Monday, January 31, 2011

Some Random Top Tens From Around the Sports World

Men's Tennis Rankings

1. Rafael Nadal (Spain)
2. Roger Federer (Switzerland)
3. Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
4. Robin Soderling (Sweden)
5. Andy Murray (Great Britain)
6. David Ferrer (Spain)
7. Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic)
8. Andy Roddick (USA)
9. Fernando Verdasco (Spain)
10. Jurgen Melzer (Austria)

Women's Tennis Rankings

1. Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)
2. Kim Clijsters (Belgium)
3. Vera Zvonareva (Russia)
4. Francesca Schiavone (Italy)
5. Samantha Stosur (Australia)
6. Venus Williams (USA)
7. Li Na (China)
8. Jelena Jankovic (Serbia)
9. Victoria Azarenka (Belarus)
10. Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)

FedEx Cup Points Leaders

1. Jhonattan Vegas 672
2. Bubba Watson 545
3. Jonathan Byrd 534
4. Mark Wilson 508
5. Bill Haas 403
6. Phil Mickelson 300
6. Robert Garrigus 300
8. Tim Clark 299
9. Matt Kuchar 283
10. Gary Woodland 256

NCAA Men's Top Ten

1. Ohio State 22-0
2. Kansas 20-1
3. Texas 19-3
4. Pittsburgh 20-2
5. Duke 19-2
6. Connecticut 17-3
7. San Diego State 21-1
8. Brigham Young 20-2
9. Notre Dame 17-4
10. Kentucky 16-4

NCAA Women's Top Ten

1. Baylor 19-1
2. Connecticut 21-1
3. Duke 20-1
4. Stanford 18-2
5. Tennessee 21-2
6. Texas A&M 18-2
7. Xavier 17-2
8. Notre Dame 18-4
9. DePaul 21-2
10. UCLA 18-2

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! Oh wait...

That's what you say when 21's a winner... I don't know what you say when 21's a loser. Other than, ugh. The Cleveland Cavaliers lost for the 21st time in a row tonight, dropping their 3rd game of the year to Lebron and Heat, this time by a score of 117-90. Cleveland was able to keep it relatively close for a half, but they weren't able to equal their second quarter production (37) in the entire second half (33), and Miami pulled away for the route. Dwyane Wade led all scorers with 34 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskus had 12 points and 14 rebounds for Miami who won for the third straight time after dropping 5 of 6. Cleveland finally plays a losing team on Wednesday night when they take on the Indiana Pacers who are just 18-27. Indiana has already beaten Cleveland 3 times this year though: 99-85 on November 13th, 100-89 on November 23rd, and 108-99 on December 17th. The 1972-1973 Philadelphia 76ers finished the season 9-73 so the odds of this team being the worst in history are unlikely, but the more they continue to lose, the more you wonder if they'll ever find a way to win again.

Don't Mess with the Huskies

The last of the unbeatens in women's basketball has fallen. #3 Duke came into their much hyped match-up against #2 Connecticut with a record of 20-0. They would never threaten to go to 21-0 in this one. The Huskies dominated from the get go scoring the game's first 13 points and reaching 40 points before Duke even got into double digits. Connecticut led by 26 at the half and continued to pour it on in the second half winning by a final score of 87-51. Duke hadn't given up more than 70 points in a game all season prior to tonight. The Blue Devils shot just 28.4% in this one, were outrebounded 43 to 20, managed just 8 defensive rebounds, and despite forcing 20 turnovers, they still lost by 36. Maya Moore led the way for the Huskies with 29 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists and Tiffany Hayes chipped in 20 points of her own as Connecticut improved to 21-1 and has reeled off 9 wins in a row following their loss to Stanford. The Baylor Bears are still ranked #1 at 19-1, their lone loss a 65-64 nail-biter to Connecticut back in November.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Six Pack


Novak Djokovic knocked off Andy Murray this morning in straight sets 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 to win his second career Australian Open. The 23 year old Serbian who came into the tournament ranked 3rd in the world also won the Australian Open back in 2008. For Murray and all of Great Britain the loss was disappointing as once again the Brits fell short in a Grand Slam. Great Britain has not brought home a Slam title in 75 years now, their last winner being Fred Perry in 1936. Here's Novak's road to the championship:

W vs #42 Marcel Granollers (Spain) - 6-1, 6-3, 6-1
W vs #81 Ivan Dodig (Bosnia-Herzegovina) - 7-5, 6-7, 6-0, 6-2
W vs #27 Viktor Troicki (Serbia) - 6-2, retired
W vs #14 Nicolas Almagro (Spain) - 6-3, 6-4, 6-0
W vs #6 Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) - 6-1, 7-6, 6-1
W vs #2 Roger Federer (Switzerland) - 7-6, 7-5, 6-4
W vs #5 Andy Murray (Great Britain) - 6-4, 6-2, 6-3


You can add another top ten team to the list of those who fell this weekend as St. John's stunned #3 Duke 93-78. The Red Storm built a 21 point lead in the first half and the Blue Devils were never able to recover falling to 19-2. For St. John's it concluded an 8 game stretch where they only played ranked opponents. They finished 3-5 over those 8 games. Senior Guard Dwight Hardy led the way with 26 points for St. John's as they improved to 12-8 with the win. Duke's Nolan Smith led all scorers with 32 points.


Dwight Howard had 20 points and 20 rebounds in just 26 minutes as the Orlando Magic cruised to a 103-87 win over the punchless Cavaliers who dropped their 20th in a row. Ryan Anderson added 23 points and 16 rebounds as the Magic outrebounded the Cavs 61-35. Orlando grabbed 24 offensive rebounds during the game. To put that into perspective, Cleveland had just 29 defensive rebounds. Manny Harris led Cleveland with 20 points and one was one of only two Cavaliers in double figures. Cleveland is now 8-39 overall and just 3-24 away from home. Next up, a rematch with Lebron James. The Cavaliers are just 1-28 since their last meeting.


Team Lidstrom defeated Team Staal 11-10 in the first fantasy draft all star game. 16 different players scored including 2 goals apiece by Anze Kopitar (LID), Kris Letang (STA), Danny Briere (LID), Loui Eriksson (LID) and Eric Staal (STA). Shea Weber (LID) had a game high 4 assists, and Martin Havlat (LID) and Claude Giroux (STA) each had 3. Patrick Sharp had a goal and two assists and was named the game's MVP despite playing for the losing team. By all accounts the game was a huge success, and it's safe to say the other league's could learn something from what the NHL is done. Now, moving on to the worst all star game in professional sports...


I hate the PRO Bowl, and it took me a while today to figure out why exactly that is. And I came to a conclusion: because football is the only sport where players don't play both ways, and because it's such a violent sport, an exhibition game totally takes the teeth out of the defensive players. You don't get to really see what they can do. Not to mention the fact, that it's the only all star game that occurs after the season is over and so many of the stars deserving of playing in it are out with injuries. Not to mention the fact that now that it's the week BEFORE the Super Bowl, no players from either of the two Super Bowl teams can play in the game! Anyhow, the defensive players are forced to kind of go half speed and I just feel like it never ends up being a good game. Basketball, soccer, and hockey games end up being a lot higher scoring game than normal, but the players are able to go out and play hard and have fun and put on a great show for the fans. The baseball game features the league's best players in a game that actually counts for something. The PRO Bowl just kind of sucks. I mean, I love watching great linebackers like Urlacher and Ray Lewis, hard hitting safeties like Ronnie Lott or Polamalu. You can't see those guys do what they do best in a game like the PRO Bowl because the last thing you want to do is hurt someone. I almost think they'd be better suited to play flag football or something. Or basketball. Anyways, tonight was the PRO Bowl. The NFC got out to a 42-0 lead and held off an AFC rally to win 55-41. The AFC threw 5 interceptions and turned the ball over 6 times leading to two defensive scores which were actually the difference in the game. As a result it was ironically, a defensive player who won the MVP award: Atlanta's DeAngelo Hall. Touchdowns in this one were scored by household names such as fullback Ovie Mughelli, fullback Montell Owens, center Alex Mack and linebacker Jon Beason. Isn't that what everyone came to see? Not Peyton Manning or Drew Bress, right? The NFL needs to do something about the PRO Bowl because the product out there is just plain bad.


Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods were both in action this weekend at Torry Pines for the Farmer's Insurance Open, but it was Bubba Watson who came away victorious finishing at 16 under par. Mickelson had a strong showing finishing off the lead by just a stroke while Woods finished 15 strokes back in a tie for 44th. Dustin Johnson and rookie Johnattan "Johnny" Vegas finished tied for 3rd at 13 under. Vegas won the Bob Hope Classic last week. What a great name for an athlete: Johnny Vegas. I love it.

NBA "Live Blog"

We're going to try something a little bit different today. With two huge basketball games, the Miami Heat (32-14) vs the Oklahoma City Thunder (30-16) followed by the Boston Celtics (35-11) vs the L.A. Lakers (33-14), back to back on TV this afternoon, I'm going to give the whole "live blogging" thing a try. Essentially chronicling my thoughts and observations as they happen. We'll see how it works out. And if it's an abysmal failure, we won't do it again. So here goes nothing...

