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Go Huskies? Raptors' throwbacks are sick


Posted Dec 7 2009 5:40PM

For uniform fiends out there, and I know your ranks swell during Hardwood Classics time, the Raptors have a treat for you this week.

The good folks at RaptorsHQ.com and Raptors.com were kind enough to hustle up some pictures of these throwback uniforms the Raptors will wear six times this season, including Tuesday night's game against Minnesota.

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Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images

The Huskies look goes all the way back to the 1946-47 Toronto Huskies (now that's old) of the Basketball Association of America, a forerunner of the NBA.

A little history from Raptors.com: "The Huskies hosted the New York Knickerbockers in the BAA's first game, November 1, 1946 at Maple Leaf Gardens. An opening night crowd of 7,090 saw New York defeat Toronto 68-66. On that night, anyone taller than George Nostrand, the tallest Huskie at 6-foot-8, was given free admission."

That free part of the story won't be repeated Tuesday night. I'm sure of that. And I'm certain Hedo Turkoglu and rookie DeMar DeRozan can forget about invites from the Project Runway crowd.

But the look is sick. Simple and sweet. And I love the waistband trim on the shorts. Definitely old school.

-- Posted Dec. 7, 2009, 5:24 p.m. E-mail Sekou

From dream to reality for A.I.

Allen Iverson's starting tonight alongside the other A.I., in the backcourt for the 76ers against the Nuggets.

He's already had a vision of how things will go in his first game back in his adopted hometown.

"I dreamed about it," Iverson told Kate Fagan of the Philadelphia Inquirer's Deep Sixer blog. "And, you know, in your dreams you always hope for the best. That's what I'm doing. I love these people here, they know that, and they love me back. So, hopefully, it'll just be a great experience. Hopefully I don't get emotional because it will take away from my game. I hope it doesn't last as long as it did last time (when he returned to Philly with the Nuggets in 2006) because this time I have to play for us."

***

Nothing short of world domination will satisfy Lakers All-Star center Pau Gasol.

He won't rest until Spain wins every significant sports title there is.

"It would be great for our country if we were able to actually win the World Cup, too," Gasol told Janis Carr of the Orange County Register's Lakers Blog. "That would be awesome."

***

Don't know if you noticed, but we are Griffin-less.

First we lost Blake Griffin of the Clippers to a knee injury.

And now the Suns have robbed us of another one by shipping (older brother) Taylor Griffin off to the D-League's undefeated Iowa Energy.

Adrian (no relation) moved into the coaching ranks with the Bucks, leaving us without a single Griffin on an active roster in the league right now.

***

The news of Greg Oden's latest injury really stings in his hometown of Indianapolis, where he had an ironman prep career under legendary Lawrence North coach Jack Keefer.

"That's the thing," Keefer told the Indianapolis Star. "It wasn't like this in high school. I can just remember him missing that one game with an ankle sprain. It seemed like this year he was really starting to play with a lot of confidence.

***

Take a quick ride with through the ups and downs of the first quarter of the season with esteemed colleague Steve Aschburner and see if you don't agree with his surprises and disappointments.

He's highlighting the yin -- "Kevin Durant's ascension: Durant has scored 30 points or more eight times and has finished with fewer than 20 in a game only three times, twisting the knife a little more each night into fans in Portland, whose team could have had the talented Oklahoma City forward in 2007.

And a little yang -- " Knicks knocked: Can someone please explain what it is LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh or any of the other coveted 2010 free agents are supposed to see in New York that would make them want to join this club? "We're not the Nets'' is not the most alluring siren song.

-- Posted Dec. 7, 2009, 2:49 p.m. E-mail Sekou

Bulls producing punch lines

The Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson is one of the best beat writers in the business.

But if he ever decides to give up covering the Bulls, he has a future in comedy. Larry David hasn't cornered the market on writing jokes.

He drop-kicked the Bulls in ways that only a diabolically hilarious mind (or one that's seen mediocre basketball for far too long) could.

Check out K.C.'s jabs at the Bulls, Jay Cutler, and just about anything else he can think of:

"The Bulls' offense is so bad that they're going to invite Jay Cutler to have the honorary game ball presentation intercepted.

The Bulls' offense is so bad that Dragan Tarlac called and asked for a 10-day contract.

The Bulls' offense is so bad that the notoriously long-winded Hubie Brown, who was the color analyst forFriday's game in Cleveland, ran out of talking points.

The Bulls' offense is so bad that it rivals the above lame attempts at one-liners. Rim shot, please, indeed.

Anything better than the boring, predictable high screen-and-roll and slow ball reversal that, lately, has resulted in air balls.

Let's get the ugly numbers out of the way first:

The Bulls score 90.4 points per game, 28th in the league.

