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Posted by Rob Peterson on Dec. 29 2004 2 p.m. ET

I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday. For some of us, the holidays continue as I'm expecting my family for the next five days. (That's six adults and two children in a two-bedroom New York City apartment. What was I thinking? Don't ask.)

Anyway, in addition to peace and sanity, here are the three things what I'm hoping for during the coming New Year. (Happy New Year, by the way!)

More Scoring

Scoring's up in the NBA, hooray, hooray! Last year, only Dallas and Sacramento finished the season averaging more than 100 points per game. This season, we have nine -- count 'em, nine! -- teams averaging more than 100 points per. Me like. Scoring: It's what separates the NBA from all other levels of basketball. Admit it, when you see a 72-69 final, you think to yourself, "Uh, that was the final score of my last high school game."

So, when you see 112-107 or 104-101 or 107-98, you know you've seen an NBA game. Triple digits on both sides of the scoreboard, baby. There's no shame in scoring, especially in the NBA. That's the object of the game and we have the best athletes/scorers in the world. I don't know where people got the idea that a grinding defense is what we want or need to see in basketball.

I've said it before and I've said it again, people love scoring (touchdowns, home runs) in sports. Why should the NBA be any different? Besides, balance -- good offense and good defense (See also: Spurs, San Antonio) -- that makes a champion.

For example, NBA TV ran Game 6 of the 1977 NBA Finals between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Philadelphia 76ers. Julius Erving, Dr. J to most of us, was taking and hitting turnaround bank shots from 17 feet. Truly amazing. Today, announcers would call that "a bad shot."

Here's another example. Everyone remembers Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals. Everyone remembers how it went to triple overtime on Gar Heard's last-second miracle. The final score of that game: 128-126? Anyone complain about defense in that game? If you've seen the tape of that game (and you should), you would see guys taking (and making) all sorts of shots that we would call bad shots today. Somewhere in one of the overtimes, Paul Westphal makes a double-pump, 360 bank shot. Truly amazing, truly thrilling and truly, a good shot.

(By the way, anyone remember the final score of the Celts' clincher in Game 6?)

Not convinced, defenders of defense? Which teams are the most exciting to watch right now? Phoenix? Seattle? Miami? Washington? Each are over the century mark. All having winning records. All would be in the playoffs if they started today.

Which players move the crowd? Kobe? A.I.? LeBron? KG? All top 10 in the league in scoring.

Thankfully, attitudes about offense are slowly changing. Ray Allen calls the Sonics' explosive offense "organized confusion." Plus, not using the offensive weapons that you have is officially hazardous to your professional health.
-- Rocky Mountain News

So, here's my advice to coaches (take it as you will): It has been said, if you love something, set it free. If you love hoops, you'll set your offenses and your players free to be great offensively.

A Game 7 in the NBA Finals

Heading into the 2005 NBA Finals, it will have been 11 years since The Finals have gone to a Game 7. That's not to say the Finals haven't been memorable in that decade, but wow, one game for all the marbles? What basketball fan doesn't want that?

That the Kids Continue to Grow

Oh, allow me. I love children. Have one of my own. (Hi, Nick!) So, you can understand why the current crop of NBA youngsters has me giddy for the future.

Let's look at what's coming down the road: Dwyane Wade, a whirling, ankle-breaking dervish who can finish with the best of them. Emeka Okafor, who has the longest string of double-doubles by a rookie in 35 years.

There's LeBron, who seems to deliver a "stink-face dunk" every game and seems to be the subject of a nightly "Is LeBron the best player in the NBA" question on SportsCenter every night. (Easy guys.) LeBron even gets the stamp of approval from the only man who averaged a triple-double for a season. That's high praise.
-- Cleveland Plain-Dealer

And I haven't yet mentioned the Bulls' Kirk Hinrich, Toronto's Chris Bosh, Orlando's Dwight Howard, Utah's Andrei Kirilenko, Atlanta's Josh Smith, to name a few.

That's what I want to see in the New Year. What do you want to see?


So, what happened?

Ha! Just kidding. What a great game and even greater for the Heat and Shaquille O'Neal, who escaped L.A. with a win.
-- Miami Herald (Registration required)

Now, in the holiday spirit (or because people are just tired of it all) can't we all just put the sniping behind us?
-- Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

In case you missed the Heat-Lakers game (What? You didn't get a DVR for Christmas?), here's a tidy timeline presented by one of the biz's best, Marc Stein.

Yes, the game was definitely one for the ages.


Here's a team that's one for the aged. The Rockets have six players who have 10 or more years of NBA experience on the roster.


Hmmm... five best dunks of all time? I can live with these. Well, I would throw in Dr. J's vicious throwdown over Bill Walton in Game 6 of the 1977 Finals or the one described at the beginning of Tip-Ins as an alternative to the Kevin Johnson dunk, but hey, that's me.

But of the five, I have to go with Stark's left-handed flush over Horace Grant and Michael Jordan. Why? Because at the time, I despised the Bulls. (Sorry, Bulls fans.) Plus, it was left handed, over Jordan and in a playoffs game. That, and it was primal. Not good stuff; great stuff.

A side note: The best dunk I have ever seen wasn't in an NBA game. It was Vince Carter at Gauchos Gym where he takes an alley-oop, windmills -- yes, windmills -- and then flushes it home. The video's on the net somewhere. They stopped the game. As well they should. It doesn't get better than that.


Vince Carter made his presence felt immediately with the Nets by scoring 23 off the bench against Detroit on Monday before his absence because of cramping was even more palpable in OT, where the Nets lost. Carter did considerably better in his second game.


Five of the last six Western Conference Players of the Week have been from the Phoenix Suns.


Michael Cooper says he plans to bring Showtime to Denver. Does that mean Dr. J's coming out of retirement to dunk on the Nuggets? "He roooooocks the baby to sleep..."

Here's one man's opinion on the NBA's first trimester.

His Kingdom for some energy.
-- Sacramento Bee

Oh, and to be injury free.
-- Sacramento Bee

Magic fans: Penny for your thoughts?
-- Orlando Sentinel (Registration required)

Mike Dunleavy (the coach) is laughing at you.
-- Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

Did anyone else see Jerry Stackhouse belt out the national anthem before the Mavs-Celts game in Dallas on Tuesday? Nice work, Stack. Your best non-hoops performance since the Trey Wingo spot. Stack looked like he was feelin' it.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Registration required)


Click and Roll realizes we have readers from around the world. I often see e-mail from Southeast Asia. We want to extend our sympathies to the people of that region and our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Comin' through, the future of the NBA.
(Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images)

Miami's Shaquille O'Neal on getting 101 percent effort from the STAPLES Center crowd on Christmas:

"I'd say the crowd was 89.2 percent cheers and 11.8 percent boos."

2004-05 ARCHIVE
Dec. 29 -- New Year's Wishes
Dec. 21 -- A Wonderful Life
Dec. 14 -- How Good is Good?
Dec. 7 -- Getting Medieval
Nov. 30 -- LeBron vs. Dwyane
Nov. 23 -- Playing Good Ball
Nov. 16 -- SuperbSonics
Nov. 9 -- Hitting the Blue Note
Nov. 3 -- Bling, Bang, Boom
2003-04 -- Archive