Monthly Archives: September 2010

Tales of Games 5 and 6

0305-NoD

(This post combines games 5 and 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals together, because I forgot to post the Game 5 one)

Game 5 was an absolute nightmare. Yes, I scored 34 points. Yes, I had seven assists. The problem was that there was zero defense. Period. No one could stop anyone (especially Devin Harris on the perimeter), and there was no interior presence at all. I’m irate.

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Yeah, go ahead and cheer, Joe Johnson. I’ll have my day. It may not be this year, But I’ll have my day.

(Fast forward two days)

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Before game six, I gathered everyone in the locker room. We were going to have a team meeting, and I was giving a quick pep talk.

“We’re home tonight, folks. That’s our court. Those are our fans. We blew it for them two games ago, not sealing the deal here – we owe them. We can’t afford to go back to New Jersey! There’s no way in blue blazes we’re getting a fair shake at their place. We have to win tonight! If we don’t, our season could be over. So let’s make sure our next trip to the Meadowlands is scheduled for next fall!”

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I set a decent pace to start the game, but we could not get any separation. It was tied or within two baskets the whole first half. Half time came and I was feeling a little stressed (I’d missed a half-time buzzer beater, something I almost never do). My jump shot was not there, and our rebounding wasn’t good again. Turnovers were abundant, Vince wasn’t shooting worth a damn and I still couldn’t stop Harris. I had to do something to change the course of the game. I wanted to get in Harris’ head, offensively, like he was mine. That didn’t really happen, sadly. What did happen was even more amazing.

0306-ItsOver

In the third quarter, I forced four turnovers, including three straight to spark a run. We opened a 10 point lead thanks to my defense, and as a result, Harris stopped handling the ball. First he was pulled completely, and then when he came back in he was placed at shooting guard, away from me. Ha! He ended the game with an astounding 6 turnovers. With that run, we had a commanding lead – now we just had to hold it.

0306-Didit

I think my jubilation here says it all. We’re headed to the Finals people, and we’re going to face the Oklahoma City Thunder! It’s on now. I’m past Devin Harris and I don’t have to face my personal nemesis, Lyle Johnston.

I didn’t have great stats in the clinching game, with just 20 points, six assists and three steals, but my defensive lockdown in the third that shook Harris and got him out of my way (and my head) was the difference. I couldn’t be more elated right now. NBA Finals, here we come!

- Rick Daniel

Caught in NJ’s Net

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The Nets were determined not to go without a fight, and they didn’t. In fact, we didn’t sent them packing period; they whipped us at home by 10. We actually played a solid game, offensively. Well, my team did. I got off to a bad start, shooting 16% in the 1st quarter before hitting 71% of my shots in the 2nd. I finished the game with 28 points, two rebounds, a game-high 7 assists, a steal and two blocks. It was our defense though that cost us.

Devin Harris in particular was torrid, scoring 31 points with six boards and six assists. He could not be stopped, including hitting 3-3 from deep. I had hit a buzzer beater to end the 3rd to put us within a basket but NJ went on a scoring spree to open a 10 point lead as soon as the 4th quarter started. Our defense could not get a single stop! We were only down 10 with two minutes to go, and we were scoring well but we couldn’t get a stop to cut into their lead. So it went; we lost and failed at going “Fo’, fo’, and fo’”, as Moses Malone would say (actually, Malone’s team that year went four, five and four, losing a game along the way, so it may be more accurate then at face value – if we win our next match).

Well, we never expected to sweep the playoffs. On to game 5!

- Rick Daniel

Perfect Magic

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I was right: the Nets came to Orlando fired up and gave us a run for our money. The big players for them were Joe Johnson and Terrance Williams (18 points apiece)  and Devon Harris again (15 points, two boards, seven assists on 6-8 shooting). That’d be mildly impressive if you didn’t see my stat line.

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I scored 32 points with six assists and three steals on 100% shooting. 15-15 from the field. I could not miss! I even hit another buzzer-beater.

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This was to beat the 2nd quarter buzzer. I’m telling you – if you need a meaningless buzzer beaten, I’m your man. If you need one that counts –one to win a game or tie it in the 4th – well, look somewhere else. I’m the Alex Rodriguez of the NBA. Great stats, scores big when when things are going well, but haven’t proven that I can perform when the pressure’s on.

As a side note, the Thunder and the Rockets are tied 2-2 in the west. I’m torn on who I want to face.

- Rick Daniel

Down to the Wire in NJ

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Well we finally had our first playoff-style game, courtesy of the the Nets. We went back-and-forth the whole game, down to the final few minutes. I wasn’t shooting too well (just over 50%) but I did get 36 points to go with one rebound, five assists and a steal. I didn’t turn the ball over, either! That’s a plus for me.

Devin Harris was a nuisance the entire game, netting 22 points, mostly on layups and floaters. I just couldn’t stay in front of him, and when he got to the rim no matter what we did he scored. I need to buckle down next game.

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In the end, we won by 7 points.  Our big ace in the hole was our front line. Kevin Love and Dwight Howard each had more then 10 rebounds while none of the Nets had double digit boards. Dwight also blocked four shots. The Nets will have confidence coming to Orlando though, which should make for one hell of a game. I’ll be ready.

