Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Recap: Top stories from Monday

Mavericks halt Heat win streak at 12 games: Lebron was held scoreless in the first half, and it looked like he held the offense up with multiple turnovers. James had 5 turnovers for the game and ended the night with a +/- of -20. Dirk Nowitzki and super-sub Jason Terry were the main catalysts in the Mavs' victory, Dirk had 26 points on 8-21 from the field and 10-10 at the charity stripe. Terry finished with 19 points on 6-15 from the field, all of them coming in a closely contested 4th quarter. Dallas has won 15 of their last 16 games.

New look Magic drop first game to Hawks: Orlando Head Coach Stan Van Gundy joked that the Hawks had six years playing together while these Magic had only six hours. That may be the case for this game, but this could become a recurring theme. The new look Magic are an extremely mismatched group that will have trouble finding chemistry. As I said in my previous post about this trade, SVG started Nelson, Richardson, Turkoglu, Bass and Howard, with Arenas coming off the bench; but that lineup wasn't very productive. Howard and Nelson had their usual night, but Turkoglu, Richardson, and Arenas combined for only 27 points on 6-23 from the field - that won't get it done.

Spurs extend their NBA best record to 24-3: Albeit it was against an under-manned Phoenix Suns squad, the Spurs are quietly off to a great start. Tim Duncan led the charge last night with 20 points 15 boards and 6 assists, while Gary Neal provided a much needed spark off the bench, scoring 22 points in 31 minutes. The Suns were without new acquisitions Vince Carter, Mikael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat.

Favre makes "final" MNF start, but doesn't finish: Brett Favre knows how to start drama. His last minute decision to play last night against the Chicago Bears was the talk of the sports world, and it started out looking like it was a good decision. Favre led the Vikes to a touchdown on the opening drive with a TD pass to WR Percy Harvin, but it all went downhill from there. The very next drive, Favre looked like the guy we've all come to know lately, a turnover machine. The second drive quickly ended with an interception. On the third drive, Favre was sacked, and drove into the frozen turf. He remained on the ground for a a minute or so, and limped off the field, and did not return. Maybe it was a fitting end to his career, but who knows what will happen this off-season with Favre, I hear a few teams are desperate for a QB (49ers, Cardinals).
The departure of Favre made way for rookie QB Joe Webb to make his NFL debut. Webb, a sixth round pick in this years draft, didn't do much with his arm, 15-26 for 129 yards and 2 interceptions, but he did make a dent with his legs, 6 carries for 38 yards and a TD.
With this victory, the Bears improved to 10-4 (6-1 on the road), and clinched the division. Cutler threw for 194 yards and 3 TD's and RB Matt Forte had a fairly productive night, 17 carries for 92 yards, on a night with such terrible weather.

Sidney Crosby extends point streak: Crosby, arguably the games best player, extended his consecutive point streak to 21 games Monday night, ending the Penguins 6-1 rout of the Coyotes with a goal and 2 assists. This is the second longest streak since the NHL's work stoppage in 2004-05, and trails only Mario Lemieux for the longest point streak in team history. Not to be outdone, teammate Evgeni Malkin finished the game with a career high 5 points on 2 goals and 3 assists.

Stamkos scores 100th goal as Lightning beat 'Canes: Steven Stamkos is quickly proving that Crosby, Ovechkin, and Malkin aren't the only ones who should be talked about. Stamkos' goal late in the second period made him one of six NHL players who have scored 100 goals before their 21st birthday, that list includes: Wayne Gretzky, Jimmy Carson, Brian Bellows, Dave Hawerchuk, and Ilva Kovalchuk.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A look at the Magic/Suns/Wizards trade

The NBA gave us sports fans an early Christmas present on Saturday in the form of a blockbuster trade. If you have yet to hear (or live in a hole), there were two separate trades, all involving major contributors from the Suns, Magic, and Wizards. Here is the breakdown of the trades:
Trade #1 -

Magic Receive:
G Jason Richardson
F Hedo Turkoglu
F Earl Clark

Suns Receive:
G Vince Carter
G/F Mickael Pietrus
F/C Marcin Gortat
2011 First round draft pick

I like this trade for Orlando a lot. They get Jason Richardson, who is an athletic wing player that can slash and finish, as well has spread the floor with the three. Richardson is shooting the three at a 42% clip, which is the best of his career, he is also averaging a very respectable 19 points per contest. J-Rich is a much needed improvement over Carter in more ways than one. Not only is Richardson producing at a much better rate with stats, but he is also cheaper, and four years younger.

