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Found 24 results

  1. Dropping a pair of trade-wind nuggets from Kevin O'Connor at The Ringer. One more speculative than the other. ~lw3
  2. Saint That a Shame? Our Atlanta Hawks seek to make it two Ws in a row for the just second time… **gulp**… this season, as they face a resurgent New Orleans… **cough, ahem**… Pelicans team (7:30 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast and 92.9 FM in ATL, Fox Sports N’Awlins) at The Highlight Factory. New Orleans… **giggle, snort**… comes in after a huge overtime win in Boston tonight, looking for… **smirk**… their fourth straight victory for the first… **lol, lmao**… okay, I’m sorry, Hawks fans, bear with me for a minute. We interrupt this game thread to ask a very important question. AINTS fans! Where y’at? Spectacularly blowing a lead with 61 yards of defensive room and only ten seconds left? Who Dat? More like, Who DOES Dat? No, seriously, what happened, y’all? New Orleans, Lose-iana: were you not the townsfolk who couldn’t seem to mind their own dadgum business, with all the incessant 28-to-3 jokes? Banners flying over that substandard Mercedes Benz stadium that’s domed so nobody inside can see them, Lame halftime dancers on the field pepping up their fans by forming some midgame score from a Super Bowl their team didn’t even participate in (y’all fans remember making it to a Super Bowl, right? I know, it’s been a minute.) Wide receivers rocking pregame tees with the score in black-and-old-gold? As if that score had anything to do with you? All those “28-3 Merry Xmas” signs? Well how now, brown cow? “24-23 0:10 Happy MLK Day!” There’s a five-letter word Antonio Brown has for this, but I’m forgetting, what’s it called? There’s no telling which millennium we’ll be in when the Falcons win their first Super Bowl. But when it happens, please, Atlanta, don’t let it blow up our coaches’ heads the way it does Sean Payton’s. Seriously, what is it with this guy? One little Bountygate-fueled Lombardi Trophy, and now his head is all inflated like a Foxboro football. Choke signs at Devonta, really? (I know, you got selective amnesia about that, Seanie. I would, too!) Postgame chest-chopping Dirk Koetter (WOO!), of all people, like you’re Ric Fricking Flair? You’d have thought an inflated-head coach would have learned his lessons, after acting pretend-tough and getting humbled by the Falcons AND the Bucs. But no, not you, Petty Payton! As the final seconds ticked on what should have been a stone-cold lock Aints victory, Showoff Sean got caught taking a moment to turn toward the Vikings fans (Minnesota, we owe you guys at least twice now) and gloat, mocking them with their own “Skol!” chant. Then Marcus Williams, perhaps inspired by his coach, does a Ric Flair strut of his own, instead of properly defending a simple out-route to Stefon Diggs. I promise I won’t strip down like D’Angelo and show off my one-pack flab, but I must turn to ask you, Coach: How Does It Feeeeeeel? Your Big Easy town has ONE major sports championship. Guess what: we have one too! And Atlanta got its trophy fifteen years before you. But you would never know it from hearing us open our big yaps, would ya? Take a hint, stay in yo lane, and get the Falcon over yourselves! Okay, that’s off my chest. Now, where were we… oh yeah, it’s their basketball team that’s coming to town. I wonder how many Saints will be watching the Hawks instead of preparing for the Eagles. As if the Philips Arena seats weren’t going to be vacant enough for a midweek January tilt between the Hawks and Pellies. There’s more than one transplant troll who was all set to show up tonight bearing those unbearable 28-3 signs, decked out in black-and-shiny-gold attire, strutting around with a parasol behind Jerome and The Stinger for his soon-to-be NFC Champions. Now? Yeah, the frigid, icy weather outside is matching their Aint-fan souls on the inside. Where their etouffee-eating butts would have been, expect a few additional empty chairs on display as these NBA teams take the floor. Okay, okay… onto the Pelicans. Don’t let the Aints’ woes distract you from the fact that a 2-11 Hawks team blew a pair of two-touchdown leads, one in each half, along with a four-point lead with under two minutes to play at the Smoothie King Center in November. A pair of jumpshots from Kent Bazemore (team-highs of 22 points and 7 assists @ NOP on 11/13) helped Atlanta seize the momentum back before halftime. But Baze’s last-ditch three-point attempt was blocked by Jrue Holiday to seal the 106-105 victory for the Pelicans, a game New Orleans led for barely over three minutes (Atlanta for over forty minutes) of the contest. You can forgive the NOPes