New York, NY (Sports Network) - There was a "Brown-out" in Los Angeles, while
Big Apple basketball fans are basking in perfection. Those are just some of the
stories we look at as we take "The Pulse of the NBA."
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
The Lakers have dominated the NBA headlines since firing coach Mike Brown on
Friday, and then basically stunned the basketball world by naming Mike D'Antoni
as his successor over Phil Jackson
Here's my quick take on the whole situation:
Firing Mike Brown was the right move. Hiring him in the first place was the
Phil Jackson would've been the best choice. For those who say the triangle
offense would have taken too long to integrate and not taken enough advantage
of the skills of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, I say that I'll take the coach
with 11 championship rings and a guy smart enough to know that he can run the
triangle and take advantage of the pick-and-roll skills of Nash and Howard.
D'Antoni has a reputation of not being a good defensive coach. But he has
players who know how to play defense, and know that you don't win
championships by trying to outscore your opponents. The key will be how capable
they are of playing good defense with a defensive liability in Nash, a slower
Kobe Bryant and a bench with unathletic players like Steve Blake and
And speaking of the bench, it would be difficult for any coach to win a
championship with a really bad bench. The Lakers were last in bench scoring
last season at 20.5 points per game, and are next-to-last this season at 20.9
points. The additions of Jamison and Jodie Meeks were supposed to fortify the
second unit, but Jamison has been awful (3.6 ppg, 34.8 field-goal percentage)
and Meeks was buried on the bench under Brown. Blake, meanwhile, continues to
be a big reason why this bench is bad, and general manager Mitch Kupchak needs
to address this situation now, and D'Antoni would be wise to make Blake a
NEW YORK KNICKS
The Knicks are the league's only unbeaten time with a 4-0 record. It marks the
first time since the 1993-94 season, when they lost to the Houston Rockets in
the finals, that they won their first four games.
And for the first time in a really long time, they're giving a major defensive
effort with extremely good results.
The Knicks are ranked No. 1 in the league in opponents points allowed, giving
up just 87.5 points per game and are holding the opposition to a league-
best 40.7 field goal percentage.
But also keep in mind that two of their games came against the Philadelphia
76ers, who are without Andrew Bynum, and are averaging only 88.7 points per
game, and they beat a Mavericks team on Friday that was missing Dirk Nowitzki
and Shawn Marion.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the court, they're sharing the ball rather than
have Carmelo Anthony dominate it as has been the case in the past. Give a lot
of credit there to the starting backcourt of Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd. It
helps to have two point guards on the floor at the same time, and the pair has
combined to average 10.3 assists per game.
But some of the offensive success also can be attributed to the Knicks'
tremendous 3-point shooting. And it's very unlikely they'll be able to keep
this pace up. They're No. 2 in the league in 3-point field goal percentage,
hitting 43.6 percent of their shots from downtown, and they lead the NBA with
12.8 3-point field goals made and a whopping 29.3 attempts per game.
After playing three of their first four games at home, and three of those games
against undermanned teams, the Knicks will play three straight road games this
week, starting with the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, followed by back-to-back
games with the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies.
I think this week will give us a little better gauge of how good this team is.
Los Angeles Clippers
DeAndre Jordan is best known for his alley-oop dunks and shot-blocking ability,
but he's shown an improved low-post game which resulted in Jordan scoring at
least 20 points in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. The
fifth-year center had 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting in a home win over the San
Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, and the following night in a win in Portland, he
scored 21 points on 8-of-10 from the floor.
A number of his points came off a really nice jump hook he's developed, which
he can hit with either hand. Jordan leads the NBA in field goal percentage at
If he can become a consistent threat in the low post, it will open the game up
even more for the likes of Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford, and make the Clippers
that more dangerous.
There is a little bit of a silver lining in the dark cloud of the Pistons' 0-7
start and it goes by the name of rookie Andre Drummond.
The ninth overall pick, who was considered raw and a bit of a project, has
immediately stepped in and contributed some quality minutes off the bench.
The former Connecticut center, who is averaging 6.9 points, 5 rebounds and one
block in 16 minutes, had an eye-opening game in Saturday's loss in Oklahoma
City. Drummond had 22 points and eight rebounds in just 21 minutes, and just as
importantly, played very well in the second half after being paired with Greg
Monroe for the first time.
"When you have two guys like that, you have two big men guarding us and you
know how they get mixed up sometimes with picks and stuff like that," Monroe
said. "I was able to find him a couple of times with them mixed up and got a
couple easy buckets."
Despite the positive results with his two big men on the floor, coach Lawrence
Franks isn't in a rush to make the combination work.
"We've said it from day one with Andre, we're just not going to throw him to
the wolves," Frank said. "This is going to be a process and it has nothing to
do with the fact that we don't think it could work, but there's a build-up to
this. Because what you hate to do is throw it all out there, then have to go
all the way back. That one is tough to recover from mentally for many players.
"Not every game is going to be a masterpiece for him, and it shouldn't be.
"He's 19. But we've said this since the time we drafted him, we are not going
to rush this process."
At 6-foot-10, 270 pounds and off-the-charts athleticism, Drummond has the
physical tools to be a very high level player in this league. The key will be
how badly he wants to reach those heights and how much work he'll put in to get
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