Tim Duncan has caught a lot of flak over the years for being “boring” to the average NBA fan. A nickname like “The Big Fundamental” doesn’t lend itself to tons of highlight plays and such, even though Duncan is no slouch in that area (especially this season) and, let’s not forget, has four championships, two MVPs and three Finals MVPs to his name. Not bad for boring.
One of the better passing big men of all time, Duncan is great at triggering the Spurs’ fast break with precise and (no duh) fundamentally solid outlet passes. That inspired the folks over at the fine Spurs blog, 48 Minutes of Hell, to pay tribute to his outlet passing by setting some of his best of the season to Keith Sweat’s R&B classic, “Twisted“. They’ve also got the perfect description for outlet passes to the average hoops fan:
Duncan’s outlet passing became very important in making the Spurs into a better offensive team. Unfortunately, outlet passes are like the vegetables of basketball. Supremely important but nothing special. It takes a lot to make outlet passes exciting.
Tim Duncan just happens to be one of the best in the game at making outlet passes, so we here at 48MoH thought we needed to do something to add some sexiness back to the outlet pass, so we put together this little mix tape.
So what happens when 39-year-old Jason Kidd boxes out 36-year-old Tim Duncan? An unusual rebound and score:
On top of grabbing the ball from around Kidd’s back, Duncan scores on reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, runs back down court like he didn’t just grab a rebound from behind somebody’s back and score on a Defensive Player of the Year.
Gotta love the NBA.
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The creator of the Horry Scale, Micah Hart, has moved on from NBA.com-land. Still, his brainchild will live on. Now, only two days into the season, we have our first candidate of 2012-13 in Tony Parker.
For those that are new around these parts, the Horry scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Clippers-Nets game?), and celebration, and gives it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, who is kind of the patron saint of last-second clutchiness.
For longtime Spurs fans, it might have been sweeter than usual to see Parker nailing a game-winning jump shot, if only because it wasn’t all that long ago that many questioned if Parker could add a reliable jump shot to his dangerous dribble-drive game.
How does Mr. Parker’s shot Thursday stack up? Let’s take a look.
As mentioned above, this is a now-routine shot for Parker — which was something you couldn’t always say about his outside game. We’d rate this one a medium difficulty, though, seeing as how last season’s shotblocking king, Serge Ibaka, was in the neighborhood and wasn’t that far behind in getting a hand on the ball. The shot could have been a lot tougher, though, had OKC All-Star Russell Westbrook not gotten lost on the pass from Danny Green to Parker, something that Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith took Westbrook to task for on “Inside the NBA.”
This was the second game of the season for San Antonio and OKC’s season-opener, so the importance would seem muted. There is, of course, the fact that these were the teams in last season’s West finals … and that OKC came back from an 0-2 hole to vanquish the Spurs … and that these squads remain among the West favorites again. This game adds another chapter to the overall lore of the rivalry and may end up mattering come season’s end. The importance factor, then, is semi-high with a chance of super-high later in the season.
Very Spurs-like: The always-loyal San Antonio fans go nuts, Parker lets out a celebratory yell, Tim Duncan gets him in a loving headlock, Stephen Jackson comes over to bask in the moment, coach Gregg Popovich has a look of “welp” on his face and the Spurs head giddily to the locker room . Perfectly matched to the importance of the game.
3½ Horrys. It’s a well-executed shot and Parker proves that his game has plenty of range. The rivalry factor with OKC colors things and the potential future impact of this game to the West hierarchy beefs up the rating from what it would be were it any other game or teams (it’d probably be like 2 stars, IMO, if that were the case).
As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.
With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart.
As we near the season’s home stretch (my god it’s weird to say that, but it’s true — the Bobcats became the first team to officially be eliminated from postseason qualification with tonight’s loss to the Timberwolves), we’ve seen so many teams face back-to-back-to-back challenges over the past few days that it’s hard to keep it all straight.
For the sake of brevity, we’ll run down each of the five teams that completed the threeplay along with a few comments about their performances.
Indiana Pacers (Mar. 22-24): A road win in Washington, a loss at home to the Suns, and a blowout win over the Bucks in game three nets the Pacers 8 points (2-1+7) for their three for all, good enough for a tie for seventh-best mark so far this season. The win over the Wiz was particularly impressive, as Indy rallied from down 22 to win. A pessimist might wonder how they got down to the Wizards by 22 in the first place, but there’s no room for that kind of negativity here.
