New Coloring Book! “Super Cooper and Mrs. Cook: Friends Forever!”

Hey friends! I’m thrilled to present the latest publication. Written by Tara Busch, “Super Cooper and Mrs. Cook: Friends Forever!” is a coloring book illustrated by yours truly. It tells about Cooper’s relationship with Mrs. Cook, and how she upholds his legacy in her classroom. All proceeds go to the Super Cooper Saves the Day foundation. Order yours today from Amazon and get coloring!

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Cavaliers 121, Knicks 108: “Damn DM with the smackdown!”

Donovan Mitchell rubs a 38-point game in New York’s face and the Cavs win with 23 made threes.

Cavalier fans filled the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to capacity for Sunday evening’s match-up with the New York Knicks (3-3). According to the MSG broadcasting duo Walt Frazier and Mike Breen, the venue had a “playoff-like atmosphere,” due in no small part to the presence of Donovan Mitchell, who proved his value tonight, smacking down the Knicks 121-108.

The Knicks had pursued the three-time All-Star heavily in the off-season, and this was their first chance to see him in the wine and gold. The Mitchell-led Cavs (5-1) have gotten off to a ferocious start. They last played on Friday, in an overtime victory that saw him and fellow guard Caris LeVert each drop 41 points on the Celtics. Not only is Donovan a star, but his surrounding cast ain’t shabby either.

Before tonight’s game, the Cavs were second in the league with a net-rating of 11.5—but New York wasn’t far behind in fifth with a 4.7 rating. This game had all the makings of an exciting contest, with two top-ten defenses, the Mitchell storyline, Jalen Brunson blossoming as lead Knick, and New York tied for third-most points scored per game (119.8). Add the fact that the Cavs are short-handed at the guard position, with Darius Garland and Ricky Rubio sidelined by injuries, and the Knicks had a fighting chance in this one.

The Knicks started slowly yet again, going 0-for-5 before Julius Randle scored their first points. Donovan Mitchell drew first blood with a 29’ three-point jumper. He went 3-for-4 from downtown early, to help goose the Cavs to a 16-11 lead by Tiibodeau’s first time out at the 6:27 mark.

Clearly, Mitchell brought emotion into this tilt, scoring 15 points in the first 11 minutes and finishing the game with 38 points and 12 assists while shooting 12-for-20 and 8-for-13 from deep. If he held a grudge about not ending up on the team of his youth, then point taken, Spida. 

RJ Barrett had probably his best shooting half of the season, going 4-for-7 from the floor, and 3-for-3 from deep. This season, RJ had shot 4-for-28 (14%) from three, so this was a welcome sign of life from the Maple Mamba. His efficiency helped to keep the Knicks competitive in the first half.

The Cavs shot 9-for-16 (56%) from deep in the first frame, with two from Dean Wade (2) and five from Mitchell. The Knicks, however, had gone 5-for-8 (63%) from beyond the arc, and thanks to their accurate shooting, they were only down 35-30 at the end of Q1. 

Kevin Love (aka Dorian Gray) continues to provide a spark off the Cavaliers bench. The 15-year vet chipped in 10 points in nine first half minutes and finished the game with 29 points in 22 minutes. For the Knicks, Obi Toppin stood out in the second quarter, with alley-oops and crafty moves, like so:

And this: 

Neither team could maintain the blistering shooting accuracy, of course. The Cavs gave the Knicks opportunities—a transition take foul, a foul behind the arc—but New York left the gift points on the board and, thus, struggled to close the gap. 

By halftime, New York trailed 62-59. They had shot 6-for-10 from the charity stripe and 47% from both the field and three. There were encouraging signs for the second half, though. New York had won the battle for points in the paint 28-16 and fast break points 14-11, and committed only five turnovers.

Randle and Brunson came out like gangbusters after intermission, combining for six quick points and sharp passing that powered New York to a 67-65 lead and forcing J. B. Bickerstaff to call a quick timeout. That breather couldn’t slow the Brunson and Randle train, though, and they opened up an eight-point lead.

