I think we’ll get started on a non-basketball-related note today. As reported by ESPN (via Waiting For Next Year), 30 of the luckiest middle-school kids of all-time got to visit the Dallas Zoo with none other than Delonte West. I bet he took ‘em to KFC for some lunch, too. I’m honestly a little jealous. I got good grades when I was young and all I got out of it was a generic paper certificate. Maybe if they offered trips to the zoo with Delonte West for good students in my area I would’ve continued to put in the effort. Here are a few of West’s more interesting quotes from the day he spent “amongst his peers” (you’ll find that he wasn’t referring to the kids, or anyone human)…
“Well, I think they noticed as soon as I came into the zoo my natural animal instinct, you know what I mean?” Delonte said, speaking of the actual animals. “I got a chance to eat with the lions, you know? They had Lamar playing with the penguins, but they needed me for the more animalistic-type of things, carnivore-type of things. So, I also had a chance to give birth to a baby cheetah today and I’m just overwhelmed with the experience to be amongst my own and my peers.”
West, who grew up in Washington D.C., was asked if he spent much time at the zoo as a youngster.
“I just ran out in the woods, whatever I could find take it home as a pet,” West said, again stretching the boundaries of fact into pure fiction. “I had a pet raccoon once. No, I took my few field trips to the zoo, but like I said, I think we’re getting ready to go see some of the lions and gorillas, my own kind and hopefully we can have a nice bonding experience and they will accept me as the pack leader.”
Sounds like Delonte enjoyed this even more than the kids did.
In other off-court NBA news, Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal have found side work making local car commercials for a Ford dealership. Let me assure you that their performances probably won’t be leading to any further acting opportunities. Be thankful that you’ve got pretty awesome day jobs, fellas, and leave the auto sales to Karl Malone.
Also, remember that guy who bought the Jeremy Lin rookie card for 21 Gs? Yeah, well, he snapped out of it and reneged on his bid, blaming the “mishap” on his 10-year-old son. The seller, who had bought the card for a stack with the intentions of re-selling it, was forced to list it again, and he only got $4,000 out of it the second time around. Flipping a $3,000 profit off of a trading card in a matter of weeks still makes this guy a better hustler than every southern rapper combined, but he says he’s “a little disappointed.” I would imagine.
Jan Vesely, picked 6th overall by the Wizards in 2011, has made less than a little noise in the NBA this season. He’s appeared in 41 games but has only managed to average about 3 points and 3 boards. He doesn’t get many minutes, and even when he does get an extended run he tends to blend in. I don’t watch the Wizards on a nightly basis or anything, but I’ve never, not one time seen Vesely make any sort of standout play. I mean, maybe an impressive dunk or two, but nothing that shows the development of any NBA-level basketball skills. I don’t think anyone had seen him do such a thing until last night, when he scored his first basket this season from outside of nine feet (and only his second from outside of three feet). Late in the first quarter he splashed an 18-foot jumper from the right wing, his only field goal in 12 minutes of play. Vesely was brought in as a project and is yet to turn 22 (although he will this month), but this season certainly hasn’t gone very… how should I put this… promisingly for young Jan or the Wizards. They suffered their 5th loss in a row on Thursday evening, despite holding a second-half lead as large as eight. They naturally choked that, but they still had plenty of chances to beat the Pacers down the stretch. Trailing by just 2 with 22 seconds to go, after being given a gift–the ball–on a blatantly incorrect out of bounds call, John Wall drove into heavy traffic and wildly threw the ball into the backcourt. Even still, they had life. With just 13 seconds to play Tyler Hansbrough foolishly fouled Jordan Crawford on a drive to the basket, making it a two-point game with a free throw pending. Crawford clunked it, though, and Roy Hibbert went on to make the game-clinching pair. Danny Granger finished with 25 for the second time in three games as the Pacemakers took it 93-89.
The bad news? The Mavs made 10 shots in the second half and lost to the Heat by 21. The good news? Lamar Odom made 3 of those 10 shots, resulting in his first double-digit night in nearly a month. “Lammy” is averaging 10.5 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists on 72% from the floor over his last two, making this… possibly the best two-game stretch of his season (seriously). I have no further comments on this game or the Dallas Mavericks.
Before losing the game 102-93, the Lakers played a dominant first quarter against the OKC Thunder. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol looked absolutely unstoppable as they combined for 13 points. Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, and Nick Collison couldn’t do a freaking thing with either one of them, and Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant misfired on jumper after jumper. Leave it to Derek Fisher to come in and convert a layup, along with a couple other early baskets. In his return to LA, Fisher and his extra-shiny head sparked a 9-2 Thunder run during which Metta World Peace missed four shots from various ranges. To say Metta was f@cking horrendous in this game may be an understatement. He went 3-13 from the floor, and I believe he was something like 0 for 7 at one point. I agreed wholeheartedly with Mike Brown’s recent decision to bench the defiant Andrew Bynum, but I imagine Bynum must’ve been wondering why Artest played over 34 minutes last night as he made poor decision after poor decision. I think it has more to do with LA’s lack of depth than it does some sort of double standard, but I can’t understand how it hasn’t become clear to Brown that he’d be better served playing just about anyone other than Artest at the three.
Pau Gasol’s foul trouble definitely hurt the Lakers. He took a seat on the bench early in the third after committing his fourth, allowing OKC’s defenders to start focusing all of their energy on Bynum. Russell Westbrook, who had played an awful first half, suddenly exploded for 17 points in the third quarter alone, carrying his team offensively. Kevin Durant then dropped 8 of his 21 in the fourth to put the Lakers to bed. From a Lakers perspective this has to be considered a rather discouraging defeat. To appear so dominant in the early stages only to go away from what had been working… that’s become the LA way.
Related stat to ponder: Andrew Bynum (25 points on 15 shots vs OKC) has scored 30+ four different times this season, all in the month of March. In these four games he’s shot 13-18, 15-18, 12-14, and 11-16, yet the Lakers only won on one occasion… in double overtime. In those same four games Kobe Bryant shot 8-26, 11-25, 3-20, and 7-15. It seems that the two of them don’t necessarily work off of each other very well. In the Utah game especially their dynamic seemed completely out of whack. It was like Bryant just randomly decided it was his turn and started clunking his way to a 3-20 house of bricks. Rather than taking turns they may want to consider finding a way to blend into one united attack. If the two of them continue to be incapable of having great games on the same night then LA will struggle.
Luke Babbitt scored a career-high 16 points in 17 minutes as the Blazers beat the Hornets 99-93. Luke Babbitt is here to ball, not to tank, folks! Let’s see, what else… Oh, in his last four games Carl Landry has now scored 15, 14, 20, and 24 points. That’s after missing nearly two months (23 games) of action. Landry is a guy who I’d like to see end up in a good situation where he can play consistent minutes for a competitive team. He’s one of those guys who simply produces when he plays. He’s tough as nails, too. I’ve always liked the undersized scrapper ever since his days in Houston, when he nearly helped Tracy McGrady get out of the first round. Remember how he came up with a game-saving block on Deron Williams after having his tooth knocked out? That was back in ’08, in that first-round series that went six games. McGrady put up 40/10/5 in the elimination game, but he’s a choke artist, right?
Unrelated T-Mac fun fact: McGrady left 9 points at the free-throw line in his 62-point game, a win over Washington in 2004. And I’ll leave you with that.