Jamieson and I were joined in the booth by the Co-Founder/Editor of TheOpinioNation.com and host of the Earnestly Speaking Radio Show EJ Christian. We tackled all the week’s action in the NBA. The Spurs and Denver are the hottest teams in the league, Miami’s absolute destruction of the Clippers, the streaking Celtics, Pau Gasol‘s injury and more.
We were also joined by Glenda G, Radio Personality ( Busy Radio 103.3 Hartford) and huge Celtics fan, and fellow OpinioNation member Twan Staley (@BlackRedSoxFan). We record each Saturday morning at 11 am PST (2pm EST). Feel free to give us a call at 347-945-6550 or comment via Twitter at @LA_SportsTalk @TheRealJamieson @EJChristian7 @Glenda_G_
Jamieson and I were joined by several callers and discussed: the New York Knicks (1/2 game back of Miami), the chances of teams like the Bulls/Pacers o contend in the Eastern Conference, the latest stretch for the Los Angeles Lakers, The Wire, and more. Please enjoy, and feel free to comment/share.
Triple Threat Podcast- Jarrod Rudolph, Alex Kennedy 01/26 by The OpinioNation Network | Blog Talk Radio
Jarrod Rudolph- RealGM.com writer, Dwight Howard & NBA insider, TWC Sportsnet analyst.
Alex Kennedy- Hoopsworld.com, NBA insider and analyst
Josh Powell- 2x NBA Champion, ex-Laker, current Olympiacos of Greece player.
Please listen, enjoy, and share with fellow NBA fans. Thanks!
You may as well play Whodini’s ‘Rumors’ in the background of this week’s rankings, as that definitely seems to be the theme around the NBA. We heard rumors of the pending sale of the Sacramento Kings that could potentially end with the franchise being relocated to Seattle, Wa. There have been all types of rumors surrounding the availability of players such as Rudy Gay (Grizzlies), Pau Gasol (Lakers), and Tayshawn Prince (Pistons). There have even been rumors of an All Star break return for Andrew Bynum, the Philadelphia 76ers’ biggest off-season acquisition.
Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, LeBron James
#1 Los Angeles Clippers 30-9 (Last week- 1): Not only are the Clippers the best team in the league, but their roster depth permits them to continue playing dominant basketball even in the absence of MVP-candidate Chris Paul. LAC went into Houston and Memphis on back-to-back nights sans Paul and won by an average of 15 points.
#2 Oklahoma City Thunder 30-8 (2): KD’s name has been left out of the MVP discussion for much of the year. His recent stretch of 34.2 PPG, 6.4 rebs, 4.8 asts, and 1.8 blocks per game (last five) should remind folks of just how much his game has developed and how dominant this (recently less) silent assassin can be. OKC goes on the road for 8-10.
#3 San Antonio Spurs 29-11 (3): The fact that San Antonio has recently been ‘treading water’ shouldn’t surprise anyone. Coach Popovich is a master at monitoring minutes and pacing the Spurs throughout the month of January in anticipation of the annual Rodeo Trip that kicks off the month of February. Expect much of the same with San Antonio next stretch of four games in six nights.
#4 Miami Heat 24-12 (4): Even though they’ve recently struggled, the Heat remain the top seed out East. With 40+ games to address their issues, it actually might take a roster move (or two) to correct the rebounding and interior issues they have. They’ve been out-rebounded in five of their previous six losses, and by double-digits in a majority of those. Back-to-back on the road vs. the Warriors and Lakers could be very telling.
#5 Denver Nuggets 24-16 (N/A): After a surprisingly slow start, the Nuggets have gone on a 13-4 run that resembles the team we all expected. Coach Karl utilizes depth and interchangeable players as well as any coach. This week should be interesting, as the Nuggets sandwich a visit from John Wall and the Wizards with a home-and-home with the top-seeded OKC Thunder.
#6 Memphis Grizzlies 24-12 (8): For a team that has become a perennial threat at being top-4 seed, it has been a bit surprising to have hear the rumors of both Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph being on the trading block. It’s possible, they want to address the ball-stopping redundancy issue both players are guilty of contributing to, but I just find it difficult to believe they would truly consider moving both.
#7 New York Knicks 24-13 (6): At just 4-5 since Raymond Felton went down with an injury, it isn’t a mystery why the Knicks are suddenly struggling. Amar’e is still playing limited playing time, but it will be interesting to see how the Knicks respond to the eventual returns of Felton and Iman Shumpert.
