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Friday, December 15, 2006

Bittersweet Return: Hornets Lose to Spurs, 103-77

The Hornets returned to New Orleans on Thursday for the second of six home games that they will play in the city that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Byron Scott's shorthanded squad--playing without injured starters Tyson Chandler, David West and Peja Stojakovic--was no match for the San Antonio Spurs, losing 103-77. Manu Ginobili had 24 points and six assists for the Spurs, Tony Parker added 19 points and eight assists and Tim Duncan contributed 11 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two blocked shots and two steals. Rasual Butler led the Hornets with 17 points, Desmond Mason had 16 points and nine rebounds and Chris Paul shot poorly (2-11 from the field, six points) but dished out 12 assists.

San Antonio took an 8-0 lead to begin the game and never looked back. TNT's Kenny Smith offered the best and most concise recap of the Spurs' approach: they flew in, kicked butt and went home. The Spurs were not distracted by how many Hornets players sat out or by the emotions involved with New Orleans welcoming back its basketball team. I'm sure that a lot of viewers switched channels as San Antonio's lead grew but, as I previously mentioned, I don't do that. Unlike the Heat on Wednesday, the Hornets did not make a stirring comeback but the game did still provide a lot of entertainment value because of...

Miller's Malapropisms

It is not easy to do live TV. Even the best broadcasters make mistakes and some of the most beloved commentators--like baseball's Ralph Kiner--are known for butchering the language. Still, Reggie Miller was truly in the zone on Thursday:

1) He repeatedly called David West "Doug." OK, that is pretty minor and there was a Doug West in the league when Miller played, so maybe he was having flashbacks. On the other hand, broadcasters have stacks of carefully prepared notes to prevent such mistakes.

2) This is a direct quote: "If I'm the city of New Orleans, I'm very excited to have two young players like Chris Paul and Reggie Bush represent their perspective state as well as franchises." The careful reader will note that this one quote actually contains multiple infractions. English translation of Miller's quote: "New Orleans' fans are very excited to have young players like Chris Paul and Reggie Bush represent not only their city's pro franchises but also the state of Louisiana."

3) Here is another direct quote: "Tonight, Desmond Mason and Rasual Butler have really been the only really offensive tool that Byron Scott can put his hat on." Some computers in public libraries might block that sentence due to its suggestiveness except for the fact that it is completely indecipherable. Miller apparently was trying to say that Mason and Butler have been the Hornets' only consistent offensive weapons.

Throughout the game, Miller sounded like he was shouting while fellow analyst John Thompson sounded like he was whispering. Thompson made some interesting comments, so perhaps TNT might consider turning his microphone up and ratcheting Miller's down a notch or two. I would have loved to see the look on play-by-play man Dick Stockton's face after some of Miller's statements. Stockton and Miller had an interesting exchange late in the game. Stockton praised the Spurs for making few mistakes in terms of the veteran personnel that they sign and Miller responded by saying that the Spurs work on the little details in practice so that they don't make a lot of mistakes during games. Stockton took a deep breath before pointing out that he was talking about personnel decisions made by management, not on-court decisions made by players. If this were Saturday Night Live circa 1976 Miller would have answered, "Never mind." The reason that this caught my attention is that broadcast partners usually don't correct each other on air, except when someone like Marv Albert good naturedly ribs his counterpart. On the rare occasions when broadcasters correct each other, they usually do it nonchalantly. For instance, Stockton could have answered Miller's repeated "Doug West" references by saying "David West is indeed an important player for New Orleans." Stockton either ignored or didn't notice that one but he didn't let the other one slide. Call this a wild hunch, but I'm guessing that Miller will be spending more time in the studio and less time calling games.

posted by David Friedman @ 2:21 AM


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At Friday, December 15, 2006 5:28:00 AM, Blogger vednam said...

I also noticed that exchange between Stockton and Miller.

There used to be a lot of correcting going on during CBS telecasts when Stockon and Brent Musburger were play-by-play men and Rick Barry and Bill Russell were color men. I remember sometimes Musburger would be trying to agree with what Russell was generally saying, but would not be as precise, and Russell would say something blunt like "Not really, Brent."

At Saturday, December 16, 2006 2:08:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Russell had a classic way of saying a lot with a few words. Someone would throw down a monster dunk and he would say, "That's a high percentage shot."

I try not to nitpick every little thing that commentators say because I know that live TV is not easy but it just seemed on Thursday night that Reggie Miller fought the English language--and all of us lost.


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