Back in the preseason when the Lakers had all five starters together (a rare occurrence, we know), there were stretches where they were cooking better than Walter White on Breaking Bad. Mike Brown‘s failed experiment hid for a time what we saw once more Sunday night at Staples Center: In barely third gear, this team is dangerous once again. They had 40 points after one quarter without Steve Nash, who was off doing Gangnam Style, a Dwight Howard (28 points, 13 rebounds) who claimed afterward he’s still at best 80 percent healthy and a Pau Gasol who hasn’t decided to really play. With the exception of one dunk where Houston’s Terrence Jones detonated Jodie Meeks, the Lakers cruised, showing in a 119-108 win they could be up to speed in Mike D’Antoni‘s system faster than we thought. They had 100 points after three quarters. … Kobe Bryant looks like a changed man already. He dropped his 18th triple double, and first in two years, with 22 points, 11 boards and 11 dimes, and hit a ridiculous and-one three from the corner for style points. Mamba out. … One more thing about Howard’s health and how it can be a non-factor: A couple times Sunday he made a token effort to block a shot, i.e. raising his hand only up to his chest, and it caused Rockets to completely screw up bunnies at the rim. He still has his DPOY chops even while not all healthy and can use them to intimidate by bluffing, in a sense. Well, he says he’s not all healthy anyway, because on the other end of his mime swat on Marcus Morris, he put his elbow at the rim to catch an alley-oop from Kobe. The cameras caught KB telling Dwight with big eyes, ‘That’s high.’ … It seems like a violation of nature’s laws that it took this long for Kevin Durant to get a triple-double. He had 25 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists in OKC’s 119-109 win over Golden State. What’s weirder is he’s only had three games in his career where he was even close (at least 10 points, at least eight rebounds/assists each) at getting one. … Bowling is not the kind of lane we thought we’d be discussing when talking about Andrew Bynum‘s knee rehab. The latest in his long, strange trip (paralleled only by the mystery surrounding Eric Gordon‘s knee) to return to the court was admitted to Sunday by Bynum himself before Philly played Cleveland. He said he’d been bowling since training camp before and that this was less than the shallow squats he’d worked up to in physical therapy; however, figuring out whether hitting the lanes was just the innocent conclusion to what really damaged his knee the most or the event that caused a setback will not help Sixer fans much. … Bynum wasn’t the only person missing in this game. Where has C.J. Miles gone? He saw 14 minutes of action after three games of DNP – Coaches Decision. It isn’t like the Cavs sunk Fort Knox into him when they signed him this summer to a two-year, $4.5 million deal, but it’s still curious to see him superglued to the pine. Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters could not get their shots to fall and combined for 14 points. When those two aren’t producing like they have been, even during the Cavs’ six straight losses, there’s only so much Anderson Varejao (14 points, 15 boards) can do to mitigate the Cavs’ weaknesses. Meanwhile, Evan Turner carried a swagger that looked positively Buckeye Era Turner, going for 19 points, six boards and nine assists in the 86-79 win over Cleveland. … Sad news in Minnesota: Brandon Roy will have knee surgery again. His comeback was always a matter of when, not if his chronic knee pain would return, but it doesn’t make it any less sad to see his talent cut short. … Hit the jump to see the nastiest crossover of the day …
Clearly out of range to beat Detroit in a 103-83 loss, Boston ran a gimmick offense late in the fourth to push Rajon Rondo to 10 assists, his 34th straight game in double digits. His teammates didn’t hesitate to put up a shot when Rondo got them the ball with even a slight opening to shoot in order to keep his milestone alive. That was one of the few times the C’s showed much energy after a brutal fourth game in five nights. If they have a bit more rest, we doubt Detroit gets its first home win of the season. … Damian Lillard impresses us every time he takes the floor, and even when he screws up on it. The last two of his 16 points were on a half-hearted dunk in the final seconds of Portland’s 102-94 win over Chicago when he should have been dribbling out the clock instead. Joakim Noah (a quietly big game with 16 points, 15 boards and eight assists) stopped him at center court to give him a pointed dos-and-don’ts refresher course that had Jared Jeffries playing peacemaker. Lillard apologized on Twitter after the game, but it would have been hilarious if he’d linked to Noah’s own noted celebrations. … Round of applause goes to Nate Robinson‘s 18 points in 19 minutes off the bench. … Did the best crossover of the day go down in the U.S. Virgin Islands? … The Kings held a players-only meeting this weekend to figure out what is going wrong but letting Andray Blatche ring up 22 points on you in Brooklyn’s 99-90 win does not count as progress. That Nets (five straight wins) vs. Lakers (five wins in last seven) joint on Tuesday looks even better now. … Not having J.J. Redick killed Orlando in its 97-86 loss at Toronto. The Magic didn’t have a counterpunch to DeMar DeRozan‘s 20 points, nor did they have an answer when Amir Johnson decided to go off in the fourth quarter with 14 points. … Carmelo Anthony‘s 26 points got New York back on track with an 88-76 win over Indiana that looked like a Big Ten football game at times. Also, Jason Kidd wore the worst headband in NBA history. … We’re out like Brandon Roy, again.
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