Elevator Pitch: Forty-four points and 11 rebounds from Carmelo Anthony in arguably his best non-62 piece game of the year wasn’t enough for the Knicks. And keep in mind, this was only hours after dropping 42 on the Pelicans. While not the biggest Melo fan in the world, and perhaps this is all a perception issue, the guy seems to be doing everything within the scope of his skill set to help muscle New York into the eighth seed. They needed a W last night, but came up on the wrong side of a 129-121 double overtime score.
Game Ball: Don’t take this next sentence to the bank, but at least prepare a deposit slip. Jameer Nelson will probably be in another uniform next season thanks to Victor Oladipo. The second overall pick added another impressive game to a quality rookie season with a near triple-double of 30 points, nine rebounds and 14 assists (25 and 10 came after intermission). Let him go through the bumps and bruises of being a young player in a grown man’s game. Vic’s going to be a stud, All Star-worthy talent soon cometh. Just wait.
Supporting Actor: It’s tough to say a guy who dropped 32 points on 11-18 FG, 4-4 from three and 6-9 from the charity strip was “supporting,” but I swear it’s meant with the highest form of recognition for Aaron Afflalo.
Standings: The Magic aren’t making the playoffs. Now with the obvious out of the way, there’s this. Orlando has talented young players out the wazoo and another quality lottery pick this June bodes well for a franchise that could be very scary in the near future. Peep Zach Lowe’s profile on the Magic for further explanation.
As for the Knicks, it’s all summed up in one Carmelo Anthony quote. “It is just another game that I feel that we gave away. We were up and had a comfortable lead. They fought back and never quit.”
Your 2013-2014 New York Knicks in a nutshell. Melo and company are 3.5 games behind Atlanta for the eighth seed (aka the opportunity to get washed by Indy in the first round).
— Detroit upended Atlanta 115-107 at home. More importantly, Andre Drummond is one of the scarier young players in the league. He’s got all the buzzwords scouts, analysts and people like Erik Spoelstra pleasure themselves – “high ceiling,” “high motor” and “potential being through the roof.” The kid is petrifying. But I feel like he’s the next player to earn the Rajon Rondo “If This Guy” Award. If Andre Drummond ever learns how to shoot free throws at a 60-65% clip, goodnight. GOODNIGHT, AMERICA! His 20 points came on 10-11 from the field, but went a whooping 0-8 on free throws.
— But look at this jam over the fossil that is Elton Brand, will you? IF IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR RASHEED WALLACE TO LOSE HIS MIND OVER, IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME, DAMMIT!
— Check this Al Jefferson stat out. He’s tallied 29 points or more in eight of his last 11 games and at least 20 points in 17 of the last 19. Big Al’s 33 points and 10 rebounds were enough to help edge the Bobcats past Anthony Davis and the Pelicans 90-87.
— The Sixers won last night. By that, I mean the Sixers lost last night 124-112 the Mavericks. In a few months, Philly could be looking at a young core of Michael Carter Williams, (insert top three draft pick), Thad Young and Nerlens Noel. And a boatload of money to lure free agents. Not exactly Finals-contender worthy, but not right-now-bad either. Speaking of, God bless Thaddeus Young and his 30 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and seven steals. Only 26 games left, buddy.
— Cleveland had a chance to draft Jonas Valanciunas in 2011, but opted for Tristan Thompson. Yup. Valanciunas (18-8) and Terrence Ross (20 points) both made Cleveland regret doing so after Toronto’s 98-91 victory, snapping Mike Brown’s boys six-game winning streak in the process. The Cavs might want to focus on making the playoffs. Ava Devine said she’d have sex with the entire team if they do. Trust me. She’s as serious as a heart attack.
— You know, Sam was right about D.J. Augustin awhile back. He’s helped re-energize the Bulls, owners of a current five-game win streak. The most recent victory coming with a 117-89 blowover over Denver in which the former Longhorn had 22-5-8-2 off the bench.
— Big double-doubles from their two stars Blake Griffin (28-13) and Chris Paul (18-14) weren’t enough for the Clippers to defeat Memphis, who saw Tony Allen back in his first game after missing the previous 21 with a wrist injury. Knowing that, it’s no surprise the Clips shot only 33% in the second half. And to my knowledge, Zach Randolph did not try to pile drive Blake through the floor at any point during the game. Last night in FedExForum was also billed as “Neck Tattoo Night.” These NBA marketing departments. What will they think of next?
— It feels like San Antonio has lost more games this season than the previous three combined. But there they are at 40-16, good for the third best record in basketball. So, of course, they lost to Phoenix on Friday 106-85, thanks in large part to a 12-point second quarter.
— Point guards shooting 28 times a game isn’t the greatest strategy in the world, but when you’re All Star power forward sits with a groin injury, such is to be expected. Damian Lillard 28 points and seven assists (along with Robin Lopez’s 18 boards) helped lead Portland past Utah 102-94. A 38-21 fourth quarter push for the Blazers did the trick.
— We’re a long, long, long, long way from the 2010 NBA Finals (and a different universe away from the ’80s). But the Lakers defeated the Celtics 101-92 with the majority of the praise falling on Kent Bazemore and Marshon Brooks and their 29 combined points off the bench in their first game donning purple and gold.
— In other Lakers-related news, Kobe Bryant is expected to miss at least another three weeks with his injured left knee. Anywho, allow me to address Kobe first-hand.
I’m calling you Bean because that’s a better nickname than Vino, despite it being your middle name. If you’re reading this and I know you are, listen to me. I get that you thrive off this image of being a maniacal competitor largely because you are a maniacal competitor. Even your most staunch haters couldn’t take that away from you. You’ve at least earned that universal distinction. But, seriously, just sit the rest of this season out.
I don’t want to see you go out like this. And this comes from a guy who feels Pau Gasol deserved co-MVP of the 2010 Finals, but that’s neither here nor there. Don’t subject yourself to this, man. Just don’t do it. The Lakers are using you as a season ticket/TV package/relevance card anyway – why I don’t blame you at all for taking their money on the last contract – to get them to 2016 when Durant becomes a free agent. Plus, the last thing the Lakers need is you coming back, willing this band of misfits to three or four pointless wins and we look back seven years from now knowing the Lakers missed out the next worldwide NBA superstar by one draft pick.
You’ve got three years and nearly $80M to chalk this season as a L. Continue to rehab, join Inside The NBA as a special guest host for the playoffs where you can crack weird jokes with Shaq and come back 100% for Opening Night 2014.
Please. That’s all I’m asking. I’m pretty sure that’s all anyone is asking.
Yours In Christ,