One can often jump the gun on such matters, what with the NBA being eight days into its new season and as such subject to the law of small numbers, but life is good.Life is good because the Los Angeles Lakers are 1-4. And because the Boston Celtics are 2-2. But it is also good because the New York Yankees are in A-Rodical disarray, and the Boston Red Sox were galactically dysfunctional, and the Dallas Cowboys stink to high heaven and the architect of that odor reasserted his unwillingness to fire himself. In fact, if it werent for Notre Dame, this could be a very happy holiday season indeed.Now this is the part where ignoramii shout out, Aha! Youre a hater! Hater, of course, being code for, My world is small, my interests tiny, my curiosity sub-atomic, so anyone who doesnt agree with me is a hater.But those people would be, and this comes as no surprise, wrong. I dont hate their teams. I hate the boredom of the same old stories told the same old way. I am not an agent for change (too much work is involved), but I like a new narrative now and then.And I also dont like those who support those teams who regain their smug, who still believe in the divine right of kings and their elevated place in those kingdoms. Who act like the universe is right when the old familiar names are ascendant.For those people, I can muster up the energy to be a hater.The argument is always posed as the tired old, The game is better when its marquee teams are winning. And its modern corollary, The TV ratings are always better when the marquee teams are winning, and we should all approve of that.Well, four things. One, no it isnt. And shut up. If your imaginations are that stunted, if your curiosity about new things is that limited, you should cease emitting noises from your blowhole for the good of the nation.Two, if you like your team, what do you care what the ratings are? You like your team, and you shouldnt need numbers to show your support is true. In fact, you come off better when you dont have numbers because you are displaying the courage of your convictions.Two, a good tale is a good tale, and Notre Dames work this year is laudatory on its own merits, and would be so if it were Vanderbilt, Western Michigan or San Jose State. You can root for the logo if you want. I prefer the deeds, and Notre Dames season would be praiseworthy if it were Brand X A&T. Conversely, the stalling of the Yankees, the falling of Lakers, the tire fire of the Red Sox and the continued mediocrity of the Cowboys is good in and of itself, because watching a team struggle is just as interesting as watching one flourish. Especially if that team is used to acting as though it should never struggle at all. And thats because of third thing, which is . . . . . . New Faces Are Good. The resurgent Bill Snyder at Kansas State, the resurrection of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the rampant Houston Texans, the budding potential dynasty-ette of the San Francisco Giants . . . these are all signs that sports is still a meritocracy rather than the relentless oppression of the status quo, and tyranny of the big name.Plus, some of the new teams are actually old powers gussied up for the new year. The Chicago Bears, for example. And Alabama is still Alabama, for you old school junkies who cant stand the idea of new anything. And if youre still a junkie for big names in big cities, even if those names are mostly name only, there are the New York Knicks. In other words, there is nothing wrong when some of the mighty have fallen, and there is good when once having fallen, they cant get back up for awhile.Plus plus, this could be nothing but a giant moot point in a month if the Lakers and Celtics figure out how to not be old any more. Or if the Knicks suddenly realize what old really feels like.Plus plus plus, the Yankees are always one act of money-burning (Josh Hamilton?) away from being back in business.The Cowboys? Well, it may be that they simply cant be helped. Not while the owner has the general managers back, and not while a vote of confidence can be delivered in front of the shaving mirror.And who doesnt think that vision isnt a hoot and a half?In short, change is good, the mighty should fall every once in a while, nobody should get to win all the time, the monarchy should be dead (no matter what monarchy youre talking about), sloth is its own punishment, let a thousand flowers bloom, and the beer remains cold no matter what. And if you cant vote for that last one, youre just hopeless.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com
NEW ORLEANS -- The Boogie-and-Brow era in New Orleans is off to a highly inauspicious start.
The Pelicans' tandem of newly acquired All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis was no match for the surging Houston Rockets on Thursday night.
Reserve Lou Williams hit seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points in his Rockets debut after a trade from the Lakers, and Houston crushed New Orleans, 129-99.
Davis had 29 points, and Cousins finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds after he was acquired from Sacramento during the break. But New Orleans turned the ball over 20 times couldn't keep pace with the firepower of the Rockets, who hit 20 3-pointers.
Houston led by as many as 35 points when Gordon's free throws made it 100-65 late in the third quarter.
After New Orleans acquired Cousins, nicknamed "Boogie," in a deal involving five players and two draft choices, Pelicans general manager Dell Demps hoped Cousins and Davis would thrive playing off one another while point guard Jrue Holiday initiated offensive sets. But Holiday had arguably his worst game this season, turning the ball over seven times and finishing with only six points and four assists.
The crowd was charged up for both Cousins' debut and Davis' resumption of a sensational season following his record 52-point performance on Sunday.
Both players received rousing receptions during introductions and the crowd roared when Cousins hit a jumper for games' first points.
Cousins and Davis each scored eight in the first quarter, but it was also apparent that the integration of new personnel had New Orleans a bit out of sync. The Pelicans turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, leading to 17 Rockets points.
The Rockets also hit nine 3s in the opening half, including three each by Gordon and Williams, and led 66-50 at halftime.
By the end of the third quarter, the crowd that had been so rowdy at tip-off was starting to file out with their team down 100-67.
Rockets: Houston has won seven of the past eight meetings. ... The Rockets hit at least 10 3s in a game for the 55th time in 59 games this season. ... The Rockets, now 41-18, have matched their win total for all of last season.
Pelicans: Before the game, New Orleans waived F Terrence Jones and signed G/F Hollis Thompson to a 10-day contract. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said Jones, who joined New Orleans on a one-year contract this season, was released to help him find a team where he could play more. Thompson played a little more than four minutes and scored three points. ... The Pelicans are now 14-16 at home.
Rockets: Host Minnesota on Saturday night.
Pelicans: Visit Dallas on Saturday night.
OAKLAND -- For the first time in nearly four weeks, the Warriors will take the court Thursday night with their regular starting lineup.
Center Zaza Pachulia, out since Jan. 29 with a strained rotator cuff, was cleared to play and will return to his status as the starting center when the Warriors face the Clippers at Oracle Arena, coach Steve Kerr said in his pregame news conference.
Backup center David West, who has been out since Jan. 18 with a fractured thumb, also received clearance and will be available.
JaVale McGee, who performed well while starting eight games in place of Pachulia, will return to his normal role, playing spot minutes off the bench.
“I considered either way, but I think we had a good groove with Zaza as a starter,” Kerr said. “And JaVale was still making an impact when Zaza was starting, bringing him in midway through the first quarter. We hadn’t done it the other way.
“I’ve seen JaVale with our other group, later in the first quarter, and that worked well. So I figured I might as well go back to what’s already worked.”
While Pachulia was out, McGee averaged 9.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 16.5 minutes per game. Generating most of his offense on dunks off lobs, he is shooting 74.7 percent (71-of-95) over his last 22 games and 67.8 percent this season.
Pachulia, who has started 44 games, is averaging 5.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He is shooting 52.7 percent from the field.