Pau Gasol, we hope you surround yourself with protection tonight. You might turn up along the rocks in the Pacific Ocean tomorrow morning, courtesy of a crazed Kobe Bryant. Down two on the last possession last night against the Spurs, Gasol couldn’t find anyone to pass to. Instead, he launched a moon shot from the corner. Even as he was shooting it, Bryant (28 points, eight assists) already had his palms out in the ultimate “WTF ARE YOU DOING?!” stance. It didn’t go in, the Spurs walked out of there with the win, and it ruined a late-game rush from Gasol where he scored four straight clutch points … For the Spurs, they’re still the West’s best, behind 19 and seven dimes from Tony Parker, and 18 points and nine boards from Tim Duncan. And it was Danny Green (11 points) who hit the game-winner, coming off a down screen with 9.3 seconds left and dropping a late Halloween treat in Bryant’s mug … The Knicks might still be undefeated, and they might’ve casually worn Orlando down in the fourth quarter of a 99-89 win in Disney World, but they weren’t very impressive – Carmelo Anthony in particular. Why has New York been so much better this year? It’s because ‘Melo (25 points, eight rebounds) has actually bought in, stopped holding the ball and giving more than 12 percent effort on the defensive end. But last night, he didn’t run back on defense on multiple occassions, instead hanging out clamoring for foul calls. He refused to hustle. He even got into an argument with Mike Woodson because he wasn’t helping when his man set ball screens, choosing to stay tight on Big Baby and Josh McRoberts… aka he didn’t feel like moving. It all finally came to a head during a sequence where Maurice Harkless (who was AWESOME by the way) blocked Anthony’s shot twice at the rim, and then bothered him on two more all on the same possession. Clearly frustrated, ‘Melo threw his hands up in the air and didn’t even bother to get back on D. Just for good measure, on the next possession – the first of the fourth – Harkless blocked him again … Watching Toronto survive a late flurry of shots from the Pacers to win, 74-72, wasn’t very fun. In fact, it was depressing. We might’ve even shortchanged Danny Granger‘s offensive impact in Indiana because while we knew it was big, the Pacers look just awful right now. We’d rather watch a Keanu Reeves movie. They could be getting worse too. The Raptors, less than 24 hours after losing a marathon game in Toronto, won despite scoring just five fourth quarter points. Down only two in the closing seconds, David West missed an easy five-foot turnaround before Paul George got the offensive rebound and fired up a deep three. It was long. After another Pacers offensive rebound and timeout, George Hill (18 points) was short on a pull-up. George got yet another rebound, and missed another jumper off the dribble. That last Indiana sequence played out exactly like their season has: get every rebound, but never able to make/create a shot … On the other side, Jose Calderon messed around and got a triple-double (13 points, 10 boards and 10 dimes) … Portland blew out Sacramento, 103-86, behind another big night from Damian Lillard (22 points, nine assists) … The NBA released the balloting (also on Facebook) for this year’s All-Star Game. They’re also allowing fans to vote on Twitter by writing the player’s first and last name and hashtag #NBABALLOT. We’d hate to be the guy who has to sift through all of the “Labron James” and “Paul Gasol” entries from fans … And remember Royce White and the issues with his anxiety? Well, the future of his career just got very interesting with one public statement and one Twitter rant … Keep reading to hear about the second-year player who just might be the best ballhandler in the NBA …
Despite Kyrie Irving‘s Globetrotter exhibition, and Anderson Varejao doing whatever he wanted against the Nets’ frontline, Brooklyn dominated Cleveland by 13 in a game that was never really close. Deron Williams (26 points, 10 boards) made sure he got his own against Kyrie, banging the open shots and hitting a bunch of unique shots in the lane. But it was Joe Johnson who was the real difference-maker, hitting for 25 in his best game in Brooklyn … Varejao had 17 points in the first quarter alone, his best scoring quarter ever in the NBA, and had half of his team’s points in the first half. Of course, we must point out his 35-point, 18-rebound night came against Brook Lopez, but hey, it still counts … Irving (34 points, eight dimes) on the other hand was handing out embarrassment on a string to anyone who tried to guard him. Spin moves. Wicked behind-the-back dribbles and passes. Hesitation moves. His handle should be illegal, literally. Stephen Curry and his ankles should be barred from playing against him, or else Curry might snap right out of his feet on defense. If you haven’t watched Irving play this year, you’re missing out. Now the only question is whether he has the best handles in the league. Who would you take: Irving or CP3? … Charlotte blew out Washington by 16, led by Ramon Sessions‘ 21 points off the pine. We can safely safe – at 0-6 – the Wizards offseason additions did little to help their team. We advise no women or children to ever watch them play, under any circumstances. DMV residents are longing for the days of Blatche, Swaggy P and JaVale … Oh yeah, for the 12 and a half Charlotte fans out there – the Bobcats also acquired Hakim Warrick from the New Orleans Hornets for guard Matt Carroll yesterday … In college hoops, Michigan State shrugged off a bad opening game loss by beating No. 7 Kansas, 67-64. Elijah Johnson (16 points) is an interesting guard prospect for the Jayhawks, but the Spartans have a bunch of solid guys who’ll get looks as well. Keith Appling paced them with 19 … And Duke’s experienced unit held off Kentucky’s youngsters, 75-68. Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry combined for 41 points for the Blue Devils while Coach Cal has himself three more diaper dandies. Archie Goodwin (16 points), Nerlens Noel (16 points, nine boards) and especially Alex Poythress (20 points, eight boards, one nasty putback slam) all looked like they’ll be hearing their names called rather high on draft night … We’re out like Washington’s offseason improvement.
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