There was a brick fair of enormous magnitude in Oklahoma City on Sunday and it was all in Chesapeake Energy Arena. James Harden missed 12 of 17. Dwight Howard missed 10 of 14 — 19 of 27 if you count free throws. Houston’s stars weren’t the only culprits. In fact, nobody shot 50 percent from the field. Nobody.
The Rockets shot 28.7 percent from the field, undoubtedly helped to that figure by the ridiculous rim protection from the trio of Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. Fourteen blocks combined, they threw six offerings from Howard. Credit the Rockets for continuing to challenge the Thunder, but their intrepidity in the paint was likely necessitated by their abysmal launching from deep (7-for-35 out there).
Despite Houston’s shooting woes, it got the 69-65 win (read that score again slowly) because OKC wasn’t much better (29.4 percent). It was a physical affair, replete with four technical fouls, a Pat Beverley sighting and more trash talk than a little bit. Win or no win, the Thunder, particularly young big man Adams, gave the Rockets a rim party to remember.
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:
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…
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.