Posted on: February 25, 2012 11:46 pm
By Matt Moore
The dunk contest is dead.
Many of you are rolling your eyes, either because you think it's been dead for nearly a decade, many of you because you feel it's not important enough to be declared DOA. But it's over. It's done. I've tried for several years to argue that the contest is too fun and the chances of a rare excellent dunk (like DeMar DeRozan's East Bay Funk Dunk Remix last year) makes it worth it. But we hit a new low this year.
In a dunk contest that featured Derrick Williams dunking over a motorcycle (after Blake Griffin did it over a car last year), a really unfortunate "White Man Can't Jump" skit with Sean Combs, and Jeremy Evans trying something called the "iJam" which was him attaching a camera to himself while dunking, this was the one that wound up winning it for Evans.
The problem is JaVale McGee essentially did the same dunk last year, minus dunking over a professional Starcraft player in Gordon Hayward seated. Exceptionally difficult dunk, but I'm not entirely sure how impressive it really was. There's a gap between impressive and difficult, and this dunk is it.
The dunk that may have actually been the best but didn't translate was Paul George's "Tron Dunk" (via Shaq).
The only way to get the dunk contest back to life is for stars to put aside their brand and participate. LeBron. Blake Griffin. We need stars to keep this thing alive or we just need to watch it fade away.
However, you do have to feel good for Evans. He genuinely, very much wanted to participate in this contest, he lobbied to be included, he was thrilled to be a part of it, he's really happy to have won. We need that attitude, just with more violence in the dunks, fewer props and skits. Velocity plus veracity. Until then, the dunk contest is over.
Posted on: February 25, 2012 11:37 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver
The 2012 Slam Dunk Contest was one to forget -- no, one to bleach out of your brain as soon as possible -- and it got off to a ridiculous start, with rapper/mogul/whatever Diddy setting up Houston Rockets forward Chase Budinger in a plot-driven riff on the 1990s classic, "White Men Can't Jump."
After an introduction from Diddy that included him shouting, "Black Power!" and declaring, "White Men Can't Jump," Budinger strode onto the court dressed like Billy Hoyle, Woody Harrelson's character in the movie, complete with backwards hat and everything.
"White men can jump," Budinger said. "I'm about to prove it right now."
He then escorted Diddy to just outside the protected circle and set him up with a basketball. Diddy threw the ball up over his head and Budinger caught it one-handed, spread eagle as he jumped over Diddy with ease, and threw down a powerful flush on his first try. Budinger's Rockets teammate, Chandler Parsons, assisted on the timing of the pass.
Here's the video of Houston Rockets forward Chase Budinger throwing down his "White Men Can't Jump" dunk over Diddy at the 2012 Slam Dunk Contest via ClutchFans.net and YouTube user RocketsRed.
Posted on: February 25, 2012 8:32 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 12:01 am
It's All-Star Saturday Night, when the best, or at least best with respect to relative health, come out to shine under the bright lights and other cliches. The Skills Contest, the 3-Point Shooting Contest, and the Slam Dunk Contest take place Saturday night, and we'll have updates to all the events and highlights here. Consider this your home for All-Star Saturday Night.
You can follow us on Twitter @EyeOnBasketball, and follow our guys on the ground in our All-Star Saturday Night Experience.
Haier Shooting Stars: Let's be honest, this is like the opening band you don't show up for.
Team Orlando: Jameer Nelson, Marie Ferdinand-Harris, Dennis Scott
Team Atlanta: Jerry Stackhouse, Lindsey Harding, Steve Smith
Team New York: Landry Fields, Cappi Pondexter, Allan Houston
Team Texas: Chandler Parsons, Sophia Young, Kenny Smith
Winner: TEAM NEW YORK: Allan Houston still has it. The man downed two half-court shots and team New York cleared the final round in 37 seconds. The fact that Kenny Smith and Allan Houston are still better shooters than any of the Milwaukee Bucks is a bit distressing.
From Royce Young of CBSSports.com:
A reporter asked Allan Houston if he's in such good shape where he could almost -- "Stop. Stop it right now. This was fun ... It feels good to have a uniform again, but that's about it. That's about the limits if it." Then Landry Fields jumped in saying, "He's not taking that uniform off tonight."
