The worst coach in the NBA (fantasy division) has finally been fired. Scott Skiles has hated his own team all year, jerking players in and out of the lineup on various whims — or just out of spite — and the Bucks will collectively feel like they have been let out of jail. No matter who takes over on the bench, there is a wealth of talent to sort out. Ersan Ilyasova might develop some consistency, Drew Gooden should play more and even Samuel Dalembert (my least-favorite NBA player) has a fresh opportunity. The timing of the move was fantastic, as they play at home tonight against a 2-14 road team that’s slumping.
January 7 Games
OKC @ WAS: To quote the late, great play-by-play man Jack Buck, “I don’t believe what I just saw!” We told you that Nene might play sparingly, and he sat out with a sore knee. We wondered about Jordan Crawford’s last horrible outing; turns out to be an ankle issue and he didn’t play either. Even Cartier Martin (knee) couldn’t go, yet somehow, the remaining Wizards defeated the mighty Thunder.
Bradley Beal and Martell Webster each scored 22, Kevin Seraphin added 19 and Emeka Okafor had a 12 & 12 double-double. A.J. Price (4 PTS, 5 AST, 5 REB in 16 minutes) returned after missing a month and may soon battle Garrett Temple for minutes. It’s still a mystery how they won, as Serge Ibaka (26 PTS, 11 REB, 2 BLK) was outstanding and Kevin Durant (29 PTS, 8 AST, 7 REB, 3 STL) had a KD-type line. In the NBA, anything can happen, and it just did.
BOS @ NYK: I thought Rajon Rondo would be the key to this game, but he was suspended for very gentle contact with an official. With Avery Bradley (13 PTS, 5 AST, 3 REB) at PG applying tremendous defensive pressure, and Paul Pierce (23 PTS, 6 AST, 3 REB) the primary scorer, the Celtics won anyway. As predicted, both Kevin Garnett (19 PTS, 10 REB, 3 STL) and Tyson Chandler (13 PTS, 17 REB) had big nights. The difference was holding Carmelo Anthony to 6-for-26 shooting and 20 points; J.R. Smith (24) also missed 11 shots as the Knicks were under 41% from the floor while allowing Boston to connect at a 52.7% rate. KG and Melo had angry words that continued postgame, so both teams — never friendly rivals — will carry some extra grudges and it’s possible that Anthony will be suspended for his actions.