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31 January 2005

PC Load Letter? What the Fuck Does That Mean?

I love Office Space. What cubicle worker doesn't? Dozens of memorable lines, but this one always bugged me. "PC load letter" seems pretty obvious to me. I mention this because I cannot get my bohemoth Epson Stylus Color 800 to work anymore.

The Spurs beat the Sonics who were without Ray Allen (viral infection) and Nate McMillan (mother passed away). Talk about anticlimactic. I'll post a full review late Tuesday, complete with photos.

σ = E * ε

I think predicting the scores of sporting events is a futile exercise practiced by idiot sportswriters. Of course that will not prevent me from posting the following:

Spurs 109
Sonics 91

Uh huh. That'll be the final score. Yep. I'm sure. No doubt.

30 January 2005

Moving On Up

Google, bitches. That's right, this here blog has made it into Google.

Word.

Where my groupies at?

29 January 2005

$19665000

That's how much the Spurs owe Malik Rose over the next three years.

Malik Rose, 6'-7" "P"F, 30 years old, 5.6 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 16.3 MPG

No one questions that Malik tries hard. Or that Malik is a good person-- He received the NBA Community Assist Award in January of 03. And he's been with the Spurs a long, long time.

That's all well and good. But there's a teency problem. He's not a good NBA basketball player. And, of course, his contract is awful. Even Isaiaiaiaiah wouldn't take him last year, proving he's pretty much untradeable. But I won't hold that against him when grading him.

He brings only two things to the table-- energy and rebounding. He's 44th in the league in rebounds per 48 minutes at 11.7. That's down considerably from his three year average of 15.3.

The problem with Malik as a player is that he doesn't really have a position. Offensively, he doesn't have the penetration or shooting ability to be a three, and he doesn't have the post moves to be a four. Defensively, he's not quick enough to guard threes and he has trouble with guys with height. He's adequate defending guys who like to bang.

He's also not a very good team defender. Like I have mentioned before, he wanders from his man too much. It's as if he doesn't take into account who he's guarding. He'll give Nowitzki as much space as he gives Reggie Evans.

When the Spurs signed Malik to the long term deal they needed a guy who brought energy and I guy who could spell Robinson or Duncan on the defensive end. They no longer have these needs. The Spurs have plenty of energy guys in Parker, Nobili, Brown and Barry. And with Horry and Massenburg they have guys that are more capable of defending bigs.

To be blunt, Rose should be the eleventh guy on the bench, helping Wilks with his geometry homework.

I give him a C-. Nice smile, though.

Beno Udrih, 6-3" PG, 22 years old, 5.7 PPG, 2.0 APG and 41.5% 3P% in 14.3 MPG

Here's a hint to all you NBA GMs out there. Fire your scouts and just find out who the Spurs are thinking about drafting. Before the 04 draft the Spurs were predicted to pick Anderson Varejao. Not only is he having a very promising season for the BronBrons, he also has a sweet muppet-fro. Is there anyway we could transplant that mop onto Duncan's head? Or Pop's? Or even Parker's. I'm flexible.

The Spurs, having a pressing need at backup PG, and also wanting to find a friend for Rasho, picked the crafty Slovenian with the 28th pick in the draft. He was the best player at the Chicago pre-draft camp thingy, but apparently teams would rather draft really tall furriners without any basketball skills or 5'-8" point guards who cannot shoot better than 36% from the field but connect with the street kids. Because, remember, the goal of every NBA team is to move merchandise. That's right Telfair, I'm calling your ass out. I WILL CROSS YOU OVER AND MAKE YOU LIKE IT BIAATCH.

Beno's been a great addition. First off, he's left handed and has mad skills with the ladies. He's been phenomenal from behind the arc and Pop loves how he distributes the ball. He's also fast as hell. Not Parker fast, but he can run.

Speaking of Parker, I've heard some rumblings that Beno's the PG of the future for the Spurs. Let's simmer down folks. Don't get me wrong, I have a very strong man love for Beno, but Parker is special. He can penetrate on just about anybody and has the ability to take over games. And, like Beno, he's only 22. How many 22 year old PGs average 15 PPG on 49% shooting?

I think the Spurs should try playing them both at the same time. If Beno really is 6'-3", we could get away playing him against some two guards. Of course, I see the Spurs as a team under-utilizing it's running ability. We're a deep team, let the dogs loose Pop. C'mon, you know you want to. Deep deep down in places you don't talk about at parties...

Because Beno's a first rounder, the Spurs have him locked up for three more years. If he turns out to be an above-average PG it would make little sense to resign him. They'll still have three years of Parker's contract remaining, and you cannot allocate $6-8 million on a backup point guard. I see the Spurs continuing to use him as a backup PG and increasing his minutes in the coming years, eventually flipping him for draft picks or to fill a need in the starting rotation.

Beno gets an A. His hair gets a B-. It's too easy looking.

NBA League Pass

I feel stupid for not getting NBA League Pass sooner. I previously had only basic cable and did not know that you could get just the digital sports package-- NBA TV, NFL TV, Fox Sports World, etc-- for $10 additional a month. And that gives you access to the the PPV packages. Of course, by the time you pay the extra $10 you might as well get the whole digital package.

And now, even though I really don't watch much television or movies, my wife and I will have digital cable, Netflix, TIVO, two cell phones and high-speed internet. That's about $200 a month. It makes me feel a little ill for some reason. I am supposed to be above all that. Heh.

So I will be watching every Spurs game for the remainder of the season. I am not sure exactly how this will effect this here blog. Obviously I'll have more to say about each individual game, and I'll probably do some more running commentaries (with the goal of producing something more coherent than my first effort). Someone donate me a laptop. I'll give you access to exclusive content!

I am going to the Seattle game this coming Monday. I hope to get some semi-decent photos. It shapes up as a very interesting game. The Spurs have all sorts of reasons for being "up" for this game:

-Twenty percent of the Spurs losses have come against the Supes.
-Their only home loss came against Seattle.
-This is the first game of their annual Rodeo Road Trip.
-They've played like ass the past two games.

The Sonics are coming back to earth after their astonishing 17-3 start. But they're only 7-6 in their last thirteen and Allen's been in a shooting funk. They realize that a third win against the Spurs would go a long way to shoring up their reputation as a contender, which I'm not sure even they believe.


