The Couch Slouch

The NBA season is here, and it's the West's World

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Frank Lloyd Wright once said, "Tip the world over on its side and everything will land in Los Angeles."

(Why not Sacramento?)

LeBron James landed last year, followed this year by Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

When you say "La La Land" now, one "La" is for the Lakers and the other "La" is for the Clippers.

Staples Center is no longer big enough for the two of them – the Clippers intend to move to the Lakers' old stomping grounds in Inglewood, with a new arena planned for 2024 down the street from the Great Western Forum.

The NBA traditionally is divided into the Western and Eastern Conferences. But in 2019-20, it is now divided into Los Angeles and Points East.

(By the way, if everything did land in Sacramento, I'd be able to get to In-N-Out Burger quicker.)

Anyhow, here's a not-quite-comprehensive look at the new NBA season:

* Let's get this nasty replay-as-an-officiating-tool business expanding again out of the way first. NBA coaches this season have the right to challenge one call per game (on limited situations), plus replay can now be triggered by the NBA Replay Center in Secaucus, N.J., without the involvement of the game referees.

Here's a thought: One day the NBA Replay Center might also handle pass-interference disputes for NFL games being played at the same time as NBA games.

* Memo to the Brooklyn Nets: You are one short of a dynamic duo. Sure, everyone is excited by the arrival of Irving and Kevin Durant. Except Durant will miss the entire season; as a rule, I like my $164 million superstars to be ready to play within, oh, three months or so of joining the team. And when Durant does return in 2020-21, he might be a shadow of his former self. Take it from me: I've been a shadow of my former self since 1993, and it's not a pretty sight.

* The cheesesteak contingent says this is the year The Process leads to The Finals for the Philadelphia 76ers. Uh, no. Yes, Ben Simmons hit a three-point shot in preseason, another wacky and inexplicable effect of climate change. And, yes, the Toronto Raptors lost Leonard and the Boston Celtics lost Irving. But The Process remains an irrevocably corrupt, contaminated, contemptible entity, and it will never be rewarded.

* James Harden, you remember Russell. Russell Westbrook, you remember James. This could be the greatest pairing since Simon & Garfunkel. Or it could be the biggest flop since the AOL-Time Warner merger. Whether it's a tour de force or a train wreck, watching the Houston Rockets alone is the worth the price of NBA League Pass.

* If you are a disgruntled L.A. fan, you might want to latch onto the New Orleans Pelicans – they have ex-Lakers Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram, plus ex-Clipper J.J. Redick (and the head coach is ex-Clippers assistant Alvin Gentry). And why stop there? Why not move to New Orleans? Less traffic, lower taxes, no Kardashians.

* The Golden State Warriors have moved into a new arena, but they forgot to bring most of their team. Gone: Durant, DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and, until he is healthy, Klay Thompson. Was it something Steve Kerr said? No – life happens. And as long as Stephen Curry is still in town, the Warriors are still happening.

* Let's be very, very honest about the Dallas Mavericks. The only reason to mildly root for the team the past 20-odd years was Dirk Nowitzki; the main reason to root against the Mavs was Mark Cuban. Nowitzki is gone, Cuban is not. Case closed.

* With column space at a premium these days, Couch Slouch cannot justify writing lengthy items on the New York Knicks and the Washington Wizards. They always stink.

* A billion Chinese people can't be wrong, can they? In A Few Good Men, Col. Nathan Jessup shouted, "You [messed] with the wrong Marine!" Well, Adam Silver, you [messed] with the wrong regime!

Ask The Slouch

Q. Several years ago, you ran a question that said, "If Dan Snyder really loved the R*dsk*ns, wouldn't it make more sense for him to have bought the Cowboys and run that franchise into the ground?" If you print that one again, I will send you $1.25. (Doug Pratt; Kensington, Md.)

A. You really should send the buck-and-a-quarter to Jeff Brown of Arlington, Va., who submitted that gem.

Q. If replay review had been afforded to either of your first two wives at the ceremonies, would the "I do" have been reversed to "I don't"? (Jack Drury; Cumberland, Md.)

A. Actually, I believe one of them did try to back out on our wedding day without the benefit of replay.

Q. Is it true that the NCAA was fully supportive of the "pay to play" idea until they couldn't agree on how much the players should be charged? (Steve Cullen; Richmond, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Does the signature of Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross on player paychecks constitute written proof of attempting to fix NFL games? (Mike Soper; Washington, D.C.)

A. Pay this wise soul, too.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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