All-Star Weekend Update: new dunker, HORSE contestants announced

February 11, 2009 in Basketball, NBA by pacejmiller

JR Smith to replace Rudy Gay in dunk contest
Rudy Fernandez

Rudy Fernandez

Well, it looks like I have to revise my predictions on the NBA Slam Dunk Contest for this year.  I had originally picked Rudy Gay to beat out defending champion Dwight Howard, former champ Nate Robinson and rookie Rudy Fernandez.  But now, Gay is out due to a strained left hip, and the man replacing him will be Denver Nugget JR Smith.

My revised prediction

Now I really don’t know what’s going to happen.  Smith had apparently competed before in 2005, but the fact that I can’t remember it must mean he didn’t do all that great.  Maybe he can surprise me this time.  I still can’t see Dwight Howard winning again – if he does it would be ultra impressive because it’s going to be damn near impossible to outdo his tricks from last year.  Nate Robinson?  Let’s see him make some dunks first.  So I would say now there are no favourites, it’s a wide open race, and I think both Fernandez and Smith will be dark horses.  Can you specify 2 dark horses in 4-man contest?  What the hell, I just did.

Rudy Fernandez to win with some creative dunks we haven’t seen before!

H-O-R-S-E contestants announced

The old game of H-O-R-S-E is the latest contest to be introduced to the All-Star Weekend.  The 3 contestants are: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), OJ Mayo (Memphis Grizzlies) and Joe Johnson (Atlanta Hawks).

For those that don’t know the rules: the game starts off with the first contestant, who can shoot a shot from anywhere in any way he wants.  If he makes it, the next player has to make the exact same shot.  If that player misses, he gets a letter (start off with ‘H’).  Players will be eliminated when they spell out the entire 5-letter word HORSE.  The last man standing wins.  In the NBA version of the game, there are no dunks allowed and players have 24 seconds to complete each shot.

My prediction

OJ Mayo

OJ Mayo

I’m very excited about this new HORSE contest.  Everyone that has played basketball has probably played HORSE before, but not everyone has the skill of NBA players, especially the likes of these guys.  I’m expecting to see some outrageous shots, some unbelievable trick shots, some funny shots.  I just hope they don’t try too hard and end up missing them all.

It’s hard to predict a winner because I’ve only seen these contestants in games, and I don’t really know what their trick shot repertoires are like.  So I’m going with gut instinct and will say the youngster OJ Mayo will take out the first ever HORSE trophy!

(I have heard that Durant has been so busy that he hasn’t had time to practice, and Joe Johnson seems a little more old school to me, so that may also have something to do with my pick)

Latest on Jamaal Tinsley

February 11, 2009 in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA by pacejmiller

Will the Pacers get rid of Tinsley by 19 February?

Will the Pacers get rid of Tinsley by 19 February?

With the February 19 trade deadline coming up, the Indiana Pacers are desperately trying to get rid of dormant point guard Jamaal Tinsley.  Here’s what’s been in the headlines the last couple of days.

NBA Players Union files grievance on Tinsley’s behalf

After threatening to do it a week or two ago, the NBA Players Union have now officially filed a grievance on Jamaal Tinsley’s behalf.  According to Tinsley’s agent, Jamaal just wants to play.  However, Tinsley has not played since last season and the Pacers have essentially cut all ties with him, not allowing him to practice or travel with the team – but they are refusing to release him or buy out his contract (still over $14 million in his last 2 years).   Pacers management have made it abundantly clear that Jamaal Tinsley will never be an Indiana Pacer again.

Unless the Pacers manage to stuff this up even more by not finding a team for Tinsley by the trade deadline, I don’t see this grievance having any impact at all.  Chances are, Tinsley will be gone by 19 February, but the big question is where and what the Pacers will get in return.

Since they’ve already killed off any trade value Tinsley had left in him, I think the Pacers need to stop being so stubborn and just take whatever deal (within reason, of course) that is out there.

Potential deals

Just from publicly available sources, there appear to be two teams desperate enough to be willing to take a gamble on Tinsley – the Miami Heat and the Charlotte Bobcats.

Miami Heat

The Indianapolis Star reports a potential trade with the Heat in which the Pacers would probably have to take another point guard in Marcus Banks, or preferably, center Mark Blount.  Banks is averaging 2.6 points and 1.4 assists in 16 games this season, but only playing 10.4 minutes per game.  Blount, on the other hand, is averaging 4 points and 1.9 rebounds in just 10.9 minutes over 17 games.  Both are not hot commodities, though they have been (in the past) relatively decent players.  The important thing is that both are averaging more than Tinsley (a big zero in all categories).

I see no point in taking Banks if the Pacers already have Ford, Jack and Diener.  Blount, on the other hand, would be a semi-decent addition because the Pacers need tough bodies and at least he can play a little D compared to the other Pacer big men.  But it would only be worth it if they don’t lose another big man or young player in the trade.

