Sunday, November 30, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday ~ Week Thirteen


Football Sunday
Week Thirteen

Thanksgiving Day:  3-0
Overall Record:  73-67-2
Schmear of the Week:  6-5
BAGELS in the Basket:  +7

Coin Toss:

Heads - Ray Rice plays again this season; Tails - Ray Rice does not play again this season.

1st and Ten:

In defeating the Cowboys, Mark Sanchez avenged himself of the Butt-Fumble, and has his Eagles soaring sky high in first place (while his former team remains in a nose dive).  Speaking of which....

No Gain:

The truth is out; Rex Ryan had no shot this season.  There's a question of sabotage to ponder.  Rex is still Jets head coach because of Woody Johnson.  But with this week's revelation of John Idzik's true intentions, one can now look back at the off-season and more confidently assume the GM indeed hoarded potential free-agent money in full knowledge he was committed to canning the wildly popular coach before the season even started.

3rd and Long:

Long live parity - in 3rd place of the amateurish NFC South, the 3-7 Carolina Panthers still have a shot to win their division.


Roger Goodell's administration...

Week Thirteen:
Friday Line - NYDN

Giants +3 (JAGUARS)
Tom Coughlin's homecoming; it's finally time for the Giants to break this damn losing streak.
WIN; 25-24 Jaguars

COLTS -9 1/2 (D.C. Hogs)
The Hogs are in turmoil, and RGIII is benched.  Daniel Snyder would be better off if the media revived the "change the team name" rhetoric.
WIN; 49-27 Colts

TEXANS -7 (Titans)
No one cares, but at least Houston still has something to play for.
WIN; 45-21 Texans

BILLS -3 (Browns)
The Bills plowed through a good Jets offensive line last week like they were wet toilet paper.  I'm going with the momentum.
WIN;26-10 Bills

RAVENS -5 1/2 (Chargers)
Two good defenses, but the Chargers can't run the ball and Baltimore can, and will.
Loss; 34-33 Chargers

Bengals -3 1/2 (BUCS)
Even the Masters Of Letdown should manage this one.
Loss; 14-13 Bengals

Raiders +6 1/2 (RAMS)
...because when you're hot, you're hot.
Loss; 52-0 Rams

STEELERS -4 (Saints)
I actually like the Steelers, big.
Loss; 35-32 Saints

VIKINGS -3 (Panthers)
A very disappointing season in Carolina is going to get a little bit worse.
WIN; 31-13 Vikings

Cardinals -2 (FALCONS)
The Cards are 1-1 in Carson Palmer's absence.  But even Drew Stanton should be able to pull this one out.
Loss; 29-18 Falcons

Patriots +3 (PACKERS)
Aaron Rogers and Tom Brady cancel each other out.  New England's corners are better.
Loss; 26-21 Packers

CHIEFS +2 (Broncos)
A banged up Broncos defense will allow the Chiefs to do enough.
Loss; 29-16 Broncos

Schmear of the Week:
Bengals -3 1/2

Gutten Appetit:  Are you kidding me?  What's on your Football Sunday menu?

Good luck, and have a Happy Football Sunday everyone.

Post Game:
Thanksgiving Games:  3-0
Week Thirteen:  5-7 (8-7)
Overall Record:  81-74-2
Schmear of the Week:  6-6
BAGELS in the Basket:  +5


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

PIGSKIN 2014: Thanksgiving Day Special


Week Thirteen
Thanksgiving Day Special

I'm thankful we're only playing for BAGELS.  I had a disastrous Week Twelve, posting a 2-10 record and losing the Schmear for a total loss of 11 Bagels.

Week Twelve Record:  2-10
Overall Record:  70-67-2
Schmear of the Week:  6-5
BAGELS in the Basket:  +4

Wednesday Line/NYDN

LIONS -7 (Bears)
When I was a kid, the rule was never bet against Detroit on Thanksgiving.  But that was a long time ago.  They've been consistent losers for well over a decade now.  Despite a 7-4 record, they're the worst offensive team in their conference, and one of only five NFL teams with under 200-points scored for the season.  Fortunately for the Detroit Kitties, the Bears defense is very generous.  On the other side of the ball, the Lions have one football's most formidable defenses, and I'm banking on them holding off the Bears.
WIN; 34-17 Lions

Eagles +3 (COWBOYS)
Somewhere in this match-up between Tony Romo and Mark Sanchez lies a joke.  I just can't pinpoint it.  (Or, maybe the joke's on the Giants.)  But, with both teams sporting 8-3 records, this NFC East battle for 1st place will be entertaining to say the least.  Romo's (back injury) durability immediately comes to mind, which begs the question - can the Eagles affect his early departure?  The Eagles will certainly blitz more often than the Giants did.  I say the Eagles sell out against the Cowboys potent running game, and make Romo work for his money (or throw INT''s).
WIN; 33-10 Eagles

Seahawks +1 (49ERS)
Last week I thought the Cardinals would exact their revenge (against the Seahawks) for not making last year's playoffs.  Seattle wound up limiting the Cards (w/o Carson Palmer) to just 3 points.  After both the Niners and Seahawks stumbled out of block this season, the defending champs seem to have gotten more of their act together than the Niners have.  And now that Seahawks players appear to be bonding in their collective rebellion against the NFL, and making it rain fine fees, look out - bad guys comin' through.  In truth, the Niners are playing just a shade better than the Lions, meaning, despite their 7-4 record the 49ers are largely underachieving.
WIN; 19-3 Seahawks

I'm thankful for all our county's combat veterans, 
and for the men and women presently serving in our Armed Forces 
whom find themselves in harms way on this national holiday 
away from their homes, family, and friends.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

N.Y. Islanders: Sweep Pair From Penguins; Grab Share Of First Place


Metropolitan Division
Penguins   13-4-2  28 points
Islanders   14-6-0  28 points

New York Islanders: Saturday Night Fever In Uniondale!

Last Saturday in Tampa, the Islanders suffered a 5-2 defeat in the front end of a home-and-home series against the Lightning.  On Tuesday, the Long Islanders exacted their revenge upon the Bolts with a 5-2 victory on home ice.

On Friday, the Islanders opened a home-and-home against the Metropolitan Division leading Penguins in Pittsburgh.  The last time the Isles visited Pittsburgh on October 18th, they lost by a 3-1 margin.  This time they outlasted the Pens in a 5-4 shootout.

The Islanders reengaged the Penguins Saturday evening in Uniondale.  After Ivgeni Malkin opened the scoring with a 1st period goal, Matt Martin tied the game in the 2nd period.  The Isles then dominated the Pens during a 3-goal 3rd period to gain a 4-1 final, and a series sweep.

