Updated: Dec. 16, 2005, 11:35 AM ET

After first quarter, score is . . .

By Tim Legler
ESPN Insider

One-quarter of the NBA season is over. Let's hand out some awards based on the 20-odd games in the books:


Rookie of the Quarter: Chris Paul, Hornets guard. He's playing the most demanding position in the NBA, requiring the biggest transition from college, and he's doing it very well for a team coming off a horrendous year. He's extremely tough, and has an NBA body now. Runners-up: Channing Frye, Knicks; Andrew Bogut, Bucks.

Coach of the Quarter: Mike D'Antoni, Suns. He lost my preseason MVP, Amare Stoudemire as well as Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson. Yet they still get off to a 12-5 start. Hardest team in the league to defend, most relentless. Everybody on that roster is getting better looks, and players like Eddie House, Leandro Barbosa benefit. Runners-up: Mike Dunleavy, Clippers; Byron Scott, Hornets.


Most Improved Player of the Quarter: Mo Williams Bucks guard. Coming in, he was generally regarded as backup point guard who brought a change of pace because he's so quick. But he's been so good, coach Terry Stotts is starting both T.J. Ford and him together. Stotts can't keep him on the bench. His fourth-quarter point production has been impressive. Runner-up: Alonzo Mourning, Heat.

Defensive Player of the Quarter: Mourning, Heat center. His performance was the reason the team wasn't 6-15 when Shaq came back. I didn't know he had this much left in the tank. Runner-up: Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz, despite time missed.

Best Sixth Man of the Quarter: Ben Gordon, Bulls. There aren't a lot of sixth men who are guaranteed to play for the entire fourth quarter. He's their certain go-to guy in the fourth. Not a lot of sixth men can say that. Runner-up: Donyell Marshall, Cavs.


Quarter MVP: Steve Nash, Suns. He's had to pick up his scoring, and he's been dominant as scorer, and he's still the best at always making the right decision, getting the ball to right guy. They have six guys averaging in double figures, two guys in 8-10 ppg range, and they lost 60 percent of last year's starting lineup. Amazing. Runners-up: Allen Iverson, Elton Brand.

Biggest Disappointment of the Quarter, Team: The Nets, based on last year's success, should be better. I thought they improved their bench with Marc Jackson and Jeff McInnis, but instead they're a sub.-500 team in the worst division in basketball. They DO NOT play hard. Just too casual out there.

Biggest Disappointment of the Quarter, Player: Ron Artest, Pacers. As dumb as it sounds, I thought a year being taken away from him would change his perspective. It hasn't.

Worst Haircut of the Quarter: Chris Kaman, Clippers. That 'do just plain scares me.

Worst Throwback Uniform of the Quarter: Bulls. Those red and blue outfits looked exactly like the Harlem Globetrotters'. At first I thought it was an NBDL team when I turned on the game.

Best Throwback Uniform of the Quarter: None. I hate throwbacks.

Best Upset of the Quarter: Hawks over Spurs. You can't just show up and beat the bottom feeders of the NBA. No mail-it-in games.

Best Moment of the Quarter: The dunk by Vince Carter on Mourning (Nov. 7) was one of the top five in NBA history.

Best Shooter of the Quarter: As long as Ray Allen is playing, there should be no discussion. (He ranks 25th in FG percentage among shooting guards; statistically, Gerald Wallace leads the way). But I will say that Dirk Nowitzki is the greatest 7-foot shooter, ever.

Tim Legler, an NBA analyst for ESPN and former NBA 3-point champion, is a regular contributor to Insider.

Talk back to the Daily Dime gang

Dimes Past: December 7 | 8 | 9 | 10-11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15

We Meet Again
Carmelo Anthony (23 points, 23 FG attempts) finds a King in his way. LeBron James (26 points, nine assists) had the edge in a 94-85 win for Cleveland. Denver leads Cleveland 3-2 in the Carmelo vs. LeBron era.

Chatting With Paul Shirley

Charles (San Jose): Paul, is the opportunity there to play in the D-League or the CBA if you wanted to?
Paul Shirley: At some point soon, I will probably begin playing for a minor league team because that is the logical move. It may be an ABA team, however, because that league is a little less structured and has teams in more attractive places. (And occasionally cancels games because the referees don't show, which adds to the fun.)