They shoot 43.2 percent, 27th in the league.

They rank 24th in 3-point shooting at 31.1 percent and only Utah and Memphis take fewer 3-pointers than the Bulls' 11.8 per game.

The Bulls have surpassed 100 points and shot 50 percent just once in 18 games.

On the bright side, the Bulls (unofficially) lead the league in heavily contested long 2-pointers jacked from just inside the 3-point line."

This is the same Bulls team that allowed Raptors point guard Jarrett Jack to tuck the ball under his arm, bend over and tie his shoe ... while the clock was running! That happened in a that, you guessed it, ended up being a 32-point rout for the Raptors.

So the jokes might actually be appropriate right now.

-- Posted Dec. 7, 2009, 12:01 p.m. E-mail Sekou

The great debate ... luck or skill?

Was it luck or skill?

There's a fantastic debate going on about Kobe Bryant's game-winning shot against Miami from Friday night.

I'm not sure I care (and I'd say it was equal parts of both). But I love the back and forth between the pro-Kobe crowd and the anti-Kobe crowd.

Whatever side you fall on, you have to admit, of the 400-plus guys in the league you'd bet to make that shot, Kobe is at very top of the list.

-- Posted Dec. 7, 2009, 11:34 a.m. Question or comment? E-mail Sekou

Cruel an unusual

It's official.

Greg Oden's season is done.

And for the second time in his short stint in the league, we're all left to wonder what in the name of Naismith the young Trail Blazers big man did to deserve this sort of cruel and unusual fate?

What did this organization do to deserve so many sucker punches to the gut this season, as the Oregonian's Joe Freeman highlighted over the weekend:

"[Oden's] injury is another dose of bad news for an organization that has endured more than its share this season. In addition to the multiple injuries to players, coach Nate McMillan ruptured his right Achilles tendon Friday morning while participating in a team practice and is expected to have surgery Monday. He will miss the team's upcoming four-game trip. Moreover, owner Paul Allen revealed this fall that he is battling cancer, and assistant coach Maurice Lucas has been hospitalized because his bladder cancer returned."

Oden has already made one comeback, from the micro fracture surgery that claimed his rookie season. Now all he has to is come back from a fractured patella in his left knee.

This is a cosmic injustice of epic proportions. The sight of Oden writhing in pain on that floor ruined many weekends, in Portland and beyond.

We're being robbed of a big man talent that who was supposed to challenge Dwight Howard and Yao Ming for best young big man on the planet status in a few years. Instead, when Howard reaches his prime Oden will still be trying to come back from his latest injury.

The Blazers will survive this -- just as they did Sam Bowie's injury-plagued career. The games goes on no matter who you are.

Unfortunately for Oden, whose teammates will take on the Knicks in New York tonight, he has plenty of experience watching the game go on without him.

Enough of the somber news. Time for a quick morning spin around the league:

***

Iverson running with the first five, Brand off the bench?
Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: "To Brand, as fiery a competitor as there is, it's not an ideal solution. "No, of course not," he said, about accepting his new role. "You never want to come off the bench, a demotion, whatever, after an injury. But you have to do what's best for the team. We're not winning either way, so I'd rather be out there to give us the best chance. You don't accept it. What it is, is that I don't feel like I've done anything to merit [not starting]." Asked whether he had talked to Jordan about his displeasure, Brand said: "No, not at all. He knows that I feel good. Maybe if I keep coming off the bench playing my 20 minutes, maybe I'll crack the lineup or not. Winning is more important. That's why I'm staying positive, and we'll do whatever we need to do."

***

Aging Suns suddenly can't shoot straight

Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic: "But as the Suns move from the grind of playing 14 of their past 21 games on the road to a December slate of facing top teams, they look worn. In the past four games, the NBA's top-shooting team has shot just 43.3 percent and failed to crack 100 on three occasions after not doing so previously. Sunday night's 88-point total was the Suns' lowest of the season, and they never led. Phoenix shot 44.6 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from 3-point range against the Lakers, who have the NBA's top field-goal-percentage defense. "We're going through a tough period right now with our schedule," Hill said. "As an older guy, you got a little bit of perspective and understand it's a long season. As long as we stay together and keep fighting, better days are ahead."

***

Two in a row for the Knicks, three for Nate Robinson
Howard Beck of the New York Times: "As the Knicks cruised toward their second straight victory Sunday  a 106-97 defeat of the Nets  fans at Madison Square Garden entertained themselves with periodic chants of "We want Nate!" They did it when the Knicks were trailing by 6 and when they were ahead by 9. But Nate Robinson stayed affixed to the bench, his warm-ups zipped tight, for the third straight game. Coach Mike D'Antoni showed a little chagrin, but he held his ground. The Knicks (6-15) have won three of their last four games, their best stretch of the season, so he is unlikely to alter the rotation based on a voice vote. "I felt real good," D'Antoni said, referring sarcastically to the chants. "It's not going to change anything."

