Recap: Cavs 99, Nets 97 (or, The Bandit)

East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’
We gonna do what they say can’t be done
We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there
I’m east bound, just watch ol’ bandit run

No, you didn’t just accidentally stumble onto a fan page for the late, great Burt Reynolds. Rest assured, I’ll bring this all back to the Cavs’ narrow victory over the Brooklyn Nets tonight at the Barclays Center. I just wanted to take a moment to enjoy the symmetry of things. To appreciate how small and seemingly random occurrences can attain a certain synergy as events unfold, presenting a new and entertaining narrative.

Just last week, the Cavs traded away their best shooter, Kyle Korver, to the Utah Jazz. The move seemed like a good one for Kyle and his family, but it meant an immediate reduction in the volume of three point shooting we’d see on this team going forward. On a personal level, it also meant saying goodbye to the treasure trove of choice Kenny Powers pics, videos and memes I’ve downloaded and utilized during the parts of three seasons La Flama Blanca wore a wine & gold uniform. It was a sad day… made moreso by the current relatively sad state of the franchise. The absurdly tenuous correlation between the sublime shooting of Kyle Korver and the brash bravado of the fictional Kenny Powers had provided an extra layer of awesome in good times… and a welcome bright spot of distraction in the bad. But, now it was gone.

In return for Korver, the Cavs got back a couple of second round picks, and Alec Burks… a 27 year old swingman. I’ll admit to knowing very little about Burks, other than he was a much more streaky shooter than the departing Threezus. The primary focus of most articles discussing the trade, was on Burks’ inherently tradable expiring deal, especially since the Cavs already possessed two other streaky shooting swingmen in the enigmatic Jordan Clarkson and Burks’ former teammate, Rodney Hood. That said, I wasn’t expecting too much in the way of meaningful contributions from Burks. Yet, what he’s shown already in his first couple of games with his new team, aside from scoring ability off the bench, is a fearlessly aggressive and attacking style. Something that’s frequently in short supply for any struggling, Lottery-bound team.

I’m usually fairly on top of finding nicknames for incoming players. If they don’t already have a fun, alternative moniker that’s widely known, I’ll either fire up the anagram maker, or do a deep dive down reddit threads. Given my Not A Recap of the Celtics debacle, and missing the Raptors game completely, I was behind on my research. As Burks checked in towards the end of the first quarter against the Nets, I did a quick search for nicknames. One random Jazz fan site referred to Burks as the “Two Minute Bandit” but gave no explanation as to why. Since y’all are familiar with the strange way my synapses fire, a quick google search of the phrase “Two Minute Bandit” produced the picture above from the film Smokey & The Bandit II. And… all of a sudden, the world made sense again.

You see, the famous theme song of the Smokey & The Bandit franchise is East Bound and Down, written and performed by Jerry Reed (first stanza above). Now, before you think I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole deeper than one of our podcasts… East Bound and Down just happens to be the name of the cable series on HBO that introduced the world to one Kenny Powers. In fact, the show derived it’s title from the Smokey & The Bandit theme song.

So, there it was. Full circle. La Flama Blanca might be gone… but The Bandit might also have arrived to take his place… both literally and metaphorically. All Burks had to do was live up to the nickname. And, by the end of this game… boy, did he ever.

The Cavs were East bound tonight in Brooklyn, and they were down in the first quarter by as much as seven. But, they were loaded up and truckin’ from the second quarter on. They were gonna do what they say can’t be done… get a close win on the road. After the Nets stormed back to tie it at 97 with 18 seconds left, the Cavs looked like they had a long way to go, and a short time to get there. But, Burks was east bound, and the Nets just watched ol’ Bandit run… dribble behind the back, and throw down a two-handed jam to steal the win.

