ALL HAIL THE KINGS!
This week, we had every intention of praising the Los Angeles Lakers.
But after reeling off 10 consecutive wins, the Lakers went down in flames, losing big to Dallas at home on Friday and then losing to the loquacious Blazers on Saturday. The two losses have put an end to the talk of the Lakers winning 70 games … for now, at least.
Dallas's pummeling of the Lakers on Friday stopped a number of streaks -- 10 straight wins, 27 straight wins at home and an incredible 26 consecutive wins over Dallas in L.A.
Mavericks coach Don Nelson ordered the love-it or hate-it strategy known as "Hack-a-Shaq."
"I wanted to win this game in the worst way," Nelson told the L.A. Daily News.
And while some would say he did, it's tough to argue with the results.
But if you want to talk results, we should talk about Kings. Without Chris Webber, the Kings are one game behind the Lakers in the Pacific and they have won nine of their last 10. Sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic is playing like an MVP and GM Geoff Petrie seems to have the Kings' Midas touch when it comes to trades (Brad Miller and Darius Songaila) and free agents (Anthony Peeler). That, and their fans are as rabid as they come (more on that later).
Well, someone finally noticed.
"It starts, believe it or not, with the mismatched big-man pair of Vlade Divac and Brad Miller," writes the Herald's Israel Gutierrez.
Others, including the excellent stat man, John Hollinger of SI.com, says that once it was the Kings' defense (no, really, read the piece) that was one of the best, now it's their offense that makes opponents shake in their high tops.
While Hollinger goes deep, let's scratch the surface and look at the simple numbers. The Kings lead the league in nearly offensive category: scoring (104.6), field goal percentage (.471), three-point percentage (.407), assists (27.65), positive point differential (+8.0) and the Kings are second in free throw percentage (.797).
Impressed? Coaches are.
"Offensively, they're a monster," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy told the Miami Herald. "They pass the ball and shoot the ball better than anyone. They've assembled maybe the finest group of guys in that department that I've seen in my 30-plus years in the league [as a player and coach].
"To me, the Kings pass as well as any team I've seen."
That, and I hear ARCO Arena is a fun place to watch a game, right Kings fans?
"Raptor fans the best in the NBA? Are you kidding me? Sacramento Kings fans are the best fans in all of sports. Have you ever been to ARCO Arena? The cowbell-wielding faithful will blow your mind. The place is the loudest arena in the NBA, it's sold out every night, and Kings fans never give up.
"(Remember, we were cheering on our Kings and selling out ARCO even when we were winning only 20 games a year and Mitch was the only thing we had to cheer for.) The loudest fans in the NBA are in Sacramento. The most loyal fans in the NBA are from Sacramento. Therefore there is no doubt that Kings fans are the best in the NBA. If you don't believe me, come to SacTown and see for yourself, but bring some ear plugs if you're not used to REAL fans!"
Click and Roll says: Zach, Zach, Zach. I didn't say Raptors fans were the best fans. I said: "Raptors fans are intense and passionate."
We then asked fans to write in and explain why they are intense and passionate about their particular teams. And boy oh boy, did we get some good ones.
-- Ali, Montreal
Click and Roll says: Ali, your Canadian brethren would beg to differ.
"Raptor fans deserve a lot of credit. We have had to endure miserable seasons, trading away first round draft picks, horrible coaching in Darryl Walker, Butch Carter and Lenny Wilkens and Vince Carter's injuries. Finally we are back on track with a no-nonsense coach and a trade that finally relieves Vince Carter of the scoring burden.
"Prediction. Chris Bosh gets more votes for Rookie of the Year than Lebron James, but Carmelo
Anthony wins it all. Raptors have a chance this year to win a second round playoff match-up, something they have never done."
Click and Roll says: Easy, Neil. Easy!
"I think Raptors fans are very passionate. I don't know if this is considered passion (Ha-ha!) but I know someone who opened their bank account at Scotiabank only because they were the "official bank of the Toronto Raptors." And now, he is very upset because they no longer sponsor them. Now (it is now the Bank of Montreal) and he said that he will now close his account and transfer to BMO!"
