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Wednesday Rockets/NBA Links

Sorry about the lack of links yesterday. I'm sure all of you were staring blankly at your computer screens, confused and scared at the absence of what has become the most important part of your daily routine. And for that, I apologize. Let's take a look at all the crazy shit happening around the league.

The Knicks edged out the Hornets on Monday night. In other words, Chris Paul and his merry men lost to a team that is basically phoning it in until this summer. Now, if the Pacers or the Thunder or the Suns lose to the Knicks, no big deal. But if a team that is headed up by the best PG in the land and is ostensibly in the running for a deep playoff spot loses to the Knicks... something has gone horribly wrong.

Well, that's exaggeration. But it's basically the line we're getting from sportswriters out there, even if a 1-3 start isn't any sort of death sentence. At the same time, Chris Paul's "frustration" (it's the word everyone's using, though I prefer Basketbawful's description: "the little guy is starting to lose his shit a little") with his team is pretty clear at this point. I compared it to Garnett with Minnesota earlier, but it's also reminiscent of Hakeem from about 1986 until 1992. Here we have one of the best players in the game - certainly the best at his position - surrounded by utter crap (Emeka and West are nice players, but a championship core they do not make), while his less-deserving peers experience a great deal of success. That's not cool, and his career is crying out for liberation from the hellhole that is a George Shin team.


After their loss to the Good Guys on Monday, the Jazz followed it up by losing to the Mavs in Dallas. And I gotta tell ya, it feels pretty great. For me, anyways. Not so much for Jazz fans, who have already decided to renew their hapless bleatings from last season.

If you want my honest opinion (and I know you do), it's that Jerry Sloan doesn't know how to coach defense in this league anymore. He's stuck in 1996, when "no layups" still made sense. It has been five years since the league revised hand-checking and contact rules (since they made basketball fun again), and Sloan still hasn't revised his thinking on proper defense. So if Jazz fans are wondering what the hell is wrong with the defense, they need look no further than the scowling apparition pacing in front of the bench and shouting at refs.


Pau Gasol is definitely out for tonight's game, but it could be a lot more serious than that. And yet the Lakers sustained a much more critical injury (not really) when Phil Jackson cut part of his finger off. And he lost the little nub, too. Ewww.

Oh, yeah, and the Lakers continue to struggle, almost losing to the Fightin' Durants last night. Whoops.


In even weirder news, the Raptors have offered to include Vince Carter in their 15th anniversary celebration this year.

To me, this is like offering to include Carlos Beltran in the Astros' upcoming 50th Anniversary (just a few years away!). Yeah, Carter was incredible, and I love watching him, but I doubt Toronto fans want to be reminded of his departure.


Lastly (and this is like a week old, but it's interesting), economics blog Marginal Revolution entertains a "way to improve basketball" (as if that's even possible).

Here is my simple thought: games should be played as best 4 out of 7 periods -- perhaps 7 minutes each or perhaps slightly varied period lengths, 6 - 8 minutes long. Maybe the number or usage of timeouts or foul-outs would need to be fiddled with. Maybe playoffs would be slightly different. But that's pretty much it. The best part of a basketball game is almost always the last few minutes, and it seems like the incentives for exciting play would persist more throughly under this design.

... but I like garbage time. It's what makes human victory cigars like Brian Cook possible.