It was a good night for basketball. Because I have been urged to provide more content and because I’m experimenting with different styles and formats for my writing, we’re trying something new, maybe for today, maybe forever. I apologize for bailing on the SuperBowl Ad Review column I had promised to some, but there are just too many and I just don’t care. Bud Light had a few good ones, Audi R8 had an awesome one, Timberlake’s Pepsi one was decent, and Under Armor dropped the ball a bit in launching their first cross trainer.

I’d also like to use this time to ask for your patience with all the changes on the sidebars—I’m experimenting with different daily/weekly features to try and provide the most content possible. I have committed to Big Sexy’s Boombox, Quote/Pic/YouTubes of the Week, and starting today I’m going to try Lock of the Day, where I pick my favorite sports bet with fake money (note: I actually use, I’m just not placing all of these bets because I’m broke enough already). And finally, before we get going, happy birthday to Tieja (our biggest constructive critic) and Millen (one of the best fantasy options for the Riverside baseball league in 2008), some homies from The Bridge. Without further ado, I present the first ever…

NBA Hangover

San Antonio 116, Indiana 89
No surprise here, except that Indiana only managed 9 points in the 3rd quarter. Stephen Graham scored more points (7) than Joey has in weeks. With Tony Parker still out, Mighty Mouse made his debut and dropped 11 with no dimes in 22 minutes. For these two teams it was lather, rinse, repeat, or more appropriately it was cornrow, pick, repeat.Cleveland 114, Boston 113
This was an incredible game. From the high-scoring first half to Drew Gooden’s 3rd quarter injury, to Boobie Gibson abusing the Celtics in the fourth, this was a great sign of things to come in the East playoffs. KG was out, so don’t use it as a measuring stick yet, but a few themes emerged:
Even when he takes a back seat, LeBron is the man. He took just 21 shots (below his average), but put up 33-9-12 with 5 steals and two blocks. That, folks, is a superstar.

Drew Gooden means more to this team than you think. He went 8/8 in the 3rd quarter last time these teams played, and he had a stellar showing before going down. After that, the Cavs relied on perimeter players and could not get the ball inside.

You are going to need a top point guard to handle Rajon Rondo in the playoffs. R-Squared shot 8/13 en route to 20 points with 7 boards (a stat that he has been improving on a lot lately), and he torched Daniel Gibson whenever the Celtics needed a quick bucket.

Philadelphia 101, Washington 96
The Wiz got Tough Juice back and he dropped 9 dimes in 30 minutes, but managed just 8 points. Give him a couple of days and he’ll be back to his All Star numbers. I’d be more concerned with Antawn’s (why does everyone pronounce in Antoine?) 6/23 shooting and that he is 5 for his last 25 from long range. Somehow Philly shot 57%, and two related themes stuck out:

Andre Miller is auditioning for other teams. 14 dimes sees him averaging more than 20 and 10 over his last 3 games.

A youth movement is the best move for Philly. Iggy, Thaddeus, Sweet Lou, and Rodney “Why the Hell is Willie Green Still Getting Minutes Over Me” Carney combined for 64 points and 22 rebounds on 28/48 shooting, great numbers for a core that ranges in age from 19 to 23. Yup.

LA Lakers 105, New Jersey 90
Pau Gasol makes his triumphant debut, dropping an efficient 24-12-4. I didn’t see the game but word is he looked comfortable in the triangle offense and isn’t showing any signs of his nagging “injury” from Memphis. Kobe had a J-Kidd game, putting up just 6-5-8 on 3/13 shooting and turning the ball over 7 times. Coincidentally, J-Kidd also had a J-Kidd game, posting 11-5-10 on 4/12 shooting. Lamar Odom was the second biggest story (behind Pau) of the game, flaunting the best line he has had in some time, a 14-15-5 where he took 13 free throws compared to just 4 field goal attempts. That…is going to make John Hollinger blush. Rounding out the highlights, my boy Boki Nachbar posted his first double-double of the season, going for 19 and 10 before fouling out in 28 minutes.

Oh, and Vince is a bitch and fired up 26 shots, 16 of them bricks. It is now to the point where The ODC gets more traffic than Vince’s website.

Milwaukee 102, Memphis 97
On the other end of the Pau Gasol deal, Memphis’ final score looks alright…until you consider the opponent. Darko (!) looked alright in Pau’s place, dropping 11 and 12, and reminding us that he can’t be a bust yet because he’s still just 22. Kwame and Crittenton hardly played and neither put up anything great, as can be expected in the first game on a new team. Mike Miller dropped 32 and because Dave’s contract with the ODC stipulates a once-a-week Rudy Gay mention on the site, I’ll share that he had 4 steals and 6 dimes to accompany his 21 points. “Big Smooth” Charlie Villaneuva put on a show reminiscent of his rookie campaign, going off for 16 and 16 in Yi’s absence. The U-Conn product has game and should be getting decent run for a different team come March, and I don’t think he’ll be the only Buck on the move.

Looking Forward
So that was a decent night in basketball. Both teams from the ‘big trade’ played, and there was a potential Eastern Conference finals preview, though without The Big Ticket. As always, the NBA has a big Wednesday with 11 games on tap, plus the U-Conn/Syracuse and Duke/UNC college ball games on The Score (plus 6 other top-25 teams in action). Highlights include the always-hyped Detroit/Miami showdown, Pau’s second game as a Laker, and a Chris Paul-Steve Nash show down for Western PG supremacy (amid bizarre Shaq-to-Phoenix rumors, no less).

Please provide me with some feedback on how you like the idea of a daily NBA wrap-up (that could be extended to other sports, too). I think this was a bit long, so in the future I would move to more of a Daily Dime style, providing two or three big (but short) stories and a few quick news items (e.g. top performers). Holla at ya boi!