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Smack / Dec 26, 2009 / 9:24 am

Gift of the Game

Shaquille O'Neal (photo. Chenoa Maxwell)

Shaquille O'Neal (photo. Chenoa Maxwell)

The relatively easy time Cleveland had running the Lakers out of their own gym in the most-hyped NBA game of the year was personified best by, of all people, Anderson Varejao. At the start of the second quarter, as the Cavs began to build a 20-point lead that the Lakers could never make up, Varejao looked amazingly competent on offense: He hit a fadeaway, used a smooth up-and-under to get himself a layup, and actually handled the ball for significant stretches without looking like a doofus … Meanwhile, LeBron and Co. ran most of the quarter, getting numerous transition opportunities off L.A. turnovers and taking some steam out of the Staples Center crowd. Kobe (35 pts, 9 rebs, 8 asts) and Ron Artest sparked a late-quarter rally to cut the lead to nine at halftime, then got it to six early in the third, but Mo Williams (28 pts, 7 asts) came back with a jumper and a gang of free throws, and Shaq threw down dunks on back-to-back possessions that really stretched it out to an insurmountable gap … Looks like the Cavs’ team barber took the holidays off. Daniel Gibson (who got a whole six seconds of PT) had a decent design cut into his head that we didn’t get enough time to actually see, but LeBron (26 pts, 9 asts) and Mo looked a bit scruffy … It was like even when the Lakers did the right thing, it turned out wrong. One time Artest hounded LeBron as he brought the ball past midcourt, eventually getting a steal. Artest was fouled (but not hard) as he went in for a layup, missed the shot, then hit only one of the free throws. A potential three-point play resulting in only one point … The frustration boiled over for the Laker fans in the fourth quarter. After Lamar Odom got ejected and Kobe picked up a tech within seconds of each other, people started throwing foam fingers onto the court (the “MVPuppet” L.A. fingers), and somebody flung a water bottle. Of all the NBA crowds you’d predict to go off like that, wouldn’t L.A. have ranked 29th and 30th (for the Lakers and Clippers)? … Do you think D-Wade (or Dirk or ‘Melo or whoever else) grinds his teeth every time he hears people declare Kobe and LeBron the two best players in the world like it’s not even up for debate? … Say what you want about Shaq being a role player, but he was hired to neutralize the other team’s center, and Andrew Bynum was quiet like Elmer Fudd with just four points and six boards … Far removed from the goons who were throwing stuff, the crowd had more than its share of celebrities: Ken Griffey Jr., Snoop Dogg, Andy Garcia, Danny Devito, Rocky Balboa, Alex Trebek and Anna Kournikova … Despite all the offensive talent on each roster, this Magic/Celtics rivalry is headed for a smashmouth playoff series next spring that could spark images of those old Heat/Knicks series in the ’90s. In two meetings this season the final score was 80-something to 70-something, and now Boston has added to fuel to the competitive fire. After playing his part in completely taking Dwight Howard out of the game offensively (5 pts, 1-7 FG, 20 rebs), Kendrick Perkins said, “You’ve got to play (Howard) physical. You watch other teams around the league, they pretty much let him set up shop. You’ve just got to go in and be prepared to go to war. You’ve got to fight him first, hit him first. He likes to be physical, but he doesn’t like anyone to be physical with him.” … This is nothing new, though. Doc Rivers is simply taking a page from the book Detroit used on Dwight back when he could never get past them in the playoffs. Those Pistons had 4-5 big men they could throw at Dwight who had diverse styles and six fouls apiece, and Boston is replicating it with Perkins, Rasheed, KG, Shelden and Big Baby (who returned to the lineup yesterday). That’s also a sign Dwight hasn’t developed his game much since those early Pistons series … What was that about Brandon Roy being limited with a sore shoulder? Wearing a brace/sleeve on his left (non-shooting) shoulder after missing Portland’s last game, B-Roy couldn’t miss early on against Denver. Dropping threes and step-backs in the first quarter before going into slashing mode in the second to get layups, he scored 26 in the first half and finished with 41 points (16-26 FG) … But even with Roy’s hot hand and Chauncey Billups (groin) sitting out the second half, the Nuggets kept it close throughout until Roy and Steve Blake started hitting threes down the stretch to give the Blazers a cushion … Other stat lines from the Christmas Day schedule: D-Wade put up 30 points, nine boards, five dimes and four steals to lead Miami past the Knicks (who wore their St. Patrick’s Day green unis on Christmas); and Amar’e Stoudemire scored 26 in Phoenix’s rout of the Clippers … We’re out like Rocky …