if they come into tonight’s contest a bit road-weary. They took the Eastern Conference leading Celtics into OT and prevailed last night by a 116-113 score, but had little time to waste in getting, first, to Logan and, then, to an ice-glazed Hartsfield-Jackson, checking into their beds after 3:00 AM last night. After toppling New York and Boston, sweeping the 3-game road swing with a win over Atlanta would give the Bayou Birds not only their first four-game win streak of the season, it would also place them four games above .500 for the first time in 2017-18. A home-friendly schedule to close out January could keep the momentum going further, as New Orleans (23-20) hopes to catch Russell Westbrook and the OK3 (24-20) for the fifth slot in the Western Conference playoff chase. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry needs to be concerned, though, with making sure his team doesn’t run out of NO3. Can surefire MVP candidate Anthony Davis (career-highs of 58.9 2FG%, 34.7 3FG%, 82.1 FT%) crank out at least 40-and-15 for the third consecutive game? That points-rebounds combo is a feat that has been accomplished just 341 times by NBA players since 1963, as per basketball-reference, but on nine occasions already by the 24-year-old Davis (45-and-16 @ BOS yesterday; 48-and-17 @ NYK on Sunday). This includes another pair of consecutive back-to-back games in October 2016. From bball-ref, the last player I can see who went for 40-and-15 in consecutive contests was Yung Shaq (November 1994). The only other NBA player to notch 40-and-15 twice this season? Davis’ Twin Tower in the frontcourt, DeMarcus Cousins. It’s kind of a pity that Gentry must lean so heavily on Unibrow (36.0 MPG), Cousins (career-high 36.1 MPG), and guard Jrue Holiday (36.9 MPG, most since his 2013 All-Star season). The trio combined for over 128 minutes last night in Beantown. That’s just two days after running the floor for a cumulative 130 minutes at MSG, to also outlast the Knicks in OT. They’ve got young legs, to be sure, but you can tell Cousins (25.4 PPG, 2.2 3FGs/game, 12.7 RPG, 5.1 APG) is deliberately pacing himself. Watch your TV screen whenever Boogie (assuming he plays today) makes an outlet pass, turns the ball over, blows a layup, or turns to the refs to plead after a non-whistle. Watch him disappear, completely, from your camera’s view as his teammates scamper down the court, 4-on-5, either in fastbreak offense (NOP: 6th in pace, 10th in fastbreak points, 19th in points per-48 off TOs) or transition defense (NOP opponents: 5th-most fastbreak points per-48, 7th-most points per-48 off TOs). Count the number of times he never even shows up in the picture. Yes, Cuz is loafing, especially when he sags on opponents’ pick-and-rolls, but it appears to be by design, with permission implicitly granted by Gentry. Cousins plays such an active role in the halfcourt offense that he prefers to conserve his energies while doing pretty much anything else. He recognizes this is all the effort needed to reach the playoffs for the first time in his 8-year NBA career, and he wants to be in decent condition by the time the dogwoods break out. One can imagine Gentry wants to alleviate Holiday (career-highs of 18.5 PPG, 57.6 2FG%) and his pinball-tilting pair of star bigs, if only he had a roster that could go more than two lines deep. Jameer Nelson is out on personal leave, while rookie guard Frank Jackson (broken foot) won’t return for a couple more weeks. Neither will the brutally overpaid Solomon Hill (hamstring), who may make his first appearance this season after the All-Star break, nor will Tony Allen. The Grindfather had a setback in his recovery from a fractured fibula and won’t get on the floor until New Orleans returns home. That leaves Gentry to turn to Ian Clark, Darius Miller, Dante Cunningham, Cheick Diallo and Omer Asik to serve cleanup duties for the starters, which include Rajon Rondo and E’Twaun Moore. New Orleans’ Big Three usually needs at least one of these residual Pelicans to go off to have success on a given night. Given the mileage their stars have logged, N’Awlins may need at least two Pellie-pellets to help secure victory tonight. Back in November, they’d have blown the home game versus Atlanta without Miller’s 21 points (5-for-8 3FGs) to supplement Moore’s game-high 24 (11-for-18 FGs). Last night, the task fell to Clark, who managed 15 bench points in almost 32 minutes, including the final 18.5 minutes before Holiday could put the game on ice with a pair of weakly-contested mid-range jumpers. Christmas is long past, but Atlanta (12-31; 4 straight Ws when holding opponents to double-digits) must Run Run like Rudolph for 48 minutes, and make the Pelicans reel like a