• Fans of the NBA are smarter than ever -- about the mechanics of the game, the players who make up the league, the specifics of the salary cap, and every conceivable detail in between. Yet too often lost in the rush toward sober analysis is the awe induced by high achievement. There's something thrilling about improbable, high-scoring performances on a very basic level, the basis of which was discussed by @netw3rk in his reflection on Carmelo Anthony's 62-point explosion:
Here was an event, against the decidedly unmarketable (sorry, Charlotte) Bobcats, at a point in the season when all signs indicated a team pulling itself apart. A victory — fleeting, of course — of heat checks, hot hands, and randomness over the steady, hegemonic despotism of computer models, efficiency formulas, and high-tech cameras.
Melo’s 62 is why we watch the game: for the thrill of seeing something remarkable, something rare, something unpredictable. Even as our consciousness of analytics and the availability of data like SportVU give us a deeper understanding of the game, the greatest moments in NBA history remain exactly the plays that analytics tell us to avoid. Jordan’s shot over Byron Russell. Jordan’s shot over Craig Ehlo. Magic’s hook shot over a freaking double-team of McHale and Parish with Kareem wide open. Kobe’s 81-point shred-fest against pre-Drake Toronto. Seeing the ball go in the basket, it’s the reason the game exists.
• The NBA has its share of facetiousness and insincerity, all of which makes stories like these -- love letters between ball players and the cities they called home -- all the sweeter.
• With about 25 seconds to go in the second quarter of a game against the Thunder on Saturday, Sixers head coach Brett Brown had his team intentionally foul Kendrick Perkins. It's a single possession in a much longer game in a much longer stretch of a much longer season. But the thinking behind that play projects a great deal about Brown and the level of detail that goes into process-oriented coaching.
• An interesting whisper here from NBA veteran Jim Jackson on pre-rookie scale "collusion." Tom Ziller does a nice job of walking through why that allegation might be a bit strong for the circumstances, but it's an interesting case all the same -- especially in contrast to a current climate where most teams treat rookie deals as a mere formality.
• Doris Burke, one of the finest in the ranks of NBA broadcasters, went at length with J.R. Wilco of Pounding the Rock on the unique challenges of her job and, in particular, conducting sideline interviews with Gregg Popovich.
• Kevin Garnett explains to Beckley Mason of the New York Times the difference in his (and the Nets') more aggressive mentality on both ends of the floor:
“When you’re a secondary — which was the first in our careers — you take a step back, you’re not as forceful, you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Now, when you’re a primary, plays are being called for you, and not only that, you’re touching the ball, you’re in a rhythm. We’re thinking like primaries. We’re out here being aggressive. We’re trying to make things happen versus being in the way.”
• This supercut of Paul George's outstanding defensive plays could probably be half an hour longer. He's that good, and his on-tape defensive résumé that robust.
• Good grief.
• Dallas already has its two lead guards in Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon, but now adds Devin Harris to the mix to both augment what that pair already does well and compensate for some of what it does poorly. This is not an insubstantial gain for the Mavs. Their roster was originally conceived under the notion that Harris would be available, and his perimeter defense and drive-and-kick game should be a big help through the end of the season. • Does it count as shameless link baiting if I just tease with "DENNIS SCHRODER WARDROBE MALFUNCTION?"