One honeymoon game before the rotation questions haunt us again

That game was fun.

Tyrus and Noah started out like a ball of fire, with Tyrus even hitting 3 jumpers in his first stint. Gordon had a Manu-esque 37 points on 18 shot attempts. Every player looked good except for Deng, Gray and Duhon, and even that was alright because it allowed me to therapeutically fume over Duhon, and specifically Boylan sticking with tiny-ball for an unreasonable amount of time in the first half.

If it wasn't for an unconscious shooting binge by J.R. Smith the 4th quarter would've been a complete walk, but even the nervous moments didn't get too nervous, because unlike before we knew a certain offensively anemic and gassed-out big man wouldn't be coming in to close out the game.

So now the (somewhat) fun arguments can begin of how to fit the new team together.

Some mixed messages in Saturday's notes columns. The theme from Boylan seems to be competition (and the revelation that Paxson never tells him who to play, hmmm), but here's a quote on Gooden: "You see Drew is a legitimate power forward who's strong around the basket, runs the floor, excellent rebounder. So he slides right into that slot comfortably for us." Which, combined with Paxson's earlier remarks over Gooden being "a starting 4" (if not "our" starting four), has the Herald (and Trib somewhat) declaring Gooden the starter.

There's less of a consensus on Hughes, although not from the man himself: "I plan to start, I've been comfortable in a starting role for some time now. I like to be out there in the court."

(Hey man, who doesn't?)

I'm going to try and not get caught up in Boylan's words, because he's a goof and who knows what he'll do when done preaching about 'earning' spots and other nonsense. With no practice time for the new guys before three games in four nights, I don't see the rush in starting either guy, but I'm not going to get too upset about either getting the nod.

If Gooden starts, this isn't the same case where they were starting ancient and awful (sometimes both) players in Smith and Wallace ahead of Thomas and Noah. Gooden's an actual player so starting's fine, the real problem will be if Thomas isn't the first big off the bench, as he can work subbing in for either Noah or Gooden, and only after that should Nocioni and Gray be considered.

As I said before (and this was only emphasized last night), Hughes can take all of Duhon's minutes right now as the backup point guard, and work from there. If Hughes does start (a more egregious decision than starting Gooden, but also less likely), the bigger issue is if Thabo goes behind Duhon, and/or also doesn't pick up some lost minutes as a SF backing up Deng (when he 'earns' that spot back from Noc...ya notice Noc getting his minutes cut in these scenarios?).

Integrating Gooden and Hughes is a better problem to have than doing the same with Wallace and Smith. Boylan is tough to predict (I'm sure even he feels that way, heh) so we'll see what happens Sunday night. I won't get too angry if that Nuggets game didn't permanently cement a future starting lineup, but it should have definitely cemented some spots in the rotation.

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