By Ric Bucher
ESPN the Magazine
If you hear a mysterious crash outside your window, don't worry. It's probably just the Golden State Warriors, taking -- and missing -- another 3-point attempt.
Bereft of an inside presence and apparently feeling no pressure from the coaching staff, the Warriors launched 35 shots from beyond the arc, making all of seven. The Los Angeles Clippers, taking 35 free throws instead, rolled to an easy 113-101 win to bolster their lead in the Pacific Division and maintain a tie with the San Antonio Spurs atop the Western Conference.
The Warriors' greater collective confidence is one reason they're a better team this season, but there's a fine line between believing in yourself and overestimating your abilities. The Warriors didn't just cross that line in L.A., they did the rhumba on it and kept going.
Twenty-eight missed 3-pointers! And these weren't on-line, in-and-out, spin-around-the-rim misses. These were clanks and clunks and no-hopers. The team record for 3-point attempts is 39, including 27 misses in a 103-90 win over the Wizards on March 4, 2005.
No matter who you are -- Craig Hodges, Reggie Miller, Ray Allen -- when the shot isn't falling, you either step in or attack the rim. Whatever you do, you stop taking the shot you clearly can't make. Or, if you're the head coach, you pull one of the offending launchers and send a message, as Larry Brown did with rookie Nate Robinson in the Knicks' win Sunday over the Blazers. Not being at the game, I don't know if Mike Montgomery got into anybody for their shot selection. I have to believe he didn't because surely the TV cameras, forever in search of controversy, would've caught it.
Clips coach Mike Dunleavy, meanwhile, is living a charmed life. Sam Cassell has cut his decision-making load in half and the sticky issue of Corey Maggette's unhappiness being a sub was resolved when starting small forward Quinton Ross -- whose energy contributed to LA's great start to the season -- had to sit down with back spasms.
Other snap judgments about the Warriors off the loss is that they are:
• Pretty good when Mike Dunleavy makes his presence felt, as he did in the first half with eight points on 4 of 5 shooting, one rebound, two steals, two assists in 15 minutes. The Warriors trailed 61-57. He added four points and one rebound in seven second-half minutes and the Warriors never threatened.
• Pretty deluded if they think they are a good long-distance shooting team. They came into the game ranked 22nd as a team, which should be a clue.
• Pretty desperate to see rookie Ike Diogu suit up. Diogu, according to veteran Calbert Cheaney, is an Elton Brand clone: long shotblocking arms, a nose for rebounds and a post game far more mature than his years. He's been out since breaking his hand in training camp but should be back this week.
Diogu will help, but if the Warriors want to contend for a playoff spot, they need to check their IDs. They defend well and they have enough skilled, intelligent players to be greater than the sum of their parts. They are not a great perimeter-shooting team.
Chicks might dig the long ball, but only from those good enough to bury it.
AP Photo/Tina Fineberg
Stephon Marbury's mouth is agape in part because his cousin, Sebastian Telfair, has just fouled him. Both combined to shoot 17-28 (61 percent) from the field, for a season-high 27 points apiece. Marbury's Knicks beat Telfair's Blazers, 103-92.
Interesting article from John Hollinger about the playoff format. While I'm not convinced Dallas and Cleveland are ready to lay claim to the title of second best in their respective conferences, I admit it could turn out that way. However, to the league/Stern it does not matter. Any format that ensures that both coasts will be represented in the conference finals is going to be fine. No matter how much a true fan would prefer a Cav/Piston and Mav/Spur finals, the league needs NY and LA or at least a team each coast such as Sea/Sac or NJ/Miami in the finals.
-- Brian, Dallas
OK, you've derided the playoff system. But what should the NBA do? In other words, what do the divisions mean if they're not used in seeding the playoffs? The whole fact that only one team in each division can be seeded in the top three makes divisional games that much more important. If Dallas has a problem with this, they just need to man up and beat the Spurs.
The playoffs are not flawed. It just so happens that this season Cleveland and Detroit are atop the East and Dallas and San Antonio are atop the West, so we want to see them play each other. Next year we may want to see a Spurs-Clipper matchup more so than a Dallas-SA matchup. Some divisions seem to be loaded but that can change in one season.