***

Nets' take loss, Yi 50 stitches
Dave D'Alessandro of the Star-Ledger: "Yi Jianlian was on the verge of returning this week -- perhaps as early as -- but he had an unexpected encounter with Sean Williams' elbow Saturday. Remarkably, Yi needed 50 stitches to close the wound in his lip and mouth, so the Nets will have to wait until Dec. 14 before they know when they can get their starting power forward back to action. Williams was mortified: "We were playing 3-on-3. . . .and it just happened," the Nets' 15th man said. "Wow. Fifty stitches. I would have never thought it was something like that." Actually, according to Williams, Yi maintained his stoic countenance as he went off to the hospital. "He wanted to keep playing, actually," Williams said."

***

Delonte West's fuel of choice
Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Plain Dealer: "A young fan sitting on the baseline spied Delonte West drinking an energy drink before the start of the second half.

"Delonte," he called. "Is that Red Bull?" West smiled and nodded. "Gives you wings," West told the youngster, then flapped his arms just like the cartoon character in the Red Bull commercials. West and the Cavaliers were flying high Sunday afternoon in a 101-86 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the Bradley Center. The reserve guard finished with a season-high 21 points, including 14 straight as part of Cleveland's remarkable 29-0 run that settled the issue early."

***

Arenas, Wizards can't stand the cold
Michael Lee of the Washington Post: "Arenas played one of his most baffling games of the season. He scored four of the Wizards' first six points and appeared to have a favorable matchup against the defensively-challenged Atkins. But he was inactive and ineffective most of the time he was on the floor, finishing with eight points, taking just nine shots. He showed none of the aggression he displayed the past three games. He certainly wasn't close to being the player who scored 34 points against Toronto on Friday.

Asked why he seemed out of it, Arenas explained how picking up two fouls killed his rhythm then added a bizarre excuse. "The building was cold."

***

The education of Andrew Bynum continues
Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: "Lakers special assistant coach Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has taken on fewer duties this season as he battles leukemia, but the NBA's all-time leading scorer likes what he sees in Andrew Bynum. "I think he's running the court real well, really keeping up with the play," Abdul-Jabbar said. "He's using his left hand, keeping his body between the ball and the defender and just shooting it over people. That was the hardest thing when we first started. He didn't want to use his left hand at all. Now he's comfortable with it. It's happening for him." It's hard to argue with Abdul-Jabbar. Bynum is averaging 18.2 points and 9.8 rebounds, numbers that were actually higher before Pau Gasol returned to the lineup."

***

Lawson the missing piece for Nuggets
Arash Markazi of Sports Illustrated: "In Lawson the Nuggets have something they didn't have last season -- a speedy, playmaking point guard who changes the tempo of the game and causes problems for defenses that might have gotten a break last season when Chauncey Billups, 33, went to the bench. Despite his quickness, Lawson isn't reckless, which has gone a long way in gaining the trust of Karl. Through 19 games he only has 26 turnovers and is shooting over 52.5 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc. He is in the top 25 in plus-minus and two of the five-player combinations he's on are listed in the top 25 in plus-minus as well. "He plays at a high speed but he's under control," said Karl, who was told by North Carolina coach Roy Williams that Lawson was the best point guard he'd ever coached. "Most people that play at his speed lose control or lose vision or lose something but he doesn't lose anything. People don't understand how strong he is. He could be a running back in football. He's built really low to the ground."

***

D-League pioneer
Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports: "Latavious Williams discovered there's another option available for prep stars who don't have the inclination -- or in his case, the grades -- to spend a season on a university campus. The NBA Development League. The Tulsa 66ers made Latavious Williams the 16th pick in the D-League draft because they were impressed with his athleticism. Williams became the first player to be drafted out of high school by the D-League when 66ers made him the final selection of the first round last month. "There are no regrets at all," said Williams, who has played sparingly since the 66ers' season started last week. "...I just came here to get better."

***

Harrington's not going anywhere
Marc Berman of the New York Post: " Al Harrington may be off the trading block and back in the starting lineup for good, replacing Danilo Gallinari. Knicks president Donnie Walsh said before the Knicks' 106-97 victory over the Nets yesterday that Harrington is not being shopped despite the whispers his ouster could allow prospects Gallinari and Wilson Chandler to grow quicker. Harrington is making a big case to stay after scorching the Nets for 26 points, 14 rebounds and five assists yesterday, an encore to his 25-point first half in Atlanta. "I'm not focused on trading Al," Walsh said. "I'm not out there trying to trade Al."

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