#8 Brooklyn Nets 23-15 (N/A): Whether you agreed with Avery Johnson’s firing, fact is, the Nets are as hot as any team (9-1) in the league under P.J. Carlesimo. Much like the Knicks have shown under Mike Woodson, sometimes a different “voice” can get through to the same group of players. The next two weeks should give us some true insight into Brooklyn’s ultimate place in the Eastern Conference hierarchy.
#9 Golden State Warriors 23-13 (5): Dropping three of four games is no way to head into what will likely be the most difficult 15-game stretch of the season, but if the Warriors are to develop into a true playoff threat they’ll have to find a way to stay on pace. At about 21 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds per game, Stephen Curry could be on his way to his first All Star appearance.
#10 Indiana Pacers 24-15 (N/A): Much like what has taken place in Denver, the Pacers have overcome a surprisingly slow start to go on a 14-4 run of their own. Paul George’s game has finally developed along with his 6’8″ frame, as the 3rd year small forward has some NBA insiders whispering about the availability of a suddenly expendable Danny Granger.
Will the real Eastern Conference please stand up? Not saying things are perfect in the Western Conference, but once again, the balance of power in the NBA seems to have shifted considerably to the West. Don’t tell Los Angeles Lakers fans this, as things have only grown worse for a franchise accustomed to riding a seemingly never-ending wave of success. Folks are gripping in Laker Land, as Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and back-up Jordan Hill are all out indefinitely with various injuries.
With the Heat placing some distance between themselves and the rest of the East, outside of the Knicks and (possibly) the Bulls, folks are waiting to see if the Celtics are going to be able to generate enough of a consistent fight to challenge as a contender once the postseason rolls around.
#1 Los Angeles Clippers 27-8: Even though Chris Paul got “baptized” in the meeting with his building-mate Lakers, the Clippers were still able to come away with a short-handed (Crawford) victory at the end of the day. That’s the difference between these Clippers and any other team in franchise history…they win the tough games. The Clippers are getting healthier while other teams are getting dinged up. As crazy as it may sound, the biggest concern in Lob City may be how coach Vinny Del Negro manages all of their talent down the stretch.
#2 OKC Thunder 26-8: Slip-up in Washington aside, the Thunder remain the top team out West. OKC fans have to hope they’ve has gotten it out of their system, as the Thunder play 9 of 11 on the road, and most coming against fellow Western Conference playoff contenders. They may have the ability to slam the door shut on a couple spiraling teams like the Lakers and Mavericks as they play each of them twice over the next two weeks.
#3 San Antonio Spurs 27-10: For as much as folks have been justifiably lauding the exploits of an elder-statesman like Kobe Bryant, folks might want to take a moment to look at the numbers Tim Duncan, AKA “Father Time”, has been putting up. While some folks may have thought Duncan was washed up a few years back, in he is putting up 17.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game in his 16th season. The Spurs have a big 5-game stretch coming up against Western Conference playoff contenders and wannabe’s.
#4 Miami Heat 23-9: As mentioned, the Heat have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack in the East. I’m not sure whether that is actually the best thing for the Heat, as they look poised to coast to the playoffs unless someone challenges them in the second half. After spending the better part of December in Miami, the schedule could actually be the great equalizer, as the Heat play 10 of the next 12 on the road.
#5 Golden State Warriors 22-11: I wouldn’t place too much stock in that double-digit loss at the hands of the Clippers. Make no mistake about it, L.A. needed that victory, having already dropped the first two meetings vs. the Warriors. If I’m not mistaken, David Lee is the only player in the league currently averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds (19.9/10.9). Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have also paced them with outside shooting, but the true test for GS remains how coach Mark Jackson is able to integrate Andrew Bogut into the mix once he is available to return.
#6 New York Knicks 23-11: Following a blazing start to the season, the Knicks are just 5-6 over their previous 11 games. Strangely enough, Melo has actually increased his shots per game (24.8) since Amar’e has returned. The question remains: Will the Knicks be able to continue working together and find a way for all the parts to fit, especially once Iman Shumpert returns from injury?
#7 Houston Rockets 20-14: James Harden is, once again, making people “Fear The Beard” in Houston. For as much credit as we give Melo for his numbers, a strong case could be made for Harden’s stats actually being more impressive. He and Lin seemed to have found a way to co-exist in the same back court, as they lead the highest scoring offense in the NBA. The Rockets could be a player away from surprising a team or two in the playoffs. Like most other teams, this next stretch could be key for Houston, as they play 10 of 13 on the road.
