Wednesday, November 1, 2017 

Behind the Boxscore, in love with Lonzo Ball

World Series NBA history, a talk with Nick Wiger, and a Diana Ross lament

GOOD MORNING PEOPLE!

Los Angeles 113, Detroit 93

If Lonzo Ball is burdened by anything, bothered by anything even, it’s the skittishness that comes from having a brain that works a little quicker than most other brains do.

It might be why he appears laconic and disengaged from all the dumb stuff that tried to come into the NBA with him, including our own fearful projections. Amused by our own expectations of what life would be as a Laker at an age like that, in an age like this. His last name works proudly as something a little danglier than “rookie Los Angeles point guard,” at this spot in the movie, which his family and representatives have earned. Credit due.

What I’m more intrigued by is the kid’s complete and total lack of commitment to his jumper, on any court where teammates could be possibly dished to. In warmups, in games, anywhere that wrist can be flicked in front of our scrunching noses. It’s not a good shot, and it’s not a good looking shot. It’s because shots are boring, what with so many options to pass to, and Ball is already bored with it. Even in warmups. The Pistons, as you’ll learn, will do that.

I’m sure he takes a trillion jumpers a day in practice, I’m talking about the shot he takes in public.

It would be the shot you’d take too, if you could see what Lonzo Ball can see. Tossing up a three-pointer or mid-range look, when there are so many other teammates to pass to, seems pedestrian – already! That’s something other guards, very cool and often times way better guards, do. Not Lonzo Ball.

You want a point guard that sees streaks of gold in his sleep. Let the guy scatter for a bit, until he figures it out, because he wants to pass.

Ball tossed in just three of the Lakers’ 30 assists, Brandon Ingram had a bead on this one and it showed in his team-leading six dimes. Things will open up if the spacing continues to allow them room to see things they didn’t know they couldn’t even expect in life, offensively. This is why it is good to have a Walton on staff.

The Pistons once again let their offensive woes – woes that tend to develop when an offense enters a game with no intention of playing with any cohesion – dictate how much defense they decided to play.

A pretty bold move for a team with a typically terrible offense, one that had to rely on October opposition (good thing they employ Reggie Jackson) and craftsmanship from Tobias Harris (20.5 points per game, fine shooting marks) to even enter this game with a respectable mark on that end. Detroit is 11th now, after Halloween.

Phoenix 122, Brooklyn 114

The Suns have to look for something that they see within themselves in Brooklyn’s reflection, even in the face of the same Nets logo that once traded all its draft picks away in a desperate bid for a relevance in an era that was never going to be their own.

Players like D’Angelo Russell (embarrassingly, to him at least, shed by the Lakers) and Spencer Dinwiddie (cut by the bloody Bulls) have a sense in ownership in whatever Brooklyn has boiling now before the simmer, to the credit of Net coach Kenny Atkinson and, it appears, just about everyone else in the building these days. Someday soon, it appears, nearly everyone on hand will more often be in the building.

Suns players probably feel like a collection of assets at this point, in a uniform that will never mark as familiar. Interim coach Jay Triano is as good a man as you’ll find to foster some sort of collective identity, some ability to acknowledge the desperate room for growth without letting a player lapse into despair, but Earl Watson could have been that man too: Phoenix slacked his sails so full of garbage that it become impossible for us to find out in what turned into his time.

There are signs. A win, for one, against a dutiful Nets team featuring spirited play from the castoff guards (Russell: 33 points on 21 shots, six rebounds, four assists with 15 points and four assists for Dimwiddie off the pine), alongside the obvious confidence:

Dragan Bender lined up for four enthusiastic three-pointers and made two of them, Alex Len cut and screened with purpose, Devin Booker (33 points) huffed and puffed his way through acting the go-to guy, the other Mike James wants to run every play properly and starting power forward Marquese Chriss … I just spent about 12 minutes shaking my head so I’m going to move on.