Milwaukee Bucks (Mar. 22-24): Not a great showing for the Bucks, who sandwiched two home losses to the Celtics and Pacers around a double-digit win in Charlotte over the Bobcats. Big deal. My local rec league team could beat the Bobcats in Charlotte at this point. Or Kentucky, one of those two. One highlight of their threebie was the game with the Pacers, which was the first game this season between two teams on the final leg of the back-to-back-to-back. 3 points (-2+5+0) for the Bucks, a team that better get a hitch in their giddy-up pretty soon if they want to make the playoffs.
Atlanta Hawks (Mar. 23-25): And we have another undefeated entry! The Hawks become the fifth team to sweep a three-play, beating the Nets at home, the Wizards on the road, and the Jazz at home, a game that went to quadruple-freaking-overtime. I am so impressed by the Hawks winning the third game of their series in 4OTs, I’m hereby awarding them an extra point. THIS I DECREE! From now on, any team that wins a three for all game in 4OT gets an extra point. 11 points (1+4+6), and I promise to update the scoring system chart soon to reflect the change. Also, the Hawks are the only team now with two top-ten finishes in the three for all.
San Antonio Spurs (Mar. 23-25): Of course the Spurs would also go undefeated at the very same time the Hawks do. Can Atlanta never have the spotlight to themselves? Naturally San Antonio did it better, beating the defending champs and Atlantic-leading Sixers by double-digits and escaping the plucky Hornets on the road in New Orleans. 12 points(2+4+6) for Los Spurs, good for a tie with the Thunder for third best overall score this season. And did we mention the win over Philly came without the services of Tim Duncan, who was apparently too old to play?
Washington Wizards (Mar. 24-26): We spend a lot of time around NBA.com arguing about which teams are the best, and thankfully we have the playoffs to settle any questions of team dominance. But what of the league’s worst teams? How will we ever know which team is more terrible between the Bobcats and Wizards? Yes, Charlotte may have four fewer wins at present, but they did put up 3 points in their three for all earlier this season. The Wizards? Bagel. -3 points (I’m not even adding the math here because the – and + get confusing with the negative numbers — just trust me they had -3) for Washington, which lost home games to the Hawks and Pistons and on the road at Boston. Washington is the fifth team to take the collar, but they do get another crack at it Apr. 4-6. Goody?
Up next: Things slow down for a few days, then the Memphis Grizzlies play three straight April 2-4.
Throughout the years, Tim Duncan has developed something of a decent resume. Four championships, two MVPs, a demeanor that’ll put a Leslie Nielson deadpan to shame. On Sunday night against the Nuggets, he decided that wasn’t enough.
1) Slap the defender with the ball to temporarily distract him.
2) Drive past said defender.
3) Throw it down over incredulous and dazed defender.
4) Get up and run back down court like you didn’t just accomplish the first three.
Check, check, check and check. Consider the Duncan vitae updated.
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The Spurs dominated the NBA for most of the regular season, starting the year 13-1 and reaching the midway point of the season at 35-6, halfway to the rarified 70-win plateau. And though they suffered some injuries and stumbled down the stretch (including a six-game losing streak), they still finished the season 61-21, good for the second-best regular season mark of the Popovich/Duncan Era.
Sounds like the recipe for a first-round sweep, doesn’t it? Except as we all know, that’s not what happened, as the Grizzlies dropped the Spurs in six games and became just the fourth 8-seed to topple a 1 since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1984. Not many people saw this coming this side of Sir Charles, but compared to the other 8-1 conquests, just how big of a surprise was it?
Here’s how I’d rank them:
1. 2007: Warriors (42-40) over Mavericks (67-15), 4-2
The “We Believe” Warriors flat-out embarrassed the heavily-favored Mavericks in 2007. Though the Mavs were nearly unbeatable in the regular season, they played right into Golden State’s hands by trying to go small in the series rather than using their height to their advantage. Some believe Dallas was a victim of a bad matchup (the Warriors won the season series 3-0) and might have won the NBA title had they faced any of the other 15 playoff teams. But the Mavs’ loss, coming on the heels of a collapse in the 2006 NBA Finals against the Heat, cemented their reputation as playoff chokers, a moniker they are still struggling to shed.
2. 1994: Nuggets (42-40) over Sonics (63-19), 3-2
Best remembered for Dikembe Mutombo‘s “I can’t believe it!” moment at the end of Game 5, this series marked the first time an 8 beat a 1. Making it all the more impressive, the Nuggets lost the first two games of the series before winning three straight to close out the Sonics, including the last one in Seattle. Amazingly, Denver would go on to nearly pull off the same feat in the next round, falling behind 3-0 to Utah before winning three straight to force Game 7, where they were finally eliminated.
