Indiana Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal says he will return to the court Monday night after sitting out more than two months with a bone bruise on his left knee. O'Neal is among the league's best interior defenders, and the Pacers could use him for the stretch run. They enter Monday's game against the Miami Heat three games behind Atlanta for the eighth and final playoff slot in the Eastern Conference with nine games left.
BDL Bedlam, Rd. 2: Pistons' Zoo Crew vs. 'NBA super fan' Drew
Second round action of our completely pointless, albeit oddly entertaining, BDL Bedlam Tournament. Thanks to your help, we've compiled a list of 64 things that you may or may not love about the NBA and seeded them into four regions. Today we'll unveil the first eight match-ups of the second round. Voting will remain open until late Tuesday night.
Up next in the Kobe Region ... not Kobe. Instead it's No. 8 seed Pistons' Zoo Crew vs. No. 16 seed 'NBA super fan' Drew. In the first round, the Zoo Crew made easy work of Agent Zero's blog, while Drew Cieszynski did the impossible, knocking off No. 1 seed Kobe Bryant. Yes, folks, we have our Cinderella! A second look at the nominees:
No. 8 Pistons' Zoo Crew: The stereotype of the Pistons as aging and slow couldn't be farther from the truth. Jason Maxiell (25-years-old) eats babies; Amir Johnson (20) makes t-shirts; and Jarvis Hayes (26), Rodney Stuckey (21) and Arron Afflalo (22) regularly change the game on both ends of the floor. The Zoo Crew is the future ... and the future is eyeing the Sweet Sixteen.
No. 16 NBA super fan: Drew Cieszynski, a regular dude from Milwaukee, is trying to visit all 30 NBA arenas while blogging about it. He's getting close. For more on Drew's incredible journey, check out his BDL interview.
So, who makes it through to the Sweet Sixteen? Zoo or Drew? Vote away.
Click here (and scroll down) to see and vote on all of the BDL Bedlam second round match-ups.
Young Blazers are learning on the job
They are young and erratic. The Blazers also have lots of talent. Mike Kahn says their up-and-down week belies a bright future.
Behind the boxscore, where Kobe is doing what he's s'posed to
Los Angeles Lakers 126, Washington 120 (OT)�
We'll have more on the Lakers later this week, but let's get this out now: don't listen to them.
Don't listen to anyone who tells you that Kobe Bryant is shooting too much. Don't believe them when they tell you that this is the reason the Lakers are either losing, or struggling to win (at home) against a team like Washington.
Kobe Bryant is working on a team that cannot guard the perimeter even with a broomstick and Ming the Merciless' ring, and is missing its second and third-best players. If Tim Duncan put up a ton of shots in a game without Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, nobody would think twice. Don't think twice about Kobe's play without Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. It's alright.
It's pretty remarkable that these two teams put up 246 points in 53 minutes, and combined to turn it over only 15 times. Bryant managed 13 assists and just one cough-up, while Wizard Caron Butler notched a triple-double (17 points, 12 boards, 12 assists) and turned it over just three times.�
This one sounds about right. Years after his prime, Michael Finley is going to be the sort of turning point that San Antonio's season falls short on the basis of or rides on about, and the same could be said for Bruce Bowen and Ime Udoka. Tim, Manu, and Tony are going to show up, and you know that Michael, Bruce, and Ime are going to show up - but will they provide enough spacing? On Sunday, they did. Hence the win.
After Sunday? Who knows.
Do the Jazz have some sort of block? Can they not win on the road? Is this worth paying attention to?
Stop it. It matters not where they play. What does count is the team's defense, which stunk for the first half of this season, got better, and stunk on Sunday. There's nothing in that that cannot be learned from, because a lot of things stunk on Sunday. Father O'Callaghan? I'm looking at you. Let's get it together.
Ryan Gomes (17 points in 34 minutes, four turnovers, four rebounds) is just a little ball of energy.
If Marvin Williams (27 and 11) could play the Knicks once a week, he'd end up in the Hall of Fame. I'm not saying what Hall of Fame, but he'd end up in it. At the very least, should Isiah stick around, and when the team clears some cap space in 2019, Thomas will probably end up giving him $18 million a year.
Anyway, the Knicks aren't good at defense. That's what we're getting at.
Here's the disconnect: a Western powerhouse waltzes into the office of an Eastern powerhouse, and is up by 22 points entering the third quarter. Nobody bats an eye. It just makes sense. The Hornets are brilliant. The offense has been getting better, all year, game by game. The defense has been strong from the beginning.
The "rhymes with stick" update? Sure. Let's do it. Starter T.J. Ford: 10 points on 10 shots, six assists, four turnovers, -18 overall. Jose Calderon? 10 points on eight shots, 11 assists, one turnover, +14 overall. Thanks for ruining the Raptors, Teej.
We know that Cleveland coach Mike Brown hates offense, and appears to enjoy ruining the youth of the NBA's biggest and most prominent talent, but he's been recently afforded a favor that (we're guessing) Brown was unaware of:
Ben Wallace went back on the shelf with some back spasm-y issues. Yay. Cleveland only had to play 4-on-5 offense (with Andy Varejao) as opposed to the 3-on-5 we saw on Saturday night against Detroit.
I understand that no Boston starter played more than 25 minutes, but couldn't the C's win by more than 26? It's the Heat, after all.
Is Boston slipping?
Kevin Martin had 31 points on 19 shots, very good, and only turned the ball over once in almost 41 minutes of play. One time. That sort of stat is overlooked so much by your usual NBA scribes, and it's a bit scary. And it's not (completely) about the opposing defense. Just because Seattle can't guard anyone, it doesn't mean Martin can't throw the ball away or throw in a few charges.
Seattle rookie Kevin Durant had just two rebounds in 38 minutes, which is a little depressing, but he also scored 25 points on 18 shots and turned the ball over just one time. Still, I don't want to live in a world where it's OK for Kevin Durant to only pull in one double-double a year. Carmelo Anthony is not a role model. Sure, he got LaLa, and those things are nice, but ...
Well, I'm not sure what my point is, here. Just rebound a little more, please.
I love Golden State boxscores.
Usually, with most teams, when a bench player logs over 44 minutes, you can tell exactly who he'll take the minutes from. One of the starters will only play 11 minutes.
On Sunday, Kelenna Azubuike played 44:29, but no Warrior starter played less than 26 minutes. In fact, three of them played over 37 minutes. That means Azubuike took a turn at center, forward, and guard. Don Nelson is awesome. He's a nutter, and he thought that Chris Webber would help, but he's also awesome.
Dallas tried, which is a credit to Avery Johnson. Still, you're replacing Dirk Nowitzki with a guy (Malik Allen) who gave you four rebounds in almost 37 minutes. Nobody's going to win with that.
Monta Ellis makes me shudder. Such touch.