Give ’em Ariza to Worry

By 11.16.09
Trevor Ariza

Trevor Ariza

They’re panicking in Los Angeles. Or something close to it. While you could reasonably write off Friday’s blowout loss in Denver to tired legs from a back-to-back and the high altitude, there aren’t many excuses the Lakers can make after the Rockets (who were supposed to stink this year, remember?) went into Staples and thoroughly outplayed the champs … Trevor Ariza was the main story going into the game. He received his ’09 championship ring in his first trip back to L.A. and was playing in front of his hometown crowd, but by the end it was all about Aaron Brooks. He was killing Derek Fisher, which shouldn’t have been a surprise if you saw those two matched up in last spring’s playoff series. After the Lakers jumped out to a 16-2 lead, Brooks and Chase Budinger got the Rockets offense rolling; Brooks scored 15 points in the first 18 minutes, and finished with 33 points (11-23 FG) for the game … Now it’s time to face some realities: Fisher used to be a good defender — maybe even great — but he’s not that guy anymore. Quick guards like Brooks give him fits, and between that and Fisher’s untimely gunning, he’s becoming the weak link on the floor for the Lakers. Towards the end of the first half, Fisher took four shots out of five L.A. opportunities, even though Andrew Bynum (21 pts, 11 rebs) had proven he could score at will on David Andersen or whoever else was guarding him. But you know Fisher will hit one or two big shots in the playoffs, and everyone will forget about his weaknesses and start wondering if the Lakers should retire his #2 … Ariza got a big ovation from the L.A. fans and players when he got his ring in a pre-game ceremony, then proceeded to struggle, shooting 2-for-12 with six turnovers and finishing with nine points. But Ariza’s steal and breakaway dunk broke a tie midway through the third quarter, when Houston really began to pull away … Kobe (5-20 FG, 18 pts) also couldn’t hit anything, and after tweaking a groin injury in the first quarter, just seemed off his game. Not many “M-V-P” chants this time, as the crowd was booing the Lakers in the fourth quarter … Given the two teams involved, Suns/Raptors was relatively low-scoring, with Phoenix needing just 101 points to get the W. Hedo Turkoglu (20 pts) hit some big shots down the stretch, including a three to tie it up with about 1:30 left and a fadeaway from the corner with Steve Nash draped all over him that gave the Raps the lead. Nash (23 pts, 9 asts) responded by crossing up Chris Bosh and getting a layup plus-one to give the Suns the lead back. Turkoglu had two more chances to win the game after that, but missed on consecutive jumpers … Good matchup between Amar’e (30 pts, 8 rebs) and Bosh (25 pts, 10 rebs). When both of them are available on the market next summer — assuming Stoudemire opts out of his deal — which one would you pay more for? … In the Teams That Should Be In Seattle Invitational, the Clippers knocked off the Thunder as Baron Davis (24 pts) showed why he can be so frustrating to those who root for him. In the final two minutes of a close game, Baron got into the teeth of OKC’s defense and dimed Chris Kaman (25 pts) for a go-ahead bucket, canned a three in Russell Westbrook‘s face to stretch the lead to four, and then hit two free throws to ice a Clippers win. Now why can’t he be that efficient and reliable in crunch time more often? … Kevin Durant scored 40 points in the loss. In Sunday’s only other game, Dirk Nowitzki put up 25 points in a win at Detroit … Last week, Dime’s Austin Burton proposed a trade that could (maybe) potentially clear up this Allen Iverson drama in Memphis, sending A.I. to Philly in a three-team deal involving Sacramento. It could happen. Over the weekend the Grizzlies signed Jamaal Tinsley, perhaps an indication of their future plans with Iverson. But then the Sixers learned Marreese Speights‘ injured knee will put him out 6-8 weeks, throwing a wrench in any trade that would include Sam Dalembert. Without Speights around and Elton Brand still struggling to find his place, Philly needs as much frontcourt help as they can get … From the college ranks, Deon Thompson went for 20 points in North Carolina’s win over Valpo; Texas routed UC-Irvine behind Damion James‘ 21 points and 15 boards; Jamelle Horne had 14 points, 11 boards and three blocks to lead Arizona past Northern Arizona in their first game completely post-Lute Olson; and Quincy Pondexter put up 29 points and 11 boards as Washington crushed Portland State by FIFTY-SIX. Apparently Pondexter’s nickname is “Q-Pon,” which is funny because he’s kind of like a bargain table Luol Deng … We’re out like Tinsley getting any PT …


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