It's still the pre-season, but it's getting close people. The NBA season will kick off on Tuesday (Oct. 28th), and I'm looking forward to that. I'll cover some of the pre-season games just to get a look at how this season should shape out. There were 9 games last night, let's take a look.
Cleveland @ Philadelphia - LeBron was very efficient as he led the Cavaliers to a win against the Sixers, 91-83. He only played 25 minutes but looked like King James. I am not sure that I like Mo Williams starting for this team. For continuity sake, I gotta give that job to Boobie Gibson. He played well off the bench with 17 points (6 of 9 from the floor and 3 of 5 from deep). I know the Sixers are working on chemistry, but it's not quite there yet. Those pre-season polls with them being 2 or 3 in the East may start looking like a bad guess.
Miami @ Memphis - I guess OJ Mayo hasn't met a shot that he doesn't like. All I can say is that any team that is starting Quinton Ross (only because Rudy Gay has staph) that doesn't have a Kobe or a LeBron starting alongside him is in for a long season. Miami looked good with balanced scoring from their starting five, but they are very limited when it comes to their bench, partly because of injuries, but also because of talent. Miami was able to outlast the Grizz for the win 102-85.
Boston @ New York Knicks - Mike D'Antoni went small ball with Marbury, Duhon, and Robinson starting, with David Lee at center. That doesn't even sound like a feasible lineup when the Knicks, as a team, shot 30% in the first half and trailed 34-58. Boston killed them on the boards, even with Paul Pierce going 0-7. Nate Robinson and Marbury led the Knicks with 25 and 14 points respectively. D'Antoni was sending a message to former Bull (and soon to be former Knick) Eddy Curry by giving him a DNP. Boston won 101-90, although the score was not indicative of the closeness of the game.
Indiana @ New Orleans - This game was close throughout, but it's hard to sit and watch Chris Paul play and wonder how good this guy will be. He's good now, but he can get better. I'm giving him an early vote for MVP this year with his 23pts, 15 ast, 5 rebs, and 3 stl performance. The Hornets bench is still short, but this guy is fun to watch. The Hornets edged out the Pacers 101-96.
Chicago @ Dallas - The Bulls had been languishing through the pre-season with injuries and bad play, mostly attributed to a new playbook and unfamiliarity. Last night was a coming out party. Derrick Rose (I hate all of the adjectives describing him because his last name is Rose, i.e. blossomed, bloomed, etc.) played like the player that the Bulls envisioned when they selected him #2 in the draft. Rose came off the bench for an ineffective Kirk Hinrich and gave the Mavericks' crowd a jaw dropping 30 points and 7 assists, while bringing the Bulls from behind to win the game. He did it all with short jumpers, floaters, and even a finish at the rim. If he can play within the system like this the entire year, this could help the Bulls push towards that 8th spot in the East. The other thing to be happy about was that Andres Nocioni actually played well. Bulls won 109-105.
Denver @ Toronto - J.R. Smith picked up where he left off late last season by getting hot and going for 22 points off the bench. The Raptors really treated this as a pre-season game as they kind of cruised throughout. A sign of life from Andrea Bargnani (19pts, 7 rebs, and 3 blks) probably made this loss somewhat appealing. Denver won 105-94.
Charlotte @ Los Angeles Lakers - The game was close, but probably more due to Kobe's injury than the play of either team. Kobe hyper extended his knee when coming down for a rebound and never returned to the game. The Lakers were led by Jordan Farmar (17 pts, 4 ast) and Andrew Bynum (16pts, 8 rebs, 5 asts, 2 stls, and 3 blks). Bynum looked especially active and we all know he's playing for a contract, so this will probably translate into the regular season. The starting frontcourt of the Bobcats (Okafor, May, and Dudley) got 9 pts and 10 rebs collectively. The Lakers won 102-98.
Lietuvos Rytas @ Golden State - This reminded most of the old ABA days (score), without the short shorts. DeMarcus Nelson got a start at PG and played 19 minutes, while getting 11 pts and 8 rebs. Not bad. The rest of the Warriors led a balanced attack against LR and the Warriors ended up winning 126-106. Chuck Eidson (LR) abused any and all comers with a game tying high of 28 points (Stephen Jackson had 28 also).
Phoenix @ Los Angeles Clippers - The Clippers looked horriawful. They actually only scored 25 points in the second half. Amare Stoudamire led the Suns with 21 points and 7 boards as the Suns coasted to victory 86-69.