Week 9 is in the books and it was another solid night of ball as we saw some teams take another step towards validating their case to be the top contenders for the title. Just a reminder we are off on Superbowl weekend (Feb 3) and also for Family Day long weekend (Feb 17). Big shout out to Pras and Witness for helping out at the scorer's table! Also a big thanks to Miresh for grabbing the portable scoreboard!! Now let's get right to it.
HAWKS vs LAKERS: This was a big game for both clubs as they were both coming off 2 straight wins and trying to slowly climb up the standings. The Hawks looked like a more formidable team after the changes they had made to acquire Krishan and Muhammad. The Lakers meanwhile have also looked dangerous after getting their top player Usamah back from injury. Early on it was all Hawks as Nirsan came out on fire drilling a couple triples and a hitting an 'and1' to take a 17 to 5 lead. Nirsan hit 4 triples in the game which ties the total he had for the entire year and he looked super confident taking these shots including some off the dribble. He finished with 22 and 12 and just like all season...he did everything he could to try and get this win. The problem is...the next highest total on the team was 6 points by Muhammad...they just have not been able to get a consistent 2nd scorer when all the attention is focused on Nirsan. They are 12th in FG% and 14th in FT% and some of their role guys are just going to have to step up and make some open shots. They have started running more plays in recent weeks which is a sign that they have been putting in work and now it's all about executing. They are 2nd in steals and blocks in the league and so the offence has been the problem for the most part. The Lakers meanwhile capitalized once the offence started fizzling out for the Hawks and they made a serious run to take over this game. GM Somi Byrant came thru with a big game as he dropped a 20 piece on only 14 shots. Usamah was on his best behaviour in this game but still managed to get a technical lol along with Ragu which could have been a momentum shifter as the Hawks tied up the game at 42 a piece on the freebie by James. However, the Lakeshow finished on a 9-0 run to clinch the victory as the Hawks fouled unnecessarily, gave up offensive boards, and turned the ball over in crunch time.
Final Score: Hawks 42 - 51 Lakers Player of the Game - SOMI RAVIN 20pts/4rebs/5asts/2stls/1blk - 50% Shooting - 3 Triples
BUCKS vs HEAT: This game was entertaining from the start as both teams were coming off a loss and wanted to respond with a 'W'. The key to stopping the Heat of course begins and ends with Milton Laidley. He had 17/19/6 in this one on 80 percent shooting and even those numbers are rediculous...I would still say the Bucks did a decent job containing him. They would have an extra defender shadow him most of the time on defence and doubled quickly when he got the ball close to the paint. I would have liked to see them be more consistent with this approach but they did get lazy at times and did not stick to this plan. Plus they could have tried fronting him more with Chris as he has the length to do so and see if the Heat could actually get him the ball over top. It was still the best effort I have seen by any team on the big guy but they got torched by the rest of the Heat in this one which ended up being the difference. Fasel was terrific with 17 points on 8 of 11 shooting plus chipped in 8 boards and 4 assists!! They actually had 4 guys in double figures which is almost always a guaranteed victory if this happens but the guy with the biggest impact was Mr. Az Syed who did a bit of everything. He was 3 for 4 from long range and he was the beneficiary of the extra attention Milton was receiving. He was a force on defence as well and was so confident in this one that he was trying to crossover anyone that came his way like it was an And1 Mixtape lol. GM Annojh tried to lead his team with his defence and passing as he had 6 rebounds,6 steals and 5 assists in this one...Chris dropped a game high 30 points and was a nightmare for the Heat to handle as he was hitting shots from all over the floor including 4 triples...Randy also had a season high 16 points and kept his team in it with his shooting! The role players for the Heat were too much for the Bucks in this one and they deserve a lot of credit for stepping up when it mattered. The Bucks are barely clinging onto the last playoff spot and they now have 4 games remaining.
Final Score: Bucks 63 - 72 Heat Player of the Game - AZ SYED 13pts/6rebs/4asts/1stl/3blks - 62.5% Shooting - 3 Triples
NUGGETS vs PACERS: This game was suppose to be a good one even though the Pacers were missing GM Vimal and JR. The Nuggets were off for almost a month due to the consecutive bye weeks they had plus the Xmas holidays so rust was certainly a factor. Although the Pacers were also coming off a bye week but they did not show much ill effects at all and came out with a strong first half to put them up by 12. Acting GM (Andrew) did his best Nick Nurse impersonation and had his team focused and made timely substitutions. He also once again showed off his oldschool post moves which was effective in this one as he was 3 for 3 on them. Akshay had another solid game with 12 and 18 on 50% shooting while Komathan stepped up and led the team with 14 on only 7 shots. Another big key was the play of Machine Gun Ganen who used his speed effectively and got others great shots in this one. The 6 assists he had were a season high and he also had a season high 13 rebounds!! He loves to run in transition and his teammates ran with him in this one to get great looks on offence. Meanwhile, the Nuggets could not buy a bucket and shot 3 for 27 from long range...that was not a typo. Dylan was 2 for 12 from out there and took some very questionable ones as he was shooting from extremely deep. They definitely depend on his shooting to win games but they are more effective when they move the ball and set off ball screens to get him catch and shoot opportunities. Nuggets shot 15 of 61 in this game. Game over.