11:30 - A lot of things to watch for in these two games today. The Heat are allegedly going to get Chris Bosh back from an ankle injury, and it sounds like Dwyane Wade is good to go as well so the Heat's Big Three could all be back for the first time in over two weeks. They'll go up against the NBA's leading scorer, Kevin Durant who comes into the game averaging 28.8 a game and has gone for 40+ in his last two. In the late game, you've got an NBA Finals rematch with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers taking on the Celtics who just got Kendrick Perkins back from injury. Perkins' injury in the NBA Finals last year may have swung the fate of the finals as the Lakers won Game 6 in which he was injured and Game 7. Should be an exciting day of basketball.

11:38 - Russell Westbrook may be the best player that hardly anyone is talking about. When talking about elite point guards in this league you hear the names Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Steve Nash, Derrick Rose... But Westbrook is his 3rd year out of UCLA is having himself a career year (22.7 pts and 8.5 assists) and has combined with Kevin Durant to average over 50 points a game. All year, the Heat have been exposed by the league's better point guards as Mario Chalmers and Carlos Arroyo are capable, but certainly not top notch players. If there's one guy to watch in this one, I'd say it's Westbrook.

11:49 -  In head to head matchups between Lebron James and Kevin Durant, Lebron James has dominated the series. The only time that Durant has beaten a team that had Lebron James on it, James was sidelined with an ankle injury back in 2008 when the Thunder were still the Supersonics. In the other 5 matchups, James' Cavaliers came out victorious every time and Lebron has averaged 29.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists. In their two matchups last year he was even better averaging 40.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 9.0 assists. Durant hasn't exactly been a slouch averaging 25.2 points a game, but considering he averaged over 30 a game last season, he's capable of so much more. Will this be the day that Durant finally beats Lebron? Or will Lebron and his new team pick up where the Cavs left off?

11:55 -  Getting ready to kick off game #1. Here's your starting lineups:

For Miami -
C - Zydrunas Ilgauskus 5.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.3 apg
PF - Chris Bosh 18.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.9 apg
SF - Lebron James 26.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 7.2 apg
SG - Dwyane Wade 25.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4.2 apg
PG - Mario Chalmers 6.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.3 apg

For Oklahoma City -
C - Nenad Krstic 7.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 0.4 apg
PF - Jeff Green 14.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.0 apg
SF - Kevin Durant 28.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.8 apg
SG - James Harden 10.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.9 apg
PG - Russell Westbrook 22.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 8.5 apg

12:02 - No Thabo Sefolosha for the Thunder today. Sefolosha started the Thunder's first 45 games, but will miss his second game in a row due to a knee injury. James Harden, who had 3 previous starts this year will get the call in his place.

12:05 - Doesn't look like the ankle is going to be a problem for Bosh, at least in the early going. In the Heat's first 4 trips down the floor, he's made a pair of shots and gotten to the foul line where he hit 1 of 2. 5 early points in this one for Bosh who the Heat have desperately missed the past 4 games.

12:09 - Almost 5 minutes into the game and Lebron James hasn't taken his first shot. He does have 3 assists, but just got called for a charge on James Harden. Russell Westbrook has started to show what he can do making a pair of tough layups in traffic and the Thunder are up 4.

12:11 - Double technical called on Bosh and Durant. Bosh fouled Harden on a layup and Durant and Bosh started chattering at one another and they both got T'd up. Didn't look like much, but obviously we can't hear what they're saying. Harden hits both free throws taking us to the first timeout with a score of 19-13 Thunder.

12:14 - Oklahoma City on an 8-0 run by the way.

12:16 - James finally takes his first shot a little way halfway through the quarter, a 3-pointer that rattles in and out.  Mario Chalmers picks up his second personal foul on the other end putting Durant on the line again. 22-13 Thunder. Mike Miller comes into the game for the Heat and immediately hits a 3 to snap the 11-0 run.

12:18 - Back to back turnovers by Krstic leads to another Mike Miller 3-pointer and a Dwyane Wade layup in transition plus a foul. And just like that, the Heat are on an 8-0 run and it's 26-24. Krstic gets subbed out for Serge Ibaka while James Jones and Joel Anthony enter the game for Bosh and Ilgauskus. The Heat continue to play without a true point guard on the floor. Seems to be working out all right so far though.

12:22 - Just under 4 minutes to go in the first quarter and Lebron James has 0 points and has only taken 1 shot. He does have 6 assists though. Durant meanwhile has 7 and Wade leads everyone with 9.

12:25 - Jeff Green is quietly 5/5 with 11 points and 4 boards to lead the Thunder. Dwyane Wade takes a breather after scoring 13 and Eddie House enters the game. James draws a foul on Ibaka and gets to the line finally scoring his first point with 1:37 left in the quarter.

12:29 - James Jones drills a 3 giving James his 8th assist of the first quarter but Durant immediately answers with a 3 on the other end. James beats a double team to make a layup with 10 seconds left in the quarter for his first made basket of the game. The first quarter draws to a close with the Thunder up 38-35. Some notable stats from the first quarter of play:

- Both teams are shooting over 60% from the floor.
- Kevin Durant finished the quarter with 14 points on 4/5 shooting
- Russell Westbrook putting together a nice all around game with 6 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists
- Miami had just 5 rebounds in the quarter. 10 for the Oklahoma City.
- Dwyane Wade leads the Heat with 13 points on 6/8 shooting.
- The Heat bench has 9 points to the Thunder bench's 0.
- Lebron James has 8 assists, but is just 1/3 from the floor.

12:35 - Daequan Cook hits a 3 to give the Thunder bench their first points. Bosh makes a layup and is fouled by Ibaka on the other end.  Eddie House running the point now for Miami.

12:39 - Wade turns the ball over on back to back possessions, first with a travel, and then an offensive foul drawn by Nick Collison. Daequan Cook hits a jumper on the other end and the lead is pushed to 9, 47-38. Miami has to call a timeout. Wade has turned the ball over 4 times and the Heat 9 with just 3 minutes gone in the second quarter.

12:44 - Durant and Westbrook both come back into the game with 8 to play in the second. Good job by the Thunder bench keeping the pressure on Miami. James hits a jumper over Durant to cut the lead to 5.

12:46 - Two big defensive plays by Lebron James, blocking a runner by Durant on one possession and then drawing a charge on Westbrook on the next one. Wade hits a 13-footer and suddenly it's 49-47. Timeout Thunder just a little over halfway through the second quarter.

12:52 - Durant steps up and drills a 3 out of the timeout. Durant 2/2 from long range so far and has 17.

12:55 - James hits a cutting Wade who makes the layup and gets fouled by Harden. Harden now has 3 fouls and is going to likely have to sit the rest of the half. 9 assists now for James, 19 points for Wade to lead all scorers.

12:57 - James Jones hits a big 3 to give the Heat a 54-53 lead. Momentum shifting in favor of the Heat right now.

1:00 - Minute and a half to play in the first half and Miami has extended their lead to 59-56 following a 19-footer from Ilgauskus. Oklahoma City has hit on just 7 of 18 shots in the second quarter after making 14 of 22 in the first. Durant is just 1 for 5 for 3 points and Westbrook is 0 for 2.

1:04 - Westbrook gets called for a shooting foul on Chalmers and then gets the technical for his reaction to the call. Chalmers hits all 3 free throws to push the lead to 4. But Jeff Green comes back on the other end with the basket and a foul on Ilgauskus. 16 points now for Green and it's 62-61. Under 30 seconds to play in the half.

1:09 - Halftime in Oklahoma City. Miami Heat 64, Oklahoma City Thunder 61. The Heat outscore the Thunder in the second quarter 29-23 and crack down on defense limiting the Thunder to just 9 of 22 from the floor and forcing 4 turnovers. The Heat meanwhile are still shooting the ball well, going into the half at 62.2%. Some more notes from the first half:

- Lebron James 12 points 2 rebounds 9 assists in the first half, just one assist in the 2nd quarter.
- Dwyane Wade 19 points to lead all scorers, but 5 turnovers
- Chris Bosh 5/6 for 12 points, but 0 rebounds
- Kevin Durant 17 points, but only 3 in the 2nd quarter, and 6 rebounds
- Russell Westbrook 7 assists, but only scored 1 point in the 2nd quarter
- Jeff Green 16 points and a game high 7 rebounds
- Daequan Cook 10 points off the bench on 4/5 shooting
- Foul Trouble: 3 fouls on James Harden, Daequan Cook and Joel Anthony
- Fast Break Points: Thunder 15, Heat 12

Back in a bit for the start of the second half.

1:29 Back underway in Oklahoma City, the same 5 that started the game for each team on the floor.

1:31 After a rough second quarter, Westbrook starts the second half strong drawing fouls on Chalmers and Ilgauskus and hitting a layup and making a pair of free throws to give the lead back to Oklahoma City.

1:32 Nenad Krstic can't guard Lebron James. James blows right around him and gets fouled, but misses the free throw. Still Miami is back in the lead 66-65.

