E.A. SPORTS: It’s In The Game (Unless You’re Josh Boone)…
By Tony Maglio
On Wednesday, the NBA’s worst two teams will battle each other with the winner being awarded the ultimate in lame bragging rights: 29th best team in the league. I can’t even imagine what the attendance will be when the Minnesota Timberwolves come to New Jersey to play the Nets - the Izod Center will be emptier than a lonely old person’s funeral. To add some flair to it, I think the game should be played with WWE Retirement Match rules, where the losing coach has to leave NBA for good (until he ultimately returns as a heel). I’m not sure that I’ll be able to watch the actual game without getting worse at fundamental basketball through osmosis, so what I decided to do is load up “NBA Live 10” on my PlayStation 3 and see how this contest of inadequacy goes down in a simulated world.
If you think real-life Josh Boone sucks (and we all do), video game Boone must be even worse. I had to download “Dynamic DNA” (which is a cool new feature in the “NBA Live” series that updates attributes and injuries in accordance with the happenings of the current NBA season) just to get Josh Boone ON MY ROSTER. He wasn’t even originally on my bench; I thought I was going to have to create Josh Boone just to get the proper starting lineup. I was a little disappointed when I didn’t have to do that because I wanted to see just how low I could set the attributes before the computer argued that there’s no way this could be an NBA player that I was creating, and promptly self-destructed.
For reality purposes, I set the game in the inexplicably packed Izod Center, with 12-minute quarters, and set the “Game Environment” to “Season” (as opposed to “Playoffs” or “NBA Finals” which for realism should both be automatically disabled options when you’re playing with the Nets or Timberwolves). Mercifully, I will not be controlling either team, we’ll let the computer A.I. tackle this storied rivalry.
A final pre-tip-off note: Video game Brook Lopez has the thickest uni-brow and meanest expression I’ve ever seen. He is unkempt and he is PISSED. I can’t really blame virtual Brook, look who he’s surrounded by. I’m just not sure why EA Sports took such a liberty with his extreme hairiness – he looks like a Geico Caveman. If you recall in Episode One, I referenced a story about how smitten the Lopez twins were with their PS3 – so you would think EA Sports would give him a break on the ugliness of his likeness.
Eight seconds in, Lopez fouls rookie Johnny Flynn who hits on both free throws. Lopez then promptly hoists up a brick from the block and Flynn takes him to the hole: 4-0 Timberwolves. Not a great start. But on the ensuing Nets possession, Josh Boone hits a turn-around J from the elbow! Perhaps this game isn’t as realistic as advertised.
The Nets gather some quick points from the free-throw line - but this gives way to a big T-Wolves run. At the end of the First Quarter it’s 27-17 Wolves. Some stats: Nets 5 of 25 shooting, a gorgeous 20%. They’re 0-2 from three-point land, but 7-7 from the line. Wolves shoot 41.7% on 10-24 as they out rebound the Nets 16-11 with 6 assists to the Nets’ 1. Yep, that looks about right. See full quarterly statistics below:
|3 POINT %||0.0%||0.0%|
|3 P MADE/ATTEMPTED||0-0||0-2|
|FAST BREAK POINTS||0||0|
|SECOND CHANCE POINTS||4||2|
Video game Bobby Simmons is about as lazy as the real thing; standing in one spot blank-faced settling for bad jumpers. After he misses a couple of these in a row, the “NBA Live” color commentator says, “Why is he shooting these? That’s not his game. He should be taking the ball to the basket.” Clearly you’ve never seen his “game”, Mr. Announcer. I haven’t seen real-life Bobby Simmons take the ball to the basket in a lay-up line.
Josh Boone continues to clean the glass. Which is probably good practice for his post-NBA career options. If he continues to get minutes, he’s going over 10 boards tonight. Don’t let the inflated rebound stats fool you though; this is more a reflection of the terrible shooting than strong paint-play. But nonetheless this is a big confidence booster for virtual Josh, he’s replaced his usual sulking trot with a little giddy-up swagger. Although we already knew that rebounding is about all he does decently - Boone is the first player the NBA should start keeping “single-double” stats for.
