Archive for May, 2009

WATERCOOLER CHAT: NBA PLAYOFF UPDATE

What a weekend in the NBA.

First off, the Dallas Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets played a doozy.  The game was neck and neck the whole way, with masterful performances from Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony, and Dirk Nowitzki.  But the true highlight came at the very end of the game.  The Mavericks Antoine Wright intentionally fouled Carmelo Anthony by bumping him.  It was clearly a move to stop the clock, and Wright literally stopped playing defense thinking the ref would blow the whistle.  But no call, and Carmelo Anthony keeps playing, takes a jump shot and hit the game winner.  This was very controversial as Wright couldn’t believe they didn’t make that call.  Even the NBA, after reviewing the call, said it was a foul.  It resulted in the Mavs losing and giving the Nuggets a 3-1 lead in the series.  Denver 106, Dallas 105.

And on Sunday, the Rockets received some bad news.  They have been giving LA a lot of trouble, but it turns out that their star center, Yao Ming, is out for the remainder of the playoffs.  This is a HUGE loss for the Rockets, and they would have to try and get it done against Kobe and the Lakers without their star big man.  Well… the Rockets came out to PLAY.  They looked fantastic, a total cohesive unit out there.  They even opened up a 20 point lead on the Lakers to start the game.  Their point guard, Aaron Brooks, was the hero with 34 points.  Meanwhile, Kobe turned in a pretty pitiful performance, scoing only 15 points.  Now, the series head back to LA, tied at 2 games a piece.  Houston 99, Los Angeles 87.

And last night, another thriller for the Boston Celtics.  It was Game 4 in Orlando, and this series is turning out to be as good as the Boston/Chicago series in Round 1.  Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard were the stars for the Magic, scoring 22 and 23 respectively.  But the real hero of the night was an unlikely fellow.  It was the Celtics Glen “Big Baby” Davis.  He hit two clutch jumpers in the last minute of the game, and one of those jumpers was a buzzer beater.  Given the Celts have Allen, Pierce, and Rondo to hit game-winners, it was terrific to see a hard worker like Glen Davis get his moment in the sun.  The series now heads back to Boston, tied at 2.  Boston 95, Orlando 94.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: NBA UPDATE, MANNY TESTED POSITIVE, FAVRE RETIRED

NBA

The NBA Playoffs weren’t pretty last night.  There was only one game in action, but it wasn’t exactly good entertainment for basketball fans.  The Atlanta Hawks took on Cleveland on their homecourt for Game 2, and the Cavs have only lost one game at home.  Could the Hawks level the series?  Nope.  LeBron scored 27 on the night, but he didn’t have to work very hard.  The Cavs were up by 30 points in the 4th quarter, and decided to bench their entire starting line-up to give the little guys a chance.  Even the Cavs 12th man, Tarence Kinsey played 2 minutes.  The Cavs simply annhilated Atlanta, and if the Hawks don’t win Game 3 on their home floor — they’re done.  Cleveland 105, Atlanta 85.

In some other bizarre NBA news, Dallas Mavericks superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, has publicly stated that he’s going through some serious issues in his personal life, but that won’t affect his play.  “This team knows I’m a warrior”, he said.  His personal trouble comes in the form of Crystal Taylor, a woman who was arrested at his home.  Nowitzki’s lawyers hired a private investigator to research Taylor’s background, and it appears that there was a warrant for her arrest.  And she has used many aliases in the past.  The details don’t range too far beyond that, but perhaps some more developments will be released in the coming days.

MLB

Manny Ramirez.JPGAnd in baseball, some MAJOR news.  It turns out that Manny Ramirez, the Los Angeles Dodger slugger, has tested positive for drugs.  His punishment:  50 game suspension. This is a HUGE deal, as it is a major blow to the Dodgers offense, but more importantly, they just signed Manny to a gigantic contract this off-season so he could help them win and attract fans.  Their goal was to sell-out Dodger stadium, and now, that could be a problem.  This also puts a serious thorn in the Dodgers 2009 World Series plan.