1:34 Big transition 3 by Lebron James and the Heat are starting to pull away, now up 6, 71-65. The Thunder come down the floor and instead of going to Durant or Westbrook, Krstic takes an open 20-footer and misses it. James goes for the throat by attempting another 3, but misses. Westbrook cuts it to 4 with a jumper and then following a Chalmers turnover makes a huge dunk. Bosh misses a 3, then fouls Durant on the other end and suddenly we're tied up at 71.

1:39 It really looked like momentum had shifted in Miami's favor when James hit that 3 a few minutes ago. Since that shot, the Thunder have gone on a 12-2 run forcing Miami to take a timeout. Westbrook's been the focal point of the offense here in the third scoring 10 of their 16 points in the first 6 minutes of the second half and assisting of their other field goal. Durant has struggled with his shot, but has been able to get to the free throw line and now has 21 points despite shooting just 5 of 13. Wade also has 21 points, and James picked up his 10th assist, but right now it's the Thunder who have the momentum. The Heat have committed 6 fouls in the 3rd quarter already.

1:43 Ridiculous chase-down block by James on Westbrook preventing a fastbreak layup. Two blocks in the game now for James.

1:44 And Westbrook blocks a shot by Ilgauskus on the other end. Westbrook is like 6'3" while Ilgauskus is something around 7'4".

1:46 James Harden picks up his 4th foul and goes back to the bench. Daequan Cook comes back into the game with Heat back in lead 78-77.

1:49 Daequan Cook drills ANOTHER 3-pointer on the break from Westbrook giving him 3 for the game and giving the lead back to Oklahoma City 82-80. Mike Miller tries to answer on the other end, but his shot bounces over the backboard. 13 points on 5/6 shooting for Cook and he's hit on all of his 3-point attempts. Cook entered the game averaging just 2.7 point in 9 games, but has really stepped up in the absence of Thabo Sefolosha.

1:55 James hits another 3 to give the lead back to Miami 85-84 but Durant gets fouled at the buzzer by Anthony, his 4th. James who started slow now has 22 points to go along with his 11 assists. Durant did not back a basket in the 3rd quarter but still managed to score 7 at the line. 85-85 and we're all tied up going into the 4th quarter.

1:58 Some notes at the end of 3 quarters of play:

- Kevin Durant leads all scorers with 24 points despite just making 5 of 15 shots from the floor.
- Jeff Green is up to 18 points to go along with a game high 9 rebounds. Durant has 9 as well.
- Russell Westbrook has 17 points and 9 assists, 10 points in the 3rd quarter.
- James Harden has 5 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists
- Daequan Cook leads all bench players with 13 points
- Miami has turned the ball over 16 times, 7 of those by Wade.
- Wade does lead Miami with 23 points on 10/13 shooting.
- Lebron James has a double double with 22 points and 11 assists to go along with 3 steals and 3 blocks
- Miami is still shooting 57.1% for the game.
- Thunder up 24-15 in fast break points

2:02 Jeff Green opens up the 4th quarter scoring with a 3-pointer from the corner giving him 21 points.

2:05 Hustle paying off for the Heat on back to back possessions. First in getting an offensive rebound on a missed free throw by Bosh that resulted in an open dunk for Joel Anthony. Then Mike Miller came away with a steal and on the ensuing break, the Heat had 2 more offensive rebounds the second a tip in by Wade to give Miami the lead back, 90-88.

2:08 Cook finally misses a 3 and Wade picks up another offensive rebound for a tip in on the other end. 92-88. Wade up to 27 points. James, Durant and Westbrook all reenter the game.

2:09 Wade picks up another offensive foul as Collison draws another charge. 4 fouls and 8 turnovers for Wade.

2:12 Durant misses another one. 5 of 16 from the floor now. Bosh draws a foul on Collison on the other end and the Heat are up 5 with Bosh shooting two. 95-90.

2:13 The Heat push the lead to 8 with another rebound off the missed free throw by Bosh and Wade drills a fadeaway to give him 29. Everything going Miami's way right now. Green makes a layup to finally stop the run and Wade gets a technical for complaining about a no-call. Durant converts and now it's a 5-point game. Miller misses a shot, Durant hits a 3, his first basket of the second half and suddenly it's a two-point game again. Everytime Miami looks to pull away, the Thunder come storming right back. Timeout Miami. 4 and a half to play in the 4th, 98-96.

2:17 Durant had missed 8 in a row before that 3. Westbrook picked up the assist on that one and now has 10 for the game.

2:19 Wade rolls his ankle when Daequan Cook falls on it, he's gutting it out though.

2:20 Bosh tips in his own miss following a Wade miss and gives Miami some breathing room. Under 3 to go, 20 points and 6 boards for Bosh.  Anthony fouls Durant on the other end; 5 on Anthony.

2:24 Durant hits 1 of 2. 100-97. 29 for Durant. Under 2 and a half to go. Offensive foul on James, but he strips Durant on the other end. Wade gets fouled by Cook, his 5th. Wade hits both, he has 31, Heat back up 5.

2:27 1:23 to play in this one, Thunder ball following a missed layup by James. Miller, James, Bosh, Anthony and Wade on the floor in crunch time for the Heat and Bosh fouls Durant, his 4th foul. Durant hits both and is 16 of 19 from the line to give him 31. 3 point game. Thunder need a stop.

2:29  Wade turns the ball over as Westbrook gets the steal and Bosh is forced to foul him on the other end. Bosh now has 5 fouls. Westbrook hits both free throws giving him 21 points to go with 7 rebounds and 10 assists. It's a 1 point game with 1 minute to play. What a way to start this Sunday doubleheader. Wade now has 9 turnovers.

2:32 Bosh gets the call but his jumper is off. Rebound by Cook, timeout Oklahoma City. 40 seconds to play.

2:33 Westbrook, Durant, Green, Cook and Collison on the floor for Oklahoma City. And it's Durant who drills the 19 footer. 103-102, 34.3 seconds to play. 33 points for the league's leading scorer.

2:35 Eddie House in for Joel Anthony on this possession. And it pays off! Wade misses a jumper, Mike Miller comes away with an offensive rebound, and James passes up an open 3 but dishes to House who drills one. 105-103 Heat, 22.2 seconds to play. House's first points of the game. 13 assists for James.

2:37 Anthony back in the game now.  Durant's shot is no good and Wade chases down the loose ball. Cook has to foul him and he'll go to the line with 9.5 seconds to play. No timeouts left for the Thunder. Wade drills the first one. 106-103. And he misses the second one! It's out of bounds and they're going to the replay booth to see who gets the ball. Huge call coming up here.

2:39 It looks like it's going to be Miami ball. What a bad break for the Thunder if that's the case. And it is. Miami ball with 6.9 seconds to go and a 109-106 lead.

2:49 5.6 seconds to go. Eddie House is fouled by James Harden and he can make it a two possession game. It's looking like the heat will win their second straight close game after starting the season 1-8 in games decided by 5 or less. And House hits them both. Oklahoma City turns it over on the inbounds pass and that's all she wrote. Heat 108, Thunder 103. Big road win for the Thunder. Final stats an observations:

- Dwyane Wade - 32 points 9 rebounds 9 turnovers
- Chris Bosh - 20 points 7 rebounds
- Lebron James - 23 points 4 rebounds 13 assists 4 steals 3 blocks
- Joel Anthony - the unsung hero in this one 6 rebounds and 5 blocked shots
- Eddie House - 5 points in the final minute
- Russell Westbrook - 21 points 7 rebounds 10 assists
- Kevin Durant - 33 points 10 rebounds 4 steals
- Jeff Green 23 points 11 rebounds

2:45 And we join the second game in progress, 4-2 Celtics.

2:48 And my mother's on the phone. Back in a bit.

3:00 Still on the phone. 18-14 Celtics, a little over 3 minutes to play in the first.

3:04 And we're back! There's a little bit over a minute left in the first quarter and the Celtics have a 22-16 lead. Paul Pierce has led the way with 10 points, and both Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen are on the bench with 2 fouls. The Celtics have a sizeable edge on the glass with 14 rebounds to the Lakers 6 and the Lakers have managed to hit just 6 of their first 18 shots.

3:07  Artest splits a pair of free throws, and he and Odom make layups to close out the quarter on an 11-4 run and it's 22-21. Some first quarter notes:

- Paul Pierce 10 points 3 rebounds
- Kevin Garnett 4 points 5 rebounds 3 assists
- Kobe Bryant/Ray Allen 2 fouls apiece
- Andrew Brynum 7 points 2 rebounds
- Pau Gasol 2 points on 1 of 3 shooting
- Rajon Rondo 2 points and just 1 assist

3:12 Lamar Odom gives the Lakers a lead, but Nate Robinson hits a 3 coming back the other way. Shannon Brown misses a layup and Ray Allen hits a 3 of his own. 28-23 Celtics.

3:14 The Celtics have a ridiculous amount of frontcourt depth this year. Shaq is back from injury for this game and got the start, and then there's Kendrick Perkins who's returned from injury, rookie Semih Erden has been starting lately and then you have Jermaine O'Neal, Glen Davis, Luke Harangody, Garnett... It's an impressive list. The Lakers have good size and length of their own, but the Celtics have the ability to just keep throwing bodies at them.

3:16 On queue Glen Davis picks up an offensive rebound and a put back to extend Boston's lead to 36-27.

