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NBA Update - Issue 10 (New York New York)


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NBA Update – Week 10 (New York, New York)

 

Welcome to the tenth edition of NBA Update, this week I will be looking at the Knicks, whilst profiling 76ers rookie Andre Iguodala. A review of the 76ers travelling to Minnesota is also included, as we head towards All-Star weekend in just a few weeks.

 

Rookie Profile – Andre Iguodala

 

Picked 7th in the 2004 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, Andre Iguodala is an extremely versatile player who has drawn comparisons to Scottie Pippen due to his playing style. He is an explosive athlete with tremendous passing ability and is continuously improving his perimeter shooting.

As a freshman at Arizona University Andre was averaging 6.4 points and 4.9 rebounds whilst playing an average of 19.2 minutes per game. He managed to stay close to the leaders of the team with his numbers, as he was second in steals (47) and third in both assists (66) and blocked shots (18). During a game against UCLA he hit a then career-high 18 points, and he reached double figures in scoring five times. At the end of Andre’s freshman year he was named to the Pacific-10 All Freshman team.

As a sophomore Andre didn’t let up, averaging 12.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. Iguodala registered his first double-double (16 points and 13 rebounds) in a game against St Louis. He then went on to register three triple-doubles, one against UCLA, one at Texas, and one against Liberty. Also during his sophomore season Andre snagged a career-high 16 rebounds in a game against Washington State, and after being named MVP of the Fiesta Classic Andre was named as his teams MVP over the year.

Andre Iguodala became the first player in Arizona history to lead the team in rebounds, steals and assists in the same season. He also finished the season as the only player in the Pac-10 to be ranked in the top20 in scoring and rebounding, and in the top 10 in assists and steals.

Since joining the 76ers Andre has started every regular season game, and is currently averaging 8.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. I was lucky enough to see him and the 76ers in action this week when they took on the Minnesota Timberwolves, see my Game Review for more. He has taken to his position as a starter extremely well, and his is consistently performing well for them. With the scoring power of Allen Iverson, Philadelphia needs someone who can rebound effectively every game, and Iguodala is that man.

 

New York New York

 

The New York Knickerbockers, known as the Knicks, are one of only two charter members of the NBA still in their original cities (the other being the Boston Celtics). As they have done for a long time the Knicks call the famous Madison Square Garden home, and it has seen some excellent games, teams and players over the years, including legends such as Willis Reed and Patrick Ewing.

Even though the Knicks have a history filled with great players and teams, they have only won two NBA championships, once in 1969-70 and again in 1972-73, both times against the Los Angeles Lakers. New York have had chances to improve their championship tally over the years, reaching the finals a total of 8 times, the most recent being in the 1998-99 season against the San Antonio Spurs.

On to this season, and the current Knicks team is an experienced one, as the franchise attempts to win its third NBA championship. Their three 11-year players, Vin Baker, Anfernee Hardaway, and Allan Houston show an example of the experience and talent in the squad. Kurt Thomas has been in the league for 9 years, whilst Jerome Williams and star man Stephon Marbury have been playing in the NBA for 8 years. Jamal Crawford was traded in during the summer from the Chicago Bulls, where he was one of their best players last season. His form seems to have followed him, as Crawford has lead the Knicks in scoring in 12 of their regular season games so far. Just by looking at the fact the Knicks have only two players that have been in the league under 3 years shows that the management believe experience will lead to success. Another point to add is concerning their coach Lenny Wilkens, who is now in his 32nd season as a NBA Head Coach, and he has been in charge of the Knicks since Jan 04. Yet more experience hoping to move New York into title contention.

