Sportige http://sportige.com The Sports Know-It-All Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:45:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Dallas Mavericks – Dirk Nowitzki & Chandler Parsons are a Joy to Watch on Offense http://sportige.com/dallas-mavericks-dirk-nowitzki-chandler-parsons-are-a-joy-to-watch-on-offense-10-31-2014/ http://sportige.com/dallas-mavericks-dirk-nowitzki-chandler-parsons-are-a-joy-to-watch-on-offense-10-31-2014/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:45:55 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=70218 More ]]> Mavericks beat Jazz Dallas Mavericks   Dirk Nowitzki & Chandler Parsons are a Joy to Watch on Offense

The Dallas Mavericks won their first game the season, walking away from their first home performance with a 120-102 win over the Utah Jazz, led by Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons, teaming up to create what might turn out to be the most fun to watch offense in the NBA.

Nowitzki and Parsons each scored 21 points as the Mavericks looked very good on their home debut, hitting 55.3% of their shots with seven players scoring in double figures. The Jazz had their entire lineup scoring in double figures, but their bench isn’t up to par, and makes it difficult for them to stay in games against fast paced and high scoring teams.

The most pleasing performance for the Mavericks was probably from Al-Faruq Aminou. They know what they’re getting from Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and eventually Parsons, who’ll get used to this team quickly. But the bench is a different story, not always too reliable when it comes to scoring points at a good enough ratio. Aminu had 16 points and 10 rebounds, but Brandan Wright scored 14 points and Devin Harris added 12.

Monta Ellis scored 14 points and Tyson Chandler had 13 with 6 rebounds, as the only weak link in the lineup for the Mavericks was Jameer Nelson. Nelson needs to get used to having other ball dominant players next to him, like Ellis, Parsons and Nowitzki. For now, it’s working out fine, but he’ll probably be required to do better in the next few games and later down the season for the Mavericks to be more than a low seeded team in the playoff, if at all.

The Jazz got 17 points from Derrick Favors, 16 each from Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke. Enough? Not even close, and although this is a season that’s about rebuilding, the Jazz, without any injuries holding them back unlike the beginning of last season, need to start getting more from their bench, hoping to see an improved Dante Exum (2 points in 19 minutes) very soon.

When the championship team of 2011 was broken up slowly, Mark Cuban talked about a multi year plan to make things easier eventually for Dirk Nowitzki and build himself a championship team. Last season they went back to the playoffs after missing one year, and were the most difficult interruption that stood in the way of the Spurs, eventually winning the NBA championship. This season, with some tweaks and possible upgrades, they’re expecting a lot more.

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New Orleans Saints – Drew Brees Shines on the Road, Cam Newton Getting Worse http://sportige.com/new-orleans-saints-drew-brees-shines-on-the-road-cam-newton-getting-worse-10-31-2014/ http://sportige.com/new-orleans-saints-drew-brees-shines-on-the-road-cam-newton-getting-worse-10-31-2014/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:15:54 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=70215 More ]]> Saints beat Panthers e1414754410862 New Orleans Saints   Drew Brees Shines on the Road, Cam Newton Getting Worse

The New Orleans Saints weren’t playing in a dome, but they still got a very good performance from Drew Brees in a 28-10 win over the Carolina Panthers which changes the lead in the NFC South, while Cam Newton continues to look like a quarterback that’s actually going through a regression, putting on his worst game of the season.

Brees wasn’t perfect, but he completed a touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham and completed 24-of-34 passes for 297 yards while running for a touchdown as well. He threw on pass that was intercepted but compared with the other quarterback, it was an excellent performance. When Cam Newton overthrows his receivers one by one, even someone as tall as Kelvin Benjamin, anyone looks good in comparison.

The Panthers got only 231 yards of offense as Newton completed just 10-of-28 passes for 151 yards, throwing one interception. He was sacked four times although the Saints didn’t use too much extra pressure. They recorded a 20% sack rate on Newton’s dropbacks with four or fewer pass rushers compared to their usual rate of 4.2%. Newton didn’t play well, but his offensive line did almost nothing in terms of protecting him.

