Photoshop skills courtesy Two Sides of the Hoop


ONE:
A quick Sunday Six Pack to sneak in before Part II of Ant’s musings on the NBA’s prior decade touches down.

So this prior week will no doubt be remembered as the week of Patty Mills’ NBA debut. It was a rocky journey – late draft pick, tragic injury, a long rehab, rumors of a move to the Euro leagues, a contract signing (that we then thought was a sign he would be waived), a relegation to the D-League, a stellar return from injury, then the recall to the Blazers squad – but we finally got there.  His brief career so far in a Blazers jersey hasn’t exactly seen much production – just five minutes in a loss to the Clippers where Patty registered 2 assists and shot 0-3. But he’s there, on the sidelines, waiting for his opportunity. And considering the ups and downs he’s encountered, that’s really all us Aussie fans could ask for.

Andrew Bogut may have just completed the best three-game streak of his NBA career. With the Bucks season on the brink, having lost 7 of their last 8, Bogut turned on the guns in a 23 point, 15 rebound clinic against the rising Thunder. Against a younger, smaller front-line, Bogut did exactly what he was supposed to do – dominate. Three days later against the lowly Nets he turned in an efficient 18-5 on 9-12 shooting, before last night’s monster performance against the Bulls. I watched most of this game and it was one of the most entertaining games I’ve seen all season – that is, if you have a taste for physical, chippy games. I recommend reading Bucksketball’s game recap, including these comments on Bogut:

In between referee whistles and defender complaints Andrew Bogut stood tall on Friday night in one of those efforts that makes you say, “Oh, I can see why this guy was a number one pick.”  Trading blows back and forth with Brad Miller like they were two aging prize-fighters, Bogut shook off a rough start to the second half to help the Bucks to victory.  Mentally, emotionally, physically, vocally, offensively, defensively, however you slice it, Bogut took the reigns (with some much-needed help from Michael Redd) in a VERY chippy fourth quarter to lead the Bucks to a much needed victory Friday night.

During one particularly heated moment while officials were reviewing tape (to decide who to T up), Bogut pulled together his teammates in a true sign of leadership. “We had to calm down,” said Hakim Warrick. ”That’s what Andrew did. He got us in, told us to take a deep breath, stick together, and we did.” I love hearing stuff like that about the big Aussie, and it’s not the first time his teammates have relied on him in pressure situations this season. With Redd being so up and down this season, Bogut is becoming the heart and soul of this team. He instigated Squad 6 (the rowdy section of Bucks fans) and the fans are embracing him more than ever. He’s having the best season of his career and is still in All-Star contention. He’s 0.2 of a rebound away from averaging 16-10 (which only five players are currently doing), and only one of those five (Dwight) are averaging 2.0 or more blocks (Bogut is bang-on 2.0 at the moment). Any way you want to slice it, Bogut is breaking new ground this season.


TWO:
How clutch is that Evans rookie, eh? Today he hit the game-winner against Denver, continuing to feed a man-crush I’m having difficulty in stopping. I just love this kid. Enjoy the clip, as well as the second vid where we see JR Smith demonstrating his lack of brain.

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THREE:
Earlier in the week I did something I don’t often do. I watched a Knicks game. Don’t worry, I’m ok, I haven’t developed any other strange symptoms (wearing my Vujacic jersey as pajamas is perfectly fine right?). In reality, the reason I watched this game was because my parents are currently in New York on a holiday, and I booked them tickets to see Knicks v Bobcats on Wednesday night. When I bought the tickets I didn’t want to tell them these two teams kind of suck – it wouldn’t really diminish their first NBA experience, I figured. But as the game drew closer I realised that the Knicks and Bobcats were actually two of the more in-form teams in the East, and all things pointed towards a closely fought match. That’s exactly what happened. Passing on the message to my mum that Gallinari was probably my favorite player on the court (I know you’d be proud of that Tiz), she apparently set about cheering loudly for him the entire game. While watching the game I wasn’t as impressed, watching Gallo heave up misguided three after three, the Knicks only remaining close thanks to Chandler and Nate. But then the Italian Stallion delivered, on cue, with an epic three (taken at least two feet behind the line) with 44 seconds left that sealed the game. You can check the shot in the ESPN highlight reel, but what I really loved was the ensuing strut. THIS, is how you strut.

So yeah, I guess I now have a favorite Knicks player (which as one Twitterer so eloquently pointed out to me, is “like having a favorite cancer”). Maybe so, but if every Knicks game is half as entertaining as the one I watched, I’ll gladly do it again. Some day.


FOUR:
Ben Gordon Scores 10 Millionth Point in NBA History; Pistons Lose 10 Millionth Game in a Row. Things just turn from bad to worse for the Pistons, who had both Prince and Stuckey sitting out the second half of this game because of injuries. Perhaps the highlight of this one was Coach Kuester’s apparent outburst, while pointing to Ben Wallace ”He’s 35 [expletive] years old and he’s the only one pressing, helping out…” before the broadcast was then cut – true story, according to Detroit Bad Boys. The last line of that game recap raised an eyebrow:  ”Something needs to change, and fast, or a top 3 draft pick is imminent.” A top 3 draft pick?!? Hmmm… wait, surely it’s too early to start using the “T” word… right? Could this once-proud franchise stoop that low? If we see more mysterious second half sit-downs, it’s well within the realms of possibility.


FIVE:
Matt Moore writes a lengthy piece on the peculiar nature of NBA fandom and his road to becoming a Grizzlies fan. An engrossing read by one of the best NBA bloggers out there.


SIX:
A quick word on some of the recent, subtle changes around here (that you may have noticed). Firstly, there’s now a ‘Recent Comments’ section in the sidebar (below Recent Posts) that shows the last five commented posts. This is a great way to see what NBAMate readers are reading and where discussion is happening. Secondly, you’ll notice that below each post is a little Share/Save icon that makes it easier to share your favorite posts with friends via many of the popular social networking sites that kids are using these days. Thirdly, I’ve given the Tags section in the sidebar a little overhaul: the Tag Cloud is a little smaller (showing the most commonly used tags), and there is a new Tag drop-down box. This lists every single tag ever used on NBAMate, so it’s a great way to quickly browse the archives for a topic/player/team/whatever. Fourthly, above the links in the sidebar you’ll notice a section with the latest forum posts from AussieBball. This is an Aussie Basketball forum that covers NBA as well as NBL and other local basketball news – certainly worthwhile keeping an eye on if you’re an Aussie basketball fan. I also recently added a link to another excellent Australian basketball forum – Hoops.com.au – under the ‘Our Aussie Mates’ section. Fifthly (is that even a word?), I’ve revamped the “Similar Posts” section underneath each post (when you’re viewing an individual post’s page). This ranks the top 5 most related posts, in order, and now uses an improved algorithm. Not really a major change that one,  just thought it sounded cool to use the word ‘algorithm’.


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