Following a 5 and 3 pre-season showing, New York got hit hard and fast as the regular season began, losing to the T-Wolves and the Celtics. After a quick re-group, the Knicks gained home victories over the 76ers and the Clippers, however a substantial streak was not forthcoming, as the fell on the road to the Pacers and the Spurs. During the same road trip the Knicks beat Houston and fell one night after in Dallas. Such an erratic start to the season is not what New York were after, and they seemed to rectify that as they won five of their next six games (including a Dec 1st victory over the Grizzlies) to enter December with a 8 and 6 record. New York’s fortunes then changed as they won only one of their next four, before an 11-point victory over the disappointing Denver Nuggets. A well-deserved win against the Nets was gained on Dec 14th, before losing to the reigning champions the Detroit Pistons the next night. To close out 2004 New York won five of seven, including wins over the surging Orlando Magic, and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

2005 has not been a great year for the Knicks already, as they are yet to win so far this year. After losing to the Nets on New Years Day, they followed that by losing to the Kings at home and the Heat on the road. And the trip to Cleveland a couple of nights later was just as bad, as the Knicks lost by 25. Their first win of 2005 came Sunday, when New York were able to outscore the Portland Trail Blazers by 8, leaving the Knicks with a 17-17 record coming into today. Even though their season hasn't been great so far, New York is still close to the top of the Eastern Conference, and will be in the playoff hunt come the end of the season.

 

Game Review – Philadelphia 76ers @ Minnesota Timberwolves

 

The 76ers came into this game without their star player Allen Iverson, as he was sidelined with an ankle injury, whilst the T-Wolves came in with a full and healthy line-up. Doubts had been raised however over the condition of last seasons MVP Kevin Garnett, who has so far failed to find the form that gave him the title last season.

As this game started, I thought it was going to be a long day, as for over two minutes in the first quarter the game was scoreless. There were opportunities for both teams to score field goals and get the game going, but no one seemed to make them count. Olowakandi of the Timberwolves was taken out of the game in less than three minutes, as he had two early fouls called on him. The teams finally rallied and began scoring, and the first quarter finished with the T-wolves up 19-15. I say the teams rallied, but Kevin Garnett certainly didn’t, as he was 0 for 6 during that first period, however he did manage to grab 7 rebounds.

During the second and third quarters Minnesota outscored the 76ers by two and one point respectively. Down the stretch Philadelphia managed one basket more than the T-wolves, but it couldn’t close the gap that had been made. At one point in the game, Minnesota was up by 16, but the 76ers bench scored vital points to bring the game back close. Corliss Williamson, who came to Philadelphia from Detroit during the summer, came off the bench, and he made an immense contribution to the game leading the team with 21 points, something a bench player would not have done would Iverson have been playing. Actually the Philadelphia bench were what kept them in the game, as they scored 50 of their 84 points. This week’s featured rookie Andre Iguodala had an average game, as he grabbed 7 rebounds and dished out 2 assists, however he only scored 2 points which was costly. Wally Szczerbiak scored 23 points for the Timberwolves whilst Sam Cassell led the team with 26.

The game finished 89-84, and even though the score was close, I could not see the 76ers winning without Iverson. The team was missing that certain spark which would have taken them to the next level. No disrespect to Minnesota though, as they played well enough to halt their four game losing streak, and give themselves a much needed victory.

 

Bulls Babble

 

First item of note this week, the Bulls waived rookie forward Tommy Smith. The 6-10, 200-pound Smith has spent all 28 of Chicago’s games this season on the Injured List with a left ankle sprain. During four preseason games, he averaged 7.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.5 apg and 1.00 spg in 17.0 mpg and shot .500 from the floor. In his first preseason appearance, he scored a team-high 13 points (4-7 FG, 5-6 FT) and grabbed three rebounds in 21 minutes. The Bulls originally drafted Smith in the second round (53rd overall) of NBA Draft 2003. He was a part of the Bulls’ summer league team at the Reebok Rocky Mountain Revue in 2003 (averaged 2.0 ppg, 9.0 mpg in six appearances) and again in 2004 (averaged 9.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.14 bpg, 1.0 apg and 22.3 mpg in seven games).

During the 2003-04 season, he played in Croatia for Split (Adriatic) where he averaged 9.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.50 spg, 1.29 bpg, 1.1 apg and 27.0 mpg and shot .578 from the field in 24 games.

