At some point, the Lakers need to sit back and reassess everything. Waiting on Pau Gasol and Steve Nash isn’t going to cut it. Blaming the coach won’t work either, not after you just sent the last one to Chick-fil-A barely a month ago. The NBA version of Ocean’s Eleven is a mess right now, and last night, they were caught with their pants down against one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference. During the first half of their eventual 100-94 win, Cleveland was hitting on all cylinders, going up by 15 and leaking out on the break at every opportunity. At times, it felt like an intramural game: the Cavs would get the rebound, turn and launch a nearly full-court pass to cherry picking teammates. Anderson Varejao (20 points, nine boards) dunked on L.A.’s whole frontline. Dwight Howard (19 points, 20 rebounds) looked scared to get fouled, and then C.J. Miles (28 points) was hooping out of his mind. Remember when the Lakers were supposed to go after Miles this summer? He hasn’t played much this year, and it’s almost like Byron Scott was keeping him on ice for this game in particular. The dude came out looking like an All-Star while the Lakers looked like they hadn’t practiced in a month. There was a play early in the third quarter where Metta World Peace did a little Cupid Shuffle in the post – he should’ve been called for a travel – before kicking it out to Jordan Hill, who didn’t know what he wanted to do so he just decided to take some one-legged-looking jump shot that was like something you’d see out of a fourth grader … Then in the fourth quarter, Kyrie Irving (28 points, 11 assists) went to another level, surgically extracting L.A.’s heart – the one Mike D’Antoni says they don’t have – in repeated isolations and pick-n-rolls. With the broadcast team chanting “HE’S BACK!” Irving put an in-and-out move on Dwight Howard that had the big man jumping the wrong way, and then finished with an and-one at the rim. Irving is the runaway League Pass MVP. It’s not even close. In his first game back from injury, he took the Cavs from one of the most boring teams in the league to near the top in “watchability.” … Scott compared Irving to Kobe (42 points) in the pregame, and said the one thing he must still prove is whether or not he has Kobe’s drive. Bryant, even at his age, seemed like the only Laker who cared, and if he’s playing this well and the team is STILL losing, what does that say? … Afterwards, the Clippers’ official Twitter account tweeted “LOL” at the Lakers loss, then quickly thought better of it and erased the tweet … And according to @SportandoBasket, Smush Parker signed a contract in Croatia with Cibona Zagreb yesterday, so there’s that, Laker fans. He’s not walking through that door … Keep reading to hear about the unsung heroes in New York’s win over Brooklyn …
Need evidence of Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks’ complete 180 this season? Just check last night’s tape of the Knicks’ 100-97 take back of New York City. Brooklyn jumped out by 17 early in the game, and even led 21-5 in the first quarter despite a pro-Knicks crowd ready to boo the Hell out of Kris Humphries and serenade ‘Melo with “MVP” chants. New York finally started to get it going when Anthony woke up and realized Gerald Wallace (17 points) can no longer guard him. He terrorized the former defensive ace, and in the second quarter at one point, Anthony (45 points) made seven of eight shots on jumpers, isolations and transition threes. However, in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, two unsung heroes won it for New York. On consecutive possessions, Tyson Chandler tipped out offensive rebounds he had no business getting to, and they both ended in buckets. The second one of those was the biggest shot of the game: a triple from Jason Kidd (18 points) where he also pulled an old man trick out of his walker basket by kicking out his leg for a foul. On the final possession, the Nets got a couple of looks from deep in the closing seconds but weren’t able to hit any of them … Who would’ve thought Andray Blatche/Reggie Evans would be stealing Humphries’ PT at this point? Blatche (20 points) was a monster in the first quarter, and Evans (18 rebounds) was a bowling ball under the rim … Tom Thibodeau probably lost close to four hours of sleep thinking about the six dunks that Blake Griffin unleashed in Chicago last night. Griffin (22 points, 10 boards) had highlights on the break. He stuffed in the half-court. He caught lobs from outside of the building. He even finished off one of those rare double lobs on the break in the fourth quarter, closing Marco Belinelli‘s (6-for-22 shooting) tombstone in the process. By pushing the lead to nine, it was the kind of play where all the home fans look at each other and ask whether it’s time to beat the traffic. Chicago kept playing hard as they always do, and a 7-0 run actually gave them a sliver of hope, but in the end, it was too much L.A., 94-89 … In continuing their theme for the night, the Clippers had a 12-2 run late in the second quarter that featured three straight dunks. It felt like ESPN was replaying the same thing over and over. The Clippers were going so hard for the highlights that one time DeAndre Jordan even dunked on Blake Griffin … In other games from last night: Denver took out the Pistons by seven as Ty Lawson exploded for 26 points; and Washington got their third win of the year in New Orleans, 77-70, as Jordan Crawford continued to shine (26 points). Anthony Davis also returned for the Hornets/Pelicans, and the rook chipped in 13 points and eight boards … We’re out like the Lakers.
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