Basketball as a whole won on Sunday. Don’t believe me? Let’s run through the chain of events, shall we?
— The Knicks continue to look like an entirely different team as they blitzed the defending champion Dallas Mavericks in the Garden. Looking at the glass half full, watching J.R. Smith in New York could be one of the most entertaining things in a long time. We can only hope come the playoffs they sit his sister beside Spike Lee making for the greatest trash-talking fan combo M.S.G. has seen in decades. Steve Novak found the key of life, which is basically just standing at the three point line and wait for Jeremy Lin to get him the ball. And speaking of Lin, that guy continues to win in all walks of life by dropping 28 points, 14 assists and five steals (seven turnovers, but who’s counting?). Admit it, seeing the Knicks relevant again is dope as hell, right?
— Since their February 8th loss to the Magic, the Miami Heat have played their best ball since Pat Riley outsmarted every executive in basketball almost two summers ago. Against those same Magic, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade put on a show in front of former President Bill Clinton combining for 52 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists. Outside of an Orlando run to end the first quarter, the game was never really in doubt. Oh, feel free to throw a punch in my direction, but LeBron has a legitimate shot at winning MVP this year.
— Pending you had Ersan Ilyasova on your fantasy team, you probably kissed your girl and watched The Notebook with her you were so happy he managed to bring down 25 rebounds to go along with 29 points. This is where you say, “It was against the Nets though!”
— I swear all of my friends who are Celtics fans watch each game in a padded room. What happened Sunday probably put them in one. Not only did they lose to the Pistons (again!), Rajon Rondo will soon feel the Wrath of Stern with a hefty fine and suspension for throwing the ball in an official’s chest.
Had the games ended there, the league could have called it a day and went home happy. But what materialized in the highly entertaining Oklahoma City and Denver game – which could very well be another six or seven game thriller in the playoffs – was literally one for the history books. Russell Westbrook takes more than enough criticism for his shot selection and on court chemistry with Durant, but last night presented one of those games where you text your friend simultaneously asking and saying, “And people want to break THIS up?!” Not since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen have two teammates went for 50 and 40 points in the same game, respectively. K.D.’s 51 on 67% shooting and Russie’s 40 (basketball’s top scoring tandem) was so over-powering, while at times appearing so fluid, it’s scary to think they’re still learning the other’s game.
Meanwhile, KD35 and the new Agent Zero were only part of the history making night. Serge Ibaka’s 14 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks (and it really felt like he had more than 11) set NBA history as the first team ever to produce a 50 point scorer, 40 point scorer and a triple-double from three different players in one game. It was a stat nerd’s wet dream and a realization as to how talented Oklahoma City actually is. That being said, the Nuggets had seven players in double figures, led by Aaron Afflalo’s 27. Brain farts in the fourth quarter helped OKC erase a five point deficit and send the game to overtime. Yet, despite the loss, Denver proved they’re not only one of the fastest teams in the Association, but will be pure hell come spring time. Once Danillo Galinari and Rudy Fernandez return from injuries and Wilson Chandler escapes overseas captivity, what franchise in their right mind is sitting around saying they want to play this Denver squad in the first round?
The story of the evening, however, is Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka’s record setting evening. As it stands, a mere two or three game losing skid changes everything and the world will revert instantly back to questioning the Westbrook/Durant union. For Thunder fans, they’ll tackle that bridge whenever it arrives. Heading into the All Star break, we hold this truth to be momentarily self-evident. The Oklahoma City Thunder have the month June in their eyes.