Taco Bell Skills Challenge: Please don't hurt yourselves, you're basically your entire teams
Winner: Tony Parker: Kyrie Irving was basically terrible. Rajon Rondo outid Russell Westbrook with a great time in a run-off round, then both Rondo and Deron Williams went on a brick fest on the mid-range jumper. Parker breezed to a win. The effort in this wasn't the worst thing you've ever seen, provided you've seen the Washington Wizards play this season. Williams didn't win, but he did have the fastest time on this run:
Foot Locker 3-Point Contest: If James Jones win, we're going to spit
Winner: Kevin Love in an upset! Love found himself in a shoot-off with Kevin Durant after tying him in the final round, and then bested the scoring leader 17-14. James Jones made it to the final round and had a pretty low bar of 16 to best, but couldn't get it done, dropping just 12. A dominant rebounding power forward just won the 3-point contest. Boom. Click here for video highlights.
Sprite Slam Dunk Contest: You don't know their names, but maybe that means they can only exceed expectations
Winner: No one. It was very likely the worst dunk contest of all time. Jeremy Evans did win, in a contest that featured him making a straight reverse dunk with a camera attached that no one got, and dunking over Kevin Hart dressed as a mailman while wearing a Karl Malone jerey. The coolest dunk of the night was Paul George in the dark. Goodnight everyone, and may God have Mercy on our souls.
Tags: All-Star Saturday Night, All-Star Weekend, Anthony Morrow, Chase Budinger, Deron Williams, Derrick Williams, Dunk Contest, James Jones, Jeremy Evans, John Wall, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Mario Chalmers, NBA All-Star Dunk Contest, Paul George, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Ryan Anderson, Tony Parker
Posted on: February 21, 2012 8:32 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Most everyone wasn't exactly blown away when this year's All-Star slam dunk contest participants were announced. Derrick Williams, Paul George, Iman Shumpert and Chase Budinger isn't exactly a field that gets you pumped up.
But that's not so say those guys aren't taking things seriously and aren't going to try and put on a real show.
In what's clearly a planned video featuring teammate Chandler Parsons and a cardboard cutout of Yao Ming, Budinger is caught practicing a dunk over the likeness of the former 7-6 Houston Rocket. I don't know if that's one he's really planning, but points for thinking outside the box. Maybe we shouldn't write this dunk contest off quite yet.
Posted on: February 16, 2012 10:25 am
Edited on: February 16, 2012 12:04 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The 2012 dunk contest participants will be Paul George of the Pacers, Derrick Williams of the Timberwolves, Iman Shumpert of the Knicks and Chase Budinger of the Rockets, the NBA announced Thursday.
But that's not all. I guess in an effort to spice up the field as well as find a way to work Linsanity into All-Star Weekend, Jeremy Lin will also be playing a part. According to ESPN.com, Lin will be "assisting" Shumpert in some way, much in the same way Baron Davis helped out Blake Griffin at last year's contest.
The New York Daily News also reported that Lin would be part of the "Shooting Stars" competition, meaning he'd already be in the arena for All-Star Saturday night. David Stern has already said that Lin would not be a late addition to the Rising Stars game.
There will be a revamped format that will feature only one round and be voted on only by the fans. There no longer will be judges in the event, which also will be reduced to one round. Each contestant will execute three dunks. Fans will determine the champion by voting on NBA.com, Twitter or through text messaging. The format in recent years was two rounds, with a panel of judges voting on the first round before fan voting in the second.
As for the actual contest, it's a pretty weak field with no big name stars. Actually, when you really look it over, it might the weakest there's ever been. No disrespect to the participants, but none are exactly well known players to the casual NBA fan. Maybe Williams, just because the was the No. 2 overall pick.
Last year featured Blake Griffin, JaVale McGee, Serge Ibaka and DeMar DeRozan, four fairly well known players. This year has two rookies and two role players. Not exactly an eye-popping group. But let's break the field down anyway.
I'd say the early favorite has to be Williams, who is a bit in the Griffin mold of a big man with freakish leaping ability. He can always employ his teammate Ricky Rubio, who surely could zip a fancy pass Williams' way. Paul George is long and can jump. Budinger participated in the McDonald's All-American dunk contest in high school and has always been known as a big leaper.
But it might be hard to top Shumpert. Not because he's some fantastic dunker, but because of this being a fan vote thing and if he indeed brings along Lin, the people will likely speak on the side of the not just the Knicks, but of Lin.
