Some extended thoughts from the last week’s games that weren’t big enough to warrant an entire column…
THE SIMPLE ANSWER
Why is everyone acting like this Allen Iverson situation in Detroit is so complicated? We know at least two things here: (1) The Pistons starters/vets play better when A.I. isn’t on the court dominating the ball and stifling offensive flow, and (2) Making Iverson a sixth man is a risky recipe for caustic locker-room issues.
But there’s a theoretically easy solution to this: Keep Iverson in the starting lineup, but over the course of the game, play him more often with the second unit. Think about it like the reverse-Ginobili. Iverson doesn’t have to take the indignity of coming off the bench, and Rip Hamilton and the rest of the Pistons’ mainstays can stay mentally locked in while playing “our style of ball,” as Rip put it following yesterday’s win over the Celtics. At the end of a close game, you can swap A.I. for youngster Rodney Stuckey — because like him or not, you need a scorer of his caliber on the floor in crunch-time — and everyone should be happy.
The great unknown is whether or not Michael Curry is the right coach to pull this off. Iverson isn’t dumb; he’ll figure out what’s happening soon enough, but the right salesman can probably get A.I. on-board if he’s assured that he’ll still get his minutes, he’ll be in when it really matters, and he can play his style of ball while the Arron Afflalos and Walter Herrmanns of the team mimic his ’01 Sixers.
A FISH CALLED JACK
When people talk about shoot-first gunner point guards who tend to hurt their teams at the most inopportune times, names like Stephon Marbury, T.J. Ford and Gilbert Arenas usually pop up first. But one guy who continually slips under the radar is Derek Fisher.
Even I didn’t notice D-Fish’s act until Dime’s Pat Cassidy (a lifelong Sixers fan who probably watches the Lakers more often than his Philly squad) pointed it out to me sometime last year. Watch Fisher closely the next time you see the Lakers, or just go back and find a replay of yesterday’s L.A./Phoenix game. Right in the middle of a third-quarter run where Kobe dropped 17 points in six minutes and single-handedly brought the Lakers back into a game they were losing by double-digits, when Mamba was making everything he threw up, Fisher came down on one possession and inexplicably launched a three, ball movement be damned. Here’s the thing, too: He does that kind of thing ALL THE TIME. It’s like he doesn’t want people to forget about him when Kobe goes on one of his Kane-in-the-Royal-Rumble hot streaks, and Fisher almost always throws up a brick at the wrong time. He’s just as bad as T.J. or Steph or anybody else, but because he’s a nice guy and carries himself so professionally off the court, he never gets called on it.
Do you realize how much more dangerous the Hornets would be if Tyson Chandler‘s offense had evolved past high school? When Chandler and Chris Paul run the pick-and-roll (which doesn’t lead to an alley-oop) and the defense switches, you often end up with a PG/SG guarding Chandler in the paint while a big man lines up against CP. Nine times out of 10, Paul will just drive past the big man. But if Chandler had any post game whatsoever, the Hornets could mix things up and dump it down to him for a bucket over his shorter defender. It’s a natural mismatch. Right now, though, it’s like CP doesn’t even have confidence that Chandler can score with his back to the basket against a point guard.
Mike Dunleavy Sr. is awful. I watched the entire second half of last week’s Clippers/Celtics upset, and I swear the Clips won in spite of their coach. His entire playbook in the third quarter consisted of isos at the top of the key for Baron Davis, then in the fourth quarter, isos on the wing for Mardy Collins. Yes, Mardy Collins. But since nobody told Mardy that his coach was pulling a Pete Rose move, Mardy was actually kinda giving Paul Pierce the business, and Zach Randolph was there to clean up any of his misses. But even the Clippers announcers were begging Dunleavy Sr. to be more creative down the stretch. “It’s too predictable” they kept saying.
Dunleavy Sr. has proven himself to be the worst coach in the League, period, or at least in terms of game planning and drawing up plays; add on the fact that his team is severely underachieving, and anyone else would have been fired a long time ago.
You know every few weeks I have to write something about Troy Murphy. Some of us in the Dime office were talking about Murphy and how he’s a walking contrast on the court. On one hand, he’s kind of a beast; he pulls down double-digit rebounds a night like it’s nothing (this month he’s averaging 12.8 per game) and is always right there around the basket when it matters most (see the win over the Lakers). On the other hand, Murphy rarely ventures within 20 feet of the basket, especially on offense. He’s got just enough pump-fake/drive game that you have to at least respect it, but for the most part, he just kills teams on long jumpers and threes. And yet, nobody guards him when they know what he’s gonna do. I thought for a while it was simply a byproduct of defenses having to pay so much attention to Danny Granger, and the trickle-down effect benefiting Murphy. But as Granger has been out the last couple of weeks injured, Murph is still getting his buckets. He’s one of the rare players who I think would be effective in any system, for any team.