-18.0

Thanks go out to Matty the Blade for pointing out that the Spurs are EIGHTEEN point favorites against the Baronless Hornets tonight. I don't bet on NBA games much, but I cannot recall ever seeing a line that high. And just think if Rasho was healthy! What would the line be then? 18.25?

Dan Dickau is averaging 19.7 points and 7.8 assists over his last six games. What the hell? Since when is he any good? What's going on with these flop-haired white point guards in the NBA? The Spurs better hold him in check. Oh, by the way, apparently this is Dan's wife. All the more reason to dislike him. And if Ridnour's wife looks anything like that... well something just ain't right.

27 January 2005

Rick Adelman is an Excellent Driver

The light came on when, for the third time tonight, the TNT cameraperson zoomed in on Kings coach Rick Adelman's face. He was staring blankly, eyelids twitching arrhythmically. I think he was mentally going through the Ns in the Sacramento phone book.

Yes, that's right, Rick Adelman is an idiot-savant. It's the only explanation that makes any sense. Someone should throw a gross of toothpicks at his feet to verify.

The idiot part is easy to see. Any basketball fan with half a brain knows that Chris Webber is one of the most overrated players in the NBA. Yet Adelman still allows Webber to jack up 19.8 shots a game, 12-15 of them 18 feet from the basket. It would be one thing if it were a productive 20 shots, but no, Webber is averaging 1.085 points per shot, which is 25th out of 29 power forwards in the NBA. The league average is 1.200 PPS. It's not like Webber plays on a team with a bunch of scrubs that were lost of the offensive end. That would at least be an excuse, albeit a bad one. But no, Webber plays with likes of Peja (1.29 PPS), Bibby (1.30 PPS) and Miller (1.44 PPS).

I have to pause for a second. Seriously. I think my heart is palpitating. Let me explain something. This shit really makes me angry. I'm getting a glass of water.

Here's what should happen. It's quite simple.

When Divac left, pundits and fans pointed out the obvious: "Miller will take his place." That's somewhat right, but the implications are mostly wrong. Yes, Miller should get Divac's minutes, but Webber should take Divac's role. Webber should be on the block, hitting Bibby and Mobley on cuts. Webber should be in the corners, shooting the occasional wide open 15 footers off Bibby and Mobley penetration. Miller should be at the top of the key, picking and rolling and scoring about 20 on 15 shots a game.

But this will never happen because Rick Adelman is an idiot. "That's not fair!" you say! "Chris Webber won't be happy with a reduced offensive role! And he's making 15 million a year! He's got great hands!" Well, good-hearted basketball fans of the world, here's what I say to that. Again, this is simple. Rick Adelman just needs to sit Mr. Webber down and have the following conversation.

"Chris! How's it going? Saw those new spinning things on your Hummer! Those are pretty sweet, dawg! What kinda mileage that thing get? Oh. Wow. My Buick Regal gets a little better than that, unless I run the air conditioner. Have I ever mentioned that you have a really pretty smile and fabulous teeth? No, really, you do. And Tyra Banks, I mean, wow. She's smokin'! Anyways, about your role on offense with this team. Yeah, um, your about the fourth best player we got, so we're going to need you to play on the blocks more and shoot about ten less shots a game. And we need you to at least pretend to play defense, ok? You know, jump for rebounds and get your hands up. College type stuff. You remember college, right? When you were only getting paid half of what you make now... Oh, and one last thing. If you don't like it, go fuck yourself. Peace out."

How hard is that?

So we have the idiot part covered. Now for the savant part.

He still has his job. Done.

***

Oh, yeah the game.

Spurs coasted. Malik Rose played so badly that I thought Pop was going to walk out on the court, during play, and bust a cap in his ass. That one close up of Greg Ostertag made me laugh out loud. I don't care if he gave his sister both his damn kidneys, the man is one funny looking son of a bitch. Brad Miller gets screwed on about two foul calls per game. I am beginning to think Bibby's beardette is either a birthmark or an unexplainable phenomenon worthy of biopsy. Massenburg should never play more than 10 minutes under any circumstances. The Spurs first option on offense should be Nobili instead of Duncan.

There. I said it. I feel better.

26 January 2005

1351 Words on Rasho Nesterovic

You probably did not notice that I changed the name of this here blog. I liked "The Spurs, Mainly" because it was an accurate description and I enjoy commas. However, I had to choose between a title I liked and a title that would attract more readers. Yep, I ain't frontin'-- I want people to read this crap.

On to the "content."

Radoslav Nesterovic, 7'-0" C, 28 years old, 5.4 PPG, 6.7 RBG and 1.5 BPG in 25.4 MPG

Rasho is one of the main reasons I started this blog. I have a lot to say about The Man From Ljubljana, for two main reason.

First, one of my coworkers, who happens to be Guamanian, loves to e-mail me and go on and on about the inadequacies of Rasho. He believes a team would be better off spending next to nothing on some seven-footer off the streets. More on that later.

(And of course there's Steven W. Smith, who loves to bad mouth Raaaasho, presumably because he has trouble pronouncing "Adonal" or "Olowokandi." Apparently Steeeeeeven is getting his own show on ESPN-- it's going to be called "Quite Frankly." Or something like that. ESPN is going to run this at the same time as "I, Max" right? Are British bookies making odds for which show will post lower ratings? And what will television watching sports fans do during that thirty minutes? Sit through curling on Fox Sports World? And, with Steven Smith getting his own show, will other fringe commentators start screaming pointless phrases more often? Will Tim Legler start every non-sensical speech with "To put it bluntly?" You know, he should. Then he'll get his own show called "Puttin' It Bluntly" and Snoop Dogg can get involved.)

Secondly, you should know that I've lived in Seattle for the past four plus years. So I've seen my share of stiffs-- Jerome James, Vitaly Potapenko, Calvin Booth, Leon Smith, The Drobber, Elden Campbell, Vin Baker, Olumide Oyedeji, Ruben Wolkowyski, Jelani McCoy and the calcifying remains of Patrick Ewing. Not to mention the legacy/curse of Jim McIlvaine.

Before we get into Rasho's performance, we must look at context and circumstances.

