Horry Scale: The Beard Does It For The First Time!

VIDEO: James Harden dooms the Suns with a step-back jumper

Someone, P.J. Tucker is a good place to start, in that Phoenix Suns locker room has some explaining to do. Did they not read the scouting report? Don’t they know how much James Harden loves to play basketball in the Phoenix area? The Southern California native did paint the town (well, Tempe) for two years as an Arizona State Sun Devil.

So it’s only fitting that his first buzzer-beater (at least in the NBA) came on somewhat familiar turf. And after the way the Golden State Warriors pushed them around in their previous game, Harden’s Houston Rockets couldn’t afford another humbling defeat. Giving the NBA’s leading scorer 16 seconds to work is pretty unfair, if you ask me. That’s more than enough time for Harden to figure out how to take advantage of any elite defender and find a good shot.

If anyone was going to rescue the Rockets in the state of Arizona with a shot at the buzzer … someone find that darn scouting report.

DIFFICULTY

Kevin McHale didn’t waste any time on the white board in the huddle. This was Clutch Bucket 101. “Give the ball to James and everyone else get the heck out of the way.” Without an immediate double-team of Harden that would have forced him to give the ball and make anyone but the best scorer in the league this season beat you, the Suns were baked the moment the ball was thrown in bounds. Again, Clutch Bucket 101!

GAME SITUATION

The Rockets played the final three quarters without Dwight Howard, who left early with a sprained ankle. So that meant Harden spent his entire night going bananas on the Suns. He finished with 33 points, 10 assists and six rebounds and was his usual wicked self from the free-throw line (14-for-17). And somehow the Rockets still needed his heroics to outlast the Suns after leading by 16 points midway through the fourth quarter. The Suns are 24-2 this season when leading at halftime, so the final outcome should not have been in any doubt.

IMPORTANCE

The Rockets need to do everything they can to keep pace with the other teams at the top of the Western Conference standings, so this was a huge game the same way every game they play the remainder of the regular season will be for a team jockeying for playoff position. The Suns are trying to hold off the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder for that eighth and final playoff slot in the West, making each and every lost opportunity a potential dagger down the road.

CELEBRATION

Harden’s hands down, head-to-the-sky individual celebration was done the right way. Act like you’ve been there before (even if, technically, you have not during your NBA career). The Rockets bench showed their leader the appropriate love, but would rather it not be necessary the next time they are up 16 midway through the fourth quarter.

GRADE

I’m an old school enthusiast in just about every way imaginable. That’s why the iso-NBA leading scorer routine worked for me. Someone better read the scouting report next time, though. We’ll give it three Horrys.

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A new Gregg Popovich?

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Death, taxes and a surly Spurs coach Gregg Popovich during a sideline interview are a few of life’s certainties. So what happened last night during the Spurs/Bulls game when Rachel Nichols had some questions for Pop? He…answered them pleasantly with full sentences!? Who are you and what have you done with Pop?!


VIDEO: Nice Pop?

Stephen Curry has been ridiculous this season

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In case you somehow missed last night’s announcement, the starters for the 2015 All-Star Game were announced, and the leading overall vote-getter was Golden State’s Stephen Curry. As I wrote in the voting recap, this season Curry has been the best player on the league’s best team. And as you can see from the Instagram video Curry posted last night, he was grateful for every vote…

Truly honored … again. Thanks everyone, especially #DubNation

A video posted by Wardell Curry (@wardell30) on

Just how good has Curry been this season? Just watch this video the Warriors put together of Curry’s highlights from this season. Crazy…


VIDEO: Best of Steph

Playing hashtags with the Cavs

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A key component of being funny on social media is having a strong hashtag game. A hashtag, of course, is a word or phrase that starts with a # symbol, and while it serves a purpose as a way to allow people to click and follow posts that also use the same hashtag, more often it’s a way to add a joke to whatever you wrote previously. In this video the Cleveland Cavaliers have some fun with hashtags and come up with a few to add to photos of Tristan Thompson. I think the big takeaway here may be that James Jones would be great on Twitter…


VIDEO: Cavs Hashtags

Does deflating a basketball help?

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The big story right now in the NFL concerns the New England Patriots and the accusation that they knowingly deflated the footballs they used in their playoff win last week over the Indianapolis Colts. This would have given them some sort of advantage, experts say, and while we’ll leave that to them to get settled, it did make us wonder, what if an NBA team deflated the basketball? Kenny, Shaq and Chuck got to talking about the same thing last night on “Inside the NBA,” which led to a Shaq free throw shooting contest using a flat basketball…


VIDEO: Deflate Inside

The other question here is, if an NBA team deflated the basketball, which team would that be? Well, I think we have our answer, thanks to this vine from the Milwaukee Bucks, who caught mascot Bango red-handed…er, red-hoofed…

Shaqtin’ A Fool: Volume 4, Episode 11


VIDEO: Shaq brings us the 11the installment of this season’s follies

Vote for this week’s best Shaqtin’ A Fool moment and tweet your favorite to #Shaqtin!

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Sixers rookie finds out being a rookie can be no fun

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Philadelphia 76ers rookie JaKarr Sampson is averaging 3.6 ppg and 1.7 rpg in 36 games this season. But the key part of that sentence is the word “rookie.” Because being a rookie in the NBA can require all sorts of dirty duties: picking up doughnuts and coffee, carrying luggage, having to wear a goofy outfit on a road trip.

Or, as Sampson found out today, maybe you walk out of practice and find your car completely wrapped in aluminum fool. More like aluminum foul…

Bill Walton sings the National Anthem

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — The National Anthem is performed prior to every NBA game. The National Anthem is not performed prior to every NBA game by Hall of Famer Bill Walton. But last night in Golden State, the National Anthem was performed by the San Francisco-based folk/Americana band The Fall Risk, and they were joined by none other than Bill Walton. Take it away, gentlemen…


VIDEO: Walton Sings

Throwback Thursday: Kobe scores 81


VIDEO: Kobe Bryant scores 81 points

Welcome to Throwback Thursday here on the All Ball Blog. Each week, we’ll delve into the NBA’s photo archives and uncover a topic and some great images from way back when. Hit us up here if you have suggestions for a future TBT on All Ball. Suggestions are always welcome!

Today’s Topic: Kobe Scores 81

(NOTE: Watch NBA TV today at 4 p.m. ET as we’ll be playing back Kobe’s 81-point game in its entirety). 

Arguably the most memorable night of Kobe Bryant‘s illustrious career occurred on January 22, 2006. He erupted for 81 points with 30 coming in the fourth quarter as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied to beat the Toronto Raptors 122-104.

 

On the ninth anniversary of this accomplishment, look back at photos, stats and quotes from the incredible night:


Gallery: Kobe Bryant Scores 81

Where were you when Kobe Bryant dropped 81? Leave your comments below!

Kyle Korver dunked last night

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — How well are things going for the Atlanta Hawks these days? Last night’s win over Indiana pushed them to an eye-popping 35-8 on the season. They have won 14 games in a row, and won 28 of their last 30 games. But maybe the most clear sign that the Hawks are rolling? Kyle Korver dunked a ball last night.


VIDEO: Korver Dunk

Now, it’s no surprise that Korver was able to dunk a ball last night — he’s 6-7 and in terrific shape, so being able to dunk probably is no problem. The big surprise here is that Korver chose to dunk the ball. The last time Korver dunked in an NBA game? November 16, 2012, over two years ago.

How big a deal was this? Well, first just listen to Hawks announcers Bob Rathbun and Dominique Wilkins freak out when Korver dunks. Then take a look at the players on the Hawks bench. Think they loved it?

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