New Season, New Coach, Same Old Blazers
"Minutes have decreased recently because of his subpar 'effort' statistics, but Mike Dunleavy said he remained hopeful about Chris Wilcox. 'I've made it clear what guys have to do,' Dunleavy said. 'I've made it clear what's expected of them to play.' Point guard Sam Cassell, among Wilcox's closest friends, said part of the problem is that Wilcox plays behind Elton Brand. Cassell has done his part to help, staying after practice to work with Wilcox. 'It's going to happen for him,' Cassell said" --- Los Angeles Times Giricek Yet To Establish A Consistent Role
"Gordan Giricek exhibits little emotion when things go well, and appears equally placid in the face of Jerry Sloan's occasional fury. The coach complains about Giricek's commitment to the team's offense and about his exertion on defense. 'We've struggled at the two-guard spot,' Sloan pointedly assessed of his team. 'All I'm interested in now is we've got to learn how to compete.' Maybe Giricek agrees, maybe he doesn't. 'I'm just trying to get better,' said Giricek." --- Salt Lake Tribune Bosh Among Stars Taken In '03 Draft
"On a bad Raptors team, Chris Bosh is proving he is willing to lead and shoulder the load. His name is on the all-star ballot this season, and his game is worthy. But he'll likely be held back from serious consideration, given the Raptors' plight -- burdens that (Dwyane) Wade, (Carmelo) Anthony and (LeBron) James don't have to carry. Not that Bosh thinks that way. 'I'm just trying to increase my average in points and rebounds, polish my leadership skills and try and make everyone on the team better,' he said." --- Toronto Globe & Mail • More NBA Intelligence
AP Photo/CP, Aaron Harris
For a night, the Raptors felt like winners. "Everyone likes each other again," said a chuckling Mike James after the Raptors earned their first win of the season. The Raps beat the first-place Heat, 107-94.
Quote of the Night
-- Andrew Ayres
When you look at the standings does it surprise you that Cleveland is pushing Detroit? Well, if you've seen them play you would know that they're no joke. Just the maturation of LeBron alone is going to make them better.
So let's not talk about their past, but focus on the present and the future. We all know that Larry can score (Nine consecutive points in a span of 2:23 in the fourth quarter vs. Washington last week and 36 points against the Sixers on Saturday, both wins). But his biggest impact just might be on defense. Let's not forget he was last season's steal leader (2.89 per game) and a member of the NBA's All-Defensive First Team.
When coach Mike Brown fully passes on his defensive philosophy to this team, their hopes will ride on how Larry and the team can slow down the likes of Dwyane Wade, Rip Hamilton, Vince Carter and the Pacers.
Where does Donyell fit into all this? If he continues his current pace (11.4 ppg, 8 rpg) we might be talking Sixth Man of the Year. Yes, it's early, but this crafty veteran has always had a knack for rebounding (7.3 rpg career average). He also has the range to be considered a legitimate 3-point threat (40 percent over the last two years).
Just imagine Damon Jones (another free agent addition), Hughes, LeBron and Donyell on the perimeter with Ilgauskas in the paint. Who do you help off of? What's your defensive rotation? Plenty of long nights for opposing coaches.
The only downfall for this team prior to the playoffs might be their division. The Central could be the toughest, from top to bottom, in the league.
This is just the beginning for the Cavs. By the way, did you notice LeBron had a triple- double the other night?
-- Will Perdue
The game was over early: Dallas outscored Detroit 40-16 in the first quarter Saturday, marking the first time that the Pistons have allowed 40 points in a quarter in a regular-season game since Nov. 30, 1999, when the Spurs had a 40-point quarter.
Detroit's streak of 485 consecutive games without allowing a 40-point quarter was the third longest in the NBA since the league adopted the 24-second clock in 1954, and it ended exactly 100 games shy of the NBA record set by San Antonio from 1996-2004.
• Elias Sports Bureau | More from Elias
Events of Nov. 19
Here's how SportsNation voters viewed the Auburn Hills melee, one year later:
How much did the incident in The Palace damage the NBA's overall image?
Do you think the NBA has rehabbed its image over the past year?
Now that the Raptors are in the win column, it is instructive to see how the slow starters from The Great White North stack up to the all-time bad teams. Fellas, might want to mix in a few more Ws. Same goes for the winless Hawks. Don't want to end up on this list.