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Kobe Helps Usher In A New Era; A College Player Scores 138 Points In One Game

With Mike D’Antoni literally sitting in Phil Jackson‘s old seat (and even walking like him) along the Staples Center sideline, the new Lakers era didn’t exactly start according to plan. They couldn’t make free throws (19-for-37). They couldn’t make shots. They couldn’t even stop Brook Lopez. But down the stretch, their defense was suffocating, and Kobe Bryant (25 points) hit enough free throws to hold off Brooklyn, 95-90. The Nets actually controlled this one most of the way, especially after the Lakers jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Lopez was destroying the Lakers’ frontline. The big man (23 points, a dozen in the first quarter) might have the perfect game to set to Juvenile‘s “Slow Motion” but for most of the night it was working. Set shots. Dunks in the lane. Moves off the dribble. If Bryant didn’t come out and make his first five shots, Brooklyn could’ve been up big … The most entertaining part of the night, outside of Dwight Howard (23 points, 15 rebounds, 7-for-19 free throws) shooting his own “how to nearly blow a game at the free throw line” instructional video, was when Darius Morris decided he was going to pressure Deron Williams full court in the second quarter. He was getting yo-yo’ed all over the floor, and looked like he was about to topple over two or three different times. Williams had 16 in the first half, but slowed in the second half to finish with 22 points and 10 dimes … According to @DuranSports, Dwight Howard told the media before the game that if bodies go flying anywhere near D’Antoni and his wobbly knee, that the big man would be Kevin Costner protecting Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard … A couple of quick injury notes: after we wrote about how his injury woes play into the Heat’s championship defense, Dwyane Wade plans to return to the lineup on Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks after making it through two consecutive practices without any issues in his left foot … Dirk Nowitzki is also closing in on a return date, telling ESPNDallas.com he hopes to start basketball activities in two weeks while hopefully returning to the lineup in mid-December … And Andrew Bogut expects to miss at least the next three games rehabbing his surgically repaired left ankle. Golden State, miraculously, is doing fine without him … In college action, Shabazz Muhammad came through on his second night with 21 points while shooting more free throws than the entire Georgia team in a four-point win for No. 11 UCLA … Indiana survived Georgetown in overtime, 82-72, behind 17 a piece from Cody Zeller and Jordan Hulls, while UNC got abused by Butler, especially in a 35-18 first half … And apparently, some cat in Division III named Jack Taylor scored 138 points in a game last night. Yep, it’s true. Taylor is a sophomore guard at Grinnell, and his Pioneers beat Faith Baptist Bible 179-104 as he nearly lost feeling in his arm by shooting 52-for-108 from the floor (including 71 triple attempts). This is the same run-n-gun, Don Nelson fantasy land school that had a player score 89 in a game last year (Imagine if J.R. Smith had gone to Grinnell College?). There’s some straight NBA 2K stats padding going on there … Keep reading to hear who came back from injury to nearly lead Toronto to a big win …

It didn’t take long for New York to assert their dominance in New Orleans, beating the short-handed Hornets 102-80. Anthony Davis didn’t play because of more complications with his screwed-up left ankle, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Carmelo Anthony (29 points in 28 minutes) came out and hit eight of nine shots in the first quarter, and we suspect that one miss was probably just out of boredom. Even after Mike Woodson inadvertently iced his best player by leaving him on the bench for too long, New Orleans was such a disgrace to the basketball gods in the third quarter that they cut to a sideline interview with Spike Lee. He was super giddy over his one-loss Knicks, and must’ve said “best team in the NBA” a half-dozen times … It’s kind of weird that Brian Roberts is seriously better than Austin Rivers right now … Not even the return of Kyle Lowry could save Toronto from Nick Young‘s wrath. Okay, so maybe Swaggy P wasn’t the main reason why Philly beat the Raptors 106-98, but he certainly played a big part with 23 points and zero (!) turnovers. Young was spectacular, even as Toronto color guy Jack Armstrong made fun of him at one point for never passing (“That’s a rare moment – Nick Young actually passing it to someone”), and the final two-plus minutes turned into a wild back-n-forth battle. Both teams went off, and pretty much everyone on the court became infected with Andrea Bargnani (22 points) disease. On consecutive possessions, Jrue Holiday dished for a layup. Then Amir Johnson got a layup. Then Jason Richardson (21 points, including six on back-to-back possessions in the final minute and a half that were probably the biggest buckets of the game) did the same, and finally Lowry got an easy one … Toronto jumped out 12-4 to start the game with everyone playing out of their minds. DeMar DeRozan (24 points) was catching lobs. Bargnani was running the fast break. Jonas Valanciunas (11 points, 11 boards) wasn’t getting dunked on. Dominic McGuire was making turnaround jumpers. Even John Lucas III was passing… to himself (to attempt to stop a backcourt violation). Why? They were all excited to have Lowry (13 points, seven boards, seven assists) back, who automatically takes Toronto up three or four steps in the League Pass charts. Jack Armstrong called Lowry a bowling ball-type of player, then realized he was in Philly and added, “I shouldn’t be saying bowling ball here in Philadelphia.” … Near the end of the first quarter, Nick Young put up a ridiculous launch-from-the-shoulder shot from almost out of bounds in the corner with the shot clock going off, and it went in. Only Nick Young would make a shot like that… it was like something right out of his everyday playbook … While he slowed down in the second half, Jrue Holiday (19 points, eight rebounds, 12 dimes) was embarrassing Jose Calderon (13 points, 12 assists) during the first 24 minutes. He had 15 in the first half, and actually crossed the Spanish point guard nearly out of his sneakers twice towards the end of the second quarter … We’re out like Bernie Bickerstaff.

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