3. 2011: Grizzlies (46-36) over Spurs (61-21), 4-2
Eerily similar in tone to the Warriors-Mavs series, the Grizzlies came out and won Game 1 of the series and never really looked back. From early on, it was obvious the Grizzlies were younger, faster, and more athletic, and the Spurs had absolutely no answer for Zach Randolph inside. Did injuries play a role? Perhaps. But Memphis didn’t have Rudy Gay either, so seems like that’s a wash at best.
4. 1999: Knicks (27-23) over Heat (33-17), 3-2
Uggh. I get tired just thinking about these two teams brutalizing each other on the basketball court. This was the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, so the disparity between the two teams may not have been much, and indeed they were only separated by six games in the standings. Allan Houston famously won the series for the Knicks with his runner in the lane with 0.8 seconds remaining in Game 5. New York would validate their win with two more upsets, eventually becoming the only 8-seed to make the NBA Finals, where they fell to the first of Tim Duncan‘s title-winning Spurs teams.
That’s how I see it. Which do you rank as the biggest upset?
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Missed the cut: Darius Songaila, Sixers; Jeff Teague, Hawks; Ish Smith, Grizzlies
Team synopsis: Wake Forest may not seem like much, but they do have the best point guard in the NBA and the greatest power forward of all time, which makes them pretty dangerous no matter who else is on the court. Howard may not be the All-Star he was in Dallas, but he can still be pretty dangerous. Aminu and Johnson are youngsters with talent who don’t get a ton of minutes, but their per-48 stats suggest that could change down the road.
They say all good things must come to an end (whoever they is), and last night, Kevin Love‘s impressive streak of 53 straight double doubles came to an end with his six-point, 12-rebound performance in Minnesota’s 100-77 loss at Golden State.
First and foremost, am I the only one who assumed that the streak would end for a lack of rebounds rather than points? That’s not even to say that Love is a dynamic scorer, and with full knowledge that he is a beast on the boards, but still, points are generally collected two at a time.
I am tempted to consider Love’s accomplishment a tad overblown (as the stat isn’t officially counted by the NBA and, according to Elias, Wilt Chamberlain had a 227-game streak at one point), but at the same time, if it were so easy, then how come so many of the game’s other great big men (Shaq, Tim Duncan, Patrick Ewing), could never do it?
Regardless of the historical context of Love’s 53, it’s still an impressive output, and from a guy who as recently as earlier this season WASN’T EVEN STARTING.
The streak is dead. Long live the streak.
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Let’s get right to it, that was a sweet tip-in for the game-winning deuce by Antonio McDyess over the Lakers Thursday night. Nice, yes, but how does it rate on theHorry Scale?
Difficulty: The tip itself was simple, but the real beauty in this play occurred while Tim Duncan‘s missed shot was in the air. Watch it again and note how the wily veteran McDyess hooks his left arm around Lamar Odom to gain rebounding position. When Duncan’s shot hit the rim, Odom has no chance and McDyess leaps up and taps it in.
Game Situation: The Lakers were ahead 88-87 with 4.6 seconds left when the Spurs in-bounded the ball. Down one, it’s time to get a basket or go home. Clutch play.
Importance: I’ll say medium-high to high. The Spurs have the best record in the league, but still have their doubtersas to if they are actually the “best” team. Beating the Lakers in L.A., and further extending the current NBA storyline du jour that Kobe and the Lakers are in trouble, is huge. And let’s face it, there’s a pretty good chance these teams meat up again come May.
Celebration: Gregg Popovich cracked a smile! I repeat, Popovich cracked a smile!
3.5 Horrys. The shot itself was easy, but the game situation, conference implications and the fact that this is the Horry Scale, after all, and Big Shot Rob did in fact once play for the Spurs, earns this play 3.5 Horrys.
I love Jeopardy. I watch it all the time, and do the online tryout every time they make it available. Who knows, perhaps I’ll get a chance to compete someday. Meanwhile, one of my great regrets in life* is that I never took advantage of being in college and getting on the collegiate version of the show, because it is way, way easier than the regular edition. It’s so easy, I half expect Sean Connery to show up and participate (zing!).
* not really
Of course, it’s not so simple to everyone, as these three contestants will now demonstrate. Roll it!