For now, the Suns have a young player in Josh Jackson that does not give up on plays. As with most young men born around the time of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players ceremony in 1997, the rookie (eight points on 14 shots in the win) has absolutely no idea what he’s doing with anything, but he does know that a ball that has left his shooting hands shouldn’t rank as a dead ball in the slightest, that there is still room to make a positive play just as long as the clock is live. This is a massive selling point for any first-year player.

Oklahoma City 110, Milwaukee 91

The Milwaukee Bucks are in the process of determining whether or not their style of defense – an anti-aggro, length-dependent swarm that eschews “fastballs” or strong closeouts, as expertly detailed by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz recently – can hold out in an NBA full of juiced balls. It was good for a top five defensive turn in 2014-15, but the group has turned in a series of deeply below-average defensive stands in two-plus seasons since, and the Thunder came to Wisconsin ready to act all Mike Trout in the face of whatever you left hanging.

The Thunder led by as many as 28 as it focused on making the Bucks start possessions by taking the ball out of the net, usually after a guy in a Stephen Adams mask dunked the basketball. Russell Westbrook, in deference, nearly notched a Jason Kidd-styled TRI-PLE DOU-BLE with 12 points, 10 boards and nine rebounds, while Carmelo Anthony turned in a solid rebounding night with eight and his lowest point total as a Thunderman, with 17.

The Oklahoma City Thunder rotation, such as it is, did its job. Raymond Felton is still trying to get in shape in time for that 2014-15 season, but he can call out plays on both ends. Activity and decisions from helpers that won’t keep you up in a hotel bed at night (or next afternoon), that’s what Billy Donovan needs out of this top-heavy wobble.

Indiana 101, Sacramento 83

The Pacers are listening to Nate McMillan. This sort of news won’t force LeBron James into playing any more basketball in Indianapolis than he has to, and it shouldn’t allay all the structural fears Indiana followers may have in this franchise, but certainty in a tune-in is important.

The Pacers are going to play strong basketball for their fans and anyone else that decides to click over this season, and that’s a wonderful thing to sign off on, in an NBA that tends to challenge you with its fandom in the months that lead up to the lottery.

Indiana wanted nothing to do with letting Sacramento make a game out of this, they weren’t going to let the stupid Kings ruin that big bag of candy at home, and the last hours of their October. The Pacers led by as many as 28 by, you guessed it, hopping quickly into sets and playing in their keen spots while the Kings (even with orange-shoed, local legend George Hill ostensibly along to keep the disparate in proper disposition) just weren’t up for a full night of basketball.

Half a night, it turns out. A dozen points and 16 rebounds for Domantas Sabonis, with five assists, while Al Jefferson is a vegetarian.

De’Aaron Fox had 18 points and five assists and when the game was over I started counting down the minutes until I could see him play basketball again: Wednesday night in Boston, it turns out, and we’ll cover that one plus the 11 others the NBA has set for its best night, with a Game 7 rolling away a few spools down dad’s dial.

We’ll get to those soon enough, right now let’s let the band play us over.

That’s the Way You Start Over

That’s tight as hell. Diana Ross, “That’s the Way You Start Over.” A little on the nose, but by now you’ve seen the picture.

This song is perfect, because it was created to end up that way. Written by Ed Sanford and Michael McDonald, set up to lead off Diana’s first album on a massive label, all a funky product prelude to Ms. Ross’ Central Park concert in 1982. They got Steely Dan’s producer in to brighten and clarify things in his major studio gig outside of Dandom (and we almost got Gary Katz to talk about this album, but I’m not done bothering his email just yet), and a ridiculous batch of studio musicians led, as you’d expect at this point, by drummer Jeffrey Porcaro. They even got Donald Fagen, in his first post-Nightfly outing, to contribute a hopeful tune called “Love Will Make It Right.”

The album bombed, of course, and it rained during Diana’s Central Park concert. Mike McDonald got divorced a little later and Fagen, citing depression, wouldn’t release another album in the 1980s. When I went to look for this song at YouTube, the search bar auto-filled to ‘diana ross that’s what friends are for’ and SHE WASN’T EVEN ON THAT RECORD.

This song, like most slick productions of its kind, reveals itself after about a dozen listens. Dance a little, Wednesday. It’s cooler now, wherever you are, and you’ll need it.

