It’s not that Blake Griffin is having a bad season. It’s just that he hasn’t been THAT Blake Griffin, the guy who breaks souls, backboards, YouTube view counts and the player who single-handedly helped make SportsCenter worthwhile for the past two seasons. For two straight years, he was consistent, would get the Clippers around 21 and 11 every night, and never went more than a few days in-between turning a defender into mashed potatoes. This year, L.A. has so much talent that sometimes he drifts in games (and think about this: has he had even one great dunk this year? Weird right?). But last night, the Clippers beat Utah 105-104, and BG was up to his old tricks. He pumped in 30 points and 11 rebounds, his highest-scoring output of the year and his seventh double-double. After the Clippers fell behind by 14 points late in the third quarter, a run to give them the lead ended at the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter when Chris Paul broke off his defender and hooked Griffin up with an alley-oop from the heavens … Later, DeAndre Jordan had the play of the game when, in the last 30 seconds, he sent back Al Jefferson‘s (16 points, ten boards) shot at the rim after Utah’s best scorer came into the lane without his big-boy pants on … The Blazers also worked their way back from a huge deficit, needing overtime to escape Charlotte by six after falling behind by 18. The Bobcats got one of those games from Ben Gordon (29 points, eight triples) where it felt like someone threw a cheat code into the equation. He was shooting and hitting from every conceivable angle. Throw in Kemba Walker (22 points), who looks like a completely different player this year and it seriously came out of nowhere, and the Bobcats probably win this game if Luke Babbitt doesn’t miraculously remind everyone he’s still alive (nine points, a trio of huge three-pointers) … Byron Mullens (12 points, 12 rebounds) had a ridiculous dunk on LaMarcus Aldridge (25 points, 13 boards) where LMA tried to take a charge, realized it was probably too late once he saw Mullens jumping from somewhere just inside the charity stripe, and by then couldn’t do anything other than get a face full of jersey. It also felt like the first time all season that Mullens drifted inside the three-point line … With both Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters out with injuries, there was literally no reason to watch Cleveland (outside of Anderson Varejao going after every loose ball like his life depended on it). The Cavs looked lifeless in Detroit, getting spanked 89-79. Brandon Knight again led the way for the Pistons with 17 points … In other stat lines: Robin Lopez and Ryan Anderson combined for 43 points as New Orleans smoked Milwaukee, 102-81. In the loss, Monta Ellis had the shot of the night. At the end of the first half, Ellis had a pass near midcourt tipped, but he recovered the ball, and in one motion hit a running three-pointer off the glass … Despite leading by almost 20 in the middle of the fourth, Denver held on to barely nudge Toronto, 113-110, as Corey Brewer, JaVale McGee, Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried all had at least 16 points … And the Magic took out another Western Conference playoff contender, beating Golden State by eight as Arron Afflalo and Big Baby led the way with 24 a piece … It sounds like Manny Pacquiao, in preparation for his next fight, got into the ring with a big time heavyweight: Charles Barkley. Reggie Miller was also in attendance (they were there shooting a soon-to-be-released TV special), trying to become the first ballplayer to have ever enticed Manny, Michael and Kobe to fights … Keep reading to hear about the unveiling of one of the most unique basketball sneakers ever …
We never thought we’d say this, but Jordan Brand convinced us yesterday to buy some eight inch tall basketball shoes. Our man Sean Sweeney was in New York City for the official unveiling of the Air Jordan XX8, and initially when they first brought out the sneaker (completely zipped up), he had the same reaction as everyone else in the building/on Twitter/in the blogsphere: “What the…?” The XX8 is definitely different, and it’s different in the Jordan way: high-end materials that scream “this is more than just a basketball shoe.” This one, even though it has some incredible tech in there like a Dynamic Fit technology that uses internal fingers to support the midsole, and a game-changing Jordan Flight Plate that maximizes how the Nike Zoom units work, definitely is exactly that. Why? Well, what do you first notice about the shoe? It’s the black blank canvas (which is going to play a big part in crazy future colorways). The lightest Jordan shoe to date – and also the most tested – can be worn in three different ways: zipped all the way up, unzipped, or even with the flaps completely down. You’ll be able to hoop with any style because all of the tech comes from the goodies inside. Overall, the event was dope: Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook were in the house (Westbrook will be debuting these joints on Tuesday night). So was Tinker Hatfield, one of the GOAT sneaker designers. The whole place felt like the Matrix: everything was green and black, and there was even a misty atmosphere on the second floor of the event. There were blackout and whiteout displays of every Jordan ever in all black and all white. We got opening talks from ‘Melo and Spike Lee on the significance of New York City basketball. We got up with Westbrook to talk about style. It was dope. But by far the coolest part of the event was when Tinker read a text he got from Michael Jordan during the design process. The sneaker designer asked MJ what “stealth” meant to him (the theme of stealth plays a huge role in this shoe). Jordan responded with: “Stealth is like black cat. It’s an automatic aircraft. You can’t f— with an automatic aircraft. It’s like my game. By the time you see it, it’s too f—— late.” Is that not the most MJ quote you’ve ever heard? Expect an official reaction piece, with more details on the shoe and thoughts from Tinker, Westbrook and Jordan Brand Developer Josh Heard, from us later today. As for the shoe, it will be available in Houston only on February 15, 2013, and then it’ll take over stores nationwide on Saturday, February 16. Retail price will be $250 … We’re out like Barkley vs. Pacquiao.
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