George Hill Beats The Lakers; A Dallas Star Blows A Game At The Free Throw Line

The Lakers and Pacers tilt last night in L.A. was so bad it was almost comical. There was Dwight Howard missing clutch free throws and laughing about it. There was Joey Crawford making awful calls left and right. There was Indiana fumbling away nearly every opportunity to close the Lakers out. There was Kobe attempting to win the game by himself. In the end, George Hill (19 points) hit one more big shot than Bryant, and Hill’s high underhand shot off the glass that dropped in with .1 seconds left won it for the visitors, 79-77 … It was no surprise Kobe played through flu-like symptoms, and we weren’t surprised that he went out and dropped 40 points with 10 rebounds and like 13 terrible shots either. It was fairly predictable … We’re not sure where these Pau Gasol-for-Amar’e Stoudemire rumors first started circulating, but this probably isn’t happening… no, it definitely isn’t happening. Last we checked, STAT is still hurt and has knees that could disintegrate any day now. You can’t say they’d do this deal for money reasons either – Stoudemire’s contract runs even longer than the Black Swan’s, and in 2014-15, the money increases all the way to $23.4 million (have fun with that, New York). Obviously, the Knicks would jump at this trade. That doesn’t necessarily get Gasol (another timid 10-point performance last night) off the hook. The Los Angeles Times reports the Lakers aren’t actively shopping him now because they want to see how he fits in once Steve Nash gets back. But if he doesn’t pick it up then, you can expect more rumors like this … What’s more surprising: Cleveland sitting at 3-12 after Kyrie Irving was supposed to make the leap in his second season and bring along the Cavs with him? Or Phoenix, having lost their best player and replacing him with band-aids, and still sitting at 7-8? It has to be the Suns, who beat up on Cleveland last night, 91-78, by getting contributions from everyone from Goran Dragic (19 points, five boards, seven dimes) to Jermaine O’Neal (nine points, six rebounds, zero knee injuries). The last five minutes of this one were only worthwhile to see if Anderson Varejao would get to another 20/20 game. He didn’t, finishing with 20 points and 18 boards, but he was perhaps the lone bright spot in this one for the Cavs … Minnesota finally broke off their losing slide by beating Sacramento, 97-89, behind a monster night from Kevin Love (23 points, 24 rebounds) for their first win in over two weeks … While in college ball, Indiana proved they are the best team in the country by obliterating UNC at home, 83-59. Cody Zeller looked like a man among boys, doing literally whatever he wanted on his way to 20 points, eight boards and four blocks … No. 3 Michigan also won, taking out No. 19 N.C. State by seven as Trey Burke (18 points, 11 assists) controlled the tempo throughout … Keep reading to hear about one of the most surprising fantasy players of the year …

James Harden (24 points, 12 assists) put the finishing touches on a 16-point blowout win over Toronto in Houston during the third quarter when he got down like Richard Harrow, missing just one shot, sniping three triples and scoring 11 points. The action was cool, but the best part of the night – outside of a couple of Terrence Ross dunks where he jumped all the way from Canada to finish on the break – was probably what the Houston commentators (Bill Worrell and Clyde Drexler) were saying about the block/charge rule. To them, it’s dumb. It’s dangerous. And it’s totally unnecessary right now. It needs to be tweaked. This isn’t the first time they’ve pointed this out, and are some of the few TV guys who actually point out how stupid the current interpretation of the charge rule is – probably the biggest reason why we love those guys … Earlier in the third quarter, they also had this gem when the Rockets pushed the lead to 20-plus and contemplated emptying the bench. Pointing out there was still more than a quarter to play, they added, “Yeah, but these are the Raptors. Don’t pretend like we’re playing the Lakers.” … Chandler Parsons (18 points) has hit at least two three-pointers in 11 straight games. Raise your hand if you desperately tried to add him in fantasy over the last few weeks but were beaten to the punch … The last five minutes of Philly’s 100-98 narrow win against Dallas felt like something out of a failed movie script. A 12-0 run gave the Sixers the lead at that point. It came as Dallas turned it over on SIX STRAIGHT possessions. Jrue Holiday (18 points, seven assists) might’ve been the Sixers’ best player all night (and Kwame Brown was actually probably their second-best… though we can’t forget about Evan Turner), getting his former UCLA teammate Darren Collison too dizzy to guard him. But he had two consecutive turnovers in the last few minutes that had us shaking our head. On the other side, O.J. Mayo (11 points) barely touched the ball all night because Dallas was content to let Vince Carter (15 points) isolate and run pick-n-rolls like this was a Sunday at the Y. Yet in the final two minutes, VC miraculously hit a 26-footer triple, and then spun in the lane for a layup that we thought he’d lost from his arsenal four or five years ago. Finally, Mayo, a 87 percent shooter from the line, bricked a freebie in the last two seconds. Down two, he had to miss the second shot on purpose, so of course, Jae Crowder ended up running down the rebound and was thisclose to banging a shot off the glass for the win from 22 feet. With the way this game went, we wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see that thing drop … We should probably mention Elton Brand (17 points, eight boards in just 18 minutes) as well. He played like a crazed wild boar against the team that’s paying him not to play with them anymore … And for the gamers out there, here’s some interesting news regarding MLB 13 The Show. The game designers are going to let the fans decide on the cover through a social media promotion. Miguel Cabrera, Miguel Bautista, Buster Posey, Matt Kemp and Andrew McCutchen, among others, will compete using social media to earn their spot as the face of the game … We’re out like Pau/STAT rumors.

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