LeBron drops 51 on Orlando; Spurs beat Lakers in thriller

LeBron James

Whatever fools out there still believe LeBron James isn’t a big-game clutch performer really should pay attention to the past and the present. The current NBA standings provide enough evidence to prove LBJ was working miracles by carrying the Cavs anywhere beyond the first round, the numbers show he gets it done, and the highlight reels don’t lie about the game-winners and clutch shots on his resume. It’s pretty clear by now that LeBron thrives on the big stage, like last night’s national TV tip in Orlando when he dropped 51 points (17-25 FG), 11 rebounds and 8 assists in a Miami win … LeBron scored 23 in the first quarter, going 9-for-9 from the field and 5-for-6 at the line. Like Stan Van Gundy said, the Magic couldn’t do anything because even when they stayed in front of LeBron, he was sticking jumpers on autopilot … Mid-game tweet from Hawks rookie Jordan Crawford, a.k.a. the kid who became famous in college when he dunked on LeBron: “Bron out here serving!!!! This is not Avatar this is the real thing!!” … Despite losing D-Wade (14 pts) temporarily with a lower back contusion, Miami was up by 16 going into the fourth quarter. But Orlando wouldn’t go away, and suddenly it was just a three-point game with 10 seconds left after Jameer Nelson (22 pts, 6 rebs, 6 asts) hit a trey. Jason Richardson knocked the ensuing inbound pass off LeBron’s leg, giving Orlando the ball back with a chance to tie. They missed J.J. Redick open the corner, though, and Ryan Anderson bricked a three that he rushed unnecessarily … Bad timing: Steve Kerr said Mike Miller is “deceptively quick” at the exact moment the camera zoomed in and showed Miller laboring to run downcourt like Peter Griffin‘s horse, ‘Til Death … And did you hear when Kerr got all defensive about drafting Earl Clark? All Marv Albert did was mention that Kerr picked Clark when he was in Phoenix, and Kerr snapped, “What do you mean by that? Was that a shot?” Settle down, Steve … No, that was not Gheorghe Muresan sitting in the front row in Orlando. That was the GEICO caveman. Seriously, they had him at the game … Somehow we’re not seeing a career in broadcasting for Tony Parker when he’s done playing. After Antonio McDyess‘ tip-in at the buzzer gave San Antonio a win over the Lakers in one of the most exciting games of the year, TP’s analysis for Cheryl Miller was, “I’m very happy he made that shot.” … Early on it looked like San Antonio was going to grind out the kind of W that is painful for everybody involved, but Ron Artest sparked some life in L.A. with his hustle and defensive playmaking (even though he couldn’t dribble to save his life sometimes) to make it entertaining …Read More>>

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Blake Griffin

All-Star

The fourth quarter began with Kobe, Pau Gasol, Duncan and Parker on the bench. The Spurs were up five when the stars checked back in with seven minutes to go, and they kept a slim lead until Lamar Odom hit a triple to cut it to one with one minute left, then Gasol (19 pts, 7 rebs) gave L.A. the lead at the line with 22 seconds on the clock. Both plays were the result of Kobe (16 pts, 9 rebs, 10 asts) passing the rock … Manu Ginobili missed an open three on the other end, Parker missed a runner, but after L.A. knocked the rebound out of bounds, it was still Spurs ball with 4.6 seconds left. Duncan took a fadeaway and missed, but McDyess was there for the tip-in … Ginobili (14 pts, 8 asts, 5-17 FG) was just off all night. He missed open shots, almost killed San Antonio with crucial turnovers, and he couldn’t even get his flops to pay off. But there was one moment at the halftime buzzer when Manu almost bumped into Jack Nicholson on the sideline that was a memorable meeting of two great actors … Speaking of faces in the crowd, there were about 4-5 people sitting near San Antonio’s bench that looked more like NBA players than Chris Quinn … Did anybody else see Gary Neal‘s falling-out-of-bounds shot at the first quarter buzzer and think of Jeff Malone? … Thursday’s only other NBA game saw the Warriors beat the Bucks behind Monta Ellis‘ 24 points … In case you missed it, the 2011 All-Star reserves were announced. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Al Horford, Joe Johnson and Chris Bosh made it for the East, while Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Duncan, Gasol and Ginobili will rep the West. Snubs? LaMarcus Aldridge, Ray Felton, Kevin Love and Monta top the list … Funniest moment of the All-Star unveiling was during Rondo’s highlight reel. In between the steals, dimes and layups, they showed Rondo release two jumpers, followed by a random ball going into a hoop that could have been ripped from anywhere. It was a straight movie/sitcom move … After Kenny Smith yelled on national TV, “His team, and his teammates are holding him back!” regarding K-Love’s snub — which you know won’t be an issue after David Stern names him as Yao‘s replacement — we can pretty much guarantee the Wolves win their next game. That is, if they have any heart or pride … We’re out like the caveman …

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