Thursday, May 31, 2007

Live Blog: Cavs vs. Pistons, Eastern Conference Finals, Game 5

Some questions heading into tonight's game...

Can LeBron do it on the road? He was unreal in Cleveland, but his performances in Detroit have been lackluster. Something clicked, though, in Cleveland. I think we are in good hands.

Where is his help coming from? It is almost expected that Boobie Gibson is going to play well...who else will step up? I'm saying 17 from Sasha.

Will Chauncey play well? I think him and Rip are both going to have good games, but I think the Detroit bigs will struggle. I don't know why.

Was this one of the funniest things I've ever read? From Simmons basketball blog, but ironically, not from Simmons himself:

I thoroughly enjoyed this e-mail from Rob in Kailua, Hawaii: "I've been noticing that during the Detroit-Cleveland series Gooden and Rasheed get into arguments or little scuffles at least 2-3 times a game. Is there a history there? My theory is that Gooden's little patch of hair on his neck used to be the little patch of hair missing from Rasheed's head. Drew must have won some epic battle and now wears that patch as a medal of honor. That's the only logical explanation for such a ridiculous hairdo right?"
That is something I wish I had thought of; I'm jealous. I LOL'd on that one. I also like that epic battles that are rewarded with medals of honor are quite commonplace in Hawaii.

Alright, let's get to the game. As always, see you after the jump.

What a lucky break that the Eastern Conference Finals ends up on TNT. I hope this thing goes 7 for just that reason. Did ESPN outbid TNT for this? Was this a conscious decision on their part? Either way, it worked out; the Western Conference Finals was excruciating while the Eastern Conference finals have only been mildly antagonizing. Nice work, TNT.

Reggie in the booth, which is fine, I guess. But why does TNT need to screw with the Big 3?

TNT opens with "Go Getter" which is awesome because I am guessing whoever greenlighted that idea has no idea what "trap" means. (It means selling drugs, doesn't it?)

Cleveland opens by throwing the ball into Big Z, which they do every single damn time. And as pointed out astutely by Steve Kerr, it never works. Ever. This is like a running team opening up a game by giving it to its RB for a one yard loss even though the entire stadium knows it coming. Except the Cavs have no intention of ever, ever going to Z with any type of consistency.

Uh oh, Detroit: the Cavs post LeBron up and he hits a fallaway J over Prince. If LeBron is hitting jumpers, forget about it. Game ova.
#4 said...
i think the biggest x-factor in this game is Prince. If he plays well (the little things, steals, oboards, big shots during a run) the pistons team will play better as a whole, giving chauncey a chance to get out of his josh robinson v. the juniata eagles choke performance. however, in both piston wins, prince scored a combined 9 points. this is just a gut feeling...

go bron!
Prince's biggest contribution will come on the defensive end, making Bron Bron work. And Susquehanna sucks (full disclosure: #4 is a college teammate of mine...there may be an inside reference or two. Just so you know.) But yes, Go Bron!

Larry Hughes with back to back threes! Who the hell saw that coming? As long as the floor is being spread though, the Cavs are in business. Doesn't matter where it comes from.

The score is tied at 7, but I don't know how because a flood has been been declared and the National Weather Service saw fit to black out the game for a minute to let me know, yet there is not a drop of rain outside. Thank you for nothing, Weather Service.

Chauncey is killing it: hitting a three, getting to the rim, finding people. He killed it in the first half in Game 4, though. Let's see it in the second half, Mr Big Shot. 13-12, Detroit.

Pizza is here. Back after the break.

Detroit is up 19-14...what happened? I ran to get a pizza (there's a place 29 steps from my front door; I counted...not good, not good).
matt said...
I think Reggie is getting a lot better, sorta fitting in even. He was awkward as hell at first, but now he doesn't seem to mind getting laughed at so much. Or at least he hides it better.
Oh, yea: Reggie is good; I like him - he's not Magic, that's for sure. I just don't get why such a successful show has a "more the merrier" mentality. Those three are perfect. I wish they'd just let it be.
#4 said...
whenever a commentator says gravy twice in 10 seconds without any mention of Thanksgiving dinner, i am embarrased for him
Anytime Stu Scott talks, I am embarrassed for him. Yes, that was an unprovoked shot at Stu Scott. But more importantly: mmmmmm, gravy.

Bron drains a pull up in transition; love to see him hitting the J. Its only gonna make the drive that much more effective.

Chauncey comes off a ball screen and throws himself into the defender stepping out. That's a bullshit call. Flopping has become an epidemic in the NBA and that's one of the biggest areas where it has taken off. I freakin' hate that call.

Sleepy Marshall misses a three and Rip sneaks out in transition for an easy deuce. Second time he's done that. 24-19, just under three left in the first. Cavs need a little run.

Oh, he got that off! LeBron has a pretty baseline shot waved off because of an alleged shot clock violation. Very close. Mike Brown reacted thusly:

Hunter drives and finds, the Pistons are shredding the Cavs perimeter defense. Hunter follows up a nice play by blowing a transition layup. Thanks for evening that out, Linds.

Ah, Mike Brown musta read some Point 23. Chauncey is out, so he brings in Damon Jones who thanks his coach by drilling a corner three.

Oh! McDyess drills Varejao as he is going up for a lay up and Bron Bron flips out. He ran from sideline to sideline (actually hopping over Varajao, who was still laying prone on the floor; I love Bron's priorities: screw helping up my teammate laying on the floor, let's chest bump the guy who did it!) and tried to get to McDyess. Who knows if he was really gonna do anything, but still, LOVE the emotion. He got a tech for his troubles, but completely worth it. Anything that shows LeBron is fired up is a good thing.

Wow: the refs throw McDyess out. It was a tough hit, but jeez, an ejection? I dunno about that, but I'll take it. The good news: Weber will get more time. The bad news: so will Jason Maxiell.

Bron might be a little too fired up: he airballs a three and the crowd loves it.

I HATE the "DeeeeTROIT! Baaaas-ket-BAAAALL!" guy. Hate him. As far as I am concerned, he's an absolute asshole for starting that shit. He should be fined and/or beaten.

29-23 after a chippy first half. Back after the break. 'Preciate the comments; keep 'em coming.

What're your thoughts on this new Heineken mini-keg thing? What's in there, like a six pack? Is that really worth it? And what a freakin' scumbag that guy is for taking the dudes lil' keg and claiming its his own. I bet he's related to the
"DeeeeTROIT! Baaaas-ket-BAAAALL!" Guy.
#4 said...
it's pathetic how you cann't foul hard anymore. it removes so much of a competitive spirit. rediculous!
It really is. Those kind of rules really tamper with the competive spirit of the game, I think. I mean, you can't drill someone like that, obviously, but if you do, you shouldn't get ejected. Hey, I'll take it though.

What do you think McDyess is doing right now? Hanging out with a ball boy? Do you think he'll ask everyone what is going on when they come in from halftime? Is he the only one in the locker room right now? Who would be in there with him when they could be out watching the game live? I wish I knew these things.

Hunter breezes by Damon Jones for 2. Can Damon Jones guard anyone? Name one player currently in the NBA you think Damon Jones could stop 3 times out of 10. And Mark Madsen would definitely score 5 times. At least.

Boobie has been awfully quiet. Last couple of games he has been aggressive as hell. It's not that he isn't scoring or whatever, he's not attacking. He's just another dude out there right now. That can't be the case, Boobie, flash a little bit of the Game 4 brilliance.

(You see what I did there? "Boobie" and "flash" in the same sentence. Ninth graders, please feel free to giggle.)

Webber tried something that I think was inspired by The Dream Shake, but it was incredibly uncoordinated and did not work at all. Stons up 8. I'm scared.

There's Boobie! Gibson comes off the pick and roll and actually attacks the rim, drawing a foul on Sheed.

We can all agree that Chris Weber is incredibly slow and disjointed right? Like when he moves, it looks painful and it makes YOU wince? Well, he just blew by Z. I mean, left Z in the dust. Not even close. Good God, Z, bend your knees or something.

Boobie finds Gooden for a short J and then Hughes comes up with a steal and finds Sasha in transition. Cavs cut it to 4. Phew. I was scared that was gonna go the other way.
Coach Gordan Bombay said...
in response to what mcdyess is doing in the locker room. one thing comes to mind....

Dean Portman after he was ejected . . . .
I love it. Mighty Ducks references will always win you points around here. Wonder if Flip Saunders threw a cardboard cut out of himself into a fire barrel before the game to motivate his team?

37-33 with just under 7 minutes to go...both teams have a shot to crack 50 in the first half. Probably won't happen, but jeez, after games 1-4, I feel like I am watching Suns/Warriors.

The Pistons are KILLING the Cavs in transition. Might be time to sit Z down for a breather. Or maybe get LeBron back in, he's only been out the entire second quarter.

And the "I bash them and they do something good" trend continues: Bron feeds Z who now has a chance for a three point play, which he converts.

Actually, I take that back; leave Z in. Detroit is depleted inside with Dean Portman ejected. Even if the Cavs give up some points in transition, let's wear them down on the inside. No one is winning this game in the first half; let's win it through attrition. I am glad I just talked myself into that strategy.

I can't believe this is a four point game. How does Detroit not come out fired up and try to bury Cleveland early? Play with a little more spark? What the hell are these guys thinking? I'd love to get inside their collective mindset. Ilgauskus has scored 7 in a row, by the way, further proof that I have no idea what the hell I'm talking about.

Cavs within 2, but Gooden picks up a cheap third foul. Can someone hold him down and shave that damn hair patch off the back of his head? I can't stand that thing. What do you think the barber's reaction was when he told him that's what he wanted?

