Rajon’s Rage

 

For much of the season, the Boston Celtics have been lethargic at best. Their age has dictated their play in the worst way. Right now they are sitting at an uncharacteristic 7th place in the Eastern Conference behind the New York Knicks. Their defense has been stellar this season–ranking 3rd in points per game allowed with 89.4 and 4th in defensive rating ony allowing 98.4 points per 100 possessions–but it has seemed like the hoop has been as small as a button as they are only scoring 90.6 points per game according to basketball reference.

All of this hinges on the play of Rajon Rondo.  Since the middle of last season, Rondo has been considered the best player on the Boston Celtics. He’s one of the few players that can leave his mark on a game while only taking 7-10 shots in it. He’s a phenomenal passer, defender, rebounder, and very heady as a player. What’s the weakest are of his game? Scoring. Rondo isn’t the type of player to score 20 points night in a night out. 10 assists would be more like it, or maybe two steals. He’d beat you without you even knowing it.

The Knicks found that out the hard way yesterday as Rondo had a historical game dropping 18 points, 20 assists, and 17 rebounds. The first name that I thought of when seeing his stat -line was Lafayette “Fat” Lever. Lever was one of the best, if not the best, rebounding point guard’s ever. A few more names to drop into that box would be Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd, Oscar Robertson, and Walt Frazier.

From a historical perspective, Rondo is the only player to have a 20 assist 15 rebound game in the history of the NBA. Only Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Jason Kidd have had games where they’ve scored 15 points, 15 rebounds, and 15 assists.

Had Rondo gone at least 10-20 (7-20) he would’ve had a legitimate shot at having a triple double twice over. He would’ve been the first player since the NBA/ABA merger to achieve that feat. Wilt Chamberlain had achieved this playing for the 76ers in 1968 but the NBA had not yet merged with the ABA.

Rondo has had two triple doubles in the last four games since the All-Star break. Aside from a game where he did not score against Cleveland, Rondo has played stellar basketball. He has taken his anger out on the league, and I think it’s a result of all of the slights that have been put on him.

Rondo was put in the All-Star game, but only as a reserve. Who made it over him? Luol Deng, Andre Iguodola, and Joe Johnson who he ultimately replaced. It was a slap in the face to say the least. The NBA had made a statement to him that he was not good enough to be an All-Star after being there the previous two years and not dropping in production in the least bit. Not a week later the trade rumors had started. Rondo to the (insert team here). It was time to blow Boston up because they aren’t good enough. Rondo has attitude problems. You name it, it was reported.

The normally unassuming, buttoned up point guard had let everyone know that he was listening with his play do the talking for him instead of going to the media about these things. There was no reason. Ainge and Rivers said they would like to keep Rondo around and until further notice that’s the way that it will be.

In an interview with CSN New England Rondo had finally spoken about the rumors.

I don’t know where people are getting their information from,But it was big of Doc to come out with a statement. People are still going to say me and Doc have problems. But even after that comment and statement he made, they are still going to say what they want to say. It’s just part of life. -Rajon Rondo via CSN New England

Bob Cousy even gave Rondo his blessing in an interview with ESPN New York. Those words aren’t easy to come by from a Boston legend.

Rondo is making the decision tougher for Boston by the day. I’m enjoying this though, so please folks, keep it up.

“BaseLINE of the Night”

For those of you who don’t know, this is a post I do every day or night that pays homage to the guys out there ballin’ hard and making their fantasy owners feel all warm and fuzzy inside. With 9 games on the slate tonight, it was pretty nice Tuesday to get back into the swing of things after All-Star Weekend. Here’s the latest edtion of “BaseLINE of the Night” for Tuesday, February 28th, 2012.

The Durantula was off tonight so I guess someone else can win the award. We’ll see if he can pick up where he left off tomorrow night against the 76ers though. Tonight though, we have a first time winner. When you think about this guy, it’s not a guy that would come to mind pretty much ever when thinking of a top-line producer. He plays for the Milwaukee Bucks and isn’t even a starter. Tonight, however, he was on fire and helped the Bucks to a one point win over the Wizards. The “BaseLINE of the Night” goes to… Mike Dunleavy. Yes, I really meant Mike Dunleavy and no, that’s not a typo. The worst part is that when looking for highlights, there are more results for Dunleavy receiving the highlights than actually providing the highlights. Anyways, enough with the Mike Dunleavy bashing and just go ahead and enjoy this line and clip.