And it’s not that Newton wasn’t mobile. He ran for 43 yards, doing a lot better on his feet when moving away from the pocket compared to previous game. It’s probably not the injury anymore. It’s his throwing, his accuracy and the bad protection he’s getting. Nine of his passes were overthrown and was only 2-of-10 for 18 yards when targeting Benjamin. He was only 1-of-7 for 47 yards when the ball traveled more than 15 feet in the air.

Brees got a lot of help from Mark Ingram, who ran for 100 yards on 33 carries. The Saints have gone in recent years with a committee approach but at the moment, it looks like they’re changing direction towards the workhorse approach, as Ingram, having a slow start to his NFL career after coming in as the Heisman trophy winner from Alabama, rushed for 272 yards over the last two games and is becoming more than a short-yardage threat.

Both teams turned the ball over twice, but the Panthers simply couldn’t get anything going on offense. The running game for Carolina was sufficient at 109 yards on 23 carries, but when the passing game isn’t just struggling but actually damaging on almost every snap, it’s very hard to put up points and winning is out of the question, as the Panthers defense isn’t as good as it was last season, struggling to provide consecutive solid performances.

The Saints are now 4-4, winning on the road for the first time this season, and taking the lead in the very bad NFC South. Brees has had problems with his Jimmy Graham connection to start the season, but he completed 7-of-7 throws when targeting Graham, resulting in 83 yards and a touchdown. He was also sacked four times, but you won’t find the same inaccuracy rating with Brees tossing the ball. Even on the road, he’s much better than a dysfunctional Newton.

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Oklahoma City Thunder – Russell Westbrook Out With an Injury as Well http://sportige.com/oklahoma-city-thunder-russell-westbrook-out-with-an-injury-as-well-10-31-2014/ http://sportige.com/oklahoma-city-thunder-russell-westbrook-out-with-an-injury-as-well-10-31-2014/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:45:34 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=70212 More ]]> Clippers beat Thunder e1414753432917 Oklahoma City Thunder   Russell Westbrook Out With an Injury as Well

There’s still plenty of time for things to turn around, but after losing 93-90 to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves not only after two losses in two games to start the season, but now without Russell Westbrook, injuring his hand and joining the team’s other superstar, Kevin Durant, on the unable to play list for now.

Westbrook wasn’t having a very good game anyway in the nine minutes he was on the floor. He hurt his hand going up for a rebound, tried to play a bit more before leaving the court. On his way to the locker room, something was said to him from the stands by a fan, Followed by security, Westbrook stopped and traded some words before being escorted away from the action. What was said? At the moment, it’s not quite clear. Maybe a racist remark, or maybe something that rubbed Westbrook the wrong way. The NBA and the Clippers will probably have more on that soon enough.

The Thunder were resourceful. Perry Jones scored 32 points, Serge Ibaka added 17 and Sebastian Telfair, suddenly finding himself on the floor without anyone to sub for him, playing 38 minutes, added 7 assists and scored 11 points, but missed seven of his nine shots from the field. When it comes down to it, maybe the guys stepped up, but without the team’s three main ball handles, play makers and scorers, as Reggie Jackson should be the first to return, the Thunder are in very big trouble.

The Clippers weren’t smooth on their season debut, but came away with a win over a rival they hate, losing to the Thunder in six games six months ago in the NBA playoffs. Blake Griffin led the team with 23 points and 7 rebounds, even doing well from the line with 7-of-10. Chris Paul was excellent as well, scoring 22 points to go with 7 assists and 3 steals. The re-vamped bench was useful as well, as Jamal Crawford scored 16 points to make it feel just like last season right off the bat.

Griffin shows more growth and an attempt to add to his game, shooting very well from 17 feet or longer. He was 5-of-9 from the field (8-of-18 overall) when shooting from that distance. In his career, he has attempted only 22% of his shots from long range, even though he’s making 50% of them. Griffin made two big free throws just around the end to clinch the win, as the Thunder, despite their low key remnants, kept hanging on very close.

How good were they? They were outscored only by one point without Westbrook on the floor. In their loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on opening night, the Thunder were outscored by 13 points when Westbrook wasn’t playing. While it might be something of a minor blessing, giving Scott Brooks a chance to learn what other players can step up for him instead of the usual suspects, it’s hard imagining the Thunder picking up too many wins now that they’re without the two players that make them so special.

