derrick Favors scored 20 points and grabbed 18 boards in the loss but the Jazz shot a woeful 38.5% from the field.

Memphis Grizzlies 89 – Los Angeles Lakers 86.

The Grizzlies and the Lakers were two teams desperate for a win coming in to this one but it was Memphis who took out the win in a tight one in Los Angeles.

Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 28 points including 14 in the final term. Marc Gasol added 18 points for Memphis in the win but it was the play of Z Bo that will be remembered as the catalyst for the victory.

Jodie Meeks played well for L.A with 25 points on 10 of 16 shooting with 5 threes.

The Lakers drop to 4-7 for the season as their fans start to talk lottery and Memphis improve to 4-5.

Detroit Pistons 97 – Sacramento Kings 90.

The Sacramento Kings fans set a world record for arena decibel levels during the game but on the court things weren’t so loud for the Kings. They went down to the visiting Detroit Pistons in a close one.

Josh Smith was outstanding for Detroit and fantasy owners would have been more than impressed with his numbers. He put up 21 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals and 4 blocks in the win. The Pistons improved their record to 3-5 whilst the Kings drop to 2-6.

DeMarcus Cousins played well for Sacramento in the loss scoring 26 points and grabbing 13 boards.

Sunday November 17th

Chicago Bulls 110 – Indiana Pacers 94.

The Chicago Bulls haven’t had the start that many expected but a big win over the undefeated Indiana Pacers should go a long way towards building some much needed confidence for the Bulls and their star point guard Derrick Rose, who also looked very good in the win.

Rose scored 20 points on 7 of 16 shooting including 6 of 11 from behind the arc. He also managed to not the turn the ball over once in the game, something with which he has had a lot of trouble with so far this season.

Luol Deng looked like the All Star he is by adding 23 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals and kept Pacers star Paul George to 12 points on 3 of 14 shooting.

The Pacers drop their first game of the season and sit at 9-1 while the Bulls improve to 5-3 with the big win.

Miami Heat 97 – Charlotte Bobcats 81.

The Miami Heat made light work of the Bobcats in Charlotte as LeBron James scored 30 points on 13 of 18 shooting with 7 assists and 4 rebounds. James is shooting the lights out this season as his 62.2% from the field for the season attests to and it was more of the same in Charlotte for ‘The King’.

New addition to the Heat squad, Michael Beasley, played some good minutes in the game and added 15 points on 7 of 14 shooting.

Kemba Walker was the Bobcats best in the loss with 22 points including three treys.

Dallas Mavericks 108 – Orlando Magic 100.

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Orlando Magic in Orlando in what was an entertaining game between the two teams. Both teams shot the ball at better than 50% but it was the Mavericks experience that shone through in the end.

Monta Ellis led the Mavericks with 19 points on 8 of 18 shooting with 8 assists and Dirk Nowitzki added 18 points of his own including four threes.

The Magic’s Aaron Afflalo scored 25 points in the loss which saw the Magic drop to 4-6 while Dallas improved to 6-4 for the season.

Cleveland Cavaliers 103 – Washington Wizards 96.

The Cleveland Cavaliers won a thrilling contest in Washington as two of the NBA’s best point guards battled it out.

The Cavaliers Kyrie Irving had the better of things with his 41 points in the overtime win while Wizards point guard John Wall, who looked phenomenal early on, scored just 9 points on 3 of 13 shooting but had 12 assists in the game.

Aussie Matthew Dellavedova played 31 minutes in the game including most of the overtime period and while he only put up 2 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists his contribution to the game went beyond the box score and will no doubt give him confidence in the fact that Mike Brown gave him such an opportunity.

Atlanta Hawks 110 – New York Knicks 90.

The Knicks lost their fifth straight home game to the Atlanta Hawks, who are playing some seriously good team ball, took out the win.

The Hawks had eight of their ten players score in double figures in the win and they shot an impressive 56.4% from the field against what can only be described as a hapless Knicks team who played little to no defense.

Paul Millsap had 14 point and 13 boards in the win.

The Knicks drop to 3-6 and 1-5 at home with the loss and the pressure of playing in NYC just keeps rising.

Houston Rockets 122 – Denver Nuggets 111.

The Nuggets played ‘Hack a Howard’ and for once the big man made a team pay by hitting most of his free throws. Howard scored 25 points in the win and shot 17 of 24 from behind the stripe. All five of Houston’s starters scored in double figures and the team shot the ball well at 50.6% from the field.

