Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Some Pretty Awesome Basketball Happened Last Night

While the rest of the country was annoying the hell out of me yesterday demanding me to vote (which I didn't do by the way), I was preparing for the marquee matchup of this young NBA season: The new big three in Houston vs. the championship big three of Boston.

Because of this election, there were practically no sports on anywhere, except for some shitty college football game on ESPN2. Luckily for myself, the Boston-Houston game was on NBA TV, which I actually get. So I turned on the pregame and was pleasantly surprised. You see, in recent years, the likes of Billy King and other horrible idiots filled up the screens on NBA TV. But not last night. No. Last night in the studio were Ahmad Rashad, Gary Payton and Chris Webber. And that trio was very entertaining.

All three clearly know basketball and Webber and Payton displayed a pretty nice on-camera demeanor. I enjoyed the broadcast thoroughly, especially when they showed this:

Classic. Anyway, it was nice to hear all three guys gushing over Iverson, talking about how he can play forever. I agree. Another highlight was when they talked to John Thompson on the phone, who had some great quotes:

"There's all these guys with nutritionists and doing all this health food stuff. I'd say, 'I'll give Allen Iverson a bag of potato chips and a Coke and he'll beat you all down the court.'" or something close to that.

He also added, "Michael Vick told me not only could Allen Iverson have played college football, but he could have been in the Heisman race. I told him if I ever saw Allen near a football field, I'd kill him."

Funny stuff.

Well, finally the game started, and I gotta say, I was excited. This game featured quite possibly the most players that I love on the court at the same time. For the Celtics, KG, Ray Allen and Eddie House. On Houston's side, Artest, Brent Barry, Luther Head, T-Mac and yes, Stevie Franchise.

Anyway, the game was pretty damn awesome in case you were too busy watching people talk on CNN. From the get-go, it was incredible to watch the one-on-one battle between Artest and Pierce, who were guarding each other virtually the entire game. Seriously, no matter what your thoughts are on Artest, you would kill to have a guy that can play defense like that on your team. He's just a beast. And it showed, as he held Pierce to just 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting.

What was also fun to watch was Pierce continuing his tremendous defensive play that he inexplicably developed late last season. He got up in Artest's face, who for some reason decided to start jacking threes early on and never stop (he attempted 10 threes in the game), as Artest shot just 3 of 16 and scored just 15 points.

This game was an awesome back-and-forth battle. In the first two minutes, Houston came out intense and fired up, but the Celtics took command quickly after that, jumping out to a double-digit lead.

However, Houston kept pace with a great game from Luis Scola, who scored 21 points, and a solid contribution from the bench. When subs Brent Barry, Aaron Brooks, Chucky Hayes and Carl Landry came in, Houston made headway. By the half, the game was close, and in the third quarter, T-Mac started to take over.

With Artest keeping Pierce in check, McGrady started really feeling it, and Houston even took a brief lead. However, Yao was awful. Just flat awful. And when he was in the game, the Celtics dominated. Boston nabbed virtually every rebound the entire game, and Yao was a nonfactor. Meanwhile, Tracy was trying to will Houston to a victory when Rick Adelman inexplicably took him out to start the fourth and kept him on the bench until there were under 6 and half minutes left.

In that time, Ray Allen got hot. Really, really hot. Just hitting daggers, and the Celtics won behind his game-high 29 points. That man can just shoot the shit out of the ball.

It was a really fun game to watch, but the outcome wasn't what I wanted. With the additions of Artest and Brent Barry, I declared the Rockets my favorite team in the West. And I mean that. Artest and Barry are two of my favorite players of all time. I'm now a pseudo Rockets fan.

That's why Rick Adelman made me so mad. Surely, Adelman is a good coach and all, and the Rockets were 3-0 heading into last night's game, but I don't understand the guy. First off, why is Luther Head getting no PT? The guy is a very good shooter and fearless on the court. And he can certainly present a bigger defensive boost than Aaron Brooks, who did play well last night. Head should get some run.

But more directly regarding last night's game, what the hell was Adelman doing? The backups were the ones who really got the Rockets back in the game, and the most effective 5 players on the court for Houston were Artest (defensively), T-Mac, Barry, Scola and Brooks. Rafer provided absolutely nothing, and Yao was horrible.

In the third, Tracy got hot and brought Houston right there, but instead of riding him, Adelman took him out for more than 5 minutes to begin the fourth. During that time, the Celtics took a lead they never relinquished. It was asinine coaching that got even worse when he took out all of the subs to put the entire starting lineup back in late int he fourth. As a result, Yao continued to suck and Rafer did nothing. He should have played Artest, McGrady, Barry, Scola and Brooks the majority of the fourth, with Landry and Hayes coming in in spots.

Instead, Adelman coached like he wasn't watching anything that was actually going on on the court, just blindly handing the game to players that were ineffective in crunch time. Terrible coaching job last night.

But a great game. I'm glad the NBA is back.

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