As for the Clippers, this night was a tour de force for Steve Ballmer, the new owner, who is a volcano of energy compared to anyone, not just the former owner, now a persona non grata in the NBA. The aspirations are no longer just making the playoffs and winning the city rivalry. That’s accomplished and done. Making conference finals and eventually, in the very near future, winning an NBA championship. They have the tools and materials. They’re also off to a promising start.

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Florida State Over Louisville – The Road to the Playoffs is Clear http://sportige.com/florida-state-over-louisville-the-road-to-the-playoffs-is-clear-10-31-2014/ http://sportige.com/florida-state-over-louisville-the-road-to-the-playoffs-is-clear-10-31-2014/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:15:04 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=70202 More ]]> Florida State beat Louisville e1414752078386 Florida State Over Louisville   The Road to the Playoffs is Clear

This Florida State team Jimbo Fisher assembled and led by Jameis Winston is special. They’re drowning in off the field controversy, but it’s not stopping them from leaping over every formidable hurdle on their way to another ACC title and probably making the College Football Playoffs, remaining undefeated after a big comeback win at Louisville.

The Cardinals, number 25 in the nation before the game, built up a 21-0 lead after two rushing touchdowns by Michael Dyer and another touchdown pass from Will Gardner to Gerald Christian. Dyer finished the game with 134 rushing yards and three touchdowns, but Gardner didn’t throw any more touchdown passes and was intercepted once, completing just over 50% of his passes. Florida State turned the ball over three times, three interceptions by Winston.

But just like in the win over Notre Dame, Winston put his mistakes behind him to pull his team forward with his teeth, scoring 24 consecutive points and eventually walking away with the 42-31 win that keeps them undefeated this season and good enough to be ranked at least at number two when the next set of polls and rankings come out. In the ACC, their remaining games are against Virginia, Boston College and a road game in Miami before their annual showdown against Florida, which aren’t exactly formidable at this stage.

With that kind of lineup set for them to plow through, it’s hard to see the Seminoles not ending up in the Final Four, although there’s also the ACC championship game to worry about. Regardless of who shows up for that, Florida State will be huge favorites to pull through. Winston, not consistent enough to win the Heisman this season up to this point, ended up with 401 yards and three touchdown passes, and with almost every aspect of the team declining this season, has been a special presence, overcoming his mistakes on and off the field.

The big difference in Winston’s performance was how he handled the blitz in the fourth quarter. Up until that point he completed passes for 57 yards, intercepted twice while being blitzed. In the fourth quarter, he averaged 13.6 yards per play on such passes, completing two of his passes for touchdowns. Florida State put up 374 yards in the second half, more than any other team has managed against Louisville in a full game all season.

Dalvin Cook ran for 110 yards on nine carries, scoring two touchdowns. Karlos Williams, not as dominant this season compared to the previous one, added 72 yards and some big first downs in the fourth quarter. Nick O’Leary and Travis Rudolph each caught passes for 76 yards, and although Florida State were held to 0 points through the first quarter for the third time this season, they seem to make up for the lost numbers anyhow, only in a more condensed fashion.

The Seminoles aren’t as good as they were last season, or at least not as dominant. It’s not stopping them from keeping that 0 under the loss column and keep on their impressive march towards a third consecutive ACC title and getting a go at defending their national title. The public opinion might be stacked against them because of who their quarterback is, but that’s not stopping him from rising above anything that has nothing to do with football.

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New York Knicks – Carmelo Anthony Ruins a Special Night for LeBron James http://sportige.com/new-york-knicks-carmelo-anthony-ruins-a-special-night-for-lebron-james-10-31-2014/ http://sportige.com/new-york-knicks-carmelo-anthony-ruins-a-special-night-for-lebron-james-10-31-2014/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:45:31 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=70204 More ]]> Knicks beat Cavaliers e1414750740426 New York Knicks   Carmelo Anthony Ruins a Special Night for LeBron James

Instead of LeBron James and his new big three celebrating the beginning of a brand new successful era, the New York Knicks spoiled their party with a big night for Carmelo Anthony, leading his team to a 95-90 win, enjoying the confusion among the ranks of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

So David Blatt begins his NBA career on the sidelines with a loss. LeBron James’ homecoming part is spoiled due to a lot of mistakes by him on both ends of the floor. The Cavaliers offense might be exploding with talent, but it’s also disjointed and not exactly up to speed about what each player does and where he stands. James turned the ball over eight times, most of those coming from passes that ended up in the wrong hands or out of bounds. The Cavaliers were better when he wasn’t playing, as he finished with 17 points on 5-of-15 from the field, and it wasn’t because the Knicks played exceptional defense.

