Well that was ugly. On a night where the big stories were supposed to be Lamar Odom‘s return to Staples and Kobe‘s shot at a fifth-consecutive 40-point game, neither side could hit a shot and couldn’t get out of each other’s way. So it came down to a guy who’s shooting 33 percent and averaging 4.3 points a night. Derek Fisher (13 points) hit the game-winning three with three seconds left, and the Lakers won one of the ugliest games we’ve seen in a long time when Vince Carter‘s last-ditch look was off. Nobody all night played well. Dirk had 21 but was airballing open shots in the first half. Kobe shot 7-for-22. Really, the only player who had his A-game was Andrew Bynum (17 points, 15 rebounds). The third quarter was unwatchable, the two teams combining for 23 points … Odom (10 points) got a big ovation, a warm hug from Derek Fisher, a montage headed by the “Welcome Back Kotter Theme” and was chomping away at his gum in an effort not to smile at his former boys … Spencer Hawes is out here banging threes. Andre Iguodala is making jumpers. And the Sixers are dominating. We’re getting the feeling it’s going to stay sunny in Philadelphia. Philly beat Milwaukee by 12, and did literally whatever they wanted during the second half. Jrue Holiday had 24 points and five steals while Iggy filled up the box score again (21 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals, two blocks). The Sixers have now won by double figures in nine of their last 12 games … Malik Rose is the Sixers’ color guy this season. He’s been up and down at best, and we called him out last week when the man sounded like he was having sex on air. But whatever, he’s figuring it out. At one point yesterday, the Sixers just played great D on the Bucks for a full possession before Jon Leuer hit a three as time ran out (the first of his career). Rose sounded despondent and goes, “That really sucks” … How’s this for a way to start a back-to-back-to-back if you’re Orlando? The Magic were unconscious from behind the arc, shooting 17-of-35 from three against the Knicks. Seven of those were responsible to Ryan Anderson, who finished with a career-high 30 points. His last from deep was a dagger from the left wing, coming one possession after Hedo Turkoglu (15 points) banked in his fourth three from straight on for a five-point lead with five minutes left. Cue Carmelo Anthony (33 points, 8 rebounds) missing three straight hoops (Does New York know how to do anything outside of chuck long treys at the end of a tight game?), and the Knicks were resigned to their third straight loss… not that they didn’t have their moments. Iman Shumpert‘s pretty behind-the-back dime to ‘Melo on the break in the fourth quarter woke up the Garden and even got bystander Amar’e Stoudemire (10 points, two rebounds and the last free “get out of jail card” we’re giving him) on his feet, with ice bags on his knees, yelling … Is this an idea of what Orlando, winner of four straight, could look like A.D. (After Dwight)? With GM Otis Smith watching up in the Magic’s tunnel, Howard (eight points, 10 rebounds) wasn’t needed to dominate with his teammates shooting like they were. That seems like an oxymoron, like Green Bay winning despite an ineffective Aaron Rodgers, but Howard’s small contributions helped carry the win, too. Twice on one late possession, he rotated to cut off drives by Toney Douglas and ‘Melo at 15 feet, forcing a bad Douglas floater in a seven-point game. It never got closer … By the way, does anyone know where Orlando buried Jameer Nelson? … Was that Zach Randolph in the first half or Marreese Speights? The new Memphis big was hitting Js, doing the dirty work and even had two powerful – albeit vertically challenged – one-handed jams. Speights ended up with 16 and 12, and Memphis slapped Chicago right out of town with a 16-point win. Even if Derrick Rose had played, it might not have helped. The Grizz found their swagger by getting big nights from their three main guns. Mike Conley (20 points, eight assists, four steals) treated John Lucas like a small child. Marc Gasol rumbled his way to 19 and 10. And Rudy Gay gave the best defense in the world 24, five and five … Joe Johnson (27 points, six assists) had his fifth straight solid night, but Josh Smith was the real beast. In what’s shaping up to be his first All-Star season, Smith went bonkers for 28 points and 15 boards in the Hawks’ 93-84 win over the Raptors … Blake Griffin had 23 points and 14 rebounds (even though he was shooting free throws like a prime Olden Polynice) and gave Kris Humphries the biggest facial he’s gotten since Kim in the Clippers’ 10-point win … John Wall had the best game of his career (38 points, eight assists, four steals), and yet the Wizards still had their lunch taken at home by the Rockets and Kevin Martin (25 points). The Wizards actually scored nine points in a row at one point in the first quarter, and the run was capped when JaVale McGee came out of nowhere to smash Kyle Lowry‘s floater out to the three-point line. The block felt more like a pass than anything else because it immediately ignited Washington’s fast break. Jordan Crawford finished off the first quarter by pulling up and hitting a 40-foot three. Funny thing about it was the shot wouldn’t even have been surprising if it came within the flow of the offense … Chandler Parsons is Tom Chambers reincarnated. He’s catching people off guard all over the place this year. Blake Griffin already felt his wrath. Then in the first half yesterday, he tea-bagged JaVale McGee so viciously that this YouTube clip decided to call the jam a blow job … Keep reading to hear how OKC’s stars put Boston to sleep …
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant nearly outscored Boston by themselves in the first half, and then put them out of their misery in the final few minutes. After Boston had cut the lead to two with around five minutes remaining, Durant (28 points) sent Paul Pierce sliding in his wheelchair with a step-back three-pointer, and then drove right down the middle for an easy tomahawk. Westbrook followed that up by assisting on a Thabo Sefolosha three and then hit one of his own. Finally, Westbrook hit the real dagger, a stupid “what the ffff…nice shot!” three in Pierce’s face. It was a phenomenal night of shooting from Westbrook (26 points) in OKC’s 97-88 win, hitting a bushel of shots that you wouldn’t even make with a piece of paper and trash bin … Paul Pierce, still working his way back into shape, had easily his best game of the season so far (24 points). Kevin Harlan said he looked like he had that “spring back in his step.” Even though the Truth did look great, there has never been an instance where Paul Pierce had a “spring in his step” … Rajon Rondo nearly had a triple-double: 12 points, nine rebounds, nine assists … Has there ever been a less accomplished individual player than Kendrick Perkins to get a standing O (and video montage) on his return, AND the leading segment on the halftime show? It’s not even that we don’t like the dude. He’s a great guy. But that’s just how they do it in Boston, which kinda makes you hate the fans if you aren’t one of them and makes you love it if you’re in the game up there … There’s a reason they call him Jesus. Mr. Shuttlesworth always comes correct with Jordan heat. Last night, it was some black and gold XIIs … As for Wall’s contemporary, Ricky Rubio nearly had a triple-double (nine points, eight rebounds, eight assists) while Kevin Love (33 points, 11 rebounds) did what he does in Minnesota’s 99-86 W over Sacramento … But Luke Ridnour was the difference (25 points, nine assists), and at one point put a pass off the backboard to Love for an easy layup. He’s obviously been watching a lot of Hedo and Dwight lately … Kyrie Irving (25 points, seven dimes) had his fifth straight game of at least 20 points in Cleveland’s eight-point win over the Bobcats … Portland got 22 and nine from LaMarcus Aldridge in a seven-point win over New Orleans … Syracuse is now 20-0 after finishing off Pittsburgh … He might not be nationally known right now, but whoever gets Thomas Robinson in the draft next year is getting a beast. He dropped 27 points and 14 boards as Kansas blew away previously-unbeaten Baylor … The Pistons had to have an emergency landing yesterday after there were some big problems with their team plane. Scary stuff … And Dime was on a conference call with Jerry Colangelo and Coach K yesterday as they announced the 20 finalists for Team USA. They are: LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Lamar Odom, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams. This team should have it all, including winners. At the start of the 2008 Olympics, the only player on the team who had a gold medal was Jason Kidd. Now, between the Olympics and the World Championships, this team has 18. Colangelo also acknowledged they are LOADED at point guard. We’re assuming Chris Paul will start with Derrick Rose as his main backup (Colangelo said he believes Rose has improved more than anyone in the past few years). But after that, there’s probably one spot being fought over between Billups, Westbrook and Williams … We’re out like stopping ‘Cuse.
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