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Monday, January 28th, 2013 at 9:16 am  |  40 responses

Post Up: Highs and Lows

Kobe and Blake get dimes, Rondo’s out for the season, Melo is a beast.

by Ryne Nelson / @slaman10

Sunday was one of the best game days in a while. Three epic showdowns and plenty more to talk about. It’s time to post up!

Thunder 96, Lakers 105

The Mamba says he’s evolving. “I’m trying to evolve and find out what we need as a ballclub,” Kobe said after helping his team to its first win over a top-four West foe.

The Lakers have won two solid games at home since a clear-the-air team meeting in Memphis last week.

Magic Bean Bryant dished 14 assists and was one rebound shy of a triple-double in each of the past two games, both wins. He finished with more assists than shots in the past two contests (Kobe previously had three games in his entire career where he had more assists than shot attempts).

Kevin Durant was more aggressive than usual, taking 12 shots in the paint. He didn’t have a field goal in the final 6:39, scoring just seven points in the fourth quarter. Russell Westbrook missed his first eight shots and 12 of his first 13 before finding a rhythm. He finished with 17 points 9 boards and 13 assists—his second game in a row with 13 or more dimes.

Oh, and how about Pau Gasol? Dude is finally finding his groove. Gasol played 36 minutes off the bench, looking confident as ever, recording 16, 4 and 4.

L.A. had lost nine of their last 11 against the defending Western Conference champs, including four of five during the Lakers’ second-round Playoff series and a blowout loss at Staples Center 16 days ago.

It was a must-win for the Lakers, and against all odds, Kobe & Co. pulled off the upset in Staples. Will this be a turning point for the Lakers?

Heat 98, Celtics 100 (2OT)

It was Miami’s first game in Boston since it won Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, and Ray Allen’s first since he left the Celtics after five seasons and signed as a free agent with the Heat.

Allen played well in his return, dropping 21 off the bench, but he missed a crucial free throw with 2:18 to play in the fourth quarter and the score tied at 81-81.

LeBron James sent the game into the first OT with a three-pointer with seven seconds remaining in regulation.

Kevin Garnett had 24 points and 11 board, including all six of the Celtics’ points in the first overtime period.

Pierce hit a 22-foot jumper that proved to be the game-winning field goal with 31 seconds to play to gave them a 99-98 lead. He finished the game with his seventh triple-double of his career (17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists).

Jeff Green played good defense on LeBron down the stretch and was a big part of the win. He entered the game at the 3:05 mark in the first quarter, and sat out for just seven minutes of the game after that.

It was the Celtics second consecutive double-overtime game, and a huge win against the class of the Eastern Conference. But of course the story was Rajon Rondo, whose torn ACL will sideline him for the remainder of the season.

Rondo suffered the injury late in the fourth quarter of Friday’s loss to Atlanta, but played through two overtimes (and even recorded a triple-double). He thought he had a bum hamstring.

By the early moments of the third quarter, various media outlets were reporting that Rondo would be out for the season, and the news quickly spread to the players and fans, leaving a very dark cloud over the hard-fought victory.

The crowd gave Allen a standing ovation when highlights of his career with the Celtics were shown on the video board above center court during a timeout with 5:33 left in the first quarter.

Definitely a bittersweet meeting between these two rivals.

Hawks 104, Knicks 106

Carmelo Anthony tied a franchise record with 9 three-pointers, then converted a go-ahead, three-point play with 12.5 seconds left to cap a 42-point night—his forth 40-point game on the season.

Melo had all nine of his triples by the end of the third quarter.

Amar’e Stoudemire came off the bench had 18 points and 8 boards in 29 minutes. JR Smith, after failing to score on Saturday, bounced back with 18 points of his own.

ATL shot 60 percent, and could have easily won the game if they hadn’t turned the ball over 19 times. Jeff Teague scored 27 points for the Hawks. Josh Smith added 20 and Al Horford had 16.

Oddly, Jason Kidd didn’t even come to the bench in the second half. The Knicks said he’s just resting, and James White started the second half in his place.

Despite the 106-104 victory, it was clear the Knicks need to go back to some November #knickstapes, where the team was atop in the L in defense and playing with poise.

Blazers 83, Clippers 96

With Chris Paul sitting out for the forth consecutive game, it was Blake Griffin’s night.

Griffin had 23 points and 9 assists, helping the Clippers beat the Portland 96-83, avenging a one-point loss to the Blazers a day earlier. BG has 19 assists (!!) in his last two games and is suddenly hitting free throws.

