Every now and then, we could all use a reminder that this basketball thing isn’t as complicated as we think. Last night’s national TV showdown between the Thunder and Clippers was one of those reminders. Sure, we could get all Hubie Brown-ish and meticulously pick apart and break down every little subtlety, but the game ultimately came down to this: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were better than everybody else when it mattered most … Matt Barnes of all people sparked L.A.’s fourth-quarter rally to force overtime, but then KD and Russ took over the extra session and won it for OKC. Westbrook (23 pts, 9 asts) drew first blood with a three-pointer, then dropped in an off-balance baseline pull-up straight from the D-Wade collection. Durant (35 pts, 5 stls, 19-21 FT) rattled in a trey of his own in OT, and whenever the Clippers tried to get close the gap on the scoreboard, KD added more free throws to keep them at a distance … While it’s not exactly surprising that Jamal Crawford (20 pts) has replaced Chris Paul (9 pts, 9 asts, 2-14 FG) as L.A.’s main give-it-to-him-and-get-out-of-the-way option in crunch time, it is surprising that it only took a few weeks for JCrossover to earn the job … Barnes (19 pts, 9 rebs, 4 stls) had some key buckets that kept the Clips in the ballgame late — including one driving layup where he made Durant look worse than an NFL quarterback trying to make a tackle — but otherwise his night was defined by watching Durant light his ass up. Barnes is a good defender, but there are only a few people on this planet who can actually shut KD down, and Barnes just isn’t one of them … Is it just us or does Eric Maynor look like a light-skinned Rakim? (For you kids out there, Rakim is a rapper who’s better than your favorite rapper) … As much as we liked the Westbrook/CP3 matchup, we wouldn’t mind being witness to Eric Bledsoe playing Westbrook for an entire game. To watch those two athletic freaks with nonstop motors and massive chips on their shoulders go 48 minutes would be like watching Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward go 12 rounds again … But last night’s best matchup of elite point guards went down in Boston, where Tony Parker (26 pts, 6 asts) outdueled Rajon Rondo (22 pts, 15 asts) in a big road win for the Spurs. While TP and Rondo’s head-to-head was almost too close to call, it was Tim Duncan‘s unanimous decision over Kevin Garnett that gave San Antonio the victory. Duncan had 20 points and 15 boards versus KG’s 14 and three, and Duncan hit the jumper in the lane that effectively killed Boston’s last-ditch rally in the fourth quarter … For Act 2 of the D’Antoni Experiment, the Lakers decided to switch places with the Sacramento Kings for a night. This game saw one team sharing the ball with a fluid efficiency amongst their multiple talented scorers, one team dominating the glass, one team buckling down to create a wall on defense. And that team wasn’t the Lakers … Six Kings scored in double figures in a 113-97 win, led by Marcus Thornton’s 23 points. Sacramento’s offense looked downright Showtime-esque at times, plus they won the rebounding battle and forced 20 turnovers on defense. Tyreke Evans even made the highlight reel on D when he chased down Metta World Peace and swatted his layup back to Queensbridge … Kobe was technically efficient as a scorer, finishing with 38 points on just 20 field-goal attempts. But he also committed seven turnovers, and too much of L.A.’s offense consisted of their other All-Stars standing around watching Kobe do his thing. Dwight Howard, meanwhile, got outplayed by Chuck Hayes. He finished with just seven points and nine boards in over 40 minutes … Keep reading to hear about Kevin Love’s comeback …
Smack / Nov 22, 2012 / 4:18 am
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