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WELCOME BACK, LARRY
Posted by Jeffery Dengate on December 1, 2005 1:30 p.m. ET
If you didn't get enough Larry Brown coverage this summer, during his ouster in Detroit and subsequent courting by the Knicks, or in the first month of the season, which New York limped through with a 5-9 record, then you're in luck. There might be a story or two in tomorrow morning's papers before Larry Brown makes his first trip back to Detroit since his unceremonious departure this summer.
In fact, a quick scan of the daily rags already reveals a few stories on that very topic. Most articles on the subject you're bound to encounter will likely center on the differences between Brown and new coach Flip Saunders, as the Times tackled today.
-- [New York Times, Reg. req'd]
The early verdict is that the Pistons are playing better than they ever did under Brown. Toting his "right way" mantra, Brown controlled the tempo of the Pistons' offense for two seasons, calling every play on offense and getting the team to play smothering D. It's a style not everybody embraces, as the Heat's Dwyane Wade remarked this week when he spoke out about his experience playing for Brown in Athens.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
The Pistons trademark defense is still intact under Saunders, but the team is scoring this year, boasting the fifth highest points per game scoring average (99.33 ppg) and leading the league in points differential (+7.66).
Thus far, Saunders is living up to the lofty expectations that come with following a hall of fame general.
-- [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
But Saunders will be somewhat lost in the talk about the Pistons, Larry Brown and a tri-state soap opera.
-- [Detroit Free Press]
The drama, for one night at least, will not be limited to Brown and his new point guard, Stephon Marbury. The Knicks, in general, and Marbury, in particular, have struggled to get used to Brown in the early going, something Chauncey Billups says was expected but will eventually smooth over.
-- [New York Post]
Will Larry have his new team on top of its game for the contest against his old club? All we, like the Pistons, can do is wait until tomorrow.
-- [New York Daily News]
Two of the top three teams (according to my highly-unscientific calculations) square up in Texas tonight
. The implications could factor heavily in next week's power rankings
-- [Dallas Morning News
, Reg. req'd]
Looking for a sign of the apocalypse? Golden State wins ... to inch closer to first place in the Pacific ... a spot held down by the Clippers!
-- [San Francisco Chronicle]
Phil Miller says in today's Salt Lake Tribune that the Jazz needs Okur to score. Is it wrong to say so does my fantasy team? C'mon, Memo!
-- [Salt Lake Tribune]
SINKING IN THE ATLANTIC
Posted by John Schuhmann on November 29, 2005 3:30 p.m. ET
Now that we have almost a full month of basketball under our belt, we can now see the divisional hierarchy of the NBA a little more clearly. Through Monday, Atlantic Division teams have a combined record of 24-45, a .348 winning percentage, easily the worst of the six divisions. The Central Division is clearly the best, with a combined record of 39-21 (.650). After that comes the Southwest (38-29, .567), the Pacific (37-29, .561), the Northwest (31-35, .470) and the Southeast (28-38, .348).
So what's the deal with the Atlantic? Is 43 wins going to win this division this year? Probably not. Every team in the division went through a major change this summer and needs a little time to find itself.
We'll start in Boston, where the Celtics are still trying to put together back-to-back wins. They're talented, but they're young. Still, they would like to have taken better advantage of their early schedule, with 11 of their first 15 games at home. They have two more at the TD Banknorth Garden before they hit the road for five straight, including the tough Texas three-step. Some thought that there might be attitude issues with Paul Pierce this season, but it seems that someone else could be a problem.
-- [Boston Globe, Boston Herald]
The Nets wrapped up their five-game West Coast swing with back-to-back wins over the Lakers and Nuggets. After losing the first three, Jason Kidd put it in another gear Sunday night in Los Angeles and that carried over into Monday, where a hot start and a Carmelo Anthony injury keyed the victory in Denver. The problems for the Nets seem to be integrating their new bench into the rotation. Having Jason Collins, a key to their team defense, out for four games hasn't helped either. The Nets will get a true test tomorrow night, as they host the 10-2 Pistons at the Meadowlands.
-- [The Record]
Ah, the Knicks. They stand at 4-9 following a blow-out loss in Miami. Despite their struggles, Larry Brown is being patient as his team learns his system. I don't think they're playoff material this season, but they will certainly improve over the course of 82 games. Stan Van Gundy realizes that good coaching takes time. There should be a lot of fanfare for Brown's return to Detroit on Friday (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET), just one of the interesting "grudge matches" this week.
-- [New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated]
Another one of those grudge matches takes place tonight, as Mo Cheeks and the Sixers host the Blazers. It seems like everyone on both teams has nothing but good things to say about Cheeks, though. The Sixers are currently tied for first with New Jersey, despite the tough schedule they've had so far.
-- [Philadelphia Inquirer]
In Toronto, the Raps are at 1-14 after another tough loss last night to the Mavs. If you watch the Raps, you know that they've been in a lot of games like that. Eight of their 14 losses have been close games. Thanks to their youthful energy, they've come back from double-digit deficits a few times, but thanks to their youthful inexperience, they've had a tough time executing down the stretch. Still, Charlie Villanueva, Jose Calderon and Joey Graham give Toronto fans some hope for a brighter future (and a reason to voice their opinion about Rookie Rankings every week).
-- [Toronto Sun]
"Hey Latrell, this is Tim. What do you say we get together for lunch?"
-- [Chicago Sun-Times]
After nine seasons of playoff-less basketball, Shareef Abdur-Rahim is not giving up hope after a 6-7 start in Sacramento.
-- [The Tribune]
Even after the trade to Golden State and Hurricane Katrina, Baron Davis still calls New Orleans home.
-- [New Orleans Times-Picayune]
Andrei Kirilenko could return from his ankle injury tonight. Kirilenko fantasy owners like myself are crossing their fingers. Kirilenko will chat with fans tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET.
-- [Deseret News]