Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while wondering anyone would take a “shelfie”…
Steve Clifford/Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats. This is a season-long grade, not for getting swept by the Heat. Charlotte was expected to be a lottery team, a continued punch line. Two things changed that. One was Steve Clifford as coach — he got a team of guys not exactly known as defensive stalwarts to play committed, hard nosed defense every game. As the Heat saw in this playoff series, the Bobcats just are not easy to play against. The second thing was Al Jefferson, who had a monster 21 and 10 season and gave the Bobcats a consistent, quality scoring option inside. They missed the real him in these playoffs. Together they made the Bobcats respectable this season. That is a big step forward for the franchise.
Mike Scott, Atlanta Hawks. The Atlanta Hawks are on the verge of eliminating the East’s top seed and Mike Scott was a key reason — he came off the bench to drain four straight threes in second, and he went on to hit 5-of-6 from three, score 17 points and lead the hot shooting Hawks to the win.
Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs. He has been the Spurs best player this series, he is the guy driving their offense. The Mavericks have no good answer for him. He had 23 points, 5 assists and was +11 in this game, not to mention he knocked key free throws late. He generally was the guy driving the Mavs crazy. Has been all series. If the Spurs win this series, he’s their MVP.
The Los Angeles Clippers had a rough go of things against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday. Up by 18 with more than five minutes to go, LA blew their lead and were left to watch as the Kings sealed the game late.
The final possession for Sacramento came on a missed corner 3-pointer by Clippers guard Jamal Crawford. The Kings got the outlet pass out on the rebound, but Ben McLemore took it to the rack and missed. That’s when Willie Cauley-Stein stepped in, cleaned up the board, and put the game-winning shot home with less than two seconds left.
Los Angeles lost in spectacular fashion, and became the only team this season to lose given their game situation.
Here’s a compilation the NBA put together of Sacramento’s epic comeback:
Meanwhile, Chris Paul called it the worst regular season loss of his career.
The Clippers peaked too soon. Like, the first 20 games of the season too soon.
Russell Westbrook had yet another triple-double on Sunday. The Oklahoma City Thunder star notched 13 assists in the loss to the Houston Rockets, 137-125, and one of them came on a nifty pass to teammate Victor Oladipo.
The play happened with the Thunder on the fastbreak early in the third quarter. Westbrook was moving from left-to-right across the middle of the floor with the ball while Oladipo streaked down the right wing.
With the Rockets defense collapsing, Westbrook reached halfcourt and fired a bounce pass that sliced through the opposition.
Oladipo finished with the clean dunk.
Still not sure it beats this one, but I think we’ll have to compare once the season comes to a close.
The race between James Harden and Russell Westbrook for the 2017 NBA MVP has narrowed to a two-man race toward the end of the season. The Oklahoma City Thunder star is averaging at triple-double this year, and the Houston Rockets guard is doing things nobody has ever done on a basketball court before.
It’s a tough decision to decide between them, so much so that even former Los Angeles Lakers great and 2008 NBA MVP Kobe Bryant can’t do it.
Speaking on ESPN on Sunday, Bryant said he thought the league might have to just bite the bullet on Westbrook vs. Harden.
“We might see our first co-MVPs this year,” said Bryant.
That would be a huge step for the league, but I’m not entirely sure they would do it. There have been co-NBA All-Star Game MVPs in years past, but never league MVP.
Still, can you decide between Russ and Harden? The Mamba can’t.
Houston Rockets center Nene is from Brazil, but on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder the South American native went full euro.
On a fastbreak possession, Nene took on Thunder big man Enes Kanter near the rim and absolutely shook him with a nasty eurostep.
The play was so good that it forced Oklahoma City to call a timeout as James Harden and the rest of the Rockets bench met Nene on the court to celebrate.