(Admit it… by now you didn’t come here for un-tortured metaphors…)

The Bandit surely didn’t win this game all by himself, but that was as genuinely exciting an exclamation point on a win that I’ve seen in the post-LBJ era…

To start the game, the Cavs seemed determined to try and dominate the paint against the less experienced Brooklyn big men. They went down low to Tristan Thompson early and often. TT scored eight of his 19 points in the opening quarter, with two garbage man putbacks on offensive boards. But, the Nets commenced their three point bombing (they shot 40 from beyond the arc on the night), as a couple of D’Angelo Russell treys gave Brooklyn early momentum. Though he missed the obligatory heat check, the Nets twice took seven point leads, and looked ready to blow things open as the Cavs kept making the mistake of going under screens and leaving shooters open. However, a dumb offensive foul by Ed Davis triggered a 10-2 run by the Cavs to close the quarter with a two point lead, 30-27. Burks and the enigmatic Jordan Clarkson authored the damage, and Collin Sexton finished it with this successful layup in transition…

Smokey and The Bandit (we’ll refer to Clarkson as “Smokey” in this scenario since he was on fire early) continued their positive play to start the second quarter (JC was +10 on the night and Burks was +11). Clarkson hit a couple of mid-rangers, and snagged a few of his 11 rebounds, while Burks knocked down a trey and dished this dime to Tristan…

Shabazz Napier and Spencer Dinwiddie kept the Nets in striking distance with their shot-making, but Thompson continued to beast on the boards (he had 14 for the game), and dominate the Brooklyn bigs. And, when TT wasn’t abusing them, Larry Nance Jr. was. Nance chipped in four points towards the end of the half, the last of which put the Cavs up by nine with under a minute to go. Unfortunately, Dinwiddie drained an open three to cut the lead to 56-50 at halftime

Canadian Dynamite continued to go off to start the second half, as TT had a put back slam and a beautiful block of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in the opening minute. Sexton then started heating up to push the Cavs’ lead out to double digits, but every time the wine & gold started to get breathing room, the Nets would splash clusters of threes. After Rodney Hood got fouled on a three point attempt (and made all three FTs), Thompson again blocked Hollis-Jefferson, and the Cavs built their biggest lead of the night (13 points) on one of Cedi Osman’s two buckets. Russell got hot again to bring the Nets closer, but then Nance, Jr. had this throwback sequence…

The momentum seemed to be shifting the Cavs’ way… that is, until some dude named Rodions Kurucs checked into the game for Brooklyn. After a Clarkson 1-on-3 drive into traffic, Kurucs scored on a run out to cut the lead to 80-76 after three.

Despite not playing at all until the final two minutes of the third quarter, the deceptively quick Kurucs stayed in for the entirety of the fourth. His energy and opportunistic scoring almost brought the Nets all the way back to win. Though the Cavs were able to push their lead back out to double digits with just over four minutes remaining, the Nets went on a 17-6 run to close out the game. Brooklyn took advantage of poor ball-handling, careless passes and ill-advised shot attempts by the Cavs to close the gap. Aside from a DeMarre Carroll bucket to start the quarter, all of the other points for the Nets were scored by Dinwiddie, Russell and Kurucs.

The Cavs looked like they were in good shape several times after made baskets, including a Hood jumper, a Clarkson teardrop and one last Thompson put back dunk. Yet, every time, Brooklyn answered. Even after Russell airballed a three with 20 seconds left, the ball dropped right into Kuruc’s waiting arms (thanks to zero boxing out by the Cavs) for a layup to knot the game at 97. Which set the stage for the heroics of The Bandit.

Sure… Larry drew it up (pun intended)… but Burks executed it…

The Evil:

The Cavs’ starters were all in the negatives for this game, primarily because they were victims of the Nets runs to start and finish the game. On the flip side, the bench bunch were all in the positives.

Outside of Tristan (8-11) and Sexton (7-16), the starters had a rough shooting night, combining to go 6-21 (0-5 from downtown). Cedi at least chipped in with some rugged defense and board work (he had seven snags to go with his eight points), though he looks uncomfortable with his outside shot lately. Hood and Hill had forgettable nights, though they did both still each have two assists and a steal. Hill’s night can probably be chalked up to rust. Hood has no such excuse for his disappearing act.

