I hate being a conformist. I am forever torn between two sides of my personal identity. I have made very conformist choices many times in my life, and at others I have made rebellious choices simple to go against the grain. Since I was a small child I have always dreaded being "just like everybody else," while at the same time yearning to fit in. As I have aged, I have found a tentative balance between the two...sometimes being the slightly rebellious one in the conformist crowd and at others being the slightly conformist in the rebel crowd.
I didn't want to be like everybody else this morning. I wanted to pick a player for today's POG that no one else would have picked. I didn't want to take the obvious route. I even tried real hard to find a player that I could use some wierd statistic or subjective event to justify selecting him over the obvious choice. I have failed miserably.
My POG for today is the local boy that everyone loves or loves to hate. Luke Ridnour put up solid numbers, but his subjective value was off the scale for me.
Luke started the game on a tear. Playing against one of the best point guards in the game he just picked apart the NJ defense with the pick and roll and his drives to the basket. He shot the ball, drove to the hoop, passed and even had a block. He almost singlehandly had the Nets lost in a fog of disbelief. At the same time, he managed to hold off Jason Kidd. In the first half Kidd only made a single shot, only hit 2 free throws, only passed for 2 assists, only grabbed 2 rebounds and snagged a single steal. I said in my warmup yesterday that controlling the guards would be key, and Luke managed to control his man in the first half. On the other end of the floor, when the Sonics needed a clutch basket, Ridnour was there to score, pass or draw the foul. When Luke sat down to start the fourth quarter the Nets went on a 9-0 run. When Luke checked back in the Sonics went on a 5-0 run.
Luke led the team in scoring with 32 though Vince Carter was the game's leading scorer with 38, howeverVC had a few extra minutes of playing time to get those extra six points. That is right, you heard me correctly, Luke Ridnour matched Vince Carter in scoring. Luke tied for the team leader in assists at seven, had 4 rebounds, a block and just a single turnover. For the second game in a row, the Sonics controlled the ball well (10 TO's as a team), and combined with their excellent rebounding they ensured a win by taking away New Jersey's strength. Luke was third on the team for help value, and was second on the team for overall +/- at +11. The +/- leader for the game was Johan Petro (+16) who didn't play the last 20 minutes of the game. Chris Wilcox was the next closest to Luke at +5, that is how huge Ridnour was for this win.
A performance like this gets everyone excited. If Luke played like this every night he would be an All-Star candidate. I don't expect him to do this every night. I would settle for 15 points, 6 assists and 2 turnovers per game. Bursts of stellar play like last night simply make that far fetched thought seem a little more realistic.