(And if you don’t think I can’t do this on two songs a night, or more, every night? Watch me. In an otherwise accurate portrayal, Deadspin once called me “the toughest record store clerk in your most badass record store,” but I’ve got news for them: no record store has ever hired me.)

(We will have these in embedded YouTube form, soon.)

Just Another Night

There wasn’t a whole lot riding on content at The Second Arrangement for Wednesday, so with only four games on Oct. 31’s sked there was plenty of spaces to take in yet another slam dunk of a World Series game on Halloween night.

The Dodger win allowed us a Game 7 today, another night of baseball before it abandons us naked in the face of autumn’s indifferent, dead-eyed approach. It also allows me a chance for me to look up what happened in our own goofball league the last few times the World Series went for seven!

Nov. 2, 2016: Chicago’s Cubbies beat Cleveland by an 8-7 score in an extra inning game that reminded us that time is a flat circle, the effects of which are felt nearly a year later as we spy a box score from that same night that featured Nick Collison and Kyle Singler receiving minutes.

October 29, 2014: The Giants beat the Kansas City Royals following an epic performance from Madison Bumgarner, a name that will never be in the NBA. Dwight Howard was a Rocket on this night, dominating a Utah Jazz team featuring Enes Kanter in starting pivot, he was a 31-and-11 Hawk in the Cubs’ Game 7 win from 2016 and he’ll be a Hornet on Wednesday night. If he was around for whenever the hell Bill Mazeroski happened, then I’ll start to get worried.

October 27, 2002: No NBA basketball was played on the night of October 27, as the league didn’t start that early back then (Chris Webber and Dirk Nowitzki would go on to suffer season-ending injuries during that year’s postseason), as grizzled yet ferocious 14-year vet John Lackey paced the Angels to a World Series win against zero pro basketball competition.

The Sacramento Kings received about as much the next night, when Milt Palacio and Vernell Eufayes “Bimbo” Coles combined to shoot 3-14 for Cleveland in the Cavaliers’ 97-64 loss to the Kings.

Nov. 4 2001: This was a good night to have a memory of. Most’s are filled with the sight of Luis Gonzalez loping a double into an outfield that was in Arizona in November, for whatever reason. Filled with Yankees.

The road team seemed – honestly less because of the tumult of the times and mostly because those Yankees were just so damn good – apsatively destined to pull it in. The Diamondbacks reminded us that, even in a sport that Garth Brooks and Kevin Costner could credibly play in, you still have to go out and win these things.

That’s part of what I remember from that night, having to play the 22-year old heavy in the cocktail bar in Chicago’s Park West, when a drunk Ian Hunter fan horned in on our huddle around our small, rabbit ear’d TV and Game 7’s extra innings just before Ramina the Manager put a stop to all that.

The drunk Ian Hunter fan was also a drunk Bears fan, he had previously witnessed in freezing person the team pull out an improbable win over the Browns (OK, maybe not improbable) earlier that afternoon. He wanted to cap off a night of drunk Ian Hunter fandom by watching the Gonzalez hit on our tiny tube. As someone who spent quite a bit of 2001 and 2002 being a drunk Ian Hunter fan, himself, I saluted the man’s attempt at a three-bagger with my silence, and acceptance into the server scrum.

Ramina flipped the tiny TV off, though. The Big Orange Jersey, after gathering what little he had left with a BAC now approaching hockey jersey territory, still managed this, a quote I use to this day, in Ramina’s face:

“Boo. I give you, a boo. Boooooo.”

I was then asked to escort him toward the security guard.

Michael Jordan played that night, and hardly any of us noticed. It was around the same time a lot of us in Chicago realized that this fandom wouldn’t travel, that we were in for the red and the black, and not the name on the back. Jordan managed 18 points as his Wizards fell to the emerging Pistons, who overcame Jon Barry’s 0-5 night behind Dana Barros’ 17 points on 5-12 shooting.

In retrospect, Rick Carlisle’s starting lineup of Barros, Jerry Stackhouse (28 points), Ben Wallace, Cliff Robinson (two of three three-pointers in a Doug Collins-slow contest), and defensive stalwart Michael Curry seems rather forward-thinking. Even with nary a point guard to be found.