Another great acquisition is Hedo Turkoglu. Turk is a 6-10 playmaker who played very well for the Magic from 2004-09, and helped lead them reach the 2009 NBA Finals, which they eventually lost to the Lakers. After that disappointing loss, the Magic elected to not match an offer made to Turkoglu by the Toronto Raptors. The decision to not resign Turkoglu surprised a lot of people including me, as he was the main catalyst in a very potent Magic offense. Orlando now brings him back, hoping that he can provide the same production that he gave them for over five years earlier this decade, averaging 16 points, 4 assists, and 5 rebounds. Look for Turkoglu to start, and play the same role that he did during his first stint with the Magic.

Earl Clark is a rarely used second year player who will most likely fill a seat on the bench, or be sent down to the D-League to develop. Clark does have some upside, however, in college he was used much like Turkoglu will be used with Orlando. Clark was a do-everything player for Rick Pitino at Louisville.

Overall, I think this trade makes Orlando a much more dangerous team on offense, but defense is a different story. Both Turkoglu and Richardson are more commonly known for their prowess on offense, but not on defense. If the offense is clicking on all cylinders, Dwight Howard can shore up the defense enough to get wins, but if it's not, it will be a long season for the Magic.

Looks like Robert Sarver decided that with the departure of Amar'e Stoudemire via free agency, his Suns needed to rebuild. The 33 year-old Carter's nearly 18 million dollar expiring contract will give the Suns tons of cap room and flexibility this off-season, but it may have come too late, as "The Decision" has already been made. Carter is amidst the worst statistical production of his career, but he can still play the game at a high level. Carter will be a focal part of the high tempo attack the Suns deploy, and if he plays well, Phoenix could still make the playoffs.

Pietrus is a guy who is known for his three point shooting, and defense. He is 28 years-old, and relatively cheap for what he can bring to the floor at $5.3 million this season. Pietrus is experiencing a down year so far this season, mostly due to knee problems, he has played in 19 games, averaging 6.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, and shooting 39% from behind the arc. When healthy, I believe Pietrus will be a very good player in the Suns system.

Gortat, a former second round pick of the Suns, was a coveted free agent this past off-season. He received a five year $34 million offer from the Mavericks, but because he was restricted, the Magic decided to match that offer, and Gortat was retained. The "Polish Hammer" has never been a starting center in the NBA, but he has shown the skill and defensive capabilities that could make him a very serviceable option in the Suns system. At 26 years-old, Gortat is young, and doesn't have a lot of miles on him. I think that this is a great chance for him to show his true capabilities. Good move for Phoenix.

If the Suns can make something out of Carter's expiring contract, I would rule this as a very good trade. The window for a championship in Phoenix shattered as Amar'e slammed the door behind him on his way to New York. The next move for the Suns is to move Nash, as hard as that may be, or as crazy as it sounds, if you are going to rebuild, you must commit to it 100%.

The second deal didn't involve as many players, but it did make just as big of a splash amongst the sports world. Here is a breakdown of the trade between the Magic and the Wizards:

Wizards Receive:
F Rashard Lewis

Magic Recieve:
G Gilbert Arenas

Washington's decision to rid themselves of Arenas comes as no surprise. They have their point guard of the future in John Wall, and it seems like "Agent Zero" brought nothing but problems. Lewis has seen a serious drop in his production this season, he is only averaging 12.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and shooting 36% from behind the arc. Lewis will immediately be inserted into the Wizards starting lineup, and should see a spike in his production. Lewis will be able to spread the floor for John Wall, and he doesn't have too many players fight for looks with. Not only can Lewis bring much of the same game as Arenas (other than ball handling), but he will save Washington a considerable amount of money over the life of his contract; he will also save them a lot of headaches.

I'm greatly confused as to how Arenas will fit in with Orlando. Stan Van Gundy has already guaranteed Jameer Nelson a starting spot, so where does that leave Gilly? I am assuming the starting lineup will be Nelson, Richardson, Turkoglu, Bass, and Howard. We all know the great scoring Arenas can bring, but we have also seen the problems that ensue if he doesn't get his way. Coming off the bench is not the way of the Hibachi, and he wont hesitate to let his thoughts and feelings be known. If Arenas can keep his cool, and understand his role, sixth man of the year, and a trip to the NBA Finals could be in his future.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A bad Choice?

After a Monday night loss to Michael Vick and the Eagles, Cowboys RB Tashard Choice asked Vick to autograph his gloves for his nephew, follow this URL to get the video:


This has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but for me, not so much. Dallas is completely out of playoff contention, and Choice is only trying to do something nice for his nephew during the holiday season. Choice apologized via Twitter, which I feel is unnecessary. Big deal, or not so big deal?