The Islanders essentially arrested Sidney Crosby, who managed just one SOG, and lost 60% of his face-offs.

The Isles out-shot Pittsburgh by a 71-58 margin over the two games.

Brock Nelson continues to reward Garth Snow, this time with his 10th goal of the season.  Matt Martin's only 2 goals this season came during this series.  John Tavares closed-out Saturday's scoring with his 8th of the season.

With 1 goal in 2 opportunities, the Islanders power play is now operating at 20.2% efficiency, and has scored in 11 of their 20 games this season.

The Long Islanders won playing physical hockey as well.  Travis Hamonic mixed it up early with Steve Downie, whom continued to goon it up throughout the game, specifically with a dirty hit on Hickey.  And as the 3rd period wound down, Hamonic let Pitt's Zack Sill know he wasn't putting up with any last minute crap either.

In his last two starts, goalie Jaroslav Halak has posted victories over the Penguins and Lightning.  In gaining his 9th win of the season Saturday night, he made a short-handed save, two saves on the PK, and stopped 24/25 even strength shots.  He has now won 6 straight, and started 7 of the Islanders 10 games this month.

In Friday's game, back-up Chad Johnson made his 7th start of the season and earned the shoot-out victory in Pittsburgh.

This latest victory gives the Islanders 8 in their last 9 games, and more importantly, earned them a share of 1st place in the Metropolitan Division along with these same Pittsburgh Penguins (whom have a game in hand).

Lastly, the TV guys said this is the New York Islanders best start to a season since the 1987-1988 campaign.

In 20 games this season, they only have losses against Toronto and Winnipeg to atone for.   Otherwise, the Islanders have racked up impressive victories over the Rangers, Sharks, Bruins, Ducks, Kings, Lightning, and now a pair against the Penguins.

The Islanders have also seemingly straightened out their penalty kill.  In October they killed-off 22 of 33 power plays, for a poor 66.6% rate of effectiveness.  In November, they have so far killed-off 23 of 28 power plays, for a vastly improved 82.1% rate.

That said, the Islanders are starting to get things done in all aspects of the game.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

N.Y. Giants: Cowboys Bringing Familiar Smash Mouth Style To Sunday's Game

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

It was a nice run, but the party has been over.

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: The Cowboys Running Game Is A Reminder Of What The Giants Used To Be.

The Giants head into Sunday night's game against the Cowboys low-riding a five game losing streak.

After the Giants loss to Niners, Coach Coughlin and particularly Ben McAdoo said three goal-to-go plays weren't all designed to be fades; it just worked out that way.

Okay.  But what we got were three consecutive fade plays nonetheless, and a tipped ball interception on 4th down.  That's what I'll remember most about last week.  It's a sorry state, because I remember a day when the Giants basically telegraphed the run, then dared you to stop them.

That's why you lift all those weights!  Run with power.  -  BP

In any event, wasn't this new offense supposed to resemble Green Bay's?

Newsflash - not with this offensive line.  I wouldn't trust them in a tailgate pick-up game.

An inability to create daylight, while allowing constant pressure on the quarterback are what losing seasons are made of.

Sunday, I suspect the Dallas Cowboys will keep possession and control the clock behind their new offensive line and DeMarco Murray's rushing.  I could be very wrong about that (considering the Giants played the Cowboys well last time they met) but I seriously doubt it because we've watched that formula work here for decades.  Plus, the Cowboys just happen to have the 2nd top running game in football.

The Giants head into Sunday night's game low-riding a five game losing streak.  At this point, there's little to nothing the Giants can do to turn their season around, which is too bad because Perry Fewell's defense finally played a solid game against the 49ers.  But, that said, apparently holding the Niners under 20 points this season has been somewhat easier to do than in seasons past.  Besides, one good performance out of ten should not save Fewell's job.

This all means the Giants strayed from this organization's core values, and that it's high time for John Mara to rethink everything.

In the Tom Coughlin/Eli Manning era, Giants Football been about passing the ball, and having a strong defensive line/pass rush.  It's been a hit or miss approach - Super Bowl or big busts.

Previously. Giants football was traditionally predicated on defense (featuring a Pride of hungry linebackers) and running the ball with power.

There was a name for that style.

It's high time they rediscovered it, and brought that brand of football back home.


PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday - Week Twelve


Football Sunday
Week Twelve

On Vacation 
Week Ten
Week Eleven

Week Eleven Record:  4-8
Overall Record:  68-57-2
Schmear of the Week:  6-4
BAGELS in the Basket:  +15

1st and Ten:

That's the NFL for ya.  The Chiefs were fresh-off beating the Seahawks, and could have taken a share of 1st place, but LOST to the Raiders!   On that note, damn those Raiders for not winning their first game of the season on a Sunday.  I would have picked against them..., but hey..

2nd and Short:

All of a sudden RG3's time in D.C. seems short.

No Gain:

The Player's Association...


It's hard to disagree that every team in the NFC South sucks, and is in second place until notified otherwise.  However, (I'm not going to say which) I read an article in some prominent city tabloid suggesting the NFL should realign due to the NFC South.  To that I say, Fire The Author!  How reactionary, knee jerk, and friggin typical!!!   Should we start handing out participation trophies as well?  Idiot.

Friday Line ~ NYDN

***Jets +1 1/2 (BILLS)***
****This Game Is Off My Board****** - Lake effect weather is one thing; what happened in the Buffalo area is entirely something else.  The last thing they need is a football game.  My thoughts are with my fellow Empire State denizens.

Cowboys -3 1/2 (GIANTS)
Perry Fewell's defense actually showed up last week.  It was the offense that was so inefficiently bad. Flip a coin as to which unit shows up this week, and the other side of the ball is sure to suck.  The Giants are an inconsistent team, and that's what inconsistent teams do.  The Cowboys offensive line is healthy and strong.  Nuf ced.
Loss; 31-28 Cowboys

FALCONS -3 (Browns)
I tried giving the Browns some respect last week and they spit in my face.  After five straight losses, the Falcons are  Whatever - will some team please take control of the NFC South?
Loss; 26-24 Browns

Titans +11 (EAGLES)
Would you trust Mark Sanchez with 11 points?
Loss; 43-24 Eagles

PATRIOTS -7 (Lions)
The freakin' Lions were limited to 6 points by a stout Cardinals defense, but only allowed Arizona 16 points.    I don't know what that means, but the Lions are not going to outscore the Patriots.
WIN; 34-9 Patriots