The New York Knicks weren’t that good, but they knew what they were doing. The ball goes to Carmelo Anthony, the triangle looked a bit better against a team that’s not the Chicago Bulls, or maybe simply because the Cavaliers aren’t where they should be defensively as well. Anthony scored 25 points and added six assists, hitting the most important shot of the game, a corner jumper over the outstretching arm of James.

The Cavaliers found it difficult to get open shots from close range, but they had plenty of good looks from beyond the arc. They simply didn’t follow through at the needed rate, hitting 37.5% of their shots. That’s not bad at all, but when you’re taking 24 shots and turning the ball over on more than a quarter of your possessions, hitting just nine tres isn’t enough. Kevin Love and Matthew Dellavedova didn’t do too badly but Kyrie Irving was just 1-for-76 and LeBron James missed four of his five long range shots.

Irving led the Cavs with 22 points, followed by Kevin Love with 19. But the bench hardly contributed: Just 12 points between four players, with Tristan Thompson and the Australian point guard making up for Marion and Mike Miller (only 3 minutes) not scoring. The Cavs forced turnovers as well (15) but struggled creating a fluid fast break option and transition attack, finishing with only 34 points in the paint, showing it wasn’t easy for them finding baskets.

The Knicks are also work in progress. While it looked terrible in the home opener (losing by 24 to the Bulls), things looked a bit better this time, although the lineups keep changing. Iman Shumpert found his stroke and scored 12 points and J.R. Smith had a very good game from the bench, shooting 5-of-10 for 11 points and adding 7 assists. Jason Smith, one of the two backup centers along with Cole Aldrich, also finished in double figures with 12 points. It’s quite clear the Knicks don’t have a clue about how their rotation is going to look like, doing quite a lot of experimenting for now.

The Cavaliers are less about experimenting and more about making the most of what they know they have. James isn’t in a problem when it comes to rebounding anymore with Kevin Love and Varejao playing next to him, but it’s going to take time before the hierarchy and authority is made clear. It might come through some growing pains, and maybe at some point should hit a moment of panic. But talent, good players and personalities shine eventually, and one bad bump in the road at the start shouldn’t stop them from eventually looking a lot better.

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Los Angeles Lakers – Kobe Bryant Doesn’t Want Jeremy Lin to Help Him http://sportige.com/los-angeles-lakers-kobe-bryant-doesnt-want-jeremy-lin-to-help-him-10-30-2014/ http://sportige.com/los-angeles-lakers-kobe-bryant-doesnt-want-jeremy-lin-to-help-him-10-30-2014/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:15:17 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=70199 More ]]> Suns beat Lakers e1414671456980 Los Angeles Lakers   Kobe Bryant Doesnt Want Jeremy Lin to Help Him

The Los Angeles Lakers look terrible through two games this season, despite Kobe Bryant seemingly back to his old form. He’s not letting anyone help him out, including Jeremy Lin, who actually played less minutes than the awful Ronnie Price. That illogical decision by Byron Scott didn’t help his team in a 119-99 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Bryant scored 31 points on 11-of-25 from the field, doing it all in 28 minutes. But the Suns were happy to see Bryant shoot and attack the basket on his own. There’s nothing better for a team defending than for the opposition to do the expected, predictable thing. The Lakers, maybe on order from the head coach or simply on decision from Bryant, who has never been one to take orders from above too seriously, to try and do everything himself.

Jeremy Lin had another disappointing performance, scoring six points on 21 minutes with 2-of-5 from the field. But despite being the point guard of the team, he hardly got a chance to handle the ball as a real facilitator. It’s too much of watching Kobe Bryant waste too many seconds of a possession, whether or not he’s the one who finishes the play, turning everyone into bystanders and watchers, waiting for a crumb to fall their way.