By the end of the third frame, the Knicks had spread the margin to nine, up 93-84. They outscored the Cavs 34-22 with an electrifying 19-point turnaround. (h/t/Mike Breen)

Mitchell Robinson got into foul trouble early again, with four fouls in 13 minutes. Once more, Isaiah Hartenstein filled in with extensive minutes. Despite a few defensive lapses, he played well overall and finished the game with 12 points and nine rebounds, shooting 6-for-10.

For a while tonight, Randle looked like the player we cherished two seasons ago. Crisp passing. Bully ball in the paint. Also deserving of credit was another vet, Evan Fournier, who shot 6-for-9 FG and 3-for-4 from deep, including this beauty: 

Early in the fourth, a Donovan Mitchell spin-jam chipped at the Knicks’ lead and was particularly stinging. Sure, I would have loved to see him do that nightly for the Knicks. I know: spilled milk, no crying, yadda yadda. I won’t bring it up any more. . . . With a four-point play shortly after the dunk, Mitchell nullified the Knicks advantage and tied the game with about seven minutes remaining.

Soon after, the Knicks gave up a second four-point play, this time to Love. Poor New York defense devoured their thrilling lead and left them first in a five-point hole with four minutes left, then an eleven-point trench with three to go.  

Anchored by center Jarrett Allen and Power forward Evan “Albatross Arms” MobleyCleveland’s defense was just too strong down the stretch. The Knicks were depleted after expending all that third-quarter energy. They managed only 15 fourth-quarter points. Randle reverted to last year’s version, Brunson was stymied by Cleveland’s D, Fournier’s three-pointers lost their lift, etc. Down by nine with a minute and a half to go, the Knicks threw in the towel, and even Mike Breen declared, “This one is over.”

Your final 121-108, Cavs.

NOTES

  • If other metrics besides total points decided a game’s outcome, New York would have been victorious. They won on fast break points (28-14), rebounds (45-43), steals (9-3), and points in the paint (64-32). They tied the Cavs with 14 turnovers and 18 points off turnovers.
  • Things got chippy between Raul Neto and Immanuel Quickley in the second quarter, with Neto committing two consecutive B.S. fouls on IQ. I struggle to recall anyone else Quickley has beefed with. Nobody, right? Correct me in the comments if I’m forgetting someone.
  • This year’s Knicks aren’t greyhounds, but their pace has improved to dead-middle of the league (15th) at game-time. The Cavs, on the other hand, are slowpokes without Garland, and their pace ranked 27th.
  • Awful, awful Reddish game. I think Thibs wanted him in the game to combat the length of the Cavalier frontcourt, but he was a total liability tonight. Quentin Grimes, we need you.

Quoth Kaisersoser37: “Damn DM with the smackdown!” Of course. Did we expect any less? The Knicks are 0-3 on the road, but fortunately, they return home to battle the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Better results next time, I bet. Peace til then.

The Cloudmaker’s Recipe Book: A Christmas Tale

I love working on fun projects for little readers. (I have one at home, after all.) And boy am I crazy about making books. Hence, I am overjoyed to present “The Cloudmaker’s Recipe Book: A Christmas Tale” by my brother-from-another Brent Beckley.

This story of Jonathan Jeremiah Johnson will be a nifty stocking stuffer or a fun read any time of year. Illustrations by yours truly, of course. Order yours exclusively from Amazon, or contact us for potential discounts, bulk options, signed copies, etc.

Here’s what it’s about: Santa has many friends you know, like Jack Frost, Mother Nature, and even the Easter Bunny. But you’ve probably never heard of one of his oldest friends, Jonathan Jeremiah Johnson, the Cloudmaker. When he was a young man, Jonathan invented a machine he called the Terribly Terrific Tubthumper and began to make clouds in his home. When the neighbors complained about the noise, he wrote a letter to Santa for help, which is exactly what he got. Armed with his unique recipe book filled with special ingredients, his marvelous invention, and with a lot of help from Santas’ elves, Jonathan makes and sends magical clouds all around the world. This is the story of how a young inventor became one of Santa’s oldest friends.

If you get a copy, send a picture!

Order Here from Amazon.

The Knicks sign DaQuan Jeffries to a training camp contract. 

Meet Rudy Gobert’s worst nightmare

By Russell Richardson

On Wednesday, Shams Charania of the Athletic reported that the New York Knicks are signing DaQuan Jeffries to a training camp deal.