Wow. Maxiell tried to tip dunk a missed Billups' three...he caught it in mid-air, but then as he went to dunk it, it went flying outta his hand. Kinda like in NBA Jam (Tournament Edition, of course) when your guy goes to dunk, but gets stripped before he takes off and then you have to watch your guy fly through the air without the ball. Good thing he missed, though, cuz The Palace would have gotten really loud and made it hard for the Cavs to concentrate.

Bron drives by four Pistons, scores and gets fouled to pull the game within a point. Honestly, four guys touched him. Oh, and then he finds Varejao with a pretty pass in transition. Cavs up one, 47-46. The Cavs are an offensive juggernaut.

Sager brings us back from commercial by explaining how the Cavs are going to try to not suck this third quarter. There are two guys in this tiny room on a computer, putting together a film or something that the Cavs will then use at halftime to ensure they do not suck in the third quarter, and Sager busts in on them, live. The two guys were supposed to be "working furiously," according to Sager, but I swear I saw the guys Buddy List up on the side of his computer. Those two weren't doing shit. No wonder the Cavs blow coming out of halftime. Those two guys are in a chat room! Anyone else see that?

Uh oh. Billups is starting to post up Boobie. He elevates over him, no sweat. Boobie really can't guard anyone in the post. Detroit is the first to fitty, 50-49. Seems to have motivated Boobie a little bit, though, he drives by Billups and draws a foul.

Marv informs us that Daniel Gibson is called "Boobie" because his mom thought he was too soft as a kid. Jeez, mom, what'd you call your other kids, Vag?

I was typing so I didn't see, and I am probably hallucinating, but I think Scott Pollard was just in. Can anyone confirm that?

Bron misses a tough shot in the lane to end the half. But the fact that Cleveland is only down one is stunning, at least to me, all things considered. As long as they don't turn in their usual third-quarter performance (C'mon Jimmy and Jason! Get off AIM and do something! We're all counting on you!) they should be OK.

Oh, Webber says "hopefully the Cavs will quit floppin'." Thems is fightin' words! I love how Webber is now the picture of toughness, like he is so above that. Shut the hell up, Webber. And why didn't Sags follow up on that? Isn't that what he is there for? To ask annoyingly long questions?

Back after halftime. I'm gonna IM Jimmy and and Jason and see what the second half game plan is.

Second half about to get underway. I am not remotely nervous. I am 100% confident the Cavs are going to win and I have no idea why. I have never had this feeling, ever, watching the Cavs play. I do not consider this a good thing at all.

Hey #4: Who plays worse coming out of halftime, the Cavs or our alma mater, circa 05-06?

If Bron attacks the way he did last third quarter, things will be fine. The ball just wouldn't drop for him. Ideally, I'd love to see him and Boobie get out in transition once or twice, get moving to get things started.

Or a Chauncey Billups three without passing. Either/or.

Gooden with a nice follow of a LeBron missed J keeps it within 3. I'll take it. The Cavs don't have to play awesome in the third, they just gotta keep it close.

Prince drills a wide open three to push it to an 8 point lead. Son of a bitch.

Tapping out rebounds has really reached new proportions. Gooden could have easily grabbed that last rebound, but instead he tried to tap it out, screwed it up, the Pistons got it instead and Prince drains a momentum three. Hey, if you can't get to a ball, by all means, tip it with one hand, give your squad another crack at it. But if you can grab it, you should probably just grab the damn ball.

Chris Paul in attendance...what's the connection there? Is he from Detroit? If not, who's he there to see play? And unless the game is in LA or NY, quit panning for celebs. It's sad, really. Kid Rock does not count.

Z draws a foul on Webber. This is like watching an oak tree post up a telephone pole. Good God, fellas.

The Cavs just submitted the ugliest possession of the playoffs. It involved someone dribbling of their foot (probably Hughes), Hughes pivoting nineteen times to find someone to pass to, big Z falling over and then Sasha, who is not helping me on my pregame pick, jacking a three from the right side in which his chest was facing the opposite basket. As head coach, Mike Brown's official response was to make a face like he was going to puke. Oh, wait, he always makes that face.

Man, there is just a lid on the rim for LeBron in the third. He does draw a fourth foul on Webber, though. Hey, he made a free throw! Make that two! LeBron can score in the third. I had no idea.

Rip drives and draws a foul on Z, pushes the lead to 65-58. Cavs can't let it get any higher than that.

Pavlovic drills a three. It really is uncanny: I say someone sucks, they step up.

Ah! Hughes misses LeBron by a half-second on an oop. Man, he threw that shit pretty hard off the backboard. Kerr sums it up nicely: "You can play a guy at point guard, doesn't mean he is one." I concur. Where's Boobie? I wish Flip would play Lindsey Hunter so we can put in our good offensive players who can't guard a soul.

Z picks up his fourth foul on a bullshit illegal screen call and heads to the bench. Least the Cavs can run now.

Gooden picks up an illegal D call...he looked like a catcher caught in a run down between second and third. Just make up your mind.

LeBron catches the ball on the wing, stares down the D for more then a few seconds, dribbles roughly 13 times and then scores on Prince when Detroit decides they'd rather not double team, even though Bronny was begging them to. Bron ties it on the next play at 65, finding Varejao cutting down the middle. This third quarter doesn't suck! I couldn't be more excited.

Sweet Jeebus, Tayshaun. Dude drives from the left side, went baseline, reversed it, stretched his arms out to 11 feet, and hammered it. Varejao was good enough to answer by throwing his layup attempt off the bottom of the rim. He's clutch like that. Or, as Steve Kerr would say, "unskilled." Yep. 70-65, (kinda) Bad Boys.

Boobie! God, I fuckin' love him. He drills a three to end the quarter and ties it up at 70 to end the third.

I am now officially nervous all hell.
matt said...
Okay, I haven't been reading along, but I'm sure you've noted that this 3rd isn't awful. And Danny G has the snake eyes and cold smile of a born killer. Love that guy.
Boobie really does have a great disposition, doesn't he? He has that little half-smile with his tongue kinda stickin' out...He looks like he is havin' a grand time riping your heart out. I love it.

Prince fouls Hughes on a three. Why was Larry shooting, you may be wondering? Because LeBron is on the bench, which raises the obvious question, WHY THE FUCK IS LEBRON ON THE BENCH IN THE FOURTH QUARTER!?!?! Larry misses two freebies outta three. Of course he does. Cavs up, 73-70.

Seriously, we're almost under 10. Why is LeBron not in? I can't wait to hear Mike Brown defend this with a half hour anwer after the game.

Gibson banks home a tough shot, and I couldn't agree more with
Mrs. Gibson said...
Well put, moms, well put.

Hell is watching Chris Webber play Ilgauskus one on one. I want to gouge my eyes out with a spoon. Cleveland up one, 75-74.

Hey, it took Mike Brown until the 8:34 mark, but LeBron checks back in. Mike Brown is playing this game like a chess match.

Z scores to push the Cavs lead to 3. Oh, and when I said "chess" earlier," I meant "checkers." My bad, my bad.

Back-to-back buckets from Z after Varejao sets a pick for Ilgauskus. They Cavs should sign some more guys with harder names to type.

LeBron alters Rip's shot at one end, grabs the rebounds, methodically works his way to the top of they key and sticks a J. I'm a fan. Cavs up 3, 81-78.

Sheed stuffed LeBron. Did not see that one coming at all. I really don't know how that could ever happen, I mean LeBron is so strong and everythi - oh, it was because Sheed just grabbed his left hand and didn't come anywhere near the ball. I see.

But it got the crowd into it, and Detroit is a little fired up, and Rip hits two FTs to take a one-point lead. Sweaty palms.

Rip just absolutely lost Boobie coming off a couple of screens and then passes to Sheed, who draws the foul. Man, Boobie had no freakin' idea where Rip was. Completely turned him around. Rip must practice that. Sheed knocks down 2; Pistons up 3. Need a bucket here, fellas.

No dice. Boobie misses a three and Rip nails a J at the other end. Cavs down 5. I have a sick, sick feeling right now. 3:47 left.

Son of a bitch. Sasha gets trapped and just throws the ball into the air. Gibson picks up his fifth because he can't guard anyone in the post. Man, you can just feel this one slipping away. Rip makes it a three possession game, 88-81.

I love how now all the Pistons are standing and clapping, once they think they are gonna win. They really are too cool for school.

Oh, Bron. Blows by Rip, draws the foul and scored. Can he make it a three-point play? No, but Sasha semi-redeems himself by grabbing an offensive board. Gooden will be at the line for two with a chance to cut it to three after this word from your local sponsor.

I would like to see a stat that shows the percentage of the time that players actually complete the three-point play. I feel like LeBron would rank remarkably low on this list, even though he probably leads the league in attempts. He misses that "and one" free throw all the time.

Eric Snow checking into the game. Gooden misses the first, makes the second.

Bron sticks a three. Cavs within one. Billups turns it over, LeBron snags it and Sheed has to foul him to prevent an easy dunk. Those are the two most common things in this series: Chauncey committing a turnover and LeBron doing clutch shit. (Did I say LeBron and clutch? He just missed both freebies. Daaaagger.)

Ah, blown chances. Gooden misses a five footer for the lead. Pistons ball, up 1, 54 seconds left. I'm gonna go puke.
nick collison said...
i told you i was better than drew gooden
Let's not get crazy here, Nick.

Varajao strips Sheed out of bounds and the refs award the Cavs the ball for no reason at all. Sheed actually has a right now flip out this time.

