Some links brought to you by Larry Sanders’ gentlemanly response to his ejection last night when he flashed a thumb’s up to all three referees. Class, Joe.*
-The Heat won their 20-straight game last night against the 76ers despite squandering a big halftime lead in the third and fourth quarters when Thaddeus Young started to dominate the offensive glass, Jrue Holiday made Chalmers pay for going under the high screen, and even Dorrell Wright knocked down some three’s as Philadelphia actually made it a game. Never moreso than when Holiday dunked it in LeBrons’s mug:
But the Heat won and became just the fourth team in league history to amass 20 wins in-a-row during the regular season. Also, according to Bloomberg’s Power 100, LeBron is the most powerful athlete in the world. In 2011 it was Drew Brees, 2010 it was Peyton Manning, and in 2009 it was Tiger Woods. Solid company, I guess.
-The Knicks got blown out in Carmelo’s return to Denver’s Pepsi arena, 117-94, and really, it wasn’t even that close. Perhaps the worst part about the loss, besides the fact it quikly became unwatchable mid-way through the second quarter, was Carmelo’s continued issue with his knee. He left mid-way through the second when his knee got tight again, and never returned, even as the Denver crowd chanted for him to show himself. Not only did ‘Melo not finish, but neither did the only defensive anchor the Knicks have had over these last two seasons: Tyson Chandler. Chandler suffered what people are calling a “contusion,” but thinks he’ll play tonight in Portland. Check out Seth at P&T for more on the Knicks and their “knees!”
-Speaking of Portland, Raymond Felton is expected to hear just as much venom as ‘Melo got in Denver, but without the salubrious effects of legal cannabis to pacify the crowd. Felton, for his part, doesn’t give a crap. The Rose Garden is gonna be frothy.
-Ian Thomsen of SI spoke with former NYC wunderkind, Sebastian Telfair about what could have been.
-Sam Smith on the Bulls getting blown out by 42 points against a DeMarcus Cousins-less Sacramento Kings squad last night. Tom Thibodeau threw himself under the bus for Chicago’s relaxed play, engendering even more “love that guy” comments from basketball bloggers everywhere. Relax Chicago, Rose wouldn’t have been able to help much. Just chill.
-By now, you know Kobe went down on Dahntay Jones’ foot last night and twisted his ankle something fierce (Sasha Fierce?). Kobe then got on Twitter and called Dahntay Jones’ defense a “#dangerousplay,” and believes a foul should have been called. The Lakers had come back to only trail by 2 points at the time of the play, so that would have given Kobe a chance to tie on the line. Kobe then got all Black Mamba assasin on Twitter in the ensuing hours after the injury. Henry Abbott and Tom Ziller bring you through the blame game that’s come as a result of the play and Kobe’s Twitter reaction. God, we sure are lucky Kobe is on Twitter now. It’s an entertaining look at one of the most bizarre superstars in NBA history.
-Legendary NYC high school coach, Jack Curran, who coached the elite prep school, Archbishop Molloy High School, died today. He was 83 and will be missed by New York City ballers everywhere.
-Kelly Dwyer thinks you should take your kids to see an NBA basketball game. As a poor, marginally employed freelance writer, I can’t afford to go to live games unless an editor hooks me up with press privileges, or a buddy takes me, but I love when Dwyer gets a little solipsistic since I idolize Dwyer and so should you. Give it a gander; you won’t be sorry.
-The Bucks came back against a Wiz team without their star rookie, Bradley Beal, but they didn’t do enough to get the win, and John Wall’s 23 points and 10 assists combined with six Wizards players reaching double figures was enough to overcome another outstanding shooting performance from Monta Ellis. His improved play seems to have coincided with this piece I wrote.
-Speaking of HP, check out Steve McPherson’s piece about Stan Van Gundy, the analytics community and the process by which Stan decided to ignore the 2-for-1 with his team’s in Miami and Orlando. If you’re not familiar with 2-for-1’s, I wrote about this once for Chris Paul.
-The second—full—game I watched last night (the first was MIA-PHI plus a quarter and a half of DEN-NYK), was the Memphis - Clippers battle with the specious 3rd seed on the line. The Grizzlies, after winning 5-straight—and 13 of their last 14—heading in, had just barely passed the Clippers in winning percentage to take the third spot in the West. With their strong 96-85 win (that link is subscription only now, which means Ronald Tillery is behind a paywall now, which sucks!) against them last night, where even Chris Paul looked powerless to score on the Grizzlies suffocating defense in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies have to be considered with the upper-echelon teams (OKC, SAS, MIA) in the league again. Bizarrely, it was their offense that was unusually efficient, specifically Quincy Pondexter’s timely 3-pointers in the second quarter and a big one to silence a Clipper rally with seven minutes left in the fourth. The Grizz would finish at 50 percent (6-for-12) from long range while the Clippers were 6-for-24 from beyond the arc as Tony Allen, Tayshaun Prince, Mike Conley and Jerrad Bayless robbed them of all their confidence with some tenacious defense on the perimeter. Even Jamal Crawford looked hesitant to shoot. Blake and Paul had OK games, but Marc Gasol was his usual dominant self and his range appears to have slid even further from the basket to around 20 feet. Prince exploded in the first quarter for 12 points (he averages 11) too, and Conley had another double-double with 17 points and 11 dimes in 40 minutes of action. The Grizzlies seem to be peaking at the right time.
[top pic: Flickr/Keith Allison; Jrue Holiday gif via SB Nation]
*The preferred nomenclature of Chicagoans, who replace “yo” with “Joe,” which was explained to me by Common Sense (the rapper, not the reggae group that sued him). Now you know, Joe.