Now this is more of what we expected of L.A. basketball this season. In the Midwest, the Pacers could have filed a claim with Cliff Paul for the damage point god Chris Paul did to their defense in the fourth quarter of the Clippers’ road win. Out West, Kobe Bryant “pretty much dominated” a win over Minnesota, reported T-Wolves coach Rick Adelman afterward, shrugging his shoulders. Oh yeah, and in Chicago, Joakim Noah had one of the best games in the past 20 seasons. … We have to start first with Bryant’s game because unlike Chicago or the Clippers, this Lakers team is living night-to-night while the other two winners are set for the playoffs. Kobe (33 points) probably saw Monta Ellis’ game-winner to beat Houston on Wednesday and couldn’t sleep he was so excited that the Lakers could creep even closer on the Rockets for the No. 8 spot. Count on Kobe to see a weakness and exploit it, which he did Thursday in the 116-94 win. It started from the beginning when barely a minute in, Bryant took an out-of-bounds pass, shook Derrick Williams (15 points) with a move that left him literally unable to move and slammed over Nikola Pekovic (8 points) with a fury we haven’t seen since he leapt over Yao Ming. There was a stretch in the third quarter where Ricky Rubio kept blowing by Bryant on consecutive possessions, which led to Bean getting even with jumpers and a three that was nearly in the front row’s laps (even Sean Elliott thought it was deep along the sideline). When Luke Ridnour (19 points) kept draining every 17-footer the Lakers gave him (6-of-6), Kobe and Steve Nash (10 points, seven dimes) made sure Minnesota’s tiny four-guard lineup (Pekovic got hurt) paid for its slow rotations: they drained 16-of-32 from deep. … Things may seem on the up-and-up for the Lake Show but wait to buy in all the way when their free throws can get above 70 percent. In their last two games they’re 26-of-52. … We nearly spit out our drink when we heard the last person to go for at least 20 points, 20 boards and 10 blocks in a game was the human stick figure himself, Shawn Bradley, in ’98. Joakim Noah becomes the latest to reach the gates of the exclusive club with his triple-double in the Bulls’ 92-83 win over a reeling Philly team that lost its rudder weeks ago. The Sixers’ coach, Doug Collins, sent up a flare for help this week but no one’s coming to the rescue there. Thaddeus Young thankfully returned Sunday for frontcourt help but no one can match Noah’s strength or positioning for the Sixers and it showed. He had 23 points, 21 boards, 11 blocks and was a treat to watch as he defensively stymied a team by himself. The last player to have Noah’s numbers was Shaq in ’93. … Read on to hear about Chris Paul’s fourth quarter …
Smack / Mar 1, 2013 / 6:39 am
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