merry-go-round. A full team defensive effort will be needed by Dennis Schröder (5-for-14 2FGs, 0-for-4 3FGs @ NOP; 26 points, 5 D-Rebs, 7 assists in Monday’s win over the Kawhi-less Spurs) and the Hawks (18.8 points per-48 off TOs, 3rd in NBA), putting pressure on Rondo and Cousins to issue wild passes, and on Davis and Holiday to put the ball on the floor and up for grabs. The Pelicans were looking pretty good the last time Davis was on this arena floor, a 112-94 blowout win that could have been even wider had Davis not crashed into the stands WWE-style while pursuing a loose ball. Some hoop-wonks at have created a new “Win Shares”-style measure called “Win Probability Added” (WPA), and Davis’ 4.99 WPA outpaces the entire NBA field. For kicks and giggles, would you venture a guess as to who leads the Hawks in this probabilistic category? Your Bologna-born baller has a first name, and it’s M-A-R-C-O! The former New Orleans Hornet, Marco Belinelli (4-for-6 3FGs and 4 steals @ NOP on 11/13) has a 2.37 WPA which ranks 25th in the league, ahead of such notables as LaMarcus Aldridge, Otto Porter, Nikola Mirotic, and Al Horford. Aside from Harrison Barnes and Dirk, Polo’s WPA is the highest among anybody not playing on a Top-8 team. Just putting his business on Front Street, for all you data-loving NBA GMs lurking for trades out there. Even with Davis tilting at shots in the paint (4 blocks vs. ATL on 11/13) the last time these two teams met, the Pelicans had little answer for Atlanta’s big men, including then-starter Dewayne Dedmon (5-for-5 FGs in just 13 minutes @ NOP), John Collins (6-for-10 FGs), or even Tyler Cavanaugh (6-for-7 FGs, incl. 4-for-4 3FGs). Miles Plumlee and the Hawks’ bigs must avoid drawing cheap defensive fouls that let Davis and Cousins pad their boxscore stats while allowing their teammates to catch their collective breath. Here’s hoping the True To Atlanta fans who brave the arctic temperatures downtown are treated to an entertaining evening, regardless of the final outcome on the scoreboard. As for any New Orleans fans at the game, if you need to stay warm, there’s a Starbucks in the food court… oh, wait, on second thought, never mind. Coffee is for Closers. Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  3. “This me guarding Bazemore’s jumper. Ayyyy!” Dealing with the bigs won’t be easy in The Big Easy, as our Atlanta Hawks wrangle with All-Star talents Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins of the New Orleans Pelicans (8:00 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports New Orleans). Former Pelican Luke Babbitt and fellow Hawks starter Dewayne Dedmon are sure to have their hands full as Boogie and The Brow take turns pounding away in the paint and lofting open perimeter jumpers. Barring an off-shooting night, there’s no conceivable way these Hawks can keep New Orleans’ dynamic duo from filling up the box score with ungodly pinball-game numbers. The key for Atlanta’s big men to hang in there tonight is, when those titans tug and pull, to simply let go of the rope. The Pelicans’ injury report isn’t exactly brief. Rajon Rondo remains out after dealing all season with a sports hernia, and he’ll be joined by fellow backup guard Tony Allen (knee inflammation) and rookie Frank Jackson (foot fracture) as no-goes. Up front, the Pellies (7-6) have been making-do without Solomon Hill (torn hammy), Omer Asik (Crohn’s disease), and Alexis Ajinca (knee tendinitis). All that medical leave has coach Alvin Gentry fielding rosters 8-to-9 deep on most nights. Cousins (28.7 PPG, 13.8 RPG, 5.7 APG, 1.8 BPG, 1.5 SPG) is downright otherworldly. But Boogie will grant opponents chances to get back in games with a high number of turnovers (5.2 per game; 8 during Saturday’s 111-103 home win over the Clippers), hacks (3.9 personal fouls per game), ill-advised three-point shots (5.2 missed 3FGs per game), and distracted pleas to the refs when a call isn’t going his way. Recently-departed Pelican Josh Smith hopefully imparted some wisdom on the efficacy of those antics on his way out the door. Davis is every bit as much a marvel (27.3 PPG, 59.2 2FG%, 39.4 3FG%, 12.1 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 1.3 SPG, 2.1 TOs/game), particularly for as long as he can be paired with Cousins (2-man lineup: +8.1 points per 100 possessions). But the occasional dive to the floor by Unibrow leaves everyone at Smoothie King Center and fantasy owners holding their breaths. When either exits for the rare breather, the depth chart for N’Awlins leaves Gentry to turn solely to Cheick Diallo, who Atlanta’s John Collins will surely recall from Summer League had he bothered to look down on his way to the rim. The backcourt injuries have