Despite many things not working in their favor—a phantom offensive foul called on a Caron Butler three-point attempt in the second quarter, injuries to Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups—the Clippers thoroughly outplayed the Blazers and ended their four-game slide.

Lamar Odom had one of his best games of the season, finishing with 8 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists in 29 minutes. Los Angeles outscored Portland 56-24 in the paint.

LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 21 and 11. Dame Lillard was swiped in the face by Griffin early on the game, but he stayed in the game and posted a solid 16 and 5.

As usual, the Blazer bench provided no relief. Portland’s reserves are averaging just 16.5 ppg on the season—that’s the worst bench production in the past 23 years. Yes, you read that correctly. Not one bench player on Portland averages 5 points.

You have to feel bad for the Blazers, who have as good of a starting lineup as anyone, but just can’t get any help off the bench. It was Portland’s seventh loss in nine games.

Hornets 93, Grizzlies 81

The Grizzlies went most of the game without Mike Conley, who left after four minutes due to a sprained left ankle.

Zach Randolph led Memphis with 20 points and 13 rebounds for his League-leading 28th double-double, but it wouldn’t be enough.

Using a tough defensive approach, New Orleans put the game away by outscoring Memphis 27-15 in the fourth quarter. Ryan Anderson was the real difference maker, as he came off the bench to connect on 7 treys, for 22 points in the Hornets’ 91-83 win.

Greivis Vasquez recorded a team-high 11 assists, but continued his dismal shooting, hitting just 2-16 shots for 5 points. He’s scored a total of 7 points in his last two games.

Rudy Gay had one of his worst games on the year, as he settled for too many low-percentage shots. Gay went 3-17 from the field, including a 1-7 performance from long range.

Conley was in a walking boot after the game.

Pistons 104, Magic 102

Another heartbreaker in Orlando.

With the Magic down by four points, Jameer Nelson was fouled on a three-point shot with seven seconds remaining.

Nelson hit the first two and missed the third.

Big Baby Davis got the board and was blocked. Nikola Vucevic got the second shot and cleanly missed. Detroit won the ballgame by two, 104-102.

Brandon Knight tied a career-high 31 points, including five three-pointers, but failed to hand out a single assist.

The Magic played well. Glen Davis dropped 17, 12—his first double-double since December 7. Nikola Vucevic also double-doubled with 12 and 15. And JJ Redick hit a career-high eight three-pointers on his way to a career-high 31 points, but they couldn’t close it out. Orlando is now 3-14 in games decided by six points or less.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Magic, as today begins a six-games-in-nine-nights road trip. They’ll be in Brooklyn tonight.

Suns 95, Mavs 110

Dirk Nowitzki had 18 and passed Allen Iverson on the career scoring list and the Mavs beat the Suns, 110-95. Dirk moves into the 18th spot among the greatest scorers of all time.

It was a lackadaisical game that, by the forth quarter, wasn’t even a game. Phoenix didn’t have any offensive flow (or weapons, for that matter). Goran Dragic led all Suns with 18 points, but his teammates aren’t moving.

Vince Carter (15 off the bench) and Shawn Marion played well for the Mavs (18, 9 and 5). Roddy Beaubois suddenly saw solid minutes and had 8 points and 3 assists in 24 minutes.

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  • Max

    Good job Kobe, that is how you should play.
    Because of the good ball momevent, there are less turnovers and the defense improves.

  • ByAnyMeansNecessary

    1. Feel really bad for Rondo and the Celtics. Hope he returns to form next season. Must be a little rough to go from thinking you just have a sore knee to hearing that you tore your ACL. This would be a great time for Avery Bradley to develop unless he gets traded.
    2. I love Doris Burke. She knows the game. She’s a hardworking woman who works NBA games as an analyst and sideline reporter and college men/women’s games as an analyst and sideline reporter, but I don’t think she should have been the one to tell Paul Pierce about Rondo. Paul yelled the F bomb right after the interview was over.
    3. Whenever Kobe goes on these runs of having a lot of assists one always has to wonder when he will go back to shooting a lot. Either way, the Lakers are still at best a 7 or 8 seed who will lose in the 1st round to OKC or San Antonio this season. They can’t beat either team in a series. Both would end in 6 games at the most.
    4. Why didn’t LeBron have the ball instead of Wade at the end of the 1st OT? It looked like Wade told LeBron after he missed the shot “I’m tired” meaning “You should have come and gotten the ball”. And why did Battier take the last shot in the 2nd OT? Bosh had a nice, quiet 16 and 16. Had some very key rebounds.
    5. Every time I hear about Iverson now, one of the things I think about is the fact that he had a career average of 27 ppg before his last season in Denver and then the trade to the Pistons (Michael Curry had no business coaching that Pistons squad). All downhill from there.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    so what you are saying is, the Lakers just had to buy in? No way.

