HANG TIME TEXAS – O.K., O.K., we know. Everybody loves the Clippers … you know, Lob City and all that.
But the best part of the opening week of any NBA season is the uptick in optimism that reigns in many corners of the map.
Be sure to make a League Pass stop by jam-packed Bankers Life Fieldhouse (formerly Conseco) to take a peek at the Pacers, who picked up with the enthusiasm and solid play that coach Frank Vogel instilled over the second half of last season.
David West – who chose Indiana over Boston and isn’t that a treat? – popped in 11 points to go with his 12 rebounds and was one of three different Pacers to ring up a double-double (Roy Hibbert 14 and 16, Tyler Hansbrough (15 and 13) in a season-opening win over Detroit.
The best part, according to Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star, it was a time to dream again:
There is an argument raging in my head — a nice complement to the ringing in my ears after spending opening night watching the Indiana Pacers blow out the Detroit Pistons 91-79 in front of a sellout crowd.
Sixty-six and zero, bay-bee. NBA title. Dynasty. Did you watch that Pacers performance Monday night? To quote LeBron James, “Not one. Not two. Not three. Not four . . .”
Meanwhile a bit farther north of Indy, the Timberwolves opened the 2011-12 season with a loss, but there was also a renewed sense of optimism and hope as Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea and coach Rick Adelman all made their regular season debuts at the Target Center, which was sold out for a home opener for the first time since 2007.
Not only that, but St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Tom Powers has already hung a cool nickname on the Wolves new backcourt:
The youngsters were loose before the game. I stopped by Ricky Rubio’s locker and announced: Rubio and Barea – Dos Lobos!
He looked at me quizzically. I repeated: Dos Lobos. Now, you wouldn’t think it possible to screw up the pronunciation of two words as simple as “dos” and “lobos.” That means “two wolves” in Spanish, just in case you are the ultimate gringo. And a bunch of folks have written to suggest that was a fitting nickname for the Spanish-speaking backcourt of Rubio and J.J. Barea.
Eventually, it was as if a light bulb illuminated over Rubio’s head.
“Dos Lobos!” he said. It did not sound at all like what I had said when he repeated it.
“OK, that’s good,” he noted with a smile.
As it turned out, Dos Lobos played great.
It’s always fun to watch those early sparks ignite.