I suppose the NBA is banking on Lin's "assisting" star power to give this contest a bump. Players are less and less inclined to participate in the event for the risk of injury and just the fact it's a stressful thing to add to an already busy weekend. Plus, the league sees it as an opportunity to welcome new faces to the casual fan with the possibility one of the guys does something unexpected and amazing. Vince Carter was a rising star, but he exploded as a household name after his dunk contest performance.
It might be a weak group lacking big names, but we'll all be watching anyway. And if you've watched much Paul George or Derrick Williams, you know that those two can fly. Who knows, we might be in for a pleasant surprise.
Posted on: June 23, 2011 10:21 am
Edited on: June 23, 2011 11:33 am
Posted by Matt Moore
The Houston Rockets may have a dilemma at their spot, but they have no intention of hanging around to bite their fingernails over it. CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports that the Rockets are shopping their two first-round picks, the No. 14 and No. 23, in order to move into the top ten. Specifically, Berger reports that talks have opened with the Detroit Pistons in a two-for-one swap that would allow the Rockets to get what they really want: a big man. Berger reports that late-riser Tristan Thompson is at the top of the list, along with Congolese phenom Bismack Biyombo.
The Pistons don't have an outstanding need beyond getting rid of their locker room-cancer vets, so this makes sense. It puts the Pistons in a position to gain more depth without getting stuck with a pick that's too good not to take, but only in a draft this low on star power. Still, that eight spot will have one of several good prospects available, especially with some of the reaches being discussed. However, it sounds like Detroit's not the only team Houston is chatting with in an attempt to move up.
The Racine Journal-Times reports that the Rockets are also talking to the Bucks about the No. 10 pick, and this one is more than just a pick-swap, there are players involved:
The teams have tossed around different trade scenarios with Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova being prominently mentioned.via BUCKS NOTES: Milwaukee, Houston discussing a deal.
Ilyasova is a promising all-around player still with upside at 24, and would give the Rockets a talented big man to pair with Luis Scola. Patterson seems like a high cost, though, as he showed a world of potential in his rookie season. Budinger is just the kind of player that GM Daryl Morey often raises the value of and then sells high on, while Hill is still somewhat of a project. Draft Express reports that the Rockets may have sweetened their deal by including Courtney Lee, which would likely get the Bucks' interest considering their desperate need for backcourt depth.
The Rockets' pursuit of a big man makes all the sense in the world, considering Yao Ming's highly questionable return to Houston and their glaring need for height. Thompson makes for an odd fit next to Luis Scola, but Thompson has been the one player who has made the hardest charge up the draft rankings in the past 24 hours, with some reports pegging him as high as No. 4. Biyombo on the other hand is a freak athlete with great work ethic and the <a href="http://www.draftexpress.com/nba-pre-draft-measurements/?year=2011&sort2=DESC&draft=0&pos=0&source=All&sort=5" target="_blank">second-greatest wingspan of any prospect in the draft. Fellow workout prospect Chris Singleton described Biyombo as being able to scratch his knees standing up yesterday, which is just circus-clown freaky.
The Rockets need a homerun. In a draft without really any of those types of pitches, the Rockets seem dedicated to fighting their way into the batter's box anyway.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 5:02 pm
The Rockets have turned things around and are playing well enough to contend for the playoffs.
Posted by Matt Moore
Going into the trade deadline, the Houston Rockets were stuck in neutral. They had started the year with a great deal of promise: a young team with a few established veterans, a seven foot monster in the post when healthy, a terrific, versatile power forward and some good talent. They were in a position to re-enter the race for the Western Conference. Then, it all fell apart. By the time the deadline had rolled around, they were a sub-.500 team who couldn't seem to make any significant progress, and were a mess defensively. Before trading Aaron Brooks and Shane Battier, two of their better players, the Rockets had a defensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) of 107.8. That's Warior-like, fourth-worst in the league stuff.
It was a boggling development for a team that isn't loaded with offense-first chuckers. Rick Adelman's teams have historically been solid defensively, and this team features competent role players and guys with enough experience to know how to execute. And yet, there they were, getting burned defensively game after game. As a frame of reference, the Rockets have not won a game versus the other two teams in Texas this season. Kind of rough when the Rockets have played them six times already.