Beyond the offensive issues of stagnation and not having too many options, which might be a problem that Scott didn’t work enough on during the offseason, the Lakers can’t stop anyone on defense, and it has nothing to do with Julius Randle being out for the season or other injuries to guys like Steve Nash and Nick Young. The Suns scored and got open shots at will, hitting 54.9% of their shots from the field, as the triple point guard threat ran wild.

Isiah Thomas led them from the bench with 23 points, while Eric Bledsoe scored 16 points and Goran Dragic added 18 points. The Morris twins started and combined to score 33 points as the entire lineup, along with Miles Plumlee, all finished scoring in double figures. It never felt hard for a single moment, as the Lakers kept doing the same thing on offense, shooting only 43% from the field and looking like a team that did nothing this offseason but watch Kobe Bryant shoot.

We can’t say Jeremy Lin played well. It hasn’t been the best of starts of him on his new team, but it’s not just about him. Lin is suddenly in a lineup he has hardly played with and worse, doesn’t seem to run in the same gear and speed he does. Add that to the ball sticking in Kobe Bryant’s hands instead of the point guard and someone who looks to make others better instead of just worrying about the points, and it’s really a bad situation to start the season in.

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Madison Bumgarner Officially Becomes a San Francisco Giants & World Series Legend http://sportige.com/madison-bumgarner-officially-becomes-a-san-francisco-giants-world-series-legend-10-30-2014/ http://sportige.com/madison-bumgarner-officially-becomes-a-san-francisco-giants-world-series-legend-10-30-2014/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:45:04 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=70196 More ]]> Madison Bumgarner e1414670186993 Madison Bumgarner Officially Becomes a San Francisco Giants & World Series Legend

A closer doesn’t usually appear for more than one or two innings at a time. But Madison Bumgarner isn’t everyone, and not your typical relief pitcher. The San Francisco Giants didn’t win the World Series for a third time in five years just because of him, but they wouldn’t have won game 7 and other games without him.

Bumgarner appeared in 21 innings for the Giants in this World Series, giving up just one run. He is only the sixth pitcher history with two wins on over 20 innings with a sub 0.50 ERA, joining Sandy Koufax, Harry Brecheen, Carl Hubbell, Waite Hoyt, Christy Mathewson. Not just his historic numbers were impressive. The way he stacked up compared to the other Giants pitchers in this world series is staggering in his favor, making him look even better.

The other five starting appearances mounted up to only 16.1 innings, allowing a .351 batting average and a 9.92 ERA. Bumgarner? He had 16 innings as a starter, allowing only .127 batting average  and a 0.56 ERA. Tim Hudson did terribly in only 1.2 innings and the Giants didn’t have any patience to try and let him escape from the bad start he had. With only one game left, despite the work Bumgarner has already done in this postseason, it would have been foolish not to use him.

Bruce Bochy has now won three World Series titles as the manager of the Giants. He was the one who made the big decision to keep Bumgarner out of one of the games and let Ryan Vogelsong start for him, something that didn’t work out too well. It did give the Giants a chance to rest him up before a fantastic complete game from Bumgarner, maybe the best pitching performance we’ve seen from him in this postseason.

That goes along with his one win he has in the 2012 World Series, starting against the Detroit Tigers. He allowed only two hits in seven innings and striking out 8. That was just a taste of how good he can be with a bigger role. The Giants had to wait two years to see it from him again.

There are other big heroes in this World Series victory, like Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval and obviously Michael Morse, hitting the RBI single in the fourth inning to put the Giants in the lead for good against the Kansas City Royals, who felt like a team of destiny this offseason. But Bumgarner stood in the way of that destiny. He also set himself apart from everyone else who appeared in this postseason, and put his name in a very distinguished place among the best performers in the history of Baseball playoffs.

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Houston Rockets – James Harden & Dwight Howard With a Dream Start to the Season http://sportige.com/houston-rockets-james-harden-dwight-howard-with-a-dream-start-to-the-season-10-30-2014/ http://sportige.com/houston-rockets-james-harden-dwight-howard-with-a-dream-start-to-the-season-10-30-2014/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:15:52 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=70192 More ]]> Dwight Howard1 e1414668170984 Houston Rockets   James Harden & Dwight Howard With a Dream Start to the Season

Last season the Houston Rockets felt like a great team in the making before failing to do well in the playoffs. This season it’s clear – it’s all about James Harden and Dwight Howard, who are off to an excellent start after the first couple of games.