Lopez continues to toss up turn-around bricks from the paint and the elbow. This is not looking good for him statistically. The best play Brook’s had so far is when he caught a pass on the wing, drove all the way from the 3-point line and drained a runner. I’m starting to think I should have bought “NBA 2k10” instead.
Biggest difference so far between real life and “NBA Live 10” – Courtney Lee can SCORE in the game. He is single-handedly bringing the Nets back in the 2nd quarter. As time winds down in the first half, Rafer Alston FINALLY makes a shot and the Nets close out the half with the lead, 42-41. Big comeback quarter, showing that famous Nets resiliency that seemingly only exists on PS3 and Twitter. Our shooting is up to a gaudy 30.6% on 15-49, we hit 2-2 three-pointers to improve overall to 50% and continue good free throw-shooting which now rests at 90.9% on 10-11 shooting. We out-rebounded and out-assisted the T-Wolves in the 2nd quarter to bring our first half totals to 27-25 and 10-7 respectively in the visiting team’s favor. Some more stats (for guys like Sebastian):
1st Half Stats
|3 POINT %||33.3%||50.0%|
|3 P MADE/ATTEMPTED||1-3||2-4|
|FAST BREAK POINTS||0||0|
|SECOND CHANCE POINTS||4||6|
Player stats worth mentioning:
Brook Lopez: 6 points on 1-12 shooting (.083%), 9 rebounds, 2 assists
Josh Boone: 4 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 turnovers
Courtney Lee: 12 points on 4-5 shooting
Bobby Simmons: 2 points on 1-7 shooting, 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 2 fouls (keep playing that hot hand, virtual coach)
Al Jefferson: 10 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 blocks on 5-9 shooting (absolutely OWNING the paint)
Johnny Flynn: 12 points on 3-12 shooting, 2 rebounds, 4 assists
On to the 2nd Half:
Three and a half minutes into the 3rd Quarter, the announcer suggests that the Nets are winning this game because they’ve been “really efficient offensively”. Yep, still under 31% from the field at this point. It seems that the only thing less accurate than the shooting in this game is the commentating. Only Courtney Lee continues to roll offensively, taking it to the rack and knocking down mid-range J’s. It must be the mask. Or the inflated player rating.
Boone draws Kevin Love’s fourth foul, which means: We get to see virtual Josh Boone shoot free throws! It’s a little disappointing as he bricks the first and swishes the second. I was kind of hoping his video game likeness would just graze the bottom of the net on both like I’m accustomed to seeing on YES.
Lopez is having a monster 3rd Quarter on the defensive glass. They’re pretty much all uncontested and grabbed by height-default though – there is absolutely no offensive crashing at all, which leads to no running game the other way. There’s no real transition game at all actually, which is either a flaw in the programming or commentary on the quality of these particular teams. Case in point: Devin Harris steals the ball one-on-one at mid-court but doesn’t even get a shot attempt out of it. Look at the stats: 0 fast break points for either team. Might want to include that major part of basketball in “NBA Live 11”, EA Sports.
Right after I wrote that sentence, Al Jefferson rejected a Devo drive so far down the court that it became a footrace lay-up for the Wolves to tie it at 59 – fast break points do exist! Closing seconds, Harris makes a better move drawing a foul and hitting both free throws to take the lead.
