LeBron Hands Portland A Gift; Steve Nash Destroys Ricky Rubio

Some teams get rusty with a seven-day delay like Miami was coming off of. The Heat got nastier while still being down an All-Star with Chris Bosh gone. Portland got run out of its own gym, 107-93, as the team still trying to find itself ran into a buzzsaw of a team that’s discovering how vicious it can be. Dwyane Wade (33 points, 10 assists) had a big follow block that led to Mike Miller‘s three on the other end to go up five in the second. If you liked that, the James-Wade combo platter included a two-on-one fast-break alley-oop to LeBron that had Portlanders covering their mouths. Without Bosh in the game there was an all-business, destroyer mode being staged by the pair. Wade finished with 22 points in the first half and LeBron had 19, seven assists and four rebounds. At the end, the count was 38 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and five steals … For good measure, LeBron cocked the ball all the way back to Salem on a third-quarter breakaway murder of a dunk. There’s also still chalk outlined on the Rose Garden floor where LeBron swatted Raymond Felton‘s shot on a disgusting chasedown block. If you’re looking to poke fun at anything James did Thursday, TNT’s broadcast showed him adjusting his headband to cover his hairline for a good 15 seconds. Should Martell Webster and LeBron just hit up the barbershop the same day? … Nicolas Batum (17 points) did what few have been able to against Miami’s Shane Battier by shaking him clean for a baseline dunkJoel Przybilla‘s first game back in Portland wasn’t the feel-good win he wanted, but the Vanilla Gorilla had four points, and six boards in 19 minutes and was plus-10 … Kevin Durant had an excellent week in Orlando: He goes for 36 against the best in the world to win All-Star MVP on Sunday, then throws up 38 Thursday night to bring Oklahoma City back from 14 points down. The Thunder won, 105-102 … Durant dropped 18 in the fourth quarter and had this powerful one-handed oop on a two-on-one earlier … James Harden (13 points) came away with all limbs intact after dunking on Howard (33 points). Few men in the league can say that … The Thunder had to do some heavy lifting to get back into it, though. It wasn’t just in stretches where Orlando looked head-and-shoulders better than Oklahoma City. It was sustained in the first half and well into the second. Even with Howard sitting for about six minutes, Chris Duhon and Jameer Nelson (15 points, nine assists) found holes in the Thunder defense to exploit in the second, with Duhon catching Kendrick Perkins on a switch for a nifty pick-and-roll layup. Thunder coach Scott Brooks never looks like the happiest person, but a Nelson-to-Jason Richardson fast break dime had him downright pissed entering a timeout … Also something Brooks yelled at his team for was letting Ryan Anderson (15 points) step back for a straight-line three on consecutive possessions, using the same play. Anderson has cooled off since the season’s start but is still a nightmare matchup for other fours … Keep reading to hear about another insane dunk from Blake Griffin …

Shaq said Howard should be averaging 28 and 15 to meet his expectations after nine points in the first half. Did he hear the Big Aristotle’s advice? He went off the backboard for a couple of hoops, just like Shaq advised, and dropped 33 … In a battle of the league’s flashiest point guards in Steve Nash and Ricky Rubio, Nash dropped 17 assists and 13 points. Luke Ridnour (15 points) went ahead to lead Minnesota with eight assists as the all-world point guard matchup didn’t develop like it was expected in the Suns’ 104-95 win. Rubio had 13 points but just two assists. He would have had three but his oop to Martell Webster clanked when Webster got the ball stuck between the rim and backboard. This is an open letter to Martell: Seriously, just cut your “haircut.” It looks bad even when you play well and when you don’t (like dunking when the T-Wolves were down three with seconds to go before the All-Star break), it looks worse — somehow. Phoenix’s TV guys were tearing him apart last night. They should be the last people talking though. Nash can’t really say a damn thing … Hakim, dont hurt ’emKevin Love came back from the flu to score 23 (but on 25 shots) and get 10 rebounds, but J.J. Barea‘s calf kept him out. It’s been a hard first season in Minnesota for the spark plug of Dallas’ title run, who can’t stay healthy for long … The Clippers turned Sacramento’s celebratory mood — after virtually locking in a new arena — into a pasting. The score read 108-100, but it wasn’t that close late. Back-to-back threes in the fourth by Mo Williams (he had four in the quarter) took the game from a 10-point lead to a 16-point cushion that was hardly challenged again. Chris Paul, who found Williams on those threes, had 22 points and nine assists … Overheard on the TV broadcast: “That Blake Griffin, he jumps quite well.” That came after Griffin took off with two feet a foot outside the charge circle. Good lawd. He finished with 14 points and nine boards and he and DeAndre Jordan now have a combined 19 minutes of hangtime this season. OK, so that’s not an official stat, but still … The Clippers showed the Kings the knife but Sac-town did the slicing itself with 18 turnovers. Then they compounded the problem with lax defense on the other end, leading to 22 points. DeMarcus Cousins kept up his solid play with 23 points and 10 rebounds, but he’s the only thing continuing to hold DeMarcus Cousins back. He’s a beast and then gets a tech … Jimmer didn’t play much but caught FIRE in the second quarter: had one pull-up three hit he took from Provo … We’re out like Nash/Rubio duels.

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