Context. As in the context in which Rasho was signed. The Spurs inked him to a six year, 42 million dollar deal during the offseason after they won their second championship. David Robinson had just retired, leaving them with Kevin Willis and Mengke. The Spurs new they couldn't replace The Admiral, but they still needed a starting center for two reasons. The first is obvious-- they presumed they would be facing Kobe and Shaq in the playoffs every year for the next 7 years or so. The second reason is that Tim Duncan, despite being 6'-11", absolutely refuses to even be referred to as a center, let alone actually play defense against opposing fives. So the Spurs had no choice but to go get a big body.

That offseason there were quite a few suitable players available. Personally, I wanted Elton Brand. He's 6'-10" on a good day, but he plays longer. The Spurs wanted him, too, but he was a restricted free agent. They couldn't afford to make him an offer and wait for the Clippers decision to match or not because they possibly could have missed out on everybody. That left Jermaine O'Neal, Rasho and Olowokandi. Jermaine resigned with the Pacers without even taking a (at one time scheduled) visit to San Antonio. Olowokandi was coming off an injury-filled season and had a reputation as a tireless slacker. So the Spurs went after Rasho. He signed even though Minnesota offered more money.

Back to my Guamican coworker, who once told me his uncle is a cock-fighter fights cocks. I've asked him the following question about a hundred times, in various forms, translated into numerous languages: "Who the fuck were the Spurs supposed to get?" I want a name. Someone available at that time.

Let's now address circumstance. Let's looks at the Spurs offense. Offensively, Tim Duncan is the Spurs center. About 40% of the time the ball goes into Tim on the block and everybody else stays out of his way. This leaves Rasho about twenty feet from the basket, pointing at his man and yelling "defensive three seconds!" in Slovenglish. About 50% of the time the Spurs run pick and roll, usually with a guard and Duncan. A few of these pick and rolls involve Nesterovic and he occasionally gets the open look. The remaining 10% of the time the Spurs run iso with Ginobili or Parker. The offense was basically the same pre-Rasho. The Spurs knew they didn't need a back to the basket type center (though Rasho can do this) because they already had one in Duncan.

The Spurs needed a guy who could do the following:

-at a minimum, compete with Shaq (in other words, be at least 6'-10" and 250 pounds)
-understand the concept of team defense
-be aggressive on defense
-be able to occasionally hit the 18-ft jumper
-understand the concept of spacing
-know how to set a clean pick
-not complain about a lack of touches
-be a hard worker

I want to emphasize a couple of those, namely "understand the concept of spacing" and "know how to set a clean pick." The Spurs needed someone that could fit into their offense. They didn't need a scorer. They already had Duncan, Parker and Ginobili. Finding a big guy with these qualities is not easy. Have you ever watched a guy like Jerome James on the offensive end? Not just when he has the ball, but the whole time. If his back isn't to the basket with his feet on that little black square he has ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING CLUE WHAT TO DO. He can't set a legal screen to save his life. He doesn't even no where to go half the time. He's perpetually lost, like me at every dance I've ever been to, just looking for a way out. And Jerome's not a special case. Hell, even Danny Fortson (who, if you listen to Seattleites, is the second coming of Dennis Rodman) has problems setting a legal screen. He's also a damn head case who cannot stay out of foul trouble, though I like his pig-tails. Rasho actually knows what he's doing on the court. He can fill lanes, make the back-cut pass and set good picks.

He's a capable seven-footer getting paid seven million a year. Which is less than the salary of the following PF/C:

Alan Henderson
Lorenzen Wright
Austin Croshere
Kelvin Cato
Brian Grant
Maurice Taylor
Adonal Foyle
Dale Davis
Mutumbo
Antonio Davis
PJ Brown

Rasho's also a good defensive player. He challenges and alters a lot of shots and rotates to the ball well. Duncan has said on more than one occasion that he trusts Rasho to back him up; that gives Tim the freedom to play aggressive defense. Nesterovic also understands basic fundamentals like stepping out on screens, which, again, isn't exactly common place amongst big men.

Some interesting Rasho stats:

-He's 32nd in the league in rebounds per 48 minutes. Essentially tied with Chris Webber and ahead of the likes of Boozer, Brand, Battie, Gasol and Kenyon Martin.
-He's 23rd in the league in blocks per 48 minutes.

At this point you probably think I'm the lone member of Rasho's fan club. That's not the case. There are numerous centers I would rather have. And, of course, just about all of them have higher salaries than Rasho or are with the team that drafted them. Did my heart skip a beat when I heard the Rasho for Chandler rumor? Of course it did. I would love to get younger and more athletic, but that is much easier said than done. Show me a name people. I want answers (not endless and pointless criticism).

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the one part of Rasho's game that makes me cringe. Matty the Blade summed it up nicely when he called Rasho "the softest player in the NBA." That's an exaggeration, of course. But, offensively, Rasho lacks aggression. I'm not asking him to shoot more, but when you are seven feet tall and get a rebound under the basket you shouldn't take two dribbles to the three-point line and shoot a hook shot. Throw it down big-man, throw it down. Ugh. I feel dirty now.

After all that I give Rasho a B-. Just above average. Uh, and Rasho, you've got a bald spot. Have some self-respect and shave your head. Your hair gets a D.

25 January 2005

That's My Bad, Dawg

So, yeah, the Spurs lost to the Trailblazers last night, who were without Abdur-Rahim and Zach Randolph. I'll step up and take the blame for the loss. I made the mistake of calling out Joel Przybilla in an earlier post and he responded with 17 points (on 8-9 shooting), 16 rebounds and 3 assists in 43 minutes. By the way, those 3 assists represent 5% of his career total. Hmm. Maybe Timmeh wasn't kidding when he said something like "Rasho is the anchor of our defense."

24 January 2005

Must. Finish. Player Grades.

Robert Horry, 6'-10" PF, 34 years old, 4.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG and 35.6% 3P% in 15 MPG

Horry never seems to do much when he's on the court. He'll shoot the occasional top of the key three pointer and block a shot once in a while. But things just seem to go smoothly when he's on the court. He doesn't make defensive mistakes and rarely takes a bad shot. You don't have to worry about him and I think that's a big reason Pop brought him back.

I give him a solid B.

Linton Johnson, 6'-8" SF, 24 years old

He's yet to suit up with the Spurs due to surgery on a stress fracture in his left ankle. Hey, a guy on IR that's actually hurt. That's allowed?

He looks like the tall and long type. He averaged 4.5 RPG, 0.8 BPG and 0.9 SPG in 18 MPG for the Bulls last year. Those numbers are promising, but he only played in 41 games and he also shot a meager 36% from the field. Eesh. All in all, not a bad guy to have holding your 14th or 15th roster spot.

