Saturday, November 30, 2013

PIGSKIN 2013 - Football Sunday; Week Thirteen

Football Sunday
Week Thirteen:

Turkey Day Record:  2-1
Week Twelve Record:  6-6
Overall Record:  76-71-7
Schmear of the Week:  8-4
Bagels in the Basket:  +10


The Cardinals can smell playoffs, but need to overcome either San Francisco or Carolina in the NFC Wild Card race.  They realize they need to keep pace Sunday.

After the Kansas City Chiefs, the 2nd AFC Wild Card is up for grabs.  Jets or Dolphins, Titans, and Chargers can all join the Ravens with 6-6 records.


Rex Ryan's future.


Rex Ryan's future.

Friday Line ~ NYDN

Giants -1 1/2 (REDSKINS) Sunday Night
Because I'm a glutton for punishment.  But..., RG3 won't have JPP to deal with this week.  Be careful with this one.
Win; 24-17 Giants

Dolphins +2 (JETS)
Oh no!  This will be ugly.  Poor Geno.
Win; 23-3 Dolphins

Titans +3 1/2 (COLTS)
Nothing much against the Colts, I just like the surging Titans.
Loss; 22-14 Colts

Broncos -5 1/2 (CHIEFS)
Two straight losses - adversity is knocking at the Chiefs tee-pee.
Win; 35-28 Broncos

BROWNS  -7 (Jaguars)
You would think the Brownies can cover this at home, right?  ...famous last words.
Loss; 32-28 Jaguars

Buccaneers +8 1/2 (PANTHERS)
I'm looking for the Bucs to merely cover this - Still think Panthers win and keep on surging.
Loss; 27-6 Panthers

VIKINGS -1 (Bears)
After covering 5 points and achieving a tie versus the Packers, I'm gonna throw the Purple guys a bone.
Win; 23-20 Vikings

Cardinals +3 (EAGLES)
If you haven't been soaring with the Cardinals, you're flying with the wrong flock.
PUSH; 23-20 Eagles

BILLS -3 (Falcons) *Toronto, Canada
This bird is gonna get stampeded by the dreaded Toronto Bison.
Loss; 34-31 Falcons

Rams +9 (49ERS)
See Buccaneers - Defensively at least, I'm just looking for the Rams to cover.
Loss; 23-13 49ers

Patriots -7 (TEXANS)
The Minute Men are gonna put a branding on the Texans.
Loss; 34-31 Patriots

CHARGERS -1 (Bengals)
Welcome to the stay away game of the week.  The two are dueling for the title of the most inconsistent team of the year.  Phillip Rivers gave me the game I thought he would, a week too late.  Thanks for nuthin.
Loss; 17-10 Bengals

Schmear of the Week: (+3 Bagels)
Dolphins +2 (JETS)

I can't think about food right now.  Maybe good old fashioned heroes may do the trick.

Happy Football Sunday everyone!

Week Thirteen Record:  4-7-1
Overall Record:  80-78-8
Schmear of the Week:  9-4
Bagels in the Basket:  +9


Thursday, November 28, 2013

PIGSKIN 2013; Thanksgiving Day Football

Thanksgiving Day
Weekly Results:

Week Twelve Record:  6-6
Overall Record:  74-70-7
Schmear of the Week:  8-4
Bagels in the Basket:  +9

The Week Thirteen Turkey Bowls:
The Stuffed Mushrooms Bowl:
LIONS -6 (Packers)
Win; 40-10 Lions
The Bird and Stuffing Bowl:
COWBOYS -9 1/2 (Raiders)
Loss; 31-24 Cowboys
The Second Helping and Dessert Bowl:
Steelers +2 1/2 (RAVENS)
Win; 22-20 Steelers
Eat, Drink, Be Merry....., and Safe!
Happy Thanksgiving Day Football Everyone...

Happy Thanksgiving

From my family to yours,
To The Troops:
For all America's men and women still in harm's way,
and stationed throughout the world, to their families and loved ones,
I salute you, and am thankful for all you do in service of our country.
May you all return home soon and safely.
To Family and Friends:
...Because what is life without loving and receiving love?
To Everyone Who Has Ever Ridden My Trolley:
Thank you for making my little hobby a thoroughly rewarding endeavor.
I'm also thankful to have been born and raised in the greatest city in the world.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Latest For Rising Apple - On The Chris Young Signing: My Two Cents

This is my latest for
23 November 2013
Senior Staff Writer/Rising Apple

N.Y. Knicks: 'Bockers Hit A (John) Wall; Skid Hits Five

From the desk of:  DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP

New York Knicks  3-9; T-Last
Brooklyn Nets        3-9; T-Last

NEW YORK KNICKS: All In All, It's Just Another Brick In The WALL....


Pre-Game: Melo Versus The World

Saturday Night Final
Knicks      89
Wizards   98

Set another plate at the table, because Misery has company.