Packers -9 (VIKINGS)
Why does Las Vegas tease us like this?
Loss; 24-21 Packers

Jaguars +14 (COLTS)
Tough break for Ahmad Bradshaw; he was the Colts running game.  They're one dimensional now which gives the Jags a good chance to cover.  That's all that matters, Baby!
Loss; 23-3 Colts

TEXANS -2 (Bengals)
The Cats manhandled the Saints in the Dome last week, while the Texans wiped out the Browns in Cleveland.  Both desperately need to win.  The smart money is on the Bengals, right?  That's precisely why I'm going the other way.
Loss; 22-13 Bengals

Bucs +5 1/2 (BEARS)
This is a very wishy-washy selection; I would pick against both teams were it not for playing each other.  I'm thinking Bears by a field goal?
Loss; 21-13 Bears

Cardinals +7 (SEAHAWKS)
This is it - The Showdown.  This is the first time these teams meet this season.  The Cardinals remember how disappointing missing the playoffs last year was.  They've been on a mission since.   The Cardinals will refuse to lose on Sunday.
Loss; 19-3 Seahawks

Rams +5 (CHARGERS)
Ah hah!  The cat is out of the bag; Phillip Rivers has been playing hurt.  That explains much.
Win; 27-24 Chargers

BRONCOS -7 (Dolphins)
Have to give props to Miami's defense this season; they're the real deal.  Any more points and I would have swung the other way.  Hard to go against Peyton at home.
Loss; 39-36 Broncos

49ERS -9 (D.C. Hogs)
Criticism for RGIII is mounting, and considering what the Bucs did to the Hogs last week, be on the lookout for another lame D.C. performance.
Loss; 17-13 Niners

Ravens +3 1/2 (SAINTS)
...because I still believe the Ravens are the best team in their division, and the Saints insist on being inconsistent. Ooooops!  Monday Night; off the board.

Schmear of the Week:  (6-4)
49ers -9

Guten Appetit: Have to make room in the freezer and fridge for Thanksgiving Day stuff.  That means I'll be making various foods that shouldn't necessarily hang out together.  However, this is an opportunity to experiment with my own version of waffles and chicken. So what's on your Football Sunday menu?

Good luck and have a Happy Football Sunday everyone!

Post Game:
Week Twelve Record:  2-10
Overall Record:  70-67-2
Schmear of the Week:  6-5
BAGELS in the Basket:  +4


Thursday, November 20, 2014

N.Y. Giants: Tiki Barber Fumbles Yet Again

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning have won two Super Bowls together.
Even Michael Strahan won a Super Bowl because he conformed to the program.
Tiki Barber?  No Super Bowls for you.

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: I guess it was just Tiki Barber's time of the month...

Thank you Tiki for all the rushing yards gained as a member of the Giants.  As a fan, we had good times together.  Otherwise, shut up.

On the radio the other day Tiki Barber said he never disparaged Coach Coughlin.

Well, what do you call lashing out "we got out-coached" immediately following a playoff loss to the Panthers; a 23-0 shutout playoff loss to the Panthers in which the offense was limited to just 132 total yards, while he himself only accounted for a mere 41 of those yards.

But Tiki had nothing to do with that, did he?  It was all Coughlin's and Eli's fault.

Everything about Tiki's last two seasons was disparaging towards Coach Coughlin - the head coach who cured Tiki's massive fumbling woes!
  • 10 year career; 32 career fumbles; 19 lost.
Tiki Bitter didn't have nice things to say about Coughlin or Eli then, and apparently still has nothing terribly supportive to say regarding either, or the Giants present situation today.

If somewhere in the darkest recesses of his delusional mind, he's trying to be some modern day Frank Gifford, someone please tell him he's failing miserably.

He lost his job to Brandon Jacobs; then unceremoniously retired but not before disrespectfully announcing his plans mid-season; then the Giants won the Super Bowl....and another.

So what's the problem?

Apparently, Gary Meyers is his problem.

What, did Tiki Barber go on the radio this week just to be a bitch?


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Latest for Rising Apple: Who should the Mets backup outfielders be in 2015?

Here's my latest for

senior staff writer/Rising Apple

Brooklyn Nets: Bad Just Got Worse

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop

BROOKLYN NETS: Rift between Coach Hollins and Brook Lopez widening; team's downward spiral continues; and don't look now, but here comes Jason Kidd!

Joe Johnson's attempt at a preemptive kick in the ass has seemingly resulted in a major case of team indifference.

How else do you describe it?

New coach; new players; I get it.

Not really; not to this degree.

The graffiti is spray painted on the brick wall.  Three games on the west coast proved how vulnerable the plodding Nets are to small line-ups.

Three games; three losses.  They played well at times, but not well enough, and clearly not long enough.  They played in spurts; the Brooklyn Spurts.

In Phoenix, the Nets were up by as many as 19 points, and took a 63-49 lead into halftime.  Then their shooting soured; they only shot 27.5% in the 2nd half.

But in truth, the game changed on a dime when the Suns imposed their style in the second half.  The Nets still led 84-78 after three quarters, but the defense took the rest of the night off as the Nets were outscored 34-20 in the 4th quarter en route to a 112-104 defeat.

Joe Johnson manned-up with 21 points, and Kevin Garnett posted a double/double with 12 points and 10 boards.  Mirza Telotovic and Brook Lopez chipped in with 16 points each, but all Lopez could manage was 3 rebounds.

Making a Point:
  • Eric Bledsoe - 18 points, 3 assists.  Isaiah Thomas - 21 points and 2 assists off the bench.
  • Deron Williams - 14 points and 5 assists in 34 minutes.
The Brooklyn Spurts were at it again in Oakland against the Warriors.  They jumped out to a 36-32 1st quarter lead, but trailed 66-54 at the half.  They played to a 3rd quarter stalemate, and the Nets even outscored the Warriors 24-20 in the 4th, but the damage had already been done.

Brooklyn's lack of interior defense was all too clear, allowing Golden State 50 points in the paint, and getting outpaced on fast-break points by a 30-9 margin.

They also got out-rebounded, and trailed Golden State 30-19 in team assists.

The Nets shot a sub-par 43.8% from the floor, and suffered through 3/16 from beyond the arch.

They ultimately fell 107-99, and failed to score 100-points for only the 2nd time this season (until....)
All 5 Warriors starters scored in double digits.

For this game, Deron Williams' standard of measure came against Steph Curry.

Making a Point:
  • Stephen Curry - 17 points and 5 assists in 32 minutes.
  • Deron Williams - 18 points and 5 assists in 33 minutes.
  • Jarrett Jack scored a team high 23 points off the Nets bench.
The city of Portland provided yet another let down.  Poor shooting that began in Phoenix, and worsened in Oakland , bottomed out against the Blazers.

