Hi 67 / Lo 43
|Volume 72, Issue 62,
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
ISSUE: Who is this yearís dark horse team to make a run at the championship?
The Burn - Jong Lee (***)
Two of me would make Yao
First off, I hate to admit it, and yes like Mark said, Iím going to eat some crow. I underestimated the Houston defense against Tulsa, but Iím mostly glad, rather than embarrassed.
Utah is playing great right now. Carlos Boozer is having an all-star year so far, and Deron Williams is looking like a great pick after all. Their only problem is that Boozer and Kirilenko may not stay healthy for the stretch run.
Orlando is 5-3 and playing great. No one in the league is more dominant on the glass and on the scoreboard than Dwight Howard, with 15.3 points and 12.9 rebounds per game. His defensive game is coming along smoothly, leading all power forwards with 2.3 blocks per game. Darko Milecic is playing decent, averaging a little over 19 minutes a game. When we see extended minutes for him, the Magic can potentially challenge Miami for the Southeast division title. With that inexperience we could see them stumble down the road and fatigue set in.
My dark horse is -- wait for it -- the Houston Rockets. I know, I know, itís the homer pick, but the spanking they put on Dallas and dismantling Miamiís offense has them finally on the "experts" radar. Yao Ming is averaging 30.4 points per game when he stays out of foul trouble. The transition from being T-Macís team to Yaoís team has been a very smooth, and when T-Mac gets his shot going, watch out. The only problem for Houston is the injury bug that plagued them this year, but I donít think that thing will come back to Yao and
T-Mac.Nectarine - Mark Suarez (*)
Read left for my life story
Since weíre on the subject of horses, I think itís only fitting to start by giving Judge Dredd a little shout-out: Hey Dredd, that tin can wrapped around your dome is played out, why donít you take it back to the thrift shop where you found it and man-up. Real men donít wear helmets unless they are playing football.
My dark horse team, prime for a run at the NBA championship, is from the city of angels, but Iím not talking about the team led by a ball hog and coached by a zen master. No, Iím jumping aboard the bandwagon of the Los Angeles Clippers, who reached the second round in last yearís NBA playoffs on the strength of its deep bench and athleticism.
Sam Cassell is a straight-up baller who can shoot lights-out. Itís amazing that heís in his thirteenth NBA campaign, and heís averaging 20 points a game to start the season. With a point guard like Cassell running the show I donít care what anybody says, the Clippers are true contenders.
In the paint, Elton Brand can throw it down on anybody. For a long time he was one of the most underrated players in the NBA until he showed everyone what he could do in the playoffs.
Corey Maggette is the definition of versatility and Shaun Livingston is a great passing point guard off the bench. Sharpshooter Cuttino Mobley is deadly from three-point range and can play solid defense.
The Clippers are well rounded and can play with anybody in the league.
Crystal Baller - Louie Vera (*****)
Swoop there it is
Gee guys, way to be bold. You wonít find anyone who knows anything about the NBA thatís not expecting the Rockets to be in the playoffs. And as for the Clippers, umm, doesnít a "dark horse" team have to be a team that no one expects anything out of? Wait, I looked it up in the dictionary, it says "a racehorse, competitor, etc., about whom little is known or who unexpectedly wins." So, considering the Clippers made the second round of the playoffs last year, how could they be a dark horse? And you have them in the Finals? What are you on?
My dark horse, the only legitimate one mentioned so far, will be the New Orleans Hornets. Last seasonís Rookie of the Year Chris Paul is a stud and is making a case for himself as the premier point guard in the league, averaging 19 points and nine assists so far, the addition of Peja Stojakovic gives the Hornets one of the best perimeter shooters in the league, and Tyson Chandler and David West give them an intimidating post presence. Theyíll have a tough road in the Western Conference, but Memphis and Denver arenít making the playoffs again this year, which leaves the door open for the Hornets. Maybe you guys misunderstood and looked for a horse in the dark. Judge Dredd and I have business to take of in the winnerís circle and let me know how finding that horse goes, meanwhile youíll see that the real dark horse of the NBA will be the buzzing of the hornets in the playoffs.
They never learn
Judge Dredd is pleased that at least one writer understood what a dark horse is. Louie basically wins this round of Fighting Words by default.
The Rockets and especially the Clippers, who were one of the best team s in the NBA last year, could not be considered dark horses. Anyone heard of the Atlanta Hawks?
Since the first two columnists totally dropped the ball Judge Dredd will take this chance to give the background story for The Daily Cougarís most sissified sports columnist.
Growing up, Mark Suarez was always known as the weakest person at every all-girl Catholic School his parents would send him to. He would get sent home every other day in tears after Bessy Greer would show her affection -- by beating him up in front of the student body.
Because of his tendency to cry at the slightest touch, he was given the nickname Nectarine.
At the age of 23, Suarez decided to do some soul searching on the east coast. He would meet his life Partner PeeDee the Purple Pirate, East Carolinaís mascot, and the rest is history.
Dreddís Verdict: Louie wins and Nectarine is a sissyFACETIMECrystal Baller says: By the way, the view does look great from the winnerís circle, Iíll send you fellaz a postcard.
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