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Monday, April 23rd, 2012 at 8:30 am  |  71 responses

Post Up: Take It To The Head

Kobe carries the Lakers past OKC after World Peace’s wild elbow, plus Ws for NYK and LAC.

by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad

Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend, because the last week of the NBA season is about to stress us all out. Thursday night marks the end of the ’11-12 season for non-Playoff teams, and there’s still plenty more post-season positioning set to shake out in the meantime. But, will Metta World Peace be around to enjoy it with us? Read on.

Knicks 113, Hawks 112

What a way to start of Sunday’s slate, huh? With Tyson Chandler sitting, the Hawks came out firing, taking a 5-point lead into halftime. But Carmelo Anthony scored 39 points, Amar’e Stoudemire had a more typical Amar’e showing (22 points and 12 rebounds) and Baron Davis was spry enough to dish out 10 dimes as the Knicks outlasted the Hawks in the clutch. Both teams shot 54 percent from the field, and Atlanta was led by a surprisingly big game from Marvin Williams, who finished with 29 points and 11 boards. Atlanta put the ball in Williams’ hands on its final possession—down by one with under 5 ticks to go—but his hard attack to the rim was not only rejected, but was too late:

Lakers 114, Thunder 106 (2OT)

Basketball, bitches! Los Angeles rallied back from an 18-point deficit to force overtime, and Kobe Bryant put on a vintage display to carry the Lakers to a victory that could have post-season reverberations. Kobe scored 6 of his 26 in the second overtime, many coming on buckets with a ridiculously high degree of difficulty, plus had 8 assists and 6 boards on the day in leading L.A. back. Not to be forgotten, Pau Gasol poured in 20 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists. Kevin Durant scored 35 points, but needed 34 (!) field goal attempts to get there, and sidekick Russell Westbrook had a woeful 3-22 shooting night (14 points, 10 assists). The Lakers were down 11 with under 4 to play, but rallied like crazy, taking a 2-point lead on a Kobe trey before Westbrook tied things from the free throw line. Despite a motley crew around him (Jordan Hill back?), Kobe took charge in the OTs and the Lakers completed the biggest comeback of their season to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Thunder. And yet, as awesome as this game was in the end, it got off to a disgusting start, as Metta World Peace delivered a forceful elbow directly into James Harden’s face with 1:37 to go in the first half. MWP was apologetic, but Harden suffered a concussion, meaning both players’ futures are in doubt as we head toward the first round of the Playoffs.

Kings 114, Bobcats 88

And with that, the Bobcats’ franchise-record losing streak has hit 20 straight games. DeMarcus Cousins dropped 29 points and 10 rebounds, as the Kings dominated Bismack Biyombo and friends inside—78 points in the paint—and Tyreke Evans was extremely efficient, shooting 10-11 from the field for 22 points. Charlotte had 21 turnovers, while Sacramento had just 8, shot 55 percent from the floor for the night and led from start to finish (and by as many as 35). If the Bobcats lose their final 3 games (Washington, Orlando and New York), they’ll finish with the worst winning percentage in NBA history.

Heat 97, Rockets 88

LeBron James scored 11 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter as the Heat officially eliminated the Rockets from Playoff contention, capping Houston’s late-season collapse. Even with no Wade, Bosh, Chalmers or Turiaf, Miami blew past the Rockets with a 31-19 fourth quarter. Houston was sloppy, as the Heat got 28 points off Houston’s 19 turnovers, and Miami finished 28-5 this season at home, good for second-best in team history. Chandler Parsons led 5 Rockets in double figures with 23 points, but Houston was without Kyle Lowry yet again, whose season was crippled by a post-All-Star break bacterial infection.

