Sometimes we wish the NBA was more like the NFL. In football, you must bring your best effort or you’ll be left looking like Mark Sanchez on Monday Night Football, getting your skills compared to Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite. But in basketball, the best teams can drift through games, and then turn up the intensity when they absolutely have to. It happened in Miami last night during the Heat’s 103-92 win over Minnesota. Midway through the third, the Wolves had led most of the way before LeBron (22 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists, four blocks… the fifth time in the last 15 years he’s put up those numbers. No one else has done it.) had passes on two consecutive possessions that almost had us spitting out our dinner. First, he threw a backdoor lob to Chris Bosh, who finished with a reverse. Then, James caught a pass on the break and in one motion without coming down out of the air, flicked it forward with a bounce pass to Dwyane Wade (24 points) for a layup. Miami rolled the rest of the way … Kevin Love (18 boards) outrebounded Miami by himself in the first quarter. For a while, he was hitting the glass so aggressively we thought he might challenge the 30-rebound mark, helping to make up for the fact that no one notices he’s shooting 36 percent this year … Toronto ran away from the Cavs in the second half of their 113-99 win. Jose Calderon (23 points, six dimes) was obviously reading DimeMag.com yesterday. After we called him out for basically not being a starting-caliber guard, the Spaniard went out and outplayed Kyrie Irving (23 points, seven assists) for long portions of the game … Speaking of the site, Dion Waiters told us yesterday in his new Rookie Journal that before he got hurt, he hadn’t been attacking the rim like he wanted to. Last night, he had a finish that made whoever originally made the Wade/Waiters comparison look like a genius … Behind 21 a piece from Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer, as well as Joakim Noah‘s second-career triple-double (11 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists), the Bulls destroyed Boston, 100-89. Nate Robinson was a beast off the bench with five treys and 18 points, and after he drained a triple from somewhere outside of the arena in the fourth quarter, Stacey King said Nate has the “nerves of a cat burglar.” We don’t always enjoy listening to King – a few minutes later when Robinson hit another triple, he started singing, “Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson…” – but at least he’s creative … And reportedly, Amar’e Stoudemire is almost all the way back. While certain New York fans are silently thinking, “Noooo!!” this is a necessary step for the team to get to the next level. STAT will start out with the Erie BayHawks of the D-League, and Mike Woodson says the practices must end pain free for the power forward. As long as Amar’e doesn’t go through any grueling workouts, his health should be fine. It’ll be the back-to-back games that’ll be the real test … Keep reading to hear how Utah almost blew a game against the Nets …
Down four in the last seconds against Utah, Brooklyn somehow got a shot at a win. After a couple of free throws, the Nets took advantage of some sloppy passes from the Jazz, got it back off a steal and ended up with a Gerald Wallace wide-open three for the win. He missed. Reggie Evans had another shot off the rebound, but no one really expected him to make that one. The Crash shot was the one that hurt – he was WIDE open … Joe Johnson (21 points last night) is finally starting to feel it (21 points a game over his last four). Now, it’s time for Deron Williams to step it up. After making comments that sounded like he was criticizing Avery Johnson‘s offensive sets, “The System” (that nickname is about 842 times better than D-Will), went out and was super average against his old team … Atlanta held off the Wizards by five in overtime. In the last 10 seconds of the extra frame, Washington had a chance down three, but couldn’t get a shot to the rim as Nene‘s layup was blocked into his face by a rotating Josh Smith (17 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks). Still, we’re not sure we’ve ever seen a more lackadaisical crowd during a close game than the one in D.C. last night. We’ve seen more enthusiasm in Micro Economics classes … Miraculously, Jordan Crawford produced a triple-double (27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) and had a couple of sick dimes off the bounce that gave Greg Anthony and Chris Webber minor strokes in the NBA TV studio. We were just as surprised as they were … The Mavs knocked out Philly by seven as O.J. Mayo went off for 26 points and eight helpers, and during the game, they brought up a list for the 16,000-point, 9,000-rebound, 1,500-steal club. There were only five names on it: Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Garnett, Charles Barkley and… Shawn Marion. With the Matrix not even looking like a bootleg Matrix Revolutions nowadays, it’s almost time to lock down his place in history. Is he a Hall of Famer? Hard to argue with his numbers. But he was never close to a No. 1 option on a contender, and had some noticeable weaknesses in his game. Still, he was THE definition of a Swiss Army Knife … Other stat lines from last night: Brandon Jennings poured in 34 points as Milwaukee knocked off the Pacers, 98-93; the Spurs wasted 31 and 18 (and five blocks and six assists) from Tim Duncan, falling in Denver, 112-106; Golden State got 26 points and nine boards from David Lee in a 103-96 win over New Orleans; and the Lakers barely survived against the reeling Bobcats, 101-100, as Kobe Bryant (30 points, seven assists) helped them rally from 18 points down … And as if the New Orleans Pelicans wasn’t bad enough – we brought up the new name in the barbershop yesterday and dudes in there nearly walked out in mid-haircut – they released some of the names that were filed for trademark but didn’t quite take the cake. These are downright laughable. The New Orleans Rougarou. The New Orleans Mosquitos. The New Orleans Swamp Dogs. And the New Orleans Bullsharks. We won’t even touch those … We’re out like fire extinguishers in Erie.
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