Final Score: Nuggets 43 - 54 Pacers Player of the Game - GANEN THANGA 12pts/13rebs/6asts/1stl
MAGIC vs WARRIORS: This game had a playoff feel to it and the Magic wanted to show they can matchup with the defending Champs. Even though they lost this close game...they definitely proved they belong in the contender conversation. First half they put the clamps on the Champs and held them to a season low 10 points in the first 20 minutes. Vasko had Amit...Pras had Thanu...and Baki had Gopal...and both teams played their asses off on defence. In the end it came down to the play of former Season 2 MVP (Thanujaan) who came up with some clutch freethrows and went 13 for 14 from the line!!! He drew fouls on both his shots and his drives and unlike years past where he had struggled from the line...he looked super confident as he was hitting all net most of the time. He hasn't been able to put in time into ball like before and isn't in the exact same shape anymore and thus he has struggled this season. But he has still put in the effort on the defensive end and games like this will remind you how dangerous the Warriors can be when he gets his offence going. He also started the game off the bench in this one which was a suprising move to say the least by GM Gautham but instead of being sour about it...Thanu stepped up and delivered his best game of the season. The Magic went 5 for 15 at the line which really hurt them in this one plus they only hit 3 triples out of 23 attempts. They only gave up one triple though and so they actually won the battle there but the discrepancy in freethrows was the biggest factor. Things got a little heated during the game and technicals were handed out but cooler heads prevailed. Puvi said that he would run through the entire Warriors team if this shit continued...like damn...I woulda mentioned 1 or 2...max 3 people...but an entire team is crazy LOL. He has brought leadership and toughness to this squad and it was exactly what they needed at the trade deadline. They are now off until Feb 24th as they have a couple consecutive bye weeks plus the Superbowl week and they will use this time to focus on their weaknesses and work on some plays according to GM Wilbert.
Final Score: Magic 34 - 38 Warriors Player of the Game - THANUJAAN THAVASEELAN 17pts/3rebs/1ast/2stls
RAPTORS vs SIXERS: Stop me if you have heard this before...another loss within 4 points for the Raptors...yes all 6 of their losses this season have been within 4 which is crazy/frustrating. The Sixers absolutely destroyed them in the first half however and this game should not have even been close as they gave up 41 in the first half. In the previous game (Magic vs Warriors)...neither team scored more than 38 for the entire game LOL. GM Chris started Sankeeth and Andy (who usually come off the bench) in what must of been a way to get them more minutes which I highly respect but they started off extremely slow because of this and got run out the building early on. Mixing up one guy into the starting lineup would have been sufficient enough (just like GM Gautham did previous game) and staggering lineups should allow you to compete throughout the game. Being down 18 at half was a big deficit but these dudes never quit and came out fighting in the 2nd half to close the gap! Chris hit some long range bombs as well as Louie and Davy to get the team back into it. They hit a total of 11 triples which gave them life and they have easily been the best 3 point shooting team in the league. Similar to the Hawks, they just have not been able to get a consistent secondary scoring threat or come up with big defensive stops in crunch time. They have a plus 6 in point differential on the season and THEY ARE IN 14th PLACE in the standings!...that is just mind boggling. I still have faith in the Asian invasion (plus Shawn and Sankeeth) but time is running out as they have 3 games left. Sixers seem to have righted the ship even though the 2nd half was not pretty they still got the job done and have now won 2 in a row.
Final Score: Raptors 53 - 57 Sixers Player of the Game - KEVIN CLERIGO 13pts/4rebs/4asts/4stls/2blks/1to
PISTONS vs HORNETS: This was an interesting matchup of two teams still trying to find a rhythm and an identity. The Pistons were missing 3 guys including Manish who is out for awhile with his ankle injury. The Hornets were only missing one player (Satish) and they are looking to get to .500 with a win in this one. Biggest difference in this game was the long range shooting where Mr. Sen Thayalaseelan got hot and torched Motor City with 6 triples and dropped 20 points. The most he had hit this season was 3 triples in a game and he totally broke out of his funk in this one. He is a former 3 point shooting contest champion and he showed why in this one. The Pistons had to play zone as they had no subs plus co-gm Sugee was still basically playing on one knee which showed as he went 1 for 9 from long range including an airball that would have even made it on TNT's 'Shaqtin a Fool' segment. He was 4th in three pointers made last season and his injury which seemed to have come out of nowhere...I mean he still does not have a root cause for it...just that it is being diagnosed as "runner's knee"...but he is definitely not a person you would associate "running" (Dr. Evil air quotes) with. But in all seriousness, he needs to get healthy soon as his spacing on the floor is gonna be paramount especially until Manish gets back. Kris was in his usual MVP form as he dropped 27 on 10 of 16 shooting and he is putting this team on his back but the heavy load might be too getting a bit too much. They just got a squeeze out a win soon and hope the team is fully healthy in time for the playoffs. Nishan had 11 points, 17 rebounds and 7 assists!! as he is trying to ramp up into game shape for the stretch run. Luxshan was also back for this one and he is definitely an x-factor for this team as he made several heads up defensive plays and made timely shots during the game. They will look to keep it going against the Twolves this Sunday.
Final Score: Pistons 50 - 61 Hornets Player of the Game - SEN THAYALASEELAN 20pts/3rebs/2asts/2stls - 54% - 6 Triples
Written by: Kisho (Commissioner)