The Best Week Ever
Posted Mar 31 2007 3:30PM
Secaucus, N.J., March 25, 2007-- It was a good week for me. I found out that I'd be getting a couple hundred dollars back in my tax return, I went 6-for-11 from 3-point range in two rec league games and Antonella Barba accepted my friend request on Facebook.
But none of that can compare to the kind of week that Kobe Bryant has had.
You don't even need words to describe it; 65-50-60-50 does the trick.
Bryant joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only other player in NBA history to score 50-plus points in four straight games. Now the challenge is to boost that total to five, facing the Warriors -- the same team he scored the first 50-point game of his career against on Dec. 6, 2000.
My Mamba support has been well chronicled. From picking him to win the MVP, to lauding his incredible talents whenever given the opportunity, to even being hired by my editor partially because, as he puts it, "It was kind of like a social experiment. I was really curious why somebody would like Kobe so much."
I think he knows by now.
And now, these are the 10 things I learned this week ...
1. Nasty Nachbar
Having covered about a dozen Nets games this year, one of the sights I've become accustomed to seeing is New Jersey reserve forward Bostjan "Boki" Nachbar placidly draining threes hours before tip-off. His stroke is calm and soothing and watching the parabolic flight of the ball can become hypnotic.
Turns out the Boke-ster has a far-more jarring inside game.
The 6-9, 221-pound Slovenian has had four nasty dunks in the last month. Nasty as in, "Sure, you're defending me tight but I'm still going to stuff in through the net and take you with me."
Just watch them:
I could not have been more surprised. It is the basketball equivalent of Kenny G coming out with a heavy metal album.
2. Savvy signing by the Knicks
Kentucky's Randolph Morris didn't have to wait long to make the move from the NCAA to the NBA. It only took a week.
The Knicks signed the 6-11, 260-pound center to a free-agent contract five days after his Wildcats were eliminated from the dance by Kansas.
The quick turn around was possible because Morris originally declared for the 2005 draft but no team selected him. He returned to UK and played two more seasons as a free agent who was ineligible to be drafted. Morris has the potential to be an automatic contributor at the four or the five, giving New York two guys on either block (along with Eddy Curry) that create their own offense by using a post move and finishing with a soft touch.
3. Secret to the Cavs' success
As LeBron James goes, so do the Cavaliers. OK, you don't need to be an expert to figure that one out. It goes without saying. But there is a role player that has been vital to Cleveland's 9-3 record in March.
His name is Sasha Pavlovic.
The Cavaliers are 4-0 this season when Pavlovic scores 20 or more and 12-7 when he goes for 10 or more. The 6-7, 210-pound forward from Serbia & Montenegro is averaging 11 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals per game for the month.
4. Brandon Roy: triple-double threat of the future?
We know Brandon Roy can score. He leads all rookies with a 16.1 points per game average. We also know he can dime as he has dropped seven-plus assists nine times this season.
But the Portland rookie point guard can board too. He also has grabbed seven-plus rebounds nine times this year. Don't forget he is listed at 6-6, 229.
Roy averages 4.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, but with individual outputs like he's had in both categories thus far, we might be seeing a candidate for Jason Kidd to pass the triple-dip torch to when he retires.
5. Don't forget about LaMarcus
Most of the attention that the Trail Blazers have received this year has been generated from their Rookie of the Year candidate Roy, but how about fellow first-year man LaMarcus Aldridge?
He is quietly becoming the third best center in the West behind Yao Ming and Amare Stoudemire.
The 6-11, 245-pound Aldridge has scored 24-plus points in four games in March and has topped double-digit rebounds five times. He is averaging 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks for the month, nearly doubling his season averages of 8.9, 4.9 and 1.2.
6. Where's Bonzi?
Bonzi Wells, a big-time free agent pickup by the Rockets after averaging 23.2 points and 12.0 rebounds in the first round of the playoffs last season, has only played in 15 of Houston's 38 games since the New Year.
Wells is recovering from a sore right foot but told the Houston Chronicle on March 15 that he is ready to return.
The Wells situation hasn't fazed the Rockets as they are riding a five-game winning streak and have won 8-of-10. Should Houston square off with Utah in a four-five match up in the first round of the playoffs, however, having Bonzi's offense off the bench could be key to counter Matt Harpring's and Paul Millsap's reserve contributions for the Jazz.
7. The bad kind of 50 points
Kobe Bryant's 50-point streak has been cross examined, dissected and picked apart every which way but there was a 50-point occurrence that happened last week that went under the radar.
The Sixers lost by 50 (Fifty!) at home to the Rockets on March 18.
Six days later they beat the Heat in Miami by eight. Go figure.
8. Mavs match up nightmare
Dallas is primed to nab the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference and win 65-plus games in the process and what's their prize behind door No. 8?
Maybe the Golden State Warriors. Uh oh.
The Warriors sit a game behind the Clippers for the final playoff berth in the West and have a 2-0 record against the Mavericks this season.
You would expect the Mavs to turn it up a notch in the postseason and be able to dispose of their first-round opponent, even if they are coached by Don Nelson, but if I'm a Dallas fan, I'm rooting for the Clips down the stretch.
9. Went to Nets-Nuggets on Tuesday
I made the trip to Continental Airlines Arena to catch up with Carmelo and talk about the glory days we shared at Syracuse and ended up being legitimately impressed with how his game has grown.
I catch him on TV about 20 times a season, but when you're there live you can see the little things like how much his footwork has improved and how he interacts with his teammates.
Call me a homer, but I am convinced that Melo has the best jab step series in the game today. It looks easy for him. He comes off a baseline screen, catches the ball on the wing and throws his right foot out toward the defender once, twice, a third time and he has all the space he needs. Up goes the 15-to-18 footer and swish goes the net.
Next time down the defender decides to play up on him and not give the half-step in response to his jab, so Melo rips the ball across his body, gets his shoulders lower than the defenders' shoulders and blows by him to the rack.
Smart, textbook basketball.
10. How could we forget Gilbert?
In typical Gilbert style, Agent Zero took lemons and made lemonade.
After failing to deliver on his 50-point prediction against Portland, Arenas bounced back with a game-winning layup in his very next game against Seattle.
Oh, and he issued a Jerry Maguire-like mission statement in his blog that is probably the most heartfelt and honest thing an athlete has said since Hulk Hogan once uttered, "To all my little Hulkamaniacs, say your prayers, take your vitamins, and you will never go wrong."
Have a question or comment for The McTen or care to share what you learned this week? Send an e-mail.