Hello neighbor!  The Knicks were pushed up against a Wall in Washington Saturday night, and into a tie for last place of the Atlantic Division with the Brooklyn Nets.  With identical 3-9 records, perhaps both New York City teams can now join to commiserate over their continuing misfortunes and folly during the holidays together.  How nice would that be?

The Knicks losing streak is now up to five games.  Their latest defeat came Saturday night in the Nation's capital, by a 98-89 final score.  A 52-49 lead at half-time, quickly became a seven point deficit after three quarters.  The Knicks were outscored 27-17 in the third, and never recovered - eventually losing by a nine point margin.

Washington's legislator, point guard John Wall laid down the law.  He led all players with 31 points and 7 assists.  He was 10/18 from the field, and 10/11 from the line.  And there in lies your game.  Free throws and each team's ability to get to the line wound up being the deciding factor.

The Knicks and Wizards battled to a near even 74-72 Washington advantage from the field.  The Knicks connected on a few more three's than the Wizards.  The battle of the boards and team assists were relatively even as well.  The Washington Wizards, and Wall in particular, however, considerably outshot the Knicks from the line.  New York only managed 15 shots all game, and connected on six.  Washington took 22 free throws, and connected on 17, for a decidedly 11 point advantage.  The Wizards also outpaced the Knicks on the fast-break by a 16-5 margin.

The Wizards only employed an eight-man rotation.  Coach Woodson had seven players receive at least 20 minutes, and tasked World Peace and Pablo Prigioni with another 29 combined minutes.

Carmelo Anthony topped the Knicks with 41 minutes in defeat, scoring a team high 23 points, and pulling down another team high 12 boards.  J.R. Smith is still rounding into form as the team's second scorer, and dropped 15 points in 30 minutes.  Amare Stoudemire returned to the floor, and scored 12 points in 22 minutes.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

N.Y. Knicks: It's Melo Versus The World

From the desk of:  DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP

New York Knicks
Washington Bullets Wizards
Phone Company Named Arena

NEW YORK KNICKS: Carmelo Anthony's Dubious Triple Crown Season Continues In Washington.

You know what I got out of James Dolan's interview with Mike Vaccaro?  Dolan is obsessed with Mikhail Prokhorov, and every little move he makes.  Jimmy said he's more patient than his counterpart.  Okay, but what about being more petulant or fretful?  News flash - he's got Prokhorov beat there too.  This is a man who maintains a Garden media policy, which is above all paranoid, and in practice resembles something akin to marshal law.

  • On bringing Isiah Thomas back - "I couldn't do that to him, and I couldn't do that to the organization."  Fine, but what about the fans Jimmy?

He round about blamed the media for preventing any future chances of Zeke making a successful return.  But never once did he mention the fans as a consideration.  Instead, the fans are going to get a revamped Knicks City Dancers squad...., soon, and with a slightly different job description.  Yippee.

The Knicks are coming off their most disheartening loss of the season.  I'm sure Iman Shumpert wants back on the floor, after committing a glancing, but costly foul against Indiana's George Hill.

On a team that ranks 28th in rebounds, Carmelo Anthony can not continue leading the team with 9.5 boards per game.  I guess he can, but the guy desperately needs more help.  Of course, that was Tyson Chandler's department, but the next closest Knick, Andrea Bargnani (5.0) isn't even close, or representative.  And with no Ray Felton on the floor, there is additionally no ball distribution.  You guessed it - Carmelo leads the team with 2.8 assists when Felton is out.

I'm not one for defending Melo Ball much, but with the substantial load he's being asked to carry, one can only look through the losing, and admire the performances he's put in.


Brooklyn Nets Get Ravaged By Timberwolves

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Friday Final:
NETS          81
T-Wolves  111

BROOKLYN NETS: Depleted, Depressed, Demoralized, and Defensively Deficient; Jason's Kidds Wrestle With Defeatism.

The Flatbush Hoops received a lot of Love last night in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  Kevin Garnett enjoyed his customary warm welcome from the crowd, but that was the full extent of affection for the visitors.

On the the court, Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love entreated Garnett and the Nets to an inhospitable 17 points and 16 rebounds.  Love would also have nothing to do with Garnett's forearm checks, or his close quarter chatter.  Garnett's personal foil wasn't alone in extending Brooklyn a rude welcome.  All five Minnesota starters finished in double-digit scoring, with Kevin Martin joining Love in tying for game-high with 17 points.  Joe Johnson was the only Nets starter to record double-digits, with 15 points.

Kevin Love was also the only player in double-digit rebounding.  Of his 16 boards, 10 came on the defensive glass.  Somehow, the Nets managed to strike a 47-47 tie on the boards.  But Minnesota displayed superior ball distribution, issuing 28 team assists for the game, while Brooklyn's lethargy only produced SEVEN! assists all game.  Ricky Rubio had 8 by himself, and led all players.  In fact, only three Nets players even recorded an assist.  Joe Johnson led with 4, while Garnett had 2, and Paul Pierce recorded one.

Wait, it gets worse.  Brooklyn turned the ball over 20 times as well, which the T-Wolves converted for 22 points.  In all, Minnesota outshot the Nets 97-78 from the field, outscoring them 80-62 off similar shooting percentages.

