About that mask — a black carbon fiber one to protect his broken nose — impacting LeBron James’ shot… not so much.
Call him Bane. Or Batman. Or the Phantom of the Opera. Or Hannibal Lector. To me LeBron looked like LeBron — he dropped 31 points (his fifth straight game over 30) on 13-of-19 shooting powering Miami to an easy 108-82 win over the reeling New York Knicks Thursday night in Miami, and also on national television.
LeBron didn’t look so much like a guy worried about his nose as much as he looked rested, like a guy who just had a week off. He was in attack mode from the second he stepped on the court and went 10-of-11 at the rim on the night — something aided by just lazy, sad transition defense by the Knicks. If you miss shots and don’t get back in transition against the Heat… well, it looks a lot like this game. The Heat had a transition lay-up line at points.
LeBron also got help. Dwyane Wade had 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting and reminded everyone that when Wade and LeBron are both clicking there may not be another team in the NBA that stands a chance. Ray Allen Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers each had 11.
Carmelo Anthony would have loved some help.
Once again he played well — 24 first-half points on his way to 29 on the game on 20 shots. He carried the Knicks offense for stretches, including a 21-10 Knicks run to close out the half that cut lead to five at the break. You can’t really ask more of the man.
But he was alone on an island. Whether Raymond Felton was distracted or just terrible is up for debate, but he was 1-of-7 shooting. Tim Hardaway Jr. was 2-of-15. Pablo Prigioni was scoreless. Amar’e Stoudemire was -30. The Knicks as a team were 4-of-23 from three. Thing is for much of the game the Knicks really did give a good effort, they were just outclassed.
The Heat are starting to round into the championship form we expect, the Knicks are coming apart at the seams. All that’s really left is for Knicks fans to start riding the “what will Carmelo Anthony do this summer?” roller coaster, which will have a lot of ups and downs, twists and turns before we get to July.
If he keeps playing like this, LeBron can wear that mask as long as he would like.
Carmelo Anthony said the Knicks should have gotten a Christmas game last year. In hindsight, the NBA reportedly agreed.
So, Anthony expects New York to get a marquee matchup — against the Bulls — on either Christmas or opening night.
Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:
The storylines are overflowing.
The Knicks added Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah — two former Bulls — to join Anthony, who strongly considered Chicago in his last free agency. The Bulls answered with a couple big names: Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. They’ll join Jimmy Butler, whose stature is only growing — just like Kristaps Porzingis in New York.
Those are plenty of attention-drawing players, and the league will want to capitalize, even if we’re talking about a couple middling Eastern Conference teams.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that New York and Chicago are huge markets.
Michael Jordan issued a statement on race in America and donated $2 million to a couple worthy causes.
That drew international coverage, including one curious photo choice:
Only in Malawi.
When Amar’e Stoudemire retired, I said history will treat him better than present-day analysis — maybe even to the point he gets legitimate Hall of Fame consideration.
Get past Stoudemire’s injury-caused decline with the Knicks and his wayward years with the Mavericks and Heat, and Stoudemire was a heck of a player with the Suns (and in his first year in New York).
Thanks to the NBA, the process of remembering Stoudemire for his peak can begin immediately. I was blown away by the first few highlights before realizing they were just the introduction for the top 10.
Vlade Divac isn’t calling Rudy Gay with trade-talk updates.
So, how is the Kings general manager spending his time?
Watching DeMarcus Cousins with Team USA.
James Ham of CSN California on Cousins:
He’s primed to show the world what both he and plenty of others around the basketball world already believe — that he is the best big man in the world.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said from his courtside seat. “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world. And being from Serbia, I have to root for Serbia, but I feel bad for them. He’s going to kill them.”
If we take Divac’s statement — “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world” — at face value, nope. LeBron James is. Other players like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are also better than Cousins, but big men can dominate in a way perimeter players can’t
If Divac meant just among big men, there’s a case. When Cousins is fully engaged, it’s one I’d definitely buy. He’s a load to handle inside, and his defense can be top-notch.
There are just too many times Cousins checks out. It’s a fine line, because Cousins’ emotions carries him to his highs. But he hasn’t yet found an ideal equilibrium point. His lows are still too low and too frequent.
That said, no center nears Cousins’ peak dominance. DeAndre Jordan and Draymond Green, when he plays the position, need too much help from teammates to be considered truly dominant. Andre Drummond isn’t polished enough. Even with his flaws, Cousins is probably already the NBA’s most dominant center.
Most dominant player, though? No. That’s a step too far.