ORLANDO MAGIC SHAKE THINGS UP A BIT
The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics have not lost a game in the month of December. The Magic have been reeling losing 6 of 7 with their only win in that stretch coming against the lowly Los Angeles Clippers. Prior to Saturday's loss against the 76ers though, the Magic went out and did something drastic by almost completely overhauling their team. On their way out are Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus, and on their way in are Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark. On some levels, I understand what they did, but on others, I have to admit, this move doesn't make a lot of sense to me. There is no doubt that they gain firepower in this move. Gilbert Arenas has always been a scorer, but he's only played 68 games over the past 4 seasons. That said, he's still averaging 17.3 points a game this year. Jason Richardson was averaging 19.3 points a game for Phoenix this year and has hit on 42% of his 3-point attempts this year. Hedo Turkoglu had his 5 best NBA seasons as a member of the Magic before leaving after the 2008 season and while he has only averaged 9.5 points a game for Phoenix this year, he's still a versatile scorer who can do it from both inside and out. Earl Clark doesn't really add firepower, but with the loss of Gortat, he does bring size. The 6'10" Clark has played only 9 games this season. So offensively, the Magic add some nice pieces.
Now as for the players they let go, Vince Carter was in the midst of his worst NBA season (15.1 ppg, 2.9 apg - both career lows), so his leaving town makes sense. Similarly, Rashard Lewis has struggled this season averaging just 12.2 points a game, his lowest average since the 1999-2000 season with Seattle, so shipping him out makes some sense as well. Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus are the parts of this deal I have a tough time figuring out. In Gortat they lose their primary backup to Dwight Howard. Who fills that role now? Malik Allen? Rookie Daniel Orton? Clark? I don't like this move. Similarly, in giving up Pietrus they essentially lose their best perimeter defender. Who steps up into that role? They say defense wins championships, and we've seen teams that just go out and try and score as many points as possible have struggled against better quality teams. So we'll see how this works out, but I don't see this move putting the Magic back into the conversation with the Heat and Celtics for best in the East.
SPEAKING OF THE HEAT AND CELTICS...
BRONCOS TURN TO TEBOW. STRUGGLES CONTINUE.
Tim Tebow made his first NFL start today against the Oakland Raiders, but despite a pair of touchdowns and turnover-free football from the rookie, the Raiders were still too much for the Broncos winning 39-23. Still, fans saw what Tebow can do as he showed he's more than just a great college quarterback. Tebow blew through the entire Raider defense for a 40 yard touchdown on a quarterback draw (behind some nice blocking from Correll Buckhalter) and also threw a 33 yard touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd. For the game Tebow finished 8/16 for 138 yards and touchdown through the air, and also picked up 78 yards on 8 carries. By contrast, the rest of the Broncos combined to run for 28 yards on 25 carries. I don't know that he'll ever live up to the expectations set forth by his being a first round pick, but it appears he's not a total bust. Denver plays Houston and San Diego in their remaining two games.
FOOTBALL'S EQUIVALENT OF A BUZZER BEATER
The New York Giants led the Philadelphia Eagles 31-10 with under 8 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. Then in the final 8 minutes, the Eagles scored 4 Touchdowns, the last of which on a punt return by DeSean Jackson as time expired. Just an absolutely ridiculous finish and a potentially devastating loss for the Giants as the Eagles take control of their own destiny in the NFC East with 2 games to play. How'd it all go down?
It looks even worse when you find out that Giants punter Matt Dodge was supposed to punt the ball out of bounds. 14 seconds left in the game, how do you let the most dangerous return man in the league get a shot and running that kick back? It will be interesting to see how New York responds to this one when they travel to Green Bay next week.