Johnny Flynn quickly ties it back up at 61 and the Nets take a timeout with 22 seconds left to draw up what should be the final play of the 3rd Quarter. During the timeout we take a peek in the Nets huddle where we find out that “Dynamic DNA” doesn’t replace head coaches who get fired. (Former) Coach Lawrence Frank draws up a play for Courtney Lee resulting in a rare (for video game C. Lee) brick. The Wolves take it down the court and take the lead. After three; Wolves 63, Nets 61. NBA Live 10: Where Mediocrity Happens.
|3 POINT %||40.0%||40.0%|
|3 P MADE/ATTEMPTED||2-5||2-5|
|FAST BREAK POINTS||2||0|
|SECOND CHANCE POINTS||8||6|
Wolves start with the ball while a massive “De-Fense!” chant erupts from the raucous Izod crowd – a scene we’re unlikely to see on Wednesday when the real match-up occurs. It works! The Nets come up with a big steal, meander aimlessly down the court - and cough it up themselves.
Back and forth Quarter; with seven minutes left, Kevin Love hits a 15 footer to make it a 75-70 game, at which point Marv Albert comments that the Wolves have been “putting on a clinic offensively”. If by “clinic”, you mean the “Terrence Williams Jump-Shooting Clinic”, than yes, they have been. Things aren’t looking good for the Nets – this is where they usually lay down and take it.
But wait - the pace and the stakes amp up as the Nets rally to take a 76-75 lead. The Wolves answer right back, 77-76 Timberwolves. Alston promptly bricks a short jumper (back to old form), but Sean Williams grabs the offensive board and gets fouled! He sinks both to put the Nets back up by one with 4:45 remaining! Good to see Sean Williams getting minutes at a meaningful time, even better to see Boone go to the bench during it.
The Wolves miss - Lopez grabs the board and Courtney Lee slowly but surely takes it to the bucket and gets fouled (also putting the Wolves over the limit, which we’re reminded of at least a dozen more times). He sinks them both; Minnesota misses again and Alston hits a jumper! A 12 to 2 Nets run!
Ramon Sessions (no clue) scores for the Wolves and Alston tosses up another bad J, but Josh Boone is back in there to clean up! A Minnesota turnover, and now this looks like its all Nets as Alston gets fouled and hits a pair. 86-79 Nets with 2:30 remaining.
The Wolves are taking bad shots and this one looks like it’s in the bag as Terrence Williams gets fouled taking it to the hoop and then shares an awkward electronic bro-hug with Najera (who let him in the game?). Williams promptly misses both to make sure this game is all but over. Can’t wait to see his “PlayStation Network” Twitter feed after the game.
Wolves just cannot buy a bucket as Sessions misses an open three and now it’s Harris to the line, hitting one of two. Another miss by the Wolves, C. Lee hits a looong 3 (that he had NO business shooting) and the Nets are up 11 on an 8-0 run. The Wolves continue to miss as the clock mercifully (for the Wolves and me) ticks away. Al Jefferson fouls out on a frustration foul and Boone again doesn’t air ball a free throw. This is truly his night. 91-79 Nets with 14.8 seconds remaining which of course means the Wolves will finally use a timeout to map out a comeback. Johnny Flynn hits a meaningless three and the game ends 91-82 good guys!
|3 POINT %||27.3%||37.5%|
|3 P MADE/ATTEMPTED||3-11||3-8|
|FAST BREAK POINTS||2||2|
|SECOND CHANCE POINTS||12||10|
Courtney Lee: 23 points on 8-13 shooting, 2-3 3p, 5-6 FT
Brook Lopez: 18 points on a lame 7-19 shooting, 24 rebounds
Josh Boone: 8 points, 16 rebounds, 4 blocks
Devin Harris: 16 points, 4 assists
Bobby Simmons: 4 points on 1-11 shooting
Johnny Flynn: 24 points (7 of 22), 7 assists
Kevin Love: 15 points (7 of 23), 22 rebounds
Al Jefferson: 12 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 7 blocks
So what did we learn? Well we learned that the Nets will most certainly beat the Timberwolves on Tuesday night from the foul line. We learned that Bobby Simmons dogs it up and down the court in all forms of reality. But mostly I think we’ve learned that I really need a life. See you next Monday.