You never would’ve believed it unless you watched the game, especially with one team sporting guys like Chris Paul, Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford and DeAndre Jordan (Blake Griffin didn’t suit up). But the Jazz were the more exciting team on the floor last night in their 99-91 win over the Clippers, and nearly did enough in the first half alone to steal the Lob City nickname. Outside of the Jazz blogs, we might be the only place on the ‘net giving the Salt Lakers some love. But while they used to be sneaky exciting, now they’re just flat-out awesome to watch. Gordon Hayward seems to grow an inch every time we see him (Jazz announcers say he’s now 6-9), and is one of the smoothest athletes in the league, catching a lob last night, dunking, and then swinging his legs around like a sober Shawn Kemp. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are like the Bash Bros from The Mighty Ducks on the glass, shoving people out of the way and basically doing whatever the hell they want to. In the second quarter, they were mashing people on the glass, engulfing rebounds on almost every possession (L.A. nearly went the whole first half without a single offensive rebound) and the Clippers were asking Ryan Hollins and Trent Plaisted to handle them inside. We’re surprised Kanter didn’t just eat one of them for the free protein. Marvin Williams (18 points, eight rebounds) came out from whatever hole he was hiding in during the third quarter and started draining jumpers, and Alec Burks even caught a lob in the second quarter that had to be a candidate for the dunk of the preseason. For the most part, L.A. played their big guns, and Matt Barnes (22 points) was cooking, but none of it mattered … In their first game since hearing Dirk Nowitzki would be spending the next six weeks sitting on their bench eating apples (he’s been doing a lot of that recently), the Mavs were blown out in Atlanta, 110-94, falling behind immediately and never recovering. The Hawks dropped 69 points off the bench, and the Mavs were led offensively by two guys: Jae Crowder (15 points) and Vince Carter (13). Not a good sign … Gerald Green destroyed another rim while scoring 18 in Indiana’s three-point win over the Grizzlies. Green had a couple of nice dunks, but the one that stood out was a simple one-handed baseline dunk that got everyone off their feet because 1) he pumped it back way past his body, and 2) the ball hit the floor and bounced up seemingly before Green even started descending … And it sounds like Kyle Lowry is going to be the starting point guard this season for the Toronto Raptors. We really have no clue how this is even news. His only competition is Jose Calderon, and not even people in Spain believe he’s better than Lowry. Dwane Casey says it’ll probably be a fluid situation all year, but that injuries this preseason slowed his hand in making the move. The Raptors improved defensively over the past year or so, going from embarrassingly bad to somewhat decent, and Lowry’s rugged nature should only help that. If he doesn’t start this year, we’ll be dumbfounded … Keep reading to hear about which rookie had yet another incredible highlight-reel worthy play …
Unless you live and die by the NBA, there’s a good chance you completely forgot about Rashard Lewis. Remember, at one point, he was one of the best players in the NBA, a two-time All-Star who went from crying in the green room on draft night to becoming a deadly playoff matchup in both Seattle and Orlando. Nowadays, he’s an unknown sniper in Miami’s bullpen. For most of the preseason, the Heat have been content to keep Sweet Lew locked away like a gremlin, but in their come-from-behind 104-101 win over San Antonio, they unleashed him. He racked up 15 points and four steals off the bench while banging his customary three triples. LeBron didn’t play, and Ray Allen continued his garbage outside shooting in the preseason. They needed a boost. Lewis gave it to them over the first 36, and then after falling behind by 10 near the end of the third quarter, Miami rode Terrel Harris and Josh Harrellson in the closing minutes. Harris scored nine in the final frame, including a driving layup in the last 30 seconds. But the biggest shot of the night came from Jorts, who dropped a triple off a pick-n-pop to push the Heat up by three with a minute to go … The matchup everyone wanted to see – Kawhi Leonard checking LeBron James – never materialized because the King sat out with “general soreness.” A little strange, but we guess it is the preseason right? (Although LeBron, Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade and a few other Heat players went directly from the arena to the Miami/Florida State game…) The Spurs need Leonard to make a jump this season, especially as their primary wing defender. He was solid on that end early in the first half. Wade (13 points) got to the rack whenever he wanted to against Manu Ginobili… not so much against Leonard … Tim Duncan (15 points) might be getting old, but he’s still effective. In the third quarter, he even put some extra grease on the gears and went coast to coast off a steal, converting on a finger roll along with a foul … Chris Copeland – yeah, you’re probably saying the same thing we did… who?! – gave Boston 34 points off the Knicks’ bench, but Jeff Green (25 points) and Jason Terry (22 points) gave New England a taste of what their bench could be like this year in Boston’s 109-98 W. Green had two blocks at the rim that were incredible. If he keeps playing like this during the regular season, the Celtics suddenly have a game-changer off the bench … And in other preseason action, Detroit beat Charlotte 85-80 as Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey combined for 46 points while Andre Drummond had yet another incredible dunk highlight, while the Wizards beat Milwaukee in their house, 102-94 as Trevor Booker threw up 22 points … We’re out like a Toronto PG controversy.
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