The Nature Boy

By: 11.22.08
Vince CarterVince Carter (photo. Mannion)

It’s almost comical how much Toronto fans hate Vince Carter and how he keeps gutting their team every time he comes to town. He’s like the NBA’s version of the ultimate wrestling heel; the Million Dollar Man (attitude), Ric Flair (skills) and Bad News Brown (acts like he doesn’t care) all wrapped in one. Getting viciously booed every time he touched the ball or had his name called by the PA announcer last night, Vince dumped 39 points, nine boards and six assists on the Raps, and in the fourth quarter and OT really poured the salt on. Vince scored 12 in a row late in the fourth, and capped that run with a three-pointer to force overtime. In the extra frame, with the score tied and about two seconds left, Lawrence Frank called a brilliant inbounds play that allowed VC to get wide open underneath the basket, and Bobby Simmons hit him with a perfect alley-oop from midcourt that Vince just had to catch and dunk. Backwards. Ballgame. Vince made it hurt even more with the ultra-cocky “Yeah, thought so” look on his face after the dunk, and in the post-game interview said, “I haven’t dunked backwards in six, seven years.” … The Raptors just blew it. They were in control for most of the game, and Jose Calderon and Chris Bosh were destroying Jersey on the pick-and-pop — Bosh ended up with 42 points, while Calderon had 26 and 15 dimes. Even Andrea Bargnani was balling (29 pts), although he missed some critical open threes in overtime … The Indiana Pacers had a Dwight Howard problem last night. In the first half it was the offense: Indy was in pretty good shape on the scoreboard until midway through the second quarter, when Jim O’Brien got caught with his coaching pants down and had poor Roy Hibbert stuck guarding Dwight. (As Quinn Buckner called it, “They’re about the same age, one is just a tad more athletic.”) Three touches and three buckets later — two of them dunks — Orlando was right back in the mix. In the second half, it was the defense: With the score tied in the final ticks of regulation, Rasho actually beat Dwight off the dribble, but by the time he got off his running hook, Dwight made the recovery and got a piece of it. In overtime, Dwight (24 pts, 17 rebs, 5 blks) snuffed out another golden opportunity by swatting Troy Murphy after he had blown past Rashard Lewis, which set up Lewis’ game-winner on the other end … Danny Granger was able to do whatever he wanted against Hedo Turkoglu, only what he wanted was to shoot jumpers all day, and they weren’t falling. Granger was lighting Hedo up in the first quarter, but struggled thereafter, finishing 7-for-20 from the field. He also made a bonehead play late in the fourth when Indiana was clinging to a three-point lead. Rashard was cruising in for a breakaway dunk when Granger pointlessly touched his leg, getting called for a foul that allowed Rashard to tie it at the line. That set the table for Orlando to eventually force OT and win the game … The Pacers broadcast had a viewers’ poll asking, “What’s been the most pleasant surprise this season?” The options were “Jeff Foster‘s offense” and “Troy Murphy’s rebounding.” They should have included “Jamaal Tinsley not getting arrested,” and “Marquis Daniels not getting a tattoo on his face.” …

KGKevin Garnett (photo. adidas)

Celtics/Wolves would have been a lot more interesting if the Wolves were any good. The Target Center was packed with fans wearing Kevin Garnett jerseys (Boston and Minnesota), and after giving their guy a standing O in the introductions, they were treated to a clinic. KG scored 17 and caught a few dunks and a frank-man block, but otherwise the Wolves rendered the game pretty unwatchable … E-mail from Austin: “I was at Safeway around midnight and this dude walks in — I’m completely serious — wearing a full Boston Celtics uniform, Jordans, and a FUR COAT. Serious. The C’s jersey was #44, too. I don’t think they even make Scalabrine jerseys, so I’m racking my brain trying to figure out who wore #44 for Boston, and I figured it was either a Pistol Pete throwback or an old Rick Fox jersey. But really, though: A fur coat?” … All throughout Clippers/Sixers, L.A.’s color analyst was ripping Philly, repeatedly using the word “horrible” to describe Sixers’ possessions, shots and defense, right up to the end. Then with the Clippers down one and 12 seconds to go, their “play” was to have Baron Davis dribble around with the rest of his teammates looking like they don’t know where to be, followed by Baron putting up a running hook shot over a double-team that had no chance. The color guy literally said nothing until the League Pass feed was cut off. This was also the same guy who kept calling Marreese Speights “Marreese Sprites” … Kobe had another Clyde Drexler night, dropping 29 points through three quarters (29 minutes) and taking the fourth off as the Lakers rolled over the Nuggets and shut down Carmelo (10 pts, 5-for-19 FG’s) in the process. George Karl on the ‘Melo dilemma: “I think it’s very difficult to be a star when defenses are designed and manipulated to take you out and stop you from being successful. Right now we’re not getting a lot of opportunities for [‘Melo]. He’s taking a lot of tough shots and getting frustrated over the shot selection. I think he’s got to be patient and work with us, and we’ll figure out how to help him gain more success.” … After trading away their best two players (Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph) earlier in the day, the Knicks only had nine healthy bodies available in Milwaukee. And even then, Steph and Jerome James (who dressed) couldn’t get off the bench. Question: If Mike D’Antoni/Donnie Walsh were this determined never to let Steph step on the court, why did they have him play during the preseason? If it was only to showcase him for trades, that means they were/are actively pursuing trades, and we find it hard to believe they couldn’t find ANYTHING worth pulling off … Of course the Knicks got smoked, and they should get used to it. You think they’re getting any better when Al Harrington, Tim Thomas and Cat Mobley show up? They’re going to be terrible. Like historically terrible. They could be the first NBA team to go an entire week taking all jump shots. They could be the first team to record less than 10 rebounds for an entire game. Anything is possible … We’re out like hoop gear with fur coats …

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