The complex layers of the relationship between Josh Smith, Atlanta fans and NBA fans at large run deep, and they’ve been there throughout his entire career. Not quite an All-Star. Incredible all-around talent. Not a jump shooter. But he can make them. Not a building block. But building-block level talent. In the third quarter against Indiana last night, with Atlanta slowly blowing what should’ve been an easy win, the Josh Smith demons came to the surface again. He was bricking free throws and jacking threes, and the Pacers whipped out an 11-0 run to get back into it. You could hear the crowd’s groans as the Hawks missed 12 straight shots. But before Indiana could come all the way back, the basketball gods flipped a coin and we saw the other side of J Smoove. Ironically, he later canned a triple with just over three minutes left to make it 89-81. It was probably the biggest shot of the game. On the following possession, Smith went to another aspect of his game, tipping an offensive rebound to himself and then kicking it out crosscourt to Kyle Korver, who dropped another three-pointer to make it a nine-point game. A few trips later, Smith ran the floor and finished a jam with his off-hand, giving him 29 points and 11 rebounds as Atlanta tied the series at two games a piece, 102-91. … The Nets forced a Game 6 last night in beating Chicago, 110-91, dominating the fourth quarter and getting monster moments from two unlikely heroes. First there was Andray Blatche. He finished with only 13 points and five boards but it seemed like so much more — with Blatche and the starters in at the start of the fourth, Brooklyn outscored Chicago 15-7. Then there was Gerald Wallace, who had only 12 points but had a triple, and then grabbed a steal and finished with a fast-break dunk to put the game away with two minutes left. Despite everyone calling Brooklyn softer than the Pillsbury Doughboy, they held off a second half Bulls charge, and got huge nights from their stars: Deron Williams had 23 points and 10 assists, and Brook Lopez had 28 points and 10 boards. … Nate Robinson started for the Bulls, had 20 points and eight assists, and caught D-Will badly on this semi-transition play.
The Rockets held off elimination against OKC, winning by two as Chandler Parsons played like a monster (27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists). With James Harden faltering down the stretch (10 turnovers, a ton of botched opportunities), the Thunder had a chance to send it to overtime. Forcing the ball out of Kevin Durant‘s hands (38 points, eight boards and had five-straight points in the closing minutes that had Chris Webber losing his damn mind), Reggie Jackson threw up some junk at the rim before Serge Ibaka rebounded it and missed a point blank layup at the buzzer. … Derek Fisher was getting away with everything in one of the ultimate throwback games, and then made a huge triple that was so obviously late that it felt like the refs had been paid off. But our favorite role player from last night was Carlos Delfino, who will probably find himself in every one of KD’s nightmares for the next week.
It took Metta World Peace only hours after his Lakers were soundly dismissed from the playoffs to get into the news again. While it’s quite clear the artist formally known as Ron Artest is no longer the player he once was (turning into a brittle statue in the second half of this season), he’s still thankfully missing a bolt or two up top. So when Charles Barkley called out the Lakers for basically being a bunch of old hags, MWP responded on Twitter:
That s— that’ll make your soul burn slow. World Peace was actually dropping knowledge on Twitter yesterday, saying the Heat will repeat but not before the Knicks take them to seven. He also called Shane Battier Mr. Clutch and that the Clippers will win the West. Too bad he then retweeted a fan who said his top five best leaders of all time are “Malcom X, Greg Plitt, Kobe Bryant, Don Francisco, and Kevin Hart. U can throw MJ in there too.” Man, what? … Iman Shumpert gave his followers a sneak peak of a new backpack design on Instagram last night. While we’re normally down with all of the weird stuff this current generation seems obsessed with (granny glasses, Urkel pants, listening to music that drains your brain cells by the minute), we don’t think we’ll be rocking any backpacks with wings any time soon. We can’t get with this. We just can’t.
And apparently after getting a face-full of Stephen Curry on Sunday night, Kenneth Faried showed his displeasure in the most constructive way possible: by kicking a hole in the wall. Somewhere Amar’e Stoudemire is having himself a good laugh. This is like something your boy would do in college after losing a game of beer pong. …
Dwight Howard should probably thank Sports Illustrated and Jason Collins for releasing one of the most revolutionary articles of this generation the day after his embarrassing ejection and disrespectful back-n-forth with Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak. Superman 2.0 apologized to the Lakers faithful in hopes of curtailing the smoke before it becomes a fire. But the more important news from yesterday probably isn’t going anywhere. Collins, a longtime backup center in the NBA, announced he is gay, becoming the first active male athlete in any of this country’s four biggest sports to come out. The reaction was much more positive and encouraging than was probably expected. Yet not everyone was completely supportive. NFL receiver Mike Wallace tweeted, “All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH…” before quickly deleting it and offering an apology. ESPN’s Chris Broussard also said on live television that “I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin.” Here are some other highlights:
In fact, it might seem like in 2013 the masses are ready to embrace a publicly gay man, especially a professional athlete, but if you really want to see the ugly side of humanity, check out the rest of Spike Lee‘s timeline. He probably went through about five charges on the iPhone debating, checking folks, and putting people in their place. Still, NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement on Jason Collins, “We are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue” and the Wizards (his latest squad) released a statement saying much the same thing. No one thinks this’ll affect whether a team signs him this offseason because Collins is such a well-liked guy. His personality endears him to everyone, making him the perfect 10th or 12th man. He’ll continue to be the guy who shuts down Dwight Howard better than anyone or anything outside of the free throw line. … We’re out like Tebow.
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