Top Plays Theatre

Jeremy Evans can really, really leap

Whenever Jeremy Evans’ name is mentioned around these parts, it’s because of his deft ability to defy gravity and complete jams no human has a right to complete.

He is tall (6-foot-9), so he’s supposed to be able to dunk, right? Fair point. But Friday night against the Pelicans, he might have outdone himself on a feed from Ian Clark. Regardless of his height, this took a deal of hand-eye coordination, body control and flexibility to pull off.

With all due respect to the Lob Brothers in L.A., Evans might have given us the best alley-oop of the season:


VIDEO: Jeremy Evans reaches way back to complete the oop from Ian Clark

George casually nails absurdly long trey

Anybody in the whole free world with half an NBA eye knows the Pacers are struggling. Those with a whole eye see their superstar Paul George as being in the vanguard of the struggle, as illuminated by Sekou Smith here recently.

So what does Mr. George do to get folks off his back? He launches a 3 from the half-court logo in a one-point game with a little over three minutes to play, that’s what. It wasn’t a buzzer-beater either, although he may have thought it was…


VIDEO: Paul George goes YOLO — or gets desperate — and sinks ridiculous 3

Indiana ended up winning 101-94. Does this shift their season for the better? Who knows. One thing for sure: Uncle Pauly hasn’t lost his confidence.

Stat, Tyson play bully ball in Oakland

Coaches are fond of telling their team that whoever plays with the most physicality will win nine out of 10 times. The Pistons of the late 1980s took that to heart and it led to a dynasty and adulation many years later.

It didn’t work as well for the early to mid-90s New York Knicks, who boasted a trio of imposing bruisers — Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason — but couldn’t get out the East. Throughout the years, plenty of teams followed the rough and tumble blueprint. While it doesn’t always result in a championship, a physical brand of basketball does make things competitive…which is ultimately what we want to see.

Sunday night at ORACLE Arena, the (current) Knicks discovered what a bit of nasty could do. First Tyson Chandler got demonstrative on Jermaine O’Neal, capped off by a searing stare-down:


VIDEO: Tyson Chandler sends Jermaine O’Neal to the ground, then scowls at him

Then a quarter later, Amar’e Stoudemire did exactly what a 6-foot-10 person is supposed to do when a 6-foot-3 person is in his way under the rim:


VIDEO: Amar’e Stoudemire snatches board from Stephen Curry and throws down

Gotta love how Stephen Curry just helped himself to his feet, wiped his mouth off with his jersey and trotted up the court. As fierce as any competitor in the NBA, he dropped a cool 32 points and single-handedly almost led Golden State to a dub. But for another night at least, the bullies captured the flag.

The long-named rookie strikes again

In L.A., Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded another highlight in the land of highlights.

In L.A., Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded another highlight in the land of highlights.

Giannis, Giannis, Giannis. Throughout the Bucks’ seasonal march toward futility, the 19-year-old neophyte from Greece has kept the league us drooling over his youth, coachable mien and propensity for otherworldly hardwood feats.

His chasedown swat and Statue of Liberty yam against the Celtics earlier this season has been firmly ensconced on the Top Plays Theatre. Monday night in the land of the lobs, his springs and hustle decided to grace us again.

Once he got the block, you knew what he was going for. Fortunately, Zaza Pachulia knew what time it was and fed the young buck on cue:


VIDEO: Giannis Antetokounmpo gets busy on both ends

Paul George got five on it

Here at the All Ball lair, we put a heavy spotlight on the offensive exploits of NBA players. Defensive prowess gets love too, mainly in the form of a monstrous block or chicanery.

When the Pacers visited Chicago for their second matchup in three nights Monday, Paul George added another dimension to the Top Plays Theatre. His weapon of choice: long arms, quick feet and insatiable persistence.

In a sequence early in the game, he attempted to pilfer the Bulls’ rock not once, not twice, not thrice, but five times before he emerged successful. To say it’s one of the best defensive efforts of the season is an understatement:


VIDEO: Ever the opportunist, Paul George uses five attempts to get the steal and score

MKG blows up Time Warner Cable Arena


VIDEO: Michael Jordan gives his approval after Gerald Henderson’s and-one

The Bobcats came into Saturday’s game against the Trail Blazers on a mission. They led wire-to-wire, titillating owner Michael Jordan and the Charlotte crowd with an endless stream of conversions and stops to comfortably run away to a 30-point win.

Late in the game, with a less-than-tenuous 27-point lead, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist took a behind-the-back feed from Luke Ridnour and charged toward the tin. Try as he might, 7-foot-1 Meyers Leonard couldn’t avoid the baptism that followed.

As the roar of the crowd indicated, church took place late Saturday night on East Trade St.


VIDEO: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist detonates on Meyers Leonard

Pressey’s precision poses problems

Celtics rookie Phil Pressey is the son of a man — Paul Pressey — credited with being the original point forward. Phil might not have gotten his old man’s height (he’s 5-foot-11; Pops is 6-foot-5), but the court vision transferred just fine. 