Jrue Holiday (37.2 MPG, most since 2012-13), E’Twaun Moore (31.3 MPG, up from a career-high 24.9 last season), and especially Jameer Nelson (27.5 MPG, most since his Orlando days) playing crazy minutes. To bounce back from a horrid performance in Washington, Dennis Schröder (2-for-16 FGs, 5 assists, 4 TOs on Saturday) must wear down the Pellies by coming off screens instead of going for straight-line drives. Dennis should be prepared to loft some floaters when the big Bayou Birds are packing the paint, rather than force the issue in hopes of some fortuitous whistles. And, as always, the Hawks (2-11) tend to be at their competitive zenith when Schröder is active and engaged defensively. The wear-and-tear on the Pelicans’ starters will lead to copious errors (16.2 TO%, 23rd in NBA). It is up to the Hawks to swoop in and take advantage of every possible opportunity to convert those errors into scores, especially live-ball turnovers that could have Davis and Cousins chasing Schröder and the Hawk guards from the rear. When those bigs do manage to get back in transition, Schröder and Isaiah Taylor need to find their own wings (including another ex-Pelican, Marco Belinelli) waiting in the proverbial wings. For all its offensive woes, Atlanta remains hot shooting above-the-break on 3s (39.6 3FG%, a shave off from 2nd in the NBA) and from the right corner (48.8 3FG%, tied-6th in NBA). Even without three PF/C’s at their own disposal, the Hawks close out their three-game road swing finally against a team that is as shallow in the frontcourt as they are. With minutes carefully distributed by coach Mike Budenholzer, a steady rotation of Hawk guards that understand their roles and execute properly could offset any frontcourt advantage by New Orleans and make for a compelling, four-quarter contest. As demonstrated six times already this season, Davis and Cousins going bananas in the box score does not, in and of itself, translate into victory on the scoreboard. Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  4. Probably a premature post. I'll delete it if it goes nowhere. ~lw3
  5. (BasketUSA article, Google translation of l'Equipe, via SB Nation's The Bird Writes) I always wonder why/how foreign players (Bogut in Australia being a recent example) get away with airing their frustrations with their teams via their home countries' media. ~lw3
  6. “If you call me Simon or Theodore ONE more time…” The Hottest Team in the East (double-checks standings… yup!) swoops into New Orleans today (8:00 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast and 92.9 FM in ATL, Fox Sports NO). The Atlanta Hawks are hoping to extend their winning streak to five, one night after vanquishing Orlando. Beating the Magic 111-92 last night was a small measure of vengeance after Orlando tallied 131 points in Atlanta just weeks ago. Last week, the Hawks’ 105-98 win over the Pistons somewhat avenged a 121-85 home drubbing from a few weeks prior. Now, Atlanta hopes to make amends for the first bad home loss of the season, when a 4-10 Pelicans squad waltzed into Philips Arena just days before Thanksgiving and made the Hawks look like jive turkeys. The 112-94 pasting (34-14 in the opening quarter) occurred even while supernova Anthony Davis (career-highs of 28.9 PPG and 11.9 RPG, NBA-highs of 2.6 BPG and 10.4 FGMs/game) sat out much of the game due to a minor injury. The Golden State Invitational is in full swing. There is but one solitary playoff slot open for the Western Conference’s sub-mediocre contenders. The Pelicans are right in the mix, vying with the Kings, Blazers, and Nuggets for that 8-seed and the right to host Steph and KD for a pair of home games in April. New Orleans enjoyed this opportunity back in 2015, and they’d love another shot at postseason futility. Along with the Hawks’ next opponent (Dallas), the Pels (14-22) are mired amid a tough Southwest Division that includes the Spurs, Grizzlies, and red-hot Rockets. They’re just 1-6 against those foes, but one good thing they have in their pocket is their success against teams from the other conference. Monday’s 90-82 loss in Cleveland (after leading through three quarters) dropped N’Awlins to a still-spiffy 8-4 record against the East, including the resounding victory in Atlanta back in November. Sporting a .500 record since stumbling out of the season blocks at 0-8, Alvin Gentry’s club has won four of their past five, while getting reinforcements for the run toward the playoffs’ first round. Arriving to the season late while attending to family matters, Jrue Holiday’s jumper isn’t quite where he wants it (39.1 FG% since December 1). But lately, he has been dropping dimes (last ten games: 9.0 APG, 1.9 TOs/G) the way locals