by Anton Kudriavstev/@TheDiesel
Before we get to the games, I’ve come up with a brilliant solution for the injury problems a lot of players have been having this season. Effective immediately, all players must spend their off-season training in Phoenix, including training camp with the Suns’ doctors and training staff. Each franchise makes a payment to the Suns and they distribute a percentage of the revenue to the owners around the league. Lockout solved.
Continuing on their winning ways, the Lakers kept themselves interested long enough to roll over the Sixers, led by Lamar Odom’s 28 points. L.A. trailed by four before going on a late 27-8 run while Matt Barnes had his best night as a Laker, with 15 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. For the Sixers, Spencer Hawes had 18 points and 13 rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting but his squad put up too many threes and couldn’t hit enough shots to stay in the game (what else is new?) Kobe sprained his right-hand pinky finger in the first quarter (how many healthy ones does he have left?) but team doctors were able to stitch a skin like-layer over the endoskeleton without anyone noticing. Are we sure Joe Smith isn’t a secret agent? Going from team to team gathering information before selling it to the Lakers is mighty suspicious, no? Except he’s been around so long his top secret is likely: “stepping back a few feet from the free throw line counts as three points now!”. Michael Vick attended the game and received more “MVP” chants than anyone on the court. It’s really strange seeing the Lakers in a 3 seed position, as they’re usually coasting with a Spurs-like record this time of year.
Returning to Madison Square Garden to his theme song (boos), LeBron and the Heat locked in defensively late and tore apart the Knicks. James dropped his 30th career triple double with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists as he started out distributing then turned to destruction mode. LeBron started bullying the Knicks early, making mid-range jumpers and toying with anyone New York threw to defend him. At one point he got so bored with killing the Knicks that he almost fell down, dribbled off-balance with one hand on the floor and shot a behind-the-back pass to Dampier for a dunk. While Amare was limited to 24 points on 11-of-28 shooting, Gallinari graduated from Paul Pierce’s school of snapping your head back to draw a foul on his way to 25 points (including 4-of-8 from distance). Raymond Felton also started out playing well, looking like an east side version of CP3 early, with coast-to-coast layups and crisp passes but didn’t shoot the ball well (and missed some bunnies), finishing with just 8 points and 10 assists. Bosh and Wade each put up 26 points, but we seriously need a Brangelina-like nickname for Wade and LeBron…the Flash King? This is when stats go too far: Jeff Van Gundy said that based on 3-point percentages he’d rather have Wade shoot than Arroyo. Agree to thoroughly disagree, JVG.
Those who accidentally clicked on this game on League Pass on their way to seeing the Knicks/Heat were treated to the Cavs’ 10th straight loss as they fell to the Pacers. Danny Granger shot his way to 30 points and grabbed a season-high 12 rebounds, breaking out of his recent shooting slump with a 12-of-22 night (including making 4 of 7 three’s). Mo Williams had 22 points and 11 assists for Cleveland in a chippy game that had 7 technical fouls (with Solomon Jones ejected for impersonating a serviceable power forward). Is Byron Scott close to being unemployed? I thought he was unfairly canned in New Orleans and this funk is definitely not his fault – the players are simply showing no passion or desire to execute his strategy. Plenty of room left on the Cavs bandwagon…anyone?
Atlanta’s franchise financial albatross Joe Johnson returned and scored 16 points as the Hawks beat the Bobcats, sending the team right along their downward slope. With Atlanta holding a three-point lead with 24 seconds left, Al Horford (16 points, 9 rebounds) aimlessly yet effectively passed to Marvin Williams under the basket to solidify the win. Boris Diaw and D.J. Augustin both had 22 points for the ‘Cats, but the real story hangs over this team like a halo above Nash’s nice-guy persona. Amid news that two of their players are on the trading block, Charlotte has placed the following ad in Craigslist: “For Sale: Jackson and Wallace. Between the two products, you get an All-Star with a decline in production and possibility of injury (guess which one is which!). Will accept trades or a backrub as payment.”
The Clippers finally reached win number six (and road win number one) with a victory over the Pistons. Unless you’re a die-hard Detroit fan, there is no way you rooted for the Pistons in this game. With horrible shots and lack of effort from their “stars” (Ben Gordon actually let a loose ball roll out of bounds without as much as bending down to retrieve it…c’mon son!), the Pistons eventually succumbed to Blake Griffin’s 24 points and 17 rebounds (with 8 boards, Blake practically had a double-double in the first quarter) and Ryan Gomes’ streaky shooting (18 points). The Clip Show led by five at halftime before outscoring the Pistons 29-16 in the third quarter to take an 80-62 lead into the fourth. Baron Davis was so careless with the ball and shot selection that Sterling decided to get with the times and heckle Davis on the road over Twitter and text messages.