  • playa

    kobe owns thabo&pretty much whole league 1 on 1,especially in the post, thunder became so frustrated towards the end of the game, that could got them ejected if not for the golden boys status and one more thing- you’re not allowed contact if you play defense on durant,if someone’s played that tight, ultra-phisical defense on him ala thabo did on kobe he would probably died on court or something ha.And Dwight<Perk on offense,he looked ATROCIOUS out there,Gasol plays the middle sooooo much better on O,damn.

  • RayJr

    I expected the Thunder to explode in the third because LA gives up a lot of points in the 3rd qtr and for the Lakers to collapse at the end of the 4th. After Westbrook picked Duhon for the easy dunk I thought “here we go” but it was surprising to see LA hold on after that. Hope this is the turn around they need but they are the Lakers so Dwight will probably get ejected the next game to stop the momentum ::sigh::

  • spit hot fiyah

    Memphis keeps on having these bad losses, i really like them but i don’t trust that team

  • Kadavour

    Bron converted on 1 non-layup attempt (the game tying 3) in the 4th and overtime. Discuss.

  • LakeShow

    JJ Redick is really having a nice year. I didn’t really think he’d ever put it together, but the boy is playing with some poise these days. 15pp -4.4 apg on 46% FG’s 41% 3 pointers and 88% FT’s

  • LakeShow

    The ball is finally being moved.

    Like how D’Antoni planned… funny thing is it’s KB and not Nash doing the majority of play making over the last 2 games.

  • LakeShow

    Yeah, Kobe you should average more assists than shot attempts!
    lol, just playin dogg

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    which is how it has always needed to be honestly. Both of us should have seen it. The only way the whole team buys in is if Kobe totally flips his game on it’s head. Nash doesn’t get the ball enough in that offense to let Kobe still be the dominant scorer.
    .
    but we were both right, this team can be legitimate under D’Antoni. —- even though, everybody is trying to lump the credit for this on the players. Because, when the Lakers win it’s the player’s in spite of the coach – yet when they lose, it’s the coach, in spite of the performance of his player’s.

  • LakeShow

    It was overlooked, but rightfully so.

    I still want to find a way for Nash to have ball handling duties and KB looking to score off the ball, but right now it’s good to see that they are just making it happen(over the last two)…

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    you are still overlooking something fam – it’s sad to say, but i’ve realized, Nash w/out Shooters, can’t be Nash, at least not for a whole game.
    .
    he doesn’t have the ability to hang 48 on a team that tries to turn him into a scorer anymore (he did that against Dallas once). He needs someone to help him conserve his energy.
    .
    now while i do expect Kobe’s shots to creep up, i don’t think it should get above 16 at any point. He has to remain the primary playmaker.
    .
    Basically, he should become a very slow, smart, and calculated version of Russell Westbrook in order for the Lakers to have as much success as possible.

  • LakeShow

    I don’t like the RW comparison, but I see what your saying.
    You and I both know the black mamba is always waiting to strike. Sorry, I know no one likes the nick name, but it fits here lol. He doesn’t strike with passes he strikes with shots.
    I agree 100% on the fact that Nash needs shooters to be fully effective. As much as it doesn’t look like it… he does. MWP, KB, Meeks, Clark, Jamison can all provide the shooting from the outside(not at a blistering % albeit). I think they can find an in between with KB and Nash taking turns with the play making. Similar to Wade and Bron when they came together. Both are primary ball handlers, but there is a sweet spot they can find with Nash doing the primary ball handling and initiating the possessions with KB taking over after the shot clock rolls past 15 seconds.
    You and I both know that KB is going to be above 16 shot attempts. I think he should be at 18. Dwight at 10-12 and Nash similar to Dwight.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    I said “i don’t think it SHOULD get above 16 at any point. He has to remain the primary playmaker.”
    .
    which is why i’m still skeptical of the team even making the playoffs.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i don’t think it should get above 16 at any point. He has to remain the primary playmaker.

    .
    Keyword being Should.

