Lin’s Rockets put up 131 points in rout of Knicks

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The Knicks were one of the pleasant surprises of the early season, getting out to an 8-1 start behind one of the league’s top defenses. But two games in a row they’ve had their opponent score at will — Dallas put up 114 in a win over New York on Wednesday, and the Rockets dropped an embarrassing 131 in a 28-point destruction of the Knicks on Friday.

This was Jeremy Lin’s first game against his former team, and he played fine, finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds, and three assists in 35 minutes of action. The real stars for Houston though were Chandler Parsons (31 points on 17 shots in 34 minutes), and James Harden (33 points, nine assists, 16-of-16 from the free throw line).

Carmelo Anthony finished with 37 for the Knicks, but this was not New York’s night. Anthony got burned by Patrick Patterson flying down the court for a dunk when he stopped to complain to an official in the third, and Lin as well as Toney Douglas both hit momentum-building threes against their former team to help seal it.

Rasheed Wallace was a late scratch in this one with a foot injury, and Marcus Camby, while active, apparently still isn’t ready for game action, as he was a DNP-CD on a night where the Knicks really could have used some help on the boards.

This was no revenge game for Lin, even though his new team had no trouble taking care of his former one. He got a big-time contract in Houston, and the Knicks have a serviceable replacement in Felton and have a pretty good team assembled, despite their defensive troubles of the last two games.

Lin may not ever reach the level he did during the “Linsanity” run in New York he experienced a season ago, but he’s fine with whatever his role may be as long as he finds a way to contribute to his new team’s success.

“I’m not looking to recreate what happened in New York,” said Lin. “I want to be a consistent player. I want to get better. I don’t know what my potential is. I don’t know if I can play any better than I did during that stretch, but I’m going to find out to see how close I can get.”

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.