With so much softness leaking into the modern game, we’re always anxious to annoint the next great rivalry. Where is the next Bulls-Knicks going to come from? Or the next Sacramento-Los Angeles? Everyone loves when players get a little nasty, and last night in Boston, the Celtics and Nets put on the first real throwdown of the season. Late in the first half, the Celtics weren’t getting any foul calls, and were getting run off their own floor. The Nets were frustrated as well, particularly Gerald Wallace, who had just gotten popped in the mouth and didn’t get a whistle. So Kris Humphries took a shot at Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo came in to defend his big man, and soon half the players on the floor were in the stands, Humphries and Rondo were at each other’s throats, Garnett and Wallace were on the edge of putting up some real punches, and we had the extra juice needed for a rivalry. Humphries and Wallace both picked up their second technicals and were tossed, and Rondo was thrown out as well for starting the whole thing, which ended his double-digit assist streak at 37 … Tommy Heinsohn had a particular problem with official Kane Fitzgerald all night. In the closing moments, the animated Boston announcer said about Fitzgerald that someone should “take his Irish citizenship away.” Then when Mike Gorman, his broadcast partner, noted one particular bad call where Fitzgerald mistook something on the Celtics’ side, Tommy responded, “Well that shows how stupid he is!” … As for the actual game, it was a merciless 95-83 win for Brooklyn. They handled Boston all night, getting a surprising 47 combined points from Andray Blatche, C.J. Watson… and Jerry Stackhouse … Need a reason why the Bobcats are still the Bobcats? On their final few possessions in a 94-91 loss in Atlanta, they looked like something out of a JV high school game before Ben Gordon (26 points, seven triples) somehow made a double-pumping triple over a double-team. On the following possession, Charlotte threw away the inbounds pass. Then on their last chance, they couldn’t get it to Gordon, and instead Byron Mullens took and missed a desperation heave. On their final four possessions with the game on the line, they got two bad shots, a turnover, and lucked into a ridiculous Ben Gordon shot. We guess the Bobcats aren’t so different this year after all … And the Wizards finally won a game, snapping a 12-game losing streak to start the season. They beat Portland by a bucket at home. The Blazers final play consisted of an isolation for a colder-than-ice Damian Lillard (6-for-21 shooting, 20 points). The rook got into the lane, and then threw a really tough pass that turned into a J.J. Hickson (15 points, 19 rebounds) fadeaway. Even against Washington, that’s not going to get it done … After it was over, Emeka Okafor caught a Wizards fan who was so excited that he fell over the railing by the player tunnel, per @SarahKogod … Keep reading to hear about why Michael Jordan won’t be invited back to a particular golf course …
It had to feel weird as a visitor for James Harden in OKC. He played like it too. His old teammates certainly weren’t going to let him torch them in their own building, and they keyed in on the Beard in OKC’s easy 120-98 win. Harden didn’t make a single shot in the first half, and went 3-for-16 for 17 points on the night. The Thunder blocked his jumper. They blocked him on the fast break. They even blocked him off the Euro Step – all in all, incredibly, seven of his attempts were sent back in his face … Kevin Durant countered with an easy 37 points, but it was Serge Ibaka (23 points on 13 shots, nine rebounds, six blocks) who was especially eye-catching. His set jumper was always decent, but now he’s making it out of the post, and finally attacking the rim offensively with the same vigor that he attacks opposing shots … Normally a matchup between Minnesota and the Clippers revolves around two players: Kevin Love and Blake Griffin. Both were pretty quiet in L.A.’s 101-95 win: Griffin finished with 18 points; Love had 19 points and 12 rebounds. Instead, the return of Chauncey Billups, who scored seven of the Clippers’ first 11 points, and the Clippers defense, holding Minnesota to 5-for-23 fourth quarter shooting, took center stage … A 11-0 run by the Clippers in the second quarter was finished by a Lamar Odom follow-up dunk, and as the Clippers’ announcers pointed out, it was probably the first time all season he’s been over the rim … In other stat lines from last night: Detroit beat Phoenix by 40, which wasn’t quite good enough to make this list, but it was their fourth win in six games, and Brandon Knight‘s (19 points) fourth-straight strong game; Manu Ginobili dropped 20 off the bench to help the Spurs in their 110-89 destruction of Orlando; 22 points from Luol Deng paced the Bulls as they destroyed Dallas, 101-78, and according to @EKS_MavsNBA, Rick Carlisle announced Dallas will sign Derek Fisher today; Utah got 19 points and seven boards from Al Jefferson in a 12-point W over New Orleans; the Knicks rode a blazing-hot Carmelo Anthony (29 points in 30 minutes) to an easy 102-88 victory over Milwaukee; and Zach Randolph pumped in 17 points, 13 boards and six assists in the Grizzlies’ 21-point beatdown of Toronto … And if we told you Michael Jordan got in trouble for something on a golf course and subsequently won’t be invited back, what would your first response be? Had to be his clothes, right? Jordan is notorious for dressing like a complete fool (one of the few basketball-related celebrities who actually could use a stylist), and during a round of golf at La Gorce Country Club, a high-class course in Miami Beach, Fla., he was told to change out of some cargo shorts. The GOAT refused, and the club now says he won’t be invited back. Maybe it’s just us, but we’re not sure we’d ever outlaw Michael Jordan from using our facilities just because he wanted to wear some crappy cargo shorts … We’re out like Rondo’s assist streak.
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