  • Kadavour

    JVG said it best, they shouldn’t prescribe any amount of shots for anyone for any game. Just do what the team needs. If Kobe collapsing a defense leads to opportunities for others make plays, then so be it. If they don’t collapse, then Kobe should score. I’ll bet anything that when it’s not Thabo guarding him in the high post he’ll look to eat some more before dishing to others.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    which is another way of saying everyone should buy into D’Antoni’s system lol. Cuz really, that’s in it’s most basic form, what it is.

  • Max

    A couple of his shots rimmed out, and would have gone in on most other nights?

  • Max

    Mike Conley is more important than anyone thinks.

  • Max

    No, but last night he played perfectly, gettigneveryone involved in the beginning, and took over in the last 3 minutes with scoring.
    That was awesome to see out of him.

  • LakeShow

    I know what you said.
    I think they would be best with KB at 18 ShotsPG.
    Reason being, (there’s a few) the same reason why KB has been able to get 14 assists in each of the last two games. You and I both know it’s not because he is one of the best play makers in the L, but because he is expected to be trying to score, thus given more opportunities to offer good plays for his team mates.
    KB is a gunner.
    You know this, I know this, SLAM know’s this, Stern know’s this, Kobe know’s this.
    BUT
    That’s what makes him a deadly play maker. He’s capable, just not always willing to achieve whatever kind of assist numbers he wants. He just prefers PPG.
    If he can become both at elite levels then yes I agree this is when the team is at it’s best.
    BUT
    That’s asking allot from a guy with a career 4.7 APG and career 19.6 Shot Attempts per game, and 5 championships…
    And if he starts to play as strictly a play maker, defenses will not be as on their heals as they have been the last two games. Part of KB’s play making is the fact that he is always trying to score first. You don’t want to take away his #1 strength.
    Your asking someone to change who he is completely. You want a guy to shoot 16 shots a game (lowest since his 3rd year in the L) while he is scoring as efficiently as he ever has in his career… I agree it would be best, but it’s unheard of, and very unrealistic.
    I’m still hoping we can figure out how to feature both Nash and KB as primary handlers and play makers. Easier said then done, but I have faith in the players and the coach.

  • LakeShow

    Agreed my man, agreed. I loved it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Junior-Taylor/100003121138419 Junior Taylor

    Lake, the way Kobe has played the last 2 games is exactly what I was talking about when I said there’s a huge difference between “trying to feed the post and creating good looks for your teammates”. It’s no coincidence that Gasol and Howard’s activity have picked up tenfold.

  • LakeShow

    Agreed dude. Your right, I just don’t think it’s realistic or even the “correct” thing to do.
    I’ll give you my reasoning.
    The deal is… Howard was asking for more touches on the post. KB was trying to and WAS giving it to him there. But bad things were happening, because Dwight has been real bad on post up iso’s this year. TO after TO and such.
    Nash iss ‘suppose’ to be doing what KB has been doing the last two games. I’m not sure if his age is catching up to him, or what, but KB has taken it upon himself to do it over the last two. I just think it should be Nash, if he is capable, making those plays.
    Believe me man, I loved what I saw, but it’s not realistic or achievable to expect things to keep going like that. KB is not a 14apg type of guy lol. Nash is not a spot up shooter. D’Antoni and Nash need to figure out how to incorporate KB’s strengths, and Nash’s, and Dwight’s all at the same time. Not ask KB to do it all…
    Nash, as good as he is, should not be a constant spot up shooter. Nash and KB almost switched roles the last two games. While it has boded well for them, it can’t be expected in the future. You can’t be successful having scorers be play makers and play makers be scorers.
    You feel what i’m saying?

  • LakeShow

    He LOVES lay ups.

    Lay ups are high % looks.

    It won’t bode well in the playoffs with smart defensive teams.

    End of discussion.

  • LakeShow

    Prop’s to Westbrook btw. He plays his game no matter what. Dude has missed (literally 10 in a row) bucket after bucket, but he still plays his style and never stops gunning. Some people respect that, others don’t…
    I do. Good on ya RW.
    2nd best PG in the L today.

  • Conor

    I see no issue with having one of the greatest shooters in NBA history shoot the ball more often if it means LA wins.

    Kobe’s Magic revival could be his final evolution as a player.

  • LakeShow

    You want one of the greatest shooters in NBA history to change how and when he shoots his shot’s?The same ones that made him one of the greatest shooters in NBA history…

    I’m sorry fellas, your in a dream world.