Can it still be considered three point “variance” when you take 25 fewer shots from beyond the arc than your opponent? It’s a stretch. The Cavs were just 4-15 collectively from three (27%), but were fortunate the Nets made only 10 of their 40 bombs from deep (25%). If Joe Harris (one of Brooklyn’s better gunners) plays, this might have easily been a loss.

Though the defense was good in spurts, too often the Cavs failed to fight through screens to close out on shooters, box out their men underneath, or track down the multitude of long rebounds giving the three-happy Nets second chances. They frequently fell asleep on rotations or were sloppy with the ball, especially in the fourth quarter when they allowed the rookie Kurucs to take advantage.

The Genius:

Tristan Thompson is playing like an All-Star lately. Not only is he averaging a double double on the season (11.7 ppg/11.5 rpg), but he has 50 points and 45 boards in his last three games. He had two blocks and two assists to go with his 19 points and 14 rebounds tonight, but more importantly, he was the absolute vocal leader of the team on the floor. TT is taking the onus and ownership of the team’s performance nightly in his quest to win the battle of the paint…

The Cavs got 42 points and 26 rebounds from their bench, with the enigmatic Jordan Clarkson (you’re welcome Johnny_Lately), Alec Burks and Larry Nance Jr. all stepping up. Clarkson had a solid all-around game with a team leading 20 points (9-22 shooting) to go with 11 boards and four assists. Burks had 13 points (5-13) with seven boards, and the game winning dunk. While Nance was dominant in his 16 minutes with nine points, eight boards, an assist, a steal and a block. He even hit a corner three with a smooth looking jumper.

Sexton had a bit of a bounce back (shooting wise at least) from the previous game against the Raptors. The young bull finished with 15 points (7-16 shooting) and made his only three. He was still a bit rough on the defensive end, and had some trouble running the offense in the latter stages of the game.

Coach Drew made some questionable lineup moves late in the game, but they ultimately seemed to pan out okay. He also drew up the final shot that Burks executed for the win.

Parting Shot:

Though I took the long way around to talking about the game tonight, for me that’s half the fun. Actually, it’s all the fun. Sure, there’s the business side of the game. Guys get traded all the time, or they leave in free agency. I was saddened to see Kyle Korver move on, though I understand why it was a foregone conclusion. But, it’s entertaining to discover new guys who can fill the void with their play. Who knows if this Alec Burks infusion will last beyond the initial few games (remember how exciting the first couple of Isaiah Thomas games were last season)? Yet, I root for it to continue. In the same way I loved rooting for the Dinobots and the Herculoids of eras past.

The regular season can be a slog in good years, and a petrie dish in bad ones. Sometimes, the only things we have to entertain ourselves between the bevy of losses and the unexpected victories are the attachments we make (no matter how imagined or ludicrous) to the guys inhabiting the wine & gold threads. So, even as I’ve settled on The Bandit as my nickname of choice for Burks, which he earned by stealing this win, feel free to find your own (just be ready for lots of pics of Burt Reynolds in a black trans am). The joy is often almost always in the details anyway.

Until next time… I’m East bound and down… watching ol’ Bandit run…

GO CAVS and keep on truckin’!

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Jason
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Jason
3 days 21 hours ago

Nets with an epic choke on Russell doing dumb things. Up 1. Get possession with 26 seconds left.

Russell shoots with 10 seconds left & misses. OKC boards. George makes a 3 pointer with 3 seconds left. All he basically had to do was hit the rim at the buzzer. Even if he misses, OKC has 2 seconds.

Ghost of cols
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Ghost of cols
4 days 6 hours ago

frauds

NOMAD
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NOMAD
4 days 6 hours ago

WHITESIDE WALKED OFF / LEFT BENCH EARLY IN HEATS LOSS LAST NIGHT–AM SURE HE IS ON TRADING BLOCK—-WHO GOES AFTER HIM ?

MikeO
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MikeO
4 days 4 hours ago

He’d look awfully good on the Celtics…AD consolation prize…(/s for sarcasm impaired)

NickNevers
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NickNevers
4 days 5 hours ago

Don’t want any part of him. I could see Charlotte going after him.