Brooklyn's lack of speed on the floor was also clearly evident.  Minnesota outscored Brooklyn 17-7 on fast-breaks.

The Nets best play was provided by their bench.  Andray Blatche led the team with 16 points, and Mirza Teletovic led with 7 rebounds.  Tyshawn Taylor added 13 points, and Alan Anderson added ten.

If hospitality is king, what then, does than make GM Billy King?  This game without a doubt represents his team's new season low point.  They are now 3-9 for the season, losers of four in a row, and only 1-7 away from Flatbush.  Word on the local airwaves is that he, and Mikhail Prokhorov give this experiment 20 games before interceding.  With what measures, remains to be seen.

Playing without Deron Williams and Brook Lopez no doubt presents numerous problems.  But even with them, there is a recurrent problem - the Nets continuing lack of effort, particularly on defense, and in the interior, that worries most.  Second on the list of things to worry about, there seems to be no clear offensive philosophy.  Sure, a myriad of injuries may be a contributing factor, especially to Deron Williams, and their leading scorer, Brook Lopez.  But what we're seeing indicates something even more troublesome - Jason Kidd's self-admitted inability to penetrate his team's psyche.  Uh oh.

Being depleted is one thing.  Getting repeatedly demoralized is another.  What Jason Kidd was supposed to have working on is side, was a roster of veteran players who required little mental management.  On that note, Kevin Garnett's recent attempts to adjust the team's attitude seems to have fallen on deaf ears.  Instead, the Nets have sunk even deeper into their malaise.

What started out as a perceived third quarter problem, is now a much bigger and growing monster.  Brooklyn has a first and fourth quarter problem as well.  Additionally, things have dramatically gotten worse from the first six games, versus their last six games.

Here's the breakdown of total points allowed and per-quarter averages over their first 12 games:
  • 1st Qtr - 307 points; 25.5 avg.
  • 2nd Qtr - 287 points; 23.9 avg.
  • 3rd Qtr - 311 points; 25.9 avg.
  • 4th Qtr - 306 points; 25.5 avg.
With those numbers in mind, the Nets currently rank 24th in the league in points allowed.

Here's the disturbing part.  In their first six games, the Nets allowed 30 points in a quarter 4 times.  They additionally allowed over 25 points in a quarter another 6 times.  They held their opponents to 20 points or less, 7 times.  This does not include the 13 points they scored in O.T. versus Washington.

In their last six games, the Nets allowed 30 points in a quarter 5 times.  They allowed over 25 points another 11 times, and held their opponents to 20 points or below just 2 times. This does not include 6 points allowed to Phoenix in overtime.

Overall, the Nets allowed a total of 588 points over their first six games, for an average of 24.5 points per quarter, and 98 points per game.  Over the last six games, they've allowed 623 points, for an average of 26 points per quarter, and 103.9 points per game.

Not having Deron Williams and Brook Lopez on the floor is hardly an excuse for Brooklyn's deteriorating defensive play.  Everyone is accountable.  Defense should never take a night off.  That said, Billy King will not idly stand by.  He has proven himself to be a very proactive general manager.  His boss, Mikhail Prokhorov, understood the gamble they both agreed to take.

The real decision regarding Jason Kidd is still forthcoming, designed to be made very early in the season, rather than too late.

Eight more games from now, the Nets will reach twenty.  The Nets would have to go 7-1 in order to reach the .500 mark.  The first step would be to defeat the Detroit Pistons at Barclays Center, or not.


LIU Blackbirds: Eaten Up By UC Irvine Anteaters; Face Eastern Washington Tonight

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

LIU Blackbirds   64
UC Irvine            84

LIU/BROOKLYN BLACKBIRDS: Anteaters Feast On The Boards, Shoot 55% from Floor, As LIU Falls By Twenty.

The following goes for the pro team that plays further down Flatbush Avenue as well.  When you only shoot 34% from the field, odds are you're going to loose, unless, you compensate on defense, dominate the boards, and/or get to the line and bury free throws.

Playing their first game since facing the Indiana Hoosiers ten days ago, perhaps rust played a major roll in LIU's defeat.  Gerrell Martin led the team with 27 minutes, and led the Blackbirds with 12 shots, but only two found net.  E.J. Reed, who led LIU in points over the first two games, was only 2/9 from the field.  Jason Brickman endured a relatively silent night, scoring just two points in 26 minutes, but issued a game high 6 assists.  All together, the Blackbirds were an ice cold 21/61 from the field.

Landon Atterberry led the Blackbirds with 14 points.  Gilbert Parga was the only other Blackbird in double-digit scoring, with 10 points. 

The Anteaters had four players score in double-digits, led by Chris McNealy's 15 points, while UC Irvine shot 55% from the field, converting on 33/60 shot attempts.

