The Sports Broadcast

A blog about sports broadcasting from the great state of Florida. They report. I decide.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

A Good Start

The inaugural season of the New Magic got off to an exciting start last night with a 93-92 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks thanks to a last-second layup by newcomer Steve Francis. He was back in Stevie Franchise form with 26 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists after seeing his scoring average plummet under Jeff Van Gundy in Houston. Cuttino Mobley had 12 points on a dismal shooting night, hitting just 4 of his 12 shots and going 1 for 6 from three-point range. Dwight Howard showed there was good reason for selecting him first overall with 12 points and 10 rebounds, though young Master Howard needs to work on his free throw shooting as he missed all 6 of his attempts. Finally, Grant Hill is indeed back, and he scored 20 points to prove it.

The return of Hill is bittersweet for me. Having him back is great, and a whole lot better than having him out. Unfortunately, his absence due to injury ultimately was what led to Tracy McGrady being sent to Houston. When the two of them played together, for the precious few games they had, it was amazing to watch. There was a mutual respect for each other's game, and they worked as hard to set each other up which is unheard of in the NBA. With him, the Magic were unstoppable, but they were without him most of the time. They patched things together and held on for a couple of playoff runs, but the bottom fell out last year and McGrady decided he wanted to move on.

Speaking of McGrady, the curse of Jeff Van Gundy appears to be settling in on him. No player has ever averaged 20 points or more on a Jeff Van Gundy-coached team: not Patrick Ewing, not Allan Houston, not Steve Francis, not Cuttino Mobley, not Yao Ming. McGrady might do it, but if he does, it won't be by much. In his first game as a Rocket he had 18 points, a far cry from the 28-30 he would often average in Orlando, but most people attributed that to the Detroit Pistons' championship-caliber defense. However, last night he managed just 21 points against a mediocre Toronto Raptors team. It's not like it was a blowout and he was taking it easy as Houston lost to fall to 0-2 for the year. Stay tuned to see how this plays out once the Rockets start playing Western Conference teams.

So far this season, all two days of it, random people are having uncharacteristically good games for no good reason. Tuesday night Chris Mihm had 23 points and 12 rebound for the Lakers, totals that are way over his head (he had a more normal line last night: 6 points, 5 rebounds). Beyond that you've got Bobby Simmons of the Clippers going for 30 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists; Manu Ginobili getting 24 points with 8 rebounds; Juan Dixon scoring 28 points and Jarvis Hayes scoring 20 points for Washington; Ron Artest putting up 31 points and 9 rebounds; and Zydrunas Ilgauskas exploding for 35 points and 18 rebounds. On top of that, Andrei Kirilenko had 8 blocks(?!). Tonight's surprise? Take a look at Primoz Brezec of Charlotte, not only because he's one of my fantasy team's starting centers, but also, now that he has a shot to play, he showed in the preseason that he can destroy teams without any kind of interior presence. Due to injury and suspensions, all the Bobcats' opponent tonight, the Washington Wizards, have is Michael Ruffin and Samaki Walker. This could be a fairy-tale win for the basketball fans of Charlotte, wronged after the Hornets ordeal, and a nice moment to fall back upon once reality sets in and the team struggles to stay in most of its games.

One nice story was Alonzo Mourning coming back and playing after getting a kidney transplant. His numbers were solid for 14 minutes of work, but the simple fact that he's playing outweighs the value of any statistics he puts up for the Nets this season.

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