Pistons 76, Raptors 73

Ping-pong balls, y’all! It’s hard to imagine players literally tanking a basketball game, but watching this game might have convinced you otherwise, as both teams shot around 37 percent from the field, neither team scored more than 19 points in either of the first two quarters and Detroit eeked out an ugly win on its home court. Ben Gordon scored 19 points, and 7 of the Pistons’ last 8 in the game, while Alan Anderson missed two potential go-ahead shots in the final 22 seconds (including one that looked like a blatant goaltend by Greg Monroe). DeMar Derozan had 16 points but “curiously” didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter.

Spurs 114, Cavaliers 98

Nothing to see here—just San Antonio’s 7th straight W, this time with no Tim Duncan, to put the Spurs 1.5 games up on Oklahoma City for first place out West. How good did they look? Consider this: Tony Parker played 21 minutes, only took 5 shots and scored 6 points, but the Spurs shot 55 percent and held a comfortable lead for most of the game. Manu Ginobili had 20 points, Stephen Jackson had 17 and Danny Green 14 as San Antonio rolled. Antawn Jamison led all scorers with 21, while Kyrie Irving scored 19 but shot just 8-18 from the field and had just 3 assists to go with 4 turnovers.

Warriors 93, Timberwolves 88

Charles Jenkins hates tanking. Or he doesn’t know how it works. Either way, Jenkins played all 48 minutes against the Timberwolves, scored a game-high 24 points and handed out 9 assists to help the Warriors to a win. Even after Minnesota scored 55 first-half point, the Wolves shot just 37 percent for the game, and could manage only 13 points in the fourth quarter. Brandon Rush hit a corner three with just over a minute remaining to give the Dubs a 90-88 lead, and Golden State hung on, completing a 21-point comeback.

Nuggets 101, Magic 74

At halftime, this game was tied at 44. In the second half, the Nuggets won by 27. Denver’s now won 6 of its last 8 games—this time behind 17 apiece from Javale McGee and Danilo Gallinari. The only guy who could get anything going for Orlando was Ryan Anderson, who scored a game-high 24 and hauled in 9 rebounds, but the Magic shot 37 percent and were outscored 28-12 in the fourth quarter. The second half basically became a layup line alley-oop session for the Nuggs, as Andre Miller threw it up for McGee and Kenneth Faried over and over again.

Clippers 107, Hornets 98

With the Lakers winning earlier in the day, the Clippers needed to win just to keep their hopes alive for the Pacific Division title. They got a scare from the Hornets—who led by double digits late in the game—but thanks to an insane 33-point, 13-assist, 8-steal line from Chris Paul, 6 Randy Foye threes and a fourth quarter in which they outscored NOLA 33-14, Lob City did just that. The Lakers have the 3-seed by a half-game; if the Clippers win their last two and the Lakers lose their last one, it would be the first Pacific Division title in Clipper franchise history. Respect!

Line of the Night: It’s either Melo’s 39 and 10, Pau Gasol, who racked up 20 points, 14 boards and 9 dimes, or Chris Paul, who is just insane—who flirts with a triple double with steals?

Stat of the Night: Since beating the Bulls on April 1, the Thunder are 0-6 against Playoff teams.

Moment of the Night, Bad Version: The artest formerly known as Ron Artest, throwin’ bows.

Moment of the Night, Good Version: CP3′ eyes in the back of his head ignited the Clips’ monster run.

Dunk of the Night: OKC may have taken the L, but I liked this dunk from Durant.

Tonight: A half-dozen games on Monday, including the Nets’ final home game in New Jersey…ever.

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  • http://www.slamonline.com Jahmai

    MWP, what a moron. James Harden was playing a great game the Thunder were playing relatively speaking well and then MWP comes in with one of the most dangerous elbows I’ve ever seen. I honestly can’t even watch the replay anymore, it’s such a horrible place to get hit and especially when you get hit that hard. I hope there’s a 10-15 game suspension waiting for him. I’m still mad thinking about it. Mike Breen said it best:’What a disgrace.’

