Two things were clear in Oakland last night. Clearly, Golden State has a ceiling, and the Heat don’t. And clearly, LeBron James is really freakin’ good, like “the youngest player to ever score 20,000 points” good. In Miami’s 17-point win, James passed the 20,000-point mark near the end of the first half on a double-pump runner, and it was just one great highlight on a night of Miami highlights that also included James recording his 5,000 career assist, and enough Wade/’Bron big plays to last a week. LeBron now needs to average around 22 points a game for the next decade to catch Kareem. Does he do it? … Hopefully Chicago’s 107-105 overtime win in Toronto doesn’t give Stacey King more reason to keep calling Luol Deng “Luol Dangerous.” But we really can’t blame him either, not after watching Deng (19 points) win this one with a pull-up jumper in the closing seconds of the extra session where he pulled the patented Michael Jordan push off on Landry Fields. It ended a fun, but really weird night for both teams. The back-n-forth fourth quarter evolved into the Bulls running their crunch time offense through Joakim Noah (16 points, 14 rebounds) at the foul line, and on the other side, Kyle Lowry staged his own flop-a-thon. It was enough to get Kirk Hinrich to foul out, and to draw a whistle on a three-pointer against Nate Robinson. Lowry (26 points, seven assists) was Toronto’s gameplan during the big moments. He scored over the trees near the end of regulation, and then dropped in a high-arcing floater to tie it up seconds before Deng’s game-winner. Naturally, with the game on the line in overtime, Toronto went to the guy that starts over Lowry (Jose Calderon) and he was long on a good look at a triple … With 36 points and 12 boards, Carlos Boozer had one of his best games since coming to Chicago … Greivis Vasquez might be Maximus Decimus Meridius in disguise, and last night we were waiting on him to turn to the crowd and ask, “Are you not entertained!?” In the Hornets’ 12-point win, Vasquez (15 points, 11 rebounds) checked off another elite point guard on the list of cats he’s beheaded by surprise this season, out-dueling Rajon Rondo (11 assists) in Rondo’s own building. Boston was rolling in the first quarter, but by the third period, they looked like the old guys at the Y who sit out for a few games and just completely lose their legs. It was then that the Celtics got ran off the floor by a 17-4 N’awlins run, a team that didn’t even have Eric Gordon … Monty Williams and Doc Rivers are boys, so who was the one who called in convincing the Hornets to sit Gordon so Austin Rivers could get some shine? Rivers took advantage in front of pops and a cheering mom. Sort of. He scored eight and made three of six shots, which is a huge improvement for him … Keep reading to hear about the most predictable thing we saw last night …
Watching Kyrie Irving in crunch time of Cleveland’s 93-88 takeout of Portland was like watching The Man Show back in the day. Straight entertainment. He dropped 16 points from the end of the third quarter on, and was so good with the rock, the Blazers started trapping him 30 feet from the rim. Irving (31 points) had a play against Damian Lillard (13 points, seven dimes) where he drove right, had the ball stripped, got it back and then hit a leaner off the glass to put the Cavs up three with just seconds remaining … James Harden (5-for-23 shooting, 20 points) was involved in both of the deciding plays in Houston’s five-point loss to the Mavs. Neither one of them was good. First, he got a face full of Elton Brand on a trip to the rim, and O.J. Mayo (18 points) converted the block into two free throws on the other end to break a tie in the last minute. Then Harden had one more chance, but he bricked a layup (and then milked an eye injury for like five minutes) and Dallas hit the freebies … Was any outcome more predictable last night than Atlanta coming home after that disgusting 40-point loss in Chicago and kicking the crap out of Brooklyn? If the Hawks hadn’t come with some semblance of anger/energy/fuel, someone should’ve checked their pulse to see if they’d been replaced by zombies from The Walking Dead. At least they passed that test, pummeling the red-hot Nets by 14 … Deron Williams (5-for-18 shooting, 12 points, nine assists) admitted earlier this week that he doesn’t think he should be an All-Star, and after watching Jeff Teague (28 points, 11 dimes) turn him into Dee Brown, we agree … In other story lines from Wednesday night: Indiana’s vaunted defense was shredded by the Magic, 97-86, losing despite getting 20 points and 10 boards from Paul George; OKC rolled over Denver, 117-97, as Russell Westbrook scored 25 of his 32 in the first half; San Antonio clamped down on Memphis’ offense in the second half of their 21-point win, holding the Grizz to 28 points in the game’s last 24 minutes, all while Tim Duncan (19 points, five blocks) looked like the best big man on the floor; and Sacramento took out Washington by one after John Wall (10 dimes) missed two late free throws and Bradley Beal (26 points) missed a runner in the closing seconds (Wall had another desperation shot that was off) … Coming out of the J.R. Smith School for Chucking, Kentucky high school senior Rebecca “Becca” Greenwell knocked in 17 three-pointers in one game on Monday night. She took 28 shots – all from beyond the arc – and now might be getting voicemails at her house from the Bobcats’ brass … We’re out like a Manti Te’o/Sarah Phillips hookup.
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