Oh my Lord. LeBron just annihilated the rim, but Chauncey sticks a dagger three to put the Pistons up 2. Oh, Mr. Big Shot.

My hands are shaking, I can't feel my legs, and I'm going cross eyed.

Wonder if Marshall will be in the game? I'm curious to see if the Cavs go big or small here?

I don't even know, but LeBron just blew by Prince like he wasn't there and dunks it. How can you get to the rim that easily this late in a game?

9.5 ticks left. I am shaking uncontrollably; I can barely type.

Billups misses a three to end the game! OT! He walks off with that shitty smile on his face, though, so I guess he's fine with it. Hey, as long as it don't bother him, don't bother me none. Snow gave him all kinda room, though. You knew he was pulling up there, too. Good things Chauncey kinda lost it there. My hands won't stop shaking.

Normally I'd say the home team is favored in OT, especially in the playoffs, but I think the Cavs have a slight advantage here, mainly because no one is coming close to stopping Bron.
#4 said...
i'm freaking out
You ain't the only one. I need one of Rip Hamiltons Nasal Oxygen Providers; I can barely breathe. My hands are still shaking.

Winner of the next 5 minutes wins this series? Fair statement?

Cavs control the tip and LeBron goes right to work. Refs hit Tayshaun with a foul and he is freaking out about it, and he might have a case, but the ball went right back to Bron and he woulda scored anyways. As it is, he hits both and the Cavs are up 2 and I am still freaking out.

Wonder if the Pistons will go zone here since LeBron is getting to the rim at will. Looks like it. What a huge play. Pavlovic gets called for an offensive foul; coulda been Webber's sixth. It was the right call, though. Damnit.
matt said...


Eric Snow is A-OK, man.

I'm gonna have a heart attack
Get in line; I'm next. And Snow has come up with some huge defensive plays in the last two games, especially late in games. Well, that's the only time he plays, but still. He's like a defensive Robert Horry.

LeBron has like 75 dunks in the last three minutes. He gets another one to tie it at 75. The rim is petrified of Bron Bron at this point.

Gooden fouls out and Varajao has to play. In this shoot-out, I don't like it. Sheed makes one, Detroit up 1 with 3 to go.

LeBron gets to the rim AGAIN. The Pistons D is useless right now; Sheed is forced to foul. Bron copies Sheed's strategy and only makes one of two. Tie game.

Wallace misses, Chris Webber of all people somehow ends up with a long rebound, and Wallace misses again. James misses at the other end, mainly because, as Kerr points out, they don't have to guard Snow OR Varejao.

Cavs get another stop, call timeout. Tie game, 1:37 left. I am seeing three TVs right now.
chris webber said...

i told you i dont flop, im not a hypocrit, i swear
I still hate you.

See Damon Jones flipping out on the Cav bench? That's me, except not even close.

Oh, Detroit is gonna be pissed. Looked like Bron pushed off Chauncey to get the ball, then may have gotten bailed out on the drive. The King gets up gingerly, too. Well, Billups flopped...but James may have gotten a star call on the drive. Looked like he tripped of his own accord. Regardless, he makes both. Cavs +2, 1:15 left.

LeBron forces Tayshaun into throwing the ball into the back court. Tay was trying to body him up, but he may as well have been shouldering a brick wall; that was one of the more futile things I have ever seen, Tayshaun trying to bang with LeBron. Really, Tayshaun? Seriously?

Man, what a fuckin' shot, LeBron. Off balance, fading, over two guys. Cavs up 4. Bron smiles as he runs back own court. Man...what a fuckin' shot. I wish I could provide better analysis than that, but...Man, what a fuckin' shot.

Marv informs us that Bron has Cleveland's last 16 points. Good God. Detroit is doing everything in its power to stop him - he is routinely scoring on three or four guys - and they just can't.

Sheed makes two free throws. 30 ticks left. Will the Pistons foul here? Probably not, but I think I'd rather have LeBron shooting two at the line than hanging from the rim, which is where he has spent the entire overtime period.

Coach Mike burns Cleveland's final time out. I agree with the TNT crew: bad use of a time out there. What, is Mike Brown drawing up a play? Just get it to LeBron and get the hell out of the way. Seems to be working so far.

Oh my. LeBron with an airball. Did not see that coming. Gotta do it on the defensive end here, fellas. Good thing you called that time out, Mike.

6.6 seconds. Crowd Billups here. DO NOT let him pull up for three. Atta boy, Eric. Snow fouls Billups on the drive; he'll go to the line for two. If this goes to two OTs, I will not make it. My heart just isn't that strong. Hell, Secretariat's heart isn't that strong.

Billups makes the first. 100-99.

Makes the second. Damn.

Coulda used that TO, eh, Coach Brown?

Either way, double OT. I'm a dead man.

100-100. This is like a freakin movie.

Collins just referred to an old playoff game that the Pistons lost as "the Brian Scalibrine game." I'm pretty sure that is not what that game is called. Someone look that up.

LeBron with a step back to give him 41. This is unreal. This is MJ/Bird/Magic/Kobe level stuff. 102-100.

Ah man. Boobie just fouled out. Guess it is for the best since Snow is a better defender and the only person shooting is LeBron anyways.

What the hell just happened? Pavlovic inexplicably decides to force the issue, misses terribly - twice! - and the Pistons go to the other end and tie it. Pavlovic misses the next time down the court, too! What the hell, Sasha! That very well could be this game's turning point! What the hell was he doing?!?!

Rip scores over Damon Jones who is on the court for no good reason and Pavlovic misses again. 104-102, Pistons. Three possessions in a row, Sasha? You take the Pistons to cover?

LeBron with a huge steal to keep it close - the man is doing everything - but this end-game lineup really needs to be explained to me. I'm baffled.

Bron goes behind his back at the top of the key and sticks it to tie the game. This is ridiculous. Tie game. 1:35 left.

Webber hits a bullshit shot, gets a bullshit continuation call on Z, Z fouls out and Webber nods his head and curls his lips like he always does this. He is the biggest choke artist of my generation and he's nodding his head like this is routine for him. Go fuck yourself, Webber. I hate you.

Damon Jones is chatting up Webber while The Big Choke Artist waits at the line. I think Damon's asking him, "Hey, do you have any idea why the hell I'm in? Yea, me either." Webber hits it to put them up three.

James answers with a ludacris three. Comes off the pick and roll at the top off the key, somehow turns the corner - barely - then elevates over two guys from the wing and buries it. Kerr finally said it: "This is Jordanesque." Game tied at 107.

Varejao can't get a shot off from a foot in front of the rim; 24 second shot clock violation. Damnit.

29 seconds left, Pistons ball. Damon Jones is mercifully out of the game...Varejao rejects Sheed! Unreal. Timeout, Cleveland. 11.4 seconds left. Game tied at 107. I will not make it.

LeBron! I don't know what else to say...I'm...I'm just speechless...LeBron all the way to the rim. Cavs up 2. Pistons ball in the front court. 2.2 seconds left. Plese, oh please, guard the three point line...Mr Big Shot misses at the buzzer! Varajo got a tiny, tiny piece of Billups' runner, I think, may have altered it, but this thing is over. Unreal.

Bron is with Sager. He looks exhausted. He said that on his game-winner, he went a little earlier than he wanted to because he saw an opening. Smart man.

Sager: "Did you know you were this good?"

Bron: "No." Don't worry about it, Bron, no one did.

48 points, 51 minutes. Something like 29 of the final 30 points. Every single big shot imaginable.

This is one of those games where you always remember where you were.

I was kind of on the tail end of the Jordan era as far as really appreciating what he was doing as he was doing it, so I have no problem saying it: this is the greatest performance of my generation.

I am losing my mind right now and I am sure that I am forgetting some of the other great performances of the last few playoffs, but that is the best I can put this thing into context. Highlights won't do this game justice, full game replays won't, either. You had to be watching this thing live to fully appreciate it. Seeing this game live was surreal. I've never watched anything quite like it.

All I can do is shake my head and marvel at the dominance, skill - hell, the art of it.

I am going to try to put this thing into context tomorrow, but right now I am going to lie down before I actually do have a heart attack.

See you Saturday.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Guest Post: Everyone in Los Angeles Just Calm Down!

So: Kobe wants to be traded. Didn't see that one coming.

Personally, I have no idea what to make of this. He seemed serious - the "No, bro" comment was probably the greatest thing he ever said - but then he backed off, like, 24 minutes later and said he'd chill if they fired the dude who blamed the whole Shaq fiasco on him (so...everyone?).

The big question is, What happens now? Do the Lakers trade the most unstoppable player alive? Do they trade everyone else? Do they even have a plan?

Maybe more importantly: what
should the Lake Show do?

We haven't had a guest column around here in quite some time. In fact, as far as I can tell, this would be the first one since the first one. So I asked my boy, whom
we'll refer to as The Commish (probably because he runs our fantasy football league with an iron fist; he even enacted a Personal Code of Conduct Policy, just like the real NFL), to step in and set the record straight and he graciously accepted.

No one I have ever talked to knows the Lakers better. Honestly, he got that NBA Ticket package just so he could stay up until 4 am watching the Lakers host the Hawks. That is credibility enough for me.

I asked him to simply give his take on just what KB24 might really be up to and what he'd like to see his squad do this off-season. His words are after the jump.

(While we are here: if anyone would ever like to write a guest post, just let me know. Doesn't matter if you have a blog or not. If there is something you'd like to write about and there are too many words in your head to relegate it to the comments section, just get ahold of me, and we'll set it up. Don't be shy.)