The Nuggets Ty Lawson had a spectacular game albeit in a losing team as he scored 28 points on 11 of 19 shooting and dished out a huge 17 assists.

Houston improved to 7-4 on the season while the Nuggets drop to 4-5.

Minnesota Timberwolves 106 – Boston Celtics 88.

It was always going to be a tough ask for the visiting Boston Celtics to get a win in Minnesota and it played out exactly that way. Minnesota are proving to be a tough ask for most teams this season. Kevin Love led them to victory with his 23 points and 12 rebounds while Nikola Pekovic added 20 points and 12 rebounds of his own.

The Celtics Avery Bradley top scored with 27 on 12 of 23 shooting but it wasn’t enough as there were only three players who scored in double figures in the game for Boston.

Boston drop to 4-7 while Minnesota improved to 7-4.

New Orleans Pelicans 135 – Philadelphia 76ers 98.

New Orleans completely blew the 76ers away thanks to a huge game for Ryan Anderson in his return to play. Anderson scored 26 points off the bench and shot 6 of 10 from downtown. Anthony Davis scored 13 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and blocked 8 shots in the win and continues to keep fantasy owners very happy this season.

The Pelicans had seven players score in double digits and shot an unheard of 60.5% from the field and 46.4% from three point range.

The 76ers conversely shot 42.1% from the field and drop to 5-6 on the season with a loss they would be best to forget quick smart.

Oklahoma City Thunder 92 – Milwaukee Bucks 79.

Russell Westbrook’s comeback continues to be a success as he led the Thunder to a win over the Bucks in Milwaukee.

Westbrook scored 26 points on 10 of 20 shooting, Kevin Durant added 24 of his own and Serge Ibaka added 15 points and a huge 20 boards in the win.

The Bucks poor shooting, 34.9% from the field, was the catalyst for another disappointing loss for them and they drop to 2-7 on the season. They’re looking more and more like a lottery team with each game that passes.

Golden State Warriors 102 – Utah Jazz 88.

The Utah Jazz are becoming seriously embarrassing. They lost their tenth game of the season when the Golden State Warriors blew them away 102-88 in Oakland.

The Warriors were led by Klay Thompson’s 25 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Thompson shot 9 of 14 and 5 of 8 from three point range and is having a breakout season currently averaging 20.9 points per game on 55.2% shooting.

The Jazz were no match for the Warriors and it showed. It’s a long road to the NBA draft for Jazz fans this year.

Los Angeles Clippers 110 – Brooklyn Nets 103.

The Brooklyn Nets were without big name players Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez and Paul Pierce so the odds were well and truly stacked against them against a red hot Clippers team.

The Clippers were led by Blake Griffin who had 30 points and 12 boards for the game. The Clippers had to rally late in the game to ensure they got the victory and despite the loss the Nets played well, all things considered.

Brooklyn drop to 3-6 and the Clippers improve to a 7-3 record for the season.

Keep an eye out next Monday for another edition of the Weekly Hoop Scoop and don’t forget, Pierre is watching you….

Thanks to http://believethehypenba.com/ for the picture.

Thanks to http://believethehypenba.com/ for the picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



p4

Weekly Hoop Scoop

It’s finally here! After months of whinging and whining about a lack of basketball, hoops junkies everywhere are getting their proverbial fix this week and what a start to the NBA season we’ve had so far.

I’d been thinking about doing a weekly recap of NBA news for quite some time now and between work, mortgage, kids and a slight compulsion to drinking too much I never really started it, but there’s no time like the present. So every Monday morning, when you’re hopelessly bereft of hope, dragging your ass to another week of blissful employment or if you’re not gainfully employed, then when you crawl out of bed at 11am hungover, you can expect a rundown of some of the highlights and low lights of the week that was in the NBA.

So with the formalities done, here’s a recap of the NBA’s first week or in this case, half week of action.

Wednesday October 30th.

The season began with the reigning champion Miami Heat receiving their rings before facing their Eastern Conference rivals the Chicago Bulls.

Bulls fans had been foaming at the mouth for months for this game and despite a good start for Chicago, the Bulls once again struggled to score points at times and ultimately went down to the Heat 107-95 but more than anything the game marked the official return for former MVP Derrick Rose. Rose didn’t exactly light things up as he shot 4 for 15 with five turnovers but the good news is he looks as explosive as ever.

