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Minnesota Stops Their Losing Streak At 18; Kobe Bryant Shoots The Lakers Into A Loss

Minnesota has finally won a game. Dating back to the end of last season, the Wolves were on an 18-game losing streak before surprising Dallas yesterday, 99-82. For all of the highlights and optimism they’ve provided so far this year, it’s a little weird they lasted 294 days in-between wins, and it’s probably even crazier that when they finally did get the W, it came against the reeling defending champs. Minnesota didn’t just beat Dallas. They ran right through them. Kevin Love was the best player on the court, dropping 25 and 17 and even making five threes (Dirk would be proud with the way this man is shooting.). Dallas meanwhile didn’t score in the game’s final five minutes and let Ricky Rubio (14 points, seven assists) show out all night long. At one point, the color guys said “Rubio is like a pick-and-roll samurai. He just slices and dices you up.” The T’wolves are clearly 20 times better when he’s on the floor. He checks in and Minnesta’s offense goes into overdrive. Now someone just needs to get Rick Adelman to give away Luke Ridnour‘s minutes … On the other side, Dallas got DESTROYED on the glass (minus-19) and have a bunch of guys who either have nothing left (Vince Carter) to give or don’t seem to want to give anything (Lamar Odom). Not exactly the best title-defending start … Kobe Bryant (16 points) didn’t have a great weekend. After chucking his way through a miserable 6-for-28 game yesterday in the Nuggets’ 99-90 win over L.A., that left Bryant 12-for-46 from the field in his last two games. In what has become a theme for the Lakers at times over the past year and a half, Pau Gasol (20 points, 11 rebounds) and particularly Andrew Bynum (18 points, 16 rebounds) didn’t get the ball enough late despite having a couple of great games. There was a brief sequence late in the fourth that summed it all up for L.A. With the score tied in the final two minutes, Kobe missed a three. Ty Lawson stole the rebound away from Metta World Peace and then found Danilo Gallinari on the break for a dunk. Then two possessions later, Kobe forced it, got caught in a trap and then threw it away. Everyone stepping aside for Bryant happened way too often over the final five minutes. If it wasn’t for foul trouble or getting ignored, Bynum could’ve put together one of those stat sheet-breaking nights (He only played 28 minutes.). On the other side, the Nuggets were coming from all angles even before their game-ending 11-0 run. Gallinari led them with 20 points, but they had six players score at least a dozen, and three of those came off the bench. Dating back to the start of last season, the Nuggets are now an insane 16-1 at home when their opponents came in on a back-to-back … On a positive note for the Lakers, Kobe did reach 28,000 career points during the game … When fans start chanting for Brian Scalabrine in the third quarter, then you know it’s bad. The Bulls smoked Memphis 104-64 on a night where pretty much everything that could’ve gone wrong did go wrong for the Grizz. In the first quarter, O.J. Mayo collided with Zach Randolph and the big man went down hard. Even as he walked off under his own power, some speculated that he had torn his ACL. Luckily, it sounds much less severe. Despite losing Z-Bo early, Memphis embarrassed themselves. The third quarter was a joke; It seemed like the Grizz were stuck on 32 points for a five or six minute stretch. In the third quarter. You had Josh Davis out there throwing up terrible threes, Mayo shooting ridiculous bricks and Jeremy Pargo dribbling out entire shot clocks. It’s so bad in Memphis right now that they had to re-sign Hamed Haddadi … Charlotte might’ve been even worse, but at least they have excuses. One, they were supposed to suck (REALLY suck). Two, they played the Heat. Big excuse. Miami beat the Bobcats up and down for 48 minutes, and had five guys (Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Norris Cole & Mario Chalmers) score at least 16 in their 129-90 win. We loved Corey Maggette‘s (who didn’t make a single shot) postgame reaction: “Tonight was a night where we just did not get it done.” Ya think? … Keep reading to hear about Rajon Rondo’s domination of Washington …

Orlando should cherish the New Year’s present they got from Hedo Turkoglu because the chance of seeing it again is pretty small. Hedo took it back to 2009, scoring 10 fourth quarter points and leading a Magic comeback that ended in a six-point win over Toronto. The Raptors had led by 11 heading into the final quarter, and were even up 13 a few minutes into it, before Turkoglu (15 points) and Dwight Howard (19 points, 15 rebounds) starting consistently running high screen-n-rolls. A 20-2 run later and the Magic avoided what would’ve been an ugly loss. In the battle of sweet shooting big men who actually wish they could be guards, Andrea Bargnani (28 points) got the better of Ryan Anderson (24 points), but Anderson’s five threes were difference-makers … Considering he’s a regular All-Star, calling this a potential breakout season for Rajon Rondo just doesn’t fit. Does comeback player sound better? Either way, we’re getting a totally different guy than the one who pouted like a lost puppy for the second half of last season. Yesterday – after a couple of average games – he dismembered Washington in the Celtics’ 94-86 win with the season’s first triple-double (18 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds). John Wall (19 points, eight assists) was everyone’s (us too) pick to make the big jump this season, but Rondo showed him he’s still got a ways to go, picking apart Washington’s lazy defense at will … The Kings beat New Orleans by 16 and got a combined 52 from their starting backcourt (Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton), but the real story was the guy who wasn’t there. DeMarcus Cousins wasn’t in the lineup because apparently, DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t want to be a King anymore. Four games into his second season, the Kings released a statement saying DMC was dismissed from the team after the big man demanded a trade. There is a lot of friction between DMC and Paul Westphal, and there’s no question Cousins has some attitude issues, but this all seems rather drastic. For what it’s worth, Cousins’ agent denied the story while Westphal says this is just the tip of the iceberg. Sounds like there have been problems for a while with this dude. All this comes after we praised him for the way he’d been playing this year … Cleveland took out New Jersey by 16 behind 23 points from Antawn Jamison … And Blake Griffin (20 points, 10 rebounds) and the Clippers held off a late rally by Portland to win 93-88 after a huge pick-n-roll bucket by Chris Paul (17 points) iced it in the closing seconds … Check out what Roy Hibbert had to say about his cameo appearance on Parks and Recreation last summer … You might have trouble believing this, but Dennis Rodman is forming a topless women’s basketball team, a squad he plans on coaching. Rodman is simply looking for players who “know how to throw the ball into the hole” and has already begun auditioning players … And with LeBron finally getting engaged to his longtime high school sweetheart this weekend, we heard enough ring jokes to keep us entertained for the next year … We’re out like Memphis.

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