I give him an N/A+

Sean Marks, 7'-0" C, 29 years old

The California alum made his Spur debut last night against the Kings. He played well in limited minutes against Sacramento's second team. From what I've read, he can run the court and hit the outside jumper, but his slight build hampers him on the defensive end.

He's from New Zealand and therefore probably has a bitchin' accent. He earns an N/A++.

Tony Massenburg, 6-9" PF, 37 years old, 2.7 PPG and 1.7 RPG in 8.6 MPG

Veteran? Check.
Big? Check.
OK with playing few minutes? Check.
Willing to bang? Check.
Defense first? Check.
Hungry for a title? Check.

He's done all that has been asked of him. I give him an A (remember, you simply do not peev off Tony Massenburg).

Tony Parker, 6'-2" PG, 22 years old, 15.4 PPG, 6.0 APG, 2.7 TOPG and 49.1% FGP in 33.2 MPG

People seem to forget he's 22. Twenty-two. And he's dating this woman. Yeah, I know, he just signed a 66 million dollar contract. But forgive the guy for being a little distracted-- for starting the season a little slow.

His negatives are pretty obvious. You can take him out of the game by playing him physically, which is what the Lakers did for games 3-6 of last years playoff series. A bad first quarter will ruin the entire game for him. He's still not a good three point shooter and a subpar free throw shooter.

However, he's a great finisher for a point guard. He's great at pushing the ball and can run all day. He's a good team defender. He's good with the ladies and says "Timmeh" in a funny way. He has the ability to dominate a game. He's improving his passing. He's 3rd in the NBA in point guard shooting percentage (surprised?). He puts up with Popovich screaming in his mug on a daily basis.

And he's probably still five years away from his prime. Is there a point guard in the league you would rather have for the next five years? No, sorry, Lebron's a shooting guard. Bibby has that goofy line-beard thing and he just plain looks funny. Kidd is whiny, old and overpaid and does that dumb kissy-poo thing at the free throw line. Allen Iverson doesn't like to practice. Marbury has a funny shaped head and a scary contract. Billups is already 28 and makes dumb commercials. The only I would even think about is Gilbert Arenas, but shouldn't he be averaging more than 4.9 APG on a running team with Hughes and Jamison?

Tony gets a B+.

That leaves Rasho, Malik, Beno, Sato and the 14 year old Wilks. Raaasho deserves his own column. Wilks deserves the chance to finish high school. I'm going to bed, whether I deserve it or not.

23 January 2005

King Me!

I hate cliche headlines; the endless play on words and the ignoble struggle to somehow fit the superstar's name in. Vicktorious! Yaosers! Ben Worthlessburger! Ugh.

So the Spurs went into Sacramento without their starting center and backup power forward. The Kings were 27-11 and riding a six game win streak. And the Spurs crushed them by 30. Jeez. Tony Massenburg started and went for 16 and 8. The man's 37 people. Massy was on the Kings last year. They left him off the playoff roster and he left the team pretty peeved off. I haven't learned much in this world, but even I know that you do not peeve off Tony Massenburg.

The freshly activated Sean Marks made the most of his garbage time minutes, hoisting eight shots for eight points and grabbing three rebounds. The New Zealander didn't manage an assist, however, leaving his career total at 11. Jim Grey is reporting that Marks is still 7'-0" tall and semi-mobile, which is all that really matters, no?

Ooh, almost forgot to mention that Chris Webber had his annual midseason injury. He twisted his ankle or tweaked his back or sprained his wrist or something like that. He'll miss like 25 games or so, during which the Kings will go 20-5. He'll get healthy right before the playoffs and Rick Adelman will dutifully put him in the lineup because that's what his reference guide tells him to do. And Adelman is a sucker for a pretty smile.

22 January 2005

Update on Rasho and Horry

From what I've read, Rasho is out a minimum of five games, though Pop thinks he could be sidelined up to three weeks. The team is apparently leaning to putting him on the injured list and activating Sean Marks.

Horry may return Sunday night against Sacto, which is a pleasant surprise. Maybe he only slightly dislocated his kneecap? Them NBA players 'er tough uns. Either Horry or Malik will start in Rasho's place.

Nobili Nobili

Continuing with player grades...

Manu Ginobili, 6'-6" SG, 27 years old, 15.7 PPG, 3.9 APG, 4.5 RPG, 1.75 SPG and 38.9% 3P% on 29.6 MPG

Where do you start with this guy? He was the penultimate pick of the 1999 draft. I cannot get over that. Granted, 1999 was before the foreign player explosion, but it's not like Manu was the only foreign player drafted that year. Frederick Weis, Kirilenko, Wang Zhi-Zhi and Gordan Giricek were all selected. Here's the ten players picked right before Manu:

Todd MacCulloch
Galen Young
Lari Ketner
Venson Hamilton
Antwain Smith
Roberto Bergersen
Rodney Buford
Melvin Levett
Kris Clack
Tim Young

As far as I know one of those guys is still in the league (Buford). MacCulloch is the only other to get significant playing time.

Let's start with Manu's deficiencies. He occasionally tries to make an impossible pass that results in a turnover. That's pretty much the list. He used to bug me when he would fall away on free throws, but it seems he corrected that in his first NBA offseason (FT% up 6.5%). His smile is sort of crooked, though.

He's a good shooter who can hit both the 18 and 23' foot jumper. He can take the ball to the basket and finish. He can drive and dish. He's willing to take the big shot. He can break people down off the dribble. He can go either way, left hand or right. He's great on the pick and roll. He's great on the fast break.

He's a supreme pest on the defensive end. He gets his hands on tons of passes and he's a good one on one defender. He's also a great team player, willing to come off the bench for most of last season.

He's third in the league in points per shot, a stat typically dominated by big men. He's fifth in FG% amongst shooting guards. He's seventh in the league in steals per game. And Charles Barkley loves him (audio link). And oh yeah, he led his team to the Olympic Gold Medal.

I give him an A. He'd get an A+ if he found a way to shoot more. He needs to get his field goal attempts up to at least 13 per game.

21 January 2005

Holy *#@$&@)*&#

That, my friends, was the best NBA game I have seen in I don't know how long. The last time I was that pumped during a Spurs game was the Steve Kerr game against Dallas in the Western Conference Finals of 03.