3:17 I think I've seen like 10 trailers for the new James Cameron film Sanctum today. Aren't there any other movies coming out soon?

3:19 Really quiet game for Rondo so far. Only 2 points and 1 assist in the first quarter. He's never been a scoring type of point guard, but he averages 12.5 assists per game so that's a little surprising. Nate Robinson continues to run the point right now.

3:22 Garnett takes a shot to the head and is bleeding pretty good. Looks like Gasol's elbow caught Garnett in the head when he came down off of his last shot. Garnett has to come out as a result. Rondo now back on the floor.

3:25 Pierce hits a pair of free throws and the Celtics are back up 9. 40-31. Kobe hits on the other end though, giving him 7 on 3 of 4 shooting.

3:29 Shot clock violation, Celtics. And Garnett's back in the game with a big bandaid on his head.

3:31  3-point play for Bryant and now it's 40-36, 10 for Bryant.

3:33 Shaq picks up his 3rd foul of the half and gives Fisher a 3-point play. 42-39. On the other end Bynum blocks Garnett and Gasol blocks Shaq leading to a fast break for the Lakers which Bryant converts on. 42-41 and the crowd is back into it.

3:35 3-pointer for Kobe and it's a 13-2 run for the Lakers. 15 points in the half now for Bryant, 10 in the quarter.

3:36 Forgot about The Eagle with Channing Tatum, just saw another trailer for that one too.

3:37 I was wrong earlier, Shaq's only got 2 fouls. Allen, Garnett, Perkins and Davis also all have 2 for the Celtics. Bryant, Fisher, Gasol and Artest all have 2 apiece for the Lakers.

3:39 Rondo ties it up with an offensive rebound and put back. 44-44. And now Shaq does have 3 fouls as Kobe gets him up in the air and converts the 3-point play. 18 points for Bryant. 0 points 5 rebounds 2 blocks 3 fouls for Shaq.

3:41 Pierce hits a pair of free throws to give him 16 points, but Bryant slices through the defense on the other end and now he has 20. Garnett now picks up his 3rd foul putting Bynum on the line. Bryant comes out of the game with under a minute to go. 52-48 Lakers. 21-8 run now for the Lakers.

3:45 And Bryant back in the game for the last offensive possession of the half and he'll draw a foul on Marquis Daniels. Double technical on Perkins and Artest on the play before by the way. Bryant hits them both. 22 for Kobe.

3:47 And Big Baby Davis gets fouled on an ugly half court heave just before the buzzer. Lamar Odom got him on the arm it looks like, so 3 shots coming up for Davis. Dumb, dumb foul. 0.7 seconds to go in the half.

3:48 2 out of 3 for Davis and we'll go into the break with the Lakers leading 54-50. Halftime notes:

- Bryant 8/11 22 points 0 assists
- After starting the game 6 of 18, the Lakers make 15 of their next 24 and are back to 50%
- Celtics have the rebounding edge 22-17
- Artest 1/8 shooting in the first half
- Rondo 4 points but only 1 assist
- Pierce 5/10 16 points
- Garnett 6 points 5 rebounds 4 assists

See you guys at the start of the second half.

4:09 And we're back.Starters are back on the floor for both teams. Two offensive rebounds for the Lakers to start the half and it leads to another 3-pointer for Bryant. 25 points now for Kobe.

4:11 Shaq picks up his 4th foul for bowling over Derek Fisher on a screen. 57-55 Lakers.

4:13 Pierce blows by Artest, makes the layup and gets fouled by Bynum. That's 4 on the Lakers center as well and he'll come out. Pierce converts the 3-point play and he now has 22. It's an 8-0 run for the Celtics.

4:14 And Shaq picks up #5 with still over 9 minutes to play in the third quarter. Perkins comes into the game to replace him. And Pierce drains another 3, he's got 25. 61-59 Boston.

4:18 Pierce with another 3, 12 points now in the 3rd quarter, 28 for the game. Celtics up 3.

4:20 Rondo hits Pierce inside and now he has 30 points. Rondo, who had just the one first half assist, now has 3 here in the third quarter. No other Celtic is in double figures. Allen has 9 and Garnett 8. 68-62 Boston.

4:24 Bynum and Artest are back in the game, and after Bryant draws a charge on Rondo, Bynum draws a foul on Perkins, his third foul. Allen hits for the Celtics on the other end to go up 7. 70-63 Boston.

4:27 Boston starting to rack up fouls here in the 3rd. 3 now on Ray Allen, Pierce, Garnett and Perkins to along with 5 on Shaq. Two Fisher free throws and it's 70-67. And now an offensive foul on Perkins, that's 4 on him.

4:29 Artest misses a chance to tie with a three point attempt from the corner and Allen puts the Celtics back up 5 on the other end. Kobe responds with a 3-pointer to give him 28 points and make it a 2-point game again. 72-70.

4:35 Kobe matches Pierce with his 30th point. 74-72.  Rondo throws it away on the other end, Lakers with a chance to tie again, but Kobe shoots an airball, defended well by Pierce. Nate Robinson hits a 3 on the other end. 77-72.

4:37 1.6 seconds to go in the quarter and Rondo draws a charge on Kobe, 3 fouls on Bryant and that's how the quarter will end. Celtics 77, Lakers 72. 12 minutes to play in L.A.

- Rondo 6 points 7 assists (6 in the 3rd)
- Pierce 10/16 30 pts
- Garnett 10 pts 11 rebounds
- Allen 13 pts, 1/4 3 pts
- Bryant 11/18 30 pts
- Gasol 12 pts 6 rebounds
- Fisher 5 pts 4 steals
- Celtics 34-22 rebounding edge
- Celtics 11 turnovers, Lakers just 6
- Celtics 56.6% shooting, Lakers 43.3%

4:40 Foul Trouble-

Boston - Shaq (5), Perkins (4), Allen (3), Garnett (3), Pierce (3)
L.A. - Bynum (4), Fisher (3), Bryant (3)

4:42 3-pointer for Ray Allen, he's got 16. Bryant misses and the Celtics respond with a 3-pointer from Nate Robinson. 83-74 Boston. 11 points for Robinson, 9 assists for Rondo.

4:44 Kobe picks up his 4th foul guarding Pierce. Rondo then blows by Blake for a layup and the lead is back to 9, 85-76.

4:45 Random observation, James Harden has a much sweeter beard than Steve Blake.

4:46 Pierce drills one in Kobe's face. 32 points now for The Truth. 87-78.

4:48 Timeout on the floor, 7:16 to play and the Celtics lead the Lakers 89-80. Oh look, another preview for Sanctum!

4:51 Basket and the foul for Bryant drawing number 4 on Pierce. With the free throw, that's 33 for Kobe. 6 point game.

4:53 The Celtics have 27 assists on their 36 baskets. The Lakers have just 9 assists on their 30.

4:54 Back to back baskets by Bryant, and it's a 4 point game 91-87. 37 now for Kobe. He's 14 of 23 shooting the ball, but still does not have an assist in the game. Rondo meanwhile is up to 11 for the game, 10 in the second half. 5:20 to play.

4:58 Allen, Rondo, Pierce, Garnett and Davis on the floor for the Celtics. Bryant, Fisher, Gasol, Bynum and Steve Blake for the Lakers. Davis with a 3-point play drawing a 5th foul on Bynum. 11 points off the bench for Davis. Rondo hits Garnett for an alley-oop off a Laker miss and it's a 7-0 Celtic run following those two baskets by Bryant. 16 for Garnett, 12 assists for Rondo. 98-87 Celtics. Timeout Boston. And another trailer for The Eagle.

5:03 Under 4 minutes to go now and Bryant hits another jumper over Ray Allen. 39 for Bryant, 9 point Boston lead.

5:04 Ray Allen drills another 3 giving 19 points in the game and putting the Celtics up 12. Bryant comes down the other way and picks up a charge drawn by Davis. 5 fouls on Bryant. And Allen hits again. 21 for Ray. Bryant hits another jumper, give him 41. 103-91.

5:06 Boston making all the plays right now and this one is over. 1:29 to play and following a Rondo layup it's 105-91. The Staples Center is silent. 10 points 5 rebounds 14 assists for Rondo.

5:07 The 41 points for Bryant ties a season high. He had 41 back on November 28th against Indiana. The Lakers lost that game as well. Kobe had 4 assists in that one though. This would be the first game all year that Kobe didn't register at least one assist.

5:09 Last time Kobe didn't have at least 1 assist was February 5, 2010 against the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers lost that one 126-113 and Bryant finished with 33.

