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Monday, Nov. 24


Question is: Will Baron Davis hang around in the MVP race?
(Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

HIVE TALKIN'

It's early, but some people can't resist talking about who is the NBA's MVP at this point. And, people, the talk has been interesting.

Shaq? KG? Kobe? AI? No, no, no and no.

The name that has popped up most lately -- Baron Davis.

Yes, New Orleans' Davis, who, if a strong case could be made this early in the season, has been playing lights out. He's not only the best point guard, says the New York Post, he could be the best, period.
-- New York Post

He topped off a week where he averaged 24.3 ppg, 6.5 apg and 7.5 rpg with a game-winning dunk (How often does THAT happen?) against Detroit on Sunday.
-- New Orleans Times-Picayune

Just how well is Davis playing? Check out the numbers. He's second in the league in scoring (24.7 ppg), second in steals (3.14 spg), fourth in assists (8.0 apg) and first in three-pointers made (53). All of which compelled one ESPN.com writer to ask: Can Jamal Mashburn play second fiddle to Davis?
-- ESPN.com

Here's guessing Mr. Mashburn will have no choice, considering the rejuvenated Tim Floyd has designed the offense around Davis.
--Miami Herald

"We're running a system that provides freedom in the open floor for him to probe and go attack," Floyd told the Herald. "His rule is if someone cannot stay between him and the basket, he's to keep it in his hands until he's contained. He's done a good job of that and an even better job of getting his teammates involved."

Backcourt (the week that was)
Frontcourt (the week that will be)
Nov. 26: Larry Brown returns to Philly where fans won't sit on their hands (7 ET, ESPN)
Nov. 27: Happy Thanksgiving. Eat, drink and watch Pacers and Knicks (7:30 ET, TNT)
Nov. 27: Happy Thanksgiving. See above, except watch Nets and Clippers (10 ET, TNT).
Nov. 28: Vinsanity's and T-Mac's struggling squads meet
Nov. 28: Spurs at Lakers. Do you need more? (10:30 ET, ESPN)
Sounds smart. Let your best player make everyone better. Can Floyd be that smart? Seems like it. All one has to do is look at Davis' resurgence and the two plays the Hornets ran at the end of their loss to the Pacers on Friday and the win over the Pistons on Sunday. It was same play (a double-high screen at the elbow with a curl to the basket) and both times, the Hornets had a man open to win the game. On Friday, rookie Doug West rimmed out a five-footer. On Sunday, Davis dunked.

"We just didn't get the same look," Floyd told the Times-Picayune. "It's been a while since the last time I can remember a dunk finishing a game. Actually, I don't think I can remember the last NBA game that finished the way this one did."

Neither can we. But New Orleans, which is 10-4 and a game behind the Pacers in the Central, should enjoy their good fortune while it lasts. They're moving to the Western Conference next season when the NBA is re-aligned. (More on that in the next Click and Roll).
-- San Antonio Express News

WHAT'S UP, DOC?

Well, Doc Rivers seems to be, at least for now. Rivers, who was relieved of his duties on Oct. 18, landed on his feet as lead analyst for ABC's NBA coverage.
-- ESPN.com

One Orlando columnist thinks he should be so lucky.
-- Orlando Sentinel

Rivers' quick turnaround isn't surprising considering he was very good on television before he coached the Magic, who are now in the midst of a 12-game losing streak.
-- Orlando Sentinel

What surprises me most is when other coaches are shocked -- SHOCKED -- when another coach is fired.
-- Houston Chronicle

The Chicago Tribune's Sam Smith said no one should be taken aback when a coach is dismissed.
-- Chicago Tribune (Registration required)

THE NUMBER
13
-- number of teams that have changed coaches since the middle of the 2002-03 season.
Then, if that theory holds, no one should be shocked that the Bulls relieved Bill Cartwright of his coaching duties on Monday. (And happy Thanksgiving to you, too!)

Pete Myers, the man who started at shooting guard after Michael Jordan's first retirement (10 years ago!), will get his chance to guide the Bulls.

Meanwhile, the star player is often shocked -- SHOCKED -- when it's suggested that he had anything do with it and he asks people to please -- PLEASE -- shut up about it?
-- Florida Today

I'll be shocked -- SHOCKED -- when no one is surprised.

ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE AND BASKETBALL

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but ribbing a dude because of a potentially debilitating kidney disease just ain't right.
-- New York Daily News

Kenyon Martin and Alonzo Mourning nearly came to blows after an exchange of insults because Martin mocked Mourning's kidney disease. Mourning, you could guess, didn't take kindly to Martin making fun of a disease that cause Mourning to need a kidney transplant.

To quote Martin's favorite group, OutKast: "The situation's ugly like 'In Living Color's' Wanda.'"

Or as one NBA scout said about Martin's below-the-belt verbal jab: "That's just coldblooded."

And with today's news, the comment seems even more so. On Monday, the Nets announced Mourning's career is over.
-- Nets.com

"It is with great sadness that I make this announcement, Nets president and general manager Rod Thorn said. "Alonzo is a true champion and a very courageous athlete who attempted to defy the odds with his comeback to the NBA.

"Unfortunately, his medical condition will not allow him to continue his basketball career. Our thoughts and prayers are with him as he continues his fight against this disease."

As are ours. Stay strong, 'Zo.

Meanwhile, you can go here -- the U.S. Organ and Tissue donation site -- to learn more about what one can do to help regarding this issue.
-- organdonor.gov

BEST! QUOTE! EVER!

