First up, very disappointing to see Jason Kapono throw up a 14 in the finals of the three-point contest. He was the only pure shooter in the competition and for him to lose to a cast that didn’t even crack 20 is a shame. I’m sure the result last night didn’t affect his trade value in the least but a win would’ve gone some ways in reminding GMs that there is a shooter to be had, albeit at a rather expensive price. Also, as he was going through his rounds I was half expecting him to pump-fake, step in and get called for a travel.
Caught the skills competition which I thought was zzzzzz…Derrick Rose won as Tony Parker got booed by the Phoenix crowd and couldn’t nail a 16 footer to save his life. Then we had the dunk contest and it reminded me of how there’s a fine line between hyping something and over-hyping something. The 12-foot dunk was cool but the phone booth was lame, especially when he came out of it with the cape in his hands. I don’t recall Superman ever doing that. Howard built up too much hype and then came up short, I thought he should’ve saved his 12-foot dunk for the finals instead of opting for the same-old same-old. I’m guessing Kevin Johnson got on the panel because he dunked on Hakeem once or twice and he happened to play for Phoenix. Nice touch by the NBA, they always seem to get those things right. Why is Thunder Dan a judge? Oh right, he also played for Phoenix. Where’s HotRod Williams when you need him?
Let’s stop giving the crowd scoring signs because frankly, I don’t care what some little kid with a West All-Star jersey thinks of Rudy Fernandez’s dunking ability. Speaking of Fernandez, whipping out the Fernando Martín Espina jersey might not be a good idea if 1) Nobody knows who he is 2) It reminds people of Darrick Martin and 3) Nobody knows who he is. I thought he got judged quite harshly on his first dunk which hadn’t ever been done before. Maybe he should’ve slipped on a Pau Gasol jersey just to motivate him to throw a pass that wasn’t behind him. If he makes that dunk on his first try it’s a 50 – those judges are confused.
My favorite moments of the night were seeing Nate Robinson talk junk into the camera after each dunk and watching Devin Harris keenly use the focus feature on his 1998 camcorder. I have no doubt it records on beta tape. Back to Nate, using Wilson Chandler as a step-ladder has to be the dumbest decision ever made by an NBA player and I’m referring to Chandler whose spine came oh so close to cracking. But Nate, he’s so gangsta, isn’t he? Dwight Howard opting to go for the FT line dunk was a high-risk move because of his height. It didn’t look good on Brent Barry (with the warm-up jacket on, BTW) and it didn’t look good on Howard, it did look okay on Jamario Moon, though. The lamest part about the FT line dunk is that it’s NOT a FT line dunk. There’s not a single player that has actually taken off from outside the FT line, they’ve all either stepped in or stepped on the line. They should really call it the “lane violation dunk”.
Here are some players that I would’ve liked to see in the three-point shootout over Danny Granger: Ray Allen, Vince Carter, Kyle Korver, Matt Carroll, Joe Johnson, Mike Miller, Sasha Vujacic and Jason Terry. Note that this list could easily be longer. This is easily my favorite event of the night but it’s gotten a little boring as all we see is guys launching shots as a clock ticks its way down to zero. It needs more pazzaz, for starters they should have the players shoot at the same time so there’s no target score. They should have it tournament-style with four guys making the finals and then have a semi-final and final with both shooting concurrently.
Secondly, a lot of three point shooting is catch-and-shoot which there is none of in the current format. They should let them pick a teammate to pass them the ball for a couple racks so there’s an element of uncertainty added to the whole affair. Imagine if Kapono lost the three-point contest because Calderon threw a pass too high? That would be a subject of conversation for months and isn’t that really the whole point of this night?
Finally, let the players try an optional 30 footer from straight up which if they make they get 5 points, but if they miss it they get a couple points subtracted. C’mon, don’t tell me that wouldn’t be fun?
In case you missed it, Mo Williams probably should’ve advanced to the next round of the skills competition if it weren’t for a ball boy coming in his way forcing him to pull back on the pass which cost him about a second and a half. He lost by that margin. You could actually hear him on the sideline saying “He messed me up, man”. Yes, indeed he did.
If you’re wondering why I’m not talking about the H-O-R-S-E, it’s because I never saw it. I suppose we should watch the game tonight and hope it stay close for three quarters so that we can at least see one decent quarter of basketball.
The O’Neal-Marion swap sure has made the remainder of the season interesting. We’ll finally get to see how Bosh meshes with a slasher who can also play defense, hopefully he’ll have better chemistry with Marion than he did with O’Neal. I do believe Bosh when he says that the major reason why O’Neal and him never got clicking is on the defensive end, it was almost like the entire team wasn’t on the same page when it came to man-assignments, interior rotations and boxing-out. Substituting Marion for O’Neal doesn’t solve the problem as I still think the major issue with this team is dribble penetration at the point-of-attack but with Marion we have the luxury of having him guard the best opposing wing, thus hopefully eliminating part of the problem.
Are we going to be able to make a run at the playoffs? Probably not, but now we have the “player getting used to the system” excuse which we’ll hear Devlin and Leo mumble over and over again. How much time before Marion gets “integrated” with Triano’s “system”? 5 games? 10 games? I have no idea but l do believe Marion’s the type of player that you don’t actually run set plays for, he’s got a high basketball IQ and reacts to defenses very well. It’s going to be up to Jose Calderon to find Marion in the right positions if we have any hopes of resurrecting the Marion of Phoenix where Nash fed him the ball to perfection.
Should be fun to watch.Follow @raptorsrepublic