The Nets only scored 15 first quarter points, and shot an abysmal 39.3% for the game.  And if you can imagine it, the Nets 3/16 three-point experience against Golden State worsened, as the Nets connected on just one of 19 attempts from beyond the arch in Portland.

They were also out-rebounded, and handed out less team assists yet again.  Adding insult to injury, Portland played minus two main cogs; LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum.

Making a Point:

Damien Lillard - 28 points and 10 assists in 38 minutes.
Deron Williams - 19 points and 6 assists in 37 minutes.

That doesn't even begin to tell the story.  When Deron Williams wasn't getting defensively switched off Lillard, the Portland point guard was lighting up Williams like a roman candle.  More, Steve Blake stepped in with another 7 assists off the bench.

You would have thought the next best place for the Nets should have been home.

But in their first home game back at Barclays Center on Monday, they encountered a quiet, apathetic crowd.  The Nets responded in kind with a lethargic effort against the LeBron-less, Wade'less, and generally undermanned Miami Heat.

On this night, all Flatbush could manage was 83 points.  Their best effort came in the 2nd quarter when they scraped together 22 points, but were held to just 19 points in the final quarter en route to a 95-83 defeat to the Heat.

How's this for a downward trend:
  • 104 points versus Phoenix
  • 99 points versus Golden State
  • 87 points versus Portland
  • 83 points versus Miami
And how's this for Making a Point:
  • Mario Chalmers - 22 points and 5 assists in 34 minutes.
  • Deron Williams - 14 points and 7 assists in 35 minutes.
Throughout this time, the relationship between Coach Hollins and Brook Lopez continued to deteriorate even further.

....All since Joe Johnson tried administering the team a swift kick in the ass, remember?


On Wednesday evening, Jason Kidd and his Milwaukee Bucks come to Flatbush.  This will be the first meeting between clubs since Jason Kidd was jettisoned out of Barclays for attempting a coup d'etat.

This will also be the first time these clubs meet since Mikhail Prokhorov and Kidd served and volleyed through the media.

I don't know that a Brooklyn crowd will let bygones be bygones, and give Jason Kidd a well deserved ovation for being the best Nets player of all-time.  Obviously, New Jersey isn't across the continent, but it wasn't Brooklyn Jason Kidd led to back-to-back Finals appearances.  There's the rub.  How much of Kidd's playing history gets lost on Wednesday night's crowd remains to be seen.

In Empire State fashion, however, he just might get the Benedict Arnold treatment one might argue he deserves.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: Lightning Strikes MSG


Former Rangers Captain Ryan Callahan Scored Two Goals In Return To MSG

NEW YORK RANGERS: The Time May Have Come To Promote Dylan McIlrath.

I swear I watched a bunch of girl scouts lash out over the (clean) hit Dan Girardi sustained from Ivgeni Malkin!  I saw a lot of grappling in the corner, but not one punch.

You just can't let hits like that go unchallenged.  It's not that I want someone to get a black eye.  It's just that teams have been taking advantage of the Rangers for two seasons now, so I guess this is welcome to season three.

It's painfully obvious the Rangers do not have the type of player to police the ice; Glen Sather ensures that.  I blame him.  Things like Colton Orr and Brandon Prust, and Sather's feeble attempts to correct his folly with Donald Brashear and Derek Boogaard come racing into my brain!

With the Lightning in town Monday night, I was also reminded of Glen Sather's inability to manage the salary cap.

About Monday....

Without even trying to be physical, Tampa showed once again how soft the Rangers can be.

I watched Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Nikita Kucjerov set camp in front of Henrik Lundqvist and play a leisurely game of tic-tac-toe for Tampa's opening score.

Then I watched Ryan Callahan easily shove Dan Girardi completely out of position and score a power play goal to give Tampa a 2-0 1st period lead.

  • The Rangers have 7 PP goals this season; Callahan has 2; just saying....  Callahan even pushed around MatsZuccs at one point, because everyone can, and does.
After a mindless neutral zone turnover by Rick Nash resulted in a breakaway goal by Steven Stamkos, the Lightning had their 4th potential goal of the evening waived off after literally pushing Lundqvist clear out of his crease.  No Bolts player received even so much as a dirty look.

Shortly thereafter, I watched Palat and Johnson again, with Alex Killorn blitzkrieg their way to an unhindered 4th Tampa goal.

The 5th Tampa goal was not a garbage time goal; it was just a garbage goal.  Two Rangers defensemen (who shall remain nameless) failed to matriculate the puck from behind their net, much less initiate an effective breakout.  Ryan Callahan swooped in to arrest the puck, and scored his second goal of the evening, capping off a triumphant return to Madison Square Garden.

Rick Nash and Steven Stamkos are now tied with 12 goals each this season, with the difference being Stamkos plays with Ryan Callahan and Brian Boyle, and has his team in first place with a 13-4-2 record, while Rick Nash now plays with Martin St. Louis, whom together have helped the Rangers achieve an inconsistent 7-7-4 record.

Teams like Columbus and Toronto have already shown what happens to the Rangers when games really get physical.

In summary, the Rangers are playing soft, ineffective defense.

They can potentially improve their strength, size and presence in front of Henrik Lundqvist, while at the same time perhaps adding a measure of toughness in other scenarios.  Perhaps it's time to promote Dylan McIlrath again - and this time, for good.

McIlrath, 22, is listed at 6'5" and 220 lbs.  He would instantly become the Rangers biggest   defenseman, and arguably their most physical.

What could it hurt?  In his absence, perhaps a lot.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

N.Y. Giants: There's More Chatter Because Games Are Failing To Matter

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

The 2014 Giants are ill prepared to play their part in this great rivalry.

San Francisco 49ers
Giants Stadium

NEW YORK GIANTS FOOTBALL: A victory over the 49ers is always pleasing to Giants fans.  At least we'll have that to root for.

The Giants have been engaged in a month long battle against defeatism, and appropriately enter today's game with a slim-to-none chance of reviving their season.

They are losers of four straight, and are tied with the D.C. Hogs for last in the NFC East.  They've scored the least amount of points within their division, and have allowed the most.

The 49ers are perhaps more desperate for a win,  For them, the Cardinals remain in their sights, and now with the loss of Carson Palmer I'm sure there will be a renewed Niners effort to play more consistent football.

Both the Giants and 49ers have struggled equally on offense this season to the tune of 195 points (21.6 ppg) in nine games.  It's on defense where the 49ers hold a distinct advantage heading into Sunday, by their own merit, and because the Giants remain handicapped by Perry Fewell.