The Lakers made the Clippers pay for the mere suggestion that they will cover up their banners at Staples Center with a 116-103 victory over their crosstown rivals and some fans decided, based on that one game, that the Clippers aren’t a contender anymore, talk about premature!

Paul George dropped 24 as the Pacers made light work of the hapless Orlando Magic 97-87. Did someone say Wiggins?

Thursday October 31st

Day two of the NBA was huge with fourteen games played. Highlights included the 76ers beginning their quest to go 82-0 by beating the Miami Heat 114-110. Rookie Michael Carter-Williams had one of the greatest debuts in NBA history as he put up 22 points, 7 rebounds, 12 assists and 9, yes 9 steals!

Durant dropped 42 in a 101-98 win over the Jazz, Kevin Love had 31 points and 17 boards as the Wolves beat the Magic 120-115, DeMarcus Cousins showed why he got that huge contract by scoring 30 points and grabbing 14 rebounds as the Kings eeked out a 90-88 win over the Nuggets.

The Lakers came crashing back down to earth as they copped a 31 point thrashing against the Golden State Warriors, going down 125-94. Klay Thompson was sensational as he shot 15 of 19 including 5 of 7 from long range.

Dwight Howard grabbed 26 boards in Houston’s 96-83 win over the Bobcats, The Cavs got an upset 98-94 win over the stacked Brooklyn Nets team, The Raptors beat the Celtics 93-87, more Wiggins, Detroit got an easy win over the Wizards 113-102 with Piston big man Greg Monroe scoring 24 and grabbing 16 rebounds.

The Pacers beat the Pelicans 95-90 and Paul George continues to take his game to new levels, he had 32 points. Monta Ellis made his debut in Dallas and in some kind of bizarre reversal of form he was super-efficient shooting 11 of 17 and racked up 8 dimes in a 118-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks. The Spurs got the win over Memphis 101-94 with their usual unselfish play, six players with double figure points and despite 32 from Damian Lillard, Portland went down to the Suns 104-91.

For me though, the highlight of the day was the coming out party for Pierre the pelican. The New Orleans mascot looks like he could be the lead character in a Stephen King novel. I’m thinking something like “It” but with a Pelican who delivers fast food before killing his victims/customers. Social media went into a frenzy after Pierre was unveiled by the Pelicans Twitter account with all sorts of photoshops occurring featuring the pelican. Now I’m pretty partial to Benny the Bull but Pierre is the new kid in town!

Here’s a few of my favourite Pierre photoshops.

Pierre

Then there’s the pièce de résistance

p4

Friday November 1st

After such an action packed Thursday, the NBA schedule for Friday featured just two games, the Bulls vs Knicks and the Clippers vs Warriors.

The Bulls Knicks game was the first game Derrick Rose had played at the United Centre since his injury and the Bulls faithful were excited by the prospect of seeing him play again. Rose continued to struggle much like the game against Miami but he did hit the game winner as the Bulls won 82-81.

The real highlight of the day however, was Chris Paul’s amazing stat line of 42 points, 15 assists and 6 steals as the Clippers bounced back after their loss to the Lakers, with an emphatic 126-115 win over a tough Golden State team. The game had plenty of feeling about it as seen here when DeAndre Jordan and Andrew Bogut got into a heated discussion on what would have undoubtedly been about politics or religion. I’ll let you decide.

Saturday November 2nd.

Saturday’s eight games provided some memorable upsets and plenty of highlights.

The Thunder were beaten fairly comprehensively by Minnesota with Love and Rubio running riot. Love had 24 points on 7 of 12 shooting with 12 boards, Rubio added 14 points, 10 assists and 5 steals as the Wolves got the big 100-81 win.

The Bobcats got a win over the Cavs 90-84 with Kemba Walker top scoring with 23 points including a late three to seal the deal.

The Orlando Magic registered their first win of the season against the New Orleans Pelicans, 110-90, thanks in part to a 30 point game from Aaron Afflalo. Rookie Victor Oladipo looked good at times in the game and showed just why many have him pegged as a future star. The Pelicans start the season 0-2 for the first time since 2004-05.

The Philadelphia 76ers improved to 2-0 for the season with a 109-102 win over the Washington Wizards and despite a big start from John Wall who hit his first seven shots of the game only to go 3 for 12 afterwards, the Sixers came away with the victory. They were led by Thad Young who scored 29 points on 14 of 20 shooting and grabbed 8 boards. It seems Philly aren’t here for the tanking.

