On the first day of the year AB (After Brandon), you couldn’t go 15 minutes without running into someone cracking a joke about the Dunk Heard ‘Round The World. We did our part, putting together 10 of the greatest facials in NBA history. But at some point, we had to stop talking about it because it was in danger of overshadowing what should’ve been one of the best games of the year: OKC and San Antonio … It’s one of basketball’s most overused cliches, but it fit San Antonio’s 105-93 destruction of OKC perfectly: the Spurs were the old men at the Y, doing all of the fundamentals, sharing the ball, never wasting any energy, and making a bunch of forgettable, yet effective, buckets. The Thunder were like a couple of teenagers putting together a pickup All-Star team, everyone trying to play one-on-one, no cohesion at all, defensive breakdowns, a point guard playing like he just had a dinner involving Sour Patch Kids, maple syrup and a Strawberries & CrÃ¨me Frappuccino from Starbucks … OKC jumped out by 13 almost immediately, getting huge bursts to start from Russell Westbrook (11-for-27, 25 points) and Serge Ibaka (he had eight points and eight boards in the first 10 minutes). They dominated the glass, grabbing 12 of the game’s first 14 boards, causing Sean Elliott, always one for hyperbole, to say, “I’ve never seen a start like this.” But a 26-8 run flipped the script in the second quarter, as San Antonio and Kawhi Leonard (11 first half points) turned the Thunder into a lottery team. OKC stepped up the energy in the third quarter, and probably would’ve retaken the lead rather quickly had it not been for Danny Green (16 points) and Tiago Splitter (21 points, 10 boards). Splitter, in particular, was pulling out all kinds of shots: mini skyhooks, jump shots, dunks. He’s a weird player in that we’re not entirely sure how good he is. If he was in another system, we could see him averaging 15 and 10, but we could also see him slowly drift towards Rasho Nesterovic status. Also, there was this: twice in the third quarter, the Thunder made runs to cut the deficit to just a one or two-possession game. But immediately after both timeouts, San Antonio exploded to push the lead back to a comfortable distance, and OKC never challenged again … As much as we love Westbrook, it must be said: what was he doing last night? That was one of the most out of control games we’ve ever seen from a point guard. The Thunder had 42 points in the first 16 minutes of this game, then scored 51 over the last 32 minutes. It wasn’t all his fault – his energy level was incredible – but the Spurs capitalized on almost every one of his mistakes … So how long will it be until we see an all-black alternate uniform from OKC? Flip that main sky blue with the black and orange accents on the side. That would be super dope … The 76ers reached deep into Spencer Hawes‘ beard and pulled out one of their most exciting performances of the season, a 106-97 beatdown of Brooklyn. Hawes finished with 24 points, 10 boards and seven dimes, helping to make up for the fact that Jrue Holiday, who came into this one shooting below 27 percent in his last five games, was again pretty ordinary (15 points, 11 assists) … Did Deron Williams (27 points, 13 dimes) take a recent trip to Germany? Out of nowhere, he seems much more springy, bouncy and for the first time all year, he has his quickness back. He finally looks like the old Deron Williams, not the old Deron Williams. After ripping up the chords this weekend in Brooklyn, Williams even brought his crossover to Philly, tossing it about as a reminder to everyone watching that he can still hoop a little bit … Keep reading to hear how Utah reacted to losing their lead in the playoff race …
The Knicks might’ve gotten blown out in the Bay Area last night, losing 92-63, but at least they set a record. Their field goal percentage of 27.4 was the worst of any team, in any game, all season long. Carmelo Anthony was 4-for-15. J.R. Smith was 3-for-11. And Jason Kidd, Steve Novak and Pablo Prigioni combined to miss all 13 of their shots. Once they went through a 3-for-19 stretch in the second quarter, the game was already over, and from there, it was all Stephen Curry. He lit them up – again – for 26 points and six three-pointers … Heard on the Golden State broadcast: “It’s thought around the league that Felton thinks he’s a better player than he is. But that’s why he’s good!” Eh, we might argue that one … And who saw Clyde‘s suit last night? We were waiting for him to push the cameraman out of the way, grab the thing himself and ask, “Why…so…serious?” … That’s nine in a row for the Nuggets after winning in Phoenix by 15. Kosta Koufos had one of the best games of his life (22 points, 10 boards) and Corey Brewer added 20 off the pine … It wasn’t quite DeAndre-on-Brandon, but JaVale McGee‘s lob finish on Hamed Haddadi‘s head was pretty nasty … Sitting on the outside of the playoffs for the first time in what feels like months, Utah came out on fire, dropping a 20-2 run on a Pistons team that looked like they’d left part of their soul behind in Los Angeles. In just his fourth game back from injury, Mo Williams went off, scoring 20 points in only 26 minutes, and fueled a late game run that effectively ended this one, 103-90 … In the first quarter, the Jazz’s announcers rhetorically asked, “Rodney Stuckey was once thought to be a franchise player up there in Detroit… I’m not really sure what’s going on up there.” Um, maybe he’s just not very good? That sounds like a decent enough explanation. Stuckey was such a big miss from Joe Dumars that they’ll probably somehow get his name onto the GM’s tombstone … The guys on the Utah telecast were talking all night about how Marvin Williams (14 points, six boards) appears so much more comfortable with his role coming off the bench right now. That might be so, but it didn’t seem that way in the postgame interview. The dude was speed talking like he was trying to set some type of record … And the DeAndre Jordan curse followed Brandon Knight to Utah. He sprained his ankle not even four minutes into this one and never returned … In the West Coast Conference final between No. 1 Gonzaga and St. Mary’s, Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris combined for 40 points to help the ‘Zags win easily. A No. 1 seed in the NCAAs is all but wrapped up … While the five finalists for the 2013 Bob Cousy Award were announced yesterday: Marcus Smart from Oklahoma State, Matthew Dellavedova from Saint Mary’s, ‘Cuse’s Michael Carter-Williams, Shane Larkin of Miami and Trey Burke from Michigan. It should be a pretty tight vote, for no other reason than none of those guys have really separated themselves from the pack … We’re out like Westbrook’s shot selection.
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