As much as ESPN hyped the head-to-head matchup between Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum before last night’s Magic/Lakers game, you would’ve thought that, you know, Bynum had actually done something to earn space on Dwight’s marquee. But choosing to ignore all the warning signs that this might be the most disappointing big-man “battle” since Emeka Okafor turned Luke Schenscher into an Australian Toaster Biscuit in the 2004 NCAA title game, the national media seemed bent on making Howard/Bynum the dominant headline on the NBA schedule … Unfortunately, that headline belonged in the Police Blotter section. Six minutes into the first quarter, Howard served Bynum with a nice lefty hook shot and a back-to-the-basket shimmy that led to a finger roll, and Bynum wound up on the bench with two fouls. Bynum came back to start the second quarter, but after blowing a defensive assignment and then picking up his third foul, he was on the bench less than three minutes in. Not coincidentally, the Magic built a 20-point lead during the second quarter that paved the way for a 92-80 victory … Howard finished with 21 points and 23 rebounds in 45 minutes, while Bynum had 10 points and 12 boards in 26 minutes. Even though a lot of Bynum’s production happened in what was essentially garbage time, we know some of the more staunch Bynum/L.A. supporters will argue that Bynum was on pace for a 20-and-20 stat line had he played as many minutes as Howard. But here’s the thing: Part of being a legit NBA star is staying on the court to show what you can do. We can paint all kinds of “if” scenarios for guys like Bynum, but guys like Howard actually take care of business … This game looked a lot like last year’s Mavericks/Lakers series. The Magic rained threes all over the place (12-for-27), and just when it looked like L.A. had figured out a defensive solution, one of Orlando’s guards would play the J.J. Barea role and get an easy layup out of the half-court set … Kobe Bryant, naturally, tried to get L.A. back into it by himself. We know it’s fun for Kobe-haters to look at his FGA’s and puff their chests out when it’s anything over 20, but if you watched this game you’d know that Kobe (30 pts, 11-22 FG) didn’t really have a choice. He was performing miracles out there — running hooks over three defenders, Gregory Hines-level footwork to set up lefty scoop shots, fadeaway bankers plus the foul — but his teammates never showed up to support him. Metta World Peace was so bad (8 mins, 0-4 FG, 1 PF and NOTHING ELSE), he made 27 people quit the Peace Corps last night just to disassociate themselves from his name … If you’ve ever flipped to a Magic game, seen Big Baby Davis in the post and thought you’d stumbled upon the premiere of Honey, I Shrunk Dwight (And Put Him on a Beef Brisket Diet) on ABC Family, just know that you’re not alone … <a href="https://dimemag.com/2012/01/dwight-howard-steals-andrew-bynums-lunch-money-showtime-sequel-in-california/2/"Keep reading to hear about that “other” Los Angeles team …
While the Lakers look like they’re ready for a fall, the other California teams are showing a lot of promise. The Kings were so sharp in the first half against San Antonio last night that Sean Elliott and his announce partner said Tyreke Evans and Co. looked like the “Showtime” Lakers. And they weren’t being ridiculous … Evans (23 pts, 11 rebs, 7 asts) ended the first quarter with a buzzer-beating fadeaway three, and in the second he hit Tiago Splitter with a ball-fake Euro Step move that might have made the big man fart and bite his tongue at the same time, but the Spurs stayed close … Tony Parker (24 pts, 6 asts) eventually took over and had the Spurs ahead by six late in the fourth quarter, but clutch shots by DeMarcus Cousins and John Salmons, and some defensive playmaking by Evans kept the Spurs from pulling away. Tied up with under a minute to go, Evans hit a fadeaway J from the elbow for the lead, and on San Antonio’s final possession Danny Green airballed a runner … Kawhi Leonard lost in his first pro meeting with college rival Jimmer Fredette, but there was one positive: The production booth finally got Kawhi’s name and photo matched up correctly. As recently as this Wednesday, the screen graphic for San Antonio’s starting five had a picture of Kemba Walker above