“Kobe Bryant demands to be traded from the Los Angeles Lakers” is what you will see scrolling across your screen today, but don’t let ESPN fool you with their headlines and reports. Look past the Stephen A. Smith interview and focus more on the Dan Patrick interview that took place after Kobe spoke with Smith (and Phil Jackson for that matter), and you will see how he backs off his demands and reveals what his real agenda is:

Agenda # 1: Win, and win now (make a significant trade and hire Jerry West).

Kobe realizes that he’s an old 28, having logged 9,000 more minutes than Michael Jordan did at the same point in his career. Everyone’s saying, “Why’s he making demands through the media?” Although it makes him look extremely selfish (he is), it also puts immense pressure on the Lakers front office to make a significant move this off-season, and ultimately, the pressure he’s applied is going to result in big trade this summer (not involving him) and Jerry West’s return.

Kobe took things to another level on Wednesday with his trade demands, a level that I’m completely stunned, embarrassed, and disappointed in as a loyal fan of his. He bluffed this afternoon, and he couldn’t even hold his bluff for one interview, let alone two hours.

Kobe knows he’s not being traded; it’s just not a realistic option with $88 million remaining on his contract, a no trade clause, and an additional $13 million hit on the team that he’s traded too for enacting the clause. L.A. is tinsel town, glamour and glitz, and a town full of stars where he shines brightest amongst them all. He’s a moneymaker, Jerry Buss is a businessman, and Lakers fans would not ever forgive Buss for trading away two of their favorite players of all time (Bryant, O’Neal).

Let’s say the Lakers would try to trade him; who would be the takers? There would be many, but wherever Bryant ended up, he would be in the same or a worse situation than he is now because the Lakers would require too much in return. It’s quite simple: Kobe Bryant is the most un-tradable player in the NBA.

Kobe’s message was sent loud and clear in the post-game interview at the conclusion of the Suns series, his exit interview in L.A., and remarks he made about Jerry West’s return through the media this past week. But enough is enough, he’s said what he wants, and now it’s time to give the Lakers front office an opportunity to make something happen.

Agenda # 2: Kobe Bryant hates losing, and he can’t stand not being the center of attention, especially around playoff time. The only thing I’m surprised about is that Jim Gray was not involved in this media parade by the Kobester. Kobe and Gray want to be like Ali and Cosell were back in the day, at least I once thought that. Expect a Kobe/Gray interview in the upcoming days.

But anyways, for a prime example of my point, let’s go back to a night in 2003 when the NBA was holding its annual draft. Remember, this was supposed to be Lebron and Carmelo’s night, but who stole the show? Kobe announced, through Grey, that he would opt of his contract after the 2003-04 season in order to test the free agent market.

Agenda # 3: Kobe wanted his name removed from orchestrating Shaquille O’Neal’s exit from L.A. He hates the fact that he’s associated with the one thing that people will not stop talking about, how he “forced” Shaq out, and he was clearly out to set the record straight with his remarks about how Buss told him Shaq would not be-resigned.

So what do the Lakers do now? We’ve already established the fact that Kobe’s going to return next season, but remember, he has a clause in his contract where he can opt of his two seasons from now. The Lakers don’t have two seasons to appease Kobe, they have one, because if things don’t go right starting right now, it’s going to get awfully ugly and a trade will be the Lakers only option.

Make the following moves and you’ll see a smile on the Kobester’s face (and he just might still be playing around this time next year instead of waking up at 4:30 am to workout):

Off-season move # 1: Bring back “The Logo” as a consultant.

Off-season move # 2: Re-sign Luke Walton, Ronnie Turiaf, and Chris Mihm.

Off-season move # 3: Release Smush Parker, and do not trade Lamar Odom.

Off-season move # 4: Sign a veteran point guard to a mid-level exception to compete with Jordan Farmar, or package Farmar in a trade to acquire a veteran point guard.

Before we get to the most important move of all, let’s make some trade rules:

1. Do not give up a plethora of young talent for a player like Jason Kidd. Kidd better not come to L.A, because if he does, the Lakers have made a huge mistake. Thorn insists that Bynum be included in the package and that’s something the Lakers should definitely not do when considering they’ll be getting a 34 year-old point guard in return with two or three years left in him.

2. As tempting as it might be, do not package Odom, Bynum, and a draft pick for Kevin Garnett.

And now for the grand daddy move of them all:

Off-season move # 5: Trade for Jermaine O’Neal. The Lakers could give the Pacers: Andrew Bynum, Kwame Brown (due $9.1 million next year, contract expires in 2008; a key piece in this trade but he could possibly undergo reconstructive ankle surgery, Lakers fans better hope not), a first round pick this year (19th overall), and whatever other filler is needed to match salaries (i.e. Cook $3.5 million over the next three years), FOR Jermaine O’Neal. I believe that’s a deal that puts the Lakers right back in the thick of things in the West.

The O’Neal trade scenario is far better than Kidd’s because you know your going to have O’Neal (28 years old) and Kobe (also 28) paired together for a number of years. Whereas with Kidd, it’s a two year plan (three at the most), and if it doesn’t work out right away, there’s going to be a ton of repercussions that’s going to result in a complete overhaul of the roster. If the Lakers give up Bynum, they must get an inside presence in return that’s going to be around for awhile. Think about it, three or four years from now Bynum’s going to be a really, really good player in this league; and if the Lakers trade him for Kidd and don’t win a championship, how bad of a deal is that going to turn out to be when Kidd is on the couch and Bynum is just entering his prime?

If the Lakers do trade for O’Neal, they’ll have a starting lineup that consists of Bryant, O’Neal, Farmar (or a veteran signee), Odom, and Walton (must re-sign him this off-season). They could then sign a veteran free agent point guard to the mid-level exception (5 years, 30 million) or trade for one this off-season, and all of the sudden they have a team that could not only win now, but for four of five years down the line.

Don’t be fooled by the panic attack the media wants to thrust on Laker fans. The pieces are somewhat in place on this team, but Kobe and Laker fans also need to realize this isn’t fantasy basketball; you can’t just trade for Garnett, trade for Ron Artest, and sign Chauncey Billups.

Sometimes all it takes is one simple move to turn a mediocre team into a team that could realistically contend for a title. Plug an All-Star like Jermaine O’Neal into this lineup with the best player in the league in Kobe Bryant, an all around player in Lamar Odom, a nice role player in Luke Walton, and an athletic point guard like Jordan Farmar or a veteran signee; and all of the sudden you’ve got a starting lineup that is talented, experienced, young, and ready to contend.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Live Blog: Cavs vs. Pistons, Eastern Conference Finals, Game 4

LeBron's Game 3 performance was so good, it almost makes a live blog of Game 4 mandatory. Hoping for a sequel performance is probably wishful thinking, and hey, as the saying goes, the sequel is never as good as the original. But what about The Mighty Ducks? Those movies just kept getting better and better, and there was three of them. So why not LeBron and LeCavs?

(Of course, this analogy means that the Cavs can only win three of the required four games need to maybe a terrible analogy. Wouldn't be the first time.)

Regardless, Cleveland needs to win tonight to make anything before June 7 remotely watchable. That's a tall task. Plus, Larry Hughes is out, and he has been giving Chauncey Billups fits (although I think Billups just hasn't tried yet...again, wouldn't be the first time). But that also means Boobie is going to get infinitely more run and we won't have to watch Larry try to dribble to air out of the ball. So maybe it is a watch. We'll see.

The live blog will start at tip off, right around 8:30, maybe a little before. As always, see you after the jump.

LeBron attacks in transition, but misses the runner: doesn't matter; he's in attack mode. This is good to know. Very, very good to know. Still 2-0 early on.
Good sign or bad sign: Larry Hughes is taking a shot or cortizone and gritting this one out. "We'll see what we can get from him." Probably a good thing - Game 4, strangely is more important than Game 5. I know one thing: had I not known this, I don't think I would have been able to tell the difference in his movements.

My computer is struggling a little bit. He's a warrior, though. We're gonna stick him with an IV, have him chug some Gatorade and he'll finish the game out, much like D Will last night. And much like D Will, probably in a losing effort.

The Cavs start the game by forcing the ball into Big Z, he takes 74 dribbles and travels. So standard first possession for the Cavs.

They follow that up with Gooden missing a contested J...two possessions and LeBron hasn't touched it. Thank God Rip is 0-2.

Larry Hughes with a nice turn around! I'll take it!

MisterMarcus said...
Hasn't it only happened once before, the jazz vs. bulls, when they came back from 3 games down in like '97? Or am I mistaken and it's happened more than once?
I have no idea what that stat is, but I know it ain't alot. Which is why Hughes maybe sacrificing Game 5 for Game 4 is completely worth it. I'd rather be down 2-2 and then 3-2 than down 3-1 and then 3-2. If that makes any sense.

Bron throws up an airball from the block. That was as ugly as the step back three was gorgeous. But he's attacked the rim and he's posted up. I love how this game is starting. Can't ask for much more, really. It'd be nice if they'd gone in, but still.

Oh, shit: a closeup of Chauncey Billups reveals that he is sweating. Not a good sign. Shit. He's trying.

Billups backtaps a Rasheed Wallace missed three (his second one in the last two minutes) and the Pistons get a second possession. If the offensive player backtaps the ball, I think the offense gets it back, like, 87% of the time. I have no basis for that argument.

Bronny hits a three. Just thought you should know. Billups answers with one of his own, though. Crap. Larry Hughes is visibly limping. That was a terrible 24 seconds. 11-8, Cavs.

