NBA PLAYOFF & BASEBALL TALK
In case you were not aware, the NBA Playoffs have had only one series "go the distance" so far this spring - that was Atlanta's less-than-scintillating seven-game series win against Milwaukee in Round One play in the East - and the post-season inventory of games has been rather sparse for Commissioner David Stern's league.
Okay, so maybe if Phoenix wins Game 4 on Wednesday night - and we'll provide a preview of that in the next Jim Sez - we might see a "go the distance" series there but all signs seem to point to Boston turning out the lights on a Magic team that better hope its showing in Game 4 is a whole lot better than that ugly and shameful 94-71 loss last Saturday night ... someone say uncle!
And now hear this:
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BASEBALL NEWS & NOTES: ANEMIC GIANTS MUST PULL THE TRADE TRIGGER NOW
Perhaps you saw the video of San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy following his team's 1-0 loss to the Oakland A's this past Saturday afternoon:
Bochy was frustrated, agitated and annoyed with his team's lack of punch - and so he didn't look a whole lot better following Sunday's 3-0 loss to SF's cross-the-bay rivals - the A's sweep was sweet for the American league guys but it quickly leads us to the following couple of queries:
When are the Giants - losers of their last five games in a row (the longest current losing streak in baseball) -- gonna step to the plate and make a deal to acquire at least one potent bat and, secondly, who's on San Fran's so-called wish list?
The Giants (22-21 entering Tuesday's game against the visiting Washington Nationals) scored a grand total of one run in the 27 innings against the A's with San Francisco getting swept away in straight sets 6-1, 1-0 and 3-0 and the answer to the trivia question is RF Andres Torres who doubled in LF John Bowker for the only Giants run this past weekend.
The Jints had runners all over the place in the first game of the series (especially in scoring position) and then the opportunities became fewer and fewer as the series progressed and here's San Francisco beginning the new week sitting in third place in the National West but with the biggest pop-gun offense in all the land.
True, some folks will tell you that very few trades occur this early in the season - most teams have just completed the first quarter of the 2010 campaign - but if the Giants don't want to become irrelevant in a hurry than adding a bat or two to this pedestrian offense is essential.
P.S., the Giants finished with a mere three hits in Sunday's loss (all of 'em singles) and this team ain't going anywhere with 1B Aubrey Huff batting cleanup and Juan Uribe (at DH for the Sunday game) batting fifth. If it's not too early for the aforementioned Nationals (and other teams) to start talking about a deal for Houston Astros RHP Roy Oswalt, than it's not too early for the Giants to think about importing some bats.
Here's two names SF might want to look into:
Seattle Mariners 1B Mike Sweeney (batting .290 with 5 HR) and/or Cleveland OF Shin-Soo Choo (6 HR and 34 RBI) could be had for varying degrees of prospects and something tells us Bochy won't be able to contain himself all that much longer if his team continues to hunt-and-peck for runs.
Okay, want a "bigger name" for the Giants to shoot for?
Maybe it's time to shoot for a Lance Berkman (Houston) or even free-agent-to-be Prince Fielder (Milwaukee).
BIG APPLE PARLAY
There's big baseball games for the New York teams on Tuesday as the Mets host the Phillies and the Yankees visit the Twins. And the Jim Hurley Network is ready to go 2-0 on a Big Apple Parlay! Why are we so confident? Recall that prior to Sunday night's Yanks-Mets battle, we came to you in this space and said verbatim "our on-scene sources--the crown jewel of America's leading handicapping service--reach their tentacles the deepest here in the Big Apple. We'll demonsrate that to you on Sunday Night." And what happened? We surprised people when we bet against C.C. Sabathia and a Yankee club coming off a loss. But our baseball experts had been watching Jason Bay closely and felt he was ready for a breakout from an early season slump. And Johan Santana can pitch a little himself. Both players enjoyed success in the American League and we knew they could hold their own in interleague play. We got the money in a 6-4 win that didn't even get close until the ninth. Now that the Yanks and Mets have gone their separate ways, we can get back to doubling our fun and doubling your money! Get our Big Apple Parlay and take a bite out of your man on Tuesday!
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WESTERN CONFERENCE - PHOENIX 118, LOS ANGELES LAKERS 109 - Lakers lead series 2-1
Let's get something straight right here and right now:
The basic 2-3 zone defense that the Suns threw at the Lakers here in Game 3 isn't the only reason why Phoenix finally managed to dent the win column in this best-of-seven series ... but it sure was a big reason.
The Suns couldn't handle the Lakers' height (and wing span) in those first two games in this series at Staples Center en route to 21- and 12-point setbacks but putting Amar'e Stoudemire along with active seven-footer Robin Lopez on the back line here really played with LA's heads as Phil Jackson's crew went hard to the hoop less often and fired up a godawful 32 three-point attempts (making only 9 of 'em for a shoddy 28 percent accuracy rate).
The zone forced a change in the Lakers' overall offensive philosophy - all of a sudden it wasn't so easy to thread those passes into Pau Gasol on the low block! - and, naturally, it helped that the aforementioned Stoudemire had the game of his life with 42 points, 11 rebounds and only 2 turnovers.
Sure, at times it felt as if Stoudemire "lived" at the foul line where he canned 14-of-18 free throws but he went hard at the hoop all night - something about playing with a "chip on his shoulder" after getting criticized in the local media - plus Lopez was truly magnificent with his 8-of-10 FG shooting for 20 points in 30 minutes of game action.
If the Lakers wish to squawk regarding the disparity at the foul line - the Suns tried 42 FTs and made 37 of 'em while the Lakers shot 16-of-20 at the charity line - then maybe they ought to review the game tape as LA chucked up loads of perimeter jumpers and sometimes completely ignored their own inside game. Kobe Bryant's team-high 36 points were slightly misleading - he didn't do much in the final quarter when the game was up for grabs until the Suns started to pull away - and so it's safe to say that despite posting 109 points on this night the Lakers were often out of sync and never did get their transition game in gear (see just 3 fast-break points on the night).
Let's not canonize Phoenix head coach Alvin Gentry just yet for the switch to the zone or the fact he let Lopez play and sat an ineffective Channing Frye sit (note that Frye is a collective 1-for-20 shooting in this series including misses on his last 17 consecutive FG attempts) who wound up with just 18 minutes of game time here. The Suns were down 90-89 with 8:47 remaining and could have been beaten even with Stoudemire, Lopez and point guard Steve Nash (17 points and 15 assists) all rising to the occasion in this "must-win" game but if the Lakers could only have drained a few fourth-quarters three-point bombs, this one could have had a truly different result.
Next time around we'll see how the Lakers attack the zone - and you can bet your proverbial "bottom dollar" that you won't be seeing thirty-something triples again!
NOTE: Get all the NBA Conference Finals News & Notes plus much more Baseball too in the next edition of Jim Sez.
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