Leonard’s name. Last night it was fixed … WTF Line of the Night from Sean Elliott: “When a big guy scores, you continue to milk him!” Ummm, shouldn’t you continue to feed him instead? That gave us a really disturbing mental picture involving Elliott and David Robinson… The nightcap in ESPN’s doubleheader pitted the Clippers against the T-Wolves, where hopefully the “Lob City” bandwagoners learned that having two good basketball players in the frontcourt is just as valuable as having two good athletes. And yes, we’re talking about Darko Milicic … While Blake Griffin (21 pts, 10 rebs) and DeAndre Jordan (2 pts, 11 rebs, 3 blks) had their usual mixtape of dunks and swats, Darko (22 pts, 7 rebs) and Kevin Love (17 pts, 14 rebs) matched them shot-for-shot with crisp footwork, solid positioning — you know, all of that boring ol’ fundamental junk that puts a hop in Hubie Brown’s step … For the first 47 minutes and 40 seconds, Ricky Rubio couldn’t hit the side of Rick Ross with his jump shot. So of course when Rubio caught the rock in the corner with 20 seconds left, he coolly drained a triple to tie it. Then on the other end, Rubio (9 pts, 1-11 FG, 6 asts, 3 stls) guarded Chauncey Billups one-on-one and forced a miss … Minnesota ball with 1.5 seconds left, and Jordan got lost in a double-screen by Rubio and Wayne Ellington, allowing K-Love to get wide open for a straightaway three that he buried at the buzzer to win the game. Amazing finish to a game the Wolves had no business winning … It’s safe to say that if Hubie were still coaching, there’s no way he’d let Anthony Tolliver near his team. At least two times Tolliver made Hubie groan out loud, including once when he caught the ball without realizing he was standing out of bounds. “That’s YOUR JOB to know where you are on the court!” Hubie yelled … One of Golden State’s announcers accurately captured the story line of Warriors/Pacers: “Can the little guys beat the bigger guys?” The fourth quarter briefly turned into Dave West playing prison-league ball on one end and Stephen Curry hitting Twinkie-soft jumpers on the other, but then the two guys who get paid to decide close games — Danny Granger (26 pts) and Monta Ellis— reclaimed their Franchise Player labels with some huge shots down the stretch … With 18 seconds left, the score was tied and G-State had the ball. Monta (25 pts) let the clock run down, but when he went into his crossover, George Hill picked his pocket in the open court and laid it up with 1.8 seconds left, and-one. Mark Jackson and the GS announcers flexed their neck veins because Hill actually kicked the ball during Monta’s move, but the refs didn’t see it. After Curry missed a three at the buzzer, you could hear one Warriors fan scream, “You blew it, ref!” … You would think that with as many friends as Mark Jackson has in the media, he’d be challenging Kevin Garnett’s NBA record for the amount of times his name is connected to the phrase “changing the culture.” Jackson has the Warriors playing defense (finally), and it hasn’t come at the expense of Monta and Curry doing their thing as scorers … Other stat lines from Friday: Brandon Jennings dropped 36 points (six threes) to cancel out Carmelo Anthony’s 35 points in Milwaukee’s win at New York; Carlos Boozer put up 19 points and 14 rebounds as Chicago destroyed Cleveland without Derrick Rose (toe); Marcin Gortat had 24 points and 12 boards in a low-scoring Phoenix win over Boston; Al Harrington scored 29 off the bench as Denver held off Washington; Jrue Holiday went for 16 points, 11 assists and 3 steals to lead Philly past Atlanta as Andre Iguodala wrote on Twitter: “In celebration of my steals please refer to me as ‘Theif!’ When u see me in the streets! Hahaha”. He made sure to remind everyone to say it like Arsenio Hall did in Coming To America; Rudy Gay scored 24 points as Memphis beat Detroit; and LaMarcus Aldridge probably secured his first All-Star berth by dumping 33 points and 23 boards (the first 30/20 from a Blazer since Zach Randolph in 2003) on the Raptors in a Portland win … UNC’s guard Dexter Strickland is out for rest of season with a torn ACL in his right knee … And the Recruit Scoop reports that UConn offered Sam Cassell Jr., a 2012 guard from Notre Dame Prep … We’re out like Rick Moranis.
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