Click and Roll says: Emily, showing love like that is putting your money where your mouth is. Then again, what the world needs now, is love, sweet love. And it looks like most of the world's love is going to San Antonio.
"Most passionate fans in the NBA? Spurs, no doubt about it! Can you say fans in Texas, Argentina, France, Turkey, Slovenia, Brazil and the Virgin Islands!"
Click and Roll says: That's quite a collection. Then again, there's nothing like local fervor.
"Philly has, by no doubt, the BEST fans in all the sports world. It doesn't matter what sport it is, if you are in Philly, you will get booed. Even if you are on one of our teams, it doesn't matter, if you play bad, you will get booed. Some say that Philly fans are the worst because we're "disrespectful."
"But I bet you ain't never seen more loyal fans. We react the way we do because we want to win! If you do good against us, you ain't helpin' us win, so you get booed. If you do bad for us, you ain't helpin' us win as well, so get prepared, your going to get booed. This makes Philly fans the best, because we are the definition of fans, spurring our teams onto victory!"
Click and Roll says: Christina, you didn't need the quotation marks around disrespectful.
As much as I would like to print every e-mail from fanatical fans, I'll let you know we received e-mail from Celtics, Lakers, Knicks, Bulls and Pistons fans who, as Chris from Jackson, Mich. notes, are so devoted, "we'll drive out to the middle of suburban hell to go the Palace."
Click and Roll says: We've been to the Palace. All I will say is that it's a nice arena.
Again, we thank you for writing.
SHOOT DOWN THE ZONE?
What's this? Someone thinks the zone in the NBA is a good thing? Yes, apparently, Seattle's Brent Barry told Inside Hoops.com he's a fan of the zone.
-- Inside Hoops.com
As for countering the zones in the NBA, the coaches are still trying to catch up with it. There are two ways to beat the zone -- beat it down the court and don't give a team a chance to set up (Fast breaks, people!) or reversing the ball (passing, passing and more passing).
Of course, you also need good shooters. Steve Kerr, a great one himself, plays Frankenstein (not the monster, the doctor). If he could build the perfect shooter, this is what it would look like.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT…
Oliver Miller's back in the league with the Timberwolves.
-- Minneapolis Star Tribune (Registration required)
The Nets lost by 47 -- 47! -- to the Grizzlies in Memphis on Saturday. Think that's the worst defeat in Nets history? Nuh-uh. It's the third worst. As you could guess, Jason Kidd was not pleased. For the Grizzlies, a team until recently that didn't win much at all, it was the largest margin of victory in franchise history. Their previous record was 32 against the Hawks in 2003.
-- New York Post
Well, even if they're not playing to their potential right now, the Nets may be able to play in a really nice place soon.
This columnist makes the case for LeBron James as one of the best 12 players in the East, hence, an All-Star.
Recent poor play has the Pistons scratching their heads.
Will Kwame Brown ever break out?
The Boston Celtics are retiring Cedric Maxwell's No. 31 on Monday night. He'll be the 22nd Celtic to be so honored. The Celtics have the most retired numbers in the NBA, by far.
STATS MAIL CALL
"Has there ever been a quadruple-double game? Quintuple? Andrei Kirilenko just had his second "5x5" game in one week (more than five points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks). How rare is that? Who holds the all time-record? Also, Karl Malone recorded a triple double a week ago, in only three quarters. What's the record? What's the "best" triple-double? Who has the most over a career? (I heard that Oscar Robertson averaged a triple double over an entire season! Thanks."
-- Al, Logan, Utah
Al, we'll check on the the "best" triple-double and the quadruple double question. (I vaguely remember Hakeem Olajuwon having one.) And as far as someone getting at least five in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks in a game is rare. Really rare. Only two men, Vlade Divac and Jamaal Tinsley, had ever done it before. Utah's Andrei Kirilenko did it twice this past week. So, Kirilenko would hold that "record."
And is impressive as that is, I must quibble with it a bit. I'm not here to disparage the Rushin' Russian, but I'm sure someone has done it more than twice. Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson come to mind. But because the league didn't keep track of steals and blocks before the 1973-74 season, we'll never know.
