After sitting out five games, and then taking the All-Star Game as an opportunity to chill, Derrick Rose is back. With 32 and nine on Tuesday night, and then after he sauteed Tony Parker for 29 points last night in Chicago’s 96-89 win, the back problems are a thing of the past. Parker looked like a pup trying to curtail Rose’s drives, and on the other end shot 5-for-16 in one of those performances where you can visibly see the difference between an MVP and an All-Star … But the Spurs are still tough like leather at home, and Gary Neal (21 points) never seems to miss in the fourth. He scored 15 in the fourth, and it wasn’t until Luol Deng‘s wing three with 40 seconds left that the Bulls finally wrapped up the win … Why doesn’t anyone truly believe in Philly? Just check the last three minutes of last night’s game tape in their four-point loss to OKC. The only good shot they got was a corner three from Jrue Holiday, which he clanked. Other than that, they were throwing the ball around and looking as discombobulated as a summer league team. No one really wanted it. People were going sideways. Holiday (18 points) had a bad turnover and Elton Brand took a couple of really difficult shots as the Sixers went about five minutes without a field goal. Meanwhile on the other end, the Thunder couldn’t make a damn free throw to put it away. James Harden missed two straight, causing Malik Rose to point out: “Hard to shoot with your hands around your neck.” In the end, on the most critical possession of the game, Lou Williams predictably turned it over before the Sixers could get a shot … Russell Westbrook (22 points, 13 rebounds) was an absolute animal on the glass … If Philly really needed some more points, they should’ve campaigned to make this Iggy dunk worth five or six. It was that nice … If it comes down to it, Dallas definitely doesn’t want to see the Grizz in the playoffs. They were beat up by Memphis for a third consecutive time last night, losing 96-85 after Dirk had to leave the game early. Is there a more unknown improved player than Mike Conley? He had 20 points, 10 assists and four steals last night, and leads the NBA with the most 6-assist, 2-steal games this season. Memphis scored over 40 points in the paint in the second half ALONE, and down the stretch, every time Roddy Beaubois (16 points) hit a floater or Jason Terry (18 points) made a J to keep it close, Memphis responded with a layup … Ryan Anderson had 23 and 15 as Orlando survived John Wall‘s 33 to beat Washington, 102-95. Hopefully Stan Van Gundy was blowing him kisses in the locker room after that rebounding effort … And Denver got back on track with a 104-95 win over Portland after the Nuggs had seven guys in double figures, paced by Ty Lawson‘s 18 … Keep reading to hear how Darth Vader and Kobe Bryant are connected …
As Andrew Bynum said in the postgame: “That’s vintage Kobe. He always puts on a show.” With a mask that had him looking like a Hollywood villain, Bryant dropped 31, seven and eight in the Lakers’ easy 104-85 win against Minnesota. The question before the game was all “how would Kobe respond to the concussion, and perhaps more importantly, how would he respond to rocking the Rip Hamilton?” Bryant hit his first shot and never stopped. Kenny Smith said it the other night on NBATV: when Kobe gets hurt, you might as well book him for 30. How prophetic was that? … Andrew Bynum also had a monster alley-oop finish. One of the best of his career … David Lee (22 points, 12 rebounds) scored twice in the closing minute – once on a J and another on his patented “fake the handoff, hit a runner off the glass” move – to push Golden State to a surprising win in Atlanta, 85-82. Trade rumors? Monta Ellis had 21 points and eight assists, but he also took 27 shots, so you can make your own assumptions on whether the rumors are hitting him hard. In recent days, there have been reports Orlando has reached out to Golden State about bringing Ellis into a Dwight Howard-to-New Jersey trade. They’re not sold on the Nets’ package of players, and getting Ellis could make the difference … Rajon Rondo responded in a big way to his own trade rumors, going for a triple-double (15 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) one night after getting his shine stolen by Kyrie Irving. Boston beat Milwaukee 102-96 to return again to .500 … You know things are clicking when the hometown crowd is chanting “We want Novak!” The Knicks got extra saucy last night, lighting up the scoreboard fuses with 120 points in their big win over the Cavs. Jeremy Lin had perhaps his most efficient game of the season (13 assists to one turnover, 19 points on 12 shots) and the entire team chipped in so much – including the cyborg sent from outer space to shoot threes, Steve Novak (17 points) – that everyone forgot Amar’e Stoudemire is still looking like Quincy McCall after knee surgery … Iman Shumpert had one of the better dunks of the night, so nasty even J.R. Smith had to hold himself back (and he had his own crazy lob from Baron Davis). That wasn’t it for the rook either. He caught a lob from almost midcourt … Too bad nobody saw Greg Monroe gobble up 20 rebounds and 19 points as the Pistons gave Charlotte a 109-94 beatdown … Toronto got 21 points from DeMar DeRozan in their 11-point win in New Orleans … Utah regained their footing with a blowout win over the Rockets behind 27 off the bench from C.J. Miles … And free League Pass until March 4 … We’re out like Clipper Darrell.
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