Oct. 17, 1971: Pirate Steve Blass tosses a rum-ding-dong-o-lantern on the same night that Jalen Rose’s dad scored 38 points.

They can’t all have Ian Hunter in them, this is why it’s time for a guest.

Gone Dead Train

The note here says that there exist heady times in Los Angeles these days, but I wouldn’t know because I live in a duplex in Indiana.

This is why I reached out to the Californian Golden God hisself, writer Nick Wiger, who you should know from his duties co-hosting the unceasingly ridiculous Doughboys podcast, with Mike Mitchell.

When Nick told me he was taking “the train” to LA Live in order to make it in time for Tuesday’s Lakers/Pistons tilt, I had to know if he was just making the whole thing up.

KD:For those of us that are familiar with bundling on buses and trains to NBA games in other cities, what’s the scene on the train to and from a Laker game? My only exposure to LA public transit is through bad jokes.

Nick: (Randy Newman voice) I love LA ... (sotto) public transit.

It has some genuine issues with underserving certain areas and just not having enough buses. But I commuted by bus to my last fulltime job, and it’s very functional. And many of the working class service employees who keep this city going rely on it.

Though I will say if you work an office job in LA and tell people you take the bus, they’ll ask if everything’s okay and to just let them know if they can help out in any way.

The rail lines continue to expand, and my wife and I take advantage of the recently completed Expo Line that runs from the beach to downtown pretty frequently. It’s pretty much the best way to get to Staples Center, especially since parking costs like $200 an axel. On game days, the train will be loaded up with Lakers fans or Kings fans, and sometimes Clippers fans, who of course didn’t watch basketball until the first Blake-CP3 season. You’ll also see Rams fans heading to the Coliseum on Sundays, although those will disappear when that new stadium opens way out in Barstow or wherever. Though now I think that’s been delayed till around 2040.

This crowd definitely seems more interested in the Dodgers game by the way.

KD: That’s probably just the Pistons. Shakeups rarely come as startling as the one Jeannie Buss gave the Lakers earlier this year, how happy are you to have this badass in charge, finally in full?

NW: I’m just so glad Jim Buss is gone. He’s such a failson. The Sopranos’ Little Carmine of the NBA. He makes Eric Trump look like a poster child for the meritocracy.

I’m a huge Jeannie Buss fan, and putting Magic in charge was of course a great move for restoring faith here in LA, and I’m pretty sold on Pelinka too. I mean so far the only questionable move is trading D’Angelo, since he might end up an Eastern Conference All Star. Then again, these days I think you can make the East’s All-Star team if you average 8 and 6.

The Dodgers just won and now the Laker girls are in Halloween costumes doing a dance number to Ray Parker Jr.’s Ghostbusters theme. I’ll remember this night for the rest of my life

KD: I just realized that I’ve never watched the Ghostbusters video in HD. I remember my father being particularly impressed at Chevy Chase’s decision to make himself look foolish with a cigarette in that clip.

NW: Post-Dodgers win this crowd is now absolutely losing their shit for a Brook Lopez defensive rebound. Ingram nailed a 3 with a second left in the third to put the Lakers up 15, but my wife compared my awkward high five attempt to Lonzo Ball’s shooting form.

KD: Seems like it has become quite a night for LA sports.

NW: Wow. The Lakers win and hold the Pistons to under 100 meaning all fans in attendance get two free Jack in the Box tacos. Also the Dodgers force game 7. What a night for LA sports.

Nick also sent along some photos, but as you noticed up in the above territory we will be without the ability to share pictures and YouTube embeds for the time being, but we’ve been assured that this is a temporary setback. We’ll tweet out Nick’s Pics (hashtag #nickspics) at @TSArrangement later on Wednesday, which should prove to also be a night for LA sports.

It appears we’re off, to the tune of Humble Pie’s “The Light,” a song helped sung by a smaller man about how happy he is, how lucky he’s been, and also something about guitars. I hope to see all of you again this time tomorrow.