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Opening Night Observations

LeBron James started off 2011-12 with an MVP-worthy performance.Most Complete Box Score Line

LeBron James, Miami Heat

37 points, 11-for-19 shooting (58%), 15-for-19 FT (79%), 10 rebounds (3 offensive), 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks

Not only that, the Heat beat the Mavericks far easier than most expected, and his +27 was tops in the league.


Best Line in a Loss

Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics

With Paul Pierce sidelined by a bruised right heel, Rondo took matters into his own hands and nearly pulled off the win at Madison Square Gardens over the latest overhyped team, the Knicks. He attacked, attacked, attacked, resulting in 12 free throws (downing 9), completed 11 of 19 shots for a cool 31 points, served up 13 assists to 5 turnovers, grabbed 5 rebounds and 5 steals, and all around stayed aggressive and active in all facets of the game in order to lead the 3rd quarter charge, along with Ray Allen, that brought the Celtics back from an embarrassing first half (down 52-62) to take an 8-point lead into the final period. His efforts weren’t quite enough to earn the victory, but he did plenty to make you think he would.

An honorable mention goes to Orlando's Ryan Anderson: 25 points (9-for-17 FG, 6-for-12 3FG), 10 rebounds (4 offensive), 2 steals


Best Lines By Reserves

Brandon Bass, Boston Celtics
20 points, 9-for-13 shooting, 11 rebounds (5 offensive), 1 steal, 28 minutes

Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat
9 points, 3-for-6 shooting, 14 rebounds (6 offensive), 1 block, 32 minutes

Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks
23 points, 9-for-18 shooting (4-10 from deep), 3 assists, 2 steals, 29 minutes

James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder
19 points, 4-for-11 shooting, 10-for-12 FT, 6 rebounds, 3 assists (0 turnovers), 32 minutes


Most Unexpectedly Bad Line

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Curry had a great end to his rookie season in 2009-10, had a decent sophomore season last year, and is now expected to take that next step up to becoming a truly dependable team cornerstone for the Warriors. Instead, he dropped this turd in a 19-point loss to the Clippers at home:

4 points, 2-for-12 shooting (0-for-4 threes), 0-for-1 FT, 5 turnovers to 4 assists, 4 fouls


You Were Expecting Improvements, But Not Like This

Chris Paul's arrival in LAC not only meant good things for Blake Griffin, but most fans expected C DeAndre Jordan's 7 ppg to rise quickly, chiefly on fast break dunks. Well Jordan never really got going offensively against the Warriors, attempting only 2 shots and missing 8 of his 12 free throws on the way to a 6-point, 5-rebound night. But one thing that did improve by leaps and bonds for one game was his shot blocking; after averaging an impressive 1.8 bpg last season, Jordan rejected 8 Golden State shots on Christmas, stuffing the attempts of 6 different Warriors. Obviously this pace won't keep up, but his energy and aggression on D helped facilitate the Clippers fast break and provided a yang to Blake Griffin's offensive yin.


High Turnover Totals That Are More Telling Than Most Fans Admit

Derrick Rose, 5 (to 5 assists)
Kobe Bryant, 8 (to 6 assists)
Russell Westbrook, 7 (to 6 assists)
Stephen Curry, 5 (to 4 assists)

All four of these stars have posted sub-par Assist-to-Turnover ratios throughout their careers, and now they’ve each started off 2011-12 with some terrible turnover totals. Keep an eye on how regularly these guys lose the ball during the season because if this is the type of sloppiness we can expect from them after the long hiatus when we already know their issues distributing the ball before, their clubs might lose a few more games than expected, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Best Clutch Performance

Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

Brandon Bass’s jumper to start the 4th quarter put the Celtics up 89-79, which seemed like it would be enough considering how brutal of a beating Boston had just put on New York in the 3rd quarter (35-17). Instead, Anthony—statistically the most clutch superstar in the league for years—went to work. Over the next 6 minutes, every Knicks point had Melo’s fingerprints on it: Anthony 3-pointer, Anthony jumper, 2 Anthony free throws, Chandler bunny assisted by Anthony, and 2 Anthony technical free throws. During those same 6 minutes, Anthony drew 4 fouls from Boston defenders and blocked a shot. At this point, the Knicks had closed the gap to 94-90.

In the final three-and-a-half minutes, Anthony hit a 3 to tie the game at 100 (3:25), hit a free throw to tie the game at 102 (2:11), nailed a jumper to give the Knicks a 104-102 lead (1:34), and completed two free throws to win the game 106-104 (0:16). For those keeping score at home, that means Melo scored 17 of his 37 points in the final period after being thrown into a double-digit hole by a determined, veteran team.


Worst Clutch Performance

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Bryant shouldn’t have been playing in the first place due to his injury, but he has the career scoring record firmly in his sights, so he suited up. With the Lakers carrying a 6-point lead at home into the final 50 seconds, the following sequence happened:
-Bryant plays no D whatsoever on Luol Deng, who goes right past him for the layup and an and-one as Kobe heads up the court looking for an outlet pass (?).
-Bryant misses a tightly-contested jumper.
-Bryant fouls Deng, who drains two free throws.
-Bryant throws a bad pass that Deng picks off.
-Derrick Rose scores at the other end with 4.8 seconds left to push the Bulls ahead 88-87.
-Bryant forces up a running jumper while triple-teamed that gets blocked by Deng at the buzzer; Chicago wins.

