A few minutes before last night’s Thunder/Spurs game in San Antonio got underway, Kevin Durant was on the OKC bench casually chatting with Bruce Bowen. After the game started, KD must have felt like Bowen had never left. Facing a combination of quick, strong, tough and crafty defenders, Durant was harassed into his worst offensive performance in about two months … KD’s jumper with 3:30 left in the third quarter was the last time he saw the ball go in the basket. Late in the fourth, OKC trailed by one when Durant (21 pts, 7-19 FG) appeared to have a breakaway dunk, but Manu Ginobili caught up and perfectly timed his jump to swat it out of KD’s hands just as he was about to finish the job. (Good thing it was Durant and not LeBron, otherwise Manu would’ve lost his hand in the rim.) Manu, who led San Antonio with 26 points, then added a three-pointer and some free throws down the stretch to seal the win … Manu admitted later that he thought he was gonna get dunked on, but had to try for the block anyway. OKC coach Scott Brooks called it a “superhero” play. Less importantly, the Spurs snapped Durant’s 29-game streak of consecutive games scoring at least 25 points … Going into Lakers/Mavs, everybody wanted to see how the new-look Dallas squad would matched up with L.A. and gauge their status as an NBA Finals contender. But that story line fell apart right before tip-off, when it was announced Caron Butler had a “bad reaction to medication” and wouldn’t be playing … DeShawn Stevenson started in Caron’s place — which meant DeShawn Stevenson would be guarding Kobe — but by the end of the game, it was more about who on the Lakers was going to guard Dirk Nowitzki … Everybody from Lamar Odom to Kobe to Pau Gasol took their turns with Dirk, and every one of them was served a steaming hot bowl of Bucket Soup. One time when Kobe was checking him, Dirk (31 pts, 11-11 FT) spun on him going left, and when Kobe went for a block, he palmed Dirk’s forehead instead. Dirk still hit the jumper … ESPN tried to get D-Steve to start a feud with Kobe like he did with LeBron, but all Stevenson did was take another jab at LeBron. “I’m not saying anything at all,” he said. “I think Kobe is a much better all-around player (than LeBron), so I’m not saying anything.” … Speaking of that overdone beef, Jay-Z and Beyonce were sitting courtside the night after Jay had performed in Dallas. What’s up with the shades indoors? … Not sure if you noticed, but Brandon Jennings has hit the rookie wall hard. Not long after he was getting All-Star consideration, Jennings has at least four fellow rookie point guards outperforming him on a nightly basis: Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, Jonny Flynn and Darren Collison. Last night’s head-to-head between Collison (22 pts, 9 asts) and Jennings (9 pts, 4 asts) never materialized into anything near the shootout they had back in November, although the Bucks did get a 20-piece W … Jennings came out before the game and did some chalk-tossing. One of Milwaukee’s announcers said, “I don’t want him doing this LeBron James thing. He needs to come up with his own little shtick.” That same announcer had his own shtick: The complete butchering of Peja Stojakovic‘s name all night long. The closest he got was “Store-ahker-vick.” … Andrew Bogut immediately went at Emeka Okafor and scored the Bucks’ first six points, and would eventually finish with 26 and 13 boards in less than 30 minutes of PT. Was Bogut getting retribution for his man Luke Schenscher? … The Rockets are sinking fast. Last night they got Dwight Howard to pick up two fouls 20 seconds into the game and take a seat, and still got destroyed by Dwight when he made his way back. He dropped 30 points and 16 rebounds on 11-of-11 shooting/dunking from the field … Other big stat lines from Wednesday: Josh Smith put up 27 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in Atlanta’s win over Minnesota; Luol Deng had 31 points, 9 boards and 4 blocks to lead Chicago past Indiana; Zach Randolph‘s 22 and 9 boards helped Memphis beat Washington; Steve Nash went for 20 points (8-9 FG) and 13 dimes in Phoenix’s win over Philly; Carlos Boozer dropped 33 points and 16 boards on Charlotte in a win; Andre Miller posted 18 points, 10 boards, 7 dimes and 3 steals as Portland knocked off Toronto; and Drew Gooden (yes, Drew Gooden) put up 20 points and 13 boards as the Clippers (yes, he’s playing for the Clippers now) beat the Pistons … Announcer line of the night from Blazers color commetator Mike Rice: “If you can’t beat (Rasho) Nesterovic and Bargnani down the court, you don’t deserve to score.” … We’re out like the streak …
Smack / Feb 25, 2010 / 6:22 am
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