Quick Hitter

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A quick post before I’m on my way today–Thanksgiving’s rapidly approaching and there’s much to be done to prepare my sanity for an eight hour family road trip to the wonderful city of Montreal (yeah, to Canada for Thanksgiving–an American holiday… and you wonder why I’m the way I am).

First off, lets address the topic of streaks. The Patriots definitively proved that they are much better streakers than the Celtics yesterday. I’m glad the Celtics lost. Here, I’ll type that slower so you can really get its full impact. I A-M G-L-A-D T-H-E C-E-L-T-I-C-S L-O-S-T. This isn’t D1 football: losing one game (or, I suppose, two this year) doesn’t end your season. The C’s have looked lethargic for good chunks of quarters over the last three games–the loss just reinforces the fact that there is work left to be done. If there is one area that Boston needs improvement in, it’s their execution. Execution, execution, execution (now write that 497 more times on the black board, Doc). Tune in a few paragraphs later for a longer Celtics rant.

As for the better streakers, they are the single most indescribable team I have ever seen in my life. You know why? Because the Patriots play nearly flawless football at all times, yet they are hungrier than Dwight Howard in the weight room (if you really get that joke, I commend you, for you are a true hoops junkie). I’ll leave this paragraph now before I start using gushy clichĂ©s.

Now to the first paragraph written about the Lakers in 5 months that doesn’t mention number 24.

When I have a child one day (years from now), I want my child to grow up idolizing Luke Walton. Seriously. He’s starting to reach that point in his career where he’s becoming a true NBA player, almost a veteran in a sense. Here’s what I mean. Once good NBA players have reached a certain level of familiarity in the league, they start adapting to the level of play, start finding ways to exploit the level of play. It’s kind of like playing a video game over and over: you start to realize there are certain quirky, unexpected things you can do that give you a marked advantage in the game (if your name is Josef Woldense, you know EXACTLY what I mean). They’re a glitch, either an oversight or an unexpected outcome that went overlooked by the game creators. Well, Walton is starting to find them. For example, the between the legs pass. The only other person I can think of who purposely threw that pass on a semi-consistent basis is Mark Price. As anyone who watches SportsCenter knows, Walton has thrown three this year, two through defenders legs, one through his own (see play number 7).

Why does this make Walton a veteran player? Because he is finding the absolute best pass to make in the given situation. Walton is exploiting the way NBA defenders (all defenders for that matter) are playing and utilizing the passing lane presented to him.

Some would label this show boating, but he’s not show-boating at all. At worst he’s funneling joy, but not at the expense of results. How often do you see Walton turn the ball over trying to make a highlight reel pass? I can’t think of many instances, and I watched nearly every Lakers home game last season. Yet he ranks right up there with the best passers in the league, making plenty of difficult passes on a gamely basis. His feel for the game leads to the passes, not the desire to wow.

Luke’s not quick, not fast, not overly athletic, not a dead-eye shooter, but he most certainly is the key to Lakers. There are times when, for a brief moment, he does something to remind me of Larry Bird. The between the legs pass was one of them.

And now back to the promised Celtics rant.

I said earlier that I’m glad the Celtics lost. It’s a true story. I’m not glad that they lost stupidly though. Paul Pierce, this one goes out to you:

If you’re down by 2 with the ball at half court and 5+ seconds on the clock, GO TO THE #*&!@*% RIM! This is coming from someone who remarked your free-throw stroke is so inconsistent that at the end of game’s I’m down-right petrified with you on the line. But you and I both know that you are gifted with the ability to draw fouls. Get into the lane, get Howard in the air (you know he’s going to try and block your shot), get fouled, possibly get a three point play. At least make progress toward the hoop before taking your patented game-winning pull-up (exhibits A and B). Settling for a fading three pointer with 4 ticks on the clock and a hand in your face is plain stupid. In a year where I’ve been in countless conversations about how you have suddenly emerged as a savvy veteran, looking like a more complete player than I every imagined you could, this is a step backward. You’re better than that. And we all know it.

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