The Potpourri Smells Good
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SECAUCUS, NJ, Jan. 5, 2007 -- OK. I'll be straight with you. I'm jacking McMenamin's schtick this week. I've gotta bunch of stuff on my mind.

So here's a random selection of goodies from within my cluttered dome.

Fun Suns

That Nets-Suns game of a month ago was one of the best games I have ever seen and the type of game the Nets play once every few years or so. At the time, I thought that it was pretty special for the Suns as well.

Now, it seems like the Suns play one of those games every few days, or every day like they did earlier this week with wins in Chicago and Toronto on Tuesday and Wednesday. But the key word there I guess is "seems", as upon looking at the margin and stats standings, Phoenix has only been involved in five games so far where the margin of victory was three points or less. Maybe they're just fun to watch, whether or not the game is close.

Check out the Magic though. They lead the league with 11 games (one of every three they've played) that were decided by three or less. And they've won eight of the 11. My first thought after seeing that is that they're probably a good free throw shooting team. But that's the second time I would be wrong in this Suns-Nets-driven thought process. They're the third worst foul shooting team in the league.

More Indicators of Success

The last two Fridays have been spent looking at team stats and which may correlate with winning games. We looked at season stats for that (fairly elementary) analysis. If we stay on the the margin and stats standings, we can look at some stats on the game level.

For example, we see (by adding up the last three columns) that teams that shoot a higher percentage from the field than their opponent have a winning percentage of .779. Teams that outrebound their opponent have a winning percentage of .656. And teams that commit fewer turnovers in a game have a winning percentage of .577.

The above numbers do not include the (really) late Lakers-Kings game from Thursday night. I think there were several people here on the East Coast that watched the overtime from Sacramento while they were eating their Cheerios on Friday. As I was watching the deluge of free throws (102 in all), I was imagining the poor NBA TV crew waiting around the studio to do the final highlights of the night ... err ... morning.

In the Hotzones

This probably deserves its own column sometime in the near future, but we were toying around with the Hotzones tool (on the NBA.com homepage, roll over STATS in the menu and click on NBA Hotzones) here yesterday and in just a few minutes of exploring, I discovered some interesting stuff (all of which would probably solicit a chorus of duhs from scouts around the league - but hey, I find it interesting).

For instance...

Not including layups, Vince Carter is shooting .586 from the right side of the floor inside the arc. But from elsewhere on the floor (inside the arc), he's shooting just .260.

Michael Redd (now I'm stealing Peterson's schtick) is a much better outside shooter from the left side (.432) than he is from the right (.316).

Dwyane Wade takes a lot of shots from the left side, but he should be staying in the middle of the floor (or the right corner).

Richard Jefferson is 8-13 (.615) on threes from straight away. He's 7-35 (.200) from downtown on the sides and in the corners.

In contrast, Adam Morrison is 3-15 (.200) on threes from straight away and 37-100 (.370) from the sides and corners.

RJ and 'Stache both like video games though. (I didn't learn that from Hotzones. Morrison told me.)

Today's Ballot

I vote a lot and I don't vote for the same guys every time, because there are a lot of players around the Associations that deserve some love. But I'm a bit of a contrarian voter in that I look to vote for guys that aren't already winning.

So, with the third returns in mind, here's my ballot for today:

East
Guards: Gilbert Arenas and Jason Kidd
Agent Zero is baaallllinnn right now and just read this for my All-Star thoughts on Kidd.
Forwards: Jermaine O'Neal and Caron Butler
With Chris Bosh and O'Neal currently neck-and-neck for the second starting spot, I felt the need to vote for one of them. They're pretty even, but I went with O'Neal because his team has a better record and because Bosh was out for so long. I voted for Butler because Gilbert told me to.
Center: Dwight Howard
I love Shaq, but he has only played four games.

West
Guards: Steve Nash and Deron Williams
See Kidd above for Nash. How Deron Williams isn't in the Top 10 is beyond me. The kid needs some love.
Forwards: Carlos Boozer and Shawn Marion
Neither of these guys have nearly as many votes as they should.
Center: Amaré Stoudemire
I've been alternating my votes between STAT and Mehmet Okur. Yao obviously doesn't need me.

In the immortal words of Austin Powers ...

Vegas baby, yeah!

We had an All-Star meeting here at NBA.com headquarters on Thursday and I left pretty amped up about the trip. Four days of exclusive access behind the scenes of the best show in basketball. We'll be in the locker rooms, at the photo shoots, on the bus rides and in the arena all weekend and you will read about everything that's going on as it happens in the all-encompassing All-Star Blog.

Can't wait.

I also can't wait to get over to the Meadowlands tonight for Bulls-Nets. Haven't been to a game in two weeks and I'm feening for some live NBA action. Somebody remind J-Kidd that I haven't updated this page in a while (although this guy doesn't seem to think much the 81). Of course, since the Nets are playing the Bulls, I think setting the single-game assist record would be more interesting.

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