Last year, following an ugly lockout, the NBA returned to action on Christmas Day with its first games being the best matchups shown on national television. Fans said “what lockout?” and watched in record numbers.
This Christmas, with one-third of the NBA season gone? Numbers were down slightly over last year but up from a couple of years ago.
The highest rated game was Thunder at Heat, which got a 6.0 nationally and that makes it the fourth-highest rated regular season game ever on ABC. Last year the Bulls and Lakers drew a 6.5 rating in that same spot, which was down over the Lakers and the Heat from the year before.
The big surprise this season was the Knicks and Lakers drawing a 5.9 rating with the early game on ABC — the highest rating ever in that slot for ABC on Christmas Day. It beat the 5.6 that Miami and Dallas had in a finals rematch.
The other games on ESPN were all up from two years ago, but down from last year when there was a “the season is starting buzz.” The early game of the Celtics wiping the floor with the Nets drew a 2.7 rating, which tied 2010. The Rockets running past the Bulls drew a 1.7 ratings, up 21 percent from two years ago. The Clippers dunk fest on the Nuggets drew a 2.0 rating, up 54 percent form two years ago (when the game was Blazers and Warriors).
If you are saying to yourself “The NBA should start every season on Christmas Day” I would say fine. As soon as you convince the owners that they don’t need the revenue from the first quarter of the season — because you already convinced the players to take a 25 percent pay cut to make it work — then you can come talk to me.
Sometimes a picture can tell the story better than words.
That’s why above you can see all of Kobe Bryant‘s shot attempts against the Warriors Tuesday, a night where he went 1-of-14 from the floor (and “facilitator Kobe” had two assists). If you want another picture, here is Kobe’s shot chart for the game.
On the season, Kobe is shooting 31.1 percent overall, 19.5 percent from three, and he has a career low true shooting percentage of 41.5 percent. It’s hard to watch. On a team that is supposed to be developing their young stars, Kobe took as many shots as D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle combined. Laker coach Byron Scott is good with Kobe doing whatever he wants.
But Kobe is worried about his shooting performances, right? Not so much. From Baxter Holmes of ESPN.
If Kobe can figure out the Lakers’ system this season, he will be in a club of one.
I could go on a longer rant here, but the bottom line is this is just a sad spectacle to watch. And there’s a lot of season left to watch it.
Pat Riley compared the Warriors backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to one of the legendary guard tandems the game has ever seen — Jerry West and Gail Goodrich. Two Hall of Famers who led the 1972 Lakers to an NBA title.
That West/Goodrich team also won 33 straight games that season.
The Warriors are off to the fastest start in NBA history at 16-0 after destroying the hapless Lakers on Tuesday night, and the question of “when will they lose?” Kobe Bryant thinks these Warriors could get to that legendary 33 mark, as he told Sam Amick of the USA Today.
“Yeah, they could do it – because they’re good,” Bryant said afterward. “It’s a very young league, and they’ve managed to put together a team of extremely intelligent players and extremely versatile players, and great shooters. And so I see no reason why they couldn’t continue to extend (the record).”
The Warriors are not even halfway there and have shown some flashes of one-game vulnerability of late (a rough game against the Nets, for example). They have an upcoming seven-game road trip with a couple back-to-backs where they likely stumble at least once.
Then again, look at their next dozen opponents: Suns, Kings, Jazz, Hornets, Raptors, Nets, Pacers, Celtics, Bucks, Suns, Bucks, Jazz. Teams such as the Raptors and Pacers are certainly playing well, but there is no team on that list that makes you step back and say “that’s a loss.” Get through that dozen and the Warriors are at 28-0 and the Lakers’ record is within shot. The Warriors are not going to stop doing what they do — if the wearable science tells them Curry needs a night off, he’ll sit — but if they can get close, for a team trying to establish a legacy of greatness this would be a step in that direction.
The 16-0 mark already is.
In a disastrous Lakers season, one thing can be counted on (besides Byron Scott saying absurd things about Kobe Bryant): Nick Young will always be able to lighten the mood. He brought some levity to the Lakers’ blowout loss to the Warriors on Tuesday night with a blast from the past: a pair of gold shoes formerly worn by his ex-Wizards teammate Gilbert Arenas.
These shoes, like Swaggy, and like Gilbert before the injuries and the guns, are awesome and should be celebrated.
During the third quarter of the Clippers’ Tuesday night win over the Nuggets, Blake Griffin had some SportsCenter-worthy acrobatics that had nothing to do with dunking. He caught a ball in the air behind the three-point line as the shot clock expired and sank this buzzer-beater:
It was just his third made three of the season.