Charlotte Bobcats

Another rumoured trade reported by both the Indianapolis Star and ESPN is with the Bobcats.  Sources say the deal would involve trading Jamaal Tinsley, Jeff Foster (6.8ppg, 6.7rpg), and Brandon Rush (5.9ppg, 2.5rpg) for Raymond Felton (13.4ppg, 6.7apg), Nazr Mohammed (2.5ppg, 2.0rpg) and Sean May (4.0ppg, 3.1rpg). 

However, reports say that the Pacers have no intention of parting with fan favourite Foster, who just received a 2-year contract extension in October, and Rush, a young guard the Pacers raved about and traded to get.

If the Pacers could say trade Stephen Graham or Marquis Daniels instead of Rush, then I think they should jump at the deal.  Despite how badly Rush has played in his first season, at least he has some potential.  He has range and has the ability to be a good defender.  There is a possibility that he’ll end up as just another player the Pacers raved about before the draft but give up on a season or two down the track (remember Shawne Williams, James White, David Harrison, James Jones, Primo Brezec?), but I think the Pacers will end up regretting it if they traded Rush now.

Foster is still as reliable as always on the boards and is a decent defender, but he can’t hang with the more physical, powerful PFs and Cs in the league.  It’s just a fact.  The Pacers are simply too soft in the middle and Mohammed and May can provide some much needed toughness (when healthy).  Yes, Felton is another PG, but he’s been playing great this season and could form a legitimate rotation with Ford and Jack at the PG and SG spots.  In any case he would be a big upgrade on Diener.

I’m kind of surprised how unappealing these deals look, but the Pacers have no one but themselves to blame and it’s best if they just bite the bullet and get this Tinsley saga over with.

Pacers down Cavs, now have wins against top 4 teams – but were the Cavs robbed?

February 11, 2009 in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA by pacejmiller

 

Lebron and Coach Brown couldn't believe the call.  Were they robbed?  See video below.

Lebron and Coach Brown couldn't believe the call. Were they robbed? See video below.

Pacers complete quartet of victories against top teams

The Indiana Pacers continue their trend of beating the best teams and losing to the worst.  After losing to the last-place Washington Wizards in the previous game, the Pacers returned to Conseco Fieldhouse and beat Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, 96-95.  Lebron decimated the Pacers with 47 points, but a highly disputed late foul against him cost them the game (see below and decide for yourself if it was fair).

The Pacers now have wins over the top 4 teams in the NBA – reigning champs Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Orlando Magic and the Clevland Cavaliers.  It would be a lot more impressive if they were not still 12th out of 15 teams in the East and 3.5 games out of the 8th and final playoff spot with a record of 21-32.

Controversy at the end of the game

The end to this game was very interesting and controversial. 

With the game tied 93-93, TJ for hit a jumper with 0.8 seconds left ont he clock to give the Pacers a 2-point lead.  After a time-out, the Cavs threw an inbound alley-oop to Lebron James.  Danny Granger tips the ball away, makes some contact with Lebron.  Foul called on Granger.  Pacers bench and coach O’Brien incensed.  Lebron makes both free throws to tie it 95 all with 0.4 seconds left on the clock.  Next play after the time-out, the Pacers try the same play for Granger.  Lebron tips the ball away, makes some contact with Granger.  Foul called on Lebron and Granger makes the first and misses the second on purpose.  Game, set, match.  Pacers win 96-95.  Lebron and Coach Brown are incensed.

Post match interviews

In the post-game interviews, Mike Brown was basically asking for the NBA to fine him: “I went back and I watched the last two plays. That last call on LeBron (James) was the worst call that I’ve ever been a part of. It was an awful call and for him to take away a basketball game from a team with .04 seconds on the clock is irresponsible. We got the game taken away from us, absolutely horrible. I feel badly for the guys in the locker room.”

He then added: “We played OK. We played well enough to give ourselves an opportunity. That game should have gone into overtime. He determined the outcome. If they want to fine me for telling the truth, then fine me.”

And Lebron himself had this to say on the two plays: “I thought the one call on Granger against me was questionable. There was definitely some contact, enough for a whistle to be blown… But it could have gone both ways. The last call against me was not questionable at all. No contact was made. The pass was short. You couldn’t go to the rim. There was no way he could catch it and go up with four-tenths of a second. I was able to get a hand on it. Being the competitor I am, to have a game taken away like that, it hurts. It definitely hurts.”

Check out the video and decide for yourself

Okay, now check out the video of the plays below (it’s a highlight package so it’s at the end)

So, what do you think?  Was it a fair call?  Was it only a fair call because of the play at the other end?  Was it home court advantage for the Pacers?

Was King James robbed or should he gave gotten special treatment as the league superstar?  Or was it because Granger is also an All-Star now?

Personally I think it’s because they called it at the other end.  There was definitely contact on both sides on both plays.  Lebron is so big and powerful that he never looks like he gets bumped, but if there was no contact as he says, then why he did fall down?