  • 28 Pts (9-17 FG, 5-10 3PT, 5-5 FT)/2 Reb/1 Ast/3 Stl/1 TO

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!


While Mr. Dunleavy reigns supreme for a night, let’s take a look at the guys who came oh-so-close to being awarded the “Line of the Night” award. Rounding out the top 5 are:

T2. DeAndre Jordan – 14 Pts (7-9 FG)/14 Reb/2 Stl/4 Blk

T2. Derrick Williams – 27 Pts (9-10 FG, 4-4 3PT, 5-5FT)/5 Reb/1 Blk/1 TO

4. Derrick Rose – 32 Pts (11-24 FG, 1-5 3PT, 9-11 FT)/2 Reb/9 Ast/3 Stl/2 Blk/2 TO

5. Paul George – 11 Pts (4-7 FG, 2-2 3PT, 1-2 FT)/9 Reb/5 Ast/4 Stl/1 Blk/1 TO

*Suprising Line of the Night*

  • Derrick Williams (35% owned) –  See Line Above

Derrick Williams, the second overall pick in this past draft, had a career night tonight. Tonight was the first night that the explosive rookie has broken the 20-point barrier in his career. In the whole month of February, he only scored in double figures three other times! His line tonight was tied for the second best of the night as well. Although he has the talent to be a great player and scorer, he doesn’t have the right situation. There is such a logjam for minutes with both Rubio, Ridnour, and Wes Johnson starting, plus Beasley, Webster, and Barea coming off the bench, and Kevin Love playing much of the game, that it’s hard for Williams to get consistent minutes at either SF or PF or even SG. While he might have earned himself some more playing time for his game tonight, I still think his play, as well as his playing time, will be sporadic for the rest of the season barring injury so if you have him, enjoy tonight but don’t expect it moving forward.

While these guys weren’t the best of the best, they certainly had their owners smiling after their performance. As I always say, In the words of Cleveland fans (myself included), “There’s always next year,” or, in this case, next game.

That’s it for this edition of “BaseLINE of the Night,” but make sure to check back tonight/tomorrow to see who takes home the award.

NBA Rumors: Chicago Bulls release Mike James

Chicago Bulls made a move on Tuesday by releasing Mike James.

C.J. Watson will return to play the New Orleans Hornets after missing two games because of a concussion.

Source: ESPN Chicago

NBA Rumors: Brandon Roy Considering A Comeback

Brandon Roy was one of the better scorers in the NBA before his numerous knee injuries.

It was difficult watching the former star struggle on the court. Hopefully he can comeback and be successful in the league.

“It’s the truth. It’s really hard being so far away from the game. I spend time watching Jamal (Crawford) and following all of his games; Will (Conroy) and Tre (Simmons) are both doing their thing, so it’s driving me to wanna come back out there.” Roy told US Basket, “If the treatment I’ve been looking into can work, I believe there’s a good chance you will see Brandon Roy back hoopin’.”

Source: SI Tracking Blog

NBA Rumors: New Jersey Nets coach Avery Johnson — Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks could steal Deron Williams

Avery Johnson is a little bit worried about the Dallas Mavericks and their ability to lure Deron Williams.

Source: ESPN Dallas

Halfway Mark NBA Report

Baseline Basketball’s halfway mark report on the NBA. As the All Star festivities end the real fun begins. This is the part of the season when the fight to the finish line gets rough, teams are wheeling and dealing players and the teams who are for real usually separate themselves from teams that are not. Here Baseline Basketball asks NBA writers Michael Sykes and Samar Gaines a few questions. Read there thoughts below. 

1. Who will win the East this year? 

Mike: I have the Miami Heat winning the East this year. It seems like a no-brainer pick to me. There is no team with enough fire power to match them on the offensive end with their Space and Pace offense. They get in your head with their vicious traps on defense and play the passing lanes better than any team that I’ve ever seen. Miami is first in offensive efficiency and seventh in defensive efficiency, according to Basketball Reference. Not to mention LeBron James is having the best season that has ever been recorded in NBA history right now. He’s posting a 32.40 PER right now which is far and away the best ever.