  • Drig

    @Jahmai, it’s a 5 match suspension. Any more and you’re kidding yourself.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jahmai

    Do some research on the part of the head Harden was hit on. It was an intentional elbow from MWP, he knew he was there and it was on national TV, it’s unacceptable in the NBA and it’s more than dangerous and Stern should come down hard on this. Besides, we don’t know when Harden gets to play again, for all we know he starts missing games well into the playoffs, would it be fair for the guy who injured him intentionally to be enjoying the best thing professional basketball has to offer aka the NBA playoffs? NO. JA Adande on ESPN said let’s wait until Harden can play again and then put two games on that.

  • Kadavour

    @Jahmai: there’s obviously going to be a lot debate on intent, which one can only surmise. Some see “vicious” intent, which suggests that he meant to injure or debilitate Harden or whoever (it doesn’t look like he saw the person in front of him) was in his way. Others may see the intent to deliver a “shot”, albeit not a head-shot, to whoever it was impeding his progress (general basketball trick – Perk makes his name doing this) back down the court. One of those Barkley-esque GTFO my way type a things.

  • Kadavour

    i gotta say this again though, Kevin Love got two games for STOMPING on a dude’s head. which intent is more malicious? Can they be related to each other? Debate.

  • Jer Dawg

    Heat of battle, things happen unknowingly. That said, the elbow was horrible. Don’t most players just bump each other, say something like, “don’t f***ing touch me again, bitch!” and move on? Or a forearm to the chest push off? Why would anyone flail their elbows that high? I’m a Los Angeles supporter and Lakers are great, but I gotta call it as I see it. That was SO dirty. He should be disciplined.

  • RIGGS

    OKC really couldve closed the game out twice, but for some stupid reason, decided to shoot a lower percentage 3 both times on a tied game.

  • Sxxmi

    Huge travel by Durant, best part of 4 steps on that one!

  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    It’s unfortunate that one elbow took away from such a great day in the NBA.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I just looked at the standings and realized the Clippers and Grizzlies would meet in the first round. That means one of their seasons will be a terrible failure this year because neither of those teams is going to be satisfied with just making the playoffs.
    So heads are going to roll.

  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    ^ You know Mike Antoni wants the Clippers job.

  • http://slamonline.com raylan

    i doubt the owner is going to pay for d’antoni’s services

  • Adevarul

    Metta World Thug: “I got real emotional and excited, and it was unfortunate that James had to get hit with the *cough* unintentional elbow,” said World Thug, who had scored 12 points and played solid defense on Durant. “I hope he’s OK. *cough* Oklahoma, they’re playing for a championship this year. I apologize to the Thunder and James Harden. It was just unfortunate (that there’s instant reply) *cough*.”

  • ALD

    Kobe proves again why he’s got the hardware. GOAT

  • 23

    So am I the only one disappointed in the post-up title today? “Take it to the head” ? Really SLAM???!!!!! Smdh!

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    If Artest didn’t go all Ludacris on James Harden, OKC wins that game easily. LA has no answer for OKC when Harden is out there with Westbrook/KD.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Abe Schwadron

    @23 I couldn’t end the season without a title taken directly from a DJ Khaled song. Given MWP’s bow-throw at Harden’s dome, it seemed appropriate. And hey, if the title’s the only thing I got wrong, I’ll take it!

  • ripslam

    ^^”Take It To The Head” is a recent DJ Khaled single, and thus a play on words. Still a bit corny, but yeah.

  • Geoff

    Well, I thought the title was funny.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Abe Schwadron

    Geoff, my man!

  • 23

    Considering the fact that harden got a concussion, his season could be in jeopardy. Just sayin…

  • http://twitter.com/niyosimba niyosimba

    CP3…the best point guard in the league.