Instead of having the normal NBA playoff setup can we just let the Spurs and Suns play a best of 21 to see who goes to the Finals? Who would be against this? Besides the fans of the other Western Conference teams?

I kept a running blog of sorts (on paper-- I don't have a laptop). Here's a touched-up transcript. I missed most of the first quarter due to the Pacers-Heat game going into overtime.

-The ESPN commentator just mentioned that Nash isn't guarding Parker due to his injuries. No, I think it's more due to the fact that Parker torched Steve last time they played.

-And Rose hits a wide open 18 footer to begin coverage.

-Oooh. Duncan's hair is a little long. I should revise his hair grade to a C-.

-Eesh. If Stoudemire learns to consistently hit 18' jumpers the whole league is in big trouble.

-Nobili easily beats the double team to end the first quarter with a layup. He does that so well-- splitting the double.

**2nd Quarter**

-Dammit Barry, would it kill you to follow through on your shot just once.

-Rose just took a jumper with about 18 seconds on the shot clock. This is what is known as a wasted possession. He then proceeded to leave his man for a wide open three. I am all for help defense, but I swear Rose allows way too many wide open perimeter shots.

-Nice box out by Nesterovic, earning an over the back call on Hunter.

-Uh oh. Rasho just rolled his ankle pretty badly. He won't be back, but we really don't need him against the Suns. It looks like he may be out for a couple of weeks, and the Spurs don't really have a backup center. And Horry is hurt. Hopefully the Spurs won't do anything silly like making a trade for some washed up big man like Cliff Robinson. We can bide our time. We got that Sean Marks kid on IR with "tendinitis," right? He's 7'-0" tall. He's a body. Let him earn his paycheck.

-Man, I love Shawn Marion. He can do everything. But, man, he has the goofiest shot in the NBA.

-Well, that was horrible D. Nash just ran down the court and stopped at the three-point line and drained an uncontested three. It looks like Udrih covered the guy who ran to the corner and Bowen got lost. I guess that shit'll happen.

-Walton or the other guy just said "Hunter is playing Duncan well." Timmeh, you cannot let some scrub like Hunter D you up. I am tired of seeing the Madsens and Najeras of the world have any sort of success against you.

-Nobili just made a great pass to Duncan on the secondary break. Duncan thought he was shooting but noticed just in time.

-The Spurs could use a Stephen Hunter type. Tall, long and active. Can we just call dibs on Hakim Warrick? What sort of criminal offense would he have to commit to drop to 30th in the draft?

-Hey hey! There's Duncan's first head tap of the night. It goes to Nobili for drawing a foul.

-Woah. Steve Nash has visible chest hair. I didn't know that. So the list is now Boozer and Nash, right?

-Jesus. That Stoudemire kid is the most violent dunker since Kemp I think. One of these days he's going to break a finger or something. That shit has to hurt, right?

-A Duncan sighting! Bucket and the foul.

-Stoudemire sorta scares me. He's about two years from being totally unguardable by anyone not named Garnett.

-Damn it! Rose just left another guy open for a 3. I need to start keeping track of these type things.

-Parker just made a ridiculously bad pass to nobody. He's done. I have to tell myself he's only 22. He's going to have off nights. It seems like if he doesn't get going in the first quarter that he just sort of disappears. Still love the kid though.

-Well, there was a nice baseline drive by Parker. Over to Rose who kicked it to Brown(?) for an open three.

-Nobili has 19 points on 7 FG. Amazing. He's about third in the league in points per shot attempt.

-Holy shit! Nobili just made a 15 foot behind the back pass on a rope like it was nothing. And there's Brown canning another wide open three. I love Manu.

-Man, Nash almost made some ridiculous three-quarter court shot from behind his head.

**Half Time**

-What's up with these Predator 2 DVD ads? First off, I'm not sure I even knew there was a second Predator. Secondly, were people clamoring for this DVD? Is Best Buy having a midnight sale?

-Preliminary reports say Rasho out 1-3 weeks. I hope Marks' shoes are broken in.

-OK Pop. The Suns just went on a 7-0 run. You need to take Rose out and put in Brown. Rose can be effective against bigger and stronger than him, not smaller and quicker.

-Again, Malik Rose leaves a guy wide open for a 3.

-Just who in the hell is Massenburg supposed to guard?

-Nice entry pass by Massenburg to Duncan.

-Great run out by Nobili and a great lead pass by Barry. Barry is great at seeing those passes most guys don't.

-Another nice entry pass. This time by Parker on the baseline to Duncan for a foul.

-GET MASSENBURG OUT OF THE GAME POP. He has know idea how to guard a guy like Marion, even if he had the ability, which he clear doesn't. And Massenburg is a total zero on the offensive end. Marion isn't even guarding him-- he's just collapsing on Duncan. I don't always condone matching small for the other team's small, but if you get no advantage from going big then you HAVE TO MATCH UP.

-Oh what the hell. We just posted Massenburg up with like 15 seconds on the shot clock. This should never, EVER be an option on offense. I'd rather have Barry hoist threes from eight feet behind the line. Ten feet even.

**Fourth Quarter**

-Please Pop, just go small. Parker, Brown, Nobili, Barry and Duncan. Or something like that. Stop being stubborn.

-Another nice run out, this time by Udrih. And once again Barry with the creative pass. It would be fun to play with Brent Barry.

-Brown cans another open jumper.

-Udrih with a great pass to Brown who swings it to Nobili for the open 3. Brown, who was all the way in the corner, hustles back to foul Marion who ran out on the break. The Suns are just relentless.

-Great defense by Brown on Nash. Wouldn't let him take the open 3. Make him penetrate. No easy threes.

-Ugh. Three by Joe Johnson. That one hurt, taking the deficit back to nine.

-Apparently Brent Barry has yet to read my analysis of his play. We signed you to SHOOT THE EFFIN' BALL. If you are open behind that curved line you throw the ball at the basket, ya' dig?

-Good push by Brown, who went coast to coast and got a layup for Barry. That is something that Bowen cannot do.

-You know, if we had gone small a little earlier...

-Ridiculous drive and pass from Nash to Stoudemire for his 32nd monster jam of the game.

-Give some credit to Stoudemire for drawing a foul on Duncan.

-Take away some credit for missing the first FT.

-Duncan forced to foul Stoudemire due to another great pass from Nash. Amare proceeds to do some push ups and flex his biceps.