Again, he shouldn’t have played—which his horrendous defense and 8 turnovers will attest to—but at least he got 28 points closer to Jabaar.

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Reader Comments (7)

Nice post, should add the not so stellar Lamar Odom start.

December 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGav

Somehow you forgot to mention the missed free throws by Mcroberts and Gasol that made all this possible.

December 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

Up 6 at home with less than a minute should be enough to win it no matter what happened before then (outside of important foul outs) especially with someone supposedly as clutch as Kobe controlling the ball every time down the floor. But fans will place this meltdown at the feet of missed free throws that happened earlier so they don't have to reevaluate the myth they've believed for so long that none of the data (or games like this) support in the least.

December 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

This game has nothing to do with history or data. The Lakers lost because free throws were not hit by Pau and McRoberts, putting the LAkers in a position to have to make a last second shot to win when it should have never come to that.

Its not that fans are not holding Kobe accountable, its that some bloggers who don't like Kobe have so little journalistic integrity that they can't just evaluate a game honestly, they have to contextualize it to fit their opinions. Thats not an honest or professional way to write a column. Those FT's wouldn't have been taken had Kobe not made the right plays to get big men the ball, which has been another one of your criticisms of him. We get it zach, f_ck the truth, just hate on Kobe.

Kobe folded on the last shot. The Lakers as a team put themselves in position to lose by missing free throws. WHere is your inegrity?

December 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

My integrity lies in the fact that I'm one of the few hoops writers whose evaluation of Kobe actually reflects all of the objective/statistical data available. Remember a year ago when you told me Kobe's FG% was low because he's forced to take so many late-in-the-shot-clock shots for the Lakers? Ok, sounded reasonable...until I looked the numbers up and it turns out he actually took a very small amount of his shots late in the clock compared to his teammates. Now that the data has become available for clutch shooting, we all see his clutch status was a pretty big myth. The LA Times wrote a column last year denouncing his constant winning of First-Team All-Defense considering he no longer guards anyone. I posted an article about the rise and fall of the team's W-L records without him, and people went crazy since he was the only superstar whose teams actually won more games without him than with, so obviously something was wrong in the numbers.

You can play this "You're a Kobe hater" card all you want, but all I do is focus on the facts, and they never seem to support your boy. Just look at how much the Lakers have risen and fallen over the past 16 years despite the constant presence of Kobe and his play, yet those ups and downs sure seem to mirror a lot of other changes to the team -- makes you wonder why so much praise is heaped on the guy whose presence has the least correlation with success, but there's those sneaky "Kobe hating" numbers again that must be biased despite being straight-forward numbers.

But I digress - I actually look at the facts and can support my opinion with them, so I must be a hater who ignores the highlights and commonly held myths. He controlled the last 50 seconds of a game his team was winning by 6 at home, and they lost...not sure how you're spinning this into my lack of integrity.

December 30, 2011 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

The subject was your evaluation of the opening night game. Why you point out columns from a year ago or articles in the LA times makes no sense. I commented on this article. What makes you a kobe hater is you wrote the article without pointing out the simple truth, that Kobe made plays for others and they missed free throws, necessitating a last second shot, that Kobe missed.

Your lack of integrity is clear in your last response. What does an article about making or not making 1st team all defense have to do with the article I commented on?

You are a kobe hater because you admitted it until I called you on your bio, which you then erased, edited out that part, and then changed, again illustrating your lack of integrity and professionalism.

Whenever I point this out you say well the numbers say this and that. The article we are debating you didn't post any numbers you detailed the last 50 seconds of the Bulls Lakers game. You left out the two missed free throws, which occurred during the time frame you listed and had a SIGNIFICANT impact on how the game played out and listed a bunch of biased opinions about why Kobe was playing.

So stop with the "numbers are objective" crap. We get it. Blame Kobe. Just a shame that you are not man enough to admit your hatred.

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

1) Are you talking about the McRoberts missed FT's with 1:12 left or the Gasol misses with 1:39 left, because neither were in the last 50 seconds, but don't let the facts get in the way of your arguments - sure hasn't stopped you before.
2) Ahh, the bio of me that's never changed on a site run by 2 guys I don't know rears its head again. Did you ever get around to contacting them and asking them about that like I've invited you to do on many occasions? I'm guessing no, as that would involve collecting facts before making your final opinion.
3) It's easy to perpetrate the Kobe myth if you view the statement "numbers are objective" as crap. Again, you made a good hypothesis last year about his low FG% being due to having to take shots late in the shot clock, but then a simple checking of the facts showed the opposite was true. It's funny how the people who actually try to verify opinions with data are haters, whereas those who use no objective measures to justify anything assume their limited and biased memories that are shaped heavily by highlights on ESPN are the truth.
4) Building off of #1 above, I AGAIN ask that you be truthful and know what you're talking about when engaging in a conversation with me.

Thanks again for your comments - looking forward to them as I attempt to create Power Ratings in a totally jacked up season that will provide numerous "upsets."

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

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