Once again - Bullet Points - The Lazy Man's FriendTM
1. Memphis has a lot of talent, and no idea how to play basketball together, or perhaps, no real desire to play that way. It's hard to tell which. It's also hard to know why bad basketball teams stay bad. Bad coaching? Culture of losing? Bad management? Bad mix of player talents?
Anyway, it's one reason that I am opposed (though I have vacillated, I admit) to the idea of being in the lottery versus, maybe, getting the last playoff spot in the West. I prefer Houston to have a winning culture, to expect to win, and try to do so, no matter the odds, rather than accept a losing season as a foregone conclusion, and I cite Memphis as evidence to support my case.
2. The Basketball Prospectus "High Usage Rate Grizzlies" vs "Low Usage Rate Rockets" battle is thus far looking like a rout in Houston's favor. Briefly, the Memphis roster is absolutely loaded with players who consume a very high percentage of their team's attempts, ie High Usage. Adding the current Grizzlies 08-09 numbers together produces a team at over 100% usage, which is practically unheard of.
Houston's roster (absent TMac and Yao) suggests a team player usage far below 100%, which is also very odd. The rule of thumb is that low usage players get substantially worse with higher usage. This is not proving to be the case, as Ariza, Scola, Landry, Brooks, Lowry et al, are all maintaining their effectiveness while taking more shots. Only Battier seems to be slipping a bit at this point. More as this develops.
3. Back to Memphis. Why would a roster of Conley, Mayo, Gasol, Gay and Randolph be so bad? That is, ostensibly, a lot of offensive firepower at the very least. And yet, you can watch certain bad things unfold with them in real time. After the Rockets run in the 3rd, I said "Watch, they've given up now, already. You can see it. They're all just going to try to pad their stats now. There won't be much passing from them from here on out." And that is exactly what appeared to happen. Contrast that to Dallas, who continued their attack last night, and turned a blowout in our favor, into a blowout in theirs. At this point, I can't imagine Memphis doing that, despite what is on paper, fairly equal talent to Dallas.
4. Why does the NBA have so many "whistles"? There is the Star Whistle, which gives Star players a substantial amount of leeway when it comes to ticky-tack fouls, travelling and the like. There is the Super Star Whistle, which is worse, and produces outcomes like "No D on Kobe Bryant" or the "D-Wade Out of Control Drive Bailout" which effectively handed the Miami Heat an NBA title vs. the Mavericks. There is the Average Pro whistle, generally baseline and reasonable.
Then there is the Rookie Whistle, in which rookies, or new NBA players, get called for fouls that are either largely illusory, remarkably strict, or rarely enforced against experienced players, of any sort. Andersen, despite being a pro for 8 years in Spain, is getting the Rookie Big Man Whistle, which is essentially like being followed around the court by Elliott Ness in a striped outfit. The refs seem to be perfectly prepared to foul The Rookie Big Man out in one quarter, for basically, very little. This is the worst whistle of all. I'd like it if there weren't so many whistles.
5. Carl Landry needs more minutes. I'm going to call it now - he's made The Leap. He's a star in the making, his offensive arsenal is breathtaking, with both power and finesse in evidence. The Scola/Landry 1-2 punch lineup was fantastically effective tonight, with our PF combo going 19-28 for 42 points, 19 boards, 2 assists, 3 steals and 4 blocks in just slightly over full time minutes at 58.
6. Rick Adelman passed Jack Ramsay tonight, for 11th place in all-time NBA coaching wins. Sleepy or not, that's the high country.
7. I think we need a 3rd guy to run point. When garbage time rolled around, there was Lowry, still playing with the rookies, Pops, and Brian Cook. I'm now starting to feel bad for Brian Cook, and wonder what, exactly, went wrong there. No, I have no idea how a 3rd PG will happen. I don't want it to be injury, that's for sure.