JMay
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4 days 6 hours ago

Hopefully not us.

NOMAD
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NOMAD
4 days 6 hours ago

SOME GOOD INFO (AS USUAL ) JASON THANKS !!

Nate Smith
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4 days 7 hours ago

Jason
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Jason
4 days 8 hours ago

Some interesting deadlines coming up in terms of trades.

Dec 7th. 60 days wait to aggregate salary of a guy you traded for. So if you think you might want to use a player in a larger trade before the deadline, you have to get him before Dec 7th. Can re-trade player on his own right away.

Dec 15th. Players acquired in off-season FA eligible to be dealt.

Keep an eye on HOU & NO for us. Perhaos sonething in the next coupke days. League floodgates open on the 15th.

Jason
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Jason
4 days 8 hours ago

Still, I think we see where Drew is headed, lineup wise, at least until Love gets back or there is another trade (Hill/JR):

Starters: Hill, Sexton, Hood, Cedi, TT.
Main bench: JC, Burks, Nwaba, Dekker, LNJ
Emergency: Jones, Zizic, Frye

Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
4 days 9 hours ago

Yeah I probably won’t watch tonight’s game.

Jason
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Jason
4 days 8 hours ago

Gonna be tough. I really hate Klay/Dray/KD with a passion. Iggy/Liv/Steph are fine and I like Kerr.

Nate Smith
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4 days 12 hours ago

danz
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danz
4 days 10 hours ago

I saw this last night too. They are still so salty about that collapse.

Jason
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Jason
5 days 19 minutes ago

Fultz diagnosed with sonething. Out 3-6 weeks.

Do we believe his agent/Philly or do we think his issues are mental and this is posturing?

NOMAD
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NOMAD
5 days 50 minutes ago

YEAH JASON THE NETS MAY “SCREW ” US AGAIN—–WHAT WAS THIER RECORD LAST YEAR—-BET THEY DON’T EQUAL LAST YEARS WIN TOTAL—–BULLS ( NEW COACH ) / PLAYERS HEALTHY ALMOST HAVE TO PLAY BETTER / GET SOME “W” ‘S ——-I COULD ALMOST SEE CAVS PUSHING BACK LOVE’S RETURN TO END OF JANUARY / ALMOST 3 WEEKS FROM TRADE DEADLINE –LET HIM PLAY / AUDITION —–WHICH MIGHT KEEP US IN THE “ZION ” HUNT

Jason
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Jason
4 days 21 hours ago

Bottom 3 all have the same chances (14% I think) and it slopes pretty gently down from there. 4th = 12.5%. 5th = 10.5%. 6th = 9%. 7th = 7.5%. I think they draw 4.

Last year = 25%, 19.9%, 15.6%, 11.9%, 8.8%, 6.3%, 4.3%. They drew 3.

Even with a real strong finish, I can’t see us worse than 7th. When Lavert gets back, the Nets will be fine. They were just 2 under .500 when he got hurt.

Love is probably mid-January at the earliest. I heard 6 weeks somewhere today. We conclude a long road trip on the 19th. Say Love returns after that. 24 more games to put us at 47. Say we play .400 ball from there (optimistic take) and win 14 of 35. That puts us at 19 wins plus whatever we win until Love returns (24 games).

GSW, Sac, Wash, @Mil, NY, Mil, Phil, @Ind, @Cha, @Tor, Chi, @Mem, @Mia, @ATL, Mia, Utah, NO, Indy, @NO, @Hou, @LAL, @Por, @Utah, @Den.

Hard to see more than 5 wins there. If Dragic is back it could be less. Tough sledding ahead. That is 24 wins. That would have tied for 3rd last year.

NOMAD
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NOMAD
5 days 55 minutes ago

HOPE ALL IS OK JRL—–HANG IN THERE !!

JRL
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JRL
5 days 2 hours ago

I missed the last few games dealing with personal matters. Glad the team got the win. I’ll be watching tomorrow.

Thanks for the recap.