Indiana's Ron Artest, commenting on Tampa Bay Bucs' deactivated receiver Keyshawn Johnson: "He's got his Super Bowl ring, right? They gave him all his money, right? Now he can use the time off to go get his attitude right."
-- Detroit News

Man, that's good stuff.

TIP-INS

Rapper Jay-Z, is reportedly interested in buying the Nets. Just as long as Nas doesn't buy the Knicks, we'll be good.
-- Newsday

The good folks at InsideHoops.com made the rounds at the Knicks-Lakers game at Madison Square Garden last Wednesday. From their excursion, they talked to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal (though not at the same time).
-- InsideHoops.com

Then again, I'm sure no one will make anything of Phil Jackson saying Shaquille O'Neal sitting on Sunday because of a calf injury was "disappointing."
-- L.A. Daily News

Just make the darn trade already, will ya? The Raptors need scoring help like life on Earth needs oxygen and the Bulls need some new blood.
-- Chicago Sun-Times

Then again, it looks like things have fallen apart. Read into that what you will.
-- Chicago Sun-Times

Meanwhile, North of the border, the trade talks are weighing on the Raptors.
-- Toronto Star

Will Cleveland deal Ricky Davis? Kids, I don't start the rumors, I just link to them.
-- ESPN.com

Dallas unveiled the "Fantasy Five" lineup -- Steve Nash, Michael Finley, Dirk Nowitzki, Antwan Jamison and Antoine Walker -- at the start of the second half of their game with the Nuggets on Saturday. Mavs coach Don Nelson calls it the "34" lineup -- three power forwards (known in coach parlance as a "Four").
-- Fort Worth Star Telegram

What's the biggest difference between you sitting on a park bench and this? About $95 per diem on road trips and a guaranteed three-year contract. But other than that, not much.
-- Indianapolis Star

There is LeBron James and then there is Ndudi, Ndudi Ebi that is. Ebi, another high school to the NBA draftee, is flying a wee bit more under the radar than James.
-- Minneapolis Star Tribune (Registration required)

Will Steve Nash dash to Canada? Not if Mark Cuban can help it.
-- Indy Star

And finally, nice season Brad Miller's having, no?
-- Chicago Tribune (Registration required)

MAIL CALL

Last week, we presented Ronald "Flip" Murray in our opening of Click and Roll as one of the bigger surprises in the NBA. We wanted to know your thoughts as to what was the most surprising thing in the first month of the NBA season.

And you responded. I think we received about 15 e-mails in favor of Flip. Nice work, people. It proves you read our stuff.

As for mail this week, we're shutting down the mailbox for Thanksgiving. Spend time with your family, friends, loved ones and have a good one. Here are your responses.

I think Chris Bosh has been doing real good. Half way through the season he's probably gonna be a starter and he's gonna amazing!
-- Abdul, Ontario

I am surprised of how Peja Stojakovic is playing right now. Kings have had depressing losses, but think about how scary the Kings will be when Webber comes back.
-- Geo, Newport Beach, Calif.

The biggest surprise is that the Lakers chemistry is so good. They are sharing the ball and are all about winning, and egos are not tearing the team apart yet! Malone and Payton fit like "a glove" from Day 1. It will be interesting to see if it lasts.
-- Aaron, Melbourne, Australia

Well, I have a few surprises from this first month. First, I was expecting more from the T'Wolves. I always liked them and I was hoping for a powerhouse performance. Second, I like Baron Davis, but I really didn't expect him to be doing this well. I think he's the best in the league right now. And the Sonics, always loved them ... but who is Ronald "Flip" Murray anyways?
Patrick, Hillsboro, Ore.

The Utah Jazz have been the biggest surprise so far this season. For a team projected to win only seven games all year in some "professional" preseason predictions I think they have surpassed that and will continue to surprise teams all season long.
-- Karter, Provo, Utah

It's a crime what's happening in Phoenix this early NBA season. For a team chock-full of athleticism and potential, I find their meager 3-5 record to be shocking even for being shackled to the seemingly impervious Western Conference. No way a team with two established stars (Marbury and Marion) and two explosive up-and-comers (Stoudamire and Johnson) should be cellar-dwelling.
-- Tobin, Portland, Ore.

It shouldn't be the biggest surprise, but it is! The Indiana Pacers. They have had very little time with some of the new members of the team, but they have the best record in the NBA.
-- Deana, Naperville, Ill.

The Baker man! Hands down, Vin's been the biggest difference in Boston these days. Who woulda thought 'can't-get-to-the-rim-'coz-my-butt-is-so-heavy-and-my-brain-is-so-woozy' VB could actually shake up, and kick the booze right outta the window? I had just about given up on the man, but now Baker's just been THE MAN. Here's to hoping Boston gets back to where they belong -- The Finals.
-- Justin, Manila

RANDOM MAIL ANSWERS

Heather, a double-double is a combination of any two stats where a player has double digits for a category. If a player has 10 points and 10 rebounds, that's a double-double. A triple-double is double digits in three categories. Hope that helps.

Barbara, according to the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com), Gary Payton has been in three movies: "White Men Can't Jump" where he was an uncredited playground baller, "Eddie" as Rumeal Smith, and something called "The Breaks" where he's credited as playing the Man Quizzing Derek in Prison. Hope that helps.

-- Rob Peterson, NBA.com