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  • the_don_mega (reppin the 3 stars and a sun)

    kobe was the only laker fightin’ hard the whole game… others took the day off…

  • calvin brodus

    no jack at the lakers game. he’s knows LA is no decent place to spend a holiday. he was in colorado, a god damn, bona fide winter wonderland.

  • common sense!!

    kobe 31 shots… way too much.. why is gasol, (maybe the best post player in the game) getting only 10 shots and kobe gets 30, seriously, the lakers should never loose if kobe didnt have these games..

    kobes good, dont get me twisted, but hes been anointed as the greatest ever..

    people are so fickle.. give wade, lebron or carmello a young shack and they win a 3peat and give them the current lakers squad and they win it all aswell.

    The greatness tag is only defined by the current situation of your tean and or the nba marketing machine. Its quite clear that the nba needed kobe to stay in LA because of the market size and the potential future revenue for all parties so they made memphis give gasol to LA for a bag of doritos (otherwise known as kwame Brown).

    Serisously, the way the media gush over bryant and deride a superior lebron is ridiculous, you think if lebron was on the current lakers squad they dont go 72-0 or something ridiculous of that nature… please… yet were being force fed this kobe jargon…

  • That’s what’s up

    watching the lakers get cracked and lose their shit on their home floor was the finest present I received on Christmas Day

  • no j mayo

    common sense…you’re post is so retarded, i don’t even know where to begin, but here’s an idea, there are 82 games in an nba season.

  • no j mayo

    common sense…your post is so retarded, i don’t even know where to begin, but here’s an idea, there are 82 games in an nba season.

  • sweetv0mit

    i shed a tear when i saw those MVPuppets foam fingers getting tossed around… i woulda copped one if i was there

  • Cha-Ching

    LA Fan here…

    I like when Lakers lose games like this. Sometimes the players act like they are suppose to win. We at home, we the champs, we got Kobe, etc. It pisses me off! LA needs reality checks every once in a while. Thats why they won’t break any regular season records like the Bulls. Mike and Co. did not need reality checks. I think its because the players on the Bulls were overall older then the current LA team. Lakers will still be the favorites in the playoffs and it will be some exciting games. Hopefully this will wake they ass up.

  • shaw33

    good games yesterday and shout out to dime for calling how great a melo b-Roy riveralry would be. Denver Portland was good expect with out billips in the 2nd half Denver struggled.

  • L-Dubb

    Wade is not as good as Kobe on the perimeter. You can shut Wade up by complex zone schemes. If you put DWade on the Lakers, I got a $1000 that says that the Lakers DON’T win the championship. The way I watched Lebron James play inconsistently during last year playoffs; I can’t vouch for him winning anything if he was on the Lakers. See Kobe has the edge to be able to extract the best from these guys. Kobe was meant to be a Laker and the team is built for him to win. And Kobe took all those shots because he had too. Did you watch the game? It was a serious lack of effort and energy. I want the Cavs to know I know they know that they are NOT better than the Lakers. And I know for certain that Carmelo on the Lakers would not equal rings. Kobe is the best and he maximizes the Lakers at their best. Yesterday was horrible aside from Kobe’s efforts.

  • Sallo

    L-Dubb can you give me the number for your psychic(psychiatrist)cause they got you on some good issh. No wonder you know these things for certain.

