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Effort will have to power Rockets
Game time: Spurs 92, Rockets 84Even though Houston played a gritty game and never quit, neither could it get over the hump mainly because of its offensive insufficiencies. Still, it was an extremely interesting contest, primarily because of Rich Adelman's substitutions. While Luis Scola played extremely well in the opening quarter scoring four points on four post-ups and six points on timely cuts and catches his pass work and his defense were inadequate. That's precisely why Scola logged only 27 total minutes and barely played at all in the second half.
Straight shootingHere's another list, this one devoted to incredibly talented players who have not lived up to their potential. BARON DAVIS is strong, quick, capable of playing lock-down defense and has a wide variety of killer offensive moves. He should be, if not the best point guard in the league, at least up there with Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Steve Nash. But Davis shot 37.7% last season, is shooting 37.9% so far this season and has a lifetime FG percentage of only 40.9. Despite these abysmal numbers, methinks his problem is mental and emotional rather than physical. MARCUS BANKS can do everything (and more) that a superior point guard is expected to do. Too bad he can neither work nor play well with others. ANDRAY BLATCHE is in his fifth NBA season, and only occasionally does he demonstrate his remarkable talent. Oh well, some players take longer than others to become responsible adults and some players never do get there. RICKY DAVIS has been with seven teams over the course of his 11-year career. That's because it's been easy to appreciate his considerable talent, but virtually impossible to convince Davis that he's not being paid to play one-on-five. MELVIN ELY doesn't always come to play, and instead of establishing himself as a starter, this career underachiever languishes at the end of the bench. CHRIS WILCOX see above. AMIR JOHNSON may someday evolve into an impact player, one who utilizes his maximum talents to the max. Or he may continue to be a project.
Vox populiHow good was Julius Erving? Habib, Ilorin, Nigeria Beyond good, Dr. J was great. Nobody was faster, quicker, had bigger hands, or was a better finisher whether on the move or on the drive. With the scarcity of quality big men in the ABA, Julius's incredible hops and hands also made him a dominating rebounder. Moreover, back then Julius played top-notch defense no matter whom he was guarding. I personally witnessed Julius locking up Dan Issel one night in Hampton Roads, VA. Plus, he could pass like a point guard, and with the lighter ABA ball was an adequate (32.2 percent) shooter from beyond the arc.
Travels with CharleyMy standard site for a first date was Chinatown so I'd at least be guaranteed to have some good eats. And with Susan, we seemed to have the possibility of a meaningful connection. So for our next date, I planned an excursion to the Palisades Amusement Park located in New Jersey just over the George Washington Bridge. I was anxious to make a good impression, so the day before escorting her there, I made a solitary scouting trip.
Naturally, I zeroed in on the basketball toss booth three shots for a dollar. But the game was rigged. There was a low-hanging net that permitted only line-drive shots. The rim was slightly smaller than normal, much tighter, and the front lip was higher than the back. Also, the backboard was slanted backwards, and the ball was oversized and over-inflated. If the ball so much as touched the rim, it would bounce awry. It took me two bucks to make adjustments and find the range. The first time I nailed 3-for-3, I won a 4-foot high stuffed teddy bear. In quick succession, I also won a huge stuffed penguin and a somewhat scary-looking stuffed owl all of which I presented to whatever kiddies happened to be in the vicinity. All right! I had it down! There was no way that Susan wouldn't be totally impressed. The next night, I confidently steered her over to the basketball toss, said, "Watch this" and proceeded to miss shot after shot. After spending $20, I had won two tiny plastic dinosaurs! What the hell was that all about? Anyway, several months later, Susan and I were married and we stayed married for a long time, even though it turned out that we really didn't like each other. One reason why "basketball marriages" last longer than they should is road trips! While our divorce proceedings were underway, I happened to flash back on that date at the amusement park. And it suddenly occurred to me that I had failed to recognize an obvious warning. Twenty dollars worth of misses, frustrations, and embarrassment ... How could I have missed the message? The ball never lies.