- Rick Daniel

Tearing Down the Nets

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Big game for me! I scored 37 points with two rebounds, two assists, four steals and a blog on almost 80% shooting. On the opposite side, Devon Harris never got into the flow after I drew two early fouls on him to put him on the bench (I hit 5 free throws in the first quarter). He scored 1 point  but had 7 assists. All of our starters scored in double digits, with Dwight Howard scoring 20.

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My secret to scoring so much was getting around my man for allot of layups and dunks. Seriously, I kind of wish we’d faced the Cavs instead because no one will take us seriously if we beat this slow Nets team. Conversely, if we lose our rep may never recover. In any case, it’s one game down, three to go.

- Rick Daniel

Conference Finals, Here We Come

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Yessir, as Dwight “Moe” Howard here epitomizes, we’ve eliminated Miami tonight and are headed to the Conference Finals! I scored 25 points with three boards, seven assists, two steals and a block. Big game! 0204-Wade

I had to match D-Wade here, who scored 24 points with seven boards three assists, one steal and two blocks because, well… someone had to, right? Right. That’s what I thought, too.

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My shooting touch was average at best, but I scored the big baskets. It’s going to have to improve when we play our next opponent, who will surely be Cleveland. That’ll be a tough series that… wait, what?

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New Jersey took out Cleveland in seven?! What the hell?? It looks like we’re off to East Rutherford, NJ to play the Nets instead of the shores of Lake Erie. Wow. That’s a surprise. However, looking at this picture shows me that I could be in for my worst nightmare: a head-to-head with that dastardly Lyle Johnston of Houston (who already lead the Thunder one game to none – read about Johnston here and here) for the title. I don’t really want to face him because he’s seriously in my head but that would be the ultimate way to win the whole shebang, by overcoming my personal bugaboo. We’ll see what happens; we haven’t even started our series with New Jersey yet, so that’s a ways off.

- Rick Daniel

Too Hot for the Heat

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Apparently I like Sweet Home Orlando better then I do Miami. After two games and 9 turnovers at the Heat’s home, I came back to our place and had a monster game. I scored 34 points on 59% shooting, with 5 assists, 4 steals and zero turnovers. Yup, I never gave up the ball. Wade was cold, scoring 19 points on 33% shooting – and he was their top scorer in the game.

Just for the heck of it, let’s run through some of my best dunks from the game.

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This was big. Everyone out of the way! I was not going to be stopped.

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Again with the two-handed jam. Not as big a crowd under my feet this time though, so it’s not as flashy.

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Here, though, I’m gliding.  I checked my bags, buckled in and took off for a one-way flight to the rim – do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred dollars. Yes!!

We’re now up 3-0 on the Heat, with the Cavs 3-0 on the Nets, meaning I’ll be heading to Cleveland next at this rate.

- Rick Daniel

Half-Game Heat

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Another win, another poor performance by me. I scored a flashy 29 points on 63% shooting with 7 assists, but I topped last game with five turnovers. Just, wow. I’ve got to cut those down before they kill us. In the last three games against the Heat (going back to our final regular season match-up), I have had 13 turnovers.  Ouch.

Would someone please explain to the Heat that there are two halves to NBA games? Actually, don’t do that – it’s saving us that they only play hard for two quarters. Tonight they led by 7 at the half, but we finally started getting consecutive stops in the third quarter and were able to catch and pass them. In the 4th quarter we may have found our secret to slowing down Dwyane Wade (who scored 34 points tonight) and you’re not going to believe it: play Kevin Love on him. Yes, it sounds disastrous, I know. But here’s the thing: it worked. Love blocked a handful of Wade shots and layups in the final period and never got burnt off the dribble. Oh, and speaking of off the dribble…

0202-Dunk

… it’s time to show my latest dunk pic. This was in the 3rd quarter, and – I think, personally  – helped spark our run. We seem to play better when I get a slam or two to fire us up.

Well, we’re up 2-0 in the series and headed back to Orlando, but this game was allot closer then the first so something tells me Miami’s not going to roll over and die for us.

- Rick Daniel

Taking Our Talent to South Beach

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We played the Heat in game one of the second round, and I had a horrible game. Stat-wise I was fine, scoring 28 points with eight assists, but I had four turnovers and shot barely over 50% (0-3 on threes). We won handily, which surprised me. Here’s my favorite highlight.

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I dunked my first alley-oop dunk today! Vince Carter had the ball on the right wing and I cut around Mario Chalmers and found a wide-open lane to the basket so I called for a pass. The result is as above. Oh, and you might not be able to see in the above screens, but I’m trying to grow a playoff beard.

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It’s not looking great but by the next round (if we make it) I may have a real beard. Yay!

- Rick Daniel

Playing Poor but Moving On

0104-Dribble

Well we’re past the Hawks but I’m not feeling good about it. We won the series clincher by 14 but I shot 5-12 for 10 points. I dished out 10 assists as well, but 9 of those came in the first half. I actually didn’t score until midway through the third quarter. The Heat are going to eat me alive playing like that.

The second round matchups include Kings/Rockets, Thunder/Nuggets, Cavs/Nets and us vs. the Heat.

- Rick Daniel

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