Good God. LeBron beats Prince off the dribble, muscles by Chauncey like he wasn't even there (no small feat mind you) and then takes advantage of Rasheed Wallace getting the fuck out of the way to positively annihilate the rim. Seriously, Sheed learned from last night. He wanted no part of that. Wise man. Cleveland by three.

8 minutes in and Larry hasn't gotten a break. Hey, Mr. Brown? He is taking drugs to play. Think he can get a quick breather?

LeBron with a nice pass to Drew Gooden's Hair Patch. DGHP hammers it. Awesome. DGHP is on fire; he hits another J.

Son of a bitch. Billups pulls up and drills a three. I hate when he is aggressive. Bad things happen. CLE up 19-17 with a little over 2 minutes left.

Prince post up and, shockingly, scores with his left hand. Hey Sasha? That paper in your locker? Its your scouting report. Give it a once over sometime, eh?

Sasha responds with a three. Fair 'nuff, Sasha, fair 'nuff. Oh! Varajea with a gorgeous reverse layup over (under?) Rasheed. And by gorgeous, I mean "horribly awkward." Cavs up 26-21.

Does it surprise anyone else that the Pistons end quarters and halves with Rip Hamilton going 1 on 1 off the dribble? They do it every single time. I know he's gotten better at it, but your telling me Billups isn't more effective there? Maybe kicking it to Rip?

Cavs up 4 at the end of one.

Sheed starts things off with a turn around and then Chauncey nails another three. This ain't good. The Cavs need someone on Detroit to play crappy. At least one someone. No one on Detroit is going along with that plan, though.

Wow. A walk on King James in Cleveland. LBJ really doesn't get the super star call quite yet. Wonder why.

Hey! Mike Brown! Get Damon Jones the hell out of the game when Chauncey is in. It is the most unfair matchup in all of sports. I am dead serious. Chauncey scores every single time. That is terrible, terrible coaching. 100% Mike Brown's fault. Don't even blame Damon, he can't help it Billups completely own him. I'm sure he knows he has no chance.

Boobie gets to the rim and gets fouled. It really is jarring watching a Cavs game and seeing someone get to the rim.

Man, LeBron is pissed off. Maxiell (man, he can get up) gets away with a goal tend (well, maybe he got it) and an LBJ runner. That's two close calls, neither one going to LeBron. Just sayin'.

Boobie oops LBJ in transition...the lob was a little low; LeBron caught it at rim level with one hand, brought it up a half-foot above the rim to his other hand and then crushed it. Boobie to LBJ...has a beautiful ring to it, no?

Damon Jones is still in and Chauncey Billups is still killing him. Of course he is. If Dan Gilbert walked over and fired Mike Brown right now, I would be fine with it and honestly, Mike Brown probably wouldn't even be surprised. Aaaaaand Damon Jones just missed a three, which is the only reason he's in there in the first place. Get him the hell out!

Oh, Daniel Gibson. Penetrates, splits a double team, then hits a one-legged Billups-esque step back. Collins put it best: That was a confident move. damn right it was.

Gibson follows that up by sticking a jumper, getting fouled, and then relentlessly pounding his chest. I am loving the Boobie Gibson era. Cavs up, 37-30.

I can't believe the amount of time Larry Hughes is getting. There is no way in hell he plays in Game 5. With Gibson playing this well, there really is no need to play him, especially considering that Billups is on fire, anyways. Honestly, why is he out there?

Marv Albert says "Boobie" three times in a row. Terrific, just terrific. He then informs us that Mike Brown refuses to call him Boobie, but when Marv texts Boobie, he does not call him DGib, as Doug Collins would like, but does indeed call him Boobie. Of course he does. It was really much more riveting live. Marv Albert saying Boobie. He really did.

Cavs up 10 because Boobie is shredding the Pistons right now. He scores 9 straight on jumpers and drives and foul shots. Z gets a putback and pushes it to 10, 43-33. This is all with LeBron out, mind you. I can't believe the Cavs have a point guard that is playing like this. Let's hope Boobie can keep up his Daron Williams impersonation.

The Cavs ended the second half well, getting up by as much as 12, but Lindsay Hunter hit a stupid 3 and somehow the lead was only 7 at the break. Good, coulda been been better.

Now comes the third quarter. Gulp. This is where the Pistons have owned the Cavs the last three games. Don't expect to read the name "LeBron" alot over the next 12 minutes. I hope you do, but don't get your hopes up.

Rip starts the third by missing a bad three. You know, he just may be the Random Piston Who Ends Up Sucking tonight. Fingers crossed, anyways.

Of course he hits a degree-of-difficulty-8.5 jumper on the very next possession. CLE lead cut to 5.

A Billups step back cuts the lead to three. Man, for whatever reason, some teams just can't play in the third quarter. Cleveland is one of them. You know what the remedy is? More Boobie. Always is, my friend, always is.

Wanna hear a secret? Ms. 23 saw the commercial for the Fantastic 4 car and thought that flying cars now existed and could be bought at your local dealership. Direct quote: "This is huge!" Just thought you should know.

(Note: I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I hate when Simmons or someone references their significant other. Well, actually just Simmons; he takes it to an unnecessary level. So I try not to do that. But that just had to be mentioned and Ms. 23 was the best I could come up with. OK, back to the game.)

Detroit is within one, mainly because they are trying harder than Cleveland. Hamilton drills a J to take the lead. Listen, Rip, forget I said anything. Really, never mind. My bad, man, my bad.

I don't get why Cleveland's offense will just stand there sometimes. No one moves. I mean, its a choice, isn't it? Doesn't Mike Brown have a billion plays? Why not run one of 20 of them? I can't believe there is over 6 minutes left and this game is tied. What the hell.

Boobie drills a three from the corner. I am starting a Facebook group next commercial: I Heart Boobie. Have I mentioned yet that I love him?

Sheed gets called for a travel and flashes his yellow teeth in disapproval. Jack from the Lost season finale is jealous of his beard, too.

Oh, Weber hits Boobie unnecessarily hard and gets hit with a flagrant. Make that a T. He kinda threw him down, I dunno. Looked worse live. Either way, Boobie nails three straight feebies to push the lead out to 6. The crowd is into it a little bit, too. Thanks, C Web, 'preciate it!

Freakin Rip Hamilton.

Detroit is getting every big rebound. They are killing the Cavs on the offensive glass. They get two more possessions, and Boobie picks up his third "and 1" foul. Through no one's fault but Cleveland's, the Pistons are up 2.

LBJ: 0-4 so far. Least he's shooting. I guess. Guess who fouled him? Damon freakin Jones. Are we positive there is actually glass in Mike Brown's eyewear? Sure he didn't tip a plastic nose and mustache off them right before tipoff?

Cavs down 2 after 3.

Mike Brown wakes Donyell Marshall up from his nap and inserts him into the game. Thoughtful.

Varejao gets whistled for a quick foul, off the ball. The refs have been getting hammered for not being able to discern between flops and actual fouls and they are taking it on on Varejao.

There is just under 3 minutes left and the Cavs have scored 8 points. Needless to say, I have my Donyell face on right now.

LeBron misses the same back three he drilled two nights ago. LeBron is still 0-for-the-quarter. Can we just skip the third quarter somehow? Just play the second quarter twice or something? Please?

Boobie is killin' it. I can't stress this enough. He nails a floater with 10 seconds left around 3 Pistons.

Chauncey answers by driving and getting fouled with 2 seconds left. Guess who he was fouled by? None other than Damon Jones! I know, I am just as stunned as you are. Are we entirely sure that Mike Brown has actual glass in his eyewear? He didn'r rip off a plastic nose and mustache right before tip off?

Cavs down 2 after 3.

Bron nails a contested J with a toe on the line over two guys, fading away. Can we brainwash him into thinking there is no third quarter?

The Pistons are supremely confident they can win this series, I know. But they have to be legitemately scare of LeBron in the fourth quarter of a close game, right? Or are they that confident?

Beautiful pas from LeBron. Drives right, wraps it behind his back to Sleepy Marshall. Sleepy misses the and 1 free throw. Still, tied at 69. (If there are any ninth graders reading this, you can giggle now. Go right ahead.)

Why do Damon Jones and Sleepy Marshall have to play at the same time? One three point shooter isn't enough? Those two can't guard a soul. This is so stupid.

James drills a one-dribble pull up over Prince.

McDyess is killing Donyell Marshall. Cripes. Detroit up 3.

Hey, have you seen Drew Gooden around? Anywhere? Yea, me either. Weird. Wonder where he went?

That is crazy: as soon as I typed that, he lassos Rasheed Wallace and gets hit with a technical. Hey, thanks for stopping by Drew. You've been a big help.

What a move by LeBron. It looked kinda like MJ fakin out John Starts and then dunking on Ewing, cept it was from the wing and he laid it in. Lost the headband and got a foul, too. He actually finishes off the three-point play to boot. He did look oddly naked without that head band on, though.

LeBron just dribbled for the entire 24 second shot clock, somehow geta all the way to the charge circle and draws a foul. He knocks down both to pull Cleveland to within 1. Chauncey misses a bad three and Bron Bron feeds Gooden for a baseline J. I swear as soon as I rip someone, they do something great. So: watch this.

LeBron Sucks. LeBron Sucks. LeBron Sucks.

There, that should do the trick.

Sasha gets out ahead of the pack and lays one in, Cleveland takes the lead. Good God, I am nervous.

I think those two guys from the Sonic commercials should be the next commercial duo to get their own sitcom after the Cavemen (which I am positively ecstatic for).

