Kyrie Irving Makes His All-Star Case By Lighting Up Rajon Rondo; OKC Makes A Statement

By: 01.23.13  •  3 Comments
Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving (photo. D.L. Anderson)

Rajon Rondo is one of the best defensive point guards in the NBA. The Boston Celtics, over the past 6-7 years, have been one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. And yet Rondo nor the C’s could do a damn thing with Kyrie Irving last night. On his way to 40 points, Irving dominated the fourth quarter and handed out buckets to the guys in green like they were demo CDs … The game was back-and-forth until the final minute, when Irving juked Paul Pierce with a Euro Step for a layup, then skated past Rondo (17 pts, 13 rebs, 8 asts) and ran over Jared Sullinger for an and-one. The Cavs went on to win 95-90, the Celtics lost their fourth straight game, and Irving settled any argument over whether he should be an All-Star this year … Kyrie wasn’t just jacking up shots, either. He added five assists, and he played a significant role in Tristan Thompson‘s 21-point effort. This was a pretty accurate vision of what the Cavs’ future should look like: Kyrie and Tristan as the dangerous outside-inside combo flanked by athletic playmakers like Alonzo Gee (he had a vicious dunk over KG) and active bigs like Tyler Zeller (10 rebs, 3 blks). If Dion Waiters had shot better than 3-for-12, it would’ve been a perfect night … The Cavs also made a trade Tuesday, acquiring Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a future first-round pick from the Grizzlies for Jon Leuer. Yeah, that’s it. Obviously the Grizzlies are trying to dump as much salary as possible, but this trade wouldn’t even get approved on NBA 2K13. We loved Jon Leuer when he was beasting kids at Wisconsin, but he has to go down in history as the worst player to ever return FOUR bodies in a trade … Not too long ago, Orlando and Detroit would’ve made for an intriguing playoff series. Now the only thing these two rebuilding franchises might be battling for in May is the No. 1 pick in the Lottery. The difference between them right now is that the Pistons actually have a promising young core. Four of those guys — Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey and Andre Drummond — scored in double figures in Detroit’s blowout win over Orlando last night. They were creating turnovers, flying up and down the court, throwing lobs, dunking and generally turning the Magic into highlight-reel fodder … J.J. Redick (26 pts, 5 threes) was the only guy who showed up for the Magic. They were so bad that muscle-bound Busta Rhymes (who performed at halftime) looked like he might be able to get a 10-day with them … Keep reading to hear about a conference finals preview …

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Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant (photo. Rob Hammer)

Last night’s marquee matchup could be your Western Conference Finals preview: Thunder at Clippers. Chris Paul (knee) sat this one out, but Eric Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford picked up enough of the backcourt slack to keep L.A. close before OKC pulled away for a 109-97 win … Kevin Durant went off as usual, dropping 32 points to go with seven rebounds and seven assists, and taking over the second half. With Caron Butler and Matt Barnes taking turns being draped all over him, KD was hitting step-back threes, runners and pull-ups. He only took three trips to the free throw line, but it’s not like he wasn’t being aggressive. One time Durant blew by Barnes — who gave up as soon as KD had a half-step on him, turned around and started complaining to his teammates — and unleashed a one-hand dunk that was as hard as anything Blake Griffin has thrown down this month … Blake finished with 31 points and 11 boards, but his most memorable play was the left-handed behind-the-back pass into traffic that was intercepted easier than a Tony Romo offering … Weirdest play of the night: Serge Ibaka went up for a jumper that Caron swatted out of bounds — and right into the face of a referee. Caron really spiked it, too, so it bounced off the ref’s dome like a pinball. The ref took it like a man, even signaling Thunder ball from his butt like nothing happened … So while it wouldn’t be right to say the Thunder proved they’re the best team in the West given that CP3 was sidelined, this was still a statement win. Going into Staples Center and handling a near-full-strength Clips team is kind of a big deal, and right now it’s clear that nobody in L.A. can neutralize Kevin Durant … Bucks-Sixers was strictly for the NBA League Pass junkies. If you wanted to watch two of the league’s most underrated young backcourts, this one gave you Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner. Otherwise, not much to see here. Milwaukee got the W thanks to Jennings (25 pts) and a beast effort from Ersan Ilyasova (27 pts, 16 rebs, 3 stls) … On the college scene, Louisville lost to Villanova in Philly, the Cardinals’ second straight loss since being named the No. 1 team in the country last week. Wake Forest upset NC State, Kansas survived an upset bid by K-State, and Michigan State narrowly avoided being upset by Wisconsin on the road. Kentucky lost to Alabama, but we’re not even sure if that’s considered an upset at this point. John Calipari might actually get a couple of his star freshmen to stick around and become sophomores after this season, but not for the reasons he would’ve wanted … We’re out like Serena

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