I was just perusing the league standings and reading some headlines, and here are some things that caught my attention.

1. The Fakers: The Los Angeles Lakers are a surprising 12-5 and leading the Pacific Division. The pundits will tell you that it's because a) the players have finally gotten accustomed to running the Triangle Offense, b) Phil Jackson is a coaching genius, and c) Kobe Bryant has finally matured, deferring to his teammates throughout the game and taking over only when necessary. Personally, I think it's because the Lakers have so far played 12 games at home (where they are 10-2) and only five games on the road (where they are 2-3). That's a seven-game disparity. To put this into perspective, let's look at the other division leaders. Utah is 15-4, having had 11 home games (10-1) but also eight road games (5-3). San Antonio (13-5) has played nine (6-3) and nine (7-2). Over in the Leastern Conference, Orlando (14-5) has had eight home games (7-1) versus 11 road games (7-4). The Pistons (11-6) have notched eight home games (6-2) and nine road games (5-4). I'm not even going to talk about the Nets, since the Atlantic Division sucks ass. But do you see the pattern? Not only have the Lakers played a disproportionate number of home games, they're the only non-Nets division leader with a sub-500 road record. Give it time. They'll get worse.

2. The Leastern Conference: I'm not going to go into this in detail, or give you any whys and wherefores. But as of today, exactly three of the 15 Eastern Conference teams are .500 or above -- Orlando, Detroit, and Cleveland. The Atlantic Division doesn't have a single .500 ballclub; the Nets are leading that division at 7-9. The Western Conference, on the other hand, has 10 of 15 teams playing at .500 or better, with every single team in the Pacific being at least .500. So I guess you could consider the Atlantic Division to be the Pacific Division's Mexico. If you watch the Colbert Report, you'll get that one. If you don't watch it...I don't really care whether you get it.

3. God hates the Pacers: Where only a month into the season and already the Pacers are caught in that "we're going to hover around .500 most of the year and lose in the opening round of the playoffs" funk. The team has absolutely no personality. How depressing has it become? The only news snippit about the Pacers in the ESPN Local section is about how the Pacers last morning shootaround took place at somebody's house. Of course, that somebody has a regulation-size NBA court that is an exact replica of the Staples Center, but still.

4. Bullish contenders: Despite paying $60 million for an over-the-hill center with no scoring ability, a horrific freethrow touch, and a history of fueding with his coaches, the Bulls were considered a strong contender for this year's Eastern Conference Title. The talk kind of died down after they started 3-9. Now they've won five in a row to push their record to 8-9, and people are starting to talk about them again. I'd like to point out the streak includes two wins over the Knicks and wins over the Hornets, Wizards, and Celtics. The combined record of those teams: 27-42 (or 34-55 if you count the Knicks twice). Let's not start getting excited about the Bulls yet.

5. Headbanding together: According to Ben Wallace, his headband fued with coach Scott Skiles brought the team together and led to the current win streak. "Things like that, if you're a fragile team, it'll break you," Wallace said. "But if you have a nice solid core together, it helps you come together as a team. You start to pick it up." Uh huh. It sort of takes some of the attention away from Wallace's diminishing contributions to the team: 5.7 ppg on 43% shooting to go with 8.8 rpg. This is especially painful considering that Tyson Chandler -- whom the Bulls jettisoned after they signed Wallace -- is averaging 5.6 ppg on 67% shooting and (more importantly) 12.2 rpg. Chandler even outrebounded Wallace 17 to 4 when the Hornets played the Bulls last Friday. And did I mention Chandler is 24 and Wallace is 32? I'm just sayin'.

6. Sir Charles' big gamble: Charles Barkley, acknowledging that the first step in overcoming a problem is admitting you have it, has stated that he's a "gambleholic." Personally, I think this is just a carefully choreographed attempt to divert attention to the real problem -- namely that he's an "eataholic." Seriously. He's fat. Charles, gamble more, eat less.

7. Nowitzki's ball woes: Look, we all get it. The new ball sucks. Or so say the players. Get over it guys. According to John Hollinger, there have been no major negative statistical changes. In fact, there have been fewer turnovers and shots from 15 feet and in are falling at a higher percentage. So now at least one player has a new bitch. Dirk Nowitzki thinks the ball is causing gashes to form on his hand. "It's weird," said Nowitzki, who is very scary looking. "I saw it one morning and thought maybe I got a paper cut, but it's happened twice now. I don't know what else it could be. You should see Brad Davis' hands." After reading this quote, I checked out Brad Davis' hands personally. They are bold and beautiful. So I have no idea what Dirk is talking about. It's not the ball. It's voodoo
Anonymous Anonymous said...
The new ball definitely causes paper cuts - I got one about a month ago and had to stop using it, my hands got so bad. I think there's something in the new material that dries out your skin and makes it very susceptible to cracking...
Maybe whatever material they used to make moisture dissipate off the ball quicker is also "wicking" the moisture out of your hands. The net result is, you end up with very dry skin with dozens of tiny "paper-cuts" that hurt like a mutha.

The players union is suing the league over this:

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The name is "Dirk Nowitzki". I know, you try very hard to spell such a barbaric name, but one out of three is still a very low spelling-percentage. (33 %!) I'm just sayin'.