5:10 And it's all over in L.A. Final score 109-96 Boston wins. Big road win for the Celtics as they improve to 36-11 overall. Some final stats of note:

- Pierce 32 points 5 rebounds 3 assists
- Allen 21 points 3/7 3's
- Garnett 18 points 13 rebounds 5 assists
- Rondo 10 points 16 assists (15 after halftime)
- Davis 13 points 4 rebounds
- Robinson 11 points 3/5 3's
- Celtics 43-30 rebounding advantage
- Boston 34 assists, Lakers 10
- Bryant 16/29 41 points 0 assists
- Gasol 5/13 12 pts 7 rebounds
- Artest 1/10 3 pts 4 rebounds
- Odom 6/8 15 pts 5 rebounds
- Celtics shoot 60.3% from the field

So that wraps up the live blog for today. Couple solid games saw Eastern Conference power houses knock off a couple of their Western Conference counterparts with Miami and Boston both getting big road wins. Hope you enjoyed the blog, it's time for me to get off the couch and do something.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

NBA Observations


The San Antonio Spurs were the first team to reach 40 wins this season improving to 40-7 with a 108-95 home win over the Houston Rockets. Manu Ginobili led the way with 22 points and DeJuan Blair had 14 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks for the Spurs who improved to 25-2 at home. The Spurs now embark on a 24 day 9 game road trip to accommodate the annual San Antonio Rodeo. They'll next play at home on the 23rd of February where they'll take on the Thunder.


For just the 11th time this year, Kevin Love and the Timberwolves are winners as they knocked off the Toronto Raptors 103-87 at the Target Center. Kevin Love led the way with 21 points and 12 rebounds in just 24 minutes and the Minnesota bench combined to score 59 as the Wolves sent the Raptors to their 11th straight loss. Love now has a league leading 42 double-doubles, 33 of them consecutively.


Zach Randolph had 24 points and 20 rebounds, his 5th 20/20 game of the season, and Darrell Arthur chipped in a career high of 22 points off the bench on 9 of 11 shooting as the Grizzlies defeated the Washington Wizards 107-93. Randolph now has 14 straight double-doubles himself. The Grizzlies improved to 24-24 overall and are at .500 for the first time since they were 4-4 back in November.


The New Orleans Hornets had won their last 10 games entering play tonight. During the stretch they had beaten the Orlando Magic, the Atlanta Hawks by 41, the Spurs by 24 and the Oklahoma City Thunder, so the 11-33 Sacramento Kings didn't seem to pose much of a threat. Rookie DeMarcus Cousins had other plans as he had a monster game scoring 25 points and picking up 12 rebounds and a career high 7 assists to lead Sacramento to a 102-96 win. The Kings have now won 3 of their last 4 including wins at Portland and at Los Angeles against the Lakers to go along with tonight's win.

Upset City!!

Crazy day of college basketball today. Check out some of the day's losers:

#5 Connecticut - to #19 Louisville 79-78 in double overtime
#7 Villanova - to #20 Georgetown 69-66
#9 BYU - at New Mexico 86-77
#10 Syracuse - at Marquette 76-70
#11 Texas A&M - at Nebraska 57-48
#15 Wisconsin - at Penn St. 56-52
#22 Vanderbilt - to Arkansas 89-78
#23 Florida - at Mississippi St. 71-64
#24 St. Mary's - at Portland 85-70

And the top two teams in the country barely escaped with #1 Ohio State remaining unbeaten with a 58-57 win at Northwestern and #2 Pitt sneaking by at Rutgers 65-62. Just goes to show that no team is unbeatable this year. Going to be an exciting tournament come March!



Kim Clijsters defeated Li Na this morning 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to win the Women's Singles Title at this year's Australian Open. Clijsters now has won 4 Grand Slam singles titles, but this was the first time she'd won one other than the U.S. Open which she captured in 2005, 2009 and 2010. Na gave her a run for her money, and was the first player to take a set from her in the entire tournament, but ultimately Clijsters prevailed. Na can old her head high though even in defeat, as she was the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam singles final. Clijsters has now won 5 of the 7 meetings between the two women. Here's the path Clijsters took to win her 4th Grand Slam title:

W vs # 75 Dinara Sarfina (Russia) - 6-0, 6-0
W vs #62 Carla Suarez-Navarro (Spain) - 6-1, 6-3
W vs #83 Alize Cornet (France) - 7-6, 6-3
W vs #49 Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) - 7-6, 6-2
W vs #14 Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) - 6-3, 7-6
W vs #2 Vera Zvonareva (Russia) - 6-3, 6-3
W vs #11 Li Na (China) - 3-6, 6-3, 6-3


Considering this game featured the two highest scoring teams in the tournament, both with 13 goals in 5 games entering play today, it was a little bit surprising that for 108 minutes in the championship match between Japan and Australia there was no scoring. Finally in the 109th minute, Japanese sub Tadanari Lee was left unmarked in the box and drove home the game winner past Australia's Mark Schwarzer giving Japan their 4th Asian Cup Championship and 3rd in the last 4 years. Japanese goalie Eiji Kawashima was named the man of the match notching his second shutout of the tournament. Lee's goal, was just the 2nd scored against Australia in 6 games.

Meanwhile, South Korea knocked off Uzbekistan in the consolation game yesterday to take home 3rd place. Koo Ja-cheol opened the scoring for the Koreans, and Ji Dong-won tacked on two more to give South Korea a 3-0 advantage. They'd need every bit of it as Uzbekistan rallied behind a pair of goals by Aleksandr Geynrikh. It wouldn't be enough though as the South Koreans would hold on for the 3-2 win. The top 3 finishers in the tournament are all automatically qualified to play in the next Asian Cup in 2015 set to be hosted by the Australians. Koo Ja-cheol led all players in the tournament with 5 goals. Ji Dong-won and Bahrain's Ismail Abullahatif each had 4.

Around the NBA

Busy Friday night in the NBA and lots of things to talk about. So here we go:

Miami took on the Detroit Pistons with both Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade sidelined with injuries. Lebron James, as he did so many times with Cleveland last year, put the team on his back and scored 39 points, had 8 rebounds and 9 assists and Eddie House hit two huge free throws in the final ten seconds to give the Heat an 88-87 win over the struggling Pistons. Miami shot just 5 of 24 from long range, but were able to avoid losing another close game. Ben Gordon led the Pistons with 21 points, and Tracy McGrady nearly had a triple double finishing with 14 points 8 rebounds and 10 assists.

The double-double train keeps on rolling for Kevin Love as he picked up his 32nd in a row with 22 points and 15 rebounds against the Jazz. It wasn't enough though as the Jazz beat Minnesota 108-100 dropping the Timberwolves to 10-36 on the year, with just 2 wins in 24 road games. The Jazz were without starting point guard Deron Williams, out with a wrist injury, but Paul Millsap, Andrei Kirilenko and Earl Waton picked up the slack for Utah. Millsap had a game high 30 points and 8 rebounds while Kirilenko had a season high 27 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 7 assists. Watson, starting in place of Williams, had 10 points and 13 assists. Minnesota has now lost six in a row.

Speaking of losing, the Cleveland Cavaliers were in action tonight against the Denver Nuggets. And just as it's gone the last 18 games, so it went again in the 19th. Denver scored 70 points in the first half and went into the intermission up 20. The Cavs rallied late and cut the deficit down to 6 before the Nuggets pulled away to win by a final of 117-103. Cleveland has now lost 29 times in their last 30 games, they've tied the franchise record for consecutive losses in a single season, and they are closing in on the NBA record of 23 consecutive losses shared by the 1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies and the 1997-98 Denver Nuggets. Now for a little trip down memory lane. Those Grizzlies were in their inaugural season and in addition to their epic 23 game losing streak, they also sustained a 19 game losing streak during that same season. Greg Anthony led the team in scoring at 14.0 a game, Bryant "Big Country" Reeves made the NBA All-Rookie 2nd Team, and Byron Scott came off the bench to score 13.3 a game. And let's not leave out the fact that the immortal Blue Edwards started all 82 games. The 1997-98 Nuggets finished 11-71 with a roster that had Bobby Jackson, Danny Fortson and Tony Battie. Back to the present. The Cavs next 5 games:

at Orlando - 1/30
at Miami - 1/31
vs Indiana - 2/2
at Memphis - 2/4 (ironic they could play the Grizzlies with a chance to tie their record)
vs Portland - 2/5

Russell Westbrook had his 3rd triple-double of the season and Kevin Durant had 40 points as Oklahoma City brought the Thunder and rallied to beat the Washington Wizards in double overtime 124-117. Westbrook finished with 35 points 13 rebounds and 13 assists. For Durant it was his second 40+ point game in a row and his 4th of the season.

Speaking of 40 point games, Dwight Howard put up 40 tonight in a losing effort against the Chicago Bulls. Howard added 15 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 blocks, but it wasn't enough as the Bulls knocked off Orlando 99-90. Carlos Boozer had 16 points and 16 rebounds, Luol Deng scored 26 and ulcer-stricken Derrick Rose survived a rough shooting night (6/21) but still finished with 22 points and 12 assists. The Bulls are now 32-14. More bad news for the Magic in this one, Jameer Nelson left after 8 minutes with a knee injury and did not return.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft

I absolutely love what the NHL is doing with their all-star game this year. Unlike the traditional matchup between conferences or North America versus "The World", this year, after all of the all stars were selected, two team captains were voted on, and they picked teams. What a concept!