Samar: Barring injury the Miami Heat will win the East. The Heat’s offense is finally looking like what Pat Riley hoped for when he brought LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh together. LeBron and Wade are two of the best finishers in the league. They have three-point shooters to space the floor with Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, Shane Battier, James Jones and Norris Cole. Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem can score inside or step out and hit the 15-18 foot jumpers. Defensively this team likes to pressure the ball handler and create turnovers. Like Mike mentioned, LeBron James is having his best season and over the last 10 games Dwyane Wade is averaging 24.5 ppg while shooting 57%.

2. Who will win the West this year? 
Mike: I have the Oklahoma City Thunder winning the West in a close race with the rest of the top teams in the conference. The West is really tight right now–there are  nine games between the Thunder and the No. 9 seed and only three-and-a-half between the third place Clippers and the ninth place Trailblazers. Right now, though, the Thunder are three games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs are hot right now, but the Thunder are too. They share the best record in the league at 27-7 with the Miami Heat and have a two-time scoring champion in Kevin Durant to back them up. I don’t see them slowing down anytime soon.
Samar: As good as the Oklahoma City Thunder have looked I’m going to surprise some people and pick the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have the second best record in the West despite Manu Ginobili missing major time with injuries. Heading into the all-star break the Spurs were winners of 12 of the last 13 games. According to Basketball-Reference.com the Spurs are sixth in offensive rating and 16th in defensive rating. But over the last 15 or so games the Spurs defense has been much better and it’s all led by Tim Duncan. While Duncan has lost a lot of his athleticism, his basketball IQ remains off the chart, and he uses that to make sure he and his teammates are in the right spot defensively. Offensively Duncan no longer has to be double teamed so the Spurs play more of an up-tempo style. They like to get out on the run and shoot the three. Gregg Popovich has been able to get the most out of guys like Danny Green, Gary Neal, Cory Joseph and Kawhi Leonard.
 
3. What team should get the number one pick ?  
Mike: I believe that the Charlotte Bobcats should get the No. 1 pick. Hopefully the ping-pong balls work out in their favor because they need a dominant force in the middle like Kentucky’s Anthony Davis. Right now, their defense allows 100.8 points per game which is 27th in the NBA. This team is 29th in the league in defensive efficiency and 30th in offensive efficiency. I believe that a turn around on any team should always start on the defensive side of the ball and Davis would be the perfect center piece for that task.

Samar: I agree that Charlotte should get the pick because they really have the least talent, but how fun would it be if the Washington Wizards end up getting that pick? Think of this: John Wall at the point with a frontline of JaVale McGee, Jan Vesely and Anthony Davis. They could run with any team in the league and defensively a front court of Davis and McGee would be very hard to score on. Selfishly I want this to happen for Wall’s career. Getting Davis can help him turn this Wizards team around almost immediately.

4. Does Derrick Rose’s injuries worry you? 
Mike: They do worry me a little. If they are lingering, it would definitely put a ball and chain on the powerhouse that is the Chicago Bulls. Rose says that he should be fine thanks to his new chiropractor Stuart Yoss. With that being said, though, this makes me feel that the Bulls will make a move to acquire a more consistent threat in their front court like Pau Gasol or Dwight Howard. Rose’s teammates must be a threat for this team to thrive and last postseason it didn’t happen. Joakim Noah and Luol Deng must step up to the plate and make plays. Then Rose’s back will pose no threat to the title contending Bulls.
Samar: As a big-time fan of Tracy McGrady whenever I hear back spasms I’m automatically worried. McGrady would miss games almost every year with back spasms and the fact that Rose dealt with back spasms in high school is a bad sign that this will be recurring. While I am very concerned, Rose is a very hard worker and if anybody is going to put in the work to make sure they overcome this it’s Rose.
 
5. How far will the Knicks go this season? 
Mike: The Knicks will simply go as far as Carmelo Anthony, not Jeremy Lin, takes them. At the end of the day Carmelo is the best player on that team. At the end of the games when it’s time for the money ball they’re going to go through Carmelo. Lin must focus on beating the traps that are going to be thrown at him and cut down on turnovers. If they can do that then the Knicks are as good as any team in the NBA. I believe that they’ll be the sixth seed by the end of the season and play Philadelphia in the first round. I think they’ll be able to get by them, but get eliminated by the Bulls in the second round. But who knows, if the team’s chemistry can improve by that time then they could be in the finals.
Samar: It all depends on the seeding at the end of the season. If they are a seven or eight seed this team will be one and done. But if the Knicks can get the sixth or higher seed and avoid the Bulls and Heat this team is talented enough to beat a three, four or five seed. The Knicks have been a better team with Jeremy Lin playing the point guard position, but as anyone who saw the game vs. the Heat on Thursday, great defensive teams can completely take him out of games. This team still has major problems with the inconsistent play of Amar’e Stoudemire, the turnover problems and they have better chemistry with Carmelo Anthony on the bench. I have serious doubts that they will be able to fix these problems this season.
 