He has made a mockery of Big Blue's long tradition for playing defense.  These days, they play like Smurfs.

With no pass rush to speak of, Fewell still refuses to blitz.  And so an already confused secondary is   made to look like Keystone Cops for having to maintain lengthy coverage, and thus making superstars of nondescript receivers.

Of course, it gets worse.  If Fewell is committed to pass rushing solely with the front four, then how the hell does one explain the Giants ranking dead last in the NFL against the run?  Look no further than the Giants linebackers.  In the second half of last week's game, they looked like they wanted no part of the Seahawks.

This week, however, the defensive coordinator promised better results.


When guilty participants additionally have to pledge support for their beleaguered defensive coordinator, and key players such as (free agent to be) Jason Pierre-Paul start speaking apathetically about their future with the Giants, you know things are going awry in the land of Giants.

Simply put, there's increasing chatter because more and more, games are failing to matter.

Tom Coughlin deserves his share of blame as well, for his own diminished performance.

When he assumed control of the Giants, he did so in a loud, abrupt, disciplinary manner.  In his opening presser he denounced penalties and injuries as evil.  Today, the Giants have devolved into the team he took over long ago, with nary an angry word or grunt from the head coach.

A Giants victory this afternoon would only improve their record to 4-6, with 6 games remaining.   Two of those are against the Cowboys and Eagles.

Sandwiched between those two games are four potential soft spots in the schedule:

  • Jaguars (1-9)
  • Titans (2-7)
  • D.C. Hogs (3-6) 
  • Rams (3-6)
At best, the Giants can accomplish too little, too late, just like last season.

I guess they better get busy then...


Saturday, November 15, 2014

N.Y. Knicks: The Shots Heard 'Round The Garden

From the desk of:  DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP

Losing Streak Hits Seven

NEW YORK KNICKS: Derek Fisher Might Be Retired From Playing, But He's Still Quick On His Feet.

....and then the losing streak reached seven,

but just barely.

For a fleeting moment, Melo's game tying 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left in the game was the biggest shot of the Knicks season, that is until Trey Burke nailed his own last second, game winning, buzzer beating 2-pointer from the far corner to give Utah a 102-100 victory at a silent Garden.

The Knicks played without the still missing Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani, a resting Amare Stoudemire, and Iman Shumpert (who injured his hip in the opening minutes of Friday's game).

Yet, they managed 100 points for the first time this season.

Perhaps that's why Coach Fisher was so giddy afterwards when speaking with the media.  I call it smartly getting away with putting up a strong front after blowing a very winnable game.

The last minute of play was indeed thrilling.  As Coach Fisher put it - that was New York City out there.

He's right; the crowd was electric and Melo was on fire.

And there's the rub....

In truth, Friday's game looked a lot like something from last season, which is a bad thing.  Just ask Tim Hardaway.  It was a regression back to Melo Ball - when an inept team put the ball in his hands and hoped for the best.

The obligatory thrilling finishes might be good for ticket sales, but not much else.

Carmelo Anthony scored 46% of the Knicks points, and pulled down a team high 7 rebounds while his mates predominantly stood around and watched.  That also explains why Melo also made 16 attempts from the stripe while the rest of the team combined on just four free throws.

The Knicks collectively watched Utah shoot 51.4% from the field, and bury 10/22 from beyond the arch, while also allowing them 42 points in the paint.  You can't let a team have it both ways; certainly not the Jazz, man.

Utah additionally blocked eight shot versus just one for the Knicks, whom also got out-rebounded by a 39-31 margin.

Wait, there's more:

Once again, the Knicks suffered from poor ball distribution (regardless who's in the line-up).  The Knicks only had 15 team assists (vs. 25 Jazz) led by Shane Larkin's four, and Pablo Prigioni's three.   The Knicks two point guards at least combined on 20 points in support of Melo.

J.R. Smith, not so much.  He was not the second best Knicks player on the floor the way he should have, especially after Shumpert's departure.  Smith scored 9 points in 21 minutes off the bench, and was defending Trey Burke during the game winning shot.

Coach knows his best player scored 46 points and they still lost.  He knows they recovered from a faulty 1st quarter to build a 72-65 3rd quarter lead, but blew the game with flaky defense particularly in the paint.  He also knows the Jazz never once double-teamed Melo, thus allowing the Knicks to hang around in the first place, and that J.R. Smith failed to step up and make a difference.

So when the media failed to pounce with their post-game opening line of questions, Coach Fisher was able to preach how inspiring the undermanned effort, and the atmosphere at Madison Square Garden were.

Quick thinking Coach.

Of course, we see right through it.

Nothing short of personnel changes will help this team.  That's why Friday night brought back memories.


PIGSKIN 2014: Football Sunday - Week Eleven


Football Sunday
Week Eleven

On Vacation 
Week Ten

Week Ten Record:  7-4
Overall Record:  64-49-2
Schmear of the Week:  6-3
BAGELS in the Basket:  +22

Coin Toss:
  • How long before the NFL joins the NBA's policy of glasnost with regards to gambling?
1st and Ten:
  • In one of the worst division races of recent memory, the Saints, Falcons and Panthers are all vying for 1st place with losing records.
No Gain:
  • The Raiders are on the verge of going 0-10.
  • Patriots favored by a field goal in enemy territory?  No respect for the home team?  No such Luck?  I agree!  Nyuck nyuck nyuck.
3rd and Long:
  • What a terrible break for the Cardinals.  Carson Palmer is out for the season.  The Cardinals still have a good defense, but the question now is whether Drew Stanton can protect Arizona's West Division lead.
  • I still want to know how Vegas knew the Jets would funk up the Steelers last week.