  • Kadavour

    if it’s not “All I Do Is Win” any DJ Khaled song reference is corny

  • BuzzerBeater

    OKC has been lucky injury wise as they havent suffered any major injury to their top 3 players. They should learn t
    how to win without one of them.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    Kobe played the best defense I’ve seen him play in years, he did a good job on westbrook and he was clutch as heel in overtime.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    Great comeback win for us showed a lot of grit and fight. That’s key to winning a title and our bench finally showed up! So glad Brown decided to sit Sessions and Bynum and put I’m Blake and Hill. It gave us life and they played with great energy I loved it.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Abe, i’d give line of the night to CP3. His numbers last night are bonanza.

  • Drig

    @Jahmai……….I’d be fine with that too. No problems here. Tag on 80k fine as well. However, I still say more than 5 games would be absurd especially in light of how KLove got only 2 games for stomping on Scola’s face. I also want Metta to offer a sincere apology the next time they meet. @JT21……..We’ll see about that in the POs when these 2 teams meet in the 2nd round probably. The positives for LAL were immense though.

  • sheedfan

    Not very peaceful, Ron Ron. The Lakers barely won and it took Harden being taken out, and Westbrook/Durant having their worst game of the season to do so.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Kobe played solid defense on Westbrook last night. He didn’t really stop him as much as Westbrook missed a ton of shots, but he did do a good job of keeping him out of the paint on most possessions.

  • Drig

    @sheedfan………Granted Westbrook will probably shoot better than 3-22 and make 4-5 more shots. But remember that Kobe, Pau and Bynum also had bad games overall. Also, don’t tell me OKC can’t defend a 11 point lead with 4 minutes to go. Durant should’ve taken Ebanks to the task but kudos to him, he did a solid job. Kobe killed it once Q4 came up even by his standards. Also, Westbrook struggled to get past Kobe on iso. He always needed a pick to get past him. That’s what impressed me the most. Kobe taking the biggest defensive assignment that OKC has to offer.( Durant can be handled by Artest )

  • Drig

    However, one thing that does worry me is Kobe looking dead tired after that game ( rightfully so I guess ). But it’s gonna hell for him if he has to defend Westbrook for quite possibly 7 games. That’s for sure. LAL needs to improve its PnR D quick before they face OKC again. Then PnR D vs Spurs. Then PnR D ( if Miami does decide to do it ) vs Bron/Wade/Bosh. God, never have I hated PnR more………

  • Kadavour

    best defense of the night goes to Russell Westbrook…on Kevin Durant. word to @notbillwalton.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    KD shot 11-34, what does Westbrook have to do with any of that? So now, not only is it always Russ’s fault whenever OKC loses, it’s also his fault that KD couldn’t hit a shot after the 1st half.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Common Ronnie. You gotta be smarter than that. I like everything except for the elbow hitting the head in any fashion. That should be saved for Jon Jones and his friends. Elbow to the shoulder, just a tech. Elbow to the chest flagrant 1. Elbow to the head, take the night off. Matter a fact take a week or two off.
    I don’t want to glorify Kobe’s exploits… okay I do. He’s 33 years old going on 40, and played better than two of the best young cats in the League. All this is being done after capping off one of the most hectic, jam packed, seasons of his long career. One in which he lead the L in scoring(He and Durant are actually tied right now). Congrats to Kobe on another great NBA season.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    I good game (he shot 9-26) and you ready to proclaim a season where he’s shooting 43% from the field “great”? Kobe is having a very good season but leading the L in scoring isn’t as impressive when you’re taking 4 more shots a game than the guy you are tied with in the scoring race.

