Tuesday, February 10, 2009

9 Things I Learned from Milwaukee v. Houston

I was fortunate enough to land some pretty good seats to last night;s game courtesy of a friend of mine. It allowed me to see some things I usually would have missed from my typical perch up in the rafters of the BC. Or in the front row of the upper level since no one ever shows up up there.

1. Ron Artest is Crazy

Artest being crazy is nothing new, I mean he jumped into the stands. But this is the first experience I've had with it up close. The best example came in the third quarter with the Rockets down 22. Artest got fouled on a shot, earning him two free throws. Right after the foul was called he yelled "LETS GO!!" as loud as he could and pounded his chest two or three times. I was terrified. His teammates weren't as enthused with the situation and didn't even respond to this bizarre sight. Which brings me to my next point.

2. The Rockets Don't Like Ron Artest

I've heard so many different tales with the theme that Artest was actually a great guy in the locker room. People have always said he's just so uber-competitive that on the court he's insane. Well I'd guess that there is some friction in this locker room, aside from what we already know. My example here took place in what I believe was the second quarter, but don't quote me on that. The Rockets were about to line up to shoot a free throw and Artest began chirping at Brent Barry about something. Barry didn't even move his head in Artest direction, just looked ahead and nodded. This was not enough for Ron-Ron and he moved closer to Barry and continued to jaw at him about something. Barry eventually gave the response that I used to give to my mother when she was nagging me about something when I was 14. He just agreed with whatever Artest was saying and kept repeating okay over and over until Artest left him alone. To say Barry seemed annoyed would be an understatement. It looked like any conversation had with Artest would be similar to this, he's a man of last words it seems.

3. Luc Mbah a Moute Plays Serious D

This is nothing new as well. And you don't need to be in any kind of nice seat to see that this guy locks down. But last night in the early going against McGrady he made life impossible. Everywhere TMac went Mbah a Moute followed close behind, using his extended limbs to bother any shot McGrady put up. Now I know McGrady is not what he once was (see above) but the way Mbah a Moute started off on him took him out of the game from the get go. McGrady never recovered and against other defenders seemed to not be all that interested in taking it to the hole, doing a lot of passing and little attacking. This all may have a lot to do with his knee situation obviously, but let's give a hand to The Prince anyway.

4. Shane Battier Politely Disagrees With That Call

Battier is not adverse to arguing with a ref. This makes him like every other NBA player to ever lace up a pair of sneakers. What makes him different is the manner which he argues calls. It's almost as if Battier is always trying to see things through the eyes of the ref when they are talking. I can't even say he really argues with refs, he discusses things that just happened. He usually does all of this with a smile on his face that says, "I know you're trying your best but I feel as if you may have erred on that call. I'm sure you'll get 'em next time though sir."

5. Moving Yao Is A Project

I've seen it written that Yao is better than Dwight Howard. Not only do I disagree with that, but I don't see how that is physically possible. There is no way Yao could ever function in any type of offense that was built around transition. I've seen semi-trucks change direction quicker than Yao. The poor guy gets assaulted every time he is on offense too. No one ever calls fouls on his assailants though, because they are covering a man who makes them look like a child. In addition to his transition struggles it takes Yao so long to execute any post move that by the time he is done his much smaller defender has leaped up and met him at his peak. The basketball life of Yao Ming seems difficult and painful judging by the grimace constantly on his face. And for all the offensive problems he has then he gets yelled at by Dikembe Mutombo when he gets back to the bench.

6. Joe Alexander Is Here To Shoot

Alexander was in the game for the last six or seven minutes of the game and he shot every time he touched the ball except once. The results? Usually either a swish or an airball. Alexander has a lot of highs and a lot of lows when he plays. At least it's exciting. The fans seemed pretty excited to see him enter the game, good that Milwaukeeans have yet to give up on him.

7. Ramon Sessions and Charlie V. Are Very Good

It's no longer amazing to me when these guys put up 20+ points and dominate the game. What I love about these two right now is that they are scoring all these points while keeping everyone involved in the game. Charlie V. once again dished out four assists to go with his 25 points and didn't force anything. Sessions continues to dominate the paint at will. After getting to the line an astonishing 21 times against the Pistons, Sessions made 12 trips last night. Nasty.

8. Richard Jefferson Has Something Left In the Tank

Jefferson showed that he still is capable of being an effective player. For as much as I rag on him about his performance this year, he turned it up a notch yesterday. If the Bucks can continue to play more of an up-tempo game that should suit Jefferson better. He can still get out in transition and finish. Now he just needs to hit his free throws.

9. Scott Skiles Can Coach

I need to stop looking at the Bucks in the scope of the Bucks of the last few years. Scott Skiles is not Terry Stotts. Scott Skiles is not Larry Krystowiak. Scott Skiles will not allow this team to pack it in like the Bucks of yester year. No these are not quite your father's Bucks of the 70s and 80s, but they are not your slightly older brother's Bucks either. Every time I expect the Bucks to pack it in due to the injuries they seem to come out playing even harder than before. It's possible that the Bucks have extradited any of the veterans who have not brought the correct attitude in the past during the stretches (cough cough, Mo Williams, cough cough). I don't think enough credit has been heaped on Skiles for the job he has done to keep this group competing hard and working together. Not to mention finding the key to unlock the power of Charlie V. Now if he sticks with Sessions when Ridnour comes back I'll really be impressed.

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