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Smack / Feb 22, 2013 / 6:13 am

Kobe Bryant Guarantees a Lakers Playoff Spot; Tony Parker Dominates Chris Paul

Tony Parker

Tony Parker

We watched Thursday’s games expecting showdowns. We got two routs, with each one asking whether the result was more about the winners (San Antonio and Miami) or the losers (Los Angeles Clippers or Chicago). The answers aren’t black and white so, sorry if you expected a perfectly clear crystal ball with still about 25 games left in the regular season. All four teams did, however, leave powerful impressions. Let’s begin with San Antonio in the nightcap, a 116-90 victory that surely has to be the exception rather than the rule with Chris Paul‘s play. He had four points, three assists and his 1-of-6 shooting was nothing like his All-Star Game MVP performance; even Chris Bosh‘s All-Star embarrassment didn’t look as bad as Paul on Thursday night. Two things though: He won’t play a game this poorly the rest of the season and Tony Parker is the real story, not Paul. Parker did work like a surgeon with a dinner reservation, systematically dismembering the Clippers’ defense and then getting out as soon as the job was done. He only played 28 minutes and yet he had 31 points and seven assists while making 75 percent of his shots, those floaters and drives and dozens of angles he can execute from near the rim that are so hard to stop (though the best dish of the night was from Tiago Splitter, not Parker, by hitting Parker on a backdoor baseline cut). And he did it without Tim Duncan. Yeah, one of the greatest power forwards ever played just eight minutes and yet the Spurs stil rolled to their 16th win in 17 games. … Chicago gift-wrapped its 86-67 loss to Miami. So our main impression of the Heat’s big road win is that it was convincing in that it showed the Heat’s improvement at putting a boot on a team’s neck when they’re down. The other one is that the Bulls are a distracted team. Derrick Rose‘s brother shot off earlier in the day that the team’s lack of moves didn’t persuade his brother to come back any quicker from knee surgery. Our BS detector says Rose would put on for his city no matter what, but Thursday’s game was still hard to watch. LeBron had 26 points, 12 boards and seven dimes and had perfect shooting in the first half. He had the “oops!” moment when his wide-open dunk attempt flew out of his butterfingers but that was basically the entire Bulls performance with 27 turnovers. … … Hit the jump to read about Kobe Bryant’s guarantee

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