Monday, May 11, 2009

Monday's Starting Five

1. The Big Baby. The barrel-chested big man from LSU saved the Celtics from certain elimination. Right after he almost pushed them over the edge. Which was shortly after he appeared to have saved them the first time. All in all, it was a wild final minute for Glen Davis in Game 4 of the second round series between the Celtics and the Magic. He nailed a 15-footer with 32 seconds to play to nose his team out in front by one point, 93-92. But then he fouled Rashard Lewis with 17 seconds remaining. And, after Lewis sank both free throws to edge Orlando ahead, 94-3, the Big Baby dropped a 20-footer in as time expired to give Boston the crucial Game 4 win. The best-of-seven series is even at two games apiece.

2. Aaron Brooks. The Houston Rockets second-year point guard is hard-charging after the former New Orleans Saints QB to become the first "Aaron Brooks" that turns up when you search for that name on Wikipedia. He's not quite over the top yet, but after yesterday he's got to be darn close. During his high school days, Brooks faced off against Adam Morrison in the Washington state finals. He scored 38. Morrison scored 37. Brooks won. While playing at the University of Oregon, Brooks knocked down a game-winner against top-ranked UCLA. He led his side to a Pac-10 tournament title. Before he got them to a Regional Final in the NCAAs. He can play. And he's got a track record of rising to big moments. Yesterday was no exception. With the Rockets reeling from the news that Yao Ming was lost for the remainder of the postseason with a broken foot, Brooks came up bigger than seven feet and six inches. Brooks scored a career-high 34 points in Houston's shocking Game 4 demolition of Los Angeles. He netted 17 in the third quarter and single-handedly quashed the LA comeback that everyone assumed was coming after Shane Battier's three-point shooting had sparked Houston to a large first half advantage. Brooks never let up and his team is dead-even rather at 2-2, rather than Yao-less and in an insurmountable 1-3 hole.

3. Cito Gaston. If I was running the Toronto Blue Jays organization there is one thing for certain that I would know about my franchise. And, this solitary piece of information would likely enable me to keep my job forever. The fact? When Cito Gaston is the manager, this club wins. This is the guy that helmed the club to back-to-back world championships in the early 1990s and then was returned to his post prior to this season. The Toronto franchise has reached the postseason five times since its inception in 1977. Gaston managed three of those clubs. The Jays have captured two pennants and two World Series crowns. Those all belong to Gaston. After finishing last season in fourth place in the AL East, the Jays are currently in first. Because Gaston is in the dugout. It's actually pretty simple. Oh, the guy also isn't shy with his less-than-stellar opinion about Roger Clemens. Which makes him even more likable in my book blog.

4. Stephen Curry. The most electrifying player two NCAA hoops tournaments ago is allegedly heading to the New York Knicks, if the Knickerbockers ends up with the No. 8 pick, in the draft (which is what their eight-worst-in-the-league record should net them). The scoring guard would seem suited for Mike D'Antoni's run-n-gun offense and would give the Knicks a true shooter for the first time since Allan Houston was in his prime. Which was a while ago. All bets and back-room promises are off, though, if the Knicks get lucky on draft night as the Bulls did last year and are able to hop a few of the worse-off clubs in the Association. Because the Knicks wouldn't take him, I think, with a top five pick. I'm sure it also doesn't hurt Curry's draft stock that he is tight with LBJ, who had his boys at Nike print up a bunch of those "Witness" shirts during Davidson's 2008 tourney run.

5. The Metropolitans. It's been more than a week since they lost a baseball game. I was there in Philly that day. And what a loss it was. But since Sean Green walked in the winning run in the 10th against the Phillies, the Mets have rolled off seven straight wins. They've climbed over .500 and into first place. Although it's worth bearing in mind that the three most recent wins came against the lowly Pirates, you can't ignore that the first four came off the Braves and Phillies.

Sixth Monster. Monty. He's back. The return of sea monsters is quickly becoming as synonymous with summer as the music of the local ice cream truck.

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