UNIFORM MAIL CALL
Allow me to use a throwback line: "Don't call us, we'll call you." But thanks for the offer.
Then there was Charles from Toronto, who attempted to posterize me.
"I'll agree with you on the Lakers home unis (gold); they are indeed classics. The other jerseys most existed before I was born or when I was a rug rat, therefore I can't judge them.
"But please, those Golden State "City" unis. Good gravy! What are you talking about. Those are horrible. Looks like they were designed by a five-year old with low-end computer software. (Like maybe on a Commodore 64. There's retro for ya!) I can't think of one current NBA uniform that's worse than that. Well, except for those short-lived silver numbers that Dallas had for like half a game."
Click and Roll says: Oh, really? Well, allow me to bring in Al Attles, who has been with the Warriors since before the Kennedy administration. He and his teammates first expressed trepidation with wearing the Best! Uniforms! Ever!
"It had the bridge on the front with the words The City and a cable car on the back," Attles said. "Imagine, we’re in New York, people from New York consider it the Big Apple, The City... I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but nobody wanted to be the first to take the jacket off. Finally, we take the jackets off and I’ll be darned if we don’t get a standing ovation from the New York crowd."
He'll be darned if they didn't get a standing ovation from the New York crowd. What do they say about New York? If you can make it there …
Then, there was David (no location given), who ranted against the recent throwback trend.
David then proceeds to list all the uniforms from the NBA's Garanimal era, mid-to-late '90s. You know, the uniforms with all the cartoon animals/rockets/space needles on the front, from the cartoon Raptor to the ugly, green Pistons uniforms with the horse and the tailpipes to even last year's Rockets pinstripes.
I'm glad David kept his location hidden. For his sake.
Randall, from Chicago likes the "'85 Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets throwback with city skyline and the Nets back when DC (Derrick Coleman) was with them, the light blue!"
Click and Roll says: The '85 Bulls had a script Chicago across the front of the road jerseys, which I wasn't too wild about. No comment on the light blue Nets jerseys. But the city skyline Nuggets uniforms are getting a whole lotta love from fans. See the next letter.
"What list is this? The Nuggets uniform with the city should be in the top the. The New York Nets and the Warriors' jerseys look hot but the others are plain. The blue Buffalo Braves jersey could have been at least number 5. But that's my opinion."
Click and Roll says: You may have a point there. The blue Braves jersey isn't bad. Not bad at all. But people really love the ones I left off the list.
"I really like the Washington Bullets uniforms (I think from the 70's) the ones that were striped that they wore last year. I'm surprised they didn’t get into your list."
-- Hayden, Queensland, Australia
Click and Roll says: Hayden, you weren't the only one.
-- Greg, Columbia, MD
Click and Roll says: Hey, a compliment. Thanks.
"I think you guys left a few uniforms out when you made you list of "best uniforms ever" in click 'n' roll. How about the original Orlando Magic away black? Or the 1977 Blazers with the vertical "blazers" on the right side?
Click and Roll says: I could either take and/or leave the above choices. Steve, you may be more right about the "blazers" with the lower-case "b" than anyone ever knew. Way ahead of their time. It's akin to how people type e-mail or IMs. You should see the tons of e-mail we get without capitalization.
"Your top three old unis were right on, but the Net's unifroms were their ABA unis and we all know that league didn't exist and that Julius only scored 18,364 points, not 30,026, right? I like how when it's convenient the ABA existed, (three-point line, stats for blocked shots and steals, All-Star Weekend Dunk contests) but their points scored are meaningless! WHY IS THAT?
And finally, Jon from Dallas closes out the uniform discussion with: "Houston Rockets' 93-94 red and gold. You've gotta love the mustard and ketchup!"
Click and Roll says: Hot dog! We do too. So much more than the putrid pinstripes that followed.
With that, we ask the last Click and Roll e-mail question of 2003: If you could receive any basketball related item as a gift for the holidays, what would it be? (And no Click and Roll, while we love all of our readers, cannot get that special gift for you. So, please, stop asking.)
By the way, here's what I would ask for, considering they don't have Marques Johnson's jersey available.
E-mail Click and Roll and we'll print the best missives next week.
-- Rob Peterson, NBA.com