LeBron James dropped a ridiculous triple-double last night (26 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists) but no one’s going to remember him carving up the Wizards. They’ll remember that with about 20 seconds left, he missed a wide-open wing triple that could’ve potentially been a game-winner. They’ll remember with five seconds left, he caught the ball in the corner down three, whirled around, and missed another shot. They’ll remember Washington beat the Heat, 105-101, even as the league’s sorriest team did everything they could down the stretch to lose this one. We couldn’t believe the Wizards survived a stretch of offense in the last five minutes that included two embarrassingly bad chucks from Jordan Crawford (22 points, six dimes), as well as a quick shot from Martell Webster. Eventually, Crawford took Miami’s early Christmas gift by hitting a pull-up on the break for a little breathing room … Kevin Love scored just six points, including only two buckets, but still, Minnesota had one of their best offensive showings of the year in Philly, winning 105-88. Minnesota is the worst three-point shooting team in the league, and yet they went crazy from deep during the second quarter, making four of five. It’s a simple game, and the T’Wolves got simple during the first half, making shots, moving the ball, not overdribbling, scoring buckets. The one time they tried to get fancy didn’t work – an errant behind-the-back dish from Alexey Shved (17 points) that ended up in a Thaddeus Young dunk on the other end. But besides that, the Wolves were too busy eating the Sixers up … Malik Rose, the Sixers TV color guy, had the quote of the night when he called J.J. Barea a “little fire hydrant. Small and hard to move.” … Mike Conley better have taken Zach Randolph out to dinner last night. Z-Bo saved his ass in Memphis’ ten-point overtime win over the Suns. Phoenix nearly stole one in Memphis during the final minute after Conley missed a free throw, missed a three and also had a bad turnover off the dribble 35 feet from the hoop against Luis Scola. Instead, Rudy Gay sent it to OT with a pull-up, and Randolph ate Phoenix alive from there. He’d finish with 38 points and 22 rebounds in 44 minutes of PT, just the second player (Dwight Howard) to put up those numbers in the last decade … And reports indicate the New Orleans Hornets will become the New Orleans Pelicans as early as next season. The team had always expected to move away from the Hornets since Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints, bought the team back in April. But this? The Pelicans? The bird is an important symbol in N’awlins and the name has a history with the city, but pelicans don’t inspire fear. They don’t inspire beauty. They don’t inspire anything about basketball. Forget about the history of this, or the symbolism. This is just a terrible name for a basketball team … Keep reading to hear which two no-name players beat the Lakers …
The new ushered out the old in Brooklyn last night in OKC’s entertaining 117-111 W. Russell Westbrook (25 points, nine assists) and his new Air Jordan XX8s (he wore them folded down at the top, not zipped up all the way) may not have gotten the better of the “old” Deron Williams (33 points, a half-dozen highlight plays, four or five ankle joints), who, after a terrible shooting start this year, finally got back to what he used to do: giving people the business off the dribble and from beyond the arc. Coming into the game, he was shooting below 27 percent from deep on the year. Then in the first quarter alone, he dropped two bombs on ’em … In the end, the Thunder’s offense got too much from Kevin Durant (32 points), who didn’t miss a free throw in 12 attempts, and nearly took Andray Blatche‘s (19 points, 11 rebounds) head off on a drive to the hoop that almost ended in the dunk of the year … Jerry Stackhouse got dunked on again last night, getting a tomahawk from Serge Ibaka (18 points) mashed on his forehead. But we’ll give him this: at least he goes after the shots … Was Kobe going for 30,000 points last night (he was 52 away)? He took less than a minute to answer the question, shooting the first five times he touched the ball, including once against Jeremy Lin in the post where he got behind the backboard and tried to shoot it up and over the glass. But was he going for the win? That one’s more questionable, even if he did score 39 points. The Lakers blew a big lead in Houston, losing 107-105. They didn’t deserve to win either. Anytime you give up 22 points to Toney Douglas and 21 to Greg Smith, you shouldn’t even be allowed into the gym. Pau Gasol wasn’t here to blame, either. He sat out with knee tendonitis. James Harden didn’t haunt them, either. He shot 3-for-19. Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting was somewhat of a problem, especially since he missed five of ten in the last few minutes, and eight of 16 overall. He’s so shook right now by that he doesn’t even want to go near the ball down the stretch. The Lakers are simply the most overrated team in the league right now … Also, RIP Kobe’s nice shooting percentages to start the year … And while Chicago’s offense was lost in quicksand last night against Indiana, Paul George blew up like we all thought he would this season, dropping 34 points in the Pacers’ 80-76 win. The Pacers, one of the most disappointing teams in the league to start the year, are now finally back to .500 … We’re out like the Pelicans.
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