-Hmm. Apparently large biceps do not help you shoot free throws.

-Brent Barry finally shoots a 3 and hits it.

-Joe Johnson commits what looks like an offensive foul-- no call and Stoudemire gets a lay up.

-Another HUGE three by Barry. Welcome to the team, Barry.

-Duncan comes up HUGE and nails two free throws. Spurs 11-11 on free throws this quarter.

-Unbelievable. Great defense by Brown and Udrih. Marion just hit a great shot. Tip your cap.

**Overtime.**

-Barry, AGAIN.

-Duncan goes to the hole and draws the foul. Nice to see him take it to the hole with authority.

-Barry just blew a fast break by going behind the back. Ugh. Just make the pass.

-HOLY MOTHER OF GOD. Nobili just dusted Joe Johnson and dunked two-handed over Marion. Just unbelievable. The guy is unbelievable. This guy could score 25 a night easy if they let him take the shots.

-Duncan just hit a big-time turn around over Stoudemire. MVP-type play. Everyone knew it was going to Timmeh and he still gets the job done.

-Brown with a fabulous entry pass to Duncan.

-Udrih playing some great defense. Where do the Spurs find these guys?

-Joe Johnson hits another three. Why in the hell would the Suns want to trade this guy?

-Nobili finally misses a free throw. He's got something like 48 points on 22 FGA. This might be the best offensive game in the last 20 years. Has anyone every scored over 45 points and averaged over 2 points per shot? That's just unheard of.

-Spurs win.

Again, wow. What an exciting game to watch. David Stern has to be loving this-- he's probably already plotting with Dick Bavetta to ensure a Spurs-Suns matchup in the Western Conference Finals.

Glad Pop finally found up a lineup that worked against the Suns. Having four shooters on the court forced the Suns to guard Duncan one-on-one. And the quicker lineup not only limited the Suns' fast break opportunities, the Spurs were able to force breaks of their own. Phenomenal game by Nobili. Great game from Duncan. Gold stars to Brown and Barry, too (but you still need to shoot more Barry-- and follow through).

Updates

Please pardon the presumption involved in the following statement.

If anyone wants to be notified when I update my blog you can e-mail me at nbaspursblog@gmail.com. I'll add you to my blog update mailing list, which currently contains only my father (and he doesn't even know it yet). I will not sell your e-mail address, yada yada yada.

It's go time people. Go Spurs, Go!

Timmeh

At this pace I should have player ratings done by June.

Tim Duncan, 6'-11" PF, 28 years old, 21.4 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 64.9% FT% and 2.9 BPG on 34.9 MPG

The Big Fundamental. Ground Hog Day. The Cornerstone (that one is mine). He's a great player, no doubt. But, uh, let me see. No, wait-- now's not the time.

Duncan's key stat may be his MPG. Before this season he's never played less than 36.6 MPG, and most years he's been well over 38. Last season, the injury, the two rounds of playoffs and the Olympics have to have taken a toll on him. He has not had a real break from basketball in a long time.

I look at his full stat line, and just about everything is down just a tad. Points, rebounds, assists. If you ratio it out, the reduction in numbers can be almost entirely attributed to his drop in minutes. But, just from watching him, he seems different to me. More passive. Settling for outside jumpers or fade-aways. His shooting percentage is the lowest it's been since 99-00, but it's not way off. And Ginobili certainly stepped up his offensive game. Maybe Tim is simply trying to get everyone involved. Let others take some of the load during the regular season. But I pray that he realizes that he's going to have to step up during the playoffs. Controlled aggression.

Defensively he's been very good. Leading the league and averaging a career high in blocks at 2.94 a game. His rebounds are down a bit, but again, he's playing less minutes. And you never forget he's on the court. He's always altering shots and playing nearly flawless help defense (which is the essence of the entire Spurs team).

Tim's also the leader of this team. He sets the example when it comes to being open to Popovich's confrontational style of coaching. He's not a me-first type star player. You never hear about him complaining about his contract or bitching about lack of touches. And his dogs don't attack people, either. And his wife is hot, but not too hot, you know what I'm saying? He deserves credit and praise for all of things. Oh, and I lack how he taps people on the back of the head when they do something positive. And, again, like Bowen, another Spur with a pretty smile.

He gets a B++. His hair? Well, please allow me to elaborate.

You gotta let that shit grow Timmeh. I liked that little bit of nap. Gives you a little edge. C'mon, you got your own signature shoe, you can't go with the simple shaved look. You gotta represent. Bring back the bit of fro. F--.

Round Two

HUGE game tonight, with or without Nash. He's supposedly 50-50. Robery Horry dislocated his knee (eesh) against the Clips-- he could out for up to two months I've heard-- he certainly will not be playing tonight. That hurts a lot considering the Suns type of play. Rasho only figures to play 10-15 minutes. Home court advantage is a huge luxury in the playoffs; hopefully the Spurs will keep that in mind tonight.

Also, you may have heard that the Suns have traded Jacobsen, Lampe and Vroman to New Orleans for Jim "I ain't playing for the Hornets" Jackson. They might then trade Johnson to Philly for Dalembert. It will be interesting to see if Joe Johnson plays tonight. For the Spurs sake I hope the Suns make the Johnson trade. I'll comment more if it actually happens.

The Suns should be super thin tonight. I doubt Jackson will be there in time to play. They typically only go seven players deep, and they just traded one of their seven in Jacobsen. I guess Bo Outlaw will get some run.

Devin Brown, 6'-5" SG, 26 years old, 6.8 PPG and 42% 3P% on 17 MPG

The local boy (played high school and college ball in San Antonio) had a sort of coming out party during the playoffs last year. He came up big in the Lakers series and a lot of people expected big things from him this year. Then the Spurs added Barry, theoretically cutting into Brown's minutes. However, his numbers are up across the board. His high 3P% is especially intriguing, but it is hard to guage a players skill on just 55 3P attempts. If he keeps this up I don't see the point in playing Barry over him in the playoffs.

Brown's an active guy on defense. You can tell he puts a lot of effort into that end of the floor, but he needs to work on getting through screens a little better.

On the offensive end he is willing to take the open jumper, but I wish he would take it to the rack more often. He's a thick guy at 220 and a great free throw shooter at 82% for his career. Draw more fouls Devin. You only shoot a FT once every 11.2 minutes. Ginobili's at once every 5.5 minutes. But, to be fair, Ginobili is great at getting to the line (I would bet he's one of the best SG at drawing fouls, but I don't have the numbers in front of me.)

