|November 10th, 2006 - The Tayshaun Prince City of Compton Pointsplosion.
||[Nov. 11th, 2006|07:15 am]
For me, there is nothing better in the NBA than Pistons vs. Lakers.
I got so fired up for this game that I made a silly little random photo .gif of love. Hey, I even slapped some pictures in from tonight's game toward the end. If you ever want to find some nice NBA photos, peep the team pages on Yahoo! NBA. They give you the large Getty images that are just dynamite.
The Pistons didn't see action from Rip Hamilton. In Thursday's practice, Rip hyper-extended his elbow, and the soreness from the injury earned him a day of rest. Rip, get well soon.
Andrew Bynum, the not-old-enough-to-drink-legal center for the Lakers, man, that kid is doing much better this year. I mean, he's playing, lol. However, he's playing with some flashes of brilliance, and that's a great thing for Laker fans to see. Laker fans are used to the awesome centers. Kareem's one of my all-time favorites. The work Bynum's doing with Kareem shows. Kudos to Kareem for being the teacher, and kudos to Bynum for being the good pupil. Ain't no stoppin' Bynum (now), pretty much like McFadden and Whitehead.
Smush Parker, on the other hand, is not that great of a point. His best asset is being able to be out there for extended minutes. Los Angeles could have done without his two 1st-quarter 3-point attempts on either short-side of the 3-line. Smush tossed up an airball and one clanker of a brick. Those two shots were ugly. I'm amazed that Phil Jackson has the blood pressure to be able to put up with that.
Kobe was icing his knee toward the end of the game. The knee hasn't fully healed from surgery back in July. In fact, when Kobe missed the first couple of Lakers games, I did a double-take. I completely forgot the guy had knee surgery. However, #24 should be fine later in the year. I don't have any concerns with Kobe, especially since he managed to turn up his dial in the 4th quarter. Even at 60 percent, Kobe Bryant looks much better than Brian Cook on any given night.
On the subject of Kobe going from #8 to #24, well, that's annoying. I'm not a fan of that, really. I understand it's great for jersey sales since most jokers will go out and buy the new gear. I couldn't tell you what Kobe's reasoning was beyond a marketing decision. Seriously, everything Kobe said about the reason why he changed the number spells 'marketing.'
Tayshaun Prince's season, up until Friday, was the worst that I've watched and remembered from him in over a couple years. Prince shot 39 percent going into the game with the Lakers. On Friday, Tayshaun's game was almost fantastic. In fact, this was more like the Tayshaun I expected to see this year. Prince scored 31 points! CITY OF COMPTON. The only thing I didn't like were Tayshaun's turnovers. He's a much better ball-handler than what he's displayed. He hasn't been seeing the floor that well. He also seems to hesitate too much in half-court sets, and teams are banking on that hesitation and burning him for the extra turnovers. I bet as Detroit gets tuned up for the main stretch, they'll run more, and with that, Tayshaun will really burn bright.
With just over 10 minutes to go in the 4th, Lamar Odom, on the drive to the basket, got a slap on the arm. No referee called a foul. Odom held out his arm as he ran back down the court, just to let a ref know what he missed. The referee stopped play and teched Lamar.
I've harped on it before, and I'll do it again, and again, and again, and REFS STAY THE HELL OUT OF THE GAME AND TAKE A CLUE FROM THE PLAYERS LIKE YOU ALWAYS DID. THAT CRAP COSTS PEOPLE MONEY THEY SHOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY BECAUSE YOU GOT PLENTY JUSTIFIED BY MEMOS OF YOUR UNTOUCHABLE STATUS FROM THE LEAGUE OFFICE. YOU ARE NOT ZEBRA JESUS, SO LAY OFF THAT DAMN WHISTLE. LAY OFF IT. LAY THE HELL OFF THAT STINKING WHISTLE. YOU ARE SCUM. YOU SHOULD PAY THE LEAGUE TO REF GAMES, SINCE YOU DON'T EVER DO THE GAME A FAVOR. AND DAVID STERN, DEREK FISHER AND BILLY HUNTER ARE COMING FOR YOU.
I can't believe they called a second technical on Lamar Odom! That 2nd one was another batch of utter garbage. With less than 3 minutes in the game, the Lakers were closing the gap on the Pistons. During this late rally, Lamar Odom picked up two very quick fouls while guarding on the perimeter. Odom, after the 2nd of the two quick fouls, well, Lamar took off his sweatbands from his arms and tossed them to the floor. Lamar got the 2nd tech 2:16 in the 4th for the sweatband tosses. A sweatband toss can get a 2nd tech and an ejection. Refs, GET THE HELL OUT OF THIS DIMENSION.
By ejecting Lamar, who was the best Lakers player that night, the referees basically swayed this game completely in Detroit's favor. Lakers had a minor chance to rally, but that ejection killed Los Angeles. Way to alter another game, referees. I mean, there have been like 5-6 ejections already from technicals during this first part of the regular season!
You silly NBA referees, you better hope the players union doesn't use their pull. If the no-tolerance policy disappears, then you're going to have Rasheed Wallace, Ron Artest, Manu Ginobili, Alonzo Mourning, and every one of your worst nightmares up in your face, all game, every game. There won't be anything you'll be able to do about it.