The Blackbirds additionally got crushed on the boards by a 44-29 margin.  UC Irvine's Will Davis II pulled down a game high 8 rebounds, while Glenn Feidanga pulled down 7 for LIU.  Effective ball distribution also foiled LIU.  UC Irvine shared and passed the ball to the tune of 25 assists, while LIU only had 11 team assists.

Next up, the Blackbirds will remain in Irvine, California, to face the Eastern Washington Eagles this evening.  They will then wrap up the 2K Sports Classic on Sunday versus Boston University.

Eastern Washington Eagles
LIU Blackbirds
The Left Coast


Friday, November 22, 2013

PIGSKIN 2013 - Football Sunday; Week Twelve

Week Twelve
Week Eleven Record:  8-3-2
Overall Record:  68-64-7
Schmear of the Week:  8-3
Bagels in the Basket:  +12
The NFC West is arguably the best division in football this season.
Whether you liked him or hated him, I think everyone wished Tim Tebow was still in the league this season.  For better or mostly worse, he was always a decent story.
Who's feeling the Panthers?
The 5-5 Jets are hanging on by their chinny chin chin straps.  A loss Sunday still does not doom their season.  Amazing.  Rex Ryan should by a dog and name it Parity.
Tennessee might emerge as the AFC's new Wild Card contender.
With a victory, the Giants will contend with the Cardinals, Bears, Cowboys, and Packers for the 2nd Wild Card.  Unless the Saints stumble, the Panthers have the 1st WC in hand.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones should fire his general manager.  He sucks.
Let's roll some Bagels.......
Friday Line ~ NYDN
GIANTS -2 1/2 (Cowboys)
This is the game Eli removes a legion of naysayers off his back.  At the moment, Dallas' secondary couldn't cover a mail box.  The Giants had six turnovers last time they met, and still almost won.
Loss; 24-21 Cowboys
RAVENS -3 1/2 (Jets)
Inconsistency prevails.  Even a bounce back week by the defense won't help.  The Jets have too many in-flight issues.  The Ravens defense is still capable of overwhelming either one of the Jets QBs.  Can you say, turnovers?
Win; 19-3 Ravens
LIONS -8 1/2 (Bucs)
The Bucs are high off two straight victories.  The Lions will bring their heads back down by ten points.
Loss; 24-21 Bucs
TEXANS -10 (Jaguars)
There are six teams who've scored less than 200 points.  The Jags are obviously one of them.  But no one would have predicted Houston would also wind up on the list.  The Jags only average 13 points per game.
Loss; 13-6 Jaguars
Vikings +5 (PACKERS)
I smell upset.  All the Vikings have to do is buckle down on defense..., just a little.  Tall order though.
Win; 26-26 TIE
CHIEFS -5 (Chargers)
I washed my hands of the Chargers last week.  Only Carolina has allowed less points than Andy Reid's Chiefs, but only by three!  K.C. knows they can take over first place pending the Pats/Broncos game.
Loss; 41-38 Chargers
Panthers -4 1/2 (DOLPHINS)
Carolina is feeling it.  Facing the Panthers is turning into the league's worst nightmare.
Loss; 20-16 Panthers
Steelers +2 (BROWNS)
I don't have the guts to pick Cleveland at home.
Win; 27-11 Steelers
Bears +1 (RAMS)
This is my stay away game of the week.  The Rams season is toast, so stick with the more desperate team.
Loss; 42-21 Rams
See Jets.  Raiders inconsistency rears its ugly head again.  With a slightly better ability to score, Titans prevail in the black hole.
Win; 23-19 Titans
CARDINALS -2 (Colts)
Phoenix Rising!  Indianapolis leads a division of scrubs.  The Cardinals play with Seattle and S.F. and are still 6-4.  I've ridden the Cards with great success this season.
Win; 40-11 Cardinals
PATRIOTS +2 1/2 (Broncos)
The Patriots nearly pulled out that game against Carolina, the NFL's best defense.  On the other side of the ball, only the Chiefs have allowed less points in the AFC than the Patriots.
Win; 34-31 Patriots

*Schmear of the Week: (3 Bagels)

Week Twelve Munch: Flank Steak Burrito Supremes!  What's on your menu?  Eat it.

Happy Football Sunday everyone!


Week Twelve Record:  6-6
Overall Record:  74-70-7
Schmear of the Week:  8-4
Bagels in the Basket:  +9


LIU Blackbirds: West Coast Tip-Off Versus UC Irvine Anteaters

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

UC Irvine Anteaters
The Left Coast

LIU/BROOKLYN BLACKBIRDS: California, Here They Come.

I'm sorry, but ten days is too long of a wait between games, especially as the Blackbirds pushed the Indiana Hoosiers to their limits last time on the floor, albeit in defeat, and in hostile territory no less.  LIU put themselves into a great position to win, and lost on nothing more than a missed shot at the end.  So, there's much about that game for the Blackbirds to feel good about, and build upon.

You might say Coach Perri's crew restarts their season this evening.  Jason Brickman and the young Blackbirds of LIU are out west in California to oppose the UC Irvine Anteaters.  The Anteaters hail out of the Big West Conference, and enter tonight's game with a 2-2 non-conference record.  The Blackbirds hold an early lead in NEC Conference with a 1-1 non-conference record.

