One of the sweetest things about sports is the clichés. Halftime at the Verizon Center everyone was milling around muttering to their friends about how the Wizards had no intensity and Gilbert needed to step up. Then we were talking to total strangers about how the Wizards needed to play with more intensity and moaning that Gilbert wasn't stepping up. Then play resumed, the Wizards had more intensity, and in the third quarter, Gilbert stepped up, and the Wiz won! Sweet. Also -- crucial famous-for-DC sightings of William Cohen, Tim Russert, and Ron Brownstein.
I never really believed that the NFL Draft was televised live on ESPN until I saw about ten minutes of it with my own eyes. It just sounded like absolutely terrible television. And it turns out to be . . . absolutely terrible television. How anyone could possibly be sufficiently into football to want to watch that baffles me. To each his own I suppose, but it's really a bizarre idea.
Pacers run in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter, on the other hand: Thrilling. The refs should blatantly cheat in favor of teams at risk of getting blown out all the time. Like the "computer assistance" feature on NBA Jam.
UPDATE: Howard remarks, "no offense, matthew, but they've been broadcasting the draft for at least 25 years or so now: where have you been?" I've been not watching it; I thought that was clear. It sounded boring. Then, this year, I decided to check it out and it was boring.
A Bad Night
Tough losses for all three of the teams I was supporting tonight. Being on hand to see the Wizards lose a game in which the Cavs held a lead for maybe two minutes total (of course it's not how many minutes you hold the lead for, but which minutes) is, of course, especially disappointing. Arenas is going to have to try to add "hitting the big shots" to the Gilbertology arsenal. I note, in addition, that at one point in the fourth quarter he was shooting free throws and substantial portion of the crowd failed to observe the traditional "shut up while your guy is shooting" rule, then Gilbert missed the shot and Antonio Daniels motioned for everyone to quiet down. Since life was made for second-guessing, I think it was a mistake on Eddie Jordan's part to keep Brendan Haywood on the bench once Big Z fouled out. The point of benching Brendan once he picked up his fifth seemed to be to save him to defend Ilgauskas late in the game if necessary. But with Z gone, there was nothing to save him for and it would have been worth trying to take advantage of Cleveland's reduced size.
Meanwhile, there's something downright creepy about the new, team-oriented Kobe. Obviously, enhanced maturity is a good thing. But if Kobe really wanted to be team-oriented, it was in his power at one time to have Shaq as a teammate.
Quorum of Twelve
As we know, on Battlestar: Galactica there's an ill-defined political institution known as the "Quorum of Twelve." Unbeknownst to me, this is a real institution of the LDS Church. If one is so inclined, one can apparently spin paranoid fantasies out of this factoid.
The Notorious Bettie Page
Mary Harron, or so it seems to me, can do no wrong. The basic idea of the film is as a celebration of . . . the moral virtues of the pornography industry. The porn is rather tame by contemporary standards but, even that aside, draped in a kind of innocence. Outside the porn world, everyone -- fathers, senators, random men on the street, legit movie producers, boyfriends, acting teachers -- is terrible, but the dirty pictures business if full of stand up people. This, though subversive, would be subversive in a boringly cliché way of its own except for the fact that hard-core Baptist Christianity proves itself to be the other positive force in the world and somehow the two go together perfectly.
I'm a Nice Guy, I Swear!
Was just walking home past the proverbial crime scene and there was a woman standing by the fence checking the situation at (there's nothing to see). She saw me walking up the block and began to literally run away. I'm seriously not very scary-looking.
Apparently, someone was shot and killed at 6AM this morning directly across the street from my house and I didn't hear a thing. Did wonder what the cops and local news people were doing on the block when I left to go to work.
Woo! What a game. You don't see the 'Zards involved in a lot of bruising defensive struggles -- it was kind of like old times watching the Knicks, especially with Jeff Van Gundy on hand for commentary. This, it should be said, pretty much cut against everything I've been saying. It was possible to seriously contain King James, that was the key to victory. Worse (for me) Jared Jeffries proved he is a valuable defensive stopper and Antonio Daniels played like crap.
Duncan Versus Garnett
Since it's come up in comments, why not weigh in? I don't actually have an opinion on this, except to note that Garnett certainly looks better when you watch him play. I believe, however, in dogmatic adherence to the numbers. And the Duncan/Garnett comparison is an easy one to make, since they're exactly the same age and you can just toss KG's first two seasons out and do an apples to apples comparison.
Garnett's scoring (18.5, 20.8, 22.9, 22.0, 21.2, 23.0, 24.2, 22.2, and 21.8 ppg) has usually been somewhat worse than Duncan's (21.1, 21.7, 23.2, 22.2, 25.5, 23.2, 22.3, 20.3, and 18.6 ppg) though that's changed in the past two seasons. All else being equal, Garnett probably should score more than Duncan, since Duncan has much better teammates and therefore other options. The standard defense of a guy who scores slightly fewer points might be that he scores them more efficiently than the other guy. That's not the case here. Rather, Duncan's true shooting percentages (.577, .541, .555, .536, .576, .564, .534, .540, and .523) as compared to Garnett's (.527, .493, .545, .531, .536, .553, .547, .567, and .589) show essentially the same pattern -- Duncan was the more effective scorer for most of their careers, but Garnett's been better for the past couple of years.
In terms of rebound rate Garnett's numbers (13.9, 15.4, 17.1, 16.4, 17.8, 18.8, 20.1, 20.3, 19.6) started out worse than Duncan's (17.6, 16.4, 18.1, 17.8, 18.0, 19.0, 19.0, 19.4, 18.7) but, once again, have been better recently. Duncan's turnover ratios (13.9, 11.5, 12.0, 11.1, 11.0, 11.1, 10.0, 08.2, 10.6) are almost uniformly worse than Garnett's (9.7, 10.2, 11.3, 10.0, 10.2, 09.4, 08.7, 09.7, 09.5). Or, to just aggregate it all, you can look at PER, where, once again Duncan's numbers (22.8, 23.2, 24.8, 23.8, 27.0, 26.9, 27.1, 27.0, 23.1) were better for a while, but Garnett (20.4, 22.4, 23.6, 23.9, 23.8, 26.4, 29.4, 28.2, 26.8) has been superior in recent years.
In sum, then, most seasons that they've both been in the league, Duncan's been better. In another sense, Garnett's probably had a better career. He was a very good player for several seasons before Duncan turned pro. Then Duncan entered the league, was better, and stayed better as they both improved. But for the past two-three seasons, Garnett's been better. And they're both young enough to keep playing for a while, during which which time it seems reasonable to assume that KG will be superior. I don't really know which way is the right way to look at this, and, of course, it sort of depends on what happens in the future.
"Wizards Must Attack James". But why? Despite James' performance, the Cavs only scored 97 points, slightly below their 97.6 points per game average. Meanwhile, the Wizards, who average 101.7 ppg, only scored 86. The Washington defense was, by Wizards standards, pretty much fine. The offense was absurdly sub-standard.