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HITTING THE BLUE NOTE
Posted by Rob Peterson on Nov. 9 2004 2:50 p.m. ET

IT'S AWARDS TIME (FOR THE JAZZ)

"What? Already? You can't give out awards now."

Oh, yes, I can. Stopping flipping through your calendars, it's not the postseason. If you've seen "The Incredibles" (and if you haven't, you should), you know any time is a good time to hand out awards. Besides, I'm not really handing out anything except for bloggy platitudes to dudes who have ripped it up in the first week of the season.

So, here goes.

MVP: Andrei Kirilenko

If I had written this on Monday, as I did the last two seasons, I would have typed in Miami's Dwyane Wade. Sorry, Dwyane, you're the victim of editorial reshuffling. We publish on Tuesdays now, and as of today, Andrei Kirilenko is the MVP of the first seven days.

Why Kirilenko?

Sure, he looks like Sam the Eagle (C'mon, don't say you haven't noticed.) from "The Muppet Show," but have you seen Kirilenko play this past week? He leads the league in blocks and steals. He's shooting .512 from the field. He's made it to the free throw line 38 times in four games. His Jazz are 4-0 and haven't been truly challenged yet. He has a Russian rock star wife. In short, he's got it good right now.

Nyet I go on? The numbers say, even with his rich new contract, Kirilenko is more than worth it.
-- Deseret News

Other contenders: Miami's Dwyane Wade, Dallas's Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire and the usual suspects (TD, KG, etc...)

COACH OF THE YEAR: Jerry Sloan

Did you know the dean of NBA coaches has never won the Red Auerbach Trophy as NBA Coach of the Year? Shocking, isn't it? The Sporting News tabbed him as Coach of the Year last year, though. That was nice of them.
-- Jazz.com

So, for leading his team to an impressive 4-0 start and quickly building a cohesive unit with free agents Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur (and do they love these guys in Utah) and without his injured starting point guard Carlos Arroyo, this Red's for you, Jerry.
-- Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune

And while I pick Sloan, one can't discount the job Rick Carlisle has done in Indiana with a half-injured squad or the one Mike D'Antoni has done to make the Suns 3-0 and one of the more exciting teams in the NBA.

Other contenders: Dallas' Don Nelson and Toronto's Sam Mitchell

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kirilenko

He's 6-9 and has 26 blocks. He leads the league in steals. I'm done here.
-- Salt Lake Tribune

Other contenders: Portland's Theo Ratliff, Detroit's Ben Wallace, Indiana's Ron Artest

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Toronto's Sam Mitchell

Ha! Gotcha. Sure, I could tab Chicago's Luol Deng, as our got milk? Rookie Rankings did. You couldn't go wrong with Deng's teammate, Andres Nocioni, who's averaging a double-double, as is Charlotte rookie Emeka Okafor. You could even tab No. 1 overall pick Dwight Howard, fresh out of high school and the rebounder that the Magic have been looking for since Shaq left.

But, why be conventional and give it to a rookie player? So far our rookie of the year is Raptors' rookie head coach Sam Mitchell. He has the Raptors atop the Atlantic Division with a 3-0 record.

Why is this half-amazing? Next to the Lakers, the Raptors were the best soap opera of the offseason as five-time All-Star Vince Carter wanted out. They have a new point guard and players that really didn't mesh at the end of last season. That, and Mitchell became frustrated early with the Toronto press.
-- Toronto Sun

After all he's here to win games, not to amuse you.

"I'm not going to put on a clown suit and go out and perform at half time," Mitchell said to the Toronto Sun before the season started. "That's not my job and that's not the players' job. Their job is to go out and play hard and play together and try to win games. If we do that, I have a good feeling the fans are going to come back."

Despite the 3-0 start, Raptors fans are still taking a wait and see attitude.
-- Toronto Sun

And they'll need to wait because the Raptors are on the road for 14 of their next 18. Yikes.
-- Toronto Sun

Maybe they'll come back because Mitchell wants the Raptors to hoist 100 shots per game.
-- Toronto Star

"What's wrong with that?" Mitchell asked in the same article. Coach, nothing. Anytime you can get guys to hoist more shots, you have my vote.

