Stevie Franchise

By: 11.10.09  •  41 Comments

Steve Nash

Is it possible the West is actually stronger than we all thought? No surprise that the Lakers, Nuggets, Spurs and Blazers have been solid, but not a lot of people expected Houston, Dallas and Phoenix to play so well coming out of the gate … The Suns are arguably the best team in the entire League right now, with Steve Nash putting himself in the mix for a third MVP and doing that thing where he makes fringe NBA players look like All-Stars. Last night Nash added to the resume, putting up 21 points and 20 assists in a come-from-behind win at Philly … Cutting a 12-point halftime deficit to zero by the end of the third quarter, the Suns took control for good in the final two and a half minutes when Nash set up Jason Richardson for a transition dunk (and one), then in the halfcourt offense, laced a 25-foot bullet pass to J-Rich for an acrobatic layup that put Phoenix up by five. Then Lou Williams decided to put on Zenyatta’s blinders and turn into a bricking machine, and Nash eventually closed it out at the line … Elton Brand was invisible for every important stretch of the game. Not because he wasn’t producing, but because he was rarely on the court, sitting bench in favor of Marreese Speights (20 pts, 8 rebs). Early on Brand showed he could get buckets on Amar’e and Channing Frye, but the pace of this game just wasn’t right for him … Does it count as “drawing the defense” when you lose control of the ball, defenders converge like vultures looking for a steal, and you manage to pass out of that pile to an open shooter? If you’re Thaddeus Young and the announcers are from Philly, apparently it does. And just in case you weren’t sure Thad needs to work on his handle, a couple possessions later he tried to go coast-to-coast with a bunch of spins and shakes before getting mercifully picked by Jared Dudley. We love Thad’s athleticism and his attitude, but dude should be required to watch Pistol: Birth of a Legend and act out the basketball scenes at least once a week … At the end of the first half, Philly had a defensive breakdown that resulted in a wide-open three for J-Rich (29 pts, 6 threes). Andre Iguodala, who was guarding J-Rich most of the night and had already eaten a bunch of triples by that point, got pissed off even before Richardson released the shot, throwing his hands up and looking at the bench to yell at somebody. So with it now being Philly’s last possession before halftime, Iguodala trudged to a corner and was a mere bystander while Lou Williams went one-on-one with Nash and took a terrible fadeaway that barely caught rim. Iguodala looked like he wanted to quit going into the locker room … It was probably only there by accident — seeing as guys usually get their haircuts/shave before going on a road trip and don’t touch it until returning home — but Amar’e should really consider keeping his full facial hair look. Between that and the goggles, he looks like Moses Malone back in the day … Without Tony Parker or Tim Duncan in the lineup, Gregg Popovich had that, “Do I HAVE to coach this game?” look on his face as Spurs/Raptors got underway. And apparently Pop was experimenting by fielding the first-ever NBA starting five that was all-around worse than the second unit: Can you tell us you’d definitely take starters George Hill, Keith Bogans, Mike Finley, Richard Jefferson and Theo Ratliff over Manu Ginobili, Roger Mason, Matt Bonner, DeJuan Blair and Antonio McDyess? …

Manu Ginobili

Manu Ginobili

Although neither team was playing any kind of defense, it was still one of those games that makes Spurs fans mad when critics say Ginobili wouldn’t be any good without Duncan and Parker. Manu dropped 36 points (14-16) FT, eight dimes and four blocks in the win, pretty much doing all the stuff Dwyane Wade does when he carries a subpar team. Manu owned the fourth quarter, turning into a point guard when he had to and a scorer when he had to … DeMar DeRozan is tough to figure out. He’s one of the few rookies in the League with a regular starting job, but he’s hardly doing anything out there. He’s like Royal Ivey when he started for Atlanta a few years ago but would always get taken out in the first quarter and was never heard from the rest of the night … After blowing a 20-point second half lead, the Jazz were only up by two on the Knicks with 30 seconds to go. Larry Hughes had a good look at a jumper to tie, but Ronnie Brewer stuffed it just as it left Larry’s hand. On the other end, Mike D’Antoni decided not to have his guys foul, forcing the Jazz to ice it with a contested shot rather than free throws. Brewer bricked a jumper, giving NY another chance with six seconds left. Toney Douglas (21 pts) got the inbounds, and when it looked like he was supposed to pass to Al Harrington or Hughes at the three-point line, Douglas took it himself and missed a tough shot over Deron Williams. Hughes and Harrington might still be standing in a dark MSG right now, waiting for the ball and not believing the rookie looked them off … Carlos Boozer put up 23 points and 14 boards, while Deron handed out 16 dimes despite struggling with his shot (5 pts, 2-10 FG) … Other notable stat lines from Monday: Chris Paul had 24 points and 10 assists in just 24 minutes in a win over the Clippers; and Kelenna Azubuike dropped 31 points, Stephen Jackson had 15 assists, and Anthony Randolph scored 23 in the Warriors’ blowout of the Wolves where they racked up 146 points … College basketball got going for real last night, like actual games that count being on TV and everything. In his first regular season game with Florida International, Isiah Thomas had to go to the Dean Dome and watch his squad get rolled by North Carolina. Deon Thompson led UNC with 20 points and 10 boards, while Ed Davis posted 13, 11 and four blocks; Ohio State’s Evan Turner had the rare 40-minute triple-double with 14 points, 17 boards and 10 dimes in a win over Alcorn State; and Cal-Berkeley PG Jerome Randle scored 18 in a win over Murray State … The #5 team in Dime’s preseason college Top 25 was unveiled yesterday, and we’ll roll out our final four throughout the rest of the week. Who’s your pick to win the NCAA ‘chip when it’s all said and done? … We’re out like Lou’s shot selection …

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