Turkey Day is one of those guilt-free days where you can cheat on the NBA without feeling bad. NFL football is a tradition on Thanksgiving of course, and we’re left with Texas (Cowboys got RG III’d) and New York (a Jets fail for the ages) as two of the biggest stories coming out of a day without any NBA games. You won’t even have to readjust to make room for one of Friday’s biggest games — the Knicks at the Rockets. Do we even need to state the obvious about the matchup to watch in this game? Watch the hot-shooting guard who’s been solid when few expected, Raymond Felton. No, that description doesn’t befit Linsanity anymore. The problem is Jeremy Lin‘s play hasn’t been easy to watch entering his matchup against the team that made him a star last February. He’s shooting 33 percent this season and just 22 percent from deep. It’s made him two-dimensional as a point guard, either diving to the rim for easier, closer attempts or dishing, which he’s still quite good at. Felton has been strong this season as Lin’s replacement by not just managing games but creating within them. So while Lin said Thursday that it was all a higher power’s plan to bring him to Houston from his couchsurfing in NYC, in line with his very polite stance toward the Knicks all since July, you know he wants to destroy his successor, and vice versa. That matchup makes this game a must watch on the 12-game schedule. We’re just glad to have the NBA back after its one-day respite. … Toronto won’t get two free throws back from an apology but the NBA admitted its crew working Wednesday’s Charlotte-Toronto game swallowed the whistle on a foul by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on Andrea Bargnani with 2 seconds left. Not to bring up a sore subject but the Raptors lost by one in that game. … No. 2 Louisville almost got burned badly Thursday when it held on to beat Northern Iowa by five at home. The game was within three with four minutes left until Russ Smith‘s big jumper. … Speaking of the Big East, its shaky footing with five teams bolting soon had Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim not very happy with the powers whose decisions have made this a reality. He called out “people playing games” and said conferences should just hold a draft. Boeheim’s Orange will, of course, be one of those five leaving when they leap to the ACC next season but he sounds none too happy about the shift. Basketball helped build the Big East after all. Football’s TV money is helping dismantle it now. … Still, you won’t find us bummed about watching Duke-‘Cuse and the Tar Heels in the Carrier Dome in the regular season.
Thanksgiving was a slow news day, but we’re not counting Mark Cuban‘s statement saying he’d sign Dirk Nowitzki until he was 73 as actual news. Dirk said a day earlier he wanted to play till 2016, which is past his current contract, so Cubes said what anyone would say about the guy who delivered a title for you — I’ll take you up on it. He barely jumps as it is now on his jump shot and his legendary touch won’t be fading anytime soon, so 2016 certainly isn’t far-fetched as long as his knee isn’t being drained. At 73 he might even be tearing up dudes in a city league with his jumper. … Dirk’s story line is not the only one out of Dallas that involves an older player on a comeback. ‘Sheed’s comeback and Jerry Stackhouse’s staying power has made Michael Finley, a special assistant to Cuban, earnestly making a comeback attempt, Marc Stein reported. The last time anyone saw him he was along for the ride during Boston’s playoff run in 2010, but then he had ankle surgery and who wants to take a risk on a 37-year-old guard with a bum ankle? Serious training has changed his mind since then and he nearly went to Mavericks training camp. Will we see Finley in the D-League or does he join an NBA roster immediaately? … With Finley and Eduardo Najera serving as special assistants to Cuban, it’s clear he likes to keep his favorite players around in managerial roles. Is that Dirk’s next step? We could see him doing more hands-on work as a coach (“no, you have to kick out your leg like this on the fadeaway”) rather than GM. … We’re out like you on turkey tryptophan.
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