LIU will definitely have their hands full tonight.  The Gladiators' 54% field goal percentage is 8th best in the country, and their 20 assists per game rank 5th in the nation.  They're also the 12th leading scoring team in the country, averaging 93 points per game.

UC Irvine last played on Nov 17th, and coming off a lopsided 110-73 victory over the Pacifica College Gladiators.  Joannis Dimakopoulos led the Gladiators with 16 points, while Luke Nelson issued 8 assists.


He led all NCAA Division-1 players with 290 assists last season, as well as an 8.5 assists per game average as a Junior.  After just two games as a senior, he's averaging 12 assists per.  He entered the season as LIU's all-time assists leader with 719.  The all-time NEC record is 804 assists.  So far, Jason has 24 assists in two games, and needs another 62 to set the mark.  With another 257 assists, he would become only the 4th NCAA player to amass 1,000 assists in a career.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

N.Y. Rangers: Rick Nash Shoots For The Stars


Priority One: Keep Rick Nash On The Ice

Rangers  3
Stars       2

NEW YORK RANGERS: Now That The Key Offensive Players Are Back Together Again, Let's Keep Them That Way!

I always thought Rick Nash possessed a unique combination of size, speed, toughness, and skill.  While with Columbus, I also felt he played in a tough division - the former Central Division, versus Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Nashville.  Yet, he hasn't thrown his body around like I envisioned, and has done even less to defend himself while with the Rangers.

I sometimes wonder if I misjudged him from afar.

Rick Nash has suffered two concussions this calendar year, or one in each of his last two seasons with the Rangers.  He has survived two straight games now.  Yes, that's an early dig against...everybody.  Before returning to the ice against Boston, he had not played since the third game of the season - literally knocked out of action by a first period elbow to the back of his head on October 8th, courtesy of San Jose Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart.  Last season, Boston's Milan Lucic administered the blow that concussed Nash.

Nash led the Rangers with 5 SOG in his first game back against the Bruins, and tonight, scored his first goal since returning against the Stars.  He is looking sharp; not rusty.  How fortunate for the Rangers....

If the Rangers intend on keeping Rick Nash on the ice, healthy, and productive, they will have to protect him, and if need be, in a very proactive manner.  If the situation necessitates using their fists, then drop gloves and start ripping off helmets.  Rick Nash also needs to do a better job of making opponents second guess themselves.  Trust me, players in this league are acutely aware of who they can and can't take liberties with.

This goes for all Tex's Rangers.  They currently have Ryan Callahan, Rick Nash, Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan and Brad Richards all together again.  Therefore, rogue skaters and runs at Rangers players must cease now.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

N.Y. Knicks: After Fulfilling The Guarantee, 'Bockers Drop 4th Straight

From the desk of:  DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP

I'm sorry, but Red Holzman isn't walking through that door!

NEW YORK KNICKS: What Will Jim Dolan's Band Think About This Latest Loss?

On the heels of an embarrassing loss to the San Antonio Spurs at the Garden, Jimmy Dolan took a relatively small leap of faith and guaranteed his Knicks would defeat the Atlanta Hawks.  On November 13th, they did just that.

The Knicks then went on to lose their next three games consecutively.  Atlanta exacted a measure of revenge, while Houston and Detroit also had their way with them.  There were common motifs weaving their way through New York's streak, some being - They wanted it more; We didn't come to play tonight; The effort wasn't there, etc.

Said Coach Woodson - "I'm not here to teach effort!"

The fans response - "Fire Wood - Son!!"  Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap!

My opinion - Firing Mike Woodson would be the worse thing the Knicks can do.  What ails the Knicks is not his doing.  Additionally, firing Woodson just brings us one step closer to Isiah Thomas, doesn't it?

On Wednesday evening, Beno Udrih(!) and the Knickerbockers faced the Indiana Pacers, minus the services of Ray Felton and Amare Stoudemire.  Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks in minutes again, scored 30 points, and pulled down 18 rebounds.  Brilliant.  The Knicks still lost however, by a 103-96 final in overtime to the Pacers.

For the most part, they showed good effort though.  But you almost get the sense that someone, Woodson, someone from the media, anyone, even Dolan, wants Iman Shumpert sized up for set of goat horns after committing a nonsensical foul at a really bad time.  But if the Knicks want to trade him, they won't.

So when will the owner's next irrational outburst come?  After all, the Knicks have now lost six straight games in Dolan's new $1 billion dollar palace this season.    Perhaps, James Dolan can strum a blues tune to convey how he really feels.

Oh, my Knicks lost another game.
Yeah, my Knicks, they lost another game.
Now I need someone to blame,
because my team lost another game.
Oh, I can't take it no more.
No, I can't take this losing much more.
My team puts forth no effort on the floor,
and so I can't take this losing anymore.
I'm gonna find me another coach.
Yeah, that's what I'll do, I'll find another coach.
I'll stomp this one like a roach,
and go hire me another coach.
Bring it on home now!
I spent a lot of money on MSG.
But only got a ten year lease from NYC.
Oh momma momma can't you see,
What all this losing has done to me.