drop beads on Mardi Gras revelers. Down goes Tim Frazier to the second-string, but he won’t be any relief for the Hawks, not after he put up season-highs of 21 points and 14 assists (9 in the second half) in Atlanta, widening the rout to 35 points before the Hawks woke up in the third quarter. Tyreke Evans returned in mid-December and has been brought along slowly after recovering from knee surgery. Unfortunately, Quincy Pondexter will undergo another knee surgery that will cause him to miss the entire season. But the Pellies compensated by ending the long, international nightmare that was Donatas Motiejunas’ contract situation in Houston, signing the seven-foot forward to a prorated vet-min deal on Tuesday. The minute Donuts stepped off the plane at Louis Armstrong, he became a better prospect to relieve Davis than any of Gentry’s other options (Terrence Jones, Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca, Cheick “Please” Diallo). But having not played on an NBA floor in 8 months, he’ll probably be too rusty to participate tonight. “Hopefully, it’s not going to take long to get back in game shape,” said Motiejunas during his presser. “I’m doing whatever I can to be ready as soon as possible.” The Pelicans’ recent surge coincided with coach Gentry’s decision (spurred on by a certain team consultant, perhaps?) to fully embrace small-ball, committing Davis and Jones (17 points off the bench @ ATL on Nov. 22) to the 5-spot while all but shelving Asik and Ajinca. They’ve been looking to off-again, on-again starter Dante Cunningham (41.7 3FG% in last 8 games, quickly returning from a fibula fracture) to be their stretch-4, although that may change once Motiejunas gets up to speed. It didn’t take until February, but rookie shooting guard Buddy Hield no longer seems afraid of his own shadow. Moved into the starting lineup in December, after a rough offensive start, Hield has shot a scintillating 53.3 3FG% over his past ten games. Yes, it’s kind of a default situation given the rookie crop these days, but Hield was named Rookie of the Month for December. Buddy’s budding and Davis’ dominance, unfortunately, have not put enough of a dent into New Orleans’ woeful offensive inefficiency this season. Ranking 29th in O-Rating (100.9 points per 100 possessions; NBA-low 100.6 since December 1), the Pels manage to score just 13.8 points per-48 off turnovers (28th in NBA). They shoot just 47.5% inside the 3-point arc, and don’t crash the offensive boards (17.9 O-Reb%, last in NBA), leading to very few second-chance scores (10.2 points per 48, 29th in NBA). The Hawks defensive challenge is to turn New Orleans’ offense inside-out. They want to entice leading scorers Davis (27.9 3FG%), Holiday (33.3 3FG%), and Jones (21.2 3FG%) to ply their wares from the perimeter, while keeping Frazier (38.2 3FG%), E’Twaun Moore (39.1 3FG%), Hield and Langston Galloway (36.4 3FG%) from getting open long-range looks. “K.Y.P.” is in full effect for the Hawks, who are moving back toward respectability in the perimeter defense department. Atlanta has kept seven of their last eight opponents from making a third (33.3%) or more of their three-point attempts (compared to just once in the 11 games before those). A healthier crew of Thabo Sefolosha, Paul Millsap, and Kent Bazemore has helped in this area. The Hawks benefitted once again from some favorable whistles, this time against the Magic (9-for-10 FTs) yesterday. But keeping foes off the free throw line, in and of itself, hasn’t translated into victories. Only one other time this season, out of six games, did Atlanta prevail while holding opponents to 13 or fewer FTAs. That was against Houston, who loves shooting threes but only made a third of them (12-for-36 3FGs). With Dwight Howard’s ability to keep opponents from making hay inside (22.6 opponent PPG-in-the-paint, 2nd-fewest among Centers with 25+ minutes/game), keeping New Orleans off the charity stripe while coaxing them to settle for well-contested mid-range two-pointers should be enough to stifle their offensive production over the course of 48 minutes. On offense, high ball screens directed by Dennis Schröder (last 4 games: 7.3 APG, 50.9 2FG%) should free him up for drives that force the Pelicans’ most active defender, Davis (team-high 1.5 SPG), to make plays on the ball. Unibrow is talented and flexible enough to divert Schröder’s drives, or to recover on the roll man, but he can’t cover the opponent’s entire halfcourt on his own, especially the opposite side. It’s up to Atlanta’s wings and forwards to stay in motion, freeing themselves up for passes from their lead guard and keeping the offense from stagnating. A headbanded Bazemore (17 points, 3-for-3 3FGs and 4 assists @ ORL) kept his head together and helped in this regard, as did Kyle Korver (4-for-5 3FGs vs. NOP on Nov. 22), who struggled with his shot last night but snuck in seven assists in under 17 minutes. New Orleans’ record is 3-11 when their opponents ring up 25 or more assists in a game, something Atlanta has done in their past three games. After piling up the points on the fastbreak (24-3) versus San Antonio on Sunday, the Hawks mustered just six fastbreak points in Orlando. Defensive rebounders sparking transition scores will be vital against the Pelicans, who are 2-13 this season when they’re outscored on fastbreak points. Even if individual Pelicans excel at times tonight, another balanced team effort spread out over four quarters should keep the Hawks’ good times rolling. A successful road trip may or may not be Big, but no one on this team should expect it to come Easy. Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  7. “Just stop it, Omer! Stop it! You’re making me laugh!” It’s Gucci Time! Cut the lights on at the Highlight Factory. The 1st Year Out Da Feds is going swimmingly well for Gucci Mane, the East Atlanta rapper providing the musical interlude as the Atlanta Hawks host the New Orleans Pelicans. (7:30 PM Eastern, Fox Sports Southeast and 92.9 FM in ATL, Fox Sports NOLA). Tidbits follow. Get Ur Weight Off, Patna! -- Winners of two straight home games, the visiting Pelicans are struggling to shed perceptions that they’re overly dependent on one tremendously good player. Losers of two straight on the road, the Hawks (9-4) are trying to shed presumptions that they’ll fold like a cheap suit once a little adversity hits during a game. For some inspiration, both teams can look to The Artist Briefly Known as Guwop, who shed a metric ton of pounds while doing time for his crime! The East Atlanta Santa is shaped more like a candy cane now and is darn-near unrecognizable, the telltale ice cream cheek tattoo notwithstanding. The ex-con committed to dumping the Lemonade (more specifically, the stuff he used to mix in it, and I don’t mean sugar) from his post-penitentiary diet. The League vs. Anthony Davis -- Unibrow remains more than worthy of the Spotlight, even though his nightly production often winds up getting Wasted. The reigning Western Conference Player of the Week leads the NBA in scoring (31.7 PPG) and blocks, not just the Spider-Solitaire-at-work variety (3.0 BPG), while putting up career-best averages in rebounds (11.5 RPG, 6th in NBA) and steals (1.9 SPG, 7th in NBA). His improved maneuvering is earning him better looks in the paint (55.5 FG% betw. 3-16 feet; 40.7% last season) and drawing more trips to the line (career-high 11.1 FTAs per game, 81.3 FT%). His 38-and-16 helped New Orleans fumigate the Hornets in OT on Saturday, one night after Charlotte pulled a fast one on the Hawks. After “containing” Kristaps Porzingis to a single offensive rebound on Sunday, Atlanta will try to use boxscore-filling Paul Millsap to keep Davis out of the paint, and more reliant on his long-range jumper (32.6 FG% from 16 feet out). I Think I Love Her -- USWNT soccer star Lauren Holiday successfully delivered a baby boy, one month before successfully removing a brain tumor. As new mothers are apt to do eventually, Lauren ordered her caretaker husband to get the heck out the house, and that’s been of great benefit to the Pelicans. Jrue Holiday has wasted little time getting acclimated off the bench, averaging 21.5 PPG and 8.0 APG in two games. His return has helped the Pelicans (4-10) double their win total while alleviating the lightly-experienced but steady third-year player Tim Frazier (7.6 APG, 2.4 TOs/game). Holiday (44.4 3FG%) and Langston Galloway (season-high 23 points, 6-for-11 3FGs vs. CHA; “Jrue is a maestro out there. He’s finding everybody,” he told are shooting perimeter shots well, allowing coach Alvin Gentry to rely less on starter E’Twuan Moore (30.8 3FG%) and rookie Buddy Hield (24.6 FG%). The Appeal: Germany’s Most Wanted -- Goodbye, Manhattan! Dennis Schröder should be coming into today’s action with clearer eyes and a fuller heart, after putting up a clunker (0-for-8 FGs, 3 assists, 3 TOs in 21 minutes) against the Knicks during a Sunday matinee. Backup Malcolm Delaney wasn’t any better (1-for-4 FGs, 4 assists, 4 TOs in 21 minutes), and the point guard power outage (plus a bunch of flubbed shots around the rim) contributed mightily to Atlanta’s biggest deficit in a loss this season. The Hawks are 6-0 this season when Schröder’s plus/minus is zero or higher, and they’ll need Dennis and Delaney to get back on the positive side versus Holiday and Frazier. 