"If I Could Change..."
11.7 The Cooler

24 Hundred Thousand Trillion

By 11.07.09

Kobe Bryant

It’s like the schedule makers did all they could to allow LeBron to run the show Friday night. For this season’s lone trip to MSG, ‘Bron had the national TV stage while his chief rival for attention, Kobe Bryant, was stuck playing the Grizzlies in what would surely be as low-key a Lakers game as can be. Or not. Dumping 41 points (19-30 FG) on Memphis, Kobe solidified his spot as the League’s leading scorer and likely put himself in front of the early MVP race in the eyes of a lot of voters, and he surpassed the 24,000-point mark for his career; becoming the youngest to ever hit that milestone … How tough has this week been for O.J. Mayo? Last Sunday his career-high 40-point effort in Denver was overshadowed by Carmelo‘s 42; the next day O.J. was on the wrong end of 48 points from Kevin Martin; then he struggled shooting the ball at Golden State while Monta Ellis gave him 24 and 12 dimes; then last night O.J. ate a fistful of turnarounds, pull-ups and post moves from Kobe that most guards just can’t do. Oh, and the Grizzlies lost each and every one of those games. Tonight O.J. gets Eric Gordon on the schedule … L.A. dominated the second half and won pretty easily, even though Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum were out with injuries and Lamar Odom didn’t really contribute anything at power forward. DJ Mbenga did his thing, though, posting 13 boards and four blocks as the starting center and only getting dunked on really bad one time by Rudy Gay … One time Zach Randolph (21 pts, 15 rebs) got a rebound, looked off Allen Iverson and decided to take it the length of the court himself. (It’s like when a defendant decides to defend himself; you know it’s going to end badly as soon as he makes the call.) So Z-Bo gets all the way to the lane on the other end and fires a no-look pass to Iverson (8 pts, 21 mins) on the wing that goes about five feet behind Allen and six feet above him. Naturally, Zach throws up his hands and looks at Allen like A.I. was the one who screwed up … Meanwhile, it was kind of hard to watch the whole LeBron-in-NY production and not see him signing with the Knicks next summer. As expected, it was like a big recruiting pitch for a grown man: The fans made signs with LBJ wearing a Knicks uni and had customized #23 James jerseys made up; everybody from Reggie Jackson to Charles Oakley was in the crowd; and the newly-crowned Yankees — LeBron’s favorite team, remember? — were there and made sure to show ‘Bron some love after the game. Jay-Z was also there, of course, but his presence probably helped the Knicks’ pitch more than the Nets; just another example of how playing in NY would mean star-studded crowds every night … As for the game itself, LeBron put up 33 points, eight boards, nine dimes and three steals in a Cavs win. You think he wasn’t hyped for this one? On Cleveland’s first possession he got an iso up top on Larry Hughes and put a J right in his face. Then LBJ skied for a rebound at the other end. After a Cavs’ turnover, he got up and swatted David Lee, although the refs made a bad goaltending call …

Brandon Roy (photo. Aaron Hewitt)

Brandon Roy (photo. Aaron Hewitt)


Yeah, the Spurs are known to start the season slow and we know not to even get concerned about them until like February, but still, how often do you see Tim Duncan and crew lose three road games in a row? Just like they did on Thursday in Utah, the Spurs fell behind early against Portland — by as much as 17 at one point — and spent all their energy just trying to get within striking distance. It also didn’t help that Tony Parker hurt his ankle in the first half and never returned. The Spurs cut the lead to three eventually, but Brandon Roy (24 pts) took over down the stretch and wouldn’t let the Blazers blow it … Sometimes it doesn’t take a genius to coach San Antonio. Knowing Greg Oden would be guarding Duncan, and knowing G.O. has issues with foul trouble, Gregg Popovich just had his guys feed Duncan right from the start and let him go to work on the kid. Oden picked up two quick fouls and had to sit — but then he came back and stayed on the court long enough to make a difference with 14 points, eight boards and four blocks … Oden also happened to be on the court when Richard Jefferson went back to Tucson and dunked on him reminiscent of what Kobe did to Dwight Howard a few years back … Other stat lines from Friday: Dwight Howard went for 22 points and 12 boards in a win over Detroit; Baron Davis and Eric Gordon scored 25 points apiece in a win at Golden State; Jonny Flynn‘s 20 points and three steals topped Brandon Jennings‘ nine points and three assists, but the Wolves still lost to Milwaukee; Danny Granger had 22 points and four steals and Tyler Hansbrough added 13 and five boards in his NBA debut as the Pacers blew out the Wizards; Raja Bell scored 24 on five threes and Gerald Wallace had 18 boards and 11 points while the ‘Cats 20-pieced the Hawks; and Brook Lopez posted 22 points, 11 boards and three blocks in a loss to the Sixers where NJ was missing three starters … Oh, and did you see what Andre Iguodala did to Terrence Williams? Maybe it’s not quite rookie hazing, but some people would rather fetch coffee and newspapers for Jarvis Hayes than have THIS happen to them … You try figuring out the Hornets. Having seemingly turned the corner with their big national TV win against Dallas earlier this week, the Hornets came out (at home) and got smoked by Toronto. Chris Bosh scored 27 on 9-of-9 shooting, and while Chris Paul was in passing mode (21 pts, 18 asts), the N.O. offense was again short on guys who could actually put the ball in the basket. Bobby Brown is a decent player, but he shouldn’t be one of the best players on what’s supposed to be a playoff squad … No matter how crafty a veteran you are and how much ice you might need to put on your knees afterward, almost every ballplayer can get caught up in a running game against a running team. It’s almost instinct to want to play the game fast. That’s what happened to the Celtics last night, as they fell into Phoenix’s trap and lost the sprint for their first loss of the season … Jason Richardson, a non-factor in Phoenix’s first loss in Orlando the other night, dropped 34 points along with six threes, and Steve Nash handed out 12 dimes plus 16 points. Boston didn’t get totally ran out of their own gym, though: They were down by four with just under a minute to go when Nash hit a three that was pretty much the dagger … The Nuggets also took their first L, getting shut down by Miami’s D while D-Wade “only” scored 22 points. Big game for Jermaine O’Neal, who had 18, seven boards and three blocks, including one where he met ‘Melo at the rim and sent him packing … Tell us again why Flo Rida was at the game sitting next to D-Wade’s mom? … We’re out like O.J.’s week …


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