Rasheed picked up a tech for throwing his headband during the commercial break and now refuses to put it back on. Boobie knocks down the free throw to push it to 4.

In response to the T, Rasheed wisely throws up a terrible three, which he airballs. Student of the game, Rasheed Wallace.

Goode nails back to back baseline Js. Lead out to six, and then Bron pushes it to 8 with an ungauradable step back from the top of the key. The Pistons have to be scared now, right? A little?

Three minutes left and the Pistons go zone. Its works, too: LeBron misses a bad three.

At the othe end, Billups drives, there is contact (actually, Boobie gets Billups' nuts right in his face), all three refs stare at each other for a second that lasted at least 15 minutes and then they call the charge on Mr Big Shot. The Q approves. (Boobie with another huge play. He's awesome.)

This zone is scaring the hell out of me. It just invited the Cavs to stand around and, wouldn't you know it, that is just what the Cavs love to do.

LeBron guarding Chauncey. INteresting. Rip brings the Pistons within 4.Boobie with a turnover, somehow the Cavs get it right back and Boobie promptly turns it right back over. Alrights, Boob, that play is over with. Don't let it rattle ya. Next play, homie, next play.

87-83. 1:30 left. Pistons ball. Huge, huge series. A cold Eric Snow checks in...he forces Prince to give it up to Billups, LeBron with a terrific close out and then Billups throws it away to Gooden. Hughes wasn't even on the court, Chauncey. What gives? Gooden hits 1 of 2. Cavs up 5.

Make that three. Rip elevates over Boobie like he isn't even there. 88-85, Cavs. 1:02 left. My hands are shaking. Leo DiCaprio in "The Departed," I am not.

This might not be the best time to bring this up, but the JumboTron is demanding that all fans do The Twirly Bird. What the hell is The Twirly Bird?

Detroit doubles LeBron at the top of the key and force him to give it up to Gooden, who gets the hell blocked out of him by Rasheed, leading to....Chauncey Billups taking a terrible, off balance, contested three in transition. Cavs clear it. 37 seconds left. TO, Cavs. Can LeBron do ittwo games in a, he misses a bad three, but Detroit can't get the board, there is a scramble at midcourt and somehow Eric Snow is fouled...excpet he is cold as hell and shouldn't even be in. Of course he misses the first. He isn't even sweating. Gotta have the second to push it to 4....yes!

I swear LeBron just tipped it in for the Pistons. I swear it was him. 4.0 seconds left, Pistons foul LeBron....this is it, King James...gotta have 'em....makes the first!...and the second...yes! Unreal. Two games in a row LeBron steps up and pushed a lead from 2 to 4 when it really matters. We are watching this young man grow up! Sob. Don't cry, don't cry!

Sheed misses a three and that is it, kiddies. LeBron and Boobie just saved the playoffs. Well, at least the conference finals. Man...2-2 going back to Detroit, LeBron playing in attack mode, Boobie playing out of his mind...can't ask for much more than that, can you? I will definitely be live blogging that game in Thursday. See you then.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Kobe Would Rather Not Play in LA Unless it is Being Run by The Logo

The impetus for Kobe's demand - which he is denying, of course - is that in his exit interview, Kupchak et al. informed Mr. Bryant that they would be doing exactly nothing to change the Lakers current roster, at least according to Chad Ford.

Now, I am no General Manager of a professional NBA team, but just from watching the Lakers on my television from the second cushion on my couch, I am pretty sure they need to do
something to that roster. If I was Kobe, I'd demand they get me someone who knows what the hell they are doing, because Mitch certainly doesn't, or I'd want out, too.

How the hell can Kupchak have watched the last two seasons and not feel the need to do
something? What does he expect to happen from now until next season? Kobe will get even better? Farmar will pull a Deron Williams? Cake Thrower won't be terrible? If Kupchak's general plan is to make no moves and just think this roster needs another year "to gel" then he is just a very, very, very bad talent evaluator and a very, very, very bad GM and/or he makes the worst plans ever. Probably both.

(You'd think Kobe would have taken this into consideration the first time around. I mean, he did see who Kupchak traded Shaq for, right?)

So, what could West do that Kupchak can', refuses to? Well, for starters,
something. It isn't like the Lakers don't have a few desirable pieces. Bynum seems to be coveted, they have a midround pick in a loaded draft, Lamar & Farmar could bring something back.

Really, all Kobe needs is one more above average player around him and they are title contenders. If they traded this year's pick, Bynum and Cake Thrower to Jermaine O'Neal (who knows if that'd happen; I'm just sayin,
try it), they'd be in the conference finals.

The West is only getting better an deeper, and Kupchak's grand plan to restore the Lakers to prominence is to do nothing. Stand pat. Let Kobe destroy himself for another 82 games, sneak LA into the playoffs, and the lose. Again. This is ridiculous. Can't Kobe just fire him? Matt Millen is baffled by his job security.

The thing that is so dumb about the Lakers plan is that they have no direction. Either keep Kobe and Lamar and overpay via trade for some questionable veterans and try to win now, or ship Kobe outta there, even though you want get fair value (because there is none) and build around your young pieces. Make up your damn mind. Make a tough choice and have some frickin' conviction about it. My God, I couldn't care less about the Lakers and the stupidity of the whole thing has me all fired up.

The whole thing is a non-starter, though, because like Kupchak said, he isn't doing a damn thing to the roster and that presumably includes Bean. Besides, what the hell could you get back for Bryant that would make it worth it?

And if Kobe somehow did get traded to a contender - and the contender somehow managed to acquire him without gutting its entire roster - everyone would hate Kobe. The only reason he isn't hated right now is because his team has no chance to win. Imagine Kobe competing for titles every year? People would go right back to the "all he does is shoot," "he isn't a team player," "remember what he did to that poor girl in Eagle, Co." and my personal favorite, "he doesn't make his teammates better."

So Kobe is stuck in LA for at least another year or two, and he will somehow get people to feel sorry for him, even though he created this whole situation in the first place, partly because when he ran Shaq outta town (or at the very least, didn't do everything in his power to make it work) he entrusted the best year's of his career to someone who is not good at all at what he does. It's no one's fault but Kobe's, really.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Monday, May 28, 2007

LeBron Has Me Getting Waaaay Ahead of Myself.

Without a doubt, we just witnessed the finest post season performance of young LBJ's career. Better than the debut trip-dub, better than the Washington buzzer-beaters, better than that three-game stretch against Detroit last year.

"Finally" isn't the right word, but it is the first word that comes to mind.

Bron in the fourth quarter was remarkable. Dunking on people, pull ups, step back threes. Did you expect all those shots - the jumpers, not the assaults on the rim - to go in? All of them? Even the step back? The pull up over Rip? You're a better man than me if your faith never wavered.

I know he has hit buzzer beaters in the playoffs before, but those were all around the rim. Hitting game-winning J's (or game-clinching, I should say) is on an entirely different level.

And the way he clutched up, pushing that two point lead to four, for all intents and purposes icing the game? That was an incredible shot: he had his entire body facing the corner, keeping he help defender still by hinting that he was going to pass (to the same spot that he hit Donyell Marshall in Game 1; maybe a subtle "screw you" to anyone who criticized that decision?) and then turned his body, as he was rising, toward the rim. Pure.

LeBron has insisted that it is going to take a team effort to compete with Detroit, and he's right, but even more than that, it is going to take performances like that. I can't begin to tell you how thrilled, geeked, pumped, excited, anxious I am the he has seemingly managed to find the middle ground between pure scorer and "just" table-setter. 32-9-9? Assuming the defensive effort stays constant, that is almost a guaranteed win (well, at least at the Q....I am aware that I may be getting a bit ahead of myself here; can't help it.)

After the game, Craig Sager asked if this was going to be the LeBron we see for the rest of the playoffs, and he gave about a 30-second answer, but I didn't hear anything he said after "yes" because I was running around the room, pumping my fist like amateur Tiger Woods.

It was more the way he did it than just that he did it. In Games 1 and 2, he fed his teammates early (and late) and then tried to play off them. He just can't do that; his supporting cast, God bless them, just doesn't have it in them. Game 3 was a 180: he dominated early and often and that opened everything up for everyone else.

(I can't believe I have written six paragraphs and I haven't screamed "BOOBIE!" yet. Unacceptable. Two HUGE threes. Cleveland's two most pressing needs are a shooter and a point guard. Did they find both? Good God, I really am getting ahead of myself. I'll try to reign it in.)

But back to LeBron - as much as he wants this series to be about the Cleveland Cavaliers, it will always be LeBron vs. Detroit. Anyone wearing a Cleveland jersey without a 23 on it might as well have "Extra" stitched above the number. The thing I was most unsure about - not scared, I guess, but unsure - was whether he was deferring to his teammates, both in the final seconds and throughout the game, because he was unwilling to stand in the spotlight by himself or because he truly believe in his teammates.

I think I have my answer. Did he looked even the littlest bit hesitant? That was a clutch performance, to be sure, but that was a
veteran performance. Moving teammates and defenders around like chess pieces and then taking over when it was needed. Game 4 can't come soon enough. The Cavs are pulling this shit off.

Maybe finally is the right word.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sometimes, Two Wrongs Do Make a Right

You could make a pretty solid argument that two of the most unfair rules in all of sports are the NBA Draft Lottery and the NBA's Age Limit. But combining the two? Gold, Jerry...that's gold!

Forcing Durant and Oden to chill for a year in college ramped up interest in the draft beyond anything I can remember since LeBron and Melo. (And honestly? The hype around the '07 Draft will probably top that; it will get unprecedented attention.) And the randomness of the lottery only multiplied it.