6-for-17 Brick Squad -- Decent perimeter shooting helps the Hawks neatly mask their shortcomings. The team is 7-0 when shooting above 35 percent on threes, but the Views From Zone 3 are not as pretty (2-4) when Atlanta falls short of that mark. They’ve been especially “BURR!” of late, not coming close to 35 percent in their last three games (28.4 3FG%) and they barely cleared the 35% bar in Miami (35.3 3FG%) last Tuesday. To hear more “Bingo!” tonight, their teammates must get in better position for catch-and-shoot opportunities when the point guards are coming off screens and driving. Pelican opponents have hit 8.4 above-the-break 3FGAs per game, 3rd most in the league. Speed Bumps -- Dwight Howard will try to make amends from the jump, after granting Knicks backup center Kyle O’Quinn carte blanche (4 O-Rebs, 7 total, plus 6 points in 1st quarter) on Sunday. Howard (18-and-18 @ NYK) should have little trouble neutralizing Pelicans center Omer Asik, if he can make Asik pay for abandoning him to help Pelican defenders. Backup Alexis Ajinca is returning to action after missing the past two games with a shoulder injury, while Terrence Jones (illness) may sit this one out. The Return of Mr. Perfect -- Thabo Sefolosha (67.5 2FG%) is likely to return from his mild knee sprain, helping put various Pelican ballhandlers in the Trap House while replenishing the depth of what has been the league’s premier bench unit. He and Kent Bazemore should Go Head and exploit any advantages they can find against New Orleans, who have struggled mightily to find a steady contributor at small forward. Dante Cunningham supplanted free agent pickup Solomon Hill in the Pels’ starting lineup, but the Pelicans are eagerly anticipating a December return from Tyreke Evans (knee, blood clots) to fill the gap. Gone are inefficient ballers Lance Stephenson and Archie Goodwin, and incoming is swingman Anthony Brown, a former Laker rookie and the top overall pick of this year’s D-League Draft. Back on Road -- Gucci will be performing only at halftime, but Hawks players have no time to hang out for a postgame concert, anyway. After tonight’s game, the team immediately takes to the air to resume their road trek. Tomorrow’s pit stop in Indiana will be followed by games in Utah, Staples Center (Lakers), Oakland (Warriors), and Phoenix to round out the month. While the road trip is a bit daunting, the Hawks can’t afford to get caught tonight looking ahead. It’s best to work out the kinks and fix your flaws in November... when you don’t have Everybody Looking. Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  8. Lance won't make you dance for a little while. ~lw3
  9. Hope he's never heard of Bourbon Street. ~lw3
  10. It's the voo-doo, AG! The interest in improving Evans and making him the focal point of a faster-paced offense is what drew Gentry to The Big Easy in the first place. That, and Unibrow. And the beignets. ~lw3
  11. “Where the Miller Lite women at?” The New Orleans Pelicans are officially off the schneid, climbing to 1-6 after topping the Mavericks at home last night. They had a chance at their first win there last Friday, wiping out a 17-point fourth quarter lead by the Atlanta Hawks in the space of just six minutes, a run that proved to be quite instructive for the Hawks a few days later. The Pels needed a Career Night from their star, Anthony Davis (career-high 43 points, 33 in the second half; 4 of his team’s 9 steals; 3 of his team’s 7 blocks), just to make things interesting at the end. Can they notch their first road victory tonight at the Highlight Factory (8:00 PM, Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports New Orleans), if the pterodactyl-winged Davis cannot join them? Davis’ hip hopped just before halftime in yesterday’s 120-105 victory over Dallas, shortly after contributing 13 points and 5 rebounds in the second quarter alone. It was a 16-point advantage at that point for the Big Easy Birds, who sprinted to a crowd-pleasing 12-0 start and never relinquished the lead, Dallas’ closing flurry too little, too late to evaporate a 28-point lead. Ryan Anderson’s season-highs of 25 points (10-for-16 FGs) and 11 boards, plus recent arrival Ish Smith’s 12 assists, helped New Orleans hold serve the rest of the way. X-rays on his hip contusion proved negative, yet Davis is listed as doubtful to appear tonight. For a continually banged-up outfit, it helped to have center Omer Asik back in the saddle against the Mavs. But he, like Jrue Holiday (15 minutes last night) is time-restrained by head coach Alvin Gentry. Asik was only supposed to log five minutes on the front end of the back-to-back, but wound up totaling 15 minutes through the third quarter, after Davis did not return. How much more Asik plays tonight, and how limited the playing time is for he and