N.Y. Giants: Showdown At The Met-Life Corral

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Jerry's World Enters The Land of Giants

Facing Third And Very Long.  Can They Convert?
I - First Quarter of Season; 0-4
II - Second Quarter of Season; 2-2
III - 2-0 Entering Clash with Cowboys.
IV - The Final Four.

For this season, and this 2013 troubled season only, the time has come to take the New York Football Giants seriously again.  They've earned it.  Despite still being two games under .500, four straight victories have somehow propelled them back into NFC East contention.

Consider which teams were predicted to be players and pretenders this season.  The Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons ran headlong into adversity and fell apart like wet toilet paper, while the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants, two of the league's ancient sentinels, have weathered their respective 0-6 tempests.  Team fortitude such as that displayed by these two inter-connected franchises emanates from the top, and works its way down to the field.  People know who own the Giants and Steelers.  They know who coaches them.  Quick!  Who owns the Falcons and Texans?  My point exactly.  Thus, on Sunday, the Steelers and Giants stand poised to make December meaningful again.

Everyone knows who Jerry Jones is too.  He's the famous football owner of America's (most overrated) Team, who may just now be realizing what so many have known all along - Jerry Jones is an awful general manager.  Despite a 3-0 record against the division, his team is reeling.  The Cowboys are now 28th in offensive rushing yardage, and rank 29th defending the run.  How much did Jerry Jones spend on cornerbacks last off-season?  Answer - the Cowboys currently rank 32nd, or dead last in passing yards allowed.  So, it doesn't matter what he spent except to Cowboys season ticket holders.

The Giants have made just enough adjustments, improved their situation just in time, and regained just enough confidence and momentum, to make Sunday's clash against the Dallas Cowboys not just relevant, or even a huge deal.  This game is now set up to join the all-time great clashes these teams have ever engaged in.

At present, the teams appear to be passing each other by, heading in opposite directions at high speed.

After beginning the season 0-6, this conversation shouldn't even be taking place, but the rest of the NFC LEAST has made all things possible again.  A victory by the Giants this Sunday would give them a 5-6 record, tying them with the 'Boys for second place in the division.  The Philadelphia Eagles won last week, and will sit out this week's bye in first place, with a secure 6-6 record.

Big Blue still has the same flaws and deficiencies which got them into this mess in the first place, which no doubt will require GM Jerry Reese's immediate off-season attention.  But at the same time, there's no arguing the locker room is still filled with skilled, good character professionals.  Many of them have been to both the top of the mountain, and the bottom of the valley together, among them obviously, is Coach Tom Coughlin.

Defensively, the Giants have only allowed 46 points in their last four games, or 11.7 points per game during this current winning streak.  By comparison, they allowed 146 points in their first four games of the season.  Then for good measure, they gave up another 63 points in weeks five and six, thus allowing over 200 points during their six game skid.

They are now 7th in the NFL against the run, and 15th against the pass.  Three big reason for that are, 1) - Jon Beason, who has turned into an exceptional acquisition by GM Jerry Reese, 2) - Jason Pierre Paul is showing signs of emerging into a dominant lineman again, evidenced by a sack against the Raiders, and his remarkable, point-blank pick-6 against the Packers, and 3) - Antrel Rolle continues to be a relentless leader, and the team's undisputed MVP.

Offensively, the revamped front line is coming along.  They allowed four sacks last week.  That must change by this Sunday.  Otherwise, the situation is far from being the calamity it was earlier this season.  Justin Pugh continues to play effectively as a rookie, Jim Cordle is providing a considerable upgrade at center, while David Diehl has undoubtedly become a stabilizing presence since his return to action.  With the return of Andre Brown, the overall running game is breathing with life again.  Make no mistake, things are progressing slowly, but progressing nonetheless.

Eli is still throwing picks, albeit less frequently.  Interception #17 against the Packers was due to an incorrect rout again by the receiver.  Despite the miscommunication, and because the running game is making strides, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and even Ruben Randall can potentially be aggressive big play makers for the Giants again.  The numbers say Big Blue should win a shoot-out against the Dallas Cowboys.

Last word - Never underestimate guile, experience, winning cultures, and great organizations.  And never, overestimate the Cowboys, especially this time of year.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Brooklyn Nets: Jason's Kidds Caught Loitering On Flatbush Avenue

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Monday Final:
Blazers 108
NETS     98

BROOKLYN NETS:  After Passing The Ball Around Like The Globe Trotters, And Scoring 40 Points In 1st Quarter, The Ice Cold Chuckers Of Last Season Reappeared To Spoil Homecoming.

Say what you will about Monday's loss at Barclays Center, but among the choices, agree this was a vintage 2012-2013 performance.  What I heard, was the Nets ran out of gas.  What I saw, was the same crap as last season, just with a few different faces to blame.