The season opener was an easy win against the Los Angeles Lakers on the road. The second one, 104-93, came without a very good shooting night for Harden, making only 5-of-16 shots. He still had 18 points to go with his 10 assists. The Rockets were led by Dwight Howard, not finding the defense of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter too difficult to handle .He scored 22 points, and was helped out by the excellent Trevor Ariza with 20 points.

Kostas Papanikolaou scored 12 points off the bench with 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. He began his NBA career by making his first four 3-point shots, while Jason Terry, maybe playing in his final NBA season, added 8 points from the bench. With Lin not doing too well in Los Angeles and Parsons having a rough debut with the Dallas Mavericks, is it possible the Rockets actually got better during the summer, despite striking out on nearly every move they tried to make in the offseason?

Obviously, two games don’t tell the story, especially when it’s against the bottom of the West. The Jazz did spend a lot of money on Gordon Hayward. They have Trey Burke to stat the season with, Dante Exum as the most intriguing of all NBA rookies, Alec Burks as someone who’ll probably lead them in scoring and the always improving Derrick Favors. But this a project in motion, far from reaching its potential, and it certainly looked that way in the loss.

Hayward and Enes Kanter are the weak links right now in this lineup. Hayward carried on with his shooting from last season, making only 3-of-11 shots and scoring just 8 points. Derrick Favors had a strong game with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Burks led the team with 18 points and Trey Burke, the starting point guard for now, scored 15 points (but shooting only 33.3% from the field). It’s still far from enough against a team that knows what works and what doesn’t for them like the Rockets, not to mention the star power, as unappealing it may, they can rely on.

Dante Exum played just 10 minutes, scoring 5 points. Rudy Gobert, winning himself a lot of fans in the basketball world championship, didn’t exactly explode, scoring just 2 points. Rodney Hood, another rookie, was limited to bad shooting and scoring five. With this kind of arsenal they have on the bench (and in the lineup), the Jazz have nothing to be too excited about for now regarding their chances in the Western conference.

And the Rockets? They’re good enough for the playoffs, as even bad shooting nights from Harden don’t take away from a comfortable win. But more? Actually getting past a round? Challenging for the title? That depends on a lot more – probably on the team clicking, defensively more than anything. Kevin McHale as failed accomplishing that so far in his tenure with the team, but maybe this is the season it all changes.

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Portland Trail Blazers – Russell Westbrook Alone Can’t Beat Them http://sportige.com/portland-trail-blazers-russell-westbrook-alone-cant-beat-them-10-30-2014/ http://sportige.com/portland-trail-blazers-russell-westbrook-alone-cant-beat-them-10-30-2014/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:45:12 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=70189 More ]]> Russell Westbrook2 e1414667083113 Portland Trail Blazers   Russell Westbrook Alone Cant Beat Them

It was very predictable to see Russell Westbrook trying to beat the Portland Trail Blazers on his own. It’s safe to say that the plan of him against the rest of the world isn’t going to work out on most occasions.

Without Kevin Durant and Reggie Jackson, there really wasn’t much offense to the Thunder aside from Westbrook, who scored 38 points. But if Scott Brooks was criticized for being a head coach who struggles coming up with inventive offensive schemes and system, it’s even more difficult when the Thunder’s offense turns into a one-man show for Westbrook, who took 26 shots and attempted 16 free throws. He might be hard to stop, but the Thunder as a team aren’t.

The Portland Trail Blazers have been on the right route for quite some time. They made the conference semifinals last season without having much of a bench. This offseason has been about getting that unit to contribute a bit more. They lost Mo Williams, but C.J. McCollum is starting his second NBA season without an injury dragging him down, with Steve Blake as a backup point guard, Chris Kaman as an effective scorer off the bench and Thomas Robinson, hoping to seem he’s worth a spot and more than that on some NBA team.

