No need to facepalm, LeBron… there’s no shame in losing to the Clippers anymore. Eight of the last eleven Clipper opponents have come away with losses, making them one of the hottest teams in the league! Oh, is this about the karma tweet? Yeah, you do look like a bit of a tool right now, especially seeing as there was a little bit of injury sprinkled on top of the insult. LeBron says he’s unsure if he’ll play in Denver tonight: “I don’t have to be a hero in the regular season if I’m not close to 100 percent.” Good grief.
- Highlight Recap, Heat @ Clippers Edition: LeBron travels, but that’s ok because he tried to tear the rim down after the walk. Eric Bledsoe with a huge block on LeBron. Bledsoe with an even better block on Mario Chalmers. Blake Griffin sons not-so-super Mario. Griffin spins and scores on two defenders. DeAndre Jordan gets crunk. DeAndre makes Chris Bosh look like a kid. Eric Gordon throws down with one hand. Even Baron Davis was inspired to throw down.
- Highlight Recap, Everyone Else Edition: First of all, check out the top 10… it’s a good one. Secondly, since when can LeAndro Barbosa do this? I wasn’t the only one taken by surprise, just look at how Josh Smith played it. He was ready to obliterate any layup attempt, but apparently his presence inspired Barbosa to do something neither of us had ever seen him do before.
- The Clippers put a 44-point first quarter on the Heat which provided a cushion large enough to withstand being outscored over the next three periods. The Heat gave up 111 points in the six-point loss, that’s the third most they’ve allowed all season. Baron Davis had his best game of the season, and I’m not just saying that because he put up 20/9. He was out there playing inspired basketball… dunking, diving on the floor, making important plays down the stretch… the things that Baron Davis used to do in New Orleans and Golden State. His interest level in the game really does appear to have increased lately. I thought Baron’s backup, Eric Bledsoe, also had an excellent game, despite scoring just three points on 1-5 shooting. He had two amazing blocks that got the crowd into the game, made a great pass to set Al-Farouq Aminu up with a dunk, and got a key steal from Mario Chalmers when the game was in the nail-biting stage. I was impressed with how aggressively the Clippers played throughout the game. They attacked the basket fearlessly, and it shows in the freethrow numbers: LA earned 34 attempts from the stripe, Miami took just 30. I hate to say it (because it shouldn’t be like this, but it is), but in order for a young team like LA to get to the line more than a team with as much star power as Miami, they’ve really got to earn it. I felt that the Clippers should’ve had an even larger edge in freethrow attempts. Griffin was fouled on a number of shots–some of which he made anyway–where the officials let fairly obvious fouls slide. Lastly, even though LA’s huge early lead was whittled down gradually as the game went on, I was impressed with the fact that they never allowed Miami to get over the hump. Every time they desperately needed a bucket, someone came though. Eric Gordon, who scored 26, stepped up big when the lead was cut down to three in the middle of the third. He created three quality shots for himself when his team was struggling to get good looks, resulting in that three-point lead being stretched back to nine. Dwyane Wade was excellent and led the heat with 31. LeBron pitched in 27, and Bosh 26. Miami got little to nothing from the rest of the crew.
- The Hawks got a season-high 36 points from Jamal Crawford and a game-winning triple from Mike Bibby as they edged the Craptors 104-101. Andrea Bargnani nearly hit a deep three at the buzzer, but the basketbal gods refused to grant the softy a shooter’s bounce. Crawford scored 25 of his 36 in the first half, including ATL’s last 11 in the first quarter. He entered the lockerroom on pace to become the first player ever (as far as I know) to score 50 points with four different teams, but unfortunately he fizzled and went just 2-9 in the second half. Good news! It looks like my main man Sonny Weems is close to playing again. He suited up, but did not see any action. Sonny hasn’t taken the court since December 15th due to back spasms.
- Break up the Bobcats! With a 96-91 victory over the Bulls, the ‘Cats have won four in a row and six of their last eight. It only gets better: Gerald Wallace returned for this game and was able to go 41 minutes. He put up 14/7 on 5-11. DJ Augustin led Charlotte with 22 points and 12 assists, and four more Bobcats dropped double figures as well. Tyrus Thomas was nice with 17/13 off the bench, and even Kwame Brown contributed offensively with his 10 points on 4-5. The Bulls outshot the opposition, but they also nearly doubled them in turnovers and were doubled on the offensive glass. One may think that upping the tempo and removing a lot of structure would result in sloppier basketball, but that hasn’t been the case for the Bobcats. Since Paul Silas took over, Charlotte has averaged fewer turnovers per game than they did under Larry Brown, who’s offense was much slower and more deliberate. I’m a believer in allowing players to loosen up and play the game, so I love what Silas has done.
