When the Spurs smacked the sting out of the Hornets in their season opener the other night, everybody but Tim Duncan looked like world-beaters. Last night in Chicago, Duncan proved he’s still dominant when he needs to be, but his teammates didn’t show up and San Antone took an L … The Bulls just had too many weapons to counter the Spurs’ one-man show. Derrick Rose put up 13 points and seven dimes and Luol Deng had 17 and nine boards, as the whole starting five and sixth man Kirk Hinrich scored in double figures. Rose showed no effects of the ankle injury that grounded him for most of the preseason; he was hitting circus layups, blowing past guys off the dribble, and getting in the air to challenge shots. It sounds weird to say somebody with Rose’s athleticism was a “game manager,” but the kid had his Andre Miller mask on, smartly spreading the ball around and always seeming to make the right decision … Deng was just as impressive, especially considering how bad he looked for the majority of last season. Last night he was moving smoothly without the ball, flying all over the place for offensive rebounds, and generally displaying the game-changing ability that earned him that $70 million contract in the first place. When he’s on, Deng is like a more bouncy version of post-injury Grant Hill … How bad was Duncan’s supporting cast? For the first 10 and a half minutes of the third quarter, Duncan (28 pts, 16 rebs, 3 blks) scored all but two of the Spurs points. He was killing on that face-up banker, which he hit from the same spot all night. But Tony Parker (4-11 FG) and Manu Ginobili (3-11 FG) just didn’t do their part … And Richard Jefferson deserves his own paragraph. Before the first commercial break he’d bricked two threes badly, had a layup sent back in his face by Rose, missed another jumper, and found a seat on Coach Pop’s bench. It looked like maybe the Spurs were trying to get RJ on track and run the offense through him early, but when that didn’t work, scrapped the plan and resumed leaning on Duncan, Parker and Manu. Jefferson finished with nine points on 3-of-9 shooting (and later in the game got smashed on by Tyrus Thomas); between that and his 1-of-7 line against New Orleans, he’s had a worse two-game start than the Cavaliers … PLEASE tell us Joakim Noah didn’t hit a jumper and do the “You can’t see me” thing afterward. C’mon son! (Shout-out to Ed Lover.) You uncorked that ugly-ass J and it goes in once, now you’re acting like you’re Ben Gordon? Get the eff outta here with that … Charles Barkley made a good point that guys like Parker and Ginobili get worn out during the season and more susceptible to injury because they play for their national teams immediately following long NBA playoff runs. Good point, except for Parker doesn’t have a history of injury or fatigue problems, and Team France usually doesn’t go very far in their big tournaments anyway … Kevin McHale said in the TNT studio that the Spurs were “done” last season when Manu went down. “They could still beat bad teams,” he added, just not the contenders. And somehow nobody pointed out that McHale’s Timberwolves would’ve been one of those bad teams. Remember who took that 55-point drilling by Parker when Ginobili was out? … Now would be a good time to reiterate Smack’s preseason prediction that Carmelo Anthony will lead the NBA in scoring. After dropping 30 on the Jazz in the opener, ‘Melo hit the Blazers for 41 last night. He hit the go-ahead jumper with about four minutes left, part of a run where ‘Melo scored 10 straight Denver points, and his two free throws with two seconds left capped a 19-point quarter. Brandon Roy scored 30 points (16-18 FT) in the loss, and missed a potential game-tying three at the buzzer that looked exactly like the one he hit on the Rockets last year … But before that sequence, Greg Oden (6 pts, 9 rebs, 2 blks) went to the line with 4.6 seconds left and a chance for Portland to take the lead. He bricked both freebies. Oden hasn’t been a big part of the offense so far, but he’s looking like he could average double-digit rebounds and multiple blocks. If down the road G.O.’s niche in the NBA is about eight points, 10-11 boards and 2-3 blocks per night and the Blazers are perennial contenders, would you consider Oden a bust as the No. 1 overall pick? What if draft classmate Kevin Durant is dropping 25-30 points a night, Al Horford is good for a regular double-double, and Jeff Green is a borderline All-Star? … If you read some of the excerpts from Tim Donaghy‘s book yesterday, then watched the Blazers/Nuggets game where the teams combined for 90 free throws, did it affect your perception at all? … After a month and a half’s worth of counting down, Dime’s Austin Burton says Kobe Bryant is the best go-to guy in the League. OK, maybe not the biggest surprise, but check it out and see if you agree with Kobe’s spot or the list overall … Bob Knight has decided not to attend his induction into the Indiana University sports Hall of Fame next week. Knight told the administration he worried about his presence taking too much attention away from the other inductees. Honestly, that sounds like a weak excuse. By that logic, Michael Jordan shouldn’t have gone to this year’s Naismith H.O.F. ceremony, and Brett Favre shouldn’t show up the year he gets put into the football Hall. It’s highly likely Knight just doesn’t want to go because Indiana fired him once upon a time … Just one NBA team has yet to make their ’09-10 regular season debut, so if you’ve got the NBA League Pass free preview, don’t miss the Milwaukee Bucks tonight as they get going against the Sixers! OK, Bucks/Sixers is probably the worst game on the schedule, but we tried … We’re out like Donaghy’s royalties …
Smack / Oct 30, 2009 / 5:37 am
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