It's got to be hard on Brown. He's probably worried about losing minutes to Barry, and he's never the first option on offense. Parker, Ginobili and Duncan can all get their own shots virtually at will. I'm still high on Brown, but I'm not sure he'll ever be more than a solid sixth man for this team.

I give him a B.

20 January 2005

You Just Don't

Circumstances are funny things. They can simplify or complicate, mitigate or exacerbate. In the case of whether or not the Spurs should sign Karl Malone, the circumstances are coercive.

Let's start with history. Karl Malone played 18 seasons with the Utah Jazz, who were the Spurs chief rival in the old Midwest Division. In fact, during David Robinson's career, a team other than the Spurs and Jazz won the Midwest Division exactly twice. The Jazz knocked the Spurs out the playoffs in 1998 (4-1), 1996 (4-2) and 1994 (3-1). Those facts alone are enough for every Spurs fan to hate the Stockton and Malone Jazz. But there's also this one other little fact.

Karl Malone tried to kill David Robinson on March 8, 1998. Malone had his back to the basket with The Admiral right behind him, hand in his back. Malone, certainly knowing where David was, whirled with his elbow up. He caught Robinson on the side of the head, knocking him unconcious. Robinson twisted his knee as he fell and lay motionless for 2 minutes. He ended up staying the night in the hospital and missing three games. Malone, despite being widely regarded as the dirtiest player in the league, got a measly one game suspension. How could the Spurs sign a guy who tried to maim the franchise's most beloved player? (Did you know that Karl Malone actually ended a guy's playing career while in college? See the the previous link for more info.)

Would Spurs fans even cheer for the guy? I've been to a Spurs/Jazz playoff game, and the one thing I remember is the undeniable group hatred for Malone. He was booed when he touched the ball. When he was at the free throw line the fans, in unison, would count out the seconds as he stood there, mumbling to himself.

And don't say "What about Robery Horry?" Yeah, Horry was part of a couple of Laker squads that took out the Spurs, but he was way down the list of hated Lakers. He wasn't even in the first tier. That's Shaq followed closely by Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher.

The above is enough to squash any thoughts of adding Malone. But, just to cover all the bases, let's talk about what he would add.

Seriously folks, do the Spurs need another guy totally unwilling to shoot the ball in the playoffs? Did anyone even see Malone in the post season last year? He passed up just about every wide open 18 footer. I think Mark Madsen looked for his shot more. Malone is a virtual zero on the offensive end.

He still has something to offer on the defensive end. Time and time again the NBA refs have shown an unwillingness to blow the whistle on Karl. Consequently he shoves around whoever he's guarding. But who's he going to guard? Who are the Spurs going to face in the post season?

First Round -- Memphis, Houston or Minnesota

Yeah, he'd be good against Yao. But Yao is slow footed and not exactly a power player. Nesterovic would be at a disadvantage, but Yao wouldn't go for 30 against him. Memphis has Gasol, but come on, we're not worried about Memphis are we? Minnie has Garnett, who would shred Malone. Malone needs to guard someone he can intimidate (like he did to Duncan last year). Garnett is not that player.

Second Round -- Sacramento, Dallas or Seattle

Sacramento has Webber, but all he does is shoot 18 footers and pass the ball. Their offensive threats, the guys who need good one on one coverage, are Peja and Bibby. Dallas and Seattle play small ball. The Spurs would probably play Horry at the 4 spot against those teams.

Conference Finals -- Phoenix

Malone serves no purpose against these guys. Who the hell would he guard? Stoudemire? That's laughable.

Finals -- Miami, Indiana, Detroit

Here's where it gets dicey. The Spurs don't have anyone to guard Shaq. Nesterovic got eaten alive last year. Shaq is the exact type of player Malone could still be effective against, and Malone would be good against Indiana's O'Neal, too. I cannot simply discount Malone's value in this scenario.

However, I don't think the Spurs need another piece to win it all. Malone's one relevant positive ability is his perceived ability to slow down Shaq or Jermaine, but that doesn't come close to outweighing everything else.

But that's not the point. I, and I think most Spurs fans would agree, would rather not win the title than win it with Malone. The Spurs have never been a win at all costs team. They've never mortgaged the future to win in the present, and they almost always take into account the character of the player, how the player would fit, how he handles himself, how he reacts to coaching, how he fits in the with the people of San Antonio.

Just don't. You just don't. Please. Keep the team clean.

19 January 2005

A Win is a Win, I Guess

Well, the Spurs (weakly) claimed the league's best record tonight. Thanks go out to Barbosa's big feet. In case you didn't hear, Steve Nash was all ready to come back but got stepped on by Leandrinho during practice. The same Leandrinho the Spurs drafted last year and traded to the Suns, who haven't won a game without Nash. It's hard to run the break without your point guard. What a news flash.

The Spurs slipped by the Clippers at home. Ugh. Another downright bad offensive performance from Duncan-- 5-16 from the field. And according to his shot chart he only took 3 shots from out of the paint. He's 15-44 his last three games. He's just coasting, right? Saving it up for playoffs? Getting ready to take over in the postseason? Resting his legs? Let's hope so.

Parker apparently played well-- 25 points on 11-18 with 7 assists. 11 different players scored for the Spurs.

The Spurs cannot blow everybody out, but at home against the depleted Clippers you have to consider a 1-point win somewhat of a failure.

18 January 2005

4 X 10 ^ 15

What's wrong with this box score?

Well, first off, Joel Przybilla grabbed 22 rebounds. In his last game, against the frightfully uninspired (due to worrying about their starving families, no doubt) Timberwolves, he ripped down a rebound in 27 minutes. What the shit? Why do physicists even bother with chaos theory when crap like this happens? And how the hell does a 7'-1" player grab one rebound in 27 minutes? Someone alert Steven Y. Smith; maybe he'll lay off Raaaaasho for a half time.

