Kobe Bryant vs. Dwyane Wade is the NBA’s answer to Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. While not necessarily a matchup of the two best players in the sport (that’s where LeBron comes into the argument), rather Kobe and D-Wade represent #1 and #1A in terms of who you’d want with the ball in their hands when everything is on the line in crunch time. What stood out from last night’s clash of the titans was D-Wade uncharacteristically choking at the free throw line at the worst time, and Kobe nailing a game-winner that — as far as the quality of the shot — was probably the worst dagger he’s ever attempted … After Mamba and Flash had dominated the fourth quarter — Wade scoring 12 of his 26 points in the period while Kobe scored 17 of his 33 — it came down to Wade at the line with 3.2 seconds left and Miami up by one. He split the pair, giving Kobe a window to win the game. Taking the inbounds from midcourt, Kobe found two defenders blocking his path going right, so he circled back left and had to launch a three off of one foot while leaning to his left and with Wade’s hand in his face (almost a replay of Tim Duncan‘s shot on the Lakers in ’04 before Derek Fisher‘s famous 0.4 shot). Off the glass, bucket, ballgame … Speaking of D-Fish, he knocked down the three before Kobe’s three that set up the last sequence. The Lakers were down by four with nine seconds left, and obviously the play was designed for Kobe, but Wade had him bottled up. So Fisher popped out to the arc and Mario Chalmers was a half-step too late, and you can ask Jameer Nelson what happens when you do that … Lamar Odom wasn’t around for the finish — he got ejected after a near-brawl with Jermaine O’Neal. It started when J.O. dunked on L.O., and while hanging on the rim, J.O. put his junk a little too close to L.O.’s face. Like any reasonable guy, Lamar wasn’t having that, and the two exchanged shoves. Both were given technicals, but since Lamar had gotten one earlier, he was gone … Meanwhile, LeBron was busy leading the Cavs to a win over Chicago where his squad looked like the unstoppable force at home they were last season. Cleveland turned a close game into a rout with a 21-4 run in the third quarter, sparked by LeBron (23 pts, 11 asts) and a stingy defense. Guys were making the extra pass, actively moving on offense and selling out on D, dominating without needing LBJ himself to dominate … Joakim Noah had a near-death experience in the first half when he went to the floor for a loose ball and Shaq almost fell on him. That would’ve been one greasy mess of hair and teeth and gums to mop up. Later on, Noah almost got mopped up in another fashion: LeBron was at the line when Noah yelled at him from the bench about LeBron dancing and clowning around minutes earlier. LBJ took a few steps towards Noah and got a tech, but nothing real serious ensued. Noah later admitted he was just frustrated and felt ‘Bron was rubbing in the loss, adding that he has “a lot of respect” for LeBron. But maybe not after what LeBron said about him: “It’s nothing about showboating on a team. I’ve seen it happen all last year. I think he was more frustrated about the way he played as an individual. He didn’t help his team win.” … Somebody throw a party — the Nets actually won a game. After taking sole ownership of the NBA record for worst start to a season at 0-18, Jersey finally got in the W column by knocking off the Bobcats. Brook Lopez put up 31 points and 14 boards in the team’s first game under GM/coach Kiki Vandeweghe. (Convenient how Kiki let the other interim guy stick around for the Lakers and Mavs, then he decides to take over just in time to play Charlotte.) … You think NJ wasn’t desperate? One time Devin Harris saved a loose ball and went horizontal, jumping clear over three rows of courtside seats, then twisting in mid-air and landing awkwardly across the fourth row … Other big stat lines from Friday: Chris Paul posted 16 points, 15 assists and 8 steals in his return, a win over Minnesota (Kevin Love also returned to the Wolves, wearing a black MMA glove on his left hand); Kevin Durant dropped 36 points in a loss to the Celtics; Carlos Boozer went for 35 and 13 rebounds to beat the Pacers; Rodney Stuckey had 19 points and nine assists in Detroit’s win over Milwaukee; Chris Duhon posted 25 points and 10 dimes as the Knicks handed the Hawks only their second home loss of the season; and Zach Randolph put up 24 and 15 boards as the Grizzlies upset the Mavs … Bucking the Wizards’ recent trend, Earl Boykins did his damage in the first quarter against Toronto and let Gilbert Arenas (34 pts) take over at the end. With 14 seconds left in the fourth, Arenas hit a runner over Jarrett Jack that bounced on every part of the rim before going in to force overtime. In the extra frame, Arenas tied it up with a triple with 30 seconds left, but with 10 ticks showing, Hedo Turkoglu hit a baseline fadeaway over Caron Butler that Caron couldn’t have defended any better. Arenas blew past Jack on Washington’s last play and had a clear path to the basket, but he somehow missed the layup … Midway through the second quarter, Antawn Jamison picked up his third foul and Flip Saunders naturally went to the bullpen, summoning Andray Blatche off the bench. But Jamison tried to wave off the sub and argue with Flip to keep him in. It didn’t work. Jamison ain’t no Michael Jordan and Flip ain’t Doug Collins … We’re out like the streak …
Smack / Dec 5, 2009 / 5:29 am
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