  • Otis

    The most frustrating thing about the OKC-Lakers game (apart from Metta’s brain-fade, of course) was the three that Durant shot at the end of regulation. Terrible shot. He should have been driving and putting the pressure on the defence not to foul him.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Personally I think the L should suspend Artest for a minimum of 4 playoff games. The final regular season game of course also. There should be a hefty fine of over 60k included. He did it intentionally. He most likely did not mean to do it to the head, especially that part of the head, but none the less it happened and he needs to pay the consequences for that. Harden was being stupid for trying to bump into him while he’s celebrating, but there’s still no excuse for that ish.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    Westbrook may have missed a few shots he normally makes but Kobe’s defense was the reason he struggled yesterday. Kobe played with a different level of intensity and focus than he has in a couple years. With that being said, that’s no excuse for the way Durant struggled. OKC can be beat in the playoffs if a team can just keep Westbrook out of the paint because Durant takes too many jump shots and like Charles said, that’s gonna hurt them in the playoffs.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Absolutely Slick. Most people won’t give someone defensive props unless they play like the ghost of Pippen. Kobe played admirable defense yesterday. You don’t just shoot 3-22 unless your being forced into shots you don’t like.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Do y’all think that in 10 years people still will believe that Gary Payton should be higher than Steve Nash on the all-time point guard list? That is if you don’t already have Nash higher.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    No I don’t.

  • http://www.twitter.com/nflem41 Nicolas Fleming

    No, but Payton and Kemp will always be higher than Nash and Amare.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    I don’t know what your getting at, but Gary Payton is the better basketball player overall. Steve Nash is the better PG from a purist standpoint.

  • MUBWAR

    well Westbrook has been off for about 2 weeks now. the last 3 games he shot a combine 16 of 53. that’s a putrid 30% from the field. if we look further in the past 5 games westbrook is 31 of 94 (32%) n that ain’t Kobe’s work.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Kobe just forced Westbrook to shoot jumpers. Which is about as good of defense as you could ask for someone who is not close to Westbrook athletically. Which is just about everyone in the league. Props to Kobe for doing as much as you could ask from him. His Defense was legit last night.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I asked the question because my friend and I were discussing it recently. I think that if Nash plays for three more years, he will be widely considered higher than Payton as a point guard in the all-time rankings.
    Which is of course preposterous to me, but I think it’s going to happen.

  • http://nba.com GP23

    So I’m assuming we all have Magic, Oscar and Stockton as the top 3 PG’s all time right? So who is 4 and 5 then? Kidd? Nash? Payton?
    Sidenote- When he really wants to, Kobe can play great defense on pretty much any guy on the perimeter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    Like I said yesterday, MWP should be out 3-5 games, $75,000 fine. I can’t believe I walked out on that freakin’ game. Before they apparently came back, I thought they were just gonna freakin’ fold. So I’m at the court working on my game, and “Old School”(we call him that out of immense respect of the fact he’s 50 and is still able to run with us) rolls up and tells us about how the Lakers came back and Kobe closed it out like a Legend. You could only imagine how pissed I was.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Allen, I don’t think it’s “preposterous” personally. Nash can do allot of thing that Payton can’t do. Vice versa also applies. They are two completely different players. I’m not so sure that Payton in his prime would be better for the PHX Suns like Nash was. Nash plays a certain style that can get the most out of certain players. Payton was defense first and that is why he is the better overall player, but his offense really wasn’t nearly as incredible as Nash’s. Although Payton was the stronger slasher and finisher, Nash is one of the greatest shooters of all time.
    I wouldn’t be upset with someone arguing that Nash is a better choice for some teams. Payton was the better overall player imo.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    BlackP! You shoulda known better…
    Although here’s a worse one. You remember a shot a man named Derek Fisher made that was kinda nice with .4 seconds left on the clock? Yeaaaaahhh, I walked out on that one. I will never forgive myself for watching 47 and a half mins of that game and then skipping that last half a minute…

  • Kadavour

    Payton could rebound and defend better. Nothing else really stands out to me. When his athleticism waned he wasn’t worth much. Steve has been “un-athletic” (everyone in the league is athletic) and super productive his whole career. Have you guys seen a drop off? He can still shoot the lights out and he makes GREAT decisions.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Magic
    Oscar
    Isiah
    Stockton
    Kidd
    Frazier
    Payton
    Archibald
    Nash
    Cousy (for historic reasons and this could change depending on what CP3 and Deron do)

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I don’t have Stockton in my top 3.
    .
    – Magic
    – Oscar (even though he’s equally a 2 imo)
    – Isiah
    – Frazier
    – Stockton

  • http://nba.com GP23

    Stockton or Isiah??

