Tag Archives: basketball

Lunch: Purple and Gold Can’t Fight the Old

Kobe Bryant finished with 30 points but was entirely outplayed by Russell Westbrook (Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

Kobe Bryant finished with 30 points but was entirely outplayed by Russell Westbrook (Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

Stop it. Stop. Just stop it.

No, I’m not talking about the Harlem Shake.

I’m talking about you talking about the Lakers. Stop it.

Last nailed was the ultimate Reality Check for the Los Angeles Lakers. Nothing embodied that check more than two stats:

  1.  The Thunder, at the bottom of the league with 15.5 turnovers per game, had 2 last night.
  2. Russell Westbrook*, athletic, speedy and aggressive, had 37 points to go with 10 rebounds. and was far more efficient than usual.

*=Westbrook also played opposite Kobe, and even stripped Bryant to seal the game.

The Lakers are a team built to play one way, they are coached to play another way, and they can win if they play a third way.

And they don’t play any of those ways. They just play old.

And yet, they lead news stories almost every night, and there is grumblings that they may still be able to contend in the West.

No más.

When the Lakers are in the half-court game, they aren’t terrible. They’re ranked in the top 10 in points and offensive efficiency, averaging 102 points at home. But it’s not their defense necessarily that’s the problem; it’s the way they give up points. They give up more fast break points than any team in the league (16.6), and are in the bottom three surrendering points in the paint per game (44.9).

Wait that is the defense. That’s and old, slow defense. That’s a defense unwilling to play physical, or even hustle back.  That’s a defense that not even Phil could save. Kobe can talk trash and the Lakers can win back-to-backs, but they wouldn’t be able to compete in a series against the top five teams in the West.

It would be best for everyone involved if the Lakers missed the playoffs this year. It would force management’s hand, maybe giving them cause to move Pau Gasol. But the Lakers don’t belong on this side of the fence this year. This roster can’t take it, and it has nothing to do with basketball strategy or shot selection. They’re old and it happens and its okay. But please, talk about Paul George, or how good the Warriors might be, or whatever is going on between the NBA and Lil’ Wayne.

But not the Lakers. They’re toast.

Dinner: Court Storming: An Unnecessary Trend

Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Last night the University of Virginia beat the number 3 team in the land, Duke. For the 4th time this year, Duke players walked off as students from the opposing school ran onto the court.

What goes on in these court stormings? I can never tell.

Unfortunately, I have missed every chance I have had (count 3) to rush onto a football field or basketball court in my 5 years at two universities.

This is gaining some coverage because Coach Krzyzewski complained about player safety. This is a fair claim, but not the focus. So what’s my gripe? The fact that every single time a top 10 team loses to an unranked team, students want to have a pow-wow (though I rather call it something else) in the middle of the court.

The fact of the matter is, students go to games drunk. They cheer on their team through ups and downs. They are emotionally invested in the game. But it should stop there. Watch any court rushing and you will see tons of kids piling into the middle with their hands in the air. After the initial group has formed an unmovable cluster in the middle, people add on to the peripherals. And I just can’t understand why.

It’s downright stupid. Is it because kids just want to be on the court? Go to the arena when there is no game, you can walk all over it. Maybe kids want to be close to the players? Well, these are student athletes, so chances are they are walking around campus or going to class.

In some sort of ephemeral moment of glory, these kids crowd the players preventing the media from really letting these mostly unknown players have their shining moment. Will any Virginia player (besides Joe Harris) be drafted? Probably not. Let those players get the facetime and 15 minutes of fame they deserve.

Inevitably, this “court storming” trend needs to stop. It seems likely that sometime soon, a drunken student will fall, get trampled, and eventually die, like some Guns n’ Roses concert or Wal-Mart on Black Friday.

If you beat the #1 team in the nation, I have no problems rushing to greet the heroes. Minnesota, go ahead and storm your court after beating Indiana, it was your defining moment. Same for you Illinois, especially after a last minute layup. But Virginia? Really? Duke has lost 4 times now. 4! And each time, the opposing team has stormed the court. The top 10 teams combined have now compiled over 30 losses. Add on any in-conference rivalries and we are looking at 30 to 40 times students will gather on the court, and not every venue is as sober or as safe as Virginia.

