Head and Shoulders

LeBron James and Kevin Durant didn’t go head-to-head as much as you would have liked to see during Cavs/Thunder, but they did square off on the most important play of the game — and LeBron came out on top. OKC was up one in the final seconds of the fourth when LeBron got a rebound, pushed the ball upcourt and found Boobie Gibson open for the go-ahead triple. (Can you blame Boobie for constantly walking around with a goofy smile on his face? He gets paid to do one thing — shoot the ball — while perhaps the best player in the world does the hard work to make him famous, AND Boobie gets to go home to Keyshia Cole every night. That’s not even fair to the rest of us.) Anyway, Thunder ball, and it’s Durant vs. James: KD crossed over left and had a step on him, but LBJ plucked his layup out of the air for the game-saving block with two seconds left … Before that, LeBron (37 pts, 9 rebs, 12 asts) spent most of the night being guarded by James Harden and Thabo Sefolosha, while Durant (34 pts, 10 rebs) was lined up across from Anthony Parker and Jawad Williams … Meanwhile, Shaq had a favorable matchup of his own, beasting the likes of Nenad Krstic, Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka on his way to a season-high 22 points. There was a time when 22 for Shaq was hardly “beasting,” but considering he was moving around like Giant Gonzalez against the Lakers the other night, the bar has been lowered … Alert the Kobe cult followers: Mike Brown has drawn a line in the sand. “[LeBron] is head and shoulders above everybody else right now,” Brown said after the game. Have fun with that one … Had things gone a little differently, Emeka Okafor would be making just as many headlines (OK, almost as many headlines) this morning as LeBron. Hornets/Nuggets was tied in the final seconds of the fourth, and Carmelo Anthony had a mismatch with Darius Songaila on him. ‘Melo got into the paint easily, but Okafor was there waiting and sent the shot back in his face … Arron Afflalo‘s two early threes gave Denver a cushion in overtime, and even after ‘Melo (30 pts, 11 rebs) had to leave when his ankle got Bruce Bowen‘d by Devin Brown, they held on for the win … Not to say this was a moral victory for the Hornets, but Chris Paul (26 pts, 10 asts) and crew at least proved the Nuggets aren’t in their head following last year’s playoff debacle … Once upon a time, you knew what you were getting from Magic/Bobcats: Dwight Howard would unleash some form of holy hell on Emeka Okafor, and Orlando would remind the ‘Cats they’re still small-time. Now it’s more interesting. Charlotte is right in the playoff mix, and while Okafor has moved on, Dwight has been at least intriguing in his inconsistency. The boards and blocks are no problem, but he’s far from a lock to hang 25-35 points on the ‘Cats or any team right now … Last night Howard posted 10 points (4-11 FG), 20 rebounds and seven blocks against Nazr Mohammed and DeSagana Diop, and the Magic got all they could handle from the streaking Bobcats, who had won nine straight at home going into the game. Orlando led by as much as 16 in the second half, but Charlotte dominated the fourth quarter — sparked by D.J. Augustin‘s shooting (22 pts, 5 threes) — and forced overtime on Stephen Jackson‘s layup with one second left. The Magic dominated the extra frame, though, going on an 11-0 run led by Jameer Nelson (21 pts, 7 asts) and never looking back … Other big stat lines from Saturday: Brandon Jennings put up 18 points, 13 assists and three steals to lead Milwaukee past Minnesota; Dwyane Wade slapped 27 points (11-15 FG), eight dimes and three blocks on Sacramento in a blowout; Thaddeus Young had 22 and 10 boards as Philly beat Indiana; Brad Miller scored 25 to lead Chicago past Houston; and Mehmet Okur posted 20 points, 11 boards and three blocks in Utah’s destruction of the poor Nets; Goran Dragic scored 18 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to help the Suns beat the Warriors; and Martell Webster dropped 28 and six treys in Portland’s win at Detroit … Did you see the near-brawl in The Palace? Yes, it almost happened again. It started in the third quarter when Rudy Fernandez blew past Charlie Villanueva, so CV grabbed him around the neck and threw him down. (Hey, at least he was trying to play some kind of defense.) Juwan Howard was first on the scene and pushed Charlie, and Charlie shoved Juwan back. Then everybody else got involved, and while the altercation did spill into the crowd right along the baseline, there weren’t any punches or beer cups or flying chairs or David Harrison sightings … We’re out like CV’s D …

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