But since moving those players and getting really only Goran Dragic back? Everything has clicked for the Rockets. They've won 11 of their past 14, have moved up to the ninth spot in the West and are closing fast on Memphis, and their point differential has landed them seventh in the West. In short, everything's coming together. The key to their newfound success is two-fold. One, their defense has risen not only to acceptable levels, but is drowning teams. And two, Kyle Lowry has made a phenomenal jump in production.
Defensively, starting with Houston's game against the Nets in their first contest after the deadline, it has gone from a team giving up 107.8 points per 100 possessions, to just 102.5. That's an improvement of 5.4 fewer points allowed per 100 possessions. To put that in perspective, had the Rockets' maintained that defensive production the entire season, they would be the ninth best team in that category, tied with Philadelphia, and this is after an abberation-like 110 defensive efficiency surrendered to the Jazz Sunday. The improvements have come across the board. They're allowing a lower effective field goal percentage (factoring 3-point shooting allowed, from 50.5 to 47.7 percent), are turning their opponent over more often, and surrendering fewer fouls. Watching them, it's not just their intensity and effort that has improved, but simple things. Players are responding to one another better in help defense, taking better angles, playing more sound and giving more effort. In short, they're gelling at the exact right time.
An interesting side note: Since the departure of known defensive artist Shane Battier, two young wings are getting considerably more time. In March, rookie Patrick Patterson and second year man Chase Budinger both saw substantial increases in their per-game minutes. Adelman's move to longer, more athletic lineups runs counter to the basic thought that to improve defensively, you need to rely on veterans. Instead, Adelman's using the length and athleticism he has at his disposal.
The Rockets' offense has not tailed off during this streak since the deadline, as they are scoring more efficently (up 1 percent in offensive efficiency). They are shooting slightly better and getting to the line a touch less. In short, offensively, they haven't really improved considerably, but they've maintained their success (currently 8th in the league offensively). And that has been in large part due to Kyle Lowry.
Lowry is averaging ridiculous numbers in March, and has led fans to wonder if the star Houston has been looking for is emerging all on his own. From Rockets blog Red94:
Lowry, for all of his five years in this league, is but a wee 24 years of age his 25th birthday will come in four days. He is entering that prime that we all write about mystically, reverently. The initial reports on said prime? Remarkable. Lowry’s March has been one for the ages, including averages of 20.4 points on 50% from the field and 46% from three, 7.9 assists and 5.3 rebounds; tack on a couple assists, and those are Chris Paul numbers. This month of madness culminated in Sunday night’s struggle with the Jazz in which Lowry posted his first triple-double, leaving a stunned Rockets fanbase with more questions than ever. He can’t keep doing this, can he? Has he actually found his stroke, or could this be more fool’s gold? Wait, that really good little kid is already 25?via Kyle Lowry Might Be the Star the Houston Rockets Need | Red94 | essays and musings on the nba and houston rockets.
As Zach Harper puts it, "Kyle Lowry Over Everything" (or, "KLOE"). Lowry is initiating things, forcing the issue, and more than anything, has found his long-range stroke. Before the season, looking at Lowry's perimeter numbers, it was stunning how bad he was. He would often hoist 3-pointers in transition, but knock them down at a terrible rate. This season, his overall 3-point percentage is up 11 percentage points to 38 percent and he's shooting 35 percent in transition from the perimeter. He's more aggressive, showing better vision, and turning the ball over less.
The question will be whether Lowry can sustain this production and become the building block for the future kind of star they need. But in the meantime, the Rockets are just glad to be be back in the race. With the Grizzlies facing a ridiculously difficult schedule until the end of March (games against Utah, Chciago and Boston in the next week alone), Houston has a great opportunity to make a run for the playoffs. After a season stuck in neutral, the Rockets have found their gear.
Posted on: March 9, 2011 1:09 am
Edited on: March 10, 2011 1:41 am
The Miami Heat lost to the Portland Trail Blazers, Erik Spoelstra looked even more overwhelmed than usual, LeBron James threw down a sick dunk and Brandon Roy had his best game of the spring. All that, plus plenty more. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Each game is made up of elements that help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the previous night's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what led to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.
THE BIG ONE: DEEPER BLAZERS DROP HEATPosted by Matt Moore.