Mark your calendar: Training camp opens September 27.

Since joining the league in 2019, the undrafted Jeffries has played with the Sacramento Kings (21 games), the Houston Rockets (13 games), and the Memphis Grizzlies (three games). Over 47 NBA contests, the 6’5”, 230 lb. forward averaged 3.8 points and 1.9 rebounds. He’s also had brief stints with the San Antonio Spurs and the Atlanta Hawks.

Although slow of foot and not super athletic, the 25-year old has been praised for his shooting form, his 6’11.25” wingspan, huge hands, and brick-house physique. He should provide great competition in training camp scrimmages and could earn a spot on the G-League roster. 

DaQuan also did this to Rudy Gobert:

Before joining the NBA, Jeffries spent one season at Oral Roberts and two at Tulsa. He steadily improved over his collegiate career. In his senior year as a Tulsa Golden Hurricane, he averaged 13 points, 5.6 boards, and 1.2 blocks in 28.1 minutes, started 31 games, and shot 37% from deep on four attempts per contest.

That season, Jeffries won the State Farm College Slam Dunk Contest at the Final Four and was selected for the Third-team All-American Athletic Conference in 2018-2019. New York loves dunkers!

In 2021-22, he played 16 games with the College Park Skyhawks of the G League. He averaged 14.3 points on 48% shooting from the floor and produced this 35-point explosion against the Wisconsin Herd.

The Oklahoman is represented by Erik Kabe and Bill Duffy of BDA Sports Management / WME Sports, not CAA (in case you were speculating). Welcome to the Knicks, Daquan! Enjoy the lobs.

2022 FIBA EuroBasket Update: France and Lithuania advance to the next round.

Evan and Rokas fight on in the 41st edition of the international classic.

By Russell Richardson

After the FIBA World Cup and the Olympics, FIBA EuroBasket is the top international basketball event, and at this year’s EuroBasket, two representatives of the New York Knicks are battling in the Group of Death.

Knicks fans are keeping an eye on Group B, which includes France, with New York’s shooting guard Evan Fournier, and Lithuania, with draft-and-stash prize Rokas Jokubaitis. Both teams have qualified for the round of 16 in their quest for Euro gold.

As of this writing, Lithuania stands at 2-3, with victories against Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and losses to Slovenia, France, and Germany.

France has fared better with a 3-2 record. After a surprising tournament-opening loss to Germany, Les Bleus proceeded to defeat Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Lithuania. 

 Against Lithuania, Fournier sizzled with 27 points in 27 minutes for France. His most important shot of the night was a three-pointer that broke a 64-64 tie and ignited a 7-0 run down the stretch that sealed the victory. 

“I thought I was a little bit more involved offensively tonight and that helped me find my groove, find my rhythm,” Fournier said.

The match was also noteworthy because it was the second of a back-to-back, which rankled the Knicks’ swingman, the Pride of Saint-Maurice. Fournier had made news by publicly petitioning FIBA to stop scheduling these back-to-back games in the tournament.

“It’s the EuroBasket and we have back-to-backs. Back-to-backs are very hard. And back-to-backs in the NBA and back-to-back in the EuroBasket is two different things,” Fournier told Eurohoops. 

A captain of the French National team, the 29-year-old Fournier argued that players need time between games to recover and the current schedule sometimes leaves them with less than 24 hours to do so. “Every game is more important. From the very first minute until the last one you play very hard. Physically, it’s a big challenge. We are about to have our second back-to-back. So four games in five nights? It’s tough.”

Despite the tough slate, Evan is conducting himself admirably at the Euro. After a lackluster opening against Germany, he has increased his averages to 15 points and three assists in 29 minutes per game.

In the France v. Lithuania contest, Evan’s fellow Knickerbocker but Euro adversary, Rokas Jokubaitis, scored 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting in 28 minutes.

The Knicks acquired the 21-year-old Jokubaitis in the 2021 NBA Draft. This year, he won the prestigious EuroLeague Rising Star Award and played well in a reserve role for FC Barcelona, the 2022 Copa del Rey champions.

In 30 games for Barca, the 6’4”, 194 lb Rokas averaged 7.8 points and three assists in 17.8 minutes. The lefty (yes, another one!) hit 57% of his threes on 1.2 attempts per game.