NOMAD
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NOMAD
5 days 3 hours ago

AGREE JMAY—AFTER THE DEADLINE TRADE WE LOOKED UNBEATABLE —-4 GAMES —THEN THE ENERGY / MOJO WORE OFF —-? MARKS SURFACED —–BUT HEY THIS SEASON WE WILL TAKE IT WHENEVER WE CAN GET IT !!

NOMAD
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NOMAD
5 days 3 hours ago

YOU ARE FIRED EVIL!!! : )

NOMAD
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NOMAD
5 days 6 hours ago

JASON / EVIL –BOTH MAKE SOME VERY GOOD / INTERESTING IDEAS ON ROSTER —POTENTIAL TRADES ——-THINK THAT THE ‘RIGHT ‘ DEAL WOULD COME ALONG EVERYONE — EXCEPT ( CEDI / SEXTON / LNJ ) COULD BE AVAILABLE ———THINK COME FEB —–AND TEAMS ARE ‘DESPERATE ” –CAVS MAY HAVE ALOT OF LEVERAGE

Nate Smith
Admin
5 days 7 hours ago

That was a pleasure to read,EG. One of your best,

Jason
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Jason
5 days 7 hours ago

Weekly over-reaction roster take:

Keep as foundational piece & signed long term = 3. Love (2023), Nance (2023), Sexton (2021 TO, 2022 TO, 2023 QO).

Would love to keep as foundation piece, signed for 1 more year, gonna need a haircut = 1. Thompson (2020).

Inked for at least 1 more year but not sold either way yet = 3. Clarkson (2020), Cedi 2021 QO), Zizic (2021 TO, 22 QO).

UFA after this year but we should look to keep = 2. Burks, Nwaba.

UFA after this year but should only keep for cheap or in deep bench 9th-13th guy = 2. Hood, Dekker.

UFA we should let walk = 1. Frye.

Buyout/trade/waive before next year = 2. Hill & JR.

Nate Smith
Admin
5 days 6 hours ago

Sell high on burks,Thompson,Clarkson. Cut bait on Hood. Flip hill, JR, Decker, Frye. Cedi, Nance, Love only guys I care about long term. Sexton joins them on that raft for ownership but not for me,

Ten ThOsman Maniacs
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Ten ThOsman Maniacs
4 days 23 hours ago

Maybe cutting bait on Sexton a liiiiiiitle quick there? Maybe at least wait until he’s been in the league for 6 weeks?

NickNevers
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NickNevers
5 days 5 hours ago

Disagree slightly – I totally see Tristan being a Cavs lifer. Don’t see any reason why we couldn’t keep him forever; unless he’s totally unrealistic come next contract.

NOMAD
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NOMAD
5 days 7 hours ago

MIKEO THANKS FOR THE BUCKEYE INFO—–ACTUALLY THINK THE NEWS WILL HELP OHIO STATE RECRUITING —THEY WERE MOST RECENTLY RANKED AT # 11—WHUCH IS VERY LOW FOR AN URBAN TEAM ——-THINK THE EARLY ANNOUNCEMENT AND DAY BEING ANNOUNCED WILL BE POSITIVE FOR RECRUITING —-GO BUCKS —YES LIGHT IT UP IN THE ROSE BOWL—GO OUT A WINNER !!!

NOMAD
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NOMAD
5 days 7 hours ago

COULD URBAN BE THE NEXT BROWNS COACH ?

Raoul
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Raoul
5 days 3 hours ago

Are you insane?

JoeyB
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JoeyB
5 days 7 hours ago

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

NOMAD
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NOMAD
5 days 8 hours ago

HEY ISN’T ANYONE ELSE UP—-C’MON HAVE YOUR COFFE E AND JOIN IN ——-WAS ALSO IMPRESSED WITH THAT LOB FROM CLARKSON TO LNJ —-MAN LNJ AT TIMES JUST APPEARS TO “SUSPEND ” IN AIR

Jason
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Jason
5 days 7 hours ago

And yet LNJ only played 16 min last night. TT was mostly awesome, but Nance could have played more (for Hood, say).

Still, I will take the win.

