From Brian Kemenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: By a variety of measurements, through the 2010-11 season the Lakers had the least productive point guard tandem in the NBA. Worse than the 19-win Cleveland Cavaliers. Worse even than the 17-win Minnesota Timberwolves, who have turned themselves into a punchline thanks to an amazing ability to draft and sign PG’s without getting one who is actually effective. Via www.hoopsstats.com, the tandem of Derek Fisher and Steve Blake scored fewer points a game (10.9), had the fewest number of assists (4.9), the lowest field-goal percentage (38 percent), and by wide margins the worst ranking for efficiency and efficiency differential. Basically, had Andy and I traded off at the point for the Lakers this year, the team’s end-of-season rankings wouldn’t have been much worse. This is a bad thing.
From J.M. Poulard, Warrior’s World: About two weeks ago, NBA TV was showing Game 6 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls. Some might remember that postseason as the year that Michael Jordan returned to the game of basketball as a slightly lesser version of his previous self. However, once you are able to get passed Jordan’s play, you notice the performance of stars such as Scottie Pippen, Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal.Most people will have you believe that the Diesel was basically the mirror image of Dwight Howard prior to arriving in Los Angeles and nothing could be further from the truth. O’Neal already at the time combined great footwork with strength, quickness and agility to beat opposing centers to the rim. In that particular game against the Bulls, Shaq scored when he was single covered, passed the ball out when double-teamed and even found ways at times to beat the double team and score. Have a look at the Diesel’s averages in those six games against the Bulls:
From Stephen A. Smith, ESPNLA: He walked onto his self-made podium donning a three-piece suit and pink tie — swearing he looked gorgeous, as always. He took more than a few moments to thank all those he’s loved for so long, paying homage to a mother and father he loved most. And by the time Shaquille O’Neal had finished saying goodbye to an illustrious career spanning 19 years, punctuating his résumé with some of the most memorable moments in NBA history, the ease in his demeanor clearly exuded that of one comfortable with saying goodbye, cognizant of his place in history, buoyed by two resounding words to culminate his illustrious career: Mission Accomplished! “My Dad would always tell me, ‘Who’s Bill Russell? Who’s Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar]? Who’s Wilt [Chamberlain],’” O’Neal explained, during and after a festive press conference inside his mansion to announce his retirement on Friday afternoon. “He always believed I would be mentioned in the same sentence with those guys someday.
From Brian Windhorst, Heat Index: This was not a time for ceremonial titles and locker-room speeches. Dwyane Wade acted like a captain under heavy pressure on Sunday night. Because of that leadership, the Miami Heat have retaken control of The NBA Finals. Knowing the enormous implications of Game 3 of the tied series, Wade started to set an example at practice on Saturday. He carried it right on through another taut fourth quarter in a whirl of energy, aggression and spirit. There were several different reasons the Heat struck back for a 88-86 victory over the Dallas Mavericks to take a 2-1 series lead, not the least of which was another great player missed a shot when Dirk Nowitzki was just off at the buzzer. But there was no bigger difference-maker than Wade, who played like a man both immersed in and unafraid of the moment. “I took it upon myself as a leader to lead my guys by example,” Wade said. “I’ve been here before.”
From Kenny Masenda, Ed The Sports Fan: Ten years ago today, the Philadelphia 76ers took on the undefeated (in the playoffs) Los Angeles Lakers in Game One of the NBA Finals. The Sixers had gone through hell to get there, beating a team that constantly put them out of the playoffs in the Indiana Pacers, as well as enduring two seven-game battles with the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks. Despite that road, their final test was against a team that steamrolled everyone they played in the West that postseason: the Los Angeles Lakers. As crazy as it was at the time though, something told me that the Sixers had a puncher’s chance. Hell, they had the Coach of the Year, the Defensive Player of the Year, the Sixth Man of the Year, and, of course, the League MVP, The Great Allen Iverson. Besides, I lied to myself plenty of times about basketball, and the scenario played out so well in my mind that I truly believed they could beat LA.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: John Kuester was fired as Detroit Pistons head coach Sunday, setting him free and positioning him to sign up as a Mike Brown assistant coach again with the Lakers. Kuester and Michael Malone were assistant coaches under Brown in Cleveland, and both are strong candidates to follow Brown to the Lakers. Malone, currently Monty Williams’ lead assistant coach in New Orleans, is in line to be Brown’s lead Lakers assistant and in charge of the defense that Brown traditionally stresses — although he was expected to get at least a cursory look for the Golden State vacant head-coaching job, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. Malone’s name might be familiar to some Lakers fans from this season because it was Malone who was the initiator in showing the Hornets the “Battle at Kruger” YouTube video to convey how underdogs can win if they band together (in the case of the video, to save a stalked calf from a slew of lions) during the playoffs against the Lakers.