This might be the year Josh Smith finally makes the All-Star Game. We don’t want to jinx him – everyone knows the type of luck he has when it comes to this – but his game has matured, he has his body in the best shape it’s ever been in and the Hawks figure to be, at worst, a No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Last night in Atlanta’s 92-75 drubbing of Charlotte to end the preseason, Smith had 21 points and six rebounds, hitting 10 of 15 shots in the game. The coaching staff spoke on energy afterwards, and when you win the points in the paint battle 46-34, it typically means guys are working hard … For Charlotte, Corey Maggette was his usual foul-drawing self offensively (he somehow drew 10 free-throw attempts in 26 minutes), especially early on when he scored 13 of his 18 in the first quarter. But miraculously it was his defense that took center stage. In the third quarter, he took two big charges, which is like Monta Ellis passing up a shot. On another Charlotte defensive possession, Bismack Biyombo met Keith Benson at the rim on a play in the fourth quarter and sent him back to his corner, easily blocking Benson’s dunk attempt. We didn’t see it in real time, but we hope the announcers yelled out “BISMACK BIYOOOMBO!” We’re doing that all season long, whenever the dude does anything. That is easily the best name in the NBA … One of the guys in the league with a legitimate shot to breakout this year, Danilo Gallinari dropped 23 points in Denver’s 110-85 destruction of Phoenix. In the second half, he had one move on the fast break that was just butter: as a trailer, he caught a return pass, did a little half-step Euro step, brought the ball down and then flipped it around a defender’s shoulders with his left hand. From there at the start of the fourth quarter, the Nuggets ended it with a 16-3 run. Corey Brewer, the guy Dallas would’ve given away for a roll of Twizzlers if they needed to, dropped 20 … Off the court yesterday, the Suns bought out Mickael Pietrus, who hadn’t worked out at all with them in his time in the desert … Meanwhile, the Clippers picked up Reggie Evans. He might not really fit with this team, but he doesn’t have to. Give six solid fouls and it’s worth it. He can rebound a little too if you haven’t heard … The Nets can kiss Dwight Howard goodbye for a bit: Brook Lopez has a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone in his foot and will have surgery on it Friday. Too bad. What comes out of this? Orlando isn’t dealing with New Jersey until it’s proven that Lopez comes back fresh and 100 percent. So trade discussions may not happen until next summer. Also in related news, the Nets are now even worse. That frontline is going to look like a jayvee basketball team, and that’s even with Mehmet Okur. The former Utah star was picked up by New Jersey yesterday in a trade for a second round pick. Amazing how far he’s fallen … And who wants to play in the best fantasy tournament we’ve seen? Our friends at Lakers Nation are hooking it up … Keep reading to hear what Doc Rivers is promising Jeff Green …
The Kings are bringing Chuck Hayes back. After the Chuck Wagon failed his physical, they initially voided his original contract, but after doctors cleared him to resume playing basketball, Sacramento has decided to go ahead and give him a four-year deal worth over $22 million. That’s huge for both parties: Hayes gets probably what’ll be the only big money deal of his career and the Kings acquire their first player who will actually turn down shots this year. We’re betting Hayes will be loving life in Sacramento. With all of the shooters around him begging for the ball, they’ll be paying his tabs, carrying his bags and buying him gifts … Jeff Green is still a Celtic. Not even heart surgery can stop that. Green is still hanging around the team’s practice court, seemingly intent on trying to keep his life as normal as possible before going through this surgery. And while his teammates are being incredibly supportive, Doc Rivers cracks us up. He said: “He’s part of the team. Jeff’s hopefully going to get a [championship] ring. He’ll be there just like everybody else.” … Our free agent tracker is pretty much filled out right now. But there is one HUGE name still left: Kyrylo Fesenko. The Warriors and Heat are in hot pursuit of the 24-year-old 7-1 center, who reminds us of that monster of a man from Sherlock Holmes. His numbers don’t jump out at you, but we were surprised it took teams this long to make a move on him. He can play a role for a winner. He’s just so damn big … So apparently, as her own private detectives discovered, Vanessa Bryant says Kobe had somewhere around 105 affairs with other women during their marriage. We’re not even sure what we want to say about that. So 104 was cool for her? But that 105th cheater must’ve been something drastic. Actually, if you do the averages out â€“ somewhere around 10 affairs a year â€“ for a high profile athlete this ain’t even all that bad. Tiger Woods would wave it off as a weekend getaway … In college ball, every top 25 team dominated, including No. 1 Syracuse, Ohio State and Kentucky. But for the second straight game since their brawl with Cincinnati, No. 15 Xavier lost, this time by 10 to Long Beach State and it wasn’t even that close … And if the Knicks are planning on having Carmelo Anthony play their Anthony Mason role, then Mike D’Antoni has really lost his mind. If he finishes with four assists on a night, everyone freaks out. It’s going to be hilarious when it’s revealed ‘Melo only agreed to this knowing he could come down and jack without having to wait to post up and get the ball … We’re out like the preseason.
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