IT AIN'T EASY BEING GREEN
On Dec. 18, when the Boston Celtics lost to the Heat in Boston, the Celtics slipped into a first-place tie with the New Jersey Nets in the Atlantic Division.
Since then, the Nets have ripped off nine consecutive wins, the Celtics have lost four of seven, including the Christmas blowout, 117-81, in New Jersey to fall five games behind.
What the heck is going on in Beantown? You get a chance to see for yourself this week as the Celtics visit New Orleans on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN) and Dallas on Friday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
Slow starts have been one problem. In the current seven-game stretch, the Celtics have fallen behind by halftime in all four defeats (the largest being 23 to New Jersey) and by 11 to Cleveland in a game they eventually won 89-82.
According to one scribe, the biggest difference between a team like Boston and Portland, which toppled the Celts 108-103 in Boston on Jan. 3, is depth. Most teams have it. (Boston Globe)
Meanwhile, the help the Celtics do have can play. Most important, it wants to stay and build on the great Celtics tradition.
"It took me awhile to understand the 16 championships,'' Antoine Walker said. "But it's a great honor. There's a lot of pride in seeing so many of the ex-players come back. That's unusual.
"Look at Michael Jordan. That situation would never happen here to a great player."
Sounds like Walker has found a home.
In case you haven't noticed (we're here to remind you), NBA TV has begun broadcasting live games every Saturday through Tuesday. Which means there is a nationally televised game every day of the week.
As Bill Walton would say: "What could be better than that?"
SEND IN THE CLONES!
Maybe you've heard, but some of the bigger news this week surrounded the first purported cloned human being. It's a girl, named "Eve."
Supposedly, the baby Eve was created by a company called Clonaid (not affiliated with Kool-Aid, Band-Aid, the adhesive, BandAid, of "Do They Know It's Christmas," LiveAid or FarmAid), which was founded by the Raelians (no, it's not the combined name of the Bucks' backcourt), a sect that believes aliens created life on Earth.
(HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, my, yes. That's a good one! Good one!)
(Rob's editor: You're laughing now, but wait 'til they take over the world.)
Yeah, but while we're waiting for this Raelian army to be grown and picked like so many ears of corn, let's chew on this. If you could clone anyone in the NBA right now to put five guys on the floor, which player would it be? E-mail us at Click and Roll to explain why you would clone this player.
But, we must warn you. Cloning isn't for the faint of heart.
"Scientists have successfully cloned mammals such as pigs and sheep," the Associated Press reported, "but the technology is not reliable and most scientists say it is difficult, unethical and risky to attempt to clone humans."
In other words, don't try this at home.
YOU GO, GIRLFRIEND!
One of the more interesting feuds (and you know how we love us some good smack talk) is the long-simmering one between Minnesota's Kevin Garnett and Phoenix's Stephon Marbury.
After Suns' super-rookie Amare Stoudemire scored 38 points in Phoenix's 104-98 loss in Minnesota, Suns point guard Stephon Marbury compared Stoudemire and Garnett, and not favorably toward KG: "He doesn't even compare to Amare. It's not even close. It's two different people — it's like Michael Jordan and Mario Elie." (St. Paul Pioneer-Press)
Goodness, how does Mario Elie feel about that?
Anyway, that proceeded to fire up Mr. Garnett, who referred to himself in the third person, which is always good for a fight.
"This is really kind of bizarre, kind of funny," Garnett said. "Anybody that knows and has followed Steph's career, you know ever since he's left Minnesota, he's been in envy -- for whatever reason -- of Kevin Garnett. It's kind of fun, though, because out of all the things -- he has like, what, three kids, a big family, a wife, bills -- but I'm on his mind every day.
"It's kind of flattering. It's like a girl -- I'm on his mind like a girl."
One day after the verbal flare up, it was still on the Timberwolves' collective minds. (St. Paul Pioneer-Press)
Phoenix returns to Minnesota on Feb. 23 (3:30 p.m. ET, Telemundo). (How do you say trash talk in Spanish?)
Speaking of the aforementioned Stoudemire, people are standing up and taking notice of the rookie. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)
Back in his home state of Florida, they knew he was good, but his play of late has proven that Stoudemire is the real deal. (Orlando Sentinel)
Lakers assistant Jim Cleamons concurs. (L.A. Daily News)
And in case you didn't get it, here's another one. (Arizona Daily Star)
Some people are posing the question, however: Where's Vince? (Detroit News)
Where's Jim Mora when you need him? Will the Lakers make the playoffs? History says no, especially with Shaq and his painful big toe. (L.A. Daily News)
Meanwhile, you can see what the Lakers' No. 1 fan thinks of his team this season.
The Blazers are on fire and they're confident they can be title contenders. (The Oregonian)
Here's a nice story about Warriors head coach Eric Musselman. (Sacramento Bee)
The Heat running in the open floor? Now we've seen everything. (Palm Beach Post)
In case you hadn't noticed, players usually get along when they're winning and they don't when they're losing. Here's a story that shows you winning cures all ills. (Indy Star) The Nets' Kenyon Martin finds inspiration from Hawks' guard DeMarr Johnson, who was seriously injured in an offseason car wreck. (N.Y. Times)
The Magic aren't tall and therefore teams have a ball on them in the paint. (Orlando Sentinel)
Gee, another story about whether Gary Payton will stay with the Sonics. (Tacoma (Wash.) Tribune)
Sam Cassell says after winning a title, the desire to win another one doesn't fade, it grows. Maybe he could tell his teammates. (Salt Lake Tribune)
If Michael Jordan is really gone after the season, Doug Collins stays. (Chicago Sun-Times)
Most coaches are still trying to figure out how to play offense against the zone. (Dallas Morning News)
Psst! Be patient (as you can with the 24-second shot clock), pass the ball, don't try to dribble through it and nail the jumpers.
As far as "Big Threes" are concerned, here are some of the best, according to the Dallas Morning News.
If the point guard is the team's quarterback, then you know learning the point guard position will take some time. (Indianapolis Star)
One of the truly nicest guys in the game, the Knicks' Mark Pope, hangs on to his NBA dreams and his roster position -- for now. (Newark Star-Ledger)
Rob Peterson, NBA.com