The SEC has fined students for rushing the court since 2004. But the fines won’t stop the students. These kids need to realize that if you want to celebrate, go to a bar, hit the quad on campus,  or outside the arena. Don’t rush the court and stand there. Chances are, the players will come to the student section and give the attention they deserve.

Lunch: Damian Lillard is For Realsies

This year’s rookie class is full of surprises (AP/Michael Conroy)

Let’s set the record straight: some of us here at The OrangeWedge have a gambling problem. Well, it’s not quite a problem yet, but over the course of our sportsbetting educations, we may not always make the best decisions.

Let’s take a late night this past summer, where I was looking at NBA Future bets, specifically Rookie of the Year. Did I have a good knowledge about how this year’s crop of freshman would pan out? Absolutely not. But Austin Rivers was going off +1800, and for some reason it was looking sexy. “All the focus will be on Anthony Davis,” I told myself (I’m delusional). “Did you see his winner against UNC? The kid is real.” It’s safe to say my money is gone, as Rivers is averaging just 6 points in 23 minutes per game this season. A disappointing effort, but Rivers is 20 and he’ll have time to develop.

So who’s the Rookie of the Year? Right now, some kid from Weber State is the clear cut winner for an award that LeBron, Durant, and Chris Paul have all won in the past. Have you met Damian Lamonte Ollie Lillard?

Damian Lillard grew up in Oakland, and I’ll let you write the next few sentences describing what a childhood in Oakland entails. The only difference is that Lillard’s father was a pillar in the community, keeping not just Damian out of trouble but other kids in the neighborhood as well. Despite positive influences and prep school success, Lillard was just a two-star recruit and received no major offers.

He ended up at Weber State, and spent the next three years taking dookies on the Big Sky conference. Check it out:

Bonus: Not only did Lillard post that video, another user commented with a question, and Lillard answered. What athlete does that? Lillard is also active on Twitter (@Dame_Lillard) and is constantly having giveaways and opportunities to interact with fans.

He finished his career as a Weber Wildcat 2nd in career scoring to the legendary Bruce Collins. Bruce, played for four years to Lillard’s 3, however, and went pro in 1980 where he was drafted by….wait for it…the Portland Trail Blazers. Feel free to geek out.

Lillard hasn’t transformed the Blazers with his presence  but his athleticism gives them a key piece to compete with the Westbrooks and Currys they see so often in the West. Lillard has the chops to be in their conversation, as he has quickly adapted to the speed of the game and can attack off the dribble effectively. There are not going to be any stats in this article (sorry, Daryl Morey), but know that barring injury, Lillard is your ROY. And he’s a good guy. And my Rivers bet is ruined.

Disagree? Let us know? E-mail us or tweet at us @TheOrangeWedge!

Breakfast: Nets Running on Wobbly Williams

Deron Williams hobbles off...again (Corey Sipkin/NYDailyNews)

Deron Williams hobbles off…again (Corey Sipkin/NYDailyNews)

We learned alot about the Brooklyn Nets this past week. Fresh off the break, they win back to back games in the final minute against Milwaukee. Then, they stay put at the trade deadline, not moving Kris Humphries as many suggested. Last night, they lost to an athletic Houston team in the 4th quarter, relenting to Houston’s manic pace. With Carlesimo talking to the press about stopping Harden and Lin, he probably wasn’t thrilled about Carlos Delfino draining 6 three-pointers. But since we’ve come back from the break, I think we’re ready to make some definitive statements about this Brooklyn team.

This team goes as far as Deron Williams will take them. Joe Johnson is a nice piece, but he’s not the guy. Brook Lopez, whether you’d like to admit it or not, is an All-Star caliber center. But the offense, pace, and leadership all start with D-Will. And right now, that’s not the best basket to hold your eggs in.

Williams revealed he had another cortisone shot in both ankles on Thursday, and coach Carlesimo noted that he won’t be fully healthy for the remainder of the season. Williams is still a top-quality guard, averaging nearly 18 points and 8 assists. But it isn’t the same.

