The End of the Bench

Basketball blog with takes on basketball and anything related to basketball . . . as well as a haven for jingoists everywhere - in America.

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Monday, May 31, 2004
Lakers Move On to Finals

If he wasn't still on his rookie contract, Kareem Rush (aka Dominique Wilkens' illegitimate son) might be the front runner for the annual Tyronn Lue Award. My picks have been pretty good so far outside of my temporary insanity in the first round. All I need is Detroit to finish off Indiana and then I will have picked all the series right except for New Orleans and Memphis in the first round.

By the way, how sad was it to watch Minnesota fall apart in the last 5 minutes. Bad fouls, bad turnovers . . . just ugly. The Lakers defense was tight, and Minnesota just didn't know what to do about it. I feel bad for Kevin Garnett. He tried to carry his guys to victory, but with Mark Madsen bouncing passes to camera guys along the base line he just couldn't do it. It actually looked like Minnesota was gonna make a run with about five minutes left, but then Rush hits a three and you could just feel the wind go right out of the T-Wolves sails. I picked the Lakers, but I would have liked to see KG stay alive. But alas, twas not to be.

Who am I kidding? I'd rather have my picks be right.

Thursday, May 27, 2004
New Look for Bulls Blog

Matt has given the Bulls Blog an overhaul. I like the new look, but I still miss the old banner. It's a shame it got lost. Either way check it out.

Wallaces help Lead Balanced Effort

I don't know what has gotten into Ben Wallace, but if he can keep doing this he's gonna be a huge help to the Pistons. Soon people are gonna have to start covering him and it won't be 4 on 5 when he's on the offensive end anymore.

The other Wallace also gave a strong effort on the offensive end, going for a team high 20 points (Rip Hamilton also scored 20).

The other story of the game was the hideous shooting by the Pacers. They shot .347 as a team and went 5-19 from behind the arc. With shooting like that it's amazing that the game was as close as it was.

And in other McGrady news . . .

"Tracy McGrady will not play for the U.S. men's basketball team at the Olympics, U.S. coach Larry Brown said Wednesday."

He's getting married, so he can't play. Can't knock a guy for that.

Orlando Wins Draft Lottery

Your first three picks will be made by Orlando, the Clippers and Chicago. Apparently the guy the Magic spent as a representative has won 4 lotteries counting yesterday. Rather impressive.

Also, the Sixers had a Smarty Jones horse shoe and won nothing. Is this a bad omen for the horse in the future?

The other intriguing aspect of this is will this affect whether Tracy McGrady will stay or go. I don't think there's anyone in this draft that's gonna make a huge impact in their first year or two, so if I'm McGrady this doesn't make much of a difference. Unless they manage to trade the pick of course . . .

Stern: Expand NBDL to Help Youngsters

"Stern proposed expanding the National Basketball Development League from its current six- or seven-team structure to 15 franchises, allowing each NBA team to farm out one young player on its roster."

I think this would be a definite step in the right direction. I know the NCAA cringes at the thought of this, but if Stern can turn the NBDL into a full out farm league along the lines of what baseball has it could be very helpful to the league. I guess we'll just have to see of a) Stern can make this happen and b) if he can, how well it works.

Reggie Miller has not ruled out playing in Athens

We can't find anyone better than Reggie Miller to send? Seriously, Reggie is pretty much done.

Friday, May 21, 2004
Musselman Out, Montgomery In

Why do I have a feeling this is gonna be a disaster? Probably because it is the Warriors. I don't feel that bad for Eric Musselman. I don't think he's gonna be out of work long. I do think he got screwed however. This is a case of Chris Mullin coming in and wanting his own guy there.

As for Mike Montgomery, his track record at Stanford says he's a good coach. I'm concerned about any college coach coming to the NBA at this point though. Can anyone remember the last coach to come from college and be successful. I can't off the top of my head. All I remember is Lon Kruger, John Calipari and the abysmal reign of Rick Pitino in Boston. As long as Nick Van Exel stays in town, it doesn't matter to me.

Pistons Crush Nets, Get Pacers Next

There were two in the bed and the New Jersey one said, "Rollover, rollover." Maybe on the opposite side of the carton from Peja Stojakovic, they can fit a Nets team picture.

Nets recipe for disaster: Have your entire team get at least two minutes, yet have only 6 people score at all. Have two of those 6 score 2 points. Have your lead scorer score 18 and Jason Kidd score 0. The Nets plain and simply got owned.

As for the Pistons, well when Ben Wallace drops eighteen and is raining 18 footers down you know it's gonna be a good day. BEN WALLACE was hitting 18 FOOTERS!

By the way, the best part of this game was Rasheed Wallace's post game interviews in the locker room. He's sitting there spouting cliches and you can see he's not really paying attention as he stares into the corner of the room. The all of a sudden he jumps up, hands in the air and starts yelling "That's game! That's game! Back to Tampa!" He was watching the Flyers-Lightning OT on the locker room TV. Sheed even left the locker room sporting the Ron Hextall throwback. Rasheed Wallace: Hockey Fan. Who knew?