Read the full chat with Shirley Insider

NBA Intelligence Report

Iverson's Manager Denies Casino Story
"The manager for Allen Iverson denied a published report that said Iverson got into a loud argument with staff at the Trump Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino last week after a dealer overpaid him his winnings from a poker game. The Daily News said in the story published yesterday that the dealer realized right away he had given Iverson about $10,000 too much in chips and asked for the chips back. Iverson reportedly refused and an argument ensued. Gary Moore, Iverson's manager, said the report of an argument was untrue." -- Philadelphia Inquirer

Jackson Takes A Swipe At Cuban
"Phil Jackson, asked about the Lakers' 4-5 record in Staples Center, took a swipe at the Dallas Mavericks and their owner, Mark Cuban. 'Staples is a shared arena with the Clippers, it's a familiar arena with NBA players. It's not what you would consider a place like Dallas, where the owner runs around, pumps up the volume, intimidates the referees and has announcers as hired cheerleaders, which is an intimidating force.'" -- Los Angeles Times

Read the entire Intelligence Report on ESPN Insider Insider

KG's Roaring 20s Not Enough
Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett (24 points, 21 rebounds) prepares his next move against Spurs forward Tim Duncan. Despite an off night by Duncan (13 points, nine rebounds), the Spurs won, 90-88.

Extreme Behavior

Thursday's Best
Michael Finley, Spurs swingman: Scored the last six points of the game for the Spurs, finishing with 21. Woulda looked good as free agent signing for Minny. But the rich got richer. Poor KG.


Thursday's Worst
Francisco Elson, Nuggets center: With the Cambyman's pinky ailing, Elson roamed the Quicken Loans Arena floor for 26 minutes, to little effect. Hauled in three boards and netted two points. Maybe he can take out a home-equity loan to buy a bucket. Denver lost to Cleveland, 94-85.


Quote of the Night
"[Michael] Finley has hit some big shots throughout his career, and that is a classic example of the weapons they have.""
-- Kevin Garnett, noting how would-be Wolf Finley scored 21 for the NBA champs.

See how all 56 who played stacked up

-- Andrew Ayres

Razorback's No-Style Points

Scouts can complain all they want about Ronnie Brewer's unsightly shot. The bottom line is that, for the second straight year, it's going in the basket.

Brewer's shot evokes memories of Shawn Marion's ugly J every time he lets it fly. But Brewer, for the second straight year, is shooting 39 percent from 3-point country. He's no J.J. Redick, but I think it's time to stop saying the kid can't shoot unless you're referring to his dismal free-throw percentage.

More Chad Ford blog Insider

Elias Says

The Timberwolves lost by one point at Philadelphia on Monday, by two points to the Kings on Tuesday, and by two points to the Spurs on Thursday. Minnesota is the first NBA team in nearly three years to lose three consecutive games, each by one point or two points. The last NBA team to suffer three straight defeats of that nature was Seattle in December 2002.

Elias Sports Bureau | More from Elias Insider

Picking Up The 'Slacker'

Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird have spent vast amounts of their own personal capital, credibility and integrity to convince all of us that Ron Artest and all the rest of this is so worth it. They have now come to the same conclusion that a lot of others have when it comes to not only Artest, but those of the same cloth: Latrell Sprewell, Terrell Owens, Shawn Kemp, Isaiah Rider, Bonzi Wells, the list goes on and on.

And yet there will always be the next sucker who thinks that they can be the one who will get through to these lost souls. They feel that as soon as Artest or any of these other slackers gets on their team that everything will be cool.

See Bill Walton's story Insider

The Joy Of Socks

Paul Lukas, Page 2's Uni Watch columnist, writes on behalf of the beloved sweat sock. His demands, er, recommendations:

1. Ban the quarter-sock. Yes, Uni Watch is well aware that MJ himself helped popularize the low-sock look, but that doesn't make it sacrosanct.
2. Take the NBA logo off the socks. Uni Watch gives the NBA folks credit for keeping sportswear logos off of their uniforms, but they really go overboard on the league branding.
3. Bring back the stripes! Uni Watch doesn't completely blame today's players for wanting to keep their hose down low -- wearing plain, solid-color socks up high often looks kinda dorky.
4. Reestablish sock supremacy. You want to wear tights or a calf sleeve? No problem -- be Uni Watch's guest. But wear the socks over these accessories -- nothing else should supersede the sock.

See Lukas' full story


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