To pass or not to pass? Kobe finally gave it up twice in the final minute of the Pacers’ 98-96 win over the Lakers, and we almost wished he would’ve forced up something. First, Matt Barnes missed a wide-open trey, and then Derek Fisher threw up some type of contraption (not sure what that was… a pass? a shot? a prayer?) that didn’t touch anything but the out-of-bounds paint. With the Lakers down three in the final seconds, Bryant was finally forced into a long, 30-footer off the dribble that was off. While the Mamba still finished with 33 points and and eight rebounds, for the Pacers, the outcome was a confirmation: Watch out for us. Judging these teams based just off of what they’ve done this season shouldn’t have turned Indiana into underdogs. But it felt like that. Now that they’ve won a few games against some “elite” teams, Indiana has to be a serious threat to win a round in the Eastern playoffs. Danny Granger chipped in 16 points, but it was Roy Hibbert (18 points, eight rebounds) who made the largest impact for the visitors. He broke his nose in the first half, and while he was originally not expected to return, he did come back with gauze pads stuck up his nose like the bell just rang. In the fourth quarter, he got whacked on that thing again. It started bleeding and he still stayed in, coming down on the following possession and beasting Pau Gasol (who had one of the best passes of his career last night in one of the most passive games we’ve ever seen) on the block with a jump hook. The Pacers had to fight all night after early foul trouble threw them in a ditch, and Hibbert was literally the one in the middle of that. Still, Andrew Bynum had a backdown dunk on Hibbert in the third quarter where the Laker sent Hibbert to the floor like he was playing linebacker. The Laker color guys actually thought it was a flop, and called the former Hoya out on it, saying no big man should be flopping. If only it were that easy to get them to listen … Kobe really doesn’t like George Hill defending him does he? Whenever he caught the combo guard isolated on him, his eyes got larger than Mike Tomlin‘s. What followed was almost always some type of twisting, double-pumping, fallaway shot. During the second half of the third quarter, Kobe’s mindset was particularly easy to see. This stems back to Hill’s San Antonio days when he was the first short guy to punk Kobe since Chris Childs. Also, what’s the deal with Kobe rocking jerseys that are three sizes too big? He’s always been a lil’ late-’90s with his on-court style, but Bryant seems to be pushing the envelope even more this year. He’s looking like Hot Sauce in those things … Kareem Rush – remember him? – sang the national anthem before the game. Pretty bad when the pre-game singer is a better player than half of your roster. Darius Morris, for one, is dangerously close to Smush Parker territory. And Metta World Peace scored 11 last night, and it felt like it was nearly his best game of the year … Interesting take we heard on Twitter last night: the Lakers look like they’re a year away from being where Boston is at right now, with Lamar Odom being their very own Kendrick Perkins … Keep reading to hear about the best dunk of the night …
Smack / Jan 23, 2012 / 1:24 am
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