Now on to the results, and the Bulls are on another win streak. After beating the worst team in the NBA (the New Orleans Hornets) by 6 last Wednesday, the Bulls faced off against the Jazz. Now if you remember it was the Utah Jazz who gave Chicago their first win of this season, could they gain retribution for their loss? No they couldn’t, as the Bulls beat Utah by 6 on Friday. One night later we faced the Boston Celtics, and that game ended 102-91 in Chicago’s favour, with Hinrich leading the team with 22 points, and veteran Othella Harrington grabbed 10 rebounds. Harrington went to work against the Warriors on Monday, as he scored 20 points in the Bulls 94-85 victory over Golden State. The streak is now at four, with Chicago sitting at 14 and 18, things are improving after the abysmal start, and if they keep this form up the playoffs will be more than just a dream.

 

NBA News

 

After Utah’s loss to the Bulls on Friday, the Jazz had suffered their eighth straight defeat, making it the Jazz’s worst losing streak since the 1982-83 season.

Jermaine O'Neal scored 55 points to lead the Pacers to a 116-99 victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday night. However he excused himself with 1:44 remaining rather than take on the records held by Reggie Miller and George McGinnis. No one is quite sure why.

Baron Davis was once considered an untouchable member of the Hornets, even after he made a trade request through his agent before the start of the season. But it appears now after a league-worst 2-27 start, the Hornets are at least listening to potential trade offers for their two-time All-Star. Davis has been mentioned in possible deals involving the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers and Indiana Pacers.

Bad news for Kings fans, as it was confirmed this week that Bobby Jackson would be out for the rest of the season after having surgery on his left wrist.

The Washington Wizards played in front of a national television audience for the first time since Michael Jordan departed last Thursday. And in front of 16,230 at MCI Center Washington served notice that with a 107-96 victory over the Seattle Sonics, these are not the same Wizards. They have won three in a row and have their best record after 31 games in 20 years.

Rumors are rife that Knicks GM Isiah Thomas would still be willing to trade Kurt Thomas for Wally Szczerbiak, however the Wolves remain reluctant to finalize the deal.

On Sunday the Suns won their 30th game this season, already improving on last season’s total of 29 victories.

The Orlando Magic traded Cuttino Mobley (their starting shooting guard) and Michael Bradley (a reserve centre), to the Sacramento Kings for veteran guard Doug Christie.

New Jersey Nets forward Richard Jefferson will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2004-05 season with a ruptured ligament in his left wrist,

 

Season Records (In order of conference standings)

 

Eastern Conference

Miami Heat 27W 9L, Cleveland Cavaliers 20W 12L, New York Knicks 17W 17L, Washington Wizards 19W 13L, Detroit Pistons 18W 14L, Orlando Magic 18W 15L, Indiana Pacers 16W 16L, Boston Celtics 16W 19L, Philadelphia 76ers 15W 18L, Chicago Bulls 14W 18L, Milwaukee Bucks 12W 19L, Toronto Raptors 13W 22L, New Jersey Nets 12W 21L, Charlotte Bobcats 8W 22L, Atlanta Hawks 5W 26L.

 

Western Conference

Phoenix Suns 30W 4L, San Antonio Spurs 28W 8L, Seattle Supersonics 24W 8L, Dallas Mavericks 22W 10L, Sacramento Kings 21W 11L, L.A. Lakers 18W 14L, Minnesota Timberwolves 17W 16L, Memphis Grizzlies 18W 17L, Houston Rockets 17W 17L, L.A. Clippers 16W 16L, Portland Trail Blazers 15W 18L, Denver Nuggets 14W 19L, Utah Jazz 12W 24L, Golden State Warriors 11W 24L, New Orleans Hornets 3W 29L

 

Wrap Up

 

Week 10 is done, and things seem to be quietening down in the league. All the teams are just moving slowly along waiting for the “middle period” of the season to end before the excitement and tension enters the fray as the race for the playoffs begin. Well done to the Hornets, who managed to grab their third win of the year, and well done to the Jazz for halting their abysmal losing streak with a victory over the Spurs last night. So how is your favourite NBA team doing? Are you a fan of the scorching Miami Heat? Or are you ashamed of your Hornets performance? Any players impressing you lately? Let us know! And until next time, remember those three letters N B A.

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