AN ASIDE ...

Speaking of more shots, may I give a little friendly advice to NBA players. I can? Cool.

If you're open, shoot it. Please. Pleasepleasepleaseplease.

In about 95 percent of the cases, an open shot is the best shot you're going to get. The turnaround fade away with time expiring on the shot clock looks great when it goes in. That being said, those rarely go in.

So, take the open J, please. Granted, we don't want Ben Wallace taking open 20-footers because that's not his thing. But the next time I see a guard pass up an open 20-footer because there are 18 seconds left on the shot clock, I may use that resulting ugly shot-clock-winding-down brick the player just heaved at the rim and chuck it through my TV.

Oh, and to play-by-play guys (not just analysts) who say "That's not a good shot!" to open shots with 18 seconds left on the shot clock: Shhhhhhh! You're wrong. Thank you.

OK, I'm done now.

WADE AHEAD OF THE PACK

I can't let this Click and Roll go by without mentioning how good Dwyane Wade has been this first week of the season.

Others have noticed as well.
-- NBA.com

Seems, unlike another guard, Wade actually likes partnering with Shaquille O'Neal, and Wade's game has flourished because of it.
-- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Still, without Shaq, there may be no brilliance from Wade.
-- Miami Herald

Then again, what does it matter? The Heat are winning, and it's that, not the due credit, that counts. Right?

TIP-INS

The Kings moved to Sacramento 20 years ago and the Sacramento Bee has a list of the Kings' 20 most memorable moments. And, not all of them are good. Robert Horry, anyone?
-- Sacramento Bee

Uh-oh. Could the graffiti be on the wall for Knicks coach Lenny Wilkens? Graffiti? This is New York, you know.
-- New York Times (Registration required)

The Grizzlies are 0-3. Hubie Brown says he's working to fix it.
-- Memphis Commercial Appeal (Registration required)

Sam Cassell is finding out Minnesota can be cold.
-- Minneapolis Star-Tribune

We pardon's this interruption of Click and Roll, but Tony Kornheiser has something he wants to say about the Washington Wizards.
-- Washington Post (Registration required)

Hey, aren't you Raef LaFrentz?
-- Boston Globe

The last time the L.A. Clippers started 3-1, they went to the playoffs. Granted, after losing to the Pistons in double OT on Monday, a 2-2 start is still encouraging, right?
-- L.A. Times (Registration required)

Some fantasy players have picked up Charlotte center Primoz Brezec, much to their delight. If you think those fantasy players are happy, you should see the smile on Bernie Bickerstaff's face.
-- Charlotte Observer (Registration required)

Either Jerry Sloan is calling a play or he's imagining he's riding a motorcycle somewhere.
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images/NBAE)

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Shaquille O'Neal on Dwyane Wade:
"Flash - a helluva player. Nice kid, humble kid. He deserves everything he's getting. I'm just glad to be on his team."
-- Sports Ticker, Nov. 7, 2004

2004-05 ARCHIVE
Nov. 3 -- Bling, Bang, Boom
2003-04 -- Archive

FRONTCOURT
Want some games to watch out for? Check out the week ahead:
Nov. 10: Suns-Cavs
(8 p.m. ET, ESPN): Should be high-scoring fun
Nov. 12: Heat-Spurs
(8 p.m. ET, ESPN): Shaq. TD. You know you're gonna watch
Nov. 13: Pistons-Jazz: A good test for both the Pistons and the Jazz
Nov. 11: Wolves-Rockets: KG, Yao and T-Mac. That's good basketball

BACKCOURT
Missed the goings on from last week? Catch up here with the week that was:
Nov. 3: Kobe scores 38, Lakers 78 in loss to Jazz
Nov. 3: Francis gives Orlando the win at the horn
Nov. 5: Baron scores 36, but Franchise gets another one at the buzzer
Nov. 6: Wade goes off for 37

WEEKLY KERR
Steve gives out his thumb's up and a couple of thumbs in the eye with his first week in review.

'ROUND THE GLOBE
The Houston Chronicle's Fran Blinebury writes two great stories about the excellent Basketball Without Borders program: One about Manu Neto, and the other about African teenagers getting their first taste of American life.