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Old 06-29-2008, 06:03 PM   #90
Head Coach
Join Date: Sep 2004
As we head into month two, I can't get Regina Spektor "Fidelity" out of my head and it's driving me crazy. But we're 10-5, so it's a happy kind of crazy.

But it breaks my ha-ha-ha-ha-heart when we lose to Miami 126-115 to start December, especially since Kenyon Martin double-doubled with 20 points and 11 rebounds and Paulinho Buboltz had a truly breakout performance with 21 points from the bench. Then again, the Heat have an impressive backcourt of their own in Ray Allen, who hit us for 40 points and Dwayne Wade, who torched us for 31.

No problem, as we rebound against Orlando in a 109-87 win spearheaded by 26 and 24 points respectively by Ben Gordon and Chauncey Billups. Leroy Wright just misses out on his first career double-double with 14 points and 9 rebounds.

102-89 loss to the Wizards and I'm thinking it's going to be a ping-pong month. Leroy Wright finally got his first double-double but it was a cheap one at 10 points and 11 rebounds.

We get a loss I expect, blown out 112-84 by the Raptors. No highlights to report as we just get flat-out schooled. We really need Shaq back as soon as we can get him.

Then the -really- galling thing happens. Our losing streak stretches to three against the New York Knicks. Jamal Crawford, a freaking bench player, drops 32 points on us and I'm absolutely livid. So what if Ben Gordon scored 29 and Chauncey Billups 25? We allowed the Knicks to beat us.

The dry run finally stops against Philadelphia as Ben Gordon and Chauncey Billups combine for 22 and 20 points in a hard-nosed 97-79 victory. We lose again the next night to the Celtics though, as George Karl keeps tinkering with the damned lineup.

A brief respite before another doubleheader and it's another split, a 94-77 loss to Miami and a 99-94 win over Orlando, the latter powered by Chauncey Billups with 29 rebounds, 12 assists, 5 rebound and 3 steals and Leroy Wright with 11 points and 17 rebounds.

The boys surprise me with a shocking 120-107 upset of the Suns. 7 Phoenix players in double-digit scoring and they still couldn't counter Ben Gordon (45 points) and Chauncey Billups (20 points, 15 assists).

We follow it up with our first winning streak in a good while, topping Seattle 102-89 behind Ben Gordon's 29 points, Chauncey Billups's 19 points and 11 rebounds and Leroy Wright's 15 points and 12 rebounds. Wright's starting to establish himself as a legitimate NBA baller and is beginning to appear as a minor draft steal.

A few days off before a doubleheader, the first night a 118-106 defeat to Dallas despite 11 points and 12 assists from Chauncey Billups, the second an awesome 96-76 Christmas Day win over Golden State powered by 41 points from Ben Gordon and a double-double of 22 points and 12 assists from Chauncey Billups. Caron Butler is languishing on the bench for the Warriors after having been traded there the year after I got the boot from the Knicks, but with a $10 million salary, I can't in good faith bring him on board.

The joy of victory is followed by another defeat, continuing our uneven month. This time it's the 76ers that beat us, in spite of a fantastic 28 points, 5 assists and 9 rebounds from Chauncey Billups.

We have a back-to-back on New Year's Eve, New Year's Day against the Lakers and we win both of them, 116-108 and 120-99 respectively. The first victory comes courtesy of Chauncey Billups with 24 points and 12 assists and great bench play from Justin Reed (13 points, 8 assists) and Rod Little (12 points). Game Two brought the return of Shaquille O'Neal in a big way, a 28 point, 8 rebound, 2 assist, 2 block, steal way, while Ben Gordon scored 30 and Chauncey Billups gleefully double-doubled with 18 points and 11 assists. Leroy Wright handled his bench demotion well, scoring 11 as the 6th man.

So how are we looking after that month? Still in the lead in the Northwest at 18-13, a half-game over the 16-12 Minnesota Timberwolves, 4.5 games ahead of the 3rd place Utah Jazz.

I can't figure out what's wrong with the Trailblazers, but I'm not complaining that they've free-fallen to 12-17. San Antonio, my darkhorse pick for the conference, is proving me right by leading the West with a 25-7 record. The Suns are the only team with a winning record in the Pacific at 18-12.

In the East, the Celtics are an astonishing 25-6, just ahead of the 25-7 Raptors. The Bulls are really struggling without Mike Bibby, presently 13-15.