  • http://heckler@aol.com Heckler

    nothing impressed me on christmas day. nothing at all.

    no surprises. not even in the NBAs game lineup. Kobes team. LeBrons team. Wades team. Dwights team. Carmelos team. and on the side, throw in KG, Shaq, Nash and BRoy. expect all their teams to play on Christmas day until the year 2025 (sheeit, maybe beyond).

    cavs have beaten the lakers in LA recently, so that was nothing new. and whenever the lakers are down or losing, Kobe goes nutt and forgets how to pass and use his teammates. but aint nothing for LA. they still going to the finals.

    as for cleveland, they seem like a regular season team to me. they aint built for the playoffs. can you really see them beating orlando FOUR times? and I know for damn sure none of you (dime crew included) can see the Cavs beating the Celts FOUR times!

    Dwyane Wade is still the most skilled player in the league. after Kobe, he is the next best. sorry lebron. LBJames is still in the top 10, but Wade is just more talented and sophisticated with his game.

    Brandon Roy is still the best kept secret in the NBA.

    Denver is nice at times, but they seem incomplete. they feel like they are missing a player. i dunno who; but they seem like they are still 1 more player away from being able to get to the finals.

    Celts defense is the best in the league. its the reason they gonna win the East. they just gotta stay healthy. this is the last year of their run.

  • got beef?

    what i learned is… like i already knew… the celtics are by far the best team in the NBA, The celtics beat the cavs in cleveland, beat magic in orlando, who have the Lakers beat that are superior, Nuggets? No they got blown out. Cleveland? no another blowout

  • Kermit The Washington

    I’m so mad at my Lakers yo. No one showed up except Kobe and Ron-Ron. They only do this when there’s a big national TV game; I HATE that.

    I’m so angry, I’m gonna call them the LA Tampons all week long. They’re only good for one period, and they got NO SECOND STRING! OH!

  • FallODaLdr

    Lakers were taken out of the game by the constant non-calls by the refs. This was the most horrendous game to watch because of the inconsitantcy of the officiating. Dime didn’t even mention the best moment of the day when Phil was being interviewed during the game after Kobe had been literally knocked down three times in the paint and not one call made. Couldn’t find the video but Phil basically says “I can’t say what I want to because I was fined $25,000 last year. They’re knocking us down and we can’t keep THEM of the FT line. And Merry X-mas to everyone for HAVING to watch this game.” Then when Artest was fouled out Phil refuses to sub in some one and takes the 2 delay of games and the following technical.
    If the NBA wants to shake the ref scandal, why not officiate the most watched game of the year correctly. The way the lakers attacked the rack they should have doubled up their FTAs.

  • mosduff

    “Looks like the Cavs’ team barber took the holidays off. Daniel Gibson (who got a whole six seconds of PT) had a decent design cut into his head that we didn’t get enough time to actually see, but LeBron (26 pts, 9 asts) and Mo looked a bit scruffy”

    who cares?!

  • nola

    @common sense
    you’re an idiot. did you even watch the game? dont just go look at the box score and come and complain or whatever about shit. kobe took 30 shots because 1. he was the only laker trying including ron and 2. he kept getting fouled but didnt get calls which made him go to the rack more which lead to more no calls.

  • 12thMan

    The officiating was pro-Lakeshow for the first 3 quarters, and then it looks like Crawford got tired of Kobe bitching the whole game…finally

  • Bill

    @ FallODaLdr

    the officiating was fine, just the refs actually had the balls not to give the lakers the bs calls they usually get.

  • Ian

    l dubb
    wade cant win with the lakers but he can with a worse team like the 06 heat??

    bron cant win with the lakers but he can carry 4 scrubs ot the finals 07??

    you can say kobe is the best and any crap you want but dont try to make it sound like he carried scrubs to back to back finals that team is stacked.

  • Ian

    laker fans
    please stop making excuses after every bad kobe game. “oh he went 10-150 because his teammates werent trying” gtfoh. bad game they lost who cares the end.