- Dwight Howard carried the Magic to OT with the 28th 20/20 of his career (29/20 to be exact), but he clanked a couple of freebies that would’ve given Orlando a one-point lead with 11 seconds left, resulting in the end of his squad’s nine-game win streak in a 92-89 loss to New Orleans. Hedo Turkoglu was ice cold all night–he bricked eight of ten shots–but one of his buckets was the three-ball that sent the game to an extra period. Emeka Okafor didn’t quite match Dwight on the stat sheet, but the man who beat out Howard for ROY back in ’05 did have a pretty nice game of his own with 18/14 on 8-11 shooting. Marcus Thornton, who continues to move in and out of the doghouse, played 32 minutes and led the Bees with 22 points. Orlando was held under 90 points for the first time since Christmas Day against Boston, a game which they won.
- Zach Randolph put up 34/17 to lead the Grizzlies to an eight-point victory over the Pistons. Normally I’d throw this one in with “the other games”, but there’s a reason to talk about it that has nothing to do with any player who took the court. Richard Hamilton sat this one out with a DNPCD. So what? Well, Richard wasn’t hurt, he wasn’t being disciplined, so what’s the deal? Does this mean there will be a trade going down in the next couple of days? Rip’s name has been involved in the Carmelo Anthony rumors, and supposedly he’s close to becoming a Net along with Melo and his old friend Chauncey Billups. Kenny Smith and Greg Anthony both speculated that the Pistons held Rip out so he wouldn’t get hurt, potentially preventing a deal that could be nearing completion. Whether that’s the truth or not, I can’t tell you for sure. Rip has had some issues with his coach this season, but nothing that’s kept him stapled to the pine for an entire game. After the contest, Hamilton said he doesn’t know why he didn’t play: “I came to the game tonight with my same routine that I was going to play. Ain’t nobody warn me, tell me anything. I just came out ready to play the game. I was definitely surprised, you know? Do I think it was a level of disrespect or unfair or anything like that? I’ll leave that to ya’ll, you know?”
- On the other hand, Devin Harris did play in New Jersey’s 118-109 loss in Phoenix. Harris would supposedly be sent to Denver in the same deal that would land Hamilton in New Jersey. This is one of the more mysterious ongoing trade-rumor sagas that I can recall. I think I’ll just leave it alone until something actually happens or the trade deadline passes. As for the Nets/Suns game, Phoenix converted on 35 of 42 freethrow attempts compared to just 17-22 for New Jersey. Steve Nash and Wince Carter had 23 each. Nash also added seven boards and 16 assists.
- Kobe Bryant connected on as many freethrows as Golden State took (11) as the Lakers came back to beat the Dubs 115-110. Monta Ellis dropped 38, but Bryant one-upped him with 39 of his own, including 17 in the final six minutes. The Lakers crushed the Warriors on the boards, of course. LA’s 11-rebound edge on the offensive end and 20-rebound edge overall makes me wonder how they only won by five. I suppose it had something to do with Golden State’s 13-5 advantage in makes from long distance… my main man Dorell Wright was responsible for 5 of those 13 connections; he dropped 27.
- The other games: The Mavs suck without Dirk… they lost to the struggling Indiana Pacemakers 102-89. The Celtics beat the hell out of Pooh Jeter and the Queens, 119-95. The Cs forced 23 TOs, Paul Pierce dropped 25 points. Manu Ginoseli led the Spurs with 23 points as they beat the bricking Bucks by seven. Milwaukee continues to be the most offensively challenged team in the league… they failed to break 90 against a team not from New Jersey for the third time in their last four tries. The Thunder have won in Houston for the first time since they were called the Sonics. The 118-112 win required 30 points from Kevin Durant plus the absenses of Kevin Martin, Yao Ming, Brad Miller, and Chuck Hayes… but they’ll take it. Shawne Williams and Bill Walker combined for 48 points off the Knicks’ bench, but New York gave up 131 points to the Jazz, resulting in a six-point loss. Utah shot over 58% from the floor and assisted on 31 of 45 scores.
Quote of the Day: Jerry Sloan on Utah’s 131-125 win over the Knicks…
“I thought we had a lot of fun. Our guys played well. We passed the ball well. We really did a nice job of giving up the ball.”
I didn’t think the word “fun” was in the guy’s vocabulary. It was the last three-letter word I expected to see when I read, “Jerry Sloan said…” after a game where 256 total points were scored in regulation.
Photo of the Day: The combination of tossing lobs to Blake Griffin and winning games has given Baron Davis a renewed passion for the game of basketball…
Hey Donald, F@#K YOU!