It started harmlessly, with Rasheed Wallace’s usual postpractice ritual of tormenting rookie Jason Maxiell .
While Maxiell was engaged in a fairly intense four-on-four scrimmage, Wallace was hurling basketballs at him. This went on for a few minutes before Maxiell and others decided to fire back.
At one point, Wallace even had Ryan Hoover , the Pistons’ director of player development, in a headlock, demanding that basketballs be thrown at him.
The Canton Repository’s Todd Porter updates us on the most crucial story of these Eastern Conference Semi-Finals ; Damon Jones’ flashy wardrobe.
Jones was one of the last players to walk off the Cavs bus before Game 1. It was odd for a role player who comes off the bench. Usually, star players are among the last to depart. But Jones had his own star. If not for his 20-footer in Game 6 in the first round, Cleveland might not have been in Detroit in the first place.
So when he got off that bus, there were snickers and chuckles at his real leopard-skin sportcoat. If he™d worn that coat in some of the CBA cities he played in, he might have been trapped.
œI would never put that on, LeBron James said. œI™d probably lock it up in a cage or put a leash on it.
The entire time Jones walked from the bus to the locker room, he told those who laughed, œDon™t be a hater.
œI™m exotic, Jones said. œIt™s about having a persona and showing off my fashionability. … After I wear it, I™ll probably put it in a case.
Teammate Donyell Marshall heard that. He laughed.
œYou should put that in a cage, not a case, Marshall said.
Center Zyrdrunas Ilgauskas didn™t mind the leopard print … but not hanging on his back.
œI had sheets like that when I was a rookie, he said. œThey™ve since been burned.
When Mike Dunleavy puts a small lineup on the court – particularly in a game whose tempo favors the Clips, he’s effectively conforming his game plan to the Suns’ style. The Brand, Cassell (above), Mobley, Livingston and Maggette lineup concedes that. But when Dunleavy adjusted at the start of the 4th with size – Kaman, Brand, Vlad, Livingston and Maggette – the Clippers went on a mad run. Now, you might say, “well…that was a product of Vlad’s shooting rampage from beyond the arc.” But most of the uncontested shots were created by PHX’s defensive focus in the paint.
We can talk about size vs. speed, but those attributes are only valuable if you’re able to capitalize on them. If you can’t translate your size into any discernible advantage, then it’s useless. The Clippers succeeded on the defensive end – their length and speed, be it Ross, Maggette, Livingston and good decisions by and large by our bigs – once they realized that Thomas and Marion were going to challenge them in the post.
But the Clippers were incompetent in using their size, not so much in their failure to obtain position for themselves on the block, but in not forcing Phoenix to work around screens. Raja Bell is a terrific on-ball defender. To neutralize him, make him fight through weak-side screens. If Marion is overly active on the defensive end, try an on-ball screen that’ll switch him out to the arc. The Clippers offense was inert tonight largely because they couldn’t get Elton the ball after the second quarter on the left side post. The Suns were content to leave the Clippers’ ball handler in that sequence with an open shot up top. Sometimes they hit; sometimes the didn’t. D’Antoni took that chance, but at the very least it disrupted Brand.
Basketbawful isn’t nearly done re-living the Lakers’ Game 7 loss to Phoenix. And neither, apparently is the Kwame-hating Tex Winter, as interviewed by Hoops Hype.