Oakland Soldiers

01.24.09 10 years ago 37 Comments
LeBron James (photo. Mannion)

Going into the fourth quarter of a nip/tuck battle that was the most entertaining game of the night (maybe the year so far), one of the Golden State announcers said: “Darth Vader is playing for Cleveland, but the young Jedi Knight has returned for the Warriors.” If you’re not clear, he was talking about LeBron and Monta Ellis. Making his season debut, Monta — who clearly has been spending a lot of time with his tattoo artist during his ankle rehab — started off somewhat slow, but got stronger (and faster) as the game went on, and by the time he was getting crunch-time buckets in the final minutes, Monta (20 pts) showed he’s gonna be worth every bit of that $66 million contract. Midway through the fourth, Monta ran a give-and-go with Stephen Jackson where he got up and crammed it just like old times, officially ending any doubt as to his health … That particular play seemed to spell the beginning of the end for the Cavs. After Monta’s go-ahead dunk, Cleveland’s next two possessions ended in a 24-second violation and a LeBron air-ball. A couple minutes later the Cavs were down three and headed for another 24-second violation when Ben Wallace of all people knocked down a mid-range jumper. “You’d let him shoot that 100 times,” one GS announcer groaned, “and today he hits it like he’s Ray Allen.” … After that, the teams went shot-for-shot down to the wire: LeBron (32 pts, 9 rebs, 8 asts) muscling in layups over Andris Biedrins, Monta getting transition layups, Mo Williams and Daniel Gibson sticking threes, S-Jack sticking mid-range J’s in LeBron’s eye, and some clutch free throws on both sides for good measure. With 22 seconds left and Cleveland up by one, Captain Jack (24 pts, 8 rebs, 8 asts) had the ball up-top with LBJ in his face. After he couldn’t find Corey Maggette on a post-up, S-Jack casually dropped another J in LeBron’s mug with six seconds left … Now keep in mind that for the entire second half, the Warriors announcers had been reminding us that GS lost their last game on Jeff Green‘s buzzer-beater, and before that lost on John Salmons‘ game-winner in triple overtime. And there they were last night, leading by one with LeBron about to decide the game. LBJ took it on the left wing with Ronny Turiaf in front of him, and when Turiaf cut off the drive, LeBron stepped back and released a jumper at the last possible tenth of a second. Net. Ballgame … Can somebody early enroll Anderson Varejao in that “How To Play Crunch-Time Basketball” remedial summer-school class along with Jamario Moon and T.J. Ford? (Your co-teachers: Bob Knight and Hubie Brown.) In the final minute of the fourth quarter, the score was tied when LeBron drove and missed a layup. S-Jack got the rebound, and Varejao inexplicably decided to foul him, sending Jackson to the line for the go-ahead free throws. Maybe you could say AV didn’t want the Warriors to get out and run with 5-on-4 numbers (since LeBron had just been knocked into the crowd), but we think he just forgot the score … Golden State fans chanting “DEE-FENSE!” is like George W. Bush fans chanting “Four more years!” at Obama‘s inauguration. An admirable show of loyalty and hope, but it just ain’t gonna happen …

Yao Ming

Troy Murphy, Jeff Foster, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Travis Diener, Josh McRoberts (in street clothes) and one of the Pacers’ trainers went along with the mustache thing for last night’s game against the Rockets. Murph looked the most ridiculous; Dunleavy looked the most natural; Foster looked like he would be filming Heather Does Houston, Vol. 24 immediately after the game; and Diener for some reason decided to cut off his sideburns, which would have given him the complete Super Mario look. And while those guys all looked like they were auditioning for a 1970s buddy-cop movie, Luis Scola definitely would’ve been the bad guy … The Pacers won the game, but the big story was Yao Ming, who bruised his knee in the first quarter and didn’t return after halftime. Since Rick Adelman didn’t want to dust off Dikembe Mutombo against the up-tempo Pacers, Houston had to go small with Scola at center. Without a shot-blocking presence to worry about, Danny Granger (25 pts) and T.J. Ford (21 pts, 6 asts) were free to drive the lane and continually get to the foul line … After Chuck Hayes went to the stripe and — well, you know what Chuck Hayes does at the stripe — everyone from the Pacers bench to some of the Rockets on the court was cracking up laughing. When the Indiana play-by-play guy tried to be nice and say, “They’re not laughing AT Chuck Hayes, they’re laughing WITH him,” color analyst Quinn Buckner was having none of it. “Well, I’m laughing AT Chuck Hayes!” QB said … At least one of our guys called the upset: Wolves over Hornets. The absence of Tyson Chandler, David West and Hilton Armstrong predictably led to N.O. getting killed on the boards (42-26), and with Sebastian Telfair holding his own against (if not simply out-playing) Chris Paul in the fourth quarter, the Wolves would have won easy if not for James Posey. Every time Minnesota threatened to pull away, Posey (24 pts, 7 threes) would nail a triple to keep it close. The difference down the stretch was Randy Foye (24 pts, 8 asts), who hit back-to-back threes in the last two minutes and came up with a huge block on Peja to ice it. Al Jefferson added 24 and 14 boards … Clippers/Thunder was like a Pop-a-Shot tournament at Dave & Buster’s. Kevin Durant lit it up for 46 points (24-26 FT) and 15 boards, and it still wasn’t enough for the win thanks to Eric Gordon‘s 41 points (12-19 FG, 12-14 FT) and Al Thornton‘s chipping in 34. And then there was the most eye-popping stat line of the night, maybe the season: One point, 11 assists and zero turnovers for — wait for it — RICKY DAVIS. Seriously. In a game where everybody was gunning, where even Cheikh Samb launched a insanely awful ill-advised long-range J, Ricky Buckets only took six shots and missed them all, but put on his point guard headband for 30 minutes … Other big stat lines from Friday: Jose Calderon returned to put up 23 points and 10 assists in a win over Chicago; Boris Diaw dropped 26 points and 11 boards against his former team as the ‘Cats 20-pieced the Suns; Dirk scored 26 in a win over Detroit; and Tim Duncan posted 30 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and four blocks in a win over New Jersey … Two extra highlights: Steve Nash took a 23-foot jumper that traveled 20 feet, and Tyrus Thomas ate Jermaine O’Neal‘s children on a baseline dunk that sent J.O. to the deck. Nastiness … Dime’s Aron Phillips was at MSG for Knicks/Grizzlies. The game itself was a blowout in New York’s favor, but in the Memphis locker room pre-game, we got this note from AP: “Overheard by the back room, one of the trainers talking about Darrell Arthur: ‘Rook might be the first guy fined $500 for farting while stretching.'” … We’re out like Ricky Dimes …

Around The Web