The players who were selected to the game got to choose the captains. They ended up with Niklas Lidström of the Detroit Red Wings and the captain of the host Carolina Hurricanes, Eric Staal. Then alternate captains were assigned by the league. Lidström got Patrick Kane (Chicago) and Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay) and Staal got Mike Green (Washington) and Ryan Kesler (Vancouver). At which point the all-star fantasy draft began. Basic draft rules - Each team had to take 3 goalies by the end of the 10th round, 6 defensemen by the end of the 15th round and 12 forwards. Team Staal had the first pick. Here's how it all broke down:

First, Team Staal

C Eric Staal - Center - Carolina - 25 goals 27 assists
A Mike Green - Defenseman - Washington - 8 goals 14 assists
A Ryan Kesler - Center - Vancouver - 27 goals 20 assists

1. Cam Ward - Goalie - Carolina -22-15-5 2.70 GAA
3. Alex Ovechkin - Left Wing - Washington - 19 goals 32 assists
5. Daniel Sedin - Left Wing - Vancouver - 27 goals 37 assists
7. Zdeno Chara - Defenseman - Boston - 10 goals 16 assists
9. Rick Nash - Right Wing - Columbus - 23 goals 20 assists
11. Henrik Lundqvist - Goalie - New York Rangers - 21-16-3 2.29 GAA
13. Marc Staal - Defenseman - New York Rangers - 6 goals 13 assists
15. Patrick Sharp - Left Wing - Chicago - 26 goals 20 assists
17. Dan Boyle - Defenseman - San Jose - 5 goals 27 assists
19. Carey Price - Goalie - Montreal - 24-16-5 2.36 GAA
21. Jeff Skinner - Center - Carolina - 18 goals 22 assists
23. Kris Letang - Defenseman - Pittsburgh - 7 goals 34 assists
25. Claude Giroux - Right Wing - Philadelphia - 19 goals 28 assists
27. Erik Karlsson - Defenseman - Ottawa - 8 goals 20 assists
29. Corey Perry - Right Wing - Anaheim - 25 goals 26 assists
31. Patrick Elias - Left Wing - New Jersey - 13 goals 24 assists
33. David Backes - Right Wing - St. Louis - 16 goals 21 assists
35. Paul Stastny - Center - Colorado - 17 goals 26 assists

Team Lidstrom

C Niklas Lidstrom - Defenseman - Detroit - 11 goals 31 assists
A Patrick Kane - Right Wing- Chicago - 13 goals 24 assists
A Martin St. Louis - Right Wing - Tampa Bay - 20 goals 40 assists
2. Steven Stamkos - Center - Tampa Bay - 38 goals 29 assists
4. Duncan Keith - Defenseman - Chicago - 3 goals 25 assists
6. Henrik Sedin - Center - Vancouver - 11 goals 50 assists
8. Shea Weber - Defenseman - Nashville - 9 goals 21 assists
10. Tim Thomas - Goalie - Boston - 24-5-6 1.81 GAA
12. Daniel Briere - Right Wing - Philadelphia - 26 goals 19 assists
14. Dustin Byfuglien - Defenseman - Atlanta - 16 goals 25 assists
16. Jonathan Toews - Center - Chicago - 17 goals 23 assists
18. Marc-Andre Fleury - Goalie - Pittsburgh - 23-11-2 2.19 GAA
20. Jonas Hiller - Goalie - Anaheim - 25-16-3 2.50 GAA
22. Brad Richards - Center - Dallas - 20 goals 37 assists
24. Keith Yandle - Defenseman - Phoenix - 8 goals 36 assists
26. Brent Burns - Defenseman - Minnesota - 14 goals 17 assists
28. Martin Havlat - Left Wing - Minnesota - 14 goals 30 assists
30. Anze Kopitar - Center - Los Angeles - 16 goals 33 assists
32. Matt Duchene - Center - Colorado - 20 goals 25 assists
34. Loui Eriksson - Left Wing - Dallas - 17 goals 32 assists
36. Phil Kessel - Right Wing - Toronto - 19 goals 15 assists

The game's set for Sunday at 4 Eastern. But you can only watch it if you get Versus. Stupid Comcast...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Don't be Scared

Amare Stoudemire made waves this week when he basically called out the Miami Heat:

"Nobody's afraid of the Miami Heat," he was quoted as saying Wednesday.

Them's fightin' words! Considering the Knicks had played Miami twice this season and lost both times, 113-91 at home on December 17th, and 106-98 in Miami 11 days later, it seemed interesting for him to call out the 31-13 Heat like that. Whatever his motives were, they worked.

New York bent but didn't break for 3 quarters and exploded in the 4th erasing a 9 point lead after 3 and outscoring the Heat 29-15 in the 4th quarter en route to a 93-88 win. Dwyane Wade had a stretch where he hit 13 consecutive shots, but finished the game with an 0/7 4th quarter and missed 8 of 14 free throws for the game. Lebron James played just a miserable game starting off by hitting just 4 of his first 21 shot attempts before converting 3 layups in the final minute and a half. The Knicks meanwhile hit just 6 of 29 3-pointers to start the game before getting 4 huge ones in the final 5:20, 2 apiece from Landry Fields and Danilo Gallinari to lead the Knicks to one of their biggest wins of the year. The first big three pointer, by Gallinari, gave the Knicks a 77-76 lead. Then after Lebron James hit a pair of free throws it was Fields' turn making it 80-78 with a big shot from the corner. A few minutes later Lebron James hit a driving layup to give the lead back to Miami 84-83 with just a minute and a half to go. Gallinari again stepped up and drilled a huge 3 with the assist coming from Fields to put the Knicks back up by two. Fields then pulled down a rebound following a James Jones miss and took a kickout pass from Amare Stoudemire on the other end and drilled another 3 putting the Knicks up 5 with under a minute to go, effectively winning the game for New York.

The Knicks ended up getting 20 points from Gallinari, 24 points and 8 rebounds from Stoudemire and 19 points 13 rebounds and 6 assists from Landry Fields (no wonder Spike Lee has his jersey). For the Heat it was Wade leading the way with 34 points and a career high 16 rebounds while James, despite his awful shooting, still finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. The Heat had 11 different players appear in the game and 6 of them failed to produce a point producing this combined statline:

54 minutes 0/8 FG 0/4 3PT 9 Rebounds 2 Assists 5 Turnovers

That's not going to get it done. Joel Anthony was the only bench player who scored, finishing with 8 points. With the win the Knicks improve to 24-21 and are now winners of 2 straight following a 6 game losing streak. The Heat meanwhile lost for the 5th time in 6 games since the Lebron karma speech. Think they could've used Chris Bosh tonight? Here's another good stat to chew on. In 9 games the Heat have been in decided by 5 points or fewer, they've won just one, and that was the game they stole from the Wizards back in December then they erased a 4 point deficit in the final 18 seconds and pulled out a 95-94 win. If this is a team with championship aspirations, they're going to need to figure out how to win close games, and make people like Amare Stoudemire fear playing them.

Jeff Fisher Out in Tennessee

Wow. I'm a little speechless about this one. Less than 3 weeks ago, it was announced that Fisher would be staying on for yet another season as the Titans head coach.

Said owner Bud Adams at the time: "Obviously, I have very high expectations for our football team and want to deliver a championship to our fans. Jeff understands this and shares my expectations. The results of his leadership have been some very good football teams and I believe he will get us back to an elite level."

And then Fisher: "Clearly I am pleased with the news today. Presenting Mr. Adams with his first Lombardi Trophy is still the objective and I will continue to work for that goal."

Clearly whatever issues the two had weren't resolved as now the Titans are out a head coach and Fisher is out of a job (though probably not for long given his resume).  Personally, I think it's a mistake to let him go. Fisher has proved to be a rock for the franchise since taking over the head coaching job on an interim basis in 1994. Over the years, he compiled a record 142-120, won 3 Division titles (1 AFC Central, 2 AFC South), had 3 13 win seasons, made the playoffs 6 times, and had just 5 full seasons out of 16 where his teams finished below .500. More than that though, he always seemed to get the most out of his players, and it seemed he always put a hard hitting, competitive team onto the field. By all accounts, guys loved playing for him, and as a Titans fan I loved what he brought to the organization.

So now what? Who's out there that will want to take the job? With Fisher now gone, does this mean the club won't be letting Vince Young go? Unless you tell me the Titans have the inside track at getting a Bill Cowher or something, or they can convince Gregg Williams to give up his coordinator job in New Orleans (seems unlikely), I don't see a lot of names out there to get excited about. Eric Mangini maybe? For all the press he's gotten over the years, he's 33 and 47 in 5 years between the Jets and the Browns. And then what do you do about quarterback? Vince Young has shown himself to be a winner on the field, but he's had more than a couple issues that would bring his maturity into question. Kerry Collins just turned 38 years old, so do you really want to put the fate of your season on his shoulders at this point? Rusty Smith was just 20 of 40 with 0 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in his 2 appearances last year and Chris Simms hasn't played since 2009 where he was just 5 of 17 in limited action for Denver. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see them bring in a Carson Palmer or something, but I don't know that that's in the realm of the possible. Needless to say, I am not excited about where things are headed for Tennessee next year. Hope they prove me wrong.