Week Eleven:
Friday Line ~ NYDN

GIANTS +4 (49ers)
All 3 Giants victories came against sub .500 teams, and they're among the worst defenses in the NFL. But four points is hard to turn down.  Now that Perry Fewell is feeling the heat, he just might come up with something creative, and with Rashad Jennings back to provide the illusion of a running game, the offense should make a few connections.   Plus, coast to coast trips suck.  It will be 10:00am for the Niners.  There's also every chance this pick is from my heart.
Loss; 49ers 16; Giants 10

BROWNS -3 (Texans)
The Brownies have won three in a row and clearly have the better defense.
Loss; Texans 23; Browns 7

Vikings +3 (BEARS)
The Week XI Toilet Bowl - what can you say about two bad teams?  Booooo!  Otherwise, the Bears score slightly more, while the Vikes allow far fewer points.  Go with defense and the home team.
Loss; Bears 21; Vikings 13

PACKERS -5 1/2 (Eagles)
Say cheese!  Marc Sanchez is finally in a good situation with the Eagles, just not this week in Green Bay (forecast calls for below freezing with chance of snow).  That means the Packers are just waking up.
WIN; Packers 53; Eagles 20

CHIEFS -2 (Seahawks)
The Giants hung with Seattle for a half.  Surely the Chiefs defense (#2 NFL) will be far more disciplined than the Giants were.  Seattle is banged up, so I like the Chiefs at home (where their 12th man is right up there with Seattle's).
WIN; Chiefs 24; Seahawks 20

Part of the NFC South battle no team wants to win.  This game is PickEm because Cam Newton has sucked ass.  The Panthers have lost four in a row, and must be regarded as one of the bigger disappointments of 2014.  Matt Ryan will do just enough to hand Carolina loss number five.
WIN; Falcons 19; Panthers 17

SAINTS -7 (Bengals)
(See above...) The NFC South is still up for grabs and Drew Brees knows it.  A loss, and the Saints are tied with the winner of Falcons/Panthers.  After a tough O.T. loss last week to the Niners, I look for Brees to seize the day at home against the erratic Bengals.
Loss; Bengals 27; Saints 10

D.C. HOGS -7 1/2 (Bucs)
It's hard to make the HOGS look good, but I'm sure the Buccaneers will find a way to make them look quite stellar.
Loss; Bucs 27; Hogs 7

Broncos -9 1/2 (RAMS)
This could get ugly.  With all the kick return opportunities they'll get, the Rams will need touchdowns from their special teams in order to have a chance.  Otherwise, Rams get ball; Rams punt ball.   Peyton Manning gets ball; Broncos score.  Repeat.  Rams defense tires; Broncos increase point total.
Loss; Rams 22; Broncos 7

CHARGERS -10 (Raiders)
But, but..., in their last game the Chargers got their bolts short circuited by the Fish, and, and.., the Raiders are 1,233-2 on the road against the spread....blah blah blahblah blah.  Stop!  The weather is always beautiful in San Diego.  This is going to be a blowout.  Relax.
Loss; Chargers 13; Raiders 6

Lions +1 (CARDINALS)
The Cardinals..., damn, they're still a good team.  This was going to be a defensive battle anyway.   But now..., well..., lions prey on wounded animals; that's just the way it is.  The Pride and their #1 defense smell blood in the air - Drew Stanton's.  One key Stafford/Megatron connection will make the difference.
Loss; Cardinals 14; Lions 6

Patriots +3 (COLTS)
...because Tom Brady gets plenty of sleep and eats right, and because I believe Bill Belichick can befuddle any quarterback.  Everywhere is Revis Island.  I expect turnovers.
WIN; Patriots 42; Colts 20

Schmear of the Week: (6-3)
Broncos -9 1/2

Guten Appetit: Tacos, tacos, tacos...  Lobster tacos, crab tacos, shrimp tacos, and steak tacos.  Gonna wash those down with Samuel Adams.  What's on your Football Sunday menu?

Good luck and have a Happy Football Sunday..!

Post Game:
Week Eleven Record:  4-8
Overall Record:  68-57-2
Schmear of the Week:  6-4
BAGELS in the Basket:  +15


Friday, November 14, 2014

N.Y. Knicks: Did The Commissioner Poke The Bear With A Stick?

From the desk of:  DUTCH PANTS CAN'T JUMP

Patiently Waiting On Phil Jackson To Restore That Old School Feeling

NEW YORK KNICKS: Feeling Six And Queasy To Our Stomachs.

To paraphrase - We're really trying hard this year, not like last season - is the way Tim Hardaway Jr. put it.

  • Translation - Mike Woodson never stood a chance.  We abandoned his dictates in the time it took us to walk from the locker room to the hard wood.  And why not?  Carmelo Anthony was the alpha of MSG, and therefore player accountability remained nothing more than a theory.   Phil Jackson, however, will delete anyone of us in a New York minute, so we better do what Coach Fisher says.

I wonder what he'll say when his minutes get converted into Jose Calderon playing time.

In Calderon's absence these Knicks have twisted the Triangle into a pretzel.  The Knicks suffer from poor ball distribution and lack of scoring; nine games into the season, they have yet to score 100 points.

Yes, yes, yes... they're learning a new system.  Start spinning of the rolodex of excuses.

Evidently, the commissioner seems to have noticed, and Phil Jackson noticed that the commissioner noticed, and didn't seem all too pleased about it.

Easy there Zen Master....  The NBA commissioner only pointed out what we all already know.  I am somewhat surprised though, Phil seemingly took Commissioner Sterling's observation personally.   Then again, Phil has never been asked to oversee this much dysfunction before.  His sensitivity is understandable.  It goes to show running the Knicks can even make someone practiced in the art of meditation a little schizo.

In the meantime, the Knicks losing streak is up to six games.  The biggest difference between this six game slide and any other slide suffered over the last 15 years, is that finally someone is looking to fire all the players responsible, because as we all know, Derek Fisher isn't going anywhere, and this is after all a rebuilding year.


On that note, the commissioner might have even done fans a favor by hastening the Knicks president of basketball operations into initiating several savvy personnel changes.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Brooklyn Nets: Deron Williams Facing Big Test Against Steph Curry

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Nets Suffer Deflating Loss In Phoenix

Brooklyn Nets
Golden State Warriors
Some Left Coast Arena

BROOKLYN NETS: Adversity Has Entered The Building.

Prior to Wednesday night's final in Phoenix, I viewed Joe Johnson's criticisms as a positive; a proactive measure before things got out of hand.  He just also happened to be  right.  Many times the Nets have looked and played like five individuals on the court.

Good for Joe.  He's put in his time.  Johnson has tenure, and produces on the floor (which perhaps resonates most among fellow athletes).

His veteran team mates also backed him up in the media.  What else were they going to do?  But Kevin Garnett indeed seemed all in, and Deron Williams' was particularly succinct with his response.

After a second half meltdown, however, and a 112-102 loss in Phoenix, Joe Johnson's message might have lost resonance.

The Nets took a 63-49 lead into halftime, only to shoot 27.5% in the second half, and get outscored by a 63-41 margin.  Many long faces grew on the Nets bench after watching a 19-point lead eroded by Gerald Green and the Suns

What Wednesday's game accomplished was to reiterate what a plodding half court team the Nets remain under Billy King.  Sure, the Nets shooting iced up as if gripped by the northern vortex, but the Suns sped up the game in the second half and never looked back.

