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COMMENTS OF THE WEEK: WAR ZONE

Rookie Confidence Intervention

By 02.23.09
Dwyane WadeDwyane Wade (photo. Mannion)

As soon as the NBA does the right thing and starts its Rookie Confidence Intervention program, we need to get Jeff Green on the phone with Courtney Lee. As the reigning “Getting my a$$ busted every other night” R.O.Y. — thanks to the Sonics/Thunder grooming him to be Pippen to Kevin Durant‘s Jordan while ex-coach P.J. Carlesimo was apparently unaware of the concept of help D and double-teams — Green perfected his 1,000-yard stare after some nightmare-ish nights left on an island with the likes of Kobe and Caron. Lee is in a similar spot this year, having been stuck guarding Kobe, LeBron, and just about every other top-flight scoring wing in the League. Yesterday the rook hit a low-point when Dwyane Wade handed him 50 points (17-30 FG, 14-15 FT) on his home floor on national TV … After he almost got taken out on one of the game’s first possessions — beating Lee on a cut to the basket, but running into Dwight Howard and landing back-first on the floor — Flash dropped 16 on Lee in the first quarter, and his outside shooting opened the door just enough to create easier driving lanes for circus shots and one-hand crams in traffic … Lee can at least fall back on the fact that Orlando won pretty easily. Jermaine O’Neal wasn’t enough to keep Dwight (32 pts, 17 rebs) off the glass and from dunking through guys like they were paper mache … Rafer Alston (12 pts, 9 asts) isn’t as strong as Jameer Nelson and not as good of a shooter, but he’s faster and has already convinced Orlando’s shooters that he will find them for open looks. We don’t see too much of a drop-off with this team going into the playoff stretch … Speaking of low points, there was Pistons/Cavs. Getting blown out from the get-go, Detroit had no heart, no hustle and they clearly want no parts of Cleveland in a seven-game series. The loss dropped the Pistons to 27-27 and was their sixth L in a row. After scoring 55 his last time out, LeBron (20 pts, 9 asts) played facilitator this time, getting the ball to open shooters like the returning Delonte West (25 pts, 5 threes) and mostly using himself as a decoy … Play of the game: LeBron stalked A.I. on the break, took off outside the paint from the left side and, with the left hand, sent A.I.’s layup to the scorer’s table … How about Delonte doing his NBA TV post-game interview in a beater? Then he took time out to praise the veteran leadership of “Lorenzo Wright” …

Rajon RondoRajon Rondo (photo. Christian Kozowyck)

Scoring 140 on the Celtics wasn’t a question for the Suns; with or without KG, that wasn’t gonna happen. The bigger issue was how many points Phoenix would give up. One thing no one really paid attention to during the Suns’ three-game streak of 140s was that their defense served up too many easy buckets against the Clippers and Thunder — against the Celtics, that wasn’t gonna fly. Paul Pierce (26 pts, 10-10 FT), Ray Allen (31 pts, 4 threes) and Rajon Rondo (32 pts, 10 asts) picked them apart as the C’s hit 128 in a blowout … If you’re Alvin Gentry would you take your chances with Steve Nash guarding Rondo, or Grant Hill playing on a sore foot? Hill took his turns, but couldn’t stay in front of Rondo any better than Nash. One coaching move that was an easy call for Gentry: Let Hill go one-on-one with Brian Scalabrine at every opportunity. It was a good idea, but when Hill couldn’t even turn the corner on Rapaport on his first touch, you knew it wasn’t his night … Lamar Odom is gonna get paid this summer. Barring another NBA Finals meltdown, teams with cap space will forget any early-season struggles and remember that L.O. was putting up All-Star numbers after the Lakers lost Andrew Bynum. Last night Odom had 25 points and 14 boards against the Wolves, coming up with two clutch plays when he tipped in a missed Kobe three with 20 seconds left to put L.A. up four, then with the Lakers up three on Minnesota’s last possession, forced Randy Foye into a three at the buzzer that was just a bit outside Foye’s range … Kobe scored 28 in the win, along the way passing Elgin Baylor for 20th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list … Other big stat lines from Sunday: Charlie Villanueva scored 36 in a win over Denver, while Carmelo had 33 in the loss; Troy Murphy dropped 27 points and 14 boards in a win over Chicago; LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points and Steve Blake handed out 17 assists (14 in the first quarter) as Portland blasted the Clippers; and Ron Artest scored 26 on Charlotte, with a depressed/apathetic MJ watching from the ‘Cats bench … The funniest part of Al Harrington‘s Protege sneaker ad? When Al talks about “dropping dimes,” implying he ever passes the ball. Racking up 31 points and zero assists, Harrington couldn’t shoot the Knicks past the Raptors yesterday, and got stuffed at the rim by Andrea Bargnani — “Barn-yarn-ee” according to Gus Johnson — on a crucial fourth-quarter possession … Anyone else see LaPhonso Ellis on “NBA Gametime” and get a glimpse into Chris Bosh‘s future? Try and tell us LaPhonso doesn’t look like Bosh after a 15-year fast-forward … We’re out like Delonte’s suit …


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