Kobe and LeBron sit out, Lakers and Cavaliers pay the price

By: 04.09.10  •  29 Comments

Joakim Noah (photo. Monte Isom)

As much as we talk about Dwight Howard, have you thought about how much of a beast Joakim Noah would be if he developed an offensive game? With the Bulls battling for a playoff spot and getting a gift on Thursday with LeBron James (rest) sitting out their game as a late scratch, Noah helped them pull into a tie with Toronto thanks to those intangibles he’s known for; namely effort, energy and being in the right place to make the right play at the right time … Twice in the final two minutes, Noah (17 pts, 15 rebs, 4 blks) gave Chicago the lead: once with one of his ugly mid-range jumpers, and again with a tip-in. The Bulls were up one in the last 15 seconds when Luol Deng and Derrick Rose (24 pts, 10 asts) went to the line and missed all of their free throws, but after Rose’s last miss, Noah tapped the ball back out to Kirk Hinrich as the clock ran out … Taj Gibson also deserves a shout-out. He had a big block in crunch time, and on Cleveland’s last possession, Gibson forced Anderson Varejao to pump-fake twice, then throw up an even uglier J on the third try that missed everything … Until that point, it looked like Mo Williams was going to win the game by himself. Without LeBron around, and maybe because he was sporting the green headband for “Go Green” week, Mo (35 pts, 6 threes, 10 asts) had a flashback that he was playing for the Bucks again. Dude looked like a baby Isiah Thomas, dropping deep threes and throwing pinpoint creative passes to set up his bigs for buckets. He hit some ridiculous shots in the fourth that had LeBron dancing on the sidelines like he was on “Soul Train” … Didn’t the NBA say they were going to start issuing fines for guys who block the view of fans sitting in the front row? Somehow we think LeBron won’t be getting a bill from the League despite standing up almost the entire fourth quarter … LeBron wasn’t on the bench for some of the first quarter because apparently he didn’t anticipate sitting out and had to find “suitable attire.” In other words, the NBA decided to enforce the dress code this week … Jamario Moon (14 pts) had himself a decent game, hitting a three, getting a nice reverse layup, and throwing down a hard dunk in the fourth quarter. (Doug Collins: “He’s giving us the full Moon tonight!”) We almost forgot dude was on the Cavs. And on that note, Sebastian Telfair is still alive. Playing his first game in a Cleveland uniform, he had 8 points and 3 assists in 16 minutes off the bench … Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith had a lengthy debate about the Kevin Durant no-call from the other night, and still nobody brought up the fact that James Harden should have been called for an offensive foul for bear-hugging Paul Millsap and not letting him get near Durant. That’s why it’s not such a big deal if you ask us … Kobe Bryant sat out the Lakers/Nuggets game, seeing as L.A. isn’t going to catch Cleveland for the best record in the League and has the West almost locked up. So without his favorite nemesis around, J.R. Smith released the Kraken in the first half, dropping 16 points on four threes (he finished with 26) and getting his “I’m about to act like a dick” swagger warmed up … But with the Nuggets up 10 at halftime, the Lakers got their act together and rallied to take the lead in the third quarter. It was shot-for-shot down the stretch, with everybody from Pau Gasol to Jordan Farmar stepping up in Kobe’s absence to hit big shots. But on a couple crucial late possessions, Gasol (26 pts, 13 rebs, 3 blks) went back to the “soft” bank and got beasted by Nene, who hit the go-ahead free throw with about 1:30 remaining. Carmelo (31 pts) and Derek Fisher traded FT’s after that, J.R. added a freebie, and on L.A.’s last chance, down two, Fisher tried to get off a three over ‘Melo and got blocked at the buzzer … On the play in the final seconds where Chauncey and Fisher both touched the ball before it went out of bounds, Reggie Miller got all Bill Nye the Science Guy on us and made an effective argument based on the laws of physics. Reggie got it right, and Denver regained possession … In Thursday’s only other game, Tyreke Evans put up 28 points, 6 boards and 7 assists to lead the Kings past the Clippers … Lots of NBA Draft defections yesterday: John Wall led a crew of five Kentucky players (or maybe four) going pro, while Ohio State’s Evan Turner also declared. Check out the rest here. The WNBA also held its draft — how mistake-filled would it be if the NBA did theirs a couple days after March Madness? — where UConn’s Tina Charles went No. 1 to the Connecticut Sun … We didn’t even know this until yesterday, but Nolan Richardson is coaching the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock. Anybody up for 40 Minutes of Mild Disturbance? … We’re out like Kobe and LeBron …

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