Kobe inspired Boston to go get Shaq… and stop pretending that feud is marketing

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Thumbnail image for Shaq_Boston.jpgDid anybody really buy the whole “Shaq v. Kobe” feud was marketing. Oh, Shaquille O’Neal is smart enough to know how to make these things marketable, but like ancient myths the elaborate stories built up around some kernel of truth.

Then when Kobe got ring number five last June and was quick to say he was “one ahead of Shaq” you could feel how much he enjoyed that.

That comment also sparked the Celtics, according to the Boston Globe (as found by Trey Kerby at Ball Don’t Lie)

“The minute I heard Kobe [Bryant] say he had one more ring than Shaq, I said to Danny [Ainge], ‘Let’s go get Shaq,’ and it happened,” said [Celtics primary owner Wyc] Grousbeck. 

“This is a very, very proud bunch of guys, the champions from ’08. And now with Jermaine and Shaq and Delonte, who haven’t been champions with us, this could be a good group. We’ve got huge challenges but we reloaded this summer. We really want banner No. 18.”

How much the aging Shaq and his defensive freelancing really helps the Celtics remains to be seen. He (and Jermaine O’Neal) provides some dept and offense along the front line, if everyone can stay healthy and not regress too much.

Lonzo Ball finishes one-handed alley-oop on Willie Cauley-Stein (video)

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So much attention is paid to Lonzo Ball‘s father, jumper and passes. Those are the major storylines for the Lakers rookie.

But he has such a diverse skill set, and this is absolutely part of it. Ball is a savvy off-ball cutter in the halfcourt with the athleticism to get above the rim and finish alley-oops.

But finish them over 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who was tracking the play (though slightly late)? That’s an eye-opener, even in the Kings’ 113-102 win.

Marc Gasol makes 3/4-court shot just after buzzer (video)

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When Marc Gasol‘s 3/4-court attempt went through the net, it seemed to barely matter the ball left his hands just after the first-quarter buzzer. After all, the Grizzlies led the Mavericks by 15, anyway.

Turns out, Memphis really needed that basket.

Watch Knicks string together 28-0 run against Raptors

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Toronto has been the second best team in the East this young season. Not that anyone is really convinced they will be called that by the time we get to the playoffs (or even the All-Star break, or even Christmas), but for the first 16-18 games of the season their new move-the-ball offense had them at 11-5 and looking solid.

Wednesday night the Knicks dismantled the Raptors.

Especially in the third quarter when the Knicks went on a 28-0 run to blow the doors off the Raptors (video above). The Knicks dominated the third 41-10, when Toronto shot just 1-of-16 from the floor.

New York is gaining confidence with each win this season, they are a fun team to watch that is starting to find an identity (now that a certain three-sided shaped one is not being forced upon them). Kristaps Porzingis is a monster, and while the Knicks overpaid the market for Tim Hardaway Jr. he has lived up to his contract this season. With rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina showing some nice defense and playmaking skills as a rookie (although he is undoubtedly still a work in progress), you can see a path to a strong future unfolding. There are real reasons for hope in New York. Someone just keep James Dolan distracted and away from the basketball operations side of the building.

Devin Booker forces OT with deep turnaround buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but Bucks beat Suns (video)

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I’m not sure who benefited from Devin Booker‘s buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing 3-pointer. The Suns still lost to the Bucks, 113-107. The extra five minutes featured more of the same relatively bad basketball we’d seen between Phoenix (bad) and Milwaukee (shorthanded) through 48 minutes.

But darn if this shot wasn’t really cool and clutch.