NBA General

Around the Rim: Rocky Mountain High

1. Scoring King
Thanks to six straight games of at least 30 points, the NBA has a new scoring leader. Carmelo Anthony has been torching his opponents all year long and now boasts a league high 31 point per game average, seven-tenths of a point ahead of Milwaukee’s Michael Redd. Anthony struggled in the opening game of the season and managed to net only 15 points on six of 13 shooting. Since that game, Melo has been shooting 49.4 percent from the field and has put together an impressive string of scoring: 28 vs. Minnesota, 37 vs. New York, 31 @ Philadelphia, 36 @ Charlotte, 33 @ Miami, 34 @ Orlando and 34 vs. Toronto. Anthony has been able to increase his scoring average, in part, due to his ability to get to the line, shooting 70 of 81 in his eight games this season. With Kenyon Martin gone for the rest of the season, expect Anthony’s attempts from the field to grow even further. Andre Miller and J.R. Smith will see their numbers improve, as well, because of the injury to Martin but there is no doubt who shoulders the scoring load in Denver.

2. Wardrobe Change
On Saturday night, the NBA revealed a new line of alternate road uniforms for the Jazz, Nets, Bobcats and Wizards. For Utah, Charlotte and New Jersey, the changes were minimal. The Nets’ uniforms looked very similar to their normal gear except that they were red. Charlotte replaced its normal red road jersey with a slate blue one and Utah donned a baby blue uniform with navy and white stripes going down along the sides. However, the award for the biggest fashion break-out goes to the Washington Wizards who changed from a blue road uniform to a gold and black set with stars along the sides. Washington became the first team since the 1946 Chicago Stags to wear a uniform that consisted of different colored shorts and jerseys. The predominately black shorts contrasted with a bright gold jersey. The uniforms didn’t guarantee the teams victories on the road however. The four teams went 2-2 with Washington winning easily and Utah snatching a three point victory in overtime at Phoenix, while Charlotte and New Jersey both proceeded to lose by double digits in their new attire.

3. Blood, No Foul
On Friday, Houston Rockets’ head coach Jeff Van Gundy was fined $25,000 for publicly criticizing the officials in charge during the game last week between Houston and Miami. The game pitted the leagues two most dominant big men, Shaquille O’Neal and Yao Ming, in a physical battle. Yao left the game with a large gash on his arm from contact with O’Neal which lead to comments by Van Gundy. “It just irritated me,” said Van Gundy. “The whole game irritated me the way he was officiated. ‘There was no contact,’ (officials said) yet there was blood streaming down his arm.” This isn’t the first time that Van Gundy has paid a fine over what he felt was poor treatment of his star center. He was forced to fork over $100,000 in May after stating that an official not involved in the playoffs told Van Gundy that Mark Cuban had convinced the referees to unfairly target Yao.

4. Wade Un’Shaq’led
Shaquille O’Neal is expected to miss between four and six weeks thanks to surgery meant to repair torn cartilage in his knee. While the team is going to miss having the big man in the center, Dwyane Wade fans will be happy to see their hero begin a true MVP run. Miami is 2-3 without Shaq but Wade’s numbers are outstanding during those games. Wade is averaging 25 points, five rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game with O’Neal in the lineup. Without Shaq Daddy, Wade has increased his numbers to 29 points, five rebounds, 8.6 assists and two steals per game. The long term absence of Shaq will give Pat Riley added incentive to keep the ball in Wade’s hands, thus increasing his scoring and assists. While Wade’s numbers will most likely see an upward spike, the team, currently 8th in the eastern conference, could be struggling to remain in playoff contention by the time their post presence returns.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Tim Duncan @ Sacramento 31 min, 35 pts (FG: 13-17, FT: 9-11), 14 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk

Monday’s Game to Watch: San Antonio (8-2) @ Portland (5-6) The Spurs are off to a franchise best 5-0 on the road this season after a win over Sacramento on Sunday. San Antonio would love to continue their recent road success but Portland is proving to be a tougher team than most people expected. The Trail Blazers currently have a record of 5-6 but they have been especially competitive in Portland where they are 3-1. Both teams possess potential power forward MVP’s in Tim Duncan and Zach Randolph. It should be a battle all-night in the post as these two double-double artists perform their magic in the paint.

By Vin

Vin is a Philly boy who shouldn't be invited into your house because he'll judge you on your book and music collection. He owns Dawkins, Utley, Iverson, and Lindros jerseys, which is all you really need to know about him. He can be reached at [email protected].

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