FIBA – FRANCE – Pietrus determined to shine

PARIS (FIBA World Championship) – France forward Mickael Pietrus has ruled out a departure from the Golden State Warriors despite their disappointing NBA season and is relishing the forthcoming FIBA World Championship with Les Bleus in Japan.

The 23-year-old French international, who has 17 caps for the national team and won a bronze medal at the EuroBasket 2005, has played in only 12 ties this season, with an average of 10.5 points and 2.8 rebounds.

The Warriors failed to qualify for the play-offs after finishing 12th in the Western Conference table, however, Pietrus insists that injuries were a major factor.

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Manu Deserves A Better Commercial

So the premise is, Manu gets out an elevator to hell to plays one on one vs. a punk rocker with running mascara. He gets dunked on, then retaliates by bouncing the ball out of bounds and dunks back (didn’t LeBron do that?). He then wakes up (it was a dream!), drinks gatorade (ahh so he was dehydrated. that explains it), and then reminisces some Spurs highlights.

Or is that, highlights first, then reminisce? Or drinks first, then highlights, then..

aww who cares? Watch:

R. Bell Says There's (GASP!) Elbowing in the NBA

Why play in the playoffs when you can get yourself suspended and watch it on tv? Sure you could be there, playing the game of your life with your teammates (the 2nd seeded team in the West), or you could chillax in your hotel room, watch it on cable and order in. I mean, makes terrific sense right?!

Well, at least to Raja Bell.

Sigh. Raja Raja Raja.

But before anything else, I’d like to admit that I’m part of the mainstream, and I hate dislike Kobe Bryant.

Yep, just like that Nike ad below says, I also dislike the reasons I do are also the same reasons he’s loved.

And so you’re Bell, assigned to defend one of the world’s deadliest basketball players. It’s your chance to make a difference, or suffer the fate or many a Kobe defender before you – become just another footnote in a Superstar’s history. What are you going to do?

But wait, before all that, let’s do a retro (insert retro music here).

john starksRemember if you will – John Starks. See, this guy defended Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller. As such, aside from having meaningful oncourt discussions about their mothers and ancestry, he would get punched, kicked, poked in the eye, spat on, tripped, kneed, and what else.. oh yeah.. elbowed.

That’s right Raja my boy. Those guys don’t get 40 point games just like that. Sometimes they *gasp* bent some rules. Then if the physical abuse isn’t enough, Starks ends up in their posters too, to be hung on a bedroom wall so some kid will wake up to his image getting dunked on many years into his adolescent life.

But you know what? John took it. In fact, he gave it too. And I bet all my good looks that when some superstar checks their schedule for the Knicks, they’re thinking “I gotta work out cause John Starks is there”. Sure they’ll never admit it, but I’ll bet my good looks and a tub of spaghetti. And I make very good spaghetti. Trust me.

So anyway, where were we? Ah oh yeah. Bell. Like Bell pepper. Good for spaghetti. Ok, losing focus now. Yes it’s better to play than to watch from your hotel room.. and order spaghetti. With meatballs and green pepper. Gawd I’m hungry.

Who were we talking about? Raja who?

Fear the Suns

The Phoenix Suns played like NBA Champions when they defeated the tenacious Lakers in OT, 126-118, in their 2nd straight elimination game. The series is now tied at 3-3. The deciding game is going to be played in Phoenix, and if the Suns continue their outstanding play and feed off the hometown crowd, the Lakers are goners.

Should LA fall, the rest of the surviving Western teams have cause for alarm. The Clipps? Hell no, they don’t have a chance against the Suns team I watched play earlier. The Spurs and Mavs…these teams can beat the Suns, especially the defending champs, but it’ll be a long series.

With Raja Bell suspended for one game, the Suns entered the match teetering on the brink of an early playoff exit. But Phoenix showed class, grit, composure, and of course their famed firepower to overcome Kobe Bryant’s tremendous 50-point performance. The heart-pounding game deserves to be included in the NBA’s Hardwood Classics for sheer basketball drama.

I wasn’t a Suns fan before this game. Now I am. Let’s see if LA can give Phoenix a dose of its own medicine in hostile territory. With Kobe putting up Jordan-esque performaces, they surely can — but they’ll need a reinvigorated Suns team to cooperate.

Postscript. The New Jersey Nets ran the Pacers out of their own turf, 96-90, thereby eliminating Indiana from the playoff picture. The Miami Heat did the same to the Chicago Bulls, 113-96; Shaq seemed to be his old dominant self, scoring 30 points and hauling down 20 caroms.

Giants Prevail in Possible Finals Preview

Now for some local basketball news…

The Purefoods Chunkee Giants downed the erstwhile league-leading San Miguel Beermen, 82-75, in a match-up of the possible Finals contenders. The Giants stopped the Beermen’s scorching seven-game winning streak, and extended their own streak to four.

The season series between the two teams is now tied 1-1, as the Beermen beat the Giants 93-77 in their first outing. The two teams are now locked at the number one spot in the standings with identical 9-3 slates. The two teams are running away from the rest of the pack, but the PBA season is far from over, and we all know that weird things always happen in the playoffs.

Playoffs Heating Up…But of Course!

Quite a lame title, really — as the going gets tougher and as the title contenders get fewer, nobody expects the NBA Playoffs to slip into a yawn-inducing affair. Nobody.

Maybe you can attribute the unglamorous title to rookie jitters. Phillip Kimpo II (aka Corsarius of Slip of the Pen and Crimson Crux) here, new writer for the country’s spankin’ new Basketball Exchange. And though it’s a bit late, here’s my own take on the Playoffs.

The East

What do you get when you smash a muscle car into a deer? Roadkill. That’s precisely what happened when the Pistons made mincemeat of the Bucks. Question is, will they repeat their overwhelming performance when they face their next two challengers? Yes, versus either the Cavs or the Wizards. Partly yes, when it comes to the Nets or the Heat. Partly, because they won’t be as overwhelming as before. I’d say the Pistons will win the Eastern Finals series in no less than six games.

I said the Nets or the Heat, because I’m betting that these teams would dispose of their rivals in the 1st round. Despite two losses to the Pacers, the Nets are still the team that posted a huge surge in the late season. Predicting Miami’s win over the Bulls is a tough act for this writer, as I’ve been a Bulls loyalist for 16 years. I do hope I’ll eat my words, but the Heat are simply the better team.

The West

Despite inflicting a couple of losses on the defending champs, the Kings still don’t have the experience needed to beat the veteran Spurs. On the other hand, we can expect San Antonio to race to the NBA Finals to meet the Beast of the East, but not without some challenge from the Mavs in the 2nd round. It’ll be either the surprising Clippers, Lakers, or Suns that they’ll meet in the Western Finals, and they’ll manage to get through.

Kobe Bryant’s been playing like a mad dog recently, breaking the hearts of Phoenix fans. While the money’s still on the Suns and the MVP-bound(?) Nash to recover and win the series, I’m beginning to think that Kobe won’t be denied. Hey, a Lakers-Clippers showdown on the Staples Center should be interesting, after all.