You wanted a war, David Stern? You got one. Stern, you'll wish you locked down on the players union and erased any power they had with that last CBA. The no-tolerance tech-foul emphasis looks like it'll be the decision that could break you.
I find this no-tolerance policy as a gross mismanagement of the game. If the league office was filled with something other than a bunch of fools, then maybe best way would have been a team of separate officials in charge to review each game. During the games, when a Rasheed barks at a ref, or when a Lamar has a sweatband hissy-fit, then the office officials would make a note. At the end of each game, on every note made, the team at the league office should review and decide on their notes. Those notes which match up in majority among the handful of game reviewers would lead to some large fines for the players. After losing a few hundred thousand US dollars over the course of a season, you will see a calmer Rasheed. You won't see the heat of any moment get quite as hot.
However, delegating the agenda of the league office to the referees was a quick way to a serious problem for the game. Those referees are ridiculous. They're like prideful rent-a-cops with a suddenly-more-powerful badge. They're handing out techs as arbitrarily as they call fouls, and that's the problem right there. It's a minor problem because the players see the refs as directly responsible for a loss of money. It's a major problem because the ejections are leading to direct influence on how the games are decided. A range of six fouls gives the NBA referees the chance for a mulligan or two. Refs have no room for error with the technical fouls, in comparison. Ejections are major momentum-changers. When the players start receiving suspensions for cumulative technical fouls later this year, then the crap is really likely to hit the fan. The worst part of this mess is that the referees are calling major negative attention upon themselves with the fans. Stop the madness, David Stern.
In sum, Detroit won this round, 97-83.
While the Lakers looked sluggish, the Pistons looked lively and organized. Detroit maintained a hefty lead and momentum for most of the game. For the first time this year, they looked more like the Pistons I watched for most of last season. The Pistons on Friday showed up and played in sharp contrast to how they played Wednesday. Man, the Pistons stunk up the joint on Wednesday. In fact, they got on my last nerve on Wednesday. The transition between the two games is hard to describe. Detroit looked like a 50-game loser on Wednesday. They looked like a 50-game winner on Friday.
The Lakers were trailing for most of the game. By the end of the 3rd, Detroit had the game 70-55 with the momentum well in their favor, thanks in large part to Prince. In the middle of the 4th, the Lakers started to wake up with a 16-6 run to get within 11 with just under 2:30 to go. The Lakers accomplished this mini-rally by pressuring Detroit on defense, and they got some buckets on turnovers. The Odom ejection, however, was the back-breaker for the purple and gold.
The Pistons ran a lot more tonight than I've been seeing. Transition was working. Up-tempo was working. This Detroit team made it tough on the Lakers to defend. Lakers just weren't shooting well enough to keep up with the Pistons. Tayshaun Prince and Chauncey Billups combined for 52 points. Lamar Odom and Kobe Bryant didn't keep pace, and nobody else on the Lakers helped much. Los Angeles got destroyed on rebounds, 49-32. All those extra chances made much of the difference for Detroit.
Detroit held the 3rd highest scoring team to 83 points. Before this game, Los Angeles averaged 104.7 points per game. This is the kind of accomplishment I like to see from Detroit. There hasn't been much missed time for Detroit's main players over the last couple years. It was very good to see Detroit compensate and dominate without Rip Hamilton. Los Angeles looked like a team well off the mark, but a Kobe Bryant at 100 percent wouldn't have let this blowout happen. I figured the Lakers would come home to Staples stinging from that Portland loss and put up a healthy fight as a result, but that didn't happen.
The Lakers really got tripped up by Detroit's defensive zone schemes. The Lakers seem like one of the few teams that were not prepared for Detroit's new look. Detroit, in turn, handled the triangle and everything else the Lakers threw at them. In time, the Lakers will get used to the fresh-look Pistons.
I finished a 2nd watch of the game on ESPN. I watched the game for the first time on the local FSN feed. I thanked the heavens that my first choice was local FSN. ESPN had Bill Walton as part of the broadcast crew. This should never happen, ESPN and ABC. Never. Luke Walton's still on the Lakers roster. Bill wasn't that bad this game, but he can get up there on the annoyance thermometer, right up there in the serious fever level. He's not quite Buck and McCarver calling the 2006 World Series on Fox like a set of Cardinals local feeds. McCarver and Buck were up there at the Boiling Blood Death level. Yet, Bill's really annoying. He can reach deadly status. He's no slouch.
It also figures for me that Bill Walton loves the no-tolerance policy. It was scary to note just how correct Bill was at predicting the Odom techs. I mean, Bill is really into the no-tolerance policy. It's sickening to hear him chastise those players. Get a grip, Bill. Larry Bird would have racked up techs. Michael Jordan would have done the same. Bill, do you think you would have enjoyed your stinking Celtics champ team getting nickel-and-dimed out of games by a bunch of chippy zebras? You bet you'd have been pissed. So, STFU Bill and get a clue.
Hats off to the boys in red, white, and blue. Detroit earned this win. Lakers? You're doing fine. Don't sweat anything. Keep Kobe from over-doing it, and wait for the 2nd half. Try to stay at the front of the hunt.