All those worries about the other L.A. team, the Lakers, sure looked unfounded Friday night — and, yes, there are worries still about them. Normally we wouldn’t give too much credence to a win over a rebuilding Trail Blazers team but L.A.’s 104-87 win over a confident Blazers team was noted for its thoroughness. Kobe didn’t even play in the fourth quarter and still had 27 points because the Lakers’ biggest lead was 27 points, too. Now both teams are at .500. You wonder if this flawed Laker team, even with a big win over a flawed Portland squad, will use this win as a springboard. Dwight Howard‘s 21 points and 14 boards came so fast against J.J. Hickson that he looked like he didn’t know what was happening to him. (We wrote about how Hickson’s nine-game double-double streak was powering Portland to an eighth spot so far in the West, but noted how his defense is clearly his game’s worst part. Coupled with being 6-9, against Howard, he was exposed). Damian Lillard had 11 points and four assists on 4-of-17 shooting. … After four games of averaging seven points per, O.J. Mayo got back to his old self against Denver. Too bad Danilo Gallinari was white-hot to counter Mayo’s comeback game in a 106-85 Nuggets win. Gallo connected on seven triples to get 39 points. You could argue no five points were bigger than his three and buzzer-beating tip-in dunk in the final five seconds of the second quarter, turning a three-point Nugs’ lead (off a mini-Mavs rally) into eight and making Mark Cuban give a look like he’d just heard the worst “Shark Tank” business plan of all time. Mayo had 15 points and, yikes, six turnovers, but he was more active in pursuing his shots even with Dirk alongside him. … James Johnson‘s buzzer-beating three bailed out the Kings, 106-105, and beat the Knicks. John Salmons took a wild pass in the corner but was covered, so he threw a skip pass to Johnson who didn’t think twice with the shot. The win was a Band-Aid over the drama between DeMarcus Cousins (15 and 10) and coach Keith Smart, who almost kept Boogie out a second game. That situation doesn’t seem like it will last the season. … Jeff Teague (27 points) and Kyrie Irving (28 points) had an entertaining duel in Atlanta’s 102-94 win over Cleveland. The Cavaliers didn’t score in the final two and a half minutes so see a lead slip away. … In other games DeMar DeRozan had 30 in Toronto’s 104-97 win over the Hornets. David Lee‘s 23 and 12 in the post for the Warriors was better than Jrue Holiday‘s 21 and 10 at point guard and Golden State beat Philly 96-89. … We’re out like CP3.
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