I’ve always been a fan of the underdog, and on this fine Black Friday, I reflect on below the radar British military man Myles Standish, who was instrumental in helping the pilgrims and Celtics settle in Massachusetts. While Captain John Smith was busy getting sponsorship deals and scoring Pocahontas, Standish was getting the job done.
I use the story of Capt. Standish as a paradigm as all too often in the NBA big scorers take most of the credit, while undervalued winners go unnoticed. The premier example of this is in El Lay where the Kobe Bryant brand seemingly won the NBA championship all by his lonesome in 2008-09. Nothing, in my opinion, could be further from the truth as he was surrounded by a cast that included one of the three top big men in the game in Pau Gasol, uber-talented Lamar Odom-Kardashian, injury prone horse Andrew Bynum, one of the game’s top athletes and defenders in Trevor Ariza, and one of the most underrated players in league history, Derek Fisher. Has Fisher ever missed a key shot in his career? Is there a harder-nosed defender in the backcourt? Many analysts, writers and even former players who are analysts and writers look at his 9.0 ppg career average and consider him an average role player. As Schultz would say, “they know nothing”!!
It’s this and the fact that I don’t have a point guard in the Damn Lies league averaging more than 4.0 assists per game that keep me scratching the walls at night. But I digress as for the first time in my memory, fearless leader David Stern scheduled a pair of games on Thanksgiving night.
Let’s start with the Magic rebounding from a difficult home loss to the intrastate Wades on Wednesday by thrashing the potent Hawks in Atlanta, 93-76. Dwight Howard obviously adorned his Superman Underoos in this one, finishing with 22 points, 17 rebounds and 4 blocked shots, reminiscent of a typical statline for me in Puff Basketball in the late 70s. With Howard dominating, Vince Carter, in Carter fashion, led the team in shot attempts (18) and registered with 21 points and 9 boards. Rashard Lewis posted a mediocre 14 and 5 and Jason Williams followed Wednesday’s impressive 25-point outing with a vintage Zilch, Zilch and 3.
Regardless of how good or bad the Hawks do, Josh Smith remains a monster, recording 13 points, 13 rebounds, a steal and a block. Joe Johnson added 22 points, 7 boards and 3 steals, and Al Horford shot just 1-for-9 from the field and finished with a miserable 2 points and 9 caroms.
The Jazz gave thanks to the Bulls for playing absolutely no defense in their 105-86 whooping in Mormon country. Carlos Boozer staged one of the better performance by anyone this season totaling 28 points (12-14 fg) and added 8 boards, 5 assists and an uncharacteristic 3 blocks. He was supported by the equally hot-shooting Deron Williams (21 pts, 6 ast, 9-11 fg) and Ronnie Brewer (15 pts, 6 ast).
The Bulls were led by Luol Deng‘s 26 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals. Derrick Rose notched 19 points and a lousy 2 assists.
Lou Williams is out eight weeks with a broken jaw. Ouch. It has to be hard to eat with an injury like that. Time to take the family on a Jrue Holiday.