NFL

Finally, it looks like all this Brett Favre off-season drama is over.  Thank goodness.  Last year, this dragged on for months.  This year, just a few days.  Supposedly, Favre was interested in playing for the Minnesota Vikings.  The Vikings took interest, and their head coach, Brad Childress, went to see Favre at his home in Mississippi.  Well, it turns out this was primarily media fluff, as Favre publicly stated, ‘I’m retired.  Thanks but no thanks’.  And that puts an end to both Favre’s career (for now), and also about 50% of sports radio talk around the country.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: REVENGE NIGHT IN THE NBA PLAYOFFS

NBA

First up, it was Game 2 between the Celtics and the Magic.  The Magic stole Game 1 against an exhausted Celtics team, and the Celtics looked to bounce back and show the Magic who’s boss.  Paul Pierce had a horrible game, scoring only 3 points and sitting on the bench due to foul trouble. Ray Allen had a nice game with 22 points.  Rondo even had a triple double for the Celts.  But the real hero of the night was the Celtics’ Eddie House.  He came off the bench in place of Paul Pierce, went 4 for 4 from 3-point land, and finished with an electric 32 points.  Now the series is tied at 1 game a piece as it heads back to Orlando for Game 3.  Boston 112, Orlando 94.

Kobe BryantNext up, it was Kobe and the Lakers looking to not only level the series with the Rockets, but try and prove to both the Rockets (and Laker fans) that they are VERY serious about winning a championship this year.  Game 1 looked like they had forgotten how to play basketball.  Well, as usual, the Rockets were no slouch, and just wouldn’t go away in the first half.  2 players were even ejected in this game.  Ron Artest for the Rockets, and Derek Fisher for the Lakers.  So what did the Lakers do in the second half?  Answer:  Kobe Bryant.  Sure, it doesn’t make grammatical sense, but just look at it:  Kobe exploded for 40 points, and carried the Lakeshow on his back in the second half.  Lakers win Game 2, and balance the series headed back to Houston.  LA Lakers 112, Houston 94.

SOCCER

Finally, some more soccer news, as it was the other half of the European Championship League.  Without going into too much detail, this is the equivalent of, say, the NFC Championship in football here, because of the fervent passion that Europe has for their soccer.  The game featured two of the best teams in the world:  Barcelona & Chelsea (in England).  Chelsea scored early, and though they would advance to the championship, but in, literally, the final minute Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta booted a miracle goal to send Barcelona to the championship.  They will take on the illustrious Manchester United in the Championship game on May 27th.  It was an incredible game!  And if you’re worried about being able to see it, fear not, it will be aired on ESPN 2.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: RED HOT HAWKS AND NUGGETS, FAVRE NEVER QUITS

NBA Playoffs

It was the pseudo-debut of the crowned NBA MVP, LeBron James.  After a long rest from sweeping the Detroit Pistons, LeBron and the Cavs were ready to get back into action against the Atlanta Hawks.  Even LeBron said in an interview, “We were tired of playing against each other.  We NEED to play somebody”.  Well, the Hawks came to play, even jumping out to an early 1st quarter lead.  Atlanta’s Power Forward Josh Smith came strong, finishing with 22 on the night.  But, the MVP was just too much for the overwhelmed Hawks.  LeBron dominated with 34 points and 10 rebounds.  Atlanta will try and steal one from Cleveland in Game 2, but it’s unlikely.  Cleveland 99, Atlanta 72.

And you might not believe this, but the hot team in the Western Conference right now isn’t the Los Angeles Lakers.  It’s the #2 seed Denver Nuggets.  They have been incredible in these playoffs, and that didn’t stop last night in Game 2 vs. Dallas.  Dirk Nowitzki did his thing, putting up 35 points, but this game belonged to Denver.  They look amazing, with both Nene and Carmelo Anthony scoring 25 points a piece.  Meanwhile, the Lakers are down 1-0, and suddenly, everyone who thought LA was a guaranteed lock for the championship must think again.  The Western Conference representative looks fuzzy.  And this is great thing for fans, as nothing is predictable anymore.  Denver 117, Dallas 105.

SOCCER

In some rare soccer news, Manchester United (the equivalent of the New York Yankees in England) won their semi-final match against Arsenal in the Champions League.  The game was won off a beautiful 40-yard kick towards the end of the game to cinch the victory and send Manchester United to the final where they will face either Barcelona or Chelsea.  For those of you who don’t know, the Champions League is the best of best of European football.  Only the very top teams from each country’s leagues are invited to compete, and winning this thing is even bigger than the Super Bowl in the United States.

