Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while getting sucked into an oral history of Nirvana….
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves. In a matchup of two of the top power forwards in the game, Kevin Love outplayed Dirk Nowitzki for a night. Love had 35 points and the Timberwolves final six in overtime — he hit what would be the game winner then defended Dirk Nowitzki on his attempt to force a second OT. Love also played well off Ricky Rubio, in a way that makes you think they could be quite a pair together… if Love is going to stick around past 2015. Which I wouldn’t bet on.
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves. Rick Adelman will sit Ricky Rubio at times late in games. Not Wednesday. Rubio was the best player on the court — he drove and scored or found cutters, he made good kick out passes and at the other end was making steals. Rubio was decisive with the ball. Adelman rode Rubio through the entire second half and in overtime, because coaches ride the players having an impact. Rubio was that guy on Wednesday and keyed the Minnesota win — 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting (including two free throws to tie it in regulation), 15 assists, 10 rebounds, and 4 steals.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks. Mike Woodson did nothing to show new boss Phil Jackson why Woodson should hang on to his job as coach — the Knicks were isolation heavy in this game. Anthony thrived in that setting, scoring 34 points on 12-of-23 shooting. The Pacers don’t like to double but eventually they did and Anthony adjusted, sometimes by shooting quickly other times by making the smart pass out. Anthony showed Jackson exactly why Phil would want to keep him around.
Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics. There were three keys to the Celtics beating the Heat for the second time this season. One was LeBron James was out for Miami. Another was that Avery Bradley and the rest of the Celtics were putting on a shooting show that likely impressed even Ray Allen — Boston was 13-of-28 from three. But the big one was Rajon Rondo, who late in the game just owned the Heat defense and did what he wanted, Rondo battled through foul trouble to put up 9 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists (six of those 9 points came in the fourth quarter). He was impressive.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.
For two decades, Kobe Bryant saw everyone and everything as an obstacle to overcome: The Pacers, Sixers, Nets, Magic, Celtics, Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich, Smush Parker, a torn Achilles. It didn’t matter. Kobe’s work ethic and drive had him rising above it all.
His focus hasn’t changed now. Kobe was on the Jim Rome show, and the topic of the new-look Warriors with Kevin Durant came up, along with the “woe is me” attitude of some players (and plenty of owners and GMs).
“I would have thought less about myself if I looked at that move and said, ‘That’s unfair,'” he said. “If you’re a real competitor, you look at that and say, ‘OK, lace ’em up. Let’s go. I don’t care how many players you have over there; we’re still going to take you down.'”
Easier said than done to make that happen, but that attitude is the only one to have if you think you have a chance. You can be sure LeBron James is thinking that way and telling his Cavaliers teammates the same.
We’re going to miss Kobe.
This news is just sickening. In a world with just too much sickening news.
According to NBC 5 in Chicago (which spoke to police), Dwyane Wade‘s first cousin Nykea Aldridge was pushing a stroller down the street when she was shot and killed as an innocent in the crossfire of a gang shooting.
The 32-year-old woman, whom family identified as Nykea Aldridge, was apparently the unintended victim of a gang shooting, police said. She was walking around 3:30 p.m. in the 6300 block of South Calumet when two males approached another male and opened fire, police said.
Wade tweeted this.
Aldridge was on her way to a local school to register her kids (they had just moved) when the shooting took place. There has been a rash of gang and gun violence in Chicago in the past year, and Dwyane’s mother Jolinda Wade had just been on a panel on ESPN’s Undefeated talking about it.
Wade is coming to play for his hometown Chicago Bulls this season.
Our thoughts are with Nykea Aldridge’s family and friends.