Another One Bites the Dust

First it was Rafael Nadal losing to David Ferrer, and now Roger Federer, winner of 16 Grand Slam titles, has been eliminated from the Australian Open by Novak Djokovic in straight sets 7-6, 7-5, 6-4. The Serbian-born Djokovic isn't exactly a slouch, entering the tournament as the 3rd ranked men's player in the world. And now he has beaten Federer 7 times in 20 attempts, including the semifinals of the 2008 Australian Open. To put the significance of these two players being eliminated before the final into perspective, check this out: Between 2004 and now there have been 29 Grand Slam Events (I'm including this one). Nadal and Federer have combined to win 24 of them. The last time a Grand Slam final didn't involve Federer or Nadal was ironically the 2008 Australian Open won by Djokovic. It will be interesting to see if this represents a power shift in the tennis world or if this is just another aberration. Federer is now 29 years old, but Nadal is only 24. And keep in mind, Pete Sampras was 31 when he won his last U.S. Open in 2002, so both players would still appear to be in that window. Andy Murray and David Ferrer play Friday in the other semifinal. Meanwhile on the women's side, Kim Clijsters will face off against Li Na for the Title.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Prime Time Players

You always want your star players to rise to the occasion in big games. We had a couple examples of that tonight. First, the in San Diego State - BYU game tonight, arguably the most anticipated regular season basketball game in Mountain West Conference history. San Diego State entered the game undefeated at 20-0 and ranked 4th in the country while BYU joined them in the top 10 at #9 this week and came in with just one loss suffered against UCLA back in December. The one thing BYU has that San Diego State doesn't? Senior Guard Jimmer Fredette, the nation's leading scorer at 26.7 per game. And boy did he ever rise to the occasion tonight. Playing in front of the home crowd in Provo, Utah, Fredette went out scored 43 points on 14 of 24 shooting from the floor, drilled 5 of 8 3 pointers and 10 of 11 free throws. This was the 3rd time in the last 4 games Fredette has gone over 40 points as he dropped 47 at Utah and 42 against Colorado State earlier this month. Despite his play, he is only ranked 29th on Chris Ford's Top 100 2011 Draft Prospects list. If he keeps scoring at this right, you have to figure he'll move up though, right? Anyhow, the loss drops San Diego State from the ranks of the undefeated leaving Ohio State as the lone unbeaten team. It also leaves BYU in sole possession of first place in the Mountain West. These two teams will meet again on February 26th in San Diego. Mark it on your calendars!

For our second example, we go to the NBA where the Oklahoma City Thunder took on the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Now this doesn't qualify as a "big game" in the sense that the BYU - San Diego State game does. Entering the game with a record of 10-34, the Timberwolves don't really get to have big games. This ended up being an overtime game though and in tight games as in high pressure games, you want your stars to rise to the occasion. This game featured two such performances, one for each team. For the Wolves, it was Kevin Love, a favorite of the Sports and Such Blog. Love gave the Thunder all they could handle as he put up 31 points and 21 rebounds, his 3rd 30 point, 20 rebound game of the season. Love was 13 of 23 for the floor, hit all 3 of his 3s and pulled down 8 offensive rebounds to lead the way for the struggling Wolves who also got a big night from Michael Beasley (30 points 9 rebounds 7 assists). As good as Kevin Love was though, Kevin Durant was better. Durant scored 47 points and had 18 rebounds, both career highs. and the eventual game winner with under 10 seconds to go in overtime. The only negative for him was that he missed a free throw snapping a streak of 45 in a row. As a result, the Thunder pulled this one out in overtime 118-117 although Minnesota had their chances. Check out the highlights below.

Oklahoma City - Minnesota Highlights

Celtics Get Perkins Back, Cavs lose 18th in a Row

The last time Kendrick Perkins stepped onto the court in a Celtics uniform was in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. After tearing his ACL in the first quarter of that Game 6, arguably changing the course of the 2010 NBA Finals, it was projected that Perkins would be until at least the All-star break, but his recovery went quicker than expected and Perkins found himself ready to go for yesterday's game against Cleveland. Perkins' return couldn't have come at a better time for Boston as aged centers Shaquille and Jermaine O'Neal are both sidelined with injuries forcing rookie Turkish center Semih Erden into a starting role. After Erden got into early foul trouble, Perkins made his 2011 debut with about 8 minutes to go in the first quarter and he turned in a solid performance. In 17 minutes, Perkins would finish with 7 points and 6 rebounds while also dishing out 3 assists as the Celtics cruised to a 112-95 victory against the hapless Cavaliers. Cleveland had 7 players score in double figures led by Christian Eyenga's 15, but it wasn't close to enough as they were completely overmatched in this one. Cleveland has now dropped 18 in a row and fell to 3-23 on the road, 8-37 overall. The Cavs have a couple of days to recover before heading home to take on the Nuggets on Friday as they look to avoid tying their record for consecutive losses during a season set during the 1981-1982 campaign. J.J. Hicksoon added 12 points and 17 rebounds, the 5th time in the last 9 games that he's had at least 14.

Nadal Eliminated from Aussie Open

Rafael Nadal's quest for 4 Straight Grand Slam Titles is over. After cruising through the first four rounds of the tournament without losing a set, Nadal was swept by his countryman David Ferrer in the quarterfinals 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. Nadal lost in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open last year as well, that time to Andy Murray. Ferrer, ranked 7th in the world, now moves ahead to the semifinals. Prior to his win today, Ferrer had lost 7 straight matches to Nadal and was winless against him since 2007. Ferrer will now take on Andy Murray to determine who plays for the Open Title. Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will face off in the other semifinal.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Soccer Power Rankings - What You Need to Know

Back when I was in college used to generate a Top 25 List of the best soccer teams in the world. Over time they got away from that, but finally, it's back. It's only a Top 10 this time, but still, it's exciting. ESPN soccer writer Leander Schaerlaeckens generated his list using the following criteria:

The continental competitions and top-tier leagues from the following countries were included for consideration in the above rankings: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, CONCACAF Champions League, Copa Libertadores, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Ukraine, United States.

Here's some things to know about the teams he has in this week's Top 10.

(1) Barcelona - Spain - #1
18-1-1 in League Play
Goal Differential +53
Leading Scorer: Lionel Messi - 19 goals, 14 assists
Next Game: Copa del Rey - vs Almeria 1/26

(2) Manchester United - England - #1
14-0-9 in League Play
Goal Differential +30
Leading Scorer: Dimitar Berbatov - 17 goals 2 assists
Next Game: FA Cup - @ Southampton 1/29

(3) Real Madrid - Spain - #2
16-1-3 in League Play
Goal Differential +31
Leading Scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo - 22 goals 7 assists
Next Game: Copa del Rey - @ Sevilla 1/26

(4) Borussia Dortmund - Germany - #1
15-2-2 in League Play
Goal Differential +31
Leading Scorers: Shinji Kagawa & Lucas Barrios - 8 goals 1 assist
Next Game: @ Wolfsburg 1/29

(5) AC Milan - Italy - #1
13-3-5 in League Play
Goal Differential +19
Leading Scorer: Zlatan Ibrahimovic - 12 goals 8 assists
Next Game: Coppa Italia - @ Sampdoria 1/26

(6) Tottenham Hotspur - England - #5
10-5-8 in League Play
Goal Differential +6
Leading Scorer: Rafael Van der Vaart - 9 goals 5 assists
Next Game: FA Cup - @ Fulham 1/30

(7) Inter Milan - Italy - #5
10-5-5 in League Play
Goal Differential +11
Leading Scorer: Samuel Eto'o - 12 goals 3 assists
Next Game: Coppa Italia - @ Napoli 1/26

(8) Shakhtar Donetsk - Ukraine - #1 (Russian League)
17-1-1 in League Play
Goal Differential +31
Leading Scorer: couldn't find this, but here's their website - Shakhtar Donetsk Website
Next Game: Champions League - @ AS Roma 2/16

(9) Manchester City - England - #3
13-5-6 in League Play
Goal Differential +17
Leading Scorer: Carlos Tevez - 14 goals 5 assists
Next Game: FA Cup - @ Notts County 1/30

(10) FC Porto - Portugal - #1
15-0-2 in League Play
Goal Differential +33
Leading Scorer: Hulk - 17 goals 4 assists
Next Game: vs Nacional Med 1/26

Asian Cup Finals Set

Ok, so this probably isn't on a lot of people's radar, but being an avid soccer fan I figure I should at least mention it. This morning Australia and Japan won their semifinal matches and they will play Saturday for the Asian Cup Title. Australia blew out Uzbekistan 6-0 getting goals from six different players: Harry Kewell, Sasa Ognenovski, David Carney, Brett Emerton, Carl Valeri and Robbie Kruse. Australia was playing in its first semifinal match and now they will try for their first championship. They'll be opposed by Japan who defeated South Korea 3-0 on penalty kicks are tying 2-2. South Korea struck first in the 23rd on a penalty kick by Ki Sung-yueng, but Japan tied it up at 1 on a goal by Ryoichi Maeda. After 90 minutes the score remained tied at 1 and so the teams went to extra time. Japan struck first in the overtime period when Hajime Hosogai scored off a rebound. South Korea would battle back though and force penalty kicks on a goal by Hwang Jae-won with less than a minute remaining. However that's where South Korea's luck would end. All three of their penalty kick shooters would miss and Japan clinched on a goal by Yasuyuki Konno. Japan now has a shot to win their 4th Asian Cup. They last won the tournament in 2004.

USA Women Win!

