Razzle Dazzler

By: 01.08.09
Dwyane WadeDwyane Wade (photo. Chad Griffith)

When Dick Vitale somehow fit an entire half-hour pre-game show’s worth of talk into the first two minutes of Heat/Nuggets, we were worried that the second part of ESPN’s “announcer swap” experiment was headed for disaster, as we could imagine fans nationwide reaching for their remotes. But Dickie V calmed down as the game went on, and unless you’re someone who just automatically can’t stand him, he wasn’t bad. D-Wade got the baptismal, “The Elevator Man! High-riser! Super, scintillating, sensationaaaaaal!” treatment when he caught an alley-oop from Mario Chalmers, which was honestly pretty cool in a Marquette-flashback kind of way, but that “Dwyane The Dazzler” nickname Vitale kept pushing hopefully isn’t gonna stick … Could you tell Vitale wishes J.R. Smith would have gone to UNC so he could have called some of his games? J.R. Buckets scored 21 off the bench in Denver’s win, including some ridiculously tough jumpers and a dunk at the halftime buzzer (didn’t count) where he took off from almost the free throw line and finished with two hands … Linas Kleiza started in place of ‘Melo and wasted no time jacking shots. He scored 15 in the first half and ended up with 21 for the game; midway through the second quarter he was running heat checks, pulling up for threes in transition and air-balling at least one of them … Late in the first half, Wade (31 pts) got to the basket WAY too easy and scored pretty much uncontested. As Vitale was killing the Nuggets’ D, the cameras showed George Karl shaking his head, rolling his eyes and cussing to himself like Coby had just brought home a “D” on his report card. We haven’t seen that look very often, but it tells us something; Karl is getting mad now about defensive breakdowns, whereas pre-Chauncey he’d seemed to stop caring, like his team was just hopeless in that area … Did you see when they were interviewing ‘Melo on the bench and Renaldo Balkman was doing everything he could — dancing, cheesing, towel-waving, etc. — to get in the camera shot? He kept it up until the cameras zoomed in on ‘Melo enough to block Balkman out … Make it six losses in their last eight games for the Celtics. With T-Mac on the bench in his Kanye clothes, Von Wafer and Aaron Brooks picked up his scoring load outside, and Yao lit up the C’s for 26 points inside. Wafer hit the go-ahead three in the corner with 45 seconds left, but he’s going to make more highlight reels for the play in the first half where he went baseline and got rejected by the rim … E-mail from Austin: “I’ve turned to the Celtics/Rockets game twice. The first time, Tommy Heinsohn was in the middle of whining about a call that went against the Celtics (on the play where Von Wafer tried to dunk on everybody and got hung on the rim). The second time, Heinsohn was in the middle of whining about another call that went against the Celtics (something involving Ron Artest). I don’t think I’m turning back.” …

AmareAmare’s team took a tough L

At one point during the second quarter, the Suns were actually getting booed by their fans because their D against the Pacers was so bad. Danny Granger seemed headed for a 50-point night, but after Terry Porter switched Grant Hill onto him, the Suns chipped away at the lead as Granger struggled in the third quarter. Then Leandro Barbosa (18 pts) got loose in the fourth, sticking corner threes and getting to the cup, finally giving Phoenix the lead with 45 seconds left. Granger responded by pulling up over Hill and burying a jumper with 34 seconds left to tie it, and after Phoenix missed twice on their next possession, Indiana got the ball back with 0.9 on the clock. So who’s the ONE PERSON Phoenix should make sure doesn’t get open? Exactly. But naturally Steve Nash ended up on Granger (37 pts), and all he had to do was catch and shoot, knocking down a straightaway three at the buzzer … Long after the Pacers had done the Derek Fisher move and bolted for the locker room, the Suns were standing around waiting for the refs to review the shot, and for some reason Cedric Ceballos was standing in the middle of their huddle, looking as concerned as anyone … Can anyone explain why Travis Outlaw is pretty much an average NBA player unless it’s a last-second possession? Outlaw is like the Blazers’ own Robert Horry, except they actually run plays for him. Down one to the Pistons, Outlaw got the rock with about 13 seconds remaining, going left and hitting a hanging J over two defenders. Allen Iverson got a good look over Steve Blake on the other end, but it hit the back-rim … Joel Przybilla didn’t have much of a stat line (2 pts, 7 rebs), but his presence on the court was invaluable. Multiple times Przybilla’s double-teams on ball-screens forced turnovers out of A.I. and Rodney StuckeyChris Paul vs. Deron Williams, Chapter Whatever wasn’t much to write home about. Deron put up eight points and eight assists, CP had 26 and seven, and the Jazz won in a rout. (They kind of own the Hornets, don’t they?) David West seemed worn out after destroying the Lakers the night before, and the absolute worst matchup to have when you’re low on energy is Paul Millsap (27 pts, 14 rebs) … Other big stat lines from Wednesday’s schedule: Pau Gasol had 33 points and 18 boards in a win over the Warriors; Randy Foye scored 32 while the Wolves smacked the Thunder by 42; Vince Carter put up 25 points and 12 assists in a win over the Grizzlies; and Dwight Howard stamped 23 and 19 boards on the Hawks in a win … Cavs/Bobcats became a laugher pretty quick. It wasn’t interesting until the second quarter, when Juwan Howard got ejected from the bench. (Before that, Juwan’s only contribution was getting dunked on by J.J. Hickson and LeBron.) As Juwan walked off the floor laughing his ass off the entire time, apparently it ticked off ref Michael Smith, who right after that hit the Cavs with a delay-of-game technical, then right after that, gave Daniel Gibson a tech for having his jersey untucked. “Somebody’s a little touchy today,” said Cavs announcer Austin Carr … We’re out like Balkman’s face time …

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