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Fran Blinebury

Elton Brand
Elton Brand is averaging more than 18 points and eight rebounds a game.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

24-Second Thoughts on hot teams, cold ones and trash talk

Posted Nov 8 2010 6:15PM

HOUSTON -- 24 -- Could a team go on a march toward 73 wins and nobody notice? While the world monitors every inhale and exhale of the Heat, those two-time defending champions are pretty good.

23 -- When is the last time anybody accused Pau Gasol of being soft?

22 -- Still searching for a nickname -- and possible sponsorship -- for the star-studded Heat? Dunkin' Donuts is appropriate after Emeka Okafor exploited the hole everyone knew was in the middle, shooting 12-for-13 with 26 points and 13 rebounds.

21 -- So if the Celtics go into Miami and repeat their season-opening performance by punishing the Heat with their big, physical front line, will the mystery of the Eastern Conference playoffs already be solved?

20 -- The mostly young and often confusing reclamation project that is the Sixers was always going to be a great test of Doug Collins' patience and sanity. But here's hoping he's not taking risks with his health.

19 -- Buried beneath the rubble of the Sixers' horrid start and the trade rumors around Andre Iguodala has been the resurgence of Elton Brand. After two seasons of injury and discontent, the power forward is back in the starting lineup under Collins and averaging 18.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and is shooting 57.7 from the field.

18 -- Wonder if any Philly fans went into the Spectrum and found a leftover glass fragment from Darryl Dawkins' second broken backboard in the space of 23 nights back in 1979. Or maybe a leftover Afro pick from Dr. J.

17 -- From the Kevin Garnett Handbook of Trash Talking: "Excuse me, sir. But it seems your efforts are detrimental to both your close companions and our entire endeavor."

16 -- So did you hear the one about three Argentines and a Brazilian walking into a bar?

15 -- Grizzlies assistant David Joerger could go on to have a long, successful career and wind up as a Hall of Fame coach and he'll probably never have a more painful ending than his first game in charge and the loss to the Suns.

14 -- Want to talk basketball I.Q.? That's the sheer genius of Steve Nash to be thinking and reacting to foul Rudy Gay with 0.4 seconds left in regulation.

13 -- It's a tough week when the ceiling collapse and an asbestos scare don't set off the loudest alarms in New York. The real duck for cover came when Isiah Thomas said he's got unfinished business there.

12 -- Here's a decision the Rockets never envisioned making when they took Yao Ming with the No. 1 pick in 2002: Should they sit him out of the first half of a back-to-back against divisional rival San Antonio in order to save him for a "critical" home game against Minnesota?

11 -- How disappointing is the start to your season when Erick Dampier says he thinks he's changed his mind? Yao is a part-timer, Aaron Brooks is out 4-6 weeks. Is anybody booking hotel rooms in Secaucus, N.J. yet?

10 -- When the Hornets are unbeaten at 6-0 and the Rockets are often clueless at 1-5, does that make Trevor Ariza the most underrated, underpaid difference-maker in the NBA?

9 -- How come almost every scout and third-party observer I bump into says they watch the Hornets up close and conclude that they aren't that good, yet New Orleans is off to the best start in franchise history? Two words: Chris Paul.

8 -- From the Kevin Garnett Handbook of Trash Talking: "I say, old chap. You're having a deleterious effect on the presentation of this evening's entertainment for the patrons."

7 -- How much longer before Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo begin foreclosure proceedings on the Central Division?

6 -- While the numbers that have Rajon Rondo averaging more than 15 assists a game are impressive, the feat would be even more so if any team in the league would get up in his face. Virtually no one guards him outside the free-throw line, allowing Rondo to take his time and pick everyone apart with his passes. Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Steve Nash and an aging Jason Kidd are not permitted that luxury.

5 -- So maybe there really is something to the notion that becoming a real championship contender is a step-by-step process and Kevin Durant and his young Thunder have many rungs on the ladder still to climb.

4 -- Not to disparage any of what Jamal Crawford has contributed to the Hawks, but you don't consider trading your most talented athlete and potentially best player -- Josh Smith -- to give a big payday to a reserve who'll turn 31 in March.

3 -- Nothing says the Earth is still spinning correctly on its axis than Jerry Sloan announcing he's willing to sign up for another season with the Jazz.

2 -- Just for kicks, when the Pistons play the Clippers in L.A. on Friday night, could we have John Kuester and Vinny Del Negro sit on opposite benches just to see if things could get more dysfunctional?

1 -- From the Kevin Garnett Handbook of Trash Talking: "Your maternal blood relation!"

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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