NFL

Brett FavreAnd, guess what, we might be in for some more Brett Favre drama this off-season.  Last year, he retired, then wanted to come back, the Packers wouldn’t let him, so he went to the Jets.  In this off-season, he quietly retired from the Jets, and now, suddenly, he wants to play for Minnesota.  Wow — this guy has no quit.  However, there won’t be any “What team will he play for” controversy, as Favre supposedly told the Jets coach, “I’m retiring, and if I play anywhere, it will only be in Minnesota (presumably because it’s the closest franchise to his home).  Oddly enough, even though Favre is in his twilight years, he did have a very nice season with the Jets.  If he joined Minnesota, it actually makes them a better team on paper, as their current starting QB, Tavarias Jackson, is NOT a good passer.  Plus, with the addition of Percy Harvin, Favre would have a downfield threat to throw to.  This could get very interesting, especially because Packers fans absolutely hate Minnesota.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: 2ND ROUND NBA RESULTS, 2 HAT TRICKS

NBA

Two second round series tipped off last night in the NBA playoffs, and both games had surprising results.

First up, it was the #3 Orlando Magic heading to the Garden to take on the Boston Celtics. Boston just finished a 7-game Herculean effort against the Chicago Bulls, and, needless to say, weren’t exactly in top physical shape just 2 nights after playing their last game.  The Magic however have been somewhat well rested, as their series against the 76ers only took 6 games.  Well, the Magic came out swinging, and they definitely landed some punches, pulling out to a big early lead.  Paul Pierce did what he could for the Celtics, putting up 23 points, but the evenly distributed scoring of the Magic was just too much for Boston, and Orlando stole game one on Boston’s floor.  Orlando 95, Boston 90.

Next up, it was the much anticipated return of the Western Conference’s #1 seed:  The Los Angeles Lakers.  However, while they mopped the floor with the Utah Jazz in the first round, the Houston Rockets are a far more competitive matchup.  Houston led at the half, and seemed to have the Lakers number last night.  Yao Ming had 28 points and 10 rebounds, and was finally the presence that Houston had been hoping for for the past decade (It must have been the Olympics).  Kobe Bryant did his thing, scoring 32 points, but it just wasn’t enough to get by a red-hot Houston team.  Wow!  Who would have thought that the Rockets could come into Kobe’s house and steal game 1.  Houston 100, Los Angeles 92.

LeBron JamesMost notably about LA’s loss was that Kobe Bryant wasn’t able to prevent it.  Many thought that Kobe would be an absolute mad man last night. Why?  Because he lost the MVP vote by an overwhelming degree.  That’s right, LeBron James was officially dubbed the league’s Most Valuable Player yesterday in Akron, Ohio.  This is the first MVP award for LeBron, and with it, he becomes the 3rd youngest player ever to win the award.  He led his team to a #1 seed this year, and has played freakishly well this season.  His team is definitely primed to play in this year’s championship game.  Congrats LeBron.

NHL

And finally, in a memorable hockey night, the Washington Capitals took on the Pittsburgh Penguins.  This was a battle between two of the games best players:  The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby.  Well, what made this game special is that both players scored goals.  Not 1, not 2, but 3 GOALS EACH!!!  This is called a “Hat Trick” (when one player scores 3 goals in a game), and it is EXTREMELY RARE.  So, in a playoff game, to see two of the league’s best players nab Hat Tricks in the same game.  That’s a true gem.  In fact, it has never happened before in Stanley Cup History.  With that said, it was Ovechkin’s Hat Trick that gave Washington the secure lead they needed to hold on and win the game.  Washington 4, Pittsburgh 3.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: MIND THAT BIRD WINS THE DERBY, NBA UPDATE

What a weekend in sports:

KENTUCKY DERBY

Mind that BirdThe weekend of The Kentucky Derby.  This event is like a week-long Mardi Gras for Louisville, as people from all over the country come for the festivities (including a hefty amount of celebrities).  Well, if you were a long-shot gambler, then Saturday was YOUR day.  The winning horse:  MINE THAT BIRD — a 50-1 shot.  Usually one of the top 3 horses wins the race, but Mine That Bird was a huge reach.  In fact, apparently, Mine That Bird was the most inconceivable winner in the 135-year history of the Kentucky Derby.  Needless to say, a few people got rich on Saturday afternoon (very very VERY few).

