Watching Both Ends of the West's Playoff Pic

A Daily Babble Production

If there's one thing to be said for ABC's Sunday NBA coverage (besides the fact that it usually features Breen and Van Gundy in the booth), it's that the programming folks at Disney have done an excellent job with the match-ups.  There is at least one Western Conference game if not two nearly every week (let's face it, folks, it's better basketball), and the Eastern Conference teams that are involved are fairly marquee.

So it shouldn't have come as any surprise when I checked the schedule at about three o'clock Sunday morning to find that the Hornets and Warriors -- the team at the top and one tied at the bottom of the West's playoff picture -- would be gracing my Sunday afternoon experience.  With one team playing for a top seed and the other for its playoff life, the time seems ripe to break back out the bullet points for another edition of the Babblings.

  • Tyson Chandler gets a lot of love (some from yours truly) for becoming something of a defensive beast over the last couple of years, especially over the nearly two seasons he has spent in New Orleans.  This was not the case yesterday.  Yes, Chandler got his requisite 12 rebounds, but as we are sometimes stat-isfied into forgetting, rebounds don't equate to actually playing defense.  For the most part, this guy could not be bothered.  He wasn't interested in preventing the immortal Andris Biedrins from having his way around the rim, and that was the best of it.  Rotating on the Golden State slashers?  Forget it.  Monta Ellis coasted inside at will, and Baron Davis and Al Harrington each got into the interior for a couple of easy buckets as well without Chandler's presence playing a role in altering their course.  Particularly egregious was Chandler deciding to completely walk off a play in order to avoid a second early foul when he was the only guy back to stop a layup from the Baron on the fast break in the first quarter.  This will have to be monitored more carefully, especially come playoff time.  Here's hoping this isn't the sort of 'effort' Chandler will be giving on any sort of regular basis.

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  • I love Monta.  Can't get enough of this guy.  I can't stress this enough.  The man is absolutely incredible at what he does.  The quickness up and down the floor, the elusiveness, the ability to change direction in the air, the way the 177-pounder can absorb contact and finish anyway: It's an absolute joy to watch this guy tear up opposing defenses.  He went 17-for-26 for 35 points, and the only reason the percentage was that low was because he insisted on taking a couple of shots from deep, an area from which he typically doesn't connect.  For a guy who has been alleged by some to do "nothing but score," the 10 rebounds yesterday didn't hurt either.  If he can increase his shooting range at all over the next couple of seasons (he's only 23 and already coming off of one Most Improved Player award), it's going to be extremely difficult to see people stopping this guy on a regular basis.  Probably one of my top ten players to watch in this league.
  • Baron Davis shot a less-than-impressive 8-for-22 from the field, but that goofy-looking, off-balance step-back jumper that he employs is really money.  Wouldn't want him taking that against me to decide a game.  But we Celts fans already know that all too well.
  • A tale of one quarter and one half for Jannero Pargo:  5-for-7 for 15 points in the second quarter, 0-for-5 for zilch for the second half.  But he gave the Hornets a big energy spark when they needed it to start the second quarter, and his 15 points, 7 assists and game-high plus-23 all look pretty good.  Easy to see why they like this guy in N'Awlins.
  • David West: mid-range jump shooter extraordinaire.
  • Confusing day for Andris Biedrins.  He looked to be in rare form with 11 first-quarter points, and he wound up finishing with a very respectable 17 points (7-for-10 shooting) and 15 boards, particularly for a guy who averages 10 and 9 respectively.  But like his counterpart in the middle for New Orleans, he spent the second half completely mailing it in on the defensive end.  The Hornets did whatever they wanted, and while the Warriors tend to be putrid as a unit on that end, Biedrins was definitively not interested in helping make stops in the paint.  This led to no shortage of lay-ups, which led to the Warriors having to collapse more on penetrators, which led to more kick-outs for open jumpers.  See David West's 12-for-18 performance (largely from 15 to 18 feet) for details.
  • It was a quiet triple-double for Chris Paul, who finished with 16 points, 10 boards and 13 assists.  He really seemed out of it in the first half, shooting poorly from the field and not penetrating with any particular panache.  But by the midst of the fourth quarter, he had the triple-double and seemed to suddenly be getting in the lane and drawing multiple defenders every time down the floor, and the results showed for the Hornets.  As always with CP3, fans were treated to the lesson for the day that there is quick, and then there is Chris Paul quick.  For whatever reason, on one particular play in the middle of the third quarter, Paul corralled a defensive rebound deep in the back-court and decided that he was going to make quick work of the following possession.  A blink of an eye -- and a dead sprint past everybody on the floor -- later, Paul was already jogging back on defense, and the Dubs were taking the ball out of the basket.  Baron Davis doesn't have a chance to keep up with this guy when he decides he is going to sprint.
  • One more CP3 note, and we're out of here for the day: This guy might make me reverse field on the issue of miking these players and coaches during the game.  This particular individual needs to be miked at all times, which is a conclusion I've come to courtesy of two wonderful clips delivered by ABC yesterday.  The first featured Paul during the timeout between the third and fourth quarters begging coach Byron Scott to forgo his usual decision of resting Paul for the first couple of minutes of the fourth: "I'm getting on a roll, coach, I promise.  I don't need a rest.  I promise I'll come out if I do.  Let me do this; I swear I'll come out if I need it."  It went on and on.  All with a huge smile on his face.  Even more enjoyably, Scott wore an ear-to-ear grin as well, something in the "How did I manage to stumble into Jason Kidd and this guy in the same decade?" range.  Meanwhile, by the midst of the fourth, Paul was no longer campaigning for himself but for his 'mates to get back on the floor: "They're in zone, man!" he exclaimed to an assistant.  "We need shooters.  C'mon, man!  We gotta get D-West and Peja back in there against their zone."  Never in a bossy or impudent manner, always with the boyish charm of the 22-year-old lover of this game he is.  It's just an incredible pleasure to think about this guy (and Deron Williams) running the show at point guard in this league for the next decade and a half, and the sound bites are just one more reason why.
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