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LeBron Proves He Is The King; Dallas Snatches A Win In Utah

Oklahoma City didn’t play Thursday, but try telling Thunder fans it wasn’t a victory. Guard Russell Westbrook went all Boomer Sooner by signing a five-year, $80-million extension. The deal brought praise for GM Sam Presti and hailed Westbrook, slammed for being a “shoots-lots” guard, for his unselfishness: “Instead, Westbrook delivered to his teammates, his organization and this city a blessed gift. Expansion of the Thunder’s window of opportunity to turn Oklahoma City into Titletown. … No promises beyond 2016, but until then, barring catastrophic injury, an oil-and-gas bust or general manager Sam Presti losing his senses, the Thunder is set for five years of excellent basketball,” the Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel wrote. The deal leaves room to re-sign James Harden and Serge Ibaka, allowing the Thunder to keep their homegrown core intact for a while. Will the debate on Durant/Westbrook shooting continue that long? Now that Westbrook’s no longer in a contract year, it should be interesting to see if his 17.3 shots per game decrease … There was basketball, we promise. Miami/Lakers missed Dwyane Wade, but LeBron James (31 points, eight boards, eight assists) was enough for Miami, who donned blackout uniforms to match the black-hat villain role. Last night though, the much-maligned Heat were just better at home in every phase, even with a resurgent Pau Gasol (26 points, eight rebounds) taking the lead for the Lakers … Kobe Bryant (24 points) overcame a horrid first three quarters to get his, starting 0-of-5 and unable to buy a bucket from deep, where all eight of the KobeSystem’s misses came until late in the second half. He credited Shane Battier (11 points, six rebounds with three threes) with good defense and called him one of the three defenders he likes to face after Raja Bell and Tony Allen. We think Shane secretly enjoys going up against Kobe. Did you see how often he was shooting? Probably still tells people about the playoff night a few years back when he outscored him too. How weird of a first half was it? Kobe had has many field goals (one) as Eddy Curry … Yes, that Eddy Curry (six points, three rebounds in six minutes). We felt like we had seen a ghost; it was his first game in 762 days (that’s not the longest streak, either — Portland’s Greg Oden is at 775) when he checked in in the first quarter and started eating up a standing ovation from the Miami crowd (you think he probably got a different reaction from grudge-holding fans watching in Chicago and New York?). Activated before the game by Erik Spoelstra, Curry didn’t play coy to reporters beforehand about his conditioning, saying the adrenaline would tire him out. The former Baby Bull is everyone’s favorite punching bag, but seriously, the fact he was playing was no, er, small feat. So how much do you weigh, Eddy? “It’s a great number but it’s not where I want to be yet,” Curry said. “When it’s where I want it to be, I’ll probably put a sticker on.” … The Lakers have three players who could pass for mercenaries/hit men: Kobe, McBob and definitely Steve Blake. Actually, throw Troy Murphy in there too. He reminds us of Gaear from FargoKeep reading to hear about Sam Dalembert’s amazing night …

Overtime arrived in Houston when Kevin Martin‘s (32 points, eight rebounds) last-second three was blocked. It wasn’t surprising considering the Rockets scored seven points in the fourth (the Hornets hit them with a 16-5 run) and Martin scored all but five of his points in the first half. Houston held on, 90-88, but dang, that was ugly, kind of like watching a slow-motion car crash. And they won. The way Houston feels about the fourth quarter is how the Hornets feel all the time. They’ve lost 12 of 13 and have no relief in sight. Their next six games are Dallas, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Atlanta and Miami. Yikes … In the final minute of OT, Martin came out of a scrum, racing up court with the game tied. He missed the layup, but Samuel Dalembert was there for the dunk. Dalembert was sucking some serious wind; He looked like Rick Ross after a three-hour concert. When Marco Belinelli missed a jumper to secure Houston’s win, big Sam dropped down in exhaustion. A little funny, but the dude did put in some serious work (15 points, 17 rebounds, 43 minutes) … Did Chris Kaman shave his head with hedge clippers? … And our vote for worst NBA nickname has to go to Chase Budinger. The Houston guys refused to refer to him as anything other than “Bud.” Our grandfather’s nickname was “Bud.” That name went out of style a long time ago … The night ended in Utah, where C.J. Miles showed on one huge dunk why there’s concern about Dallas’ age. It was one part crossover of Shawn Marion, another part poster of a slow-to-roll Lamar Odom, who was looking at Miles the whole time from the paint. Now, it’s likely Miles would have banged on anyone in the league in that sequence, too, but those legs on the Mavericks’ defense aren’t getting any younger … The ending was a comedy of errors. First, Devin Harris missed a three that ended up somewhere in Colorado. Then after Miles (17 points) hit a three to get it to 94-91, on the next inbound, with five seconds to go, Jason Kidd (11 dimes, six turnovers) threw the ball right at his hands underneath the hoop but Miles lost the handle on a quick layup as the clock expired with two other teammates standing around him (It might not have mattered). The Jazz had their opportunities. Gordon Hayward‘s emphatic slam on the break (he had another one in the third that was probably the most assertive thing we’ve seen him do where he wasn’t playing a video game) tied the game at 87 with two minutes to go in the fourth for Utah, but Kidd made up for his odd game late to keep Dallas afloat. He fed Jason Terry for a tie-breaking three and a cutting Marion (a season-high 22 points, seven rebounds) for a perfect pass on the block to keep the Mavs in the lead each time. Don’t forget about the 17 points in 18 minutes by Roddy Beaubois, who came in averaging 5.1 points per game. But in the third, Beaubois tried to take off from a step inside the free-throw line and wasn’t even close. Before the game, he was out there probably studying Michael Jordan and listening to R. Kelly “I Believe I Can Fly” … What’s up with Dirk though? He complained earlier that he couldn’t really bend his knees, and then went out and had 12 points and five boards … Who caught Derrick Favors getting ejected because he tossed the ball out of frustration? What part of the game is that (They tried to justify it by saying he threw it forcefully into the crowd. We’re aren’t sure any of that fits.)? Someone get Ghostface over here to do a “top 10 softest” roast for the NBA. Two minutes before that, Earl Watson was getting a lot of love from Harlan and Reggie for his “tough guy” act for knocking the ball out of Dirk’s hands. That doesn’t even constitute “hard” in North Dakota … And who saw Big Baby pull his shorts down to protest a referee’s call on Wednesday night? C’mon Baby … We’re out like Shaq on a horse.

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