A match-up of the league’s top two point guards turned out to be a wash as the Jazz shot terribly in a loss to the Hornets. Utah shot just 36% from the field, including missing half their free throws and going 3-of-19 from distance. Deron Williams had just 10 points and 5 assists versus Chris Paul’s 11 points and 10 assists, neither player shooting well but still managing to set up their teammates, with David West scoring 23 points and Marcus Thorton taking advantage of his increased playing time with 19 points off the bench. As much scoring highlights you can have with 11 points, one of which was Paul’s hesitation dribble and drive that left D-Will in the dust as he banked in a shot over the help defense. Trevor Ariza is one of the few players in the league capable of turning a fast-break lay-up into a missed three pointer somehow. Simply incredible. No one told him that his “me + more minutes = max player” equation is actually “role player + more shots = inefficiency-o-rama”.
With the Brandon Roy machine closed for maintenance until further notice, Portland ran its offense through LaMarcus Aldridge who had a big night to lead his Blazers to a win over the Wolves. Aldridge took over the scoring load, going 15-of-22 for 36 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and blocking an impressive 6 shots. Wes Matthews (21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) proved to be more than a capable role player as he takes over shooting guard duties while the rest of the minutes were given to Rudy Fernandez who thought of Spain yet still dropped a career-high 26 points off the bench (don’t stop shooting, Rudy!). For the Wolves, it was again the dynamic duo of Beasley (33 points) and Love (19 points, 17 boards) leading the way for their squad. Without their usual closer, Matthews stepped up in the clutch and put the game away with a running floater with 27 seconds to go. A source close to Portland has cited that Roy demanded Blazers management to choose between him and Miller. While this may be hearsay, the fact is that Roy’s selfish ways are coming through loud and clear, despite being injured. What a difference a season makes.
The Thunder made it five straight wins as they beat the Kings, led by Durant’s game-high 24 points. Sacramento wouldn’t go away late in the game until Oklahoma City put together a series of min-runs in the fourth quarter, with Green and Collison coming up with offensive rebounds to hold on to the win. DeMarcus Cousins had a bounce-back game with 19 points and 15 boards as Evans added 22 points and 6 assists for the NBA-worst Kings (5-19).
After losing Yao Ming for yet another season (and likely for good), the Rockets began on their official Yao-less season with a win over the Grizzlies. Kevin Martin scored a game-high 34 points to lead the Rockets as they sustained a late 14-2 Memphis run before putting the game away. For the Grizz, Rudy Gay and Sam Young scored 19 each but as a team were abused inside on the boards which explains why they haven’t won in Houston since 2006. “We have to keep going,” Luis Scola said. “Yao is not here and some way we have got to move on. This is our job and we have to try to win games.” Good luck Houston, you will likely need it.
Canadian Ironman Steve Nash went down with a neck injury after hitting Tyson Chandler’s hip as the two were going for a loose ball. After this, all competition was out the window as Dallas kept on winning and grinning over the Suns. Dirk and Jason Terry led the Mavs with 18 each while everyone’s favourite Slovenian Goran Dragic filled in for Nash with his 14 points and 10 assists. Caron Butler (17 points) led a surge which saw Dallas extend its lead to 22 points by the early third quarter and the Suns couldn’t get closer than 12 and took the L.
Toronto’s franchise marsh mellow Bargnani scored 32 points as he led his Raptors over the Nets. Linas Kleiza had 18 points and 12 boards as he and Bargnani hit key three-pointers with under five minutes to go to push their lead to eight and secure the win. Brook Lopez led New Jersey with 20 points and 7 rebounds in the one of many losses. Mr. Prokhorov, tear down these Nets! Warning: if you listen too much to Jack Armstrong, you start to develop a faux Boston accent (though it is fun to say “Raptas”).
“Check My $tats” of the night: LeBron James – 32 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists. The louder you boo, the stronger he becomes.
Prior to last night’s game, the New York Post ran a “LeChicken” story and picture in the sports section. In case you were following the time-line, first it was yelling “overrated” on draft night, then practically rolling out the organge carpet during the 2009-2010 free agency extravagenza, and finally booing and yelling “overrated” once again last night. It’s the circle of life! First they hate me then they love me then they hate me again.
We’ve all seen basketball fights, but how about this high school kid attempting to body slam a ref? And you thought Cousins had maturity issues.
If the rumored Arenas-to-Orlando trade happens, I suggest Magic players keep an eye on their shoes at all times.
I’m out like Detroit’s will to win.