Boston Adds An All-Star, Loses A Game; Linsanity & Carmelo Get On The Same Page

For about two hours yesterday, the Boston Celtics had us double-checking our calendars and second-guessing our travel plans, because they made it look like All-Star Weekend had started on a Wednesday. The C’s played like they were already on vacation in Oklahoma City (which should have been their first hint that it wasn’t a vacation), falling behind big early and never catching up to the Thunder … Russell Westbrook (31 pts) used his arsenal of drives and mid-range pull-ups to help put OKC ahead by 14 going into the fourth quarter before the Celtics finally woke up. Paul Pierce (23 pts, 8 asts) and Ray Allen (21 pts, 7 asts) got on a roll, and a pair of techs by Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka helped, but the real key for the Celtics was remembering how to play defense. Avery Bradley was a pure pest on the perimeter – a couple of times he found himself on an island against Kevin Durant and forced KD to give the ball up. (By the way, LeBron would have gotten KILLED by his critics if he had a 6-2 guy in a post-up situation didn’t capitalize, and LBJ is shorter than Durant) … Boston cut the lead down to six with 3:30 remaining, but some backbreaking turnovers and clutch shots by Durant (28 pts, 9-22 FG) ultimately ended comeback bid … Before the game, Rajon Rondo – still sitting out his league suspension – was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team to replaced injured Joe Johnson. Rondo has been nice this year, averaging 14.8 points and 9.5 dimes, but seriously, what does Josh Smith have to do to get his first All-Star nod? … Kobe Bryant learned a long time ago that he can’t please everybody, and last night was a classic example. In a game where he did everything that every armchair Lakers coach wants him to do – i.e., giving the ball up to Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum – Kobe still put himself in position to get a lot of flak because he bricked some crucial free throws in the final seconds that allowed the Mavericks to almost steal a win … With 1:30 to go, L.A. had a three-point lead and the ball. That’s the time when everybody expects Kobe to block out the rest of the world and go for his, but he tossed some pretty lobs to Gasol and Bynum on back-to-back possessions to give the Lakers a sizable cushion. But just when the Mavs fans were filing out of the arena and the game seemed over, L.A. went cold at the free-throw line. Kobe, Matt Barnes and Gasol combined to miss six freebies in a row, and suddenly the Mavs were only down two with 27 seconds left. (Can’t really blame Gasol for his misses, though, since he’d just gotten destroyed by an MMA-style forearm to the neck from Brendan Haywood.) But thanks to a huge offensive board by Barnes and an airball by Jason Terry, the Lakers hung on for the win. And when it was over, all Lisa Salters could ask Kobe about were those free throws … The first half was kind of surreal, as Vince Carter dropped 18 points on an array of deep jumpers and Vin-tage moves to the cup. (What’s that? Corny NBA puns are the sole property of Jeremy Lin? Sorry.) But VC only scored two points after halftime … The highlight of the night, though, happened in the third quarter. Kobe (15 pts, 4-15 FG, 7 TO) had Jason Kidd in his hip pocket at the top of the key, spun left and took a football hit from Haywood before throwing in a no-look, over-the-shoulder banker … There’s something hilariously ironic about Mike Breen praising Jason Kidd for being one of the smartest, most crafty players of all time, and having his soliloquy interrupted by Metta World Peace barreling through the lane like a bull in a red carpet outlet shop … T.O. was at the game. And he got more playing time than Luke WaltonKeep reading to hear how the Knicks worked things out …

Contrary to what some media heads would have you believe, Carmelo Anthony does know how to play a little basketball, he won’t shrivel up like a raisin in the sun if he plays with a good point guard, and sometimes he even plays some defense. The highly-scrutinized ‘Melo and Jeremy Lin experiment looked like a winner last night as the Knicks put the defensive clamps on the short-handed Hawks and won for the ninth time in their last 11 games … Carmelo finished with 15 points and Lin added 17 points with nine dimes in a low-scoring affair. Of course you don’t have to do a whole lot when you’re facing a team whose starting lineup features Willie Green, Zaza Pachulia and Marvin Williams … Those who are convinced Anthony and Lin can’t co-exist are the same people who act like it’s a bad thing to have a guy on your team (‘Melo) who can get the ball in an iso and score on any defender in the world who’s not an actual Decepticon. Talk to the Timberwolves about that. With Michael Beasley getting benched for all but a few minutes on Wednesday, it was obvious the team didn’t know where to go when it needed a game-winning shot against the Jazz. Luke Ridnour ended up with the ball, and while he did hit a floater at the buzzer to send the Target Center into pandemonium, it was almost like it happened on accident. You could tell by the way J.J. Barea dropped to his knees when the shot went in, thankful for the miracle … More stat lines from Wednesday: Monta Ellis dropped 26 points and the game-winning jumper that lifted Golden State past Phoenix; Luis Scola had 19 points and 10 rebounds in Houston’s win over Philadelphia; Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton scored 22 apiece as Sacramento beat Washington; DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points and Jose Calderon handed out 15 assists to lead Toronto past Detroit; Chris Kaman had 21 points and 13 rebounds as New Orleans edged Cleveland; Tyler Hansbrough put up 22 points and 9 boards off the bench to help Indiana rout Charlotte; Dwight Howard‘s 20 points and 17 boards pushed Orlando past New Jersey; Joakim Noah posted a triple-double that somehow did not include double-digit blocks (or fouls), going for 13 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in Chicago’s win over Milwaukee; And Chris Paul dropped 36 points and 9 assists, while Blake Griffin had 27 points and 12 boards for the Clippers in a win over Denver … Did anybody catch the last few minutes of “Modern Family?” Can anybody assure us that we’re not weird for thinking Sofia Vergara with a gun was the sexiest thing to appear on TV this year? … We’re out like L.A. free throws.

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