The Good, the Bad, the Kitchen Sink
Jason Richardson may have won the Slam Dunk trophy twice over All-Star Weekend, but trace Desmond Mason 10 feet in the air and cut him out for the future logo; Peja, Peja, Peja; better commercials than the Super Bowl; The Kid (circa 1995) becomes a Classic in 2003; and Mariah Carey turns out Jessica Rabbit in between 300 points and double-overtime as the greatest basketball player in NBA history, in full battle dress, surrenders to bigger, faster, younger versions of himself in the greatest and truest form of tribute.
We now return you to our regularly scheduled season . . .
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Week's work: 2-0 record, 40.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2 spg, 1.5 bpg, 5 triples, 50% shooting
Two weeks ago, 40 per at 49 percent shooting. Last week, 40.5 at 50 percent. This week, you do that math.
Jamal Mashburn, New Orleans Hornets
Week's work: 2-0 record, 28 ppg, 5 rpg, 6.5 apg, 2.5 spg, 8 triples, 61% shooting
May have told you he was just happy to be playing in his first All-Star Game but he was lying. Just ask the playoff-bound Celtics, playoff-bound Kings and, thanks to Mash sans Baron Davis, the still playoff-bound Hornets.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
Week's work: 2-0 record, 27.5 ppg, 10 rpg, 5 apg, 1.5 spg, 1.5 bpg, 58% shooting
After 49 games, the reigning MVP was a scattered 10 rebounds from consecutive double-doubles in his last 39 games. Use your fingers, take off your shoes and start on your toes. Assuming there were no lawn mower accidents, you'd still be 19 short. Think about that for a second. There are currently only eight players in the entire league who can average the double-double but only one who can actually do it on a nightly basis.
Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
Week's work: 2-0 record, 26 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 5.5 apg, 4.5 bpg, 60% shooting
Good to see that The Big Humble can still go through his legs and around his back without offending anyone besides the guy who's supposed to be guarding him.
Jason Williams, Memphis Grizzlies
Weak work: 0-1 record, 1 ppg, 3 rpg, 4 apg, 0 spg, 0 bpg, 0% shooting
Here's the problem. The Grizzlies played on Feb. 3 and Feb. 5, but after a night like the one listed above, we can't rightly tell which one J-Dub played in and which one he sat out entirely with an injured left foot. And after having lost seven in a row and 13 of the last 15, I bet head coach Hubie Brown's having a hard time telling the difference, too, especially with Wesley Person missing both of those games but miraculously recovering in time to participate in the all-star three-point shooting contest.
Derrick Coleman, Philadelphia Sixers
Weak work: 0-1 record, 5 ppg, 3 rpg, 2 apg, 0 spg, 0 bpg, 25% shooting
Remember when DC was a youngster in the league calling Karl Malone an Uncle Tom? Well, in his 13th season, Coleman is averaging career lows in points (7.9 per game) and rebounds (5.7 per game) while the Mailman, in his 18th year, is averaging 20 points plus per game for the 17th straight season. I guess we know who's still screaming uncle.
Christian Laettner, Washington Wizards
Weak work: 1-0 record, 2 ppg, 3 rpg, 4 apg, 0 spg, 1 bpg, 16% shooting
With Bryon Russell all but gone, Larry Hughes fading and Laettner putting together nights likes this, we're about to find out how many people MJ can still carry on his back and still keep his warm-up top tucked in.
The Sacramento Kings won a league-best 61 games last season having to use only nine different starting lineups the entire season. So far this season, they are 34-17, having lost six of their last 10 games, and are on pace to win 54 games while using 11 different starting lineups by the all-star break with the normal starting rotation of Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Mike Bibby, Doug Christie and Vlade Divac with sixthman Bobby Jackson missing a combined 71 games of the team's 51.
The Kitchen Sink
On Jan. 29, Kenyon Martin decided to play basketball.