    Nash has the ball in his hands when he shoots 90% of the time(in the past). Don’t let one game fool you into thinking Steve Nash is one of the greatest catch and shoot players also. It’s not his style and never has been.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Junior-Taylor/100003121138419 Junior Taylor

    I’m with Lake on this one. He is right, you can not expect Kobe to continue playing like this. You can not turn one of the greatest playmakers in League history into strictly a spot-up shooter in the same token you can not turn one of the greatest scorers in League history into strictly a pass-first player. The Lakers have to find the perfect balance between the two (Kobe scoring efficiently on around 17-18 shots and Nash’s playmaking), as long as they do that and continue to get stops defensively (which no one is talking about), they should make the playoffs as either the 7th or 8th seed,

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    If taking away Kobe’s number one strength features everyone else’s…….it is absolutely worth it.
    .
    You know who else became his most effective after sacrificing scoring?
    .
    Jordan
    .
    And if Kobe seriously wants to get in that convo, the only conceivable way for him to do it (especially with this team) is to evolve into a playmaker. And if he can do it anywhere close to this drastically, that will be a very intriguing wrinkle in his career.
    .
    And the defense? Is better the better the team is offensively. This is a law of any and all D’Antoni led teams. So while you think about Kobe the individual, you need to do what he did (at least the last 2 games), start thinking about the Lakers as a team.

  • ya_mama

    Yeah. He’ll just get shut down like he did last year. Oh wait, he didn’t.

  • Conor

    It may not be his most *consistent* style, but Steve Nash is more than capable of taking wide-open spot shots without moving. You make it sound as though a guy who’s shot 50-40-90 more than anybody in the NBA’s history can’t adapt his shot to fit an offence.

    Nash is a better shooter than Kobe. If Bryant can continue to have the defence converge on him to facilitate, allowing Steve Nash to shoot wide-open shots or – as you insist – catch/drive/shoot sequence (which he did several times during the supposedly anomalous game on Sunday / which you believe is the only way he can shoot properly, haha), that leaves me just as comfortable as having Kobe/Nash lob to Howard down low or swing to Gasol at the elbow. Otherwise, if the Lakers don’t make their shots: Kobe shoots. It’s that simple.

  • Conor

    They will obviously adapt to each game, but you can’t say that this system is doomed to fail. If they rotate roles, so be it, but the offence must be balanced more between Kobe and Nash.

    Anyone who has been observing the Lakers’ struggles has acknowledged that Nash wasn’t shooting enough. Now that he is, and they’ve finally beaten a significant team (which they were evidently incapable of doing before), they need to restrain a functional formula? No. Kobe won’t shoot 10-15 times every game & Nash won’t get five assists every game, but if the team’s success demands their accommodation, they must adapt. Kobe is one of the greatest playmakers the game has ever seen when he is focused upon it; Nash is perhaps the best shooter in the NBA’s history entire. Why not use those skills?

    Who says Kobe needs to be limited to passing the ball each possession? No one. Who says Nash should be limited to spot-up duty? Imbeciles. It’s not like Kobe is passing up shots or Nash is shooting away passes. They are making the right decisions. It’s simple.

  • Conor

    Defensively, they have been improving all season. I really think MWP’s present physical disposition is predicated more towards defending PFs & short Cs more often while defending PGs/SGs/SFs for short stretches. Clark is their most versatile and talented perimeter defender now.

    Having Gasol and Howard play together at the end of halves provides longer instances of defensive versatility and SPEED, which was their main problem.

  • Conor

    Finally, if Los Angeles is Playoff-worthy and enters it in a good groove, you can bet that OKC and the Clippers will want absolutely nothing to do with them.

  • Mike From Spain

    Just a little question, what’s Kobe’s usage % these days? What is the league average AST%? Where I’m getting at is that Kobe does not need to be elite in playmaking, he just needs to go a little above average relative to his usage rate. That is advance statistic speak for ‘OK, he’ll be the primary ballhandler if that is his wish, but he must stop chucking stupid shots’.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    over the last 2 games, Kobe’s usage as been 58.1!!! and 55.7!!!. He has to be elite using that many possessions lol.
    .
    His average usage is about 32. So he’s using a ton more possessions.

  • Mike From Spain

    Just a question… AST% is an advanced statistic which is assists relative to USG%? If so, anyone care to check out what is the AST% of Kobe’s game? Perhaps not so much higher than his career AST%. Now, the remarkable thing is how little he shot.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    AST% is the number of teammate field goals assisted by a player while he was on the floor.

    .

    Kobe’s average assist % this season is 26%. Career average is 24%.

    .

    Over the last 3 games it’s been 58%, 55%, 48%.

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