Jrue (also listed as doubtful), will be worth monitoring. Eric Gordon (season-high 22 points, 3-for-7 3FGs vs. ATL last Friday) will try picking up the offensive slack, while Luke Babbitt (13 points, 4-for-4 2FGs vs. ATL) will strive to be tonight’s Career Night beneficiary, by sharing Davis’ spot at power forward with Anderson. The Hawks (7-2) catch a bit of a break themselves, as Jeff Teague (24 points, 9 assists, 3 blocks!, 6 TOs vs. Minny) earned no suspension for Bjelica-slapping the opponent during the frustrated stretch where Minnesota finally regained momentum from the Hawks. The Flagrant 2 foul imposed on Teague means he won’t get suspended until he gets three more infraction points during the season. While it was to no avail, Dallas’ quartet of Dirk Nowitzki, Charlie Villanueva, Zaza Pachulia, and Dwight Powell, plus forward Justin Anderson and guard Deron Williams (26-for-38 combined FGs in-the-paint) tried to bruise the defensively fragile Pels (110.3 opponent points per-48, worst in NBA; 58.2 opponent FG% in-the-paint) on the interior. Atlanta can try similar tactics, including the improving decision making of Dennis Schröder (16 assists, 4 TOs last three games), into the mix. But, unlike Dallas, the Hawks must not fail to get back and set defensively in transition, a continual problem on Monday when the Timberwolves blazed to 72 first-half points and a seemingly insurmountable 34-point lead early in the third quarter. Gentry still wants his Pelicans to run, even if it’s into the ground, against a Hawks team that just played its fifth game in seven days. Atlanta may be going through a bit of a metamorphosis with Kyle Korver’s role in the offense. Threezus has been the essential catch-and-shoot king during his Hawks tenure, leading the NBA with 8.5 PPG (and 49.9 FG%) on catch-and-shoot field goal attempts last season; in 2013-14, his 50.6 FG% (8.3 PPG) also was tops. Thus far this season, Kyle’s 5.4 catch-and-shoot PPG (42.9 FG%) ranks him behind Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Kent Bazemore (a scintillating 68.0 FG%), and 29 others. Instead, Korver seems increasingly reliant on dribble hand-off plays (9-for-14 FGs, 2nd-most attempts in league, behind J.J. Redick) to get openings. Are these new wrinkles in Mike Budenholzer’s offense? Are these plays better-suited for Kyle’s early-season conditioning, or are opponents getting finally hip to the game, and closing out better off screens designed to get him open? It will take more time to see if this is The New Normal, but Kyle’s teammates could stand to do a better job of creating better catch-and-release looks for him. Also part of the metamorphosis is Al Horford’s attempt to join Paul Millsap in the three-point-shooting party. While it is admirable to forsake the long-range two-pointers, and his 23.4 3-point shot-volume ratio is only slightly ahead of Jeff Teague’s, Horford’s 31.7 eFG% on spot-up shots ranks only behind Matt Barnes (31.5 eFG%) – and Millsap (27.8 eFG%) among the league’s Top 20 spot-up jumpshooters. Particularly on a team that de-emphasizes offensive rebounding, Millsap and Horford could stand to drive more often from the perimeter and make plays for teammates. With drives and cuts to the lane, Al could draw more contact and take advantage of his 88.9 FT%, currently on just 2.0 FT attempts per game. Teague and Millsap are the only Hawks getting to the free throw line with any frequency, but Atlanta’s top eight scorers are shooting a collective 83.5% from the free throw line. Pushing the rock at a high pace is good if you know what you’re doing; otherwise, you’re just ballin’ out of control. Last season, only the Warriors exceeded 100.0 possessions per-48 in the league for a full season. This year, New Orleans (103.2 pace) is among 14 teams in that 100-plus club; the Hawks (99.98) are among seven other teams just a shade behind them. Remove the Dubs from the equation, and the Top-7 NBA teams in pace have a combined record of 12-30; take out Atlanta’s next opponent, Brad Stevens’ frenetic Celtics, and the cumulative record of the remaining five drops to 9-27. Energetic play must be combined with efficient shot selection, and with sound halfcourt and transition defense. The team that displays these elements best on the floor over four quarters should have a leg up tonight. Thank You Veterans! And Let’s Go Hawks! ~lw3 View full record
  12. Now, they ARE saying she's a gold-digger... ~lw3
  13. The Pelican search was Brief. ~lw3
  14. "Make the playoffs, or you're fired!" Pellies absorb a crapton of injuries, make the playoffs, nearly stun the 1-seed a couple times, and... ~lw3
  15. ~lw3
  16. From one team to the next, this Josh just keeps going to and Fro... ~lw3