  • common sense!!

    call it what you want but kobe took 30 shots in a game… dont care if hes the only one trying or whatever.. you kobelites need a reality dose, his bitchassness shoots too much and give gasol and bynum some more godamn toches, theyre both 7feet for peet sake and both are good post players, if the lakeshow played inside out theyd be unstoppable but bryant is to fixated on his legacy and need to be considered the greatest by the time he retires.. too conceed that this team would function better with him as a secondary option for most of the game and if the game is close he could take over down the stetch…

    and enough with this bullshizzle that kobe won a title without shaq.. thats correct but he damn near had gasol, bynum and odom who are all all star calibre players…
    and how on earth are the lakeshow paying all theyr folks and even being close to the salary cap… like seriously, theyre becoming like the yankees… parity… YEAH RIGHT

  • ThaKing253

    Yu guys are ALL wrong 1. Kobe took all those shots because his team didnt know what to do with tha ball, everytime they tried to throw it to the post the cleveland defenders would steal the ball 2. Tha Cavs won the game and are a better team because they have Shaq if any of you dumb laker fans watched the games last year you would have noticed that they dominated in the post because the Cavs had no big men as a matter of fact the first time they matched up Big Z wasnt even playing 3. The officiating allowed the Lakers to come back at the end of the second half, if you took the time to look you would have seen that the Cavs went to the free throw line 3 times to the Lakers 13, which is why the Cavs started attacking in the second half and got to the line more 4. The Cavs were just too physical for LA they looked exactly like they did against Boston a couple years ago in the finals.

    The Bottom Line: The Cavs are just plain the better team now; You dillusional laker fans can quit with your bulls*** excuses

  • http://www.24hrgrind.com LS

    Boobie had the UT Longhorns logo cut into his head…

  • got beef?

    @ FallODaLdr
    r u kiddin me right now? Kobe flops EVERY TIME he misses a shot then looks over at the ref to complain, if i were those refs i woulda given kobe 3 techs (yes three, even after he’s ejected just to make a point) not to mention the dirty non- call when kobe ran through a 6’1″ mo williams, meanwhile fisher can just run infront of lebron and flop and get a call

  • Bron42 aka Had Springs before Slamball

    @TheKing, your crazy, the cavs win 1 game and their the better team? I dont like either of the teams but i’d still take the lakers over lebron and his broken jumpshot on a regular basis.

    I’m not even gonna bother with this “common sense” kid cuz hes obviously clueless. I don’t agree with L-Dubb since I think if you put wade on that team they’d still win being that his style is simlar to kobes…I don’t think melo would win on the lakers or lebron.

    @ian, we all know lebron got to the finals in a crap injury plagued year in the east and got spanked so lets not make it like he really did all that.

    HEcklers post was dead on

  • Doug

    ians a tool looking for laker fans to pile on cuz his team is shit..the spurs suck big ass…like i said they’re team needs to start rebuilding..Those refs are lucky they got out of there with there lives that officiating was shit…the lakers didn’t come to play but don’t compound it with bias officiating Kobe getting killed bron running over him and stiff arming and they call foul on Kobe…I’ve said this for the longest excluding just the lakers Bron is who Stearn wants to make the next dude and it’s obvious Phoenix had it in the paper after the Cavs beat them that Bron had been called for a foul in like 3 games…WTF…he plays way too aggressive to go 3 games without a foul call and than Stearn going public with his opinion of Bron saying his the best player the NBA has ever seen even better than MJ..and the biggest up yours from Stearn is his hopeless convincing of intelligent nba fans that Donaghy is an isolated incident and a liar….that’s straight up bullshit yall know refs is doing that shit and Stearn is doing a terrible diservice to the fans by saying this shit doesn’t exist.

  • Doug

    ian what is the spurs record? GTFOH your permanently muted until your team is more than 5 games over .500 you guys suck ass. You should really keep quiet..for real man with that loss & refs officiating for bron guess what place we rank in the NBA in accordance to records?………We have the best record in the NBA…

  • skywarp

    @ian, we all know lebron got to the finals in a crap injury plagued year in the east and got spanked so lets not make it like he really did all that

    then what do u call last year?.. no manu.. no yao no tmac no garnet.. and half a nelson?…

  • heartbreaker85

    the big difference was shaq.

