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tive game is sure to draw favour with Carlyle
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Winter has finally arrived. Some cold weather and even a little snow. No better place to be than inside a nice warm cozy gym watching hoops. The best time of year if you love the game - lots and lots of games. Here are five NBA Thoughts. 1. TRISTAN THOMPSON (Cavs): His first professional appearance for him at the ACC this evening. Hometown kid comes home to play in front of family and friends. Good for him. Hes done a nice job so far. Is he a bit raw? Yes, but hes a guy that rebounds, blocks shots and finishes around the rim. Lots of areas that need work, but in time he will become a good pro if hes willing to pay the price to be a top-notch player. Always a big moment; your first time playing at home. A culmination of lots of years of sacrifice, dedication, and hard work that you can reflect on and briefly celebrate your arrival. Then its on to business. 2. MANU GINOBILI (Spurs): A huge loss for them. The heart and soul of their franchise. He makes them go. Look what happened to them when he was less than 100% vs. Memphis in the Playoffs. Now hes out for a good 4-8 weeks. This lockout-shortened season puts huge pressure on teams when they have to ride out injuries due to the games coming fast and furious. Needless to say, this can result in a tailspin by teams that greatly threatens their chances. Can the Spurs hang around in his absence? Yes, theyll be OK. Play .500 ball, or even a few games above, and youll be fine. Easier said than done. 3. ANDREA BARGNANI (Raptors): His scoring efficiency is impressive. His rebounding is a work-in-progress, but his effort and attention to detail towards it is much improved. His defense is significantly better; I like what Im seeing. I know! I know! Its only five games and its a long way to the promised land for him, but I genuinely like what Im seeing from him. Being around him since his rookie year, this is the most engaged and aware Ive seen him. Coach Dwane Casey and his staff have done a nice job so far getting him to buy in. And when I say buy in, I see a guy trying his best (not always perfect, I know there are lots of skeptics out there ready to pounce on him) at ALL times to do the RIGHT things that are being asked of him. If he keeps this attitude, it will lead to greater improvement. Different guy so far. 4. INDIANA PACERS: Give Larry Bird credit. He went and got David West and George Hill to add to this young group and theyve become a tough-minded and solid team to keep an eye on in the Eastern Conference. Dont get me wrong; theyre not an elite team, but most teams will know about them by the end of the year and theyll be a tough out. Are you going to attract stars in Indy? Likely not. I think its something lots of owners/GMs have to come to grips with as theyre building teams. What kind of market are we and what type of player fits in our market? Its about winning and putting together a good TEAM in a team sport. You dont always need the big and sexy names to be good. Look at the Detroit Pistons in the previous decade in the Eastern Conference. No A-List players but a good team that had a long successful run. Lots of markets (Toronto - I think most folks would be pleased with what the Pistons run was about if it existed for 6-8 years in TO) would be trilled to have that. Decide what works for you and build accordingly. Too many teams arent realistic about what works for them and think the only way to go is the star route. Dont get me wrong, you need one in most cases but if youre not lucky enough to be able to attract and/or retain them then adjust how you build. 5. ANDREW BYNUM (Lakers): Hes healthy and he produces (20-20 Tuesday night) and he changes the look of their team when hes in the mix. How long does it last? Who knows if he can stay durable and healthy. Bet you there is a GM in Orlando keeping a close eye on developments in LA because based upon what I see from the NJ Nets, they dont have the parts to put together a package to improve the Magic and get a deal done for Dwight Howard. The longer Bynum produces, the longer the trade rumours about the Lakers-Magic will stay relevant. Stay tuned. Custom Seahawks Jersey. The Russian was seeded No. 26 at the All England Club and her withdrawal has resulted in the 33rd-ranked Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic climbing into the seedings at No. Custom Chargers Jersey. -- Syracuse carried all that momentum built in the Big East tournament across the country for their NCAA opener. http://www.customnflstore.com/Customized-Denver-Broncos/. The Flames needed a goalie after starter Mikka Kiprusoff sprained his MCL last Tuesday in a game against the Detroit Red Wings. Kiprusoff is listed as day-to-day and was on the ice Monday morning. Custom Lions Jersey. McDavids goals were part of a six-goal explosion in the second period for Ontario, which rebounded after losing 6-5 to the United States in their first game Saturday. Custom Raiders Jersey. Randy Cunneyworth liked the net presence and drive to the goal that his team showed in the win against Ottawa, and will look for much of the same tonight, so dont expect any line-up changes.TORONTO - The Germans and Finns were squaring off that day, a pair of Maple Leaf draft picks on opposite sides. "I remember all the other teammates on the national team were coming into the room after the first period and going Who the [expletive] is that guy? and I just sat there and laughed," remembered Korbinian Holzer, then a member of the German national squad. Meet Leo Komarov. Among the newest Leafs to join the roster this winter, the 25-year-old is certain to be a nuisance for opposing East foes and likely to emerge as a fan favourite in Toronto. "Hes a pain in the ass," smirked Carl Gunnarsson, who has competed against Komarov internationally, most recently at the 2011 World Championships. "He never stops working, he keeps going." The five-foot-ten winger of Estonian descent (he grew up in Finland) is a pest in the simplest terms, the very sort of tick known to drive an opposing team wild with a constant battery of rough and tumble hockey. "This is a player whos in your face all night," said Holzer. "He knows which buttons he has to push to get you pissed off and get you going and get you off your game." A 2006 selection, Komarov won the KHL championship as a part-time captain with Moscow Dynamo last year, intent on finally taking a crack at his NHL dream this past fall. The lockout quickly erased those plans. While he suited up in 14 games with the Marlies - totaling six goals and nine points - Komarov returned to Moscow in November (on loan) before re-joining the Leafs at training camp earlier this week. "If I dont make it at least I tried," said Komarov of making it to the NHL. Not an imposing or physically intimidating presence by any means, Komarov skates with pronounced exertion and hits with full intensity. "Those checks he finishes they hurt," said Holzer. "Hes getting in there; hes throwing his full weight in there. Hes nasty to play against. When the referees not llooking, he uses his stick a little bit to his advantage.dddddddddddd He knows how to do it." Frustrate, that is. Even amongst teammates. Holzer recalled one instance at practice with the Marlies. Special teams were in the works, Komarov parked stubbornly in front of the net with the power-play unit. "I almost wanted to slash him in the face so bad because he had his [expletive] elbows up and he tried to slewfoot me all the time," Holzer smiled, remembering the incident. "It gets you off your game and you get pissed off at him. He makes it so good that even in practice youre getting rattled." "We were going up against each other the other day," Gunnarsson added on the subject. "Were buddies, but hes like Screw you Gunnar. I know its just to get a laugh, but at the same time hes going hard and I like that. He likes to battle." Fueling his efforts is an unwillingness to engage, chirp or even acknowledge conflict. "…he just walks away and that gets you more rattled and then this is the time when you take a stupid penalty most of the time," Holzer noted. Komarov can sprinkle in some offence too - charging to the front of the net is his preferred route of attack - but its the agitation role that earns him points with teammates. "You see that guy just pisses off the other team so much that they get off their game and your bench just loves that," Holzer said. Lacking a certain edge to their roster under Randy Carlyle, the Leafs could benefit from the unique blend of skills that Komarov will bring to the table. While hes perhaps best suited to an energy role - with penalty killing duties - hes versatile enough to step up on a scoring line if the need arises - say with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. His raw, competitive game is sure to draw favour with Carlyle. "Hes just a pain in the ass," Gunnarsson repeated once more. "You need one of those guys on the team." ' ' '

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