Ignore his 2.4 ppg and 2.7 apg, his 29 percent shooting, his 64 percent from the charity stripe. Though nobody is calling for Pressey to replace the stalwart Rajon Rondo, true hoop heads have noticed his highlight helpers, how he can dish with either hand in transition, off the pick-and-roll. No look accuracy is nothing foreign to him. Bounce passes, behind the backs, it’s all there. Point blank, the rook can carve ‘em up.

Playing behind one of the game’s best passers in Rondo should only nurture that gift. But so far, he has done enough work to garner the attention of the Top Plays Theatre:


VIDEO: Phil Pressey impresses with several top-notch assists

Curry gives fans show in Portland

If you didn’t see Sunday’s contest between the Warriors and Trail Blazers, cue up League Pass and grab some popcorn. It was a basketball game, folks.

Things got really good in the fourth quarter. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson shined for 51 points in the second half and in the last five minutes, their beam was almost blinding. Thompson hit two dagger treys in the final minute to finish off a fantastic effort by Damian Lillard and Rip City, as Golden State escaped with a win.

But this play by Steph is worth the price of admission. He outbattles Wesley Matthews for the steal, races down court with the pill, then goes to work on Wes…and the always spunky Portland crowd.

His showmanship might surpass his shooting.


VIDEO: Stephen Curry gives Wesley Matthews work, then flexes to the raucous Portland crowd

The All Ball Crossover Contest (Vol. 2)

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Welcome to Volume Two of the Crossover Contest, in which we highlight the best of the best (and worst). In the same way that we look at who got dunked on in our All Ball Posterized Poll, in the crossover contest we examine which NBA players have been put in a blender. From time to time, we will check in and look at some of the best ankle-breaking dribbling exhibitions we’ve seen. We want to see the greatest moves, of course, but we also want to take note of who got shook.

So who broke out the best crossover in this edition of the Crossover Contest? We culled this selection of videos, and NBA.com’s Zettler Clay is providing the written commentary to accompany what you see.

Check out the videos below and vote at the bottom of the post …

WILL BYNUM ON DEVIN HARRIS, Feb. 22
Zettler: Devin Harris
didn’t really stand a chance. As soon as he stepped up, Will Bynum hit him with the stutter dribble. That was enough to set Devin up for the inadvertent Cupid Shuffle. Quick, efficient move by a man with an arsenal of them.


VIDEO: Will Bynum jukes Devin Harris

KYRIE IRVING ON THABO SEFOLOSHA, Feb. 26
Zettler: This was unique in that Kyrie Irving provoked Thabo Sefolosha’s (perennial All-NBA defender) fall before he performed the crossover. Irving drove hard right and stopped on a dime, which was enough to send poor Thabo sprawling on all fours and his bench off their seats for the inevitable dagger.


VIDEO: Kyrie loses Thabo

TY LAWSON ON JODIE MEEKS, March 7
Zettler: Don’t hurt ‘em, Law! This was just, oh my…just pause the clip at the seven second mark. A frozen video is worth a thousand words.


VIDEO: Ty Lawson carves up Jodie

ANDRAY BLATCHE ON TYLER HANSBROUGH, March 10
Zettler (channeling his inner Hubie Brown): See, we know Andray Blatche likes to create like a guard. We’ve seen him hit fancy scoops. We know he’ll dunk it on ya. But now we see that he has the killer — slow, but killer — crossover to turn Tyler Hansbrough in circles and get the finish. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.


VIDEO: ‘Blatcheness’ takes over Brooklyn at Tyler Hansbrough’s expense

RUSSELL WESTBROOK ON PATRICK BEVERLEY, March 11
Zettler: Considering the contentious blood between these two, this is classic payback. Patrick Beverley stood too tall for a defensive stance and reached. Russell Westbrook taught with an old-school Zeke lightning cross through the legs. Speed and quickness under control.


VIDEO: Westbrook crosses by Beverley

Wroten’s Highlights Turn South Fast


VIDEO: Tony Wroten blows two dunks against the Milwaukee Bucks

It hasn’t been the easiest year for Sixers fans. Aside from an early-season hot start and Allen Iverson’s jersey retirement, times have been bleak in the City of Brotherly Love. Be not mistaken, all isn’t dark in Philly.

Michael Carter-Williams is leading the Rookie of the Year race and Tony Wroten, 20, is a second-year guard with the penchant for the dazzle.

Did I mention that Wroten is a 20-year-old second year guard? Whether he giveth or taketh, you never know what you’re going to get when it comes to his playmaking.

On Wednesday night against the cross-country Kings, he was at it again. In one play, he gave us the Tony Wroten experience that encapsulates their season.

It’s good to know he can laugh at himself a little. On another note, the Sixers dropped their 18th straight contest.


VIDEO: Tony Wroten blows the easy bunny after felling Ray McCallum with a serious crossover