Ilgauskas elbows Wall, Wall punches Ilgauskas [video]

Zydrunas Ilgauskas and John Wall got into a bit of a dust-up last night. Wall was pressuring Ilgauskas, who had the ball and Z swung his elbow through and popped Wall in the face. Wall, of course, took exception and punched Ilgauskas in his torso.

The best shot of Wall’s punch is at around the 1:15 mark, while the best view of Ilgauskas’ elbow is at around the 1:30 mark. No one likes to get hit in the face, but Wall needs to keep a cool head there. He really hurt his team by getting ejected.

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“Z” says goodbye to Cleveland

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MAY 18:  Zydrunas Ilgauskas #11 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a play against the New Jersey Nets during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2007 NBA Playoffs on May 18, 2007 at the Continental Airlines Arena in the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

I have a feeling this will go over better than “The Decision” did…

The only thing he did wrong was not use Comic Sans for the font.

Discussing some smaller NBA moves, Part 2

Apr. 01, 2010 - Dallas, TEXAS, UNITED STATES - epa02101336 Orlando Magic player Marcin Gortat (C) gets a rebound against Dallas Mavericks players Dirk Nowtizki (L) from Germany and Brendan Haywood (R) in the first half of the game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas USA, 1 April 2010.

Want to read Part 1 first? Click here.

Mavs acquire Tyson Chandler, re-sign Brendan Haywood (6/$55 M).
Dallas missed out on Marcin Gortat last summer and in Chandler/Haywood they have a pretty good two-headed defensive center. If they split time and produce at 09-10 levels, the Mavs will get 14-14 and 2.7 blocks per game. But that production does come at a price. Chandler is in the last year of his deal ($12.6 M) and Haywood’s deal is fairly outrageous for a 30-year-old. The Mavs will need both players to produce if they hope to get past the Lakers’ talented bigs.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas is reportedly signing with the Heat. (2/vet’s min)
It’s not clear how much ‘Big Z’ has left in the tank, but at the veteran’s minimum, it doesn’t have to be much. The Heat just need Ilgauskas to play 15-20 minutes, protect the glass and hit his patented set shot. Veterans appear to be lining up to play with the Super Friends.

Kyle Lowry signs with the Cavs. (4/$24 M)
Byron Scott said he wants the Cavs to push the ball more and Lowry is a talented point guard who hasn’t had a chance to start, but has been productive in major roles for Houston and Memphis in his young career. Whether or not he starts for the Cavs remains to be seen. Mo Williams is still there and was an All-Star just two seasons ago. Also, Lowry is restricted and the Rockets have a week to match the Cavs’ offer. Update: It looks like the Rockets are going to match the offer. Daryl Morey always seems to get something for his assets, so maybe the two teams will make a trade.

Steve Blake signs with the Lakers. (4/$16 M)
Blake should be a nice fit in the Lakers’ triangle offense. He lacks the speed to beat guys off the dribble, but he’s a good passer (4.8 apg) and a solid spot up shooter (39% 3PT), two requirements to play alongside Kobe in L.A. With Jordan Farmar on the way out, Blake and Derek Fisher will likely split time at the point.

Tony Allen signs with the Grizzlies. (3/$10 M)
Jeff Van Gundy called Allen the best perimeter defender in the league, and the C’s curiously let him sign elsewhere for around $3 million a season. He is a very good defender. I watched him cover LeBron James, Vince Carter and Kobe Bryant in consecutive playoff series and he didn’t give up very many easy shots. Why Boston would let him go is beyond me.

Lakers beat Cavs in impressive fashion

The Cavs were up 61-51 at halftime, but a 22-8 run to start the third quarter put the Lakers in control of the game, and they went on to win, 101-91. That run included an 11-0 spurt at the start of the quarter, and Mike Brown failed to call a timeout to stop the bleeding. After all, the Cavs are still a young team, so they are not as adept at playing through adversity as, say, the Celtics, Spurs or even the Lakers. I kept waiting for Brown to call a timeout but it never happened, and in many ways, that shift of momentum at the beginning of the second half was the difference in the game.

But it didn’t help that LeBron James shot 5 of 20 from the field. He had a near triple-double (16 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds) but he’d be the first to admit that he didn’t play very well. It’s not often that the Cavs get 57 combined points from Mo Williams, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Wally Szczerbiak and still find a way to lose, but they did just that today.

After the loss of Andrew Bynum for 8-12 weeks, the Lakers have to feel great about completing this five-game road trip with consecutive wins against the Celtics and Cavs. Kobe was apparently battling the flu, but still managed to outscore LeBron (with 19 points) and hit a crucial rainbow jumper with just 2:48 remaining to put the Lakers up six. Lamar Odom (28 points, 17 rebounds) continues to play big basketball in Bynum’s absence, and is doing wonders for the contract that he’ll be signing this summer as a free agent.

So with a 1-3 combined record against the Celtics and Lakers, do the Cavs make a move with Szczerbiak’s expiring contract or do they stand pat and hope for the best? I think they have to do everything they can to win a title (or at least get to the Finals this year) if they hope to keep LeBron next summer, but clearly they have to hold out for a deal that has a great chance to make them better. I think they could package Szczerbiak with Hickson (and maybe a first round pick or two) and get themselves an impact big like Jermaine O’Neal.

Is that worth the risk? Well, O’Neal had 22 points, nine boards and nine blocks in a recent loss against the Lakers and his contract expires in 2010, so it wouldn’t affect the team’s cap flexibility in the long term.

Picking the 2009 NBA All-Stars

The NBA All-Star Game is part meritocracy and part popularity contest. First, the fans vote, and the top five vote getters – two guards, two forwards and a center – from each conference are the starters. Then the coaches vote on the remaining seven reserves for each team.

The current vote count can be seen here, but I thought I’d put together my own list – five starters and seven reserves – for each team. To me, when it comes to naming All-Stars a winning record is just as important as great stats, so given two players with similar numbers, I’m probably going to give the nod to the guy on the better team. I’ll list the player’s Player Efficiency Rating, which gives a nice overview of the guy’s per-minute statistical production this season.

And off we go…


Dwyane Wade, Heat
PER: 29.14
D-Wade is back with a vengeance. He’s averaging 29.0 points, 7.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds, and is (almost) single-handedly keeping the Heat in the playoff hunt. With 24% accuracy, I don’t know why he’s shooting so many threes (3.0 per game), but that’s just nitpicking. He’s third in the league in steals (2.25).

Joe Johnson, Hawks
PER: 19.84
JJ is averaging 22.3 points, 6.1 assists and 4.6 rebounds, and has the Hawks in a battle for the #4 spot in the East. His three-point shooting is down two points, but his overall FG% is up a point. Remember when everyone laughed at the Hawks for giving up future MIP Boris Diaw and two first round picks for him?

LeBron James, Cavs
PER: 32.04
LeBron is the front-runner for the MVP thus far. He’s posting 27.7 points, 6.6 assists and 6.6 rebounds a game. His numbers are down, but that’s because the Cavs can afford to rest him an additional four minutes per game. It’s great to see his FG% over 50% (50.8%) and FT% approaching 80% (78.8%). LeBron has always been a statistical stud, but it’s the Cavs’ stellar record that has him leading the MVP race.

Read the rest after the jump...

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