Boston's rise can be largely attributed to the following factors: Paul Pierce staying great, Spencer Hawes developing into a pretty good C and Al Jefferson having an incredible breakout season of 19.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 2 blocks to date. He's finally starting to earn that fat paycheck he got from the Celtics a couple years ago. Okay, fat's a relative term. It was a 6 year deal that averaged out to $12 million a year, but he's only making $10 million this season.

The funniest thing, however, is this: The New York Knicks are 3-27 with Carmelo Anthony. Then again, the team is awful outside of 'Melo, who's averaging 21.8 points a game. Ronny Smith has yet to break out like people expected and sure he's only 22 and in just his 3rd season, but he's shown almost no progress since his rookie campaign and has even regressed in some ways.

Lebron James leads the league in scoring at 34 points a game, Michael Redd the other 30+ man at 30.7. Ben Gordon is still 6th at 26.2 points a game and suddenly that Carmelo deal is looking like a huge advantage to us.

Chris Paul and Baron Davis are the ones to average double-digit assists at 11.4 and 10.4 respectively, our own Chauncey Billups 3rd at 9.4 dishes per game. Greg Oden is the undisputed rebounding leader with 14.8 boards a game, a full two and a half rebounds ahead of Yao Ming.

Andrei Kirilenko is starting to look old, as he's averaging only 3.9 blocks a game and Gerald Wallace, Ron Artest and Lebron James all average two steals a game, Wallace the only one to be above it with 2.5.

I'm still laughing about the Knicks' futility. It's just too funny.

Argh! I just realized I forgot to cover November's trades. I'll do that now.

Philadelphia 76ers receive:
Stephon Marbury

Atlanta Hawks receive:
SG Willie Green

What this means for the 76ers:
Philadelphia desperately needs some scoring punch for their bench and Starbury provides that. He's also quite cheap for that, making just $3.4 milion this year and then he comes off the books. Starbury also gets a chance to fly away from Atlanta, who appear to be going nowhere.

What this means for the Hawks:
Green means $500,000 more off the cap when his contract expires this year than Starbury and he's much more comfortable with a non-winning team. The Hawks should be an interesting team to watch next offseason, as they're currently almost $15 UNDER the cap and have more expiring at the end of the year.

Advantage: Draw
Benefits both teams for what they're trying to do. Not a major trade, but a good one.

San Antonio Spurs receive:
SF Julian Wright
Atlanta Hawks 2011 2nd round pick

Atlanta Hawks receive:
SG Andrew Clay
C Kenneth Holland
SF Desmond Mason

What this means for the Spurs:
The Spurs get a promising young SF in the 23 year old Wright, who will immediately fill in the weak spot and become the starting SF. His minutes were declining every year with the Hawks and he needed a change of scenery. San Antonio is the perfect fit for him. The 2nd rounder is gravy.

What this means for the Hawks:
Mason was released immediately following the swap, so it boils down to Clay and Holland. Clay was taken in the first round this year by the Spurs, but the rookie looks quite ordinary. Holland has some glimmers of potential, but he and Clay are both stuck in a crowded, young Hawks roster that has a lot of mediocre kids, save for 24 year old Shelden Williams. Apparently Atlanta's accumulating youngsters, throwing them at the wall and seeing who sticks.

Advantage: San Antonio
The Spurs address a hole and get some key youth, while Atlanta continues the destruction of their franchise.

Minnesota Timberwolves receive:
PG Monta Ellis

Atlanta Hawks receive:
PG Marko Jaric
Minnesota Timberwolves 2011 1st round pick

What this means for the Timberwolves:
Last year they picked up Javaris Crittenton. This year they pick up Ellis. But wait, it's actually a good thing, as Ellis is better suited to SG and hence, the youngster is the heir apparent to Ricky Davis. He's well worth a late 1st rounder and Jaric for that.

What this means for the Hawks:
Ellis was actually a good building block to pair with Williams and the likely late 1st round pick plus $7.6 million expiring contract in Jaric doesn't exactly jive well. On the other hand, Jaric provides veteran leadership and is the new starting SG.

Advantage: Timberwolves
Does Atlanta's front office have any idea how to properly rebuild a franchise? It doesn't appear so.

Three trades in November and they all involved the Hawks. Amazing.

Next time, we open with a review of December's deals.
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