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    – Kidd
    – Archibald
    – Payton
    – Nash
    – KJ
    – Cousy (not a big fan)

  • http://nba.com GP23

    Yeah, you could argue Oscar was a 2 as he was very versatile on the court. He could score bucket loads, and yet get double-digit dimes. Averaging a triple-double for a season though is just too sick. Will that ever happen again I wonder?..

  • http://slamonline.com/ Abe Schwadron

    Rod Strickland…Rod Strickland…Rod Strickland…Rod Strickland…Rod Strickland…

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iF30WneDtQc Datkid

    GP23…. isiah.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Payton was never uber athletic. Never. I don’t know where that came from. Dude was 6’4″ and I can only remember dunking like once. As for quickness, he and Nash were very similar.
    Payton had old man game and saavy. He built himself from a non-factor offensively into a serious threat.
    He wasn’t just a better defender, he was in a different galaxy from Nash. Nash was superior as a shooter (not scorer) and passer, they ran their teams equally. Payton had just as much if not more team success. The gap on defense is so much larger than the ones on offensive it’s not even a comparison in my mind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.l.brewer3 BlackPhantom

    Daaaaaaaaaaaayum, LakeShow. That’s arguably one of the greatest buzzer beaters EVER. I didn’t walk out on that one. Guess it happens to most die-hards once. Back when my sis was a die-hard LeBron fan and it was Game 2 against the Magic in the ECFs(’09) and she was about to turn and I told her….”Don’t lose hope, you have LEBRON JAMES) he ends up hitting the 3 and I run in the room like, “What in the hell did I just tell you, girl!” Lol

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Payton’s game fell off some when he played in limited minutes in a system that didn’t cater to his talents. Plus, he was never a great shooter.
    I know Nash fans hate this, but y’all can’t really discount the SSOL influence, right?

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    LMAO BP! I learned that day to never, never, leave a BBall game that has even a micro-chance to have something crazy go down at the end.
    .
    AP, your right, Payton was never very athletic in terms of jumping ability and top speed, but he was uber quick and very strong, 2 things some people will account as athleticism. Neither are very good athletes from typical perspectives.

  • Jerome

    @abe_squad: “MWP was apologetic”??? MWP said he was sorry Harden got in the way. At no point did MWP say he was sorry for the elbow.

  • Hey-Zeus

    No doubt that the triple-double season’s gonna happen again. Magic came damn close back in 82 or 83, and Rondo (and Lebron) have shown they can come close to it for stretches. I don’t know if they ever will, but no doubt it will happen again.

  • http://www.thedynastyboys.com lix

    Ron ron was 100% not sorry for the elbow. He said “I’m sorry james had to get hit” wich basically means SOMEONE was gettin hit wit the elbow an james jus got in the way smh

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iF30WneDtQc Datkid

    honestly I think once lebron loses some athleticism and is forced to play in the post I think he’ll average a triple double.

  • http://www.yahoo.com The Fury

    Payton is the GOAT when it comes to post up plays against other guards. He toyed Kobe a lot of times during those Sonics v. Lakers’ games.

  • http://www.yahoo.com The Fury

    Also, shout out to Abe for mentioning Strickland, the greatest player not to play in an All-Star game.

  • shawnkemp4prez

    Yall are crazy for putting Isiah above Stockton. No disrespect to Zeke and his championchip hardware, but you’d better check Stockton’s all-time league records, because he holds a few of them. Also, my man GP would boo boo on Steve Nash if they went head-to-head in their primes. Nash is legendary for his longevity, I’ll give him that, but GP was straight best mode and was eating fools’ lunches back in the day.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Isiah only played 12 years. Of course Stockton is going to have him beat when it comes to career records. But look at Zeke’s prime and what his team was doing with him as the main dog.
    There is no comparison.

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