Say what you want about the Lotto being a gimmick (it is) and unfair (it is), but man, it really delivered the goods this year, didn't it? Stern has to be freakin' thrilled with how that went. It was dramatic, plus the chalk picks, so to speak, weren't even close and teams that needed help are going to get it. I don't think the L could ask for a more exciting evening, do you? (Well, maybe if we were watching SA/PHX for the right to go the Finals instead of Jazz/Spurs afterwards...but still.)

So, so much happened. Boston got shafted into the 5 spot (that clown who had a C's Oden jersey on can wrap it around that Sporting News cover of Duncan in Celtic Green so they can bury him with them after he blows his head off). The Suns somehow missed out on the No. 4 pick in a loaded draft (D'Antoni is not having a good week, is he? And what the hell do you do with Marion now?). Atlanta has two top-10 picks (Let me be one of the first - but certainly not the last - to say that
I cannot wait to see how they blow both of those - anyone wanna bet me they draft Conley at 3 and then Acie Law IV at 10 and then can't believe they are being bashed for finally drafting some PGs?).

And that doesn't even take into account the top two spots, the reason everyone was watching in the first place. Does Portland draft Oden and start him along with Aldridge and Randolph for like, a freaking great front line for years to come? Or do they fill that hole at the 3-spot with Durant? Either way, they are the Bulls of the Western Conference now...mad young guns for the next decade. Can whoever Seattle drafts - probably Durant - save basketball in Seattle?

One glaring problem: both Oden and Durant are going to the West. Wouldn't the league have been better off with Oden in Boston and Durant in Atlanta? Stern couldn't see to that happening? We could have LeBron, D Wade, Bosh, Oden, Durant and the Pistons at least making the East respectable, if not competitive. The All Star game would be more fun, at least.

Now the West is even
more loaded, while the East's chances for young up-and-coming teams rest on the incompetence in Boston, the incompetence in Atlanta, and Milwaukee. Yeesh.

This draft is like the perfect storm...two franchise changers who are forced to go to school come out the same year that three lottery picks decide to return to school and win a second title...this year is a freak show. And the West won out again. Of course they did.

(Oh, and one more gripe...why do teams send this COO's and CEO's and shit that only the team's fans have ever heard of - and probably hate? I am glad Portland won just because they actually sent someone cool. Teams should take note for next season; the basketball Gods like these things. They couldn't throw a vote up on the team website with some decent options? This is too much to ask?)

Regardless, the hype leading up to the actual draft is going to be off-the-charts (I am pretty sure Al Gore invented the Internets and sports blogs just for shit like this). Might as well get started right now. Here is a quick mock draft of the lotto teams, which I am sure will change countless times by draft day.

1. The Luckiest Bastards in the L - Greg Oden.
I am not exactly sure how they will strategically pull it off, but how can you resist that aforementioned front line? Plus they have Przybilla and Magloire on the bench...I think that is an absolutely terrific problem to have. They will be freakin' huge. The NBA is moving towards skill and speed, push the ball, drive and kick, knock down threes...and Portland is going to ruin it. They are just going to beat teams into submission. Eventually.

2. __________ Super Sonics - Kevin Durant. do you feel about all this, Rashard Lewis? Think you might be staying? No? Didn't think and Chauncey are going to look bad ass in those Cleveland uniforms. But Durant is the obvious no-brainer here.

(Just out of curiosity: what if either Portland or Seattle pulls a Mario Williams here? I know because of the cap, it is unlikely to happen...but what if? Would this be a bigger crime than Reggie Bush going second to the Saints?

What if Seattle says, "hey, we play in the same division as AI, Deron Williams, Randy Foye and Brandon Roye...we need to be able to protect the paint...we take Brandan Wright." You know, how the Texans took Mario Williams because they said they can't stop the Peyton and Co.? What would happen? Would they be kicked out of the league? Would it be the greatest draft screw-up ever?)

3. The Sweetest Throwback Jerseys in the Lottery - Brandan Wright
I can't believe I am saying this...but I kind of feel bad for the Hawks. They need a point guard and a center...and they barely miss out on franchise center and this is too high to take any of the PGs. They don't need to reach for a PG here, they'll be able to get Conley (or at least Acie Law) at 11. Just grab Brandan Wright and hope that when he balls with Marvin Williams at Chapel Hill over the summer, something clicks.

Too bad the Hawks couldn't have snagged the No. 1 pick, too: they could have made Oden and Conley's dream of playing together in the L come true. Single tear.

4. The Logo's Retirement Home - Yi.
I'm just going to call him Yi. Anyone mind? K, moving on.

5. At least we have the Pats & Sawx. Roy Hibbert
I don't know why, but this brought me absolutely glee. Glee, I tell you, glee. Maybe it is because I read too much Simmons, but Boston seemed like they were absolutely tanking - more than anyone else; whether that is true or not I don't know - and their front office was being dumb on purpose. They revolved their entire plan around a lottery. Not smart. I'm guessing that when they are fired, they will not be selling financial advice.

But they need a true big man. I think Hibbert is that. Man, this just sucks for Boston.

(Oh: I have never been this excited for a Simmons column. This is gonna be great. I can't wait to hear the rationalization here. To steal a line: good times, good times.)

6. Milwaukee - Corey Brewer
Frankly, I'd be shocked if he ends up really lasting this long. I think he is a middle-class man's Kevin Durant. Yes sir, I do. He is a better on-ball defender than Kevin Durant and he can do some of the same things offensively. He'd be the steal of the draft if he fell to No. 6.

7. KG's Kidnappers- Al Horford
I don't even want to speculate what a KG-Foye-No. 7 pick would look like because they should freaking trade KG and get at least another pick in this draft. Horford is the best available here though.

8. Charlotte Tar Heels - Jeff Green
Julian Wright would probably fit in better, but this team needs someone solid. I see Green as a stabalizer in the NBA. He seems to be the most mature prospect to me in the draft (don't even say Oden is; he is secretly 12 years old). On a team with this much young talent, I think that isn't something to overlook.

9. Blazers of the East - Spencer Hawes
The Bulls
have to draft a post player. It doesn't matter if it is a reach. Spencer Hawes is far and away the best one available right now. They need to take him and not even think twice.

10. Queens - Julian Wright
Point guard is tempting here, but for the time being, they do have Bibby. Kevin Martin and Bibby are a solid backcourt. Is Mike Conley or Acie Law better than either of those two? That team needs an explosive finisher around the rim. Wright fits the bill.

11. Still the Sweetest Throwbacks in the Lottery - Mike Conley, Jr.
Now the Hawks can take a point guard. Finally. Only took them three years. Conley isn't going to be great right away - really, he can't shoot - but could he be another Tony Parker? Decent J, fast as hell getting into the lane? In a few years, absolutely.

12. The Iladelph - Acie Law IV
There are going to be a lot of teams clamoring for a point guard in the off-season - Cleveland, Los Angeles, Miami. Trade Andre Miller and draft Acie Law. You get younger and cheaper. Its a win-win.

13. NOOCH - Al Thorton
Paul and Peja in the backcourt, Chandler and West on the block, Desmond Mason can play the three, but Thorton adds some nice versatility. I'm getting sleepy.

14. Clip Show - Joakin Noah
Two years ago, the Clippers were an exciting up and coming team. Now I think I hate them. Might as well draft Noah and make it official. I mean,
somebody has to draft him.

You are highly encouraged to tell me where I screwed up.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

What Would The Global Icon Do?

LeBron needs to take that shot.

Not because he was already by Prince and is strong enough to finish, regardless of what help might have gotten there. Not because he is his team's best player and the face of the franchise. Not because he is the biggest star left in the playoffs.

LeBron needs to take that shot because he wants to be a Global Icon.

Global Icon's take that shot. All-Stars might make that pass, Hall of Famers might make that pass. But Global freakin' Icons dismiss Prince, finish at the rim and then win the game in overtime.

Don't get me wrong, there is a sound logic to making that pass. On the road, against a team that is better than you, you go for the win. Who wants to play a team that is better than you for five more minutes on thier home court? A dude who hit 6 threes in a close game a few days ago is wide open, you throw it to him and you steal homecourt. In most instances, that is a very good play.

But not when a Global Icon is the one throwing the pass. That's the exception.

Global Icons hit the game winner. They score the most points, too. If you are baseball's Global Icon, you hit the most home runs, not slap the most singles. Football's Global Icon scores the most touchdowns. If he is a great blocker, fine, but that isn't what he hangs his hat on.

And I get the LeBron is just 22. But no one asked him if he wanted to be a Global Icon. He came up with that all on his own. He raised the bar. He raised expectations. And Global Icons just do not hand in 10-point performances in the conference finals and then pass on the buzzer beater. 22-year old phenoms can, but Global Icons can't.

Hey, I have defended LeBron in the past when he deferred on the final shot, but this is different. He was a foot, maybe inches from the rim with no one in his way. Maybe if he is double-teammed, or stopped, then he passes. Maybe.

That final play, at least to me, was indicative of the game was a whole. LeBron was involved, sure, but not to any great degree and the burden of the game fell on everyone else. The Cavs ain't winning if Bron Bron keeps that up.

The thing about LeBron not scoring is that he is playing right into the Pistons game plan. Getting his teammates involved is what LeBron wants to do, but oddly enough, it is what the Pistons want him to do, too. The superstars offensive attack strategy rarely lines up so perfectly with his opponent's defensive philopshy, does it?

But when LeBron scores, it is devestating. It changes the game. Detroit gears up to stop it, realizes they can't and it has an effect. LeBron scoring - or hell, at least being aggressive - blows up the Detroit scheme. For that reason alone, he's got to.