Despite losing the opening game of the Four Nations Tournament, the USA came away the victors with a 2-0 win over China this morning. That coupled with Canada's 1-0 win over Sweden clinched it for the Americans. Final Standings:

1 - United States
2 - Canada
3 - China
4 - Sweden

Carli Lloyd scored her 2nd goal of the tournament to give the US the lead in the 31st minute, and Amy Rodriguez added the insurance goal in the 67th. Rodriguez also assisted on Lloyd's goal. Nicole Barnhart started in goal and recorded her first shutout of the tournament and earned the Tournament's Best Goalkeeper Award as American's top keeper Hope Solo was out still recovering from shoulder surgery she had this past fall. Canada's Christine Sinclair won Best Player honors and China's You Jia was the Top Scorer.
The U.S. women don't have any more matches on their schedule until the World Cup in Germany this summer where they'll face off against North Korea, Colombia and familiar foe Sweden.

Around the NBA


It's just not Cleveland's year. Cleveland led by as many as 12 points in the second quarter against the Nets and really led just about the entire game. Even after they gave up the lead Joey Graham hit a huge 3 from the corner to tie the game at 101 with 7 seconds left. It still wasn't enough. Brook Lopez scored the game winner with a little over a second to go and Daniel Gibson's last ditch 3-pointer was just long and the Cavs have now lost 17 in a row. Another dagger into the hearts of Cavaliers fans. Anthony Parker was out for the 9th time in the last 10 games as his back continues to bother him so that didn't help, but Parker only scored 13 points total in the two previous games against New Jersey. Antawn Jamison continued to shoulder much of the scoring load leading the way 26 and J.J. Hickson, Daniel Gibson, Ramon Sessions and Graham all finished in double figures, but the losses continue to mount. The upside, if there is one, is that this was just the 3rd time during their losing streak that the Cavs scored over 100 points. Cleveland plays at Boston tonight and wraps up the month at home against Denver and on the road in Orlando and then at Miami.


Kevin Love, that is. Just another ho-hum night from the league's leading rebounder last night. 34 minutes, 24 points, 17 rebounds including 9 on the offensive end, 11 for 11 from the free throw line... The guy is ridiculous. In 44 games this season Love has now had at least 17 rebounds 18 times, including 6 times this month. By comparison, the league's second leading rebounder, a guy by the name of Dwight Howard, has only pulled down at least 17 rebounds 10 times in 43 games. Now if only Minnesota could figure out how to string together some wins. Despite Love's performance, the Wolves dropped last night's game to the Rockets 129-125.


A sign of a good team is when you get contributions from all over your lineup. The Bulls fit that criteria to a tee. Battling through injuries, different players have had to step up and produce on different nights. Last night it was 38 year old center Kurt Thomas who came into last night's game against the Bucks averaging 4.2 points per game and with a single game season high of 12 points. Pitted against one of the league's top defensive centers (Andrew Bogut) all night, Thomas went to work and produced his biggest offensive night since January 25th... 2005, almost 6 years ago to the day. Back then Thomas was with the Knicks. The Bulls improved to 31-14 overall and 21-4 at the United Center with the win.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Is Cutler Really to Blame?

Jay Cutler has drawn an immense amount of criticism following the Bears loss to the Packers for not gutting it out and staying in the game despite his injury. Some samples:

Derrick Brooks: "I have to be crawling and can't get up to come off the field. Josh Freeman would not come out. Meds are available ... "

Brooks again: "There is no medicine for a guy with no guts and heart."

Deion Sanders: "I never question a player's injury, but I do question a player's heart."

Darnell Dockett: "If I'm on the Chicago team Jay Cutler has to wait 'til me and the team shower [and] get dressed and leave before he comes in the locker room."

Mark Schlereth: "As a guy [who has had] 20 knee surgeries you'd have to drag me out on stretcher to leave a championship game."

Maurice Jones-Drew: "All I'm saying is that he can finish the game on a hurt knee ... I played the whole season on one."

Pretty harsh stuff, and that's just a small sample of the stuff that's out there. Now, I get it. Some people are upset because Cutler wasn't lying on his deathbed, or jumping up and down screaming to get back into the game, and to them that means he had no heart and/or he should not have come out of the game. I don't know that I agree with that. Sure there are tons of examples in sports of guys gutting it out for glory and putting everything on the line. Phillip Rivers comes to mind. Rivers played in the AFC Championship Game in 2008 against New England with a torn ACL. What people don't remember is that the game Rivers was hurt in, he didn't return. That divisional playoff game against the Colts was won by backup Billy Volek. It's not unheard of for quarterbacks to not be able to return from injury in playoff games. Carson Palmer tore both his ACL and MCL against the Steelers in the 2006 Wildcard Game and had to give way to Jon Kitna. Heck, Joe Montana got blown up by Leonard Marshall in the 1992 NFC Championship Game and had to give way to Steve Young...It happens. I don't recall any of those guys having their toughness questioned by the entire world though. How about 2 years ago when the Titans played the Ravens in the second round of the playoffs? At 13-3 the Titans were the #1 seed and if ever there was a year when they looked poised to make a Super Bowl run this was it. Chris Johnson goes down with an injury in the first half. No crutches, no stretcher, just sat on the sidelines in a parka a la Jay Cutler. Left with LenDale White, the Titans offense which had leaned so heavily on Johnson all year sputtered and the Titans lost on a late field goal to Joe Flacco and company 13-10. Did anyone say anything about Chris Johnson's toughness? Or throw fits about why he wasn't doing everything HE could do to get back into the game? I'm a Titans fan, and while I was disappointed that our star player was out, I don't recall blaming him or accusing him of not trying. I just think it's unfortunate that so many people are jumping on Cutler before they even know the extent of the injury. I mean if it comes back that he had a bad bruise or something, than yeah, go ahead and question his toughness. But this is a guy who plays football despite having Type I Diabetes, got sacked more than anyone else over the course of the season and missed just one game (due to a concussion), and seems to have the complete support of his coach and teammates. Brian Urlacher and center Olin Kreutz seemed quick to defend their quarterback when asked. Same with safety Chris Harris, and backup quarterback Caleb Hanie. Not one hint of dissension among the Bears ranks. To me the whole thing is disappointing. It's easy to say that if you were in Cutler's shoes you would've done things differently, but the fact of the matter is that none of these critics were. Yeah, some of them are football players who battled through injuries. But a lot of them weren't quarterbacks, and they don't know what Cutler was going through. For Maurice Jones-Drew to say that he played the whole year on a bad knee is ridiculous. When the Jaguars were tied atop the AFC South at 8-6 with the Colts and his team needed him, Jones-Drew missed the last two regular season games. Hmmmmmm... Anyhow, people need to lay off of Cutler. He led his team to the NFC Championship game and they came up short. It's unfortunate the way things went down, but no one deserves the sort of judgment that he's receiving.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Big Plays from the Championship Games

NFC Championship Game

Starks' First NFL Touchdown - The Packers reestablished running game is a big reason they're going to the Super Bowl.

Urlacher's Interception - Although it didn't lead to points, it kept Green Bay from taking a 21-0 lead. Note that Rodgers makes a touchdown saving tackle on this play too.

Caleb Hanie's 32 yarder to Knox - Hanie led the Bears down the field on his first drive, and this play set up their first score of the game, a one yard run by Chester Taylor.

B.J. Raji Touchdown - To quote John Madden in the movie The Replacements - "I love to see a fat guy score... Because first you get the fat guy spike, then you get the fat guy dance. Raji didn't get to do the spike because Hanie almost forced a fumble, but he does get to do a dance.

Hanie's First Career Touchdown Pass - Hanie was 4 for 4 on this drive, culminating in this 35 yard strike to Earl Bennett.

Sam Shields Clinches the win with a Pick - Final Score Packers 21, Bears 14.

AFC Championship Game

Mendenhall gives the Steelers an early lead - Rashard Mendenhall would finish the game with 121 yards on 27 carries and this score to put the Steelers up 7-0 on their opening drive.

Big Ben runs in a score - Roethlisberger scores on a keeper from two yards out to extend the leave to 17-0.

Ike Taylor's brutal hit of Sanchez leads to a touchdown - Taylor crushes Sanchez and William Gay returns it for a touchdown to make it 24-0 still in the first half.

Santonio Holmes burns his old team - Sanchez hits Holmes when Ike Taylor falls down on their first possession of the second half as the Jets slowly creep back into the game.

The Goal Line Stand - Don't have a video for this one, but facing a 2nd and goal from the 1, the Steelers defense forces two incompletions and then stop Tomlinson. 17 plays 88 yards 0 points.

The Safety - No video for this one either. One play later, with starting center Maurkice Pouncey out with an injury, backup Doug Legursky and Ben Roethlisberger had a mishap on the snap and while Roethlisberger recovered in the end zone, it still went for a safety. 24-12

Cotchery scores to make it 24-19 - Following the safety, Sanchez drives the Jets down the field and hits Jerricho Cotchery on a 4 yard touchdown pass.

Roethlisberger to Brown to Clinch the Win - 3rd and 6 with the Jets out of timeouts, Roethlisberger scrambles and hits rookie Antonio Brown for 14 yards and a first down. Game, set, match Steelers. 24-19.