The Rivalry That Isn’t

11.29.08 9 years ago
Dwyane WadeDwyane Wade (photo. Chad Griffith)

Suns/Heat was supposed to be about D-Wade vs. Shaq, but with those two having less eventful run-ins than your typical anti-climatic Kobe/Shaq meeting, other story lines emerged: First, that Wade was destroying everyone and every thing in his path; and second, that Steve Nash is still clearly the Suns’ MVP. With Miami knocking on a 20-piecing in the first quarter of a game that was never really in question, Wade was locked in from the start, finishing with 43 points and six assists. Going to the basket he was unstoppable, and even his long-range J was on-point … Nash sat out with a thigh injury, and the impact of his absence was undeniable. Whether they’re playing at breakneck speed or a slower half-court style, the Suns are totally dependent on Nash. He’s not putting up crazy numbers this year and he doesn’t outwardly dominate like he used to, but when he’s not on the court, it’s too obvious. It won’t translate to many League MVP votes, but it at least shows the Suns need to develop an heir apparent ASAP, or at least a decent backup who won’t constantly turn the ball over … Shaq (12 pts) and Amare (14 pts) were quiet against Miami’s weak/small front line; the only guy who was semi-keeping Phoenix in it was Leandro Barbosa, who scored 20 points. Of all the Suns — even Nash — Barbosa’s game has suffered the most in Terry Porter‘s system. (He’s also been going through it emotionally, traveling back and forth to Brazil to be with his ailing mother, who passed two weeks ago.) Yesterday was just Barbosa’s second 20-point game of the season … Maybe this 70-wins idea isn’t so crazy for the Lakers after all. Throw out the Detroit game, and how many times have they really even been challenged this season? Yesterday was another relatively easy, paint-by-numbers W, coming at the hands of the Mavs, who had won five in a row but fell under a 17-0 second-half run by the Lake Show. Kobe dropped 35, even though he didn’t look his sharpest; late in the fourth Kobe was leading a 2-on-1 break, and where you’d think he’d either YouTube Jason Kidd or hit Pau Gasol with a highlight-reel pass, he kind of staggered into Kidd, trying to draw a foul on tired legs more than anything else … Jason Terry (29 pts) is making a strong early case for Sixth Man of the Year. At least he’s got a head start on Manu Ginobili … The Blazers also took down a team on a hot streak (Hornets) thanks to a 17-0 second-half run. Come to think of it, the way these Blazers have been put together, they’re almost like a Lakers Lite. Brandon Roy (25 pts, 10 asts) is their Kobe, Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge are the Bynum/Gasol combo, and Travis Outlaw is the Lamar Odom, all the way down to trying to pretend he doesn’t want more touches and shots, and never quite living up to his potential … While the Blazers are living up to their summer hype, the squad who was supposed to be the Eastern Conference’s rising power, the Sixers, is falling apart. Two plays from yesterday’s blowout loss in Boston were telling: The first was when Thad Young‘s lazy outlet pass was intercepted by Rajon Rondo, leading to an easy Kendrick Perkins dunk, followed by Elton Brand and Sam Dalembert yelling at each other about who messed up. Then there was poor Theo Ratliff, who in the span of a few seconds had a dunk attempt stuffed by Perkins, then ran down the court only to have KG dunk on his head. Theo looked like he wanted to hide after that … The fact that Boston won easy despite Paul Pierce scoring all of six points and KG grabbing all of two rebounds tell you all you need to know …

Chris BoshChris Bosh, Dime #33

Chris Bosh is killing the game right now, like when he stamped 30 points, 10 boards, seven assists and three blocks on the Hawks on Friday. CB4’s numbers and impact definitely put him in the MVP discussion, but let’s be real. If Vince Carter wasn’t gonna win MVP playing for the Raptors, no one will. It’s a popularity issue. Nothing against Bosh, but there’s a reason the Raps are hardly ever on national TV in the U.S. even when they’re a solid team … Hope the Spurs-haters enjoyed the first month of the season, ’cause now Manu and Tony Parker are back. TP posted 15 points and seven assists in his debut, a win over the Grizzlies. San Antone has won seven of its last eight, and now Roger Mason and George Hill can go from below-average starting guards to effective backups. Watch out … Consecutive 15-assist stat lines from Deron Williams since coming back from injury is a promising sign, but honestly, playing the Grizzlies and Kings in Utah is pretty much like a pair of scrimmages. Yesterday against Sacramento, D-Will was tossing alley-oops off the glass in another practice session … NBA TV’s Steve Smith said John Salmons should be up for Most Improved. But has Salmons improved all that much, or is he just doing what he did last year; putting up big numbers while Kevin Martin is out and there’s really no one else who’s gonna score for the Kings? Even last year Ron Artest was around to take up some of the offense, but now while K-Mart II is hurt, it’s all Salmons … You know what might be the most entertaining part of this whole Stephon Marbury production? When they show clips of Steph stewing on the Knicks bench, and sometimes you see Danilo Gallinari sitting next to him, staring straight ahead and looking frozen in fear. It’s like when you get stuck on the subway sitting next to the guy who’s talking to and/or rubbing himself … Lil’ Romeo is getting minimal PT so far as a freshman at USC, playing about 2-3 minutes a night at point guard. We looked up Romeo’s bio on the USC athletic site, and strangely, it doesn’t say anything about his rapping/acting career, and here’s all it says about Master P: “His father is a very successful business entrepreneur who shares in the passion for the game of basketball, having had tryouts with the Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors.” No mention of “I’m ‘Bout It,” Ghetto D, or that he introduced the world to C-Murder and convicted rapist Mystikal? … And if you think there might be nepotism going on with the Millers, USC also has James Dunleavy on the roster, a.k.a. the son of Mike Sr. and little brother of Mike Jr. James is a 6-6 redshirt freshman guard who didn’t even play basketball his senior year of high school “due to exhausting his eligibility” according to his Trojans bio, and as a junior averaged 2.5 points per game. That’s a Pac-10 caliber player? … We’re out like Starbury …

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