ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Now that the NBA is back, that means fun stuff like crossovers are back as well. Earlier in the week we saw Kobe catch a crossover, but that has nothing on what happened last night to Clippers point guard Jared Cunningham. Phoenix guard Eric Bledsoe hit Cunningham with a crossover, and while Cunningham stuck with him through the cross, Bledsoe then slammed on the brakes, and not only lost Cunningham, he sent him right on out of bounds. Later!
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey pulled off quite the trick during last night’s Pelicans/Suns game. Thanks to the hands of Eric Bledsoe and the dome of ref Bennie Adams, Withey pulled off the ol’ pass to himself. Impressive.
He should have shot the ball immediately just to see if he could get an assist to himself (you can see the full play here) …
Missed the cut: Gilbert Arenas, Magic; Jerryd Bayless, Raptors; Mike Bibby, Heat; Jordan Hill, Rockets; Mustafa Shakur, Wizards; Luke Walton, Lakers
Team synopsis: Leave Agent Zero on the bench? Am I crazy? Maybe. But this competition wants the players currently playing the best, not who has the best resume. Arenas just isn’t playing at the same level anymore, and both Budinger and Frye are having better seasons. This is a dangerous Arizona team, with a lot of players who can fill up the stat sheet in a number of ways.
One of my favorite kinds of buzzer-beaters: the unexpected-decoy GWBB.
Don’t get me wrong. Derek Fisher is no stranger to big shots in clutch situations (San Antonio*, cough cough**).
* Don’t forget who was on that Spurs roster. Big Shot Bob of course.
**Watching that video again, have I completely forgotten Hedo Turkoglu’s tenure on the Spurs? I could have sworn he went straight from the Kings to the Magic. That portion of his career has been totally lost to the recesses of my brain.
Still, when a team has Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, and some other guard known for last-second heroics, you assume the defense is going to focus on them. It takes a strong coach to consider that defensive initiative and take what is given. Obviously Phil Jackson fits comfortably in that category.
I wonder if Jackson is to the point where says to himself, “Self, this is a regular-season game against the Clippers. Why not gamble a little?”***
*** This theory will really gain steam when Derrick Caracter hits a game-winner.
Matt Barnes tosses it into Fisher almost immediately after ball-faking the lob to Gasol — if Kobe was the next option, Fisher couldn’t have been far behind — and Fisher heads towards the rim without hesitation. You figure in most situations, the Clippers are just happy not to have the ball in Bryant’s hands, and they’ll take their chances with Fisher. Well, chance taken, and ballgame over. Lakers beat Clippers, and the world makes sense for at least another night.
But what did Robert Horry think?
Once again, the Horry scale examines a shot in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time), importance (playoff game or garden-variety Clippers-Nets game), and celebration, and give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys.
Difficulty: Moderate. The closer you get to the basket the higher percentage shot you can get, and Fisher creates a nice amount of separation from Eric Bledsoe here for his running layup. Still, he has to get the shot over the outstretched arm of the leaping, 6-foot-11 DeAndre Jordan, which with this kind of time left shows pretty impressive touch by Fisher.
Game Situation: L.A. down a point after Jordan’s dunk with 3.1 seconds left. Do-or-die time for the Lakers.
Importance: Honestly, I don’t know. The Lakers-Clippers rivalry is so one-sided, I feel like this loss means more to the Clippers than the win does to the Lakers. Sorry Blake Griffin, this is what you have inherited. See what you can do to turn things around.
Celebration: This is supposed to be a Clippers home game, but listen to the crowd react. The only other road games where the Lakers get this much support are in Atlanta. Ouch babe.
3.5 Horrys. A very nice shot, but it’s a Lakers-Clippers game — it can’t come as that much of a surprise. The Lakers are like a bully holding a smaller kid at arm’s length, then letting go quickly and watching the kid fall over in the mud. Pretty nice work though, Derek.
What do you think?
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The season has only just begun, but the rookie hazing is already in midseason form. Here are Clippers rookies Willie Warren and Eric Bledsoe on their way into Staples Center last night before the Clippers-Blazers opener, looking either like a lounge-act version of Boys II Men or Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne.
At least Warren and Bledsoe were able to smile about it — it could have been worse.
They could have been teammate and fellow rookie Al-Farouq Aminu(right), who looks about as miserable as one would expect to be in a get-up like that. I mean, look at his glasses (zing!).
Fortunately, their wardrobes will forever be forgotten thanks to their rookie classmate (technically speaking, since last night was his NBA debut) Blake Griffin.