Minnesota edges Sacramento

The Bill Simmons column on Kevin Garnett's ascension to the pantheon should be coming any day now. He strapped the T-Wolves on his back, scoring 13 straight in the fourth quarter. The Kings made it close, but KG wouldn't let his team lose and Chris Webber's three at the buzzer rimmed out. I odn't know that there is gonna be another series that was as good as this one. It just seemed like every game was close and there were no 73-70, 31% shooting games like that Miami-Indiana series. Just a great series and it sucks for the Kings, but the reality is they were lucky to be in it after deciding that they were only gonna really play the second half.

On a side note, I'm tired of every announcer and analyst talking about how this validates KG's MVP. Silly me, I thought it was his regular season play that validated the award.

On another side note, start printing the milk cartons with Peja Stojakovic on the side. Too bad he disappeared, cause the Kings could have used him. 3-12 for 8 points in game 7? Yuk.

Indiana beats Miami, moves on to Eastern Conference Finals

I must gove Miami credit. They put up a hell of a fight. But in the end, the Pacers were simply the better team. Game 6 wasn't a pretty game for sure. The teams combined to shoot a touch over 31%. Miami's bench, Caron Butler and Brian Grant combined to score 8 points. Indiana had similar problems. Jermaine O'Neal managed only 7 points and the Indiana bench scored 12. It was a pretty ugly game, but someone had to win.

Also of note, Jermaine O'Neal got accidently poked in the eye near the end of the game by Caron Butler. O'Neal says he'll play in game 1 of the Conference Finals, even if it means wearing goggles. Kurt Rambis would be proud. So would Co-pilot Roger Murdock.

Again, I Apologize

With my job slowly sucking the life out of me, the posts have been pretty infrequent lately. For this I apologize.

Thursday, May 13, 2004
Fisher King

I think Shaquille O'Neal described this ending best in his postgame interview when he said, "One lucky shot deserves another." The last week or so has provided some of the best endings that I can remember. This one has topped all of them so far. I mean .4 seconds. I was ready to turn it off, but I figured I might as well watch the rest. Thank god I kept watching.

Miami Even Series at 2

Did anyone outside of Stan Van Gundy's mom think the Heat could be 2-2 in this series? Miami did it in game 4 by simply letting Jermaine O'Neal and Ron Artest run wild and not letting anyone else do anything. Indiana's game 4 scoring went as follows:

Jermaine O'Neal   37

Ron Artest 28
Jonathan Bender 7

I think you all can see where the problem is with that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Olympics Calling For James, Marbury, Marion

I'm sure the team will medal, assuming there is gonna be an Olympics.

Refs Ask for Backup Official for Playoff Games

This seems like an obvious thing to do, but it always takes the scenario happening before anything is done about it. I mean, look at the instant replay fiascoes from two years ago.

Nets Even Series at 2-2

I must admit, when they got held to 56 I wrote the Nets off. But they looked pretty good at home. Probably would have helped Detroit if someone not named Richard Hamilton had scored double figures.

Lakers take Game 4, head back to San Antonio for Game 5

Maybe the Lakers aren't in as bad shape as I thought. Gary Payton still doesn't fit and they still haven't won a game in San Antonio, but 2-2 looks a lot better than 2-0 did. Also, for the record I don't really like the Lakers. I just like being correct, which is why I want them to win.

Nets Thorn Comes to Frank's Defense

At least to me, Larry Brown came off as questioning the Nets loyalty to Byron Scott. Personally I have a hard time taking seriously, a guy who questions someone elses loyalty when he hasn't stayed anywhere himself for more than 6 years. But that's just me . . .

Suddenly Feeling Sleepy

Bill Simmons brings it yet again, taking the Top Ten List of Non Final Playoff Performances and redoing it. Definitely give it a read.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Things That Have Happened Since I last Posted Two Weeks Ago

Kings beat T-Wolves in Game 1
My pick of Sacramento over Minnesota is looking good, at least through one game.

KG wins MVP
This makes me 5 of 6 for the awards, with the only miss being most improved player. Not sure how proud I am of this, since it is kind of a sign of that I am starting to think like a sports writer. Maybe it just means I know how they think and it isn't necesarily how I think? I can only hope.

Miami beats New Orleans . . . Finally
Two weeks after it started, it finally ends. I was kinda hoping the Hornets would win, just so my pick would be right. Oh well, at least it's finally over. Miami won the right to lose to the Pacers. Hooray!

Celtics Hire Doc Rivers . . . Danny Ainge still in Control
If you hire a good coach, but have a bad GM running the show, does the coach matter?

The Bobcats are Officially in
The last franchise fee payment was made, so the Bobcats are officially team number 30. Welcome back to the NBA Charlotte.

San Antonio wins Game 1 (Tim Questions LA Pick)
Gary Payton disappeared, and Tim Duncan and Tony Parker smacked the Lakers around a bit. Any one who didn't see this coming after that Rockets series, just wasn't paying attention.

Detroit beats New Jersey in Game 1
What else can I say about 56 points and 27.1% shooting. Just hideous. Who knew the Nets were that bad when they couldn't get out on the break? Apparently Larry Brown did.