NOMAD
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NOMAD
5 days 9 hours ago

OK I AM ALWAYS LATE—-DAY WILL BE THE NEXT BUCKEYE COACH—-GO BUCKS !!—-THANK YOU URBAN !!—NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP—7-0 VS “THAT TEAM UP NORTH “

Jason
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Jason
5 days 8 hours ago

Yep. He did a great job. And an undefeated season with no bowl game (thanks to Smith/Tressell). 7-0 vs Michigan is legendary.

Time to go, however. Health. Judgement on coaches/abuse. And a generally undisciplined team.

Light up u-dub in Pasadena & go out under the Roses.

MikeO
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MikeO
5 days 8 hours ago

It’s being reported that Mickey Marotti et al is staying, which is huge. Marotti is a huge part of their recruiting and strength/ conditioning. I like Ryan Day a lot…I know recruits love him. It’ll be up to him managing a program like that. He could be a great hire. Great opportunity for him.

I hear from people who would know to expect defensive coach changes over the offseason.

NOMAD
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NOMAD
5 days 9 hours ago

URBAN RETIRNG AFTER ROSE BOWL—-BELIVE DAY PROBABLY HAD ALOT OF OFFERS —DID NOT WANT TO LOSE HIM—OR POSSIBLY BUCKS GO AFTER ANOTHER BIG NAME COACH

NOMAD
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NOMAD
5 days 9 hours ago

SO IF THE ” BANDIT ” CONTINUES HIS PLAY —DO WE LOOK AT KEEPING HIM INSTEAD OF TRADING—–BELIEVE WE HAVE THE LEVERAGE—–WOULD DEPEND ON HOW DESPERATE / TEAMS WILLING TO GIVE UP FOR HIS SERVICES AND HIS CONTRACT

NOMAD
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NOMAD
5 days 9 hours ago

TV63—-A THANK YOU / YOU SHOULD BE COMMENDED FOR WHAT YOU DO !!!

Tv63
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Tv63
5 days 4 hours ago

Thanks! It keeps me grounded . So many less fortunate than us. It’s hard to believe in 2018 there are families without running water. They walk in the snow and get buckets of water to bring in the house.

Tv63
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Tv63
5 days 4 hours ago

from the creek no less

NOMAD
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NOMAD
5 days 9 hours ago

FANTASTIC EVIL—–YOUR CHRYSTAL BALL (S)—WORKING RATHER WELL–PREDICTED THE WIN / ALMOST GOT THE SCORE EXACT/ I WENT THE OTHER WAY –YOU WIN —–SO “PREDICT ” FOR ME WHEN I AM GOING TO WIN THE LOTERY : )——LISTENED TO THE POST GAME INTERVIEW WITH T.T./ HE HAS REALLY GROWN INTO THE LEADERSHIP ROLE / AND HAVE BEEN QUITE IMPRESSED WITH HIS SO CALLED “ADVANCED ‘ OFFENSIVE GAME —SKILLS THAT REALLY DIDN’T SEE WHEN LEBRON WAS ON THE TEAM ——–MAN WENT “BANNANAS ” WITH ALL THE “2ND ” CHANCE PTS THE NETS GOT —–THAT JUST KILLS YOU —YOU GET A STOP ONLY TO GIVE THE TEAM THE BALL BACK AND THEY SCORE —–OVERALL WILL TAKE THE “W”—-HOPING TO WATCH MORE GAMES LIKE THIS / WHERE THEY COMPETE / GROW / WAS FUN GAME TO WATCH

Jason
Guest
Jason
5 days 10 hours ago

Nice EG. Thanks for the Bandit explanation. I was lost on the game thread.

But that would make Clarkson the Snowman (or Frog).

Simmo
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Simmo
5 days 11 hours ago

Thanks EG – Missed this game, looks like the team had fun with it.

TV63
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TV63
5 days 11 hours ago

Entertaining, accurate write-up. Great way to start the day on this cold, snowy December day. I’ll be on the road today going to many patient homes (Appalachia territory which is rugged terrain), so this was perfect for me to read. Thanks!! :)

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