NBA

So it looks like we have some incredible second round action to look forward to in the NBA.  Surprisingly, it’s turned into an immensely exciting post-season.
The Main Event was easily Game 7 between the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics.  Many feel that this is the best first-round series ever played.  5 out of the first 6 games were decided by 3 points or less, and usually in OT and with some buzzer beaters.  It’s been nothing short of insane.  Well, Game 7 didn’t disappoint.  It didn’t provide a buzzer beater, or any overtimes for that matter, but it was still exciting up until the very end.  Ben Gordon was once again a sharpshooter for the Bulls, posting 33 points.  But the veterans Ray Allen & Paul Pierce got the job done for Boston, combining for 43 points and cinching the Celtics victory.  What a fantastic series!  Now the Celtics will face the Orlando Magic in Game 2.  That should be terrific as well.  Boston 109, Chicago 109.

Then, on Sunday, it was time for yet another Game 7 in the NBA.  The Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat have quietly reached a Game 7 (Boston/Chicago stole all the headlines).  The reason nobody really mentioned it was because each game was a blowout.  Unlike Celtics/Bulls, every game was anything but dramatic.  First the Hawks blew out the Heat, and then the Heat crushed the Hawks, and they continued this dull volley.  Well, that pattern didn’t change on Sunday, as the Hawks once again easily took care of the Heat.  Joe Johnson led the way for the Hawks with 27 points, and now Atlanta gets the gift of playing LeBron James and the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers.  Many are predicting another sweep for the Cavs, who are almost unstoppable at home.  Atlanta 91, Miami 78.

And finally, the SECOND ROUND of the NBA Playoffs kicked off Sunday afternoon, with a much anticipated match-up between the Dallas Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets.  The Mavericks are jelling right now, coming off an upset beatdown of the San Antonio Spurs.  However, the Nuggets were ready for them, as this Denver team actually feels it has a chance to get to the Championship.  They are serious, and have no intention of lying down for the Mavs or Lakers.  Nene and Carmelo Anthony were the heroes of the day for the Nugs, scoring 24 and 23 respectively.  But, beware, this series is expected to go the full 7 games.  Denver 109, Dallas 95.

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WATERCOOLER CHAT: TRIPLE OVERTIME FOR BULLS/CELTS, ROCKETS IN 2ND ROUND

NBA

In the NBA, there was an absolute thriller in Chicago, as the Bulls looked to stave off the Celtics and force a Game 7.  They had a decent lead in the 4th quarter, but the Celtic sharpshooters keep getting the best of the Bulls when it counts.  Because of the Celtics shooting, this game went into TRIPLE-OVERTIME.  And in the second OT, it looked like the Bulls might win, but Ray Allen hit two, insane, OFF-BALANCE shots to send the game into the third OT.  Allen finished the game with 51 POINTS!!!

Derrick RoseBut the Bulls wouldn’t back down, and even though the Celtics had the ball with just over 30 seconds left, it was Joakim Noah who stole the ball on a deflected pass, and on pure adrenaline, slammed it home and drew the foul.  The Celtics had one last chance, and this time it was Rajon Rondo doing the shooting, but… it was BLOCKED and stolen by the Rookie of The Year, Derrick Rose. Wow!!!  And the Bulls went on to win this thoroughly entertaining game.  This brings us to a Game 7 on Saturday that should be a dogfight.  Chicago 128, Boston 127.

Elsewhere in the NBA, the Orlando Magic took on the Philadelphia 76ers without their all-star big man, Dwight Howard. Howard was suspended one game for elbowing Philly’s Samuel Dalembert in the last game.  And he watched the game from a hotel, eating “pizza, french fries, and buffalo wings”.  Not a bad dining night for Dwight Howard.  Well, he got quite a show from his team, as they steamrolled over the Sixers.  Rashard Lewis caught fire with 29 points, and the Magic advance to round two where they will meet the winner of the Boston/Chicago series.  Orlando 115, Philadelphia 89.

And finally, the Rockets were looking to break their streak of never making it to the second round in the Yao era.  They hoped to knock off Portland in Houston and just be done with it.  Well, their fans showed up and ignited a red-hot Houston team.  LaMarcus Aldridge had a great night for the Blazers with 26 points, but the night belonged to Ron Artest and the Rockets.  Artest had 27 points for the Rockets, and Houston finally broke their streak.  More notably, they did it without Tracy McGrady.  Seems like they’re better with him on the bench.  They now get the privilege of facing the top seed Los Angeles Lakers.  Houston 92, Portland 76.

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