The game also provided another glimpse into the potential rift growing between Coach Hollins and Brook Lopez, who again was given a seat on the bench during key stretches of the fourth quarter.

While Hollins/Lopez is making for good theater, tonight all eyes will revert back upon Deron Williams.  The Nets were undone in Phoenix in part due to late turnovers - Williams included.   Tonight they'll take on the Golden State Warriors - no easy task.

Deron will face his biggest challenge since opposing Rajon Rondo back in the season's opener.  That night, Rondo posted a double/double with 13 points and 12 assists, while Williams scored 19 points with 8 assists.  Tonight, he'll square off against Stephen Curry, who is averaging 26 points per game this season.

Deron Williams entered the season with a chip on his shoulder for having felt written off by most.   He also believes that with two healthy ankles, no one can defend him.  So far, actions have spoken louder than words.  In a sign his duel ankle problems are indeed behind him, Deron's recent efforts earned him NBA conference player of the week honors.  He averaged 21 points and 7 assists in 4 home games at Barclays Center.


N.Y. Islanders: Final Season In Uniondale Off To A Fine Start


N.Y. Islanders  10-5-0, 20 points
N.Y. Rangers     7-6-2,  16 points
N.J. Devils         7-7-2,  16 points

New York Islanders: Second Place Isles Trying To Make Swan Song Season In Uniondale A Memorable One.

All three local hockey clubs skated on home ice Tuesday night, and all three achieved victory.  But of the three, it is the New York Islanders presently playing the most meaningful hockey.

While the Devils were in Newark taming the Wild, and the Rangers were battering the Penguins at the Garden, the Islanders were in Uniondale dismantling the Colorado Avalanche by a 6-0 final.

Goalie Jaroslav Halak posted his second straight shutout.  In fact, the Islanders took as many shots against the Avalanche as Halak saved in two games against the Avalanche and Coyotes combined.  

In solidifying their 2nd place position in the Metropolitan Division, the Long Islanders became the fifth team in the conference to achieve double-digit victories and gain 20-points.

They haven't won with smoke and mirrors either.  In this still young season, the Isles own victories over the Rangers, Sharks, Bruins, Kings and Ducks.

They rank 5th in the league in goals per game, and 10th on the power play.  The team's Achilles heal however is their penalty kill, which ranks 29th in the NHL.

After a very tightly contested series against Pittsburgh in the 2012-13 playoffs, the Islanders stumbled last season, particularly early, to post an identical (34-37-11; 79 points) record as in 2011-12.  They finished a disappointing 8th in the Metropolitan Division, and failed to make the playoffs.

This season, however, the Isles are enjoying the kind of start they anticipated having last year.

The change in net has so far served them well.  Jaroslav Halak turned around a shaky start, and now owns a 2.57 GAA, while Chad Johnson is 4-1 in 6 starts with a 2.96 GAA.

After allowing 3.3 goals per game over their first 10 games, Garth Snow's defensive upgrades seem to be finally turning things around as well.  During their current 4 game win streak, the Islanders have allowed a mere 3 goals, and over their last three games the PK has been perfect.

The new blue liners are also adding handsomely to what was already a good scoring team.  Nick Leddy opened the scoring against the Avalanche with his fourth goal of the season, and was assisted by fellow acquisition, veteran Johnny Boychuk, who has 10 points.

Then there is the Isles 1st round pick of the 2010 draft; in his rookie season last year, center Brock Nelson registered 14 goals and 26 points in 72 games.  He already has 7 goals and 15 points in 15 games this season.

With Michael Grabner due back shortly, and a timely return by Josh Bailey, the New York Islanders season stands to get even better.

And so the push to give Uniondale, Long Island one last post-season hurrah proceeds forward.

Next up - the Florida Panthers, followed by a major clash with the Tampa Bay Lightning.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: Defeat Penguins With Finest Effort Of Young Season


Tuesday Night Final
Penguins  0
Rangers   5

Henrik Lundqvist - 53rd career shutout
Rick Nash - scored NHL leading 12th goal

NEW YORK RANGERS: After a team meeting, Blueshirts put forth finest effort of young season.  Now what?

On the heels of a team meeting following lackluster losses to the Oilers and Maple Leafs, the New York Rangers turned in their best performance of the season Tuesday night against the Metropolitan Division's top team.

The Penguins entered the game as the division's top scoring team, and its stingiest.  But on this night, that mattered little, as Henrik Lunqvist posted his 3rd shutout of the season, and the 53rd of his career, in the Rangers impressive 5-0 victory over Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden.

Rick Nash scored his league leading 12th goal of the season.  Martin St. Louis also scored, and now has 4 goals in his last 5 games.

In all, five different Rangers scored to bring the team total up to 44 goals this season.   That's still 11   goals fewer than Pittsburgh.  And despite allowing 5 goals, the Penguins have still given up the fewest goals in the conference.

For the moment, the true measure of the Rangers will be how they perform against the Pens, Lightning, Canadiens, and Bruins (presently the top 4 teams in the conference, with each exceeding 20-points thus far this season).  Therefore, the Rangers are now 1-1 (lost to Habs) against the conference's top contenders.

After hosting Colorado this Thursday, the Rangers will be in Pittsburgh for a Saturday rematch, and   then come home on Monday to host Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle, and the Atlantic Division leading Tampa Bay Lightning (who lead the conference in goals scored).

We'll reassess the Blueshirts then, because how much this game weighs in their future endeavors remains to be seen, lest we forget why they entered Tuesday's game languishing in the second division.

Chief among the reasons are that for the second straight season under Alain Vigneault, the Rangers are still searching for an identity.  The newest Rangers have been particularly quiet, and as usual, the team continues to demonstrate a lack of physicality.  Blame Glen Sather.  I do.

Of course, injuries have also been a monkey wrench in the spokes as well.  Just when they got Derek Stepan back, they lost their Captain, Ryan McDonagh.

Regardless, their overall defensive play this season has not been what we've come to expect from the Rangers.  They now have 44 goals for, but 46 goals against (the 4th most in their conference).

The Rangers also actually scored on the power play Tuesday.  But, let's face it, Alain Vigneault was brought here in large part to improve the power play, and to date, he hasn't.  Through 15 games this season, Tuesday's PP goal was only their 5th of the season, and only the 4th game in which they've actually scored on the power play.  Their 13.2% PP mark ranks 24th in the league.

In fact, despite winning the Eastern Conference title last season, the Rangers scored fewer even-strength, and PP goals last season than they did the previous season under John Tortorella.