In the lineup, there’s not much new. LaMarcus Aldridge led the team with 27 points on 10-of-19 from the field. His plan this season is becoming more of a threat inside and not just a long range shooter. Wesley Matthews sees himself as one of the best shooting guards in the NBA, and he scored 22 points on 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, making up for Damian Lillard struggling, scoring only 10 points and adding 5 assits.

Robin Lopez had a 11-10 double double and Nicolas Barum scored 16 points on another 15-5-5 night from the Frenchman. The Blazers went on to win 106-89, doing most of their damage (+13) when Westbrook wasn’t playing. Jackson will be back sooner than Durant, but still, without the two of them, there isn’t anyone who can create his own shot and be a facilitator for the team. Westbrook is the only one, but even he can’t play 48 minutes each night.

He seemed worn out in the second half after a huge effort in the first. He scored or assisted on 37 of the Thunder’s 54 points in the first half. In the second? The Thunder scored just 35 points, including 12 in the final quarter, and Westbrook struggled getting the same shots as he did in the first half, contributing to only 16 points and shooting from a distance larger by 7 feet on average compared to his shot selection in the first half.

Perry Jones disappointed with just 1-of-9 from the field. Sebastian Telfair was just as bad off the bench, not helping out as the backup point guard the Thunder need so badly under the current conditions. Serge Ibaka with 10 points depends on the players feeding him the ball. Combine all that and have the Blazers making  almost every contested shot they saw in the fourth quarter, running away with the game, outscoring the Thunder by 19 points in the deciding quarter.

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Miami Heat – A Very Good Start to a New Era http://sportige.com/miami-heat-a-very-good-start-to-a-new-era-10-30-2014/ http://sportige.com/miami-heat-a-very-good-start-to-a-new-era-10-30-2014/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:15:18 +0000 http://sportige.com/?p=70186 More ]]> Heat beat Wizards e1414658625476 Miami Heat   A Very Good Start to a New Era

No more big three, and it’s fine. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade did very well without another big star to help them out, leading the Miami Heat to a 107-95 win over the Washington Wizards, getting some significant contribution from Norris Cole, who feels right at home with his new role as the starting point guard.

Bosh had 16 points midway through the second quarter and ended up scoring 26 points. He’s also back to rebounding the ball like a true big man, grabbing 15 boards.. Wade didn’t look old, slow or banged up en route to 21 points and wasn’t shy about taking 3-pointers. He shot 2-for-3 from beyond the arc and Miami shot 32.1% from beyond the arc, hitting 9-of-28 attempts. Shawne Williams, who started in place of Luol Deng, missed all six attempts.

The big surprise was Cole, who looked great through his first postseason runs but was a weak spot for the Heat during last year’s playoffs. The same goes for Mario Chalmers, who is now a sixth man and seems happy to be in a new role that asks for more leadership, and also has less moments of players around him yelling at him to do better, something that’s become almost like a running joke, now obviously changing.

Cole scored 23 points and hit 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. He’s not a point guard that’s going to have the ball a lot in his hands. Wade, Bosh and Deng when he comes back will be the dominant players in this rotation, but Cole is used to having to make the most of limited time on the floor and with the ball. Shabazz Napier, the third point guard who also played next to Chalmers in the backcourt, scored just two points but moved the ball very well and was smart in his decision making.

The Washington Wizards disappointed. A loss on the road to the Heat isn’t something to be too worried about. Bradley Beal didn’t play, and Garrett Temple didn’t do a very good in his place with only six points on 2-of-8 from the field and Andre Miller, the only other guard on the bench, had an awful performance with 0 points, which makes you wonder if he might be sticking around for too long considering his ability last season as well.

Nene didn’t play, so Drew Gooden played next to Marcin Gortat in the lineup, each of them scoring 18 points. Paul Pierce had a nice debut for the Wizards with 17 while John Wall finished with a nice double double of 16 points and 11 assists. He also turned the ball over six times. Maybe being taken off the national team before the World Championship should have put some extra motivation in him, but that didn’t show on opening night.

The one good thing for the Wizards to take from this game is the performance of Otto Porter, who was very disappointing during his rookie year, partially because of an injury that hurt his early progress. He scored 13 points off the bench in the loss, but getting significant contribution from him along with the missing players (Nene, DeJuan Blair, Beal) would put the Wizards in a very good position to challenge for a lot more than we’re used to seeing from them.

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