Deron can’t run. It hurts to take a jumper. He’s afraid of going strong to the rim.

Here is his 82games.com page. Notice how his baskets come jumpers (81 percent). Shouldn’t those be Joe Johnson’s percentages? He’s shying away from contact, and either distributing or taking long jumpers. Williams takes 5.2 threes per game, which is career high. In fact, his attempts per game numbers have gone up every year since his rookie season. Are defenders giving him more space? Or is it something else?

Last week when Jerry Colangelo called his fitness into shape it certainly raised eyebrows around the league. But calling Deron out of shape is just irresponsible. I’m sure Jerry Colangelo had his reasons but if Williams ankles are sore it’s because wear and tear. He started 55 of 66 games in 2011-12, which was often comprised of back to backs due to the late start. This, immediately followed by the Olympics, can’t be good for sore ankles.

My Angle: Not everybody is built like LeBron. Not everybody can age like Kobe. Deron Williams has moved past “I’m playing hurt” and into “this may be damaging long-term” territory.

This week was a microcosm for the Nets season. Wins over bad teams, losses over playoff teams. They are in the discussion, but there’s no way they beat any elite team (Heat, Pacers, Thunder) 4 times in two weeks.

Sitting at the four seed, you’re looking at the ceiling of the 2013 Brooklyn Nets. But whether this year’s struggle will have a lasting impact on the career of those involved remains to be seen.

Breakfast: Learning From Last Night’s Games

LeBron glides past Joakim Noah during last night's win (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

LeBron glides past Joakim Noah during last night’s win (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The All-Star Break is over, and hopefully your girlfriend didn’t go. The Trade Deadline came and went, and here we are. With about 30 games left for each team, future playoff matchups like we had Thursday night mean more and more. Here’s what went down if you missed it.

HEAT VS. BULLS

Without Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls are a playoff team. They are NOT a playoff contender, but they definitely are a playoff team. The Bulls defense is very, very, good, but it is not enough to compete with the high-powered Heat.

The Bulls turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 17 times in the first half last night on their way to an 86-67 loss to Miami in the first half of last night’s TNT doubleheader. Miami was explosive throughout, and LeBron asserted himself on both ends of the court. James finished with a ho-hum 26 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists, but it was his presence on defense that had the most impact.

Chicago, worn down and frustrated by Miami’s pace and tenacity, were put away in the second half. Noah and Luol Deng, who struggled in a matchup versus LeBron all night, were benched in the opening minutes of the 4th quarter

WHAT DID WE LEARN: Miami is good. Chicago is good, but not good enough.

SPURS VS. CLIPPERS

After a lame 4th quarter in the opener, fans were excited to see Clippers-Spurs get underway. Unfortunately, the game was cancelled, and replaced by a new program, “Tony Parker’s ‘Hey I’m a Legit MVP Candidate’ Variety Show”. The Spurs never trailed in this game, making their first six shots and running an absolute clinic on offense cruising to a 166-90 at the Staples Center. The Spurs are now 6-1 on their annual 9-game Rodeo road trip.

The Clippers have great individual talent, and it was that very asset that was exposed Thursday as they quickly fell behind. LA lagged offensively, and possessions often ended with isolation moves and iffy jumpers. On defense, they were simply no match for San Antonio’s ball movement. The Spurs effortlessly moved and screened, allowing for players like Danny Green (15 pts) and Matt Bonner (7 pts)to knock down open jumpers.

But the real story was Tony Parker. On a night where he was supposed to go head-to-head with CP3, Parker blew up the argument before opening statements were made. Parker was in complete control of the offense, moving the ball at all times but finishing strong on the rare times LA held it’s ground. Parker finished with 31 points and 7 assists, shooting 12-16 from the field. In the simplest form, Parker was +31 on the night, Paul was -31. Game Over.

WHAT DID WE LEARN: Put Tony Parker in the MVP debate! He’s averaging a career-high in points (21.2) and assists (7.7), and the Spurs, despite a multitude of injuries, are four games ahead of the Thunder in the Western Conference. Show the Frenchman some love.