The Nets outscored Portland 33-18 from the free throw line, and benefited from 14 Portland turnovers, while the Nets only turned the ball over 7 times.  Flatbush got marginally outrebounded for the game 46-40, but the Nets pulled down 14 offensive rebounds, while Portland managed 7 offensive boards.  Portland outperformed the Nets on the defensive boards though, by a considerable 37-26 margin.

Of course defense is always an issue.  The real problem is when Nets shooting heads south.  The Nets made 9 more attempts from the field than the Blazers did.  The Nets took 85 shots, while Portland took 76 shots.  The Blazers however, shot 53.9% from the field, while the Nets struggled mightily after the first quarter, and finished the night with a deflating 36.5% shooting percentage. Nets shooting got worse from 3-point land.  The Blazers were 8/18 (44.4%) from beyond the arch, while Brooklyn struggled to make 3/13 (23.1%)3-point attempts.

Kevin Garnett in particular, started the first quarter on fire, connecting on the Nets first five field goal attempts.  He was 6/6 for the quarter, but shot just 2/13 the rest of the game.

The Nets outscored the Blazers 40-31 in the first quarter, and allowed Portland 77 points over the final three quarters.  But all the Nets could manage were 23 points in the second, an anemic 15 points in the third, and just 20 points in the fourth quarter, en-route to a 108-98 defeat.

Perhaps fatigue did play a part.  Maybe age and injury had their affects after four games in six days?  Maybe.  This much is certain..  Early in the game, the Nets put on a clinic focusing on ball sharing.  Then midway through until the final buzzer, Brooklyn collectively seemed content to launch singular unassisted shots.  Growing up in Brooklyn, we called guys like that - chuckers.

Joe Johnson led the team with 3 assists.  That's pathetic!  Paul Pierce, Tyshawn Taylor, and Shaun Livingston only registered 2 assists each.  That's a lot of loitering on Flatbush Avenue.  While at the other end of the floor, Portland's Damian Lillard issued 9 assists, and Mo Williams had 6 assists off the bench.

Shaun Livingston did drop 23 points, and slammed down a left-handed highlight jam over Brook Lopez' brother, but his efforts are being overshadowed by continued losing.

Continued losing, and a whole lot of standing around against the Blazers may be exactly what precipitated a lengthy closed door meeting (Tweeted by Ohm Youngmisuk) after Monday's game.  Other Tweets said Kevin Garnett was the lead mouth, and screamed on everyone, to include Jason Kidd.

We'll see.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Brooklyn Nets: Mason Plumlee Announces His Presence With Authority

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

...only this kid isn't Nuke Laloosh.

BROOKLYN NETS: Mason Plumlee Plays Leading Role In Hollywood Against Clippers, As Pierce, Garnett, Lopez and Williams All Miss The Audition.

I said I needed more Plumlee!  Saturday night, we fans got a bunch.

At Duke, Plumlee played largely with his back to the basket.  Saturday night, the rookie played above the rim, converting on a pair of alley-oops, a slam, and a two-handed jam.

Mason played 27 minutes against the L.A. Clippers, and scored a team high 19 points, both were early career highs.  He was 7/10 from the floor, but struggled from the line, missing 7 of 12 shots.  He also pulled down six rebounds, four on the defensive glass, and had a block and a steal.

It is not a stretch to say with him on the floor, the Nets do not look as old.  But that says nothing of Saturday night.  With Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Brook Lopez and Deron Williams all out of commission, Mason Plumlee joined forces with Andre Blatche, Shaun Livingston, Joe Johnson and Alan Anderson to go toe to toe with the Clippers, albeit in a losing effort.

Mason Plumlee drew Blake Griffin last night, and matched him slam for ferocious dunk.  In the end however, Blake Griffin prevailed with 30 points and 12 rebounds - a lesson learned for the youngster.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Brooklyn Nets: Drama And Intrigue Await In Hollywood Tonight Versus Clippers

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Los Angeles Clippers
The Office Supply Store Chain Arena

BROOKLYN NETS: I Need More Mason Plumlee!

Tonight, Kevin Garnett will be conflicted between Jason Kidd's plan to manage KG's minutes during back-to-back games, and wanting to play with former coach Doc Rivers pacing the other sideline.

The plan discussed prior to the start of the season was to curtail Kevin Garnett's playing time in the second game of back to back nights.

The last time the Nets played on consecutive dates, they went into overtime on the front end, and lost to Washington.  Garnett played 24 minutes, scored four, and pulled down six rebounds.  On the back end loss to Indiana, Jason Kidd increased Garnett's minutes to 27, who scored six points and pulled down eight rebounds.  That was followed by three full days off on the schedule.

Last night against the Suns, Kevin put in 28 minutes to include overtime, scored four points, and pulled down a game high 14 rebounds.  After tonight's game against the L.A. Clippers, the Nets will travel back to Flatbush Avenue to face the Trail Blazers on Monday.  That's a quick turn-around.  So the question which begs to be asked is, how many minutes will Garnett play tonight, A) - against a serious contender, B) - against his (Pierce and Terry) former coach from Boston, and C) - considering the Nets are without Deron Williams?