After his encouraging performance with Barcelona, in a competitive ACB Liga, many Knicks fans were eager to see how the young guard would perform against NBA competition. We may need to temper our expectations and practice patience with this prospect, however.

Jokubaitis appears to be struggling somewhat at the Euro tourney. He has averaged 8.4 points and 3.8 assists in 25.5 minutes per game and connected on only 31% from downtown (4-of-13). He has gone 8-for-10 from the charity stripe, at least.

On the Lithuanian squad, Rokas is competing alongside such NBA players as Jonas Valanciunas (New Orleans Pelicans) and Domantas Sabonis (Sacramento Kings). 

We’ll have to wait at least another year before we’ll see the play-making Lithuanian at Madison Square Garden. In May, Marc Berman reported in the New York Post: “Despite his progress, The Post has learned the Knicks are heavily leaning toward letting him stay in Spain for next season. That would give the 21-year-old Lithuanian another year to polish his game and get stronger.”

Knicks fans, try to catch Rokas in action on your TVs while you can. On Saturday, Lithuania will play Spain and France faces Turkey. Good luck in the rest of the tourney, fellas.

The Five Stages of Expectation

By Russell Richardson 

In the tradition of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, I have found that an expectation has five stages. Field research over a combined 18 years of matrimony has supported my hypothesis. That spans two marriages, for those keeping score.

The five stages of an expectation are as follows.

One: Somebody—e.g., your wife—wants a task done. In a domestic setting, that might be washing dishes, folding laundry, or scraping and painting the entire exterior of your house. As in any combat scenario, never underestimate your adversary’s imagination.

Two: She wants you to do the chore. Men and women may be equals in contemporary America, but when a job involves power tools or acquiring a hernia, the male usually gets the assignment. Yay us. What’s more, an especially creative foe can devise approximately 800,000 ways to torture you. Anticipate the worst when you want to watch sports.

Three: The expectation is unspoken because your wife knows that ordering you around is an unflattering look. Other times, she is, in fact, testing you. Considering that the woman has seen you leave the house in slippers while wearing your shirt inside-out, one wonders why she gives your squirrel-sized brain so much credit. That brings us to…

Four: She wants you to read her mind. Not all the time, of course, because who wants to hang out in that nightmare thicket? Yikes. But when an expectation is afoot, she assumes that you are as telepathic as The Amazing Kreskin. (Google him, youngsters.) And yet, you’re not a wizard, Harry. Thus, inevitably….

Five: She’s disappointed because you failed to meet her expectations, which she should have expected. A fight may ensue. You’ll lose. Take heart, you will have plenty more chances to screw up over the remainder of the marriage. Sadly, there are no points awarded for consistency.

One day your wife will realize that you are not clairvoyant. She will flag the moment with a long, surrendering sigh, followed by visits to the websites of divorce attorneys. After that, my friend, you can expect the worst.

Don’t Leave a Message

By Russell Richardson

Like everyone, I have certain, completely rational fears. Death. Spiders. Voicemail.

When I receive a voicemail, I feel the polite response is to pretend it does not exist.

To call you back would be awkward. My phone is practically an appendage. We both know I avoided your call. What makes you think I’m dying to return it?

These days, anyone who leaves a voicemail is a relative over the age of 50. Nobody else calls. Even bill collectors text: “Yo, it’s T-Mobile. We goin take ur $$$ on the 15th. Aiiight?”

Even in emergencies, modern people text. Once a friend sent me, “My house is on fire!” To which I replied, “Text 9-1-1! Get with the times!”

How long is too long to go without calling back? And what’s an acceptable excuse for not responding? Could I get away with, “Hey! Just came out of my coma. Did Obama win?”

What’s worse is that my answering message is a total lie. It says, “I’m sorry I missed your call. Leave a message, and I’ll call you back pronto!” But an honest recording would say, “Hey, saw your call. Didn’t feel like answering. No hard feelings. I’ll see you around.”

Listen, I do want people to call me. Sometimes it’s a nice feeling to have someone want to spend time on the phone with me. But, if I don’t answer, despite what my answering message says, you don’t need to leave a message.