Secondly, Sebastian Telfair managed to play 4 minutes without registering a single stat. No shots, no turnovers, no fouls, no nothing. Not even a technical. I pay attention to these sorts of things, and let me tell, this is hard to do. I think I read somewhere that some white guy for the Nuggets once played 11 minutes without posting a stat. I think it was Scott Hastings. He was mighty good at staying out of the way. Back to Telfair (Broooooooklyn!)-- I know he's got a shoe contract and probably gets a new pair for every game. But, I mean, if you only "play" 4 minutes don't you have to feel at least a little bad about breaking out a new pair of sneaks? Did he shower after the game? What's the shower cutoff for the average NBA player? 10 minutes of playing time? Or do you just shower automatically? And what about Luke Ridnour? He doesn't shower with the rest of the team, does he? If so, I bet you Jerome James uses Luke's head as a loofah.

On to the Spurs player ratings. In alphabetical order...

Brent Barry, 6'-7" G, 33 years old, 6.6 PPG, 2.1 APG and 35.3 3p% in 19 MPG

This is the guy I wanted the Spurs to pick up. Every team can use good three-point shooters. But, in the playoffs, you need three-point shooters who are willing to shoot the ball. Towards the end of the Lakers series it seemed like the only Spur willing to shoot outside of the paint was Devin Brown. Turkoglu was hiding behind either the refs or Jack Nicholson, whoever happened to be further out on the court at the time.

Of course I don't know how Barry's going to do in the playoffs, but he certainly knows his role. And, unlike Turkoglu, he can actually do some other things. Like create off the dribble, lead the brake and pass the ball. Neither of them play much defense, but Barry has much better hair. And Barry took less money to play for the Spurs, so you know he's serious about winning.

Unfortunately he hasn't played all that well. I think Popovich took a while to warm up to Barry's defensive style, for lack of better term. His shooting is not where it's at, but he's picking it up (18-34 from 3 in his last 10). The man has shot at least 40% from 3 his last five years; he'll get there before the year's up. He deserves some credit for keeping his mouth shut when Pop practically benched him for a couple weeks.

I give him a B-. His hair gets a solid A-.

Bruce Bowen, 6'-7" G, 33 years old, 8.4 PPG and 38.5 3P% on 31.2 MPG

He turned down a player option for abour 4 million and signed a 3 year deal for a touch over 10 million. That little bit extra cap room theoretically helped the Spurs lock up Nobili and Parker, but I am not sure the 33 year old Bowen would have gotten a 3 year deal anywhere else. Except Golden State, of course. How's that Derek Fisher signing working out? But, hey, he's a winner. Speaking of that no talent ass clown Fisher, did you know that Bowen's career FG and 3P% are both higher than Fishers'? And Bowen can lock people down, while Fisher can only do the following whilst playing defense:

A) Watch the other team's point guard go by him repeatedly
B) Occasionally cajole a charging call out of the ref
C) Adjust his headband
D) Make the Derek Fisher face. You know what I'm talking about. He stares at the ref with a look of incredulity. Sorta like this, but a thousand times more annoying.

Yet Fisher is the one with the 36 million dollar contract. Wow. Chris Mullin thought it was a good idea to pay Fisher 7.35 million dollars to play third string PG when he's 35. Has a GM's career ever started worse than Mullin's? I am fairly certain he's responsible for all of the following:

-52 million for 6 years of Adonal Foyle
-36 million for 6 years of Derek Fisher
-17 million for 4 years of Najera
-unknown 6 year contracts for Troy Murphy and Jason Richardson

Those first three guys don't even start. 105 million dollars for freaking bench players. I don't have the statistics to back this up, but I'm going to say it anyway. Ex-players make bad GMs. Mullin, Isaiaiaih Thomas, Elgin Baylor. McHale is smart enough to keep Garnett and not pay Spree. West has a lot of decent players but signs Cardinal to a ridiculous contract and has had some lousy drafts of late. There's a huge difference between knowing how to play basketball and knowing how to put together a team. And don't even get me started about baseball.

Back to Bowen. This guy's definitely a hard worker. Every year he brings a little bit more to the table offensively speaking. First he learned to shoot the 3. Then he worked on the pump fake, take a dribble and drain the 18-footer. Last year he kept dribbling until someone stepped up. This is good in the sense he got the occasional layup. This is bad in that he occasionally shot the ball while moving. Bruce Bowen should, never, EVER shoot the ball while on the run unless it's a layup. I don't want to see any tear drops or scoop shots. I like the fact that he's made improvements (this year it's his free throws, up above 60%), but he needs to remember he's the fourth option on offense.

His defense hasn't seemed to suffer from the more stringent enforcement of the hand-checking rule. He's so good and getting that quick forearm jab in, and it's fun to watch him piss of opposing two guards. And he's got a pretty smile and he went back to college to get his degree.

I give him a B.

17 January 2005

The Sports Guy Made Me Do It

More specifically, his columns reviewing the progress of his Celtics. He commented that he TIVOs every game and watches each play multiple times. That's dedication worthy of an advanced scout methinks. Yes, methinks is one word. I am neither scout nor professional sportswriter, and I don't even have TIVO, but I do love the Spurs.

And I know this team. I've followed them since I was ten, when they were granted David Robinson (or, as Magic would say, "David Robisson") by random chance. I recall the rookie card hype. I remember sitting on my back porch with my father, listening to the 1989 NBA draft and praying that Danny Ferry would fall past the Clips. (He didn't, of course. They're the Clippers, people. They took the prematurely-bald Dookie before the likes of Sean Elliott, Glen Rice, J.R. Reid, Tim Hardaway, Sean Kemp, B.J. Armstrong, Vlade Divac and Cliff Robinson. OK, I'll give you J.R. Reid, but the rest of those guys were solid starters at a minimum.)

I remember where I was in 1999 when they won their first championship (at Bandera Downs of all places-- but they had TVs there!-- I saw Avery hit the jumper in the corner and I remember Elliott chunking the ball into the air as the time expired). I spent hours on the phone with Matty the Blade discussing how there was no rational explanation for the Spurs not demolishing the Nets in 4. I was again on the phone when Duncan hit the "lucky shot," mumbling "It's not over, Matty, it's not over. I'm not letting this sink in yet..." And five minutes later I was still on the phone, in shocked silence while my wife cried on the couch (I swear to Jesus, if Derek Fisher would have reacted in any other manner I would have hunted him down and gutted the overrated son of a bitch. It would have only taken one strut, one punch of the chest, one smirk, one little "I'm going to soak this in" pause. I would have killed him. You think I'm kidding.).

So, basically, I'm going to talk a lot about the Spurs. I'll have midseason player evaluations up this week. How exciting.



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