    22 minutes, 11 points.

    but if you look BEYOND THE NUMBERS and actually WATCHED THE GAME,

    shaq sent a message early to gasol in the 1st quarter by roughing him up. ditto with bynum. kobe HAD to take those 30 shots for the lakers to stay in it (though most of them were forced/ ill-advised). the refs called the game for the lakers from 1-3 quarters. then decided to let ‘em play physical in the 4th.

    that being said; the lakers are STILL a finesse team with no muscle.

    if they ever face boston in the finals, all the talent they have won’t square up once the Cs start roughing them up on the defensive end.

    the cavs in the finals? nah.

  • Ian

    skywarp
    i dont know what to tell you about last season with all the injuries. i guess hold it the same way you do lebrons 07 run. either both great or both lucky?

  • Ian

    doug
    is getting creepy man some of the posts bash kobe i didnt and yet you like to talk about me. that man crush you got on kobe are you sending it my way? damn.

    btw whats the point of your post? excuses? kobe is the best ever? what?

  • http://twitter.com/therealknowbody Gabriel Brogden

    hahaha…Pau pulled a disappearing act.

    Kwame Bynum didn’t show up.

    Lakers’ bench was wiggity wack.

    Kobe tried to snuff out Mo…the basketball gods don’t like stuff like that.

    Kobe took 35 gabillion shots and hit 10.

    What’s the Purple and Gold excuse now? Everyone was healthy. Well Kobe was playing with a crooked index but what’s new?

    AP presented problems for the Milky Way Galaxy’s best basketball player.

    Say what you want but that was a good win for the Cavaliers. They can build of this solid win against one of the best squads in the L.

    You know it’s not your night when Jamario Moon is looking like an all star.

  • Dennis Castro

    Could you have imagined the national media backlash had those fans throwing stuff on the court had been Sixer fans? I hate ESPN.

  • Dennis Castro

    *Could you imagine

  • QQ

    Pretty big statement, that ‘Dwight hadn’t developed in his game since the Pistons’ one. And pretty fucking ignorant too.

    No development, even if he became First Team All-Nba in the L for 2-3 years now?

    No development, when he’s now the unanimous best center in his conference?

    No development, when he lead his team on an NBA finals? How many centers today, even those with better post game, have done that?

    No development, when he actually learned to play defense (more than just jumping for blocks) to win the DPOTY?

    No development, for the last two years, he modified his game to suit his team’s 3point shooting offense and his squad are now championship contneders AND are THE fucking East Champs?

    Even if yall are not fans are not a fan of his game and yall want those ‘superior’ post players, saying he hadn’t developed his game since the Pistons were pushing us around? So fucking ignorant.

  • common sense!!

    man please.. dwight aint got no post game that why he has so few attempts.. he needs to holla at the dream.. and they are way too many kobe lovers out there, yall need to let get of this homo shizzle.. hes good but the difference between him and the best players in the league is small but the media would have you believe otherwise… all you kobe lovers are just a by product of the mass marketing that has inductrinated your minds to make you believe kobe is the king of the universer blah blah blah.. sad

  • QQ

    @ common sense (wow, the fucking irony):

    Seeing how many posters have already pointed out your dumbassness, I’m not even gonna bother.

    PS: You’re a dumbass.

  • http://www.petsocietyhelp.com Pet Society Help

    Would of loved to see Adam Morrison get some PT.

  • focalmatic

    I’m scratching my head wondering why no isn’t talking more about the cheap shot that Kobe hit Mo Williams with…

    Kobe is the Oscar dela Hoya of basketball, but he just happened to have a nice cast around him when he won his chips.