The loss to the Knicks? A bizarre turn based on an offensive flourish from a team playing with emotion in its first week together. The loss to the Magic? A division rival with a furious comeback thanks to hot shooting and some system systemic offensive breakdowns on the other side. The loss to the Spurs? A back-to-back road blowout against the team with the best record in the league. The loss to the Bulls? A fiery, emotional team with a superior defensive effort, a magnificent superstar, and a blown rebound by the other guys. But the loss to the Blazers?
That was just the case of a superior team 1-10 beating the Heat. A superior team performance, a superior coaching performance, a superior star performance, a superior overall win for Portland, who have gone from looking at a rebuilding project to right in line for a serious playoff run. They are deep, they are talented, and they close games. Yeah, that's right. Portland with the five knee surgeries and missing Greg Oden and Brandon Roy unable to play full games and the aging point guard and having just acquired their All-Star? They are what the Heat tried to buy.
The game itself was a slow, methodical affair (84 estimated possessions, which is glacial), and favored the Blazers' deliberate style rather than the Heat's up and down attack. There were some exceptional highlights (see below for the Chalmers behind-the-back wizardry), but still a loss for the Heat. Isn't that the formula this year? Amazing highlights, lots of hype, national television appearance... and a loss.
The culprits were who you'd expect. While the Blazers were peeling Gerald Wallace of the bench for 22 points on 14 shots, 9 rebounds, an assist, a block, and two steals, the Heat were pulling the lifeless corpse of Mike Miller off the pine for two points on seven shots. But really, the Heat still could have won this game even with the loserly henchmen pulling a "Die Hard" (fire 2,000 rounds, don't hit anything) and James and Wade combining for 7 turnovers. That's how good James and Wade were. The real problem? Chris Bosh.
Forget the shooting. Some nights you're going to be off from mid-range. It happens, not much you can do to control that. Bosh says he needs more touches in the low-post. Forgetting the fact that this goes against every trend in his career and against the logic of having the kind of perimeter players the Heat have, it also ignores the fact that Bosh needs to try getting some easy buckets. The hard kind. I'm talking about tip-ins. Offensive rebounds and put-backs. Instead, Bosh had four total rebounds, and only one offensive. But hey, at least he played pretty good defense, right?
Or, you know, LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points. This is where the line between Bosh's incompetence and Spoelstra's mistakes blur. In the second half when Aldridge started to go off after a slow first half, Bosh was showing way too strong on the pick and roll, jumping over to cover Andre Miller (you know, he of the ridiculous explosiveness), and allowing Aldridge all the room in the world to operate. Bosh gave himself nearly no chance at recovering.
Meanwhile, Brandon Roy was nailing the kinds of key shots Dwyane Wade is supposed to and the Heat were throwing away opportunity after opportunity. Great teams capitalize on chances they have to destroy their opponent. The Blazers did. The Heat did not.
At this point in the season, these two teams could not be headed in more opposite directions. Judging from how this game went down, it's not hard to see why.
The Miami Herald quoted Heat coach Erik Spoelstra after the game: "Frankly, we don’t have a lot of answers how to get over this hump. We can just keep grinding and not let go of the rope."
This picture says about 1,000,000 words.
GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:
Gerald Wallace: 22 points, nine rebounds, one assist, two steals, one block, +7 on 8 of 14 shooting in 35 minutes in a Portland Trail Blazers road win over the Miami Heat.
Dwyane Wade: 38 points, six rebounds, five assists, one steal, two blocks on 12 of 21 shooting in 43 minutes in a Miami Heat home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
LeBron James: 31 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, one steal on 14 of 17 shooting in a Miami Heat home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
HIGHLIGHT REEL:The Heat lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, but LeBron James threw down a sick tomahawk dunk off of a behind-the-back pass in transition. Small consolation.
WHIMSY:Houston Rockets forward Chase Budinger makes a silly face as he dunks one home during a loss to the Phoenix Suns.
FINAL THOUGHT:Against the Heat, Blazers guard Brandon Roy had his most effective game since his post All-Star break return from arthroscopic knee surgeries. Roy hit all three of his three-pointers en route to 14 points on eight shots in 23 minutes. Often hiding out on the weakside, he is theoretically the ideal spot up shooter to space the floor off of power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Nate McMillan smartly managed Roy's minutes, sitting him for nearly the entire third quarter so that he would be fresh to close the game. The Blazers went small down the stretch and outscored the Heat 12-5 in the final 3:25 of the fourth quarter, including a huge Roy three-pointer.