The Atlanta Hawks beat the Toronto Raptors 102-95 thanks to some solid play from big man Al Horford, 22 points, 9 of 14 shooting and 16 rebounds. DeMar DeRozan was good for Toronto in the loss scoring 31 points and Rudy Gay had a particularly tough day at the office shooting just 6 of 23.

The Milwaukee Bucks had an impressive comeback to beat the Boston Celtics 105-98. Boston had a 22 point lead at one point but the Bucks, led by the play of big man Zaza Pachulia, who top scored with 20 points, clawed back and took the win. The Bucks bench combined for an impressive 66 points.

The Rockets are a love/hate thing for me, I love Harden but hate Dwight Howard. Harden was phenomenal for the Rockets with his 34 points on 11 of 17 shooting in their 113-105 win over the Mavericks in Houston. Dwight was all over the glass with 16 boards but still shoots free throws like an eight year old child, 5 of 12 for the game.

Memphis had a very quiet off season, no major roster changes and their start to the season hasn’t been given much coverage from the bigger NBA authorities like ESPN but they continue to play solid basketball. They managed a 111-108 win over the Detroit Pistons in overtime at the Fed Ex Forum in Memphis. Mike Conley led all scorers with 22 points on 7 of 12 shooting and Josh Smith was all over the box score for Detroit despite the loss with 19 points, 8 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks but shot poorly at 7 for 23 from the field.

The Brooklyn Nets handed the Miami Heat a narrow 101-100 loss and its the first time the Heat have lost two in a row since January. One of LeBron’s greatest adversaries and new Brooklyn Net, Paul Pierce, wound the clock back with his performance scoring 19 points on 5 of 10 shooting, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and one big blocked shot on LeBron.

James scored 26 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in the loss.

The Portland Trailblazers made easy work of the Denver Nuggets 113-98 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Nicholas Batum had the hot hand in the first half scoring all of his 21 points before the break. He shot of 8 of 14 from the field and nailed 5 threes in his rampaging first half. LaMarcus Aldridge top scored with 25. Only two Nuggets players scored more than 11 points for the game.

A late three pointer from Phoenix Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe gave them an 87-84 win over the Utah Jazz at the U.S Airways Centre in Phoenix. In a game where neither team shot the ball well, (below 38%) Miles Plumlee managed to score 13 points on 6 of 11 shooting with 13 rebounds. Enes Kanter top scored for Utah with 20 points.

Chris Paul continued his hot form for the Clippers as they beat the Sacramento Kings on the road 110-101. Paul scored 26 points and added 10 assists. Blake Griffin scored 20 grabbed 17 rebounds and dished out 6 assists in the win. Yes there were alley oops but no I wont call it that name. Isaiah Thomas was spectacular for the home team in the loss, scoring 29 points on 9 of 13 shooting from the field, his dribble penetration getting him to the line often where he went 8 for 10.

The Laker banners were visible for their clash with San Antonio Spurs at the Staples Center but even a Tim Duncan-less Spurs were too much for the Lakers. Tony Parker led the charge for San Antonio scoring 24 points and dishing out 6 dimes. Only three players scored in double figures for the Lakers in the loss. We shall soon see who the true Laker fans are.

Sunday November 3rd.

Sunday started off with the Philadelphia 76ers hosting the Chicago Bulls and it was to be another upset victory for Philadelphia. They won the game 107-104 and were once again led by first week rookie sensation Michael Carter-Williams. MCW or the hyphen as I’ve heard him called this week scored 26 points, had 10 assists and showed that he will be a tough ask to defend for so many point guards in the league because of his length. Derrick Rose struggled for the third straight gme and Carlos Boozer was Chicago’s best with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Amnesty who?

The Indiana Pacers were too much for the Cleveland Cavaliers winning 89-74. The Pacers Lance Stephenson top scored for them with 22 points and Paul George was Paul George, great again, with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Cleveland really struggled shooting the ball at 34.9% from the field. You can credit the Pacers D for that statistic.

The New Orleans Pelicans won their first game of the season beating the still disastrously bad Charlotte Bobcats 105-84. Fantasy owners of Anthony Davis were celebrating as his name was splashed all across the box scores. He had 25 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 6 steals and 6 blocks. I don’t know what’s more scary, the fact that Davis will only get better or that the Bobcats only had two players score double figures in the game.