  • ThaKing253

    @Bron42
    No winnin one game doesnt make you the better team. But if you were smart enough to break it down and analyze the matchups yes the cavs are a better team. Danny Ferry built this team to compete with Orlando and LA and thats just what they are doing. Defeating both teams convincingly on the road

  • ThaKing253

    @Bron42
    No winnin one game doesnt make you the better team. But if you were smart enough to break it down and analyze the matchups yes the cavs are a better team. Danny Ferry built this team to compete with Orlando and LA and thats just what they are doing. Defeating both teams convincingly on the road

  • ThaKing253

    @Bron42
    No winnin one game doesnt make you the better team. But if you were smart enough to break it down and analyze the matchups yes the cavs are a better team. Danny Ferry built this team to compete with Orlando and LA and thats just what they are doing. Defeating both teams convincingly on the road

  • weng santos

    Howard had no offense! Damn!

    That kid is as one-dimensional as one-dimensional gets!

    Somebody needs to teach DH the Mikan Drill, the inside pivot, and a jab series or two. Hard right to the middle and a cheap ugly running hook of clunker ain’t cutting it!

  • QQ

    @ 42:

    Yeah, that’s what yall been sayin last year too. That they’re built for this blah blah blah. Weren’t last year’s team ‘built’ for the championship too? What, that team didn’t even REACH the Finals??? Dammit.

    @ 44:

    Quick, give me a center (Duncan’s a PF) that has superior post moves that led his team in the championship in the last 5 years.

  • got beef?

    Everyone’s hatin on Howard’s offense, your right, not much of a big time scorer, but the reason he was so bad was Kendrick Perkins defense, that man is an all NBA defensive player, him and the C’s locked up the paint and showed the Magic and, more importantly, the nation, wat’s up

  • ThaKing253

    @45
    You arent built for anything only picking up one player. This year the Cavs picked up much more talent. When the cavs go to the finals I dont wanna hear nobody jumpin on the bandwagon

  • QQ

    The Cavs in the Finals? HAHAHAHAHA.

    Last time I took them seriously (last year, when they went 8-0 in the first two rounds and everybody were already saying they’ll be champs), they proved to be a dud. Now, no way I’ll think they’re a championship contender again.

  • QQ

    And what, picking up ONE player?

    I’m sure you’re referring to VC.

    Hmmm..

    Ryan Anderson.

    Brandon Bass.

    Jason Williams.

    Matt Barnes.

    One? Where the fuck does the counting part of your brain go?

  • Blazermark

    B-Roy out-shined them all on Christmas. Kobe, LeBron, Wade………. everyone was out worked by B-Roy….. everyone. Yet, he does it with out the hype and the help from the refs. He just does it! Quit talking about who the best is, or who the MVP is….. unless you throw in B-Roy’s name into the conversation, otherwise it is just homer BS talkin.

  • Claw

    @ QQ – Dwight has no post game, unless you call beasting through your guy for a dunk a post game. Where’s the left and right handed hook, an underneath move, any resemblance of a mid range shot? Can play D and board, but when you say 1st team Center the question is Who are the other centers?

    Cavs have no chance? Boston, when healthy is the best in the East, problem is it will be hard for all of them to be healthy, one of the big three will go down before the playoffs. Shaq sucks against the pick and roll but what he does do well is play the bigger centers in the league and I think he would slow down DHo and they might not even have to double him which leads to better D on the perimeter. Cavs will be there, but it is down to them, Boston, and Orlando.

  • QQ

    It’s been said a lot of times ( I mean a shitload of times. a SHITLOAD):

    I wouldn’t even argue about Dwight’s post game.

    But if he’ leading his team to the Finals and getting mnster numbers by beasting his way through people, what the fuck is the problem? IT’S HIS FUCKING GAME. When yall cats see Yao play, and you see him do a post move on his defender, yall scream ‘DUNK THE BALL. YOURE 7’5!!!!’ Dammit. But posting up is his fucking game. Clearly, nothing will be good enough for yall.

    PS: When was the last time your center with better post skills than Dwight led his team to the Finals? Exactly.

  • ThaKing253

    @QQ
    At which point was I ever referring to the Orlando Magic, I was clearly referring to the Cavs picking up only Mo Williams last year and being deamed a title contender. Last year they were only 3-7 against the power teams in the NBA this year they are 2-1 with the only slip up coming in the season opener against Boston, which they werent expected to win with all their new additions.