And while I'm at it, what's wrong with Cam Talbot?  He's only started 4 games, but they were four bad games.  Now that Henrik Lundqvist is on the other side of 30-years old, the King will need proper rest.  Having confidence in Talbot is paramount towards that end.

All that said, there's no taking away Tuesday night's fine performance from the Rangers.


Monday, November 10, 2014

N.Y. Giants: Clueless In Seattle

From the desk of:  DO IT FOR THE DUKE

No Defense For Lack Of Basic Understanding

New York Giants Football: Seattle Weather and Seahawks Rain Down On G-Men.

What would a strong second half prove anyway?  That the Giants are a grossly inconsistent team?   Didn't we finally arrive at that conclusion last season?

It's hard to write about the Giants when all I do is repeat myself.

The Giants now have allowed 30+ points in 3 straight games, and twice since the Bye.

If the secondary earned the ire of fans previously, the front seven certainly deserves crap this week.

Jason Pierre Paul had a god awful game.  He failed to stay in his lane.  He failed to provide containment.  He over-pursued plays, and fell victim to cut-backs all day long.  The linebackers were equally guilty.

In what has to be one of the most indicting resultants in recent Giants memory, Seattle's Russell Wilson rushed 21 times for 140 yards, while Marshawn Lynch only rushed 14 times for another 107 yards.  When was the last time you recall a QB attempting more rushes than his premier running back, and out-gaining him by over 30 yards?  What's more, Christine Michael rushed for another 71 yards on just 4 carries.  The total damage was 350 yards allowed on the ground ALONE!  Russell Wilson only attempted 17 passes.

Maelstroms are no stranger to Perry Fewell.

Remember how Michael Vick victimized the Giants for 100+ yards on the ground, and another 300+ through the air while still with the Eagles?  This buffoonery happens routinely under Perry Fewell.

Under Steve Spagnuolo the defense was disciplined, and had TWO very competent linebackers (attention Jerry Reese).  Under Bill Sheridan, the defense played like simpletons.   Under Fewell, they've been nothing short of confounding, confusing, bemusing, and just plain bad.

Debating a lack of talent or diminished depth weighs little when players are poorly coached.

Offensively, Eli's receivers put forth a productive, bounce-back effort.  After dropping numerous passes and generally under-performing in Week Nine, Odell Beckham Jr., Preston Parker and Rueben Randall were very sure-handed.

Once again, the running game was non-existent.  Four Giants combined to rush for a total of 54 yards, or, 1/7'th of Seattle's rushing yardage.

I always say - once is an occurrence; twice is a coincidence, but three times is a trend.

The Giants are now 2-5 within the conference.  Thus far, they've managed victories over the hapless D.C. Hogs and the unimpressive Falcons.  Otherwise, they have lost to the Lions, Cardinals, Cowboys, Eagles, and Seahawks.

They can't compete within their division; they can't compete within the conference.

In other words, the Giants are not competitive.


Sunday, November 09, 2014

Brooklyn Nets: Deron Williams Holds Court During Opening Home Stand

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

Opening Home Stand: 3-1

Atlantic Division
Toronto Raptors    5-1
Brooklyn Nets      4-2
Boston Celtics       3-3
N.Y. Knicks          2-5
Philadelphia 76rs  0-6

BROOKLYN NETS: Flatbush got their 1st look at the new and improved Deron Williams.  He averaged 21 points and 7 assists during the four game home stand, highlighted by 29 points against Knicks.

Brook Lopez Earns Coach Hollins' Attention

The Nets improved to 4-2 with Sunday afternoon's 104-96 victory over the Orlando Magic.

It marked the 5th time in 6 games the Nets scored above 100 points, and 5th time in 6 games they've held their opponent below 100 points.  They are averaging 104.6 ppg, and allowing 98.1 ppg.

The Nets were led by Bojan Bogdanovic's 22 points in Sunday's victory over the Magic.  Mason Plumlee turned in a double/double off the bench with 12 points and 10 rebounds in 16 minutes.

Deron Williams scored 18 points in a game high 41 minutes.  He and Kevin Garnett tied with a game high 7 assists.

Brooklyn out-rebounded Orlando 45-31, outscored them in the paint, and cleared a path to the free throw line.

In Friday's East River showdown against the New York Knicks at Barclays Center, Deron Williams held court, scoring a game high 29 points and dishing out a likewise game high 6 assists in Brooklyn's 110-99 victory.  Deron was an efficient 10/15 from the field and 2/3 from beyond the arch.

Brook Lopez tied (with Knicks Quincy Acy) for game high with 9 rebounds and scored 20 points.   Joe Johnson also contributed 18 points towards the cause.

Overall, the Knicks outscored the Nets in the paint, out-rebounded them, and had more assists, but Brooklyn shot 51.4% from the field, while the Knicks lagged at 41.1%.  The Nets were particularly effective from 3-point range, shooting 14/24, for 58.3%.

It was the Knicks 3rd straight loss.  No player struggled more than Carmelo Anthony.  He was limited to 19 points, on 5/20 from the field in a game high 36 minutes.

Brook Lopez Getting Schooled On The Euro:

Brook Lopez caught Coach Hollins' attention last Wednesday when he was outplayed by Minnesota's Nikola Pekovic (16 points, 11 rebounds), particularly late during the Nets 98-91 meltdown.  It was only Brook's second game of the season.

Lopez then bounced back with a physical performance against Jason Smith and the Knicks, and posted a near double/double.  However, Sunday's battle of centers went to Orlando's Nikola Vucevic, who dropped a game high 27 points and grabbed a game high 12 boards.  Brook Lopez was limited to 12 points and just 5 rebounds.

How Do You Like Me Now?

After surgery to both ankles, here are the early returns: In 6 games, Deron Williams is averaging 19.8 points and 7 assists per game, and is shooting 47.3% from the floor.

Over his career, he has averaged 17.5 ppg and 8.7 assist, with a 45.3% FG average.

He was a 47% shooter with Utah, but has only averaged 43% with the Nets.  After posting just a 41% average in 2011-12 (New Jersey's final season), he improved to 44% in 2012-13, and to 45% last season.  His career best came in 2007-08 at age 23 with Utah, when he posted a 51% FG average.

Deron Williams will turn 31-years old in June 2015.  He is beginning his 4th full season with the Nets and his 3rd in Brooklyn.

In New Jersey's last season, Deron averaged 21 points and 8.7 assists in 55 games.  First one, then two ankle injuries clearly took their toll.  He averaged 18.9 points and 7.7 assists in 2012-13, then fell to 14.3 points and 6.1 assists last season.

In 4 games during the now concluded home stand, Deron averaged 21 points and 7 assists per game.