It is a shame the Cavs blew a chance to steal home court, but this game means nothing in terms of the rest of the series. Both teams still have aces in their respective holes: The Pistons can unleash Chauncey Billups before 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter (and for that matter, just play better as a team). The Cavs, of course, can still hope Motivated LeBron shows up. If one, or both, of those happen, this series will be wildy different than that Arena League Football game we watched last night.

In a way, I kind of feel bad for LeBron. He is going to get hammered for not being more dominant, but he wants to win his way, partly, I would guess becuase he thinks it is the right way and partly to shut everyone the hell up. He's stubborn, I think, and everyone telling him that he is going about things the wrong way will only reinforce in him the notion that he has to do it his way, results be damned.

If that is the case, fine. He is talented enough to win his way - if not this year, then down the line with a better supporting cast. I just worry that he might genuinely be shying away from the spotlight. And that is a scary thought. These playoffs have made unheros out of more than a few stars - Dirk, T.Mac, Kobe - and I'd hate to see Bron Bron fall into that category. Of course, all those guys can easily redeem themselves. But still.

Game 2 should tell all. If LeBron drops another near triple-double but barely cracks double-digits...well, I don't want to think about that.

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"Hey You Kids! Get Off My Lawn! And Turn Down That Damn Rock Music, Too!"

Some random, disjointed thoughts on the Second Season while wondering how the hell ESPN stole a Thursday night "Gone Fishin'" game away from TNT....

(Ha! I always wanted to start a post like that...)

--It is incredibly hard to cheer for the Cavs and especially LeBron. I try so, so hard...and they just screw around out there. I refuse to believe they are trying as hard as they can to win. They just aren't and no one will ever convince me otherwise. LeBron could come over, sit on my couch and watch game film with me and he couldn't convince me.

With a chance to close out the conference semi-finals on their home court, not only didn't they try hard, they looked disinterested. I just...I just don't get what kind of mindset that is.

I am a firm believer that a team takes on the demeanor of its best player. It isn't intentional, but it just happens. The Cavs all act like LeBron and since they all weren't hand picked by God Himself to be great at basketball, this is a very bad thing. They really should just be called The LeBrons. Every single one of them just dribbles around and then launches a bad shot at the end of the shot clock. It is infuriating. Anderson Varejao is the lone exception.

LeBron is the most exciting player in the league and all I get to watch is him bouncing around on failed pick and rolls and then launching a stupid shot. Someone coach him. Please. Teach him how to do basketball shit, because for as good as he is, he clearly has a lot to learn. Like "Letting the game come to you" does not mean "not shooting." And "getting my teammates involved" does not mean "just reversing the ball from side to side." And would it kill Mike Brown to pull him over and say "Drive! Drive to the rim! No one can stop you! You ca
n't freaking shoot, just put your head down and go to the rim!" And if Vince Carter accidentally hears him, well, there would be worse things.

Part of me wishes LeBron would break his foot, kinda like young MJ. I would willingly sacrifice a year of Young LeBron if it instilled in him a joy for the game and made him realize he should play hard every night, if not in the regular season, then at the very least,
in the playoffs.

- The Pistons are guilty of this, too. They should have swept the Bulls, but the put it on cruise control for two games. And listen, I know this is nothing new, but it is driving me crazy. I can see this happening in the regular season, but how does this happen in the playoffs?!?!

- This leads me to believe the NBA has a competition problem. I mean, after the Bulls got eliminated, it was all smiles and hugs and pounds - from both sides. I am not expecting them to reenact some senior from a mid-major crying when his Sweet 16 run comes to and end, but cripes fellas, at least act like you care. When T. Mac got choked up after losing in the first round, and everyone hammered him for it (Seriously, screw everyone on Around the Horn except Michael Smith and Stat Boy. And Maybe JA.), you know what the response should have been?
Good! Someone cares! Is everyone else watching this! Take notes! It shouldn't take 20 straight first round exits to elicit this type of emotion!

Simmons points this out in his excellent article about the Suns/Spurs suspensions, but really, the NBA does not allow its players to compete as hard as they possibly can. It is a sanitized, watered-down product. Kinda makes me wish I was aware of basketball in the 80s. I hear it was intense.

I really feel like I am being a cranky old man screaming at kids to get off his lawn, but sheesh...just try hard. You don't even have to be good. Just try hard. K, I'm done. Pressure points, pressure points. Woo-sah, woo-sah.

- I am pretty sure I hate every single NBA announcer right now. Yea, every single one. They are all just so full of shit. No one says what they really think. It is just hour after hour of politically correct spin and making things sound a lot better than they are. I mean, that is what sportscasting has been reduced to, and I am aware of that, but I am just sick of it.

Take Hubie and Mike Tirico tonight. Two fine guys, not the worst at their jobs; in fact, they are probably more respected than the great majority of their profession. But any time there was a missed call or a controversial decision, the pair just either glossed over it or agreed with the refs, regardless of what the replay showed. Their own opinions were no where to be found. The only time we saw any genuine emotion was when Sheed got a T and they could pontificate and berate him.

I'm just...I'm sick of it. Can't we get two guys who don't sound like robotic cliche-spitting machines?

- All this time off: good or bad for the Jazz? Rest or rust? Considering the injuries they have had at the guard position, rest has to be helpful. Odds are it doesn't even matter, but the Jazz should be heading into the conference finals in the best possible position.

And how about AK47? Does someone want to explain that one to me? I am really happy for the dude, but how o you go from a crying mess to a dominant force like that? I think he started taking steroids.

- My new favorite meaningless debate: "Did the suspensions cost the Suns Game 5?" Well, it certainly didn't help them, did it? That whole situation is just disgraceful.

- To recap: of the four semi-final series, one features the two unguardable penetrators challenging each other to a jump shooting contest, the other features a team that let a series drag out to six games out of pure indifference, another featured the end of the greatest story of the playoffs so far in pretty disappointing fashion and the last, which should be the defining series of the 07 Second Season has been forever tainted with some bogus suspension and every single game is being called my a bunch of phonies. Ugh.

Alright, I'm gonna stop before I start kicking dogs or something. Bright spots, anyone?

Read the Rest After the Jump...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Enforcing Rules Just Because They Are Rules is Awesome

So Amare and Boris are gone for a game for running in the general direction of a little fracas. Fine. The NBA is ruining a terrific series by holding two of the Suns best players to the letter of the law. OK. I guess.

But would it have killed Stu Jackson to have a press conference that went something like this?

"Good afternoon, good afternoon. Alright, let's get right to this. Amare and Boris both broke a rule. Everyone saw it live and the video evidence did nothing to overturn what we initially saw. To be honest, this was one of the easier decisions I've ever had to make. The law was clear and the players' actions were clear. Case closed.

But here is the thing: we screwed up. While we still believe in the intent of the rule forbidding players to leave the bench during a fight, we now realize - because of this situation - that we worded the rule waaaaaaay to strongly. The rule is meant to limit the escalation of fights. Amare and Boris did not do that in any way, shape or form and we actually commend the Phoenix bench for the restraint they showed when Robert Horry cheap shotted their team leader.

So here is what we are going to do: we are going to use a little common sense. Boris, and even more particularly Amare, are vital parts to what has been maybe the best series of the playoffs so far. If we remove them, the series becomes heavily tainted. We will not be suspending either of them. We are going to reword the rule. We are not going to let an archaic and poorly-executed ruled handcuff us when making a decision that will ultimately ruin our product.

Any questions?"

Yes, Mr. Jackson: what are you going to tell the Spurs? How can you not enforce a rule now when you have been blindly and irrationally enforcing it in the past?

"Well, it took me a while, but this extraordinary circumstance made me realize just how silly this whole thing is. I mean, really...what did they do? Took a few steps towards a fight and stopped? C'mon, I'm gonna ruin a terrific series over that? Really?

As far as the Spurs, I would say, started it. How is it fair for your role player (and let me be the first to say that he is a superb, superb role player) can deck the best player on the other team and not really hurt his team at all?"

Mr. Jackson, say this was James Jones and Pat Burke who had run towards the fracas? Would we still be having this conversation?

Hell no. They'd be suspended for a game and we'd be looking forward to a terrific Game 5.

So then how do you defend that? How is one rule fair for superstars and another rule fair for bench players?

"Listen, the rule is dumb and out-of-touch. It was a blanket overreaction to a situation hat had to be dealt with. It took Amare and Boris getting suspended for the pivital game of the preeminent playoff series of 2007 to show us that. Had this been two scrubs, we wouldn't have realized just how dumb this rule really is. So we are not giving super stars special treatment; rather, super stars are the impetus to permanent change."

Thank you for your time and your rationality, Mr. Jackson. It is a rarity, sir, and we applaud you for it.

"Just doing my job, fellas. Just doing what job."

Would that really have been so hard? Who would have been against that? Maybe a few sticklers for enforcing rules just because they are rules, regardless of their viability? The Spurs, maybe?

I would imagine that the only reason that the NBA enforced this rule in the first place was so they would look like they didn't play favorites. But really, all they would have to endure was a few columns from some inane columnists and Skip Bayless screaming like a lunatic for a day or two and it would all be over. Now, any time this series is brought up down the line - which it will be, since the winner is going to win the whole thing - this tainted Game 5 will be the first thing mentioned.

The only way to save this whole situation? The Suns need to win this series. At the very least, they need to win this game. If the Spurs rattle off the next two games, the NBA is going to look very, very bad.

Read the Rest After the Jump...