6. Do you see Dwight Howard moving soon? If so, to where? If not, why not?
Mike: I don’t see Dwight Howard going anywhere through the rest of the season. The reason why is that no team seems to have enough to give the Orlando Magic back for Dwight. His top suitors right now are Los Angeles and New Jersey depending on what report you’re reading. In Los Angeles, you’d likely get Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum back in return. Gasol is coming into the twilight of his career soon and he won’t be able to reciprocate half of what Howard was able to do for Orlando. Bynum will be able to, but with his shady injury history you’d also want some other pieces and draft assets in return. The Lakers don’t have that. With New Jersey you would only get back Brook Lopez and a few draft picks that would lose value because of the combination of Deron Williams and Howard. Unless you can swing a third team into this deal, which is possible, I don’t think the Magic pull the trigger.
Samar: I really think Dwight is getting moved right after all-star weekend. I  think the only reason he has lasted on the Magic this long is because the all-star game was in Orlando. It just makes too much sense for the Lakers to make a move for Dwight now and if you’re the Orlando Magic why wait and lose him for nothing? If I’m Orlando and LA wants him so badly they will have to send Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to Orlando and Orlando can send  Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Duhon, Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson to the Lakers. Orlando gets Bynum and Pau, whom they can flip in the offseason if they’d like too, while shedding Turkoglu and Duhon’s contracts off their books. The Lakers get Howard to anchor the defense and some much-needed outside shooting with Anderson and Hedo.
 
7. Share a hypothetical trade idea. 
Mike: My trade consists of the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic. Pau Gasol gets sent to the Houston Rockets, Dwight Howard is shipped to the Lakers and Andrew Bynum would go to the Orlando Magic. The Lakers would get Luis Scola in return for Gasol and get Howard back from the Orlando Magic. The Magic would get Kevin Martin from the Rockets, which would give them another threat on the wing and would keep them competitive with Bynum down low. Quentin Richardson and Ishmael Smith would be sent to the Lakers and Rockets respectively to fulfill salary cap requirements. The Rockets and Lakers would be able to stay competitive while the Magic would have a nice centerpiece for the future barring health issues and also a new trade piece in Kevin Martin.
SamarI know things are going well for the Philadelphia 76ers but this team has two major holes. One is the health of Spencer Hawes and the second is that this team doesn’t have a true go-to scorer. Lou Williams has done a great job off the bench, but wouldn’t this team look better if they traded Evan Turner to the New Orleans Hornets for Eric Gordon? I know Eric Gordon is on the New Orleans Hornets and how difficult it is to trade with them, but he didn’t sign the extension with the Hornets and they could lose him for nothing. Instead of letting him get to the open market trade him to the 76ers for another young shooting guard in Evan Turner. Once Eric Gordon and Spencer Hawes gets healthy this trade makes the 76ers true contenders.

Former coach Mike Dunleavy part of group looking to buy New Orleans Hornets, sources say

New Orleans may have a buyer in the form of Mike Dunleavy. He is part of a group that is looking to buy the Hornets.

Source: ESPN

Los Angeles Clippers plan to bring Bobby Simmons back

Bobby Simmons may return to the Los Angeles Clippers for the stretch run of the NBA season.

Source: ESPN Los Angeles

New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin — Ben & Jerry’s apologizes for ‘Lin-Sanity’ flavor

Another Jeremy Lin issue in case you weren’t tired of hearing it already. Let’s just play basketball because this kid can flat-out play the game.

Source: ESPN New York

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant suffers nasal fracture at All-Star Game

I’m not exactly sure why Dwyane Wade didn’t just let Kobe Bryant slam one down on him. Everybody on the night was allowed uncontested dunks.

Bryant suffered a nasal fracture because of it.

Source: ESPN Los Angeles