Christmas and NBA Opening Day is a match made in heaven. I spent the morning exchanging gifts with family and spent the afternoon and evening exchanging texts and tweets with fellow NBA geeks such as myself. With the shortened NBA season, this will be an eventful and fast paced several months of basketball. Let’s talk about a few things that I noticed on the first day of the 2011-2012 NBA season.
What’s up with all of the ugly shoes that were worn today by several NBA players. Kevin Durant’s Nike Zoom KDIV’s are Sam Cassell ugly. Look at these things. They look like the Ewing Rogue II’s had a child with bowling shoes. Kobe’s new shoes don’t look any better. They are blended with an imperfect match of lime green, 18 shades of purple and topped off with red shoe laces. Kobe has a history of putting out atrocious looking shoes. At least these aren’t as bad as the Adidas Kobe 2′s he released a couple years back. Derrick Rose’s new Adizero’s are also a special ugly. All of these shoes have another thing in common, they are all mid tops. It’s like these athletes are trying to promote shredded ankles. Don’t wear these shoes at home if you don’t have an unlimited supply of athletic tape to ball in.
Who’s debut performance was worse on Christmas day: Lamar Odom’s with Dallas or Shaq’s with TNT? Odom was tossed by the officials in the 2nd half after contributing only 4 points. Shaq mumbled a few sentences in his patented whisper as he looked down at his notes. I think Shaq has more long term potential to succeed in is current occupation but it’s certainly not off to the start that basketball fans expected.
The New York Knicks beat the Boston Celtics 106-104 in a thriller at Madison Square Garden. Carmelo Anthony stole the show with 37 points and 8 assists in the win. What’s most impressive about his performance was that he did it on only 17 shots in 34 minutes. When you have more points than minutes played, you’re balling. Rajon Rondo once again looked impressive against the guard-less Knicks. He went for 31 points, 13 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 steals. Just another day at the office for the Celtics point guard. What was eye brow raising about Rondo’s performance was his shooting. Rondo, who’s known for being a poor shooter, was 9-12 from the free throw line and actually knocked down a couple 18 footers. If Rondo can consistently shoot the ball well then opposing point guards will be in a world of hurt this season.
Although the Knicks got the win, their lack of competent guards is alarming. You can’t compete for an NBA title with Tony Douglas and Landry Fields in your starting lineup, I don’t care how good your front court is. With Iman Shumpert out of the lineup for the next couple of weeks with a sprained MCL, this team has some issues. By the way, how bad has Mike Bibby fallen off that he can’t even touch the court on this roster. It was funny to see Kevin Garnett and Bill Walker go at it after the game. Garnett’s 2 second choke of Walker will likely draw him a fine. These 2 haven’t liked each other since Walker’s stint with the Celtics in which he wasn’t happy with Garnett’s treatment of rookies. I’m sure they like each other less now.
The Miami Heat looked like a video game in their 105-94 beat down of the Dallas Mavericks. This was the worst 11 point beat down of all time. Lebron James went for 37, 10 and 6 while Dwayne Wade added 26, 8 and 6. Udonis Haslem led the Heat with 14 rebounds without the help of his patented prison braids. The Miami Heat out rebounded the Mavericks 51-31 and outscored them 44-28 in the paint. Do you think Mark Cuban is regretting the departure of Tyson Chandler yet? Seriously, something must be said about the Mavericks horrible performance in the free agency period. They lost a lot of production with the exodus of Chandler, Barea, Fernandez and Stevenson. Bringing in Vince Carter and Lamar Odom got them some name recognition but did not get them better. Carter and Odom combined for 9 points on Christmas Day. It’s going to be tough to compete when you have Carter and Brendan Haywood in the starting lineup. Haywood contributed a whopping 0 points and 3 rebounds in the loss.
What’s makes this win even more impressive is that the Heat did it with Mike Miller in street clothes and Shane Battier only playing 4 minutes with a nagging injury. What’s even scarier is that back up rookie point guard Norris Cole will get better as the season goes along. This guy brings good energy off the bench and will give Mario Chalmers a run for some playing time. The Miami Heat look scary.
The Los Angeles Lakers choked away a fairly comfortable lead on their way to an 88-87 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose played like the reigning MVP late in the game by hitting the go ahead shot with 4 seconds left. He finished the game with 22 points and 5 assists. Rose’s jump shot has come a long way since his rookie season. It was on display on Christmas day as he was 9-13 from the field and 4 of 6 from behind the arch.
Kobe Bryant put up 28 points and 7 rebounds but failed to score when the game was on the line. In Los Angeles’ final 3 possessions, Bryant missed a shot then committed a foul, turned the ball over, then was blocked on the potential game winning shot. Metta “my name is really Ron Artest” World Peace played 25 minutes and only managed 4 points and 2 boards. The Lakers have serious problems at the point guard position. Derek Fisher and Steve Blake combined for 5 assists on the game.
The Oklahoma City Thunder easily dispatched of the Orlando Magic with a 97-89 victory that was more dominant than the score indicates. Kevin Durant scored 30 in some of the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen and James Harden added 19 points off of the bench. It was good to see that Durant had more shot attempts than Westbrook. Maybe someone told Westbrook in the off season that it’s not a good thing for the point guard to shoot the ball more than the 6’10 scoring champion.
Dwight Howard pulled down 15 boards but was held to 11 points on 4-12 shooting on the game. I take it Howard didn’t work on his free throw shooting in the extended off season as he couldn’t even muster up a 50% performance from the charity strike.
It wasn’t pretty but the Los Angeles Clippers won their opener against the Golden State Warriors 105-86. The revamped Clippers closed the game out with a 27-9 run to beat the Warriors before a hostile crowd in Oakland. Mark Jackson had a decent debut as head coach of Golden State. The Warriors cut the Clippers lead to 1 point with just 9 minutes left in the game. Jackson decided to go to Hack-A-Jordan late in the 3rd quarter in order to trade 0′s and 1′s for 2′s. DeAndre Jordan is an awful free throw shooter. Jordan was 4-12 from the line with 6 points on the night. Monta Ellis scored 15 points and 8 assists while playing with a heavy heart. Ellis’ grandmother passed away earlier in the day in his home state of Mississippi. David Lee outplayed Blake Griffen at the 4 position with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Unfortunately, the Warriors didn’t get much help from starting guard Stephen Curry. Curry was 2-12 from the field with 4 points. Kwame Brown played 7 minutes off the bench, scoring 1 point and adding a rebound. Brown is being paid 7 million this year, that’s a million for every minute played against the Clippers.
The Clippers are trying to find their chemistry as a team. Billups took too many ill advised shots and even Chris Paul looked uncomfortable at times in the game. Billups was 6-19 from the field and 3-10 from 3 point land in a 21 point performance. Chris Paul hit 3 big shots down the stretch on his way to a 20 point 9 assist game in his Clippers debut. Blake Griffen added 22 points and 7 rebounds in the win. This wasn’t the exciting performance that everyone hoped for from Lob City but once this team gels they will be fun to watch.