Captain Hook

01.20.09 10 years ago
Kobe Bryant (photo. Chris Sembrot)

With so many down-to-the-wire finishes throughout a full morning-til-night schedule of games, MLK Day for the NBA felt like one of those Big Dance first-round Thursdays. The main event saw one-handed Kobe Bryant square off with LeBron James in a Lakers/Cavs matchup that honestly didn’t live up to the hype. Already playing with his jacked-up right pinkie, Kobe dislocated the ring finger on that same hand early into the first quarter, but stayed in the game and gutted out a 20-point, 12-assist effort, later saying he doesn’t expect to take any games off with this new injury. Meanwhile, the Cavs’ injuries (no Delonte, no Big Z) finally caught up to them, as L.A. was simply deeper, more talented and all-around better in this one, dominating the second half and winning 105-88 … The two headliners did their thing: Kobe (9-22 FG) dropped his fadeaways and tough finesse shots, like the fourth-quarter runner he hit while driving to his left and headed out of bounds, twisting his body and putting just the right arc on it to draw all net. LeBron (25 pts, 9 rebs, 4 stls, 9-25 FG) made some J’s and beasted his way to the rim, like the second-half dunk he caught on Lamar Odom when he willed his way through the Lakers defense and punched it with the left. With the “Best Player on the Planet” debate left unsettled, the difference in the game itself was guys like Trevor Ariza and Sasha Vujacic hitting timely threes, Pau Gasol putting up 22 points and 12 boards, and Sun Yue playing an inspiring 30 seconds of ball that was worthy of a Rookie/Sophomore Game nod … Celtics/Suns was a rout. At one point in the first quarter, TNT’s Reggie Miller and Kevin Harlan were assessing Boston’s success and both agreed that the key to the C’s wasn’t KG, Pierce or Ray, but Rajon Rondo. Right on cue, Rondo (23 pts, 7 asts) gave Steve Nash his patented fake-dish layup, then on the next possession, hit Garnett with a perfectly-placed ‘oop … Amare was a total non-factor. Finishing 0-for-7 from the field (3 pts) with one rebound and four turnovers, STAT didn’t do anything to make guys fear him again. Forget the offense; multiple times he lost one-on-one rebounding battles where he had the inside position, and defensively didn’t do anything either … Nothing was going Phoenix’s way. Even when they’d have a good defensive possession they’d get scored on, like when they forced the ball into Big Baby‘s hands with the shot clock running down and he nailed a 20-footer … How uncomfortable was that Terry Porter/Cheryl Miller interview after the first quarter? Porter clearly didn’t want to be there and was in monotone-answer mode, looking Cheryl dead in the eye with about six inches of space between them. Joe Namath wishes he could have gotten that close to Suzy Kolber … Already playing without David West (back spasms) against the Pacers, the Hornets lost Tyson Chandler (ankle) and Hilton Armstrong (knee) in the course of the game and had to roll with Sean Marks, Melvin Ely and James Posey as their crew of big men. Maybe the worst part about it was that Posey therefore couldn’t guard Danny Granger because he had to stay in and play the four, leaving Rasual Butler to get lit up for 30 … The Hornets still led most of the way, though, since Peja (26 pts, 5 threes) woke up feeling like it was the year 2000, and Chris Paul (27 pts, 9 asts) is just unstoppable. But Indiana stayed close, and in the final minute, T.J. Ford ripped CP in the open court and went in for a game-tying layup. It wasn’t really a rip, though: CP was trying to cross T.J. up, and in the process dribbled the ball off T.J.’s foot. And after the Hornets announcers saw the replay, they acted like T.J. had done something wrong and deserved to be on the FBI’s 10-most wanted list. After Ely put N.O. up by one and T.J. bobbled the ball out of bounds on a crucial possession, Hornets color commentator Gil McGregor went into a fit: “That’s JUSTICE! That’s KARMA! Karma came back and caught him!” … Of course McGregor was silent when Granger stuck a deep three over two guys to tie the game up with 2.5 seconds left, but that only left the door open for CP to drop a fadeaway triple at the buzzer to win it …

Derrick Rose, Dime #32

Some of the Dime crew was at MSG for Knicks/Bulls. Before the game, Al Harrington gave a short but nice speech honoring Dr. King. You could clearly see that it meant something to Al to get the opportunity on that stage, talking about MLK, “Helping our country get to where we are today — all of us.” … At first it looked like the Knicks were trying to neutralize Derrick Rose with a zone, because Jared Jeffries (starting at center) kept picking Rose up on the perimeter. Turns out that was just who Mike D’Antoni assigned to guard Rose. And surprisingly, Jeffries didn’t do a bad job. The problem was that the Knicks couldn’t work their way around Chicago’s screens, allowing Rose to set guys up and get his own shots (20 pts, 8 asts) despite not being that confident in his jumper … Danilo Gallinari scored nine points off the bench, including a monster two-hand dunk and a big three-pointer in the fourth quarter. And we don’t wanna seem like we’re hating, but the kid has potential to be the next Special Agent Jack Malone; almost immediately after checking into the game, he threw up a fadeaway over Kirk Hinrich early into the shot clock, and on his next touch threw up a prayer so ugly that some fans seemed to think it was a pass to Tim ThomasQ-Rich led the Knicks to the W, scoring 24 on an array of threes and surprisingly great post moves. Chris Duhon (19 pts) took over down the stretch, playing like he was personally trying to show the Bulls front-office what it was missing … With two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Samuel L. Jackson appeared on the MSG Jumbotron. In a scene reminiscent on the “Chappelle’s Show” skit, he screamed into the camera, “LET’S GET OUT OF OUR SEATS AND MAKE SOME NOISE!” He might as well have added, “I AIN’T SCREAMING! THAT’S JUST HOW I TALK!” … Pre-game locker room report: Larry Hughes had a jewelry collection in his stall big enough that it looked like he was trying to hawk stuff on Canal Street … E-mail from Dime’s Aron Phillips: “Derrick Rose and Tyrus Thomas are the next Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler. Mark my words.” … Other big stat lines from Monday: Yao Ming scored 31 in a win over Denver; Greg Oden had a career game with 24 points and 15 boards against the Bogut-less Bucks; Allen Iverson poured in 27 in a win over the Grizzlies; Jamal Crawford dropped 28 in a win over Washington; and Al Jefferson gave the Clippers 20 points and 17 rebounds in a Wolves win … Now that the Eagles are done and Philly fans can start paying attention to the Sixers again, naturally they would see their six-game win streak snapped. Blame Dirk NowitzkiRay Felton‘s had a run of big games and game-winners lately, but yesterday he ran into Tim Duncan. Down two in the final seconds, Felton drove and tried to put up a floater over TD, but had it sent back in his face. One Boris Diaw miss later, and the Spurs escaped with a tough win … Jamario Moon also came up short during crunch-time of Raptors/Hawks. Thirty seconds left and Toronto down one, Moon took (and bricked) an ill-advised three, which got him chewed out by Chris Bosh in the ensuing timeout. CB4 didn’t hold his tongue in the post-game, either. “Just take it to the basket, man,” Bosh told reporters about his discussion with Moon. “We can get a better shot.” Joe Johnson (28 pts) hit a jumper on the other end to push the lead to three, and Jason Kapono — who should be taking threes in the final minute — missed one at the buzzer. Bosh put it best afterward: “We’re running out of time. We’ve got to do it now or we’ll be watching the first round of the playoffs eating popcorn.” … We’re out like Moon …

Around The Web