10.09.08 9 years ago 40 Comments
Jeff GreenJeff Green (photo. David Deal)

In a D-League kind of city where they were rocking those D-League looking unis, the OKC Thunder made their on-court debut in front of a D-League sized crowd, dropping their preseason opener to the Wolves. Minnesota was technically the “home” team in a game that was played in Billings, Montana, to a crowd of about 3,800. (Not gonna lie, though, there were plenty of games in Seattle that were like that last year.) Kevin Durant scored the first bucket for OKC and finished with 10 points, while Damien Wilkins had a team-high 19 and Russell Westbrook put up 13. Rashad McCants led Minnesota with 15 points after going off in the fourth quarter, Al Jefferson put up 13 and 9 boards, and Kevin Love — still coming off the bench behind Mark Madsen — went for 10 points and 5 boards … With the usual preseason assortment of blowouts and less-than-intense games so far, Knicks/Raptors at least gave us a good down-to-the-wire contest. Jason Kapono was the difference-maker, hitting the go-ahead triple and a couple free throws in the final two minutes to help Toronto get a two-point W, and Chris Bosh led the way with 20 points, 7 boards and 3 steals. Of course, the main storyline was seeing the beginning of Mike D’Antoni‘s plan to turn the Knicks around. Chris Duhon, Jamal Crawford, Q-Rich, Zach Randolph (19 pts, 13 rebs) and David Lee (22 pts, 9 rebs) were the starters, and Steph came off the bench for 10 points in about 20 minutes. (Nate Robinson had 15 off the bench plus the rare in-game dunk.) The Knicks did push the ball like crazy and got up a lot of threes, and they had stretches where they forced Toronto into a lot of turnovers. But ultimately they couldn’t hang on to the ball themselves. Marbury committed five turnovers and Duhon coughed it up seven times (and he couldn’t hit a J to save his life) … Meanwhile, Terry Porter lost his first game replacing D’Antoni in Phoenix at the hands of the Hawks. Shaq posted 21 and 10 rebounds as the Suns played more of a half-court style (although Amare and Barbosa didn’t play) and looked noticeably more active and committed on D than they did in the D’Antoni era … BTW, did you see Shaq’s “SportsCenter” interview where he said the “Tell Me How My Ass Tastes” track had “just a line or two” about Kobe? We get what Shaq meant when he said he wasn’t trying to be vicious or anything, and that he would do stuff like that on the team bus all the time, but half of that freestyle was name-dropping Kobe … The Sixers knocked off the Celtics on UMass’ court, getting 27 points from Louis Williams (“He’s a passing FOOL!” screamed Tommy Heinsohn), 21 from Thad Young, and 11 from Elton Brand. The Big Three (and Rondo) didn’t play much, and the C’s broadcast actually gave Patrick O’Bryant (10 pts, 8 rebs, 3 blks) its Player of the Game nod … But the play of the game was when Bill Walker caught it baseline and threw one down Theo Ratliff‘s neck. The whole Boston bench rioted after that one on a damn-near stop-the-game playground level. We’re kinda hyped waiting for Walker and Tony Allen to hook up and replicate the garbage-time highlight magic that TA and Gerald Green had in Boston once upon a time … Darius Miles had six points in 16 minutes, and after catching an alley-oop from Eddie House, dusted off the antennas/head-tap. Quote from the Heinsohn we never thought we’d hear again: “Good hustle by Darius Miles!” … The Pacers went all-out with their old-school theme last night — throwback unis, playing in the arena they used back in the ’60s, even having Jim O’Brien take a backseat and letting Bobby “Slick” Leonard, who coached the team back when they were in the ABA, run the show for a quarter. Problem is, Indy got on the court and played like a bunch of ABA old-timers, getting an old-fashioned flogging by the Hornets. Chris Paul scored 17 in N.O.’s 34-point win where the Pacers scored six whole points in the third quarter (not the one Leonard coached) and shot 3-for-21 from deep … Was that some fire we saw from Roy Hibbert, or just clumsiness? Late in the game he clocked Melvin Ely with an elbow that drew a Flagrant-2 and an ejection … Wednesday’s other big blowout saw the Magic serve the Bobcats a 38-piece meal. Larry Brown watched his team fall behind 40-9 at the end of the first quarter, where they had more fouls (13) than made baskets (3), and LB may or may not have been texting John Paxson on the sly seeing what’s up with the Vinny Del Negro cat … We know it doesn’t count this time of year, but damn. The ‘Cats had all of their main guys playing, they got their veteran coach, and they still looked sorry as ever; no motivation, and it was almost like they were a high school squad out there. Emeka Okafor got beasted by Dwight Howard again, as Dwight finished with 20 points, 8 boards and 5 blocks … We’re not blaming Eddie Jordan at all for keeping Caron Butler out of the Wizards/Grizzlies game. Caron wasn’t hurt or anything, but with the Gilbert Arenas knee situation, the fact that Antawn Jamison just dodged a bullet when his MRI came up clean, and the latest news that Brendan Haywood could be out for a few months with a wrist injury, Jordan might wanna put a bubble around Caron until Opening Night … Continuing with our team-by-team season previews, yesterday we looked at the ’08-09 Chicago Bulls. The roster has talent, with scorers and defenders and bigs and creators, but they have a lot relying on a rookie point guard (Derrick Rose), a rookie coach (Del Negro), and a guy who you know is gonna be JACKING shots all year (Ben Gordon). Do you think the Bulls are playoff material? … CLICK HERE NOW, thank us later … Earlier on Wednesday, we were just talking in the office about how if there is a position where the Blazers can sustain an injury and not take a major hit, it’s small forward. Then we found out Martell Webster is expected to miss 6-8 weeks with a stress fracture in his foot, and later Rudy Fernandez went down in the Blazers/Warriors game with an ankle injury and didn’t return. Depending on how long Fernandez is out, though, Portland still has Travis Outlaw and rookie Nic Batum at the three, so they’re not in the worst shape, and if it’s that serious, Brandon Roy can even play some SF in a pinch … Sneaker update: check out the Kobe/Ronaldinho Nike Hyperdunks, and Brandon Roy’s version of the Nike Blue Chip Supremes. It’s not Roy’s signature shoe; guys like Deron Williams and Caron Butler will have their own colorways, too … At this point, Phil Jackson must be either REALLY pissed at Lamar Odom for his no-show in the Finals, or he’s just railing on L.O. as a motivational tactic. The day after the Lakers’ preseason-opening loss to the Jazz — which Phil missed with soreness and swelling in his legs — he was back at practice taking more shots at Odom. “He looks like he’s either curling or doing some other kind of sport,” Jackson told the Los Angeles Times. “He’s not playing basketball.” Phil has to know his guys’ psyches well enough to feel confident talking so greasy about them, otherwise we’d be worried about L.O. giving him a Sprewell Special any day now … We’re out like Hibbert …

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