In the three games following the selection, or non-selection, Martin would average 29 points, 15.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. But in the 44 games prior to that, he averaged only 15.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
In fact, against the top 10 power forwards in the game today, the guy who likes to scowl extra meanly on the defensive end was, statistically, average. Duncan, Webber, Garnett, Nowitzki, Walker, O'Neal, Malone, Wallace, Brand and Jamison averaged 19.8 points and 9.3 rebounds in 15 games against Martin while averaging 21.1 points and 9.7 rebounds against everyone else.
Compare those numbers to Martin's regular-season average and he is, at best, the No. 11 big forward in the game. Competing against small forwards, he is also behind Tracy McGrady, Paul Pierce and Jamal Mashburn in the Eastern Conference alone. Add in Shawn Marion from the West and Martin's standing is getting ridiculous.
Of course, he'll tell you that he would have defended eventual MVP Kevin Garnett down in the post on the second overtime of the All-Star Game much better than Vince Carter ever could but he already had his chance to prove it. We like to call it the regular season.
Remember, we're talking about a guy who averaged 14.9 points per game last season on 46 percent shooting after believing he was snubbed in Rookie of the Year balloting and 7.4 rebounds per game the season before that as that rookie.
Perhaps if the NBA had hosted a Junior Challenge game immediately following the game in which the Sophomores defeated the Rookies then Martin might have been invited to the weekend's festivities which, if his progress in the last two seasons is any indication, is the only way he's going to be invited next season, too.
LEFT (OUT) COAST
Despite winning their last 5 games in a row and seven of their last 10, the Los Angeles Lakers still find themselves a game and a half behind the Houston Rockets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
But if they were in the Eastern Conference, their 24-23 record would place them 0.001 points ahead of the Philadelphia Sixers and in the seventh spot, only one game behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the fifth seed.
Prior to the two New York Knick games before the all-star break, Latrell Sprewell had never made more than 147 three-pointers in a season and that was last year (compared to, say, Ray Allen who drilled 229 last year) or shot better than 36 percent from long range, and that was his rookie year 10 1/2 seasons ago. In that span, he's made an average 1.2 three-pointers per game while shooting 33 percent from distance.
That was, of course, until last week when he went 9-for-9 from beyond the arc against the Los Angeles Clippers and then 5-for-8 against the Lakers. In three days, resting in between, Sprewell went 14-for-17 from three-point range.
The game before the outburst, he went 0-for-3. The game before that, he was 1-for-5. And before that, he was 2-for-9.
He did drill 7 of 10 once this season, but in the five games before that happening, he went 5-for-17. And in the five games after that happening, he went 7-for-20.
And now, all of a sudden, Latrell Sprewell is listed in the top 20 in both three-point field goals made and three-pointers per 48 minutes while shooting 39 percent from range.
Meanwhile, teammate Allan Houston, the former
three-point specialist on the team, vowed to improve
on his 2.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.06
blocks per game while playing 37 minutes.
At 6-foot-8, 228 pounds from Central Arkansas, starting at point guard for the Portland Trail Blazers . . . Scottie Pippen.
In the first eight games of the season, Stoudamire averaged 30 minutes per game as the Blazers went 3-5. He played 22 minutes the very next game and the Blazers lost again. He played 14 minutes the next game and they won. He didn't play at all the next game and the Blazers won again.
In fact, in Portland's last 38 games, Stoudamire has played in only 23 and the Blazers have gone 28-10, including wins in their last four games and nine of their last 10. In those 23 games that Stoudamire did play, he averaged only 16 minutes and the Blazers went 15-8. Count the DNPs and he's averaging 9.3 minutes per game.
Simply, the less he plays, the more the Blazers win.
Now what to do with the almost $50 million left on his contract over the next three seasons, including this one.
Tracy McGrady, NBA leading scorer in sixth season
Current Numbers: 30.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.8 bpg, 45% shooting
Michael Jordan, former NBA leading scorer in sixth
1990 Numbers: 33.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 6.3 apg, 2.7 spg, 0.6 bpg, 52% shooting
MEMORY LANE SPECIAL
Washington Wizards (24-25) versus Utah Jazz (29-20)
Friday, Feb. 14, 2003
Salt Lake City, Utah at 6 p.m. PST
A penny for Bryon Russell's thoughts.
"I can go home and feel at peace with the game of basketball." Air.