#8 Memphis Grizzlies 22-10: Boasting the league’s stingiest defense (89.1 PPG), the Grizzlies have weathered a bit of an injury storm, and maintained a top-4 seed out West. Trade rumors are swirling, as the Grizzlies happen to be one of those small market teams that spends like a relatively big market franchise. Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph’s names have been mentioned in the most recent rumors, but I would find it surprising if they were to move such a large bulk of their offense in one move, considering they are 23rd in total scoring (94.8 PPG).
#9 Chicago Bulls 19-13: For as much as folks want to clown Carlos Boozer for his spray-on hair and gargantuan contract, the man has actually been playing some inspired basketball for the Bulls. As they await updated news on the Derrick Rose front, the Bulls have won 4-5 and Boozer’s 23/12 on 53% shooting over that stretch has been key. Big meeting with the Knicks at MSG on Friday night that could shift the balance of power in the East if the Bulls were able to go into NY and make a statement.
#10 Atlanta Hawks 20-12: The Hawks continue to linger just along the outside of the teams to take seriously once the playoffs arrive. Josh Smith, to his credit, seems a bit rejuvenated on the defensive end. Smith has 13 blocks and eight steals over his previous four games. With rumors also surrounding his name (what’s new?), it will be interesting to see if the Hawks are buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.
Last night, we were all surprised by the reports of an alleged near-fight between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant that supposedly took place following the Lakers‘ upsetting loss at the hands of Jrue Holiday and the Philadelphia 76ers on New Years Day. I only use the term “surprised”, because it wouldn’t have made sense for the story to have not been reported for 4-5 days given the enormous amount of media/fan scrutiny surrounding the team.
I was comfortable openly questioning the validity of the story, because I am quite certain a member of the local media would have been all over the story prior to some supposed “source” based out of New York ever having the opportunity to steal a few headlines and clicks. This suspicion was all but confirmed, when Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick joined Brian Geltzeiler as a guest on today’s Sheridan Hoops Radio Podcast and chimed in with:
The reports of Dwight and Kobe getting into a fight are completely false. Maybe, this is a case of the (Brooklyn) Nets trying to rattle some cages…
Geltzeiler went on to add:
I think that both of these guys have enough passive aggressive in them that there won’t be any kind of face to face confrontation. Most dissenting will be through third parties
Again, I can’t say that I would have been surprised by an argument, but it simply wouldn’t have made much sense for individuals like ESPNLA’s Ramona Shelburne or Los Angeles Times Lakers Blogger Eric Pincus to have not been the first to report such an incident. The level of tension must be high, but what this team does not need are outside “sources” trying to muddy the water even further. We’ll be sure to monitor the situation, but as far as I can tell the reports about the alleged near-physical altercation seem to be unsubstantiated and false.
The Lakers are back beneath the .500 mark (15-17) for the first time at this point in a season since the 2005-06 season. Trouble is, that team was led by a nightly starting lineup of: Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Brian Cook, Chris Mihm, and Smush Parker. Obviously, the level of expectation wasn’t quite what Lakers Nation anticipated from this year’s team. Tonight’s opponent is the Nuggets, and even though Denver got the better of the Lakers in their last meeting (at 18-16) these Nuggets have endured their own early season struggles, as well.
The prior two meetings with Denver were like night and day, which has been a common theme for this team from night to night. In the aforementioned second match-up, the Lakers were led by 40 points by Kobe Bryant, but they weren’t able to get enough players into the flow of the offense. Also, as has been the case far too often this season, they were unable to get any timely stops in the second half. In the first meeting, although Bryant experienced an off night by his standards (5-15 FGS), the Lakers were powered by the most all-around offensive attack of the 2012-13 season.
Antwan Jamison, who rarely sees action these days, came off the bench and scored 33 points. Jodie Meeks also chipped in with 21 points of his own, and the Lakers got 61 points from their bench for the first time in years. Hopefully, the Lakers can relocate that balanced attack and defensive intensity for tonight’s meeting with the Nuggets.
Frontcourt: It’s just this simple, if the Lakers’ big men don’t keep Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee off the backboards, this is going to be a long night. Almost sounds like a broken record, but the energy and effort the Lakers’ big men bring on both ends will likely be a major determining factor. The big men will also have to defend the perimeter, as Danilo Gallinari is shooting 51.5 percent from behind the arc over his last five games….
Please click the link for the complete pre-game report at LakersNation.com