Against the Clippers, you'd think it would be - all hands on deck.  On that note, Mason Plumlee is proving early on, he's bright, and can be trusted with handling increased minutes.  Tonight, he'll get thrown into the melee again, similar to the Pacers game, when he played 19 minutes.  He has  demonstrated increased comfort on the floor since then.  The Nets could stand to benefit from is youth and athleticism this evening.  If Jason Kidd limits Garnett to 17 minutes or so, I'll like to see Plumlee given an extended opportunity at establishing himself inside, and running the floor with Livingston.

Otherwise, Andray Blatche played 18 minutes against the Suns, scored seven and pulled down seven rebounds.  He'll clearly need to play a role in trying to minimize both Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in the paint.  Reggie Evans might even see an increase over his four minutes against Phoenix.

With no disrespect towards Joe Johnson, the big deal is of course, Brook Lopez.  As he was last night, Lopez must once again be the focal point of the offense tonight.  With Deron Williams down, Lopez needs to lead his team like its second best player should.  He needs to take Paul Pierce's and Garnett's lead, and carry his team - not the other way around.  Shaun Livingston will get him the ball, but the big guy must finish strong.  I know - old argument.  But since I mentioned Joe Johnson, an improved shooting percentage could take the Nets a long way.

In place of Deron Williams, Shaun Livingston faces a supreme test this evening.  The Nets well-travelled back-up to Deron Williams now finds himself in a primary role.  The L.A. Clippers lead the NBA in points scored per game, and are facilitated by Livingston's opponent this evening, guard Chris Paul, who leads the NBA with 12.8 assists per game.    Both are 28-years old.  So far this season, Livingston's Per-36 Minutes averages read: 14.3 points on 59% shooting, and 5.3 assists per. Chris Paul is averaging 20.2 points per 36-minutes.

Blake Griffin leads the Clippers with 22.1 points per game.  On the muscle end of things, DeAndre Jordan leads the Clippers with 12.9 rebounds, and nearly two blocks per game.  This team won 56 games last season, and is looking for new Head Coach Doc Rivers to guide them through the final mile this season.

The Nets are led by Brook Lopez, with 20.5 points, and 2.8 blocked shots per game.  Kevin Garnett leads with 7.8 rebounds, and before he sprained his good ankle last night, Deron Williams averaged 6.5 assists.

This is surely another early season barometer game for the 3-5 Nets, who additionally now face the adversity of being without Deron Williams.  A victory tonight would certainly ensure a heroes welcome in Barclays Center Monday evening.


N.Y. Rangers: Le Blueshirts House de Horrors


Les Habitants de Montreal
The Great White North

NEW YORK RANGERS: The Feeling-Out Process Between Coach Vigneault and the Blueshirts Is Growing More Curious.

Last season, the Rangers got shut out twice in Montreal.   In fact, the Rangers have been outscored 14-1 in their last four meetings there, and haven't gained a victory in Montreal in four seasons.  The good news is, the Rangers have scored 28 regulation time goals in the last ten games, and limited themselves to 18 goals against.  Additionally, the Habs are currently trending downward, having lost six times in their last ten games, while the Rangers are 7-3 over the same stretch.

The Rangers however, recently had their momentum interrupted by the New Jersey Devils.  Coach Vigneault issued a harsh criticism of Henrik Lundqvist's last effort.  The King outwardly accepted and even agreed with Coach's assessment.  On the heels of Tuesday's loss, Cam Talbot is expected to start between the pipes this evening - a curious situation.  It is also worth mentioning again, Henrik Lundqvist is still without a contract extension, and is perhaps more accustomed to John Tortorella's unwavering protectionism with regard to Henrik's ups and downs - or not.  The Rangers goalie insists there is nothing there.

Is there further evidence the (media) protectionism is over?  You bet there is.  Not that long ago, J.T. Miller and Derek Dorsett got a taste.

Amid rumors and trade speculation, Michael Del Zotto may be a healthy scratch for tonight's game.  It would mark the second time he's been listed as a healthy scratch this season.

Former coach John Tortorella may have gotten the best from Del Zotto we fans will ever see.  Because at current, Zotto is an undisciplined, unrepentant plague of turnovers upon the ice, who otherwise still routinely makes bad decisions with the puck.  The fleeting flashes of brilliance he used to demonstrate, have been reduced to very infrequent flickers of competence amid fading minutes.  If you think I'm being too harsh, then consider he just pissed off his second coach in the only organization he's known.  Coach Vigneault is in no way pleased with Del Zotto's play.  Thus, the defenseman is facing time, in what appears to be the first real usage of the new regime's doghouse.

What can the Rangers potentially expect in return for Del Zotto, a former #1 draft choice, who perhaps would benefit from a change of scenery?  Before pondering any return for the beleaguered defenseman, I say we sweeten the deal and include Mats Zuccarello in a package.

Yeah, I went there.