Dallas looked impressive in their 111-99 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Shawn Marion played like it was 2005 again, scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds but it was Dirk Nowitzki who impressed most with his 24 points on 7 of 16 shooting with 3 three pointers. The Grizzlies had eight players score 7 or less points and their bench didn’t contribute much at all in the game.

The Toronto Raptors managed to score a valuable road win over the Milwaukee Bucks 97-90. The Raptors didn’t shoot the ball particularly well but they did manage to out rebound the Bucks 60-38, Rudy Gay was a major factor in this as he grabbed 15 boards to go along with 18 points. The Bucks O.J Mayo played well in the loss scoring 16 points, grabbing 6 rebounds and 8 assists.

The Utah Jazz really took it to the Houston Rockets in the first half of today’s 104-93 loss but the Rockets class shone through in the end. Houston only used eight players in the win. Parsons Harden and Lin all scored more than 20 points whilst Howard added 15. The Rockets take their record to 3-0 and are looking like the real deal.

The Portland Trailblazers were too good for the San Antonio Spurs winning 115-105. Nicholas Batum had a triple double with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists whilst Damian Lillard scored 25 with 7 rebounds and 7 assists in the win. Portland shot the lights out at 55.6% from the field, 40% from behind the arc and 89.5% from the line for the game. Entertaining!

The final game of the day was a victory for the Golden State Warriors over the Sacramento Kings 98-87. The Kings gave the Warriors little trouble all throughout the game. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson scored 22 and 27 respectively and Aussie big man Andrew Bogut got under DeMarcus Cousins’ skin at times and Cousins finished with a paltry 8 points. After the game he refused to speak with the media following. Not sure how many times we need to talk about giving him more time to mature. The time is now for DMC as hes more than talented enough to dominate this league but let’s himself and teammates down all too often.

So with the first week of the NBA done and dusted, I feel as if I’ve begun to feed the addiction once again and look forward to another week of the greatest sporting league in the world. Enjoy your Monday. 



2013/14 Champions and Award Winners*

Consider this an experiment. Take one Playstation 3. Insert one NBA 2k14 game disc. Enter game modes. Choose season. Simulate. Sit back and watch the 2013/14 season unfold before your very eyes. Check out what my season entailed below. Results may vary… *May or may not be actual winners (more…)



howard595

Dwight Howard struggles in Manila; Gets booed by Laker fans

The Houston Rockets made a statement last night in Manila with a resounding 116-96 victory over the much-hyped Indiana Pacers as part of the NBA preseason’s Global Games.

The franchise’s new centerpiece, Dwight Howard, looked to be regaining some of the form he had presumably lost during his one year stint with the LA Lakers, but only managed 9 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists for the game. In his 23 minutes Howard also picked up 5 fouls, committed 4 turnovers and was blocked by Indiana center Roy Hibbert three times. Not the stats one would hope for from the three time defensive player of the year. Howard did look to be less hampered by injury, however, and Rockets fans can take away some positives from his performance so far in the preseason.

But, according to local Philippines station InterAVTV, there were plenty of fans in the building who may not have been so pro-Dwight. The Philippines is widely known as having one of the biggest Laker fan bases in the world outside of the United States and some evidently expressed their distaste for the center’s decision to walk away from the team during the summer.

During the Rockets’ preseason game on Thursday night against the Indiana Pacers, Howard was on the receiving end of some boos from the crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.

There were also scattered chants of “Kobe! Kobe!” in reference to Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, with whom Howard had a clash of personality during his one season stint in Los Angeles.

Howard didn’t fare much better on the floor, finishing with just nine points and three rebounds. He made just 3-of-9 shots from the field, struggling against bigger Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who blocked three of Howard’s attempts.

Dwight made the decision which was undoubtedly beneficial for his well-being and happiness, but as we’ve seen so often before, that notion matters little to a hoard of angry supporters who’s team they feel has been wronged. It’s unlikely Howard will ever escape the reputation he’s built for himself, and the sad part is, he thought all he had to do was leave LA for it to change.

It seems that even 7,000 miles away, the Dwightmare is still very much alive.



NBA’s Greatest Rivalries: The Finale

Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the last part in the trilogy that is the NBA’s Greatest Rivalries. We’ve hit some ones so far but in reality there are still some big dogs to go through yet. Enjoy. (more…)