LOS ANGELES — The Thunder’s win over the Lakers Friday night was fun. Not pretty or particularly well played, but the game was entertaining, it was fun. There were great plays and dramatic moments (none more than Kobe Bryant getting a good look but missing the game winner).
Maybe the play of the night came courtesy Serge Ibaka. In the fourth quarter Carlos Boozer had played pretty well for the Lakers (he had eight points in the fourth alone) and he was going into the rim for two more when Ibaka came in and just shut him down. Hard. It’s not like Boozer went up soft, he was looking to dunk, it’s just that Ibaka was better.
Then as Ibaka went to the floor from the force of the rejection, he did the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag.
As the Thunder ended up winning by one, 104-103, this block ended up being very important.
When you talk about the best point guards in the game, be careful not to leave Damian Lillard off the list.
The Blazers’ scoring machine outdid himself Friday night scoring 43 points — 26 of them in the fourth quarter and overtimes — plus six assists to lead Portland to a big triple overtime win over the Spurs, 129-119.
That’s the second straight triple-overtime game for the Spurs (and the second loss in those games). This was the first night of a back-to-back for San Antonio, knowing Gregg Popovich I wouldn’t bet on seeing many of the Spurs stars on Saturday night in Memphis.
But the story Friday night was Lillard, who was 16-of-29 shooting on the night. He did most of his damage with what is traditionally an inefficient shot, from the midrange. Check out his shot chart on the night.
Lillard has games where he bails out Portland (sometimes from a substandard performance from the team, sometimes against a top opponent). This season we haven’t seen a lot of that from him as LaMarcus Aldridge, some good balance, and improved defense meant Lillard didn’t need to step into the spotlight as often. Friday night he had to step into it.
And he did with one of the best games of his career.
I really can’t wait until the Western Conference playoffs.
LOS ANGELES — Steven Adams is a guy who gets under other player’s skin. He draws a lot of retaliation penalties on opponents.
The Lakers’ Nick Young became the latest on Friday night — and Young got ejected for it.
“He’s a sneaky, dirty player,” Young said.
At the start of the fourth quarter Adams got up into Young like he was trying to set a down screen (except he wasn’t really, his guy didn’t rub off him) and as Young tried to get over him things got a little physical.
Then Young elbowed Adams to the throat. Young said he thought the ejection was unwarranted, but to be honest that is going to get you tossed every time. Lakers coach Byron Scott said Young can’t let that happen because he is too valuable to this team.
“I lost my mind a little bit, checked into the crazy house,” Young said of his reaction during the play.
Young can break out the check book as he is going to be writing a check to the league for this as well.
Kevin Durant dropped 30 in the first half on Golden State and was on his way to what looked like an epic game when the play above happened. Durant rolled his ankle, and while X-rays were negative Durant did not return for the second half of what was an eventual Warriors win.
Durant now will sit out the second night of a back-to-back, he will not go against the Lakers Friday night, reports Royce Young of ESPN. Perry Jones III will get the start.
Yes, it’s likely being cautious, but it’s also the right play for a couple of reasons.
First, while the Thunder certainly need to rack up wins, they are playing the lowly Lakers — a team they can beat without Durant. Russell Westbrook should destroy the Lakers defenders of Jeremy Lin and Ronnie Price. The Thunder should rack up a win.
Second, it’s not even Christmas yet. Once the ligament is stretched out with a sprained ankle a player is more susceptible to aggravating or worsening the problem until it fully heals. The Thunder don’t want this to become a lingering thing. This is not a playoff game. Rest the man and get him right.
Rajon Rondo reportedly told the Boston Celtics he wanted out, although that is something Rondo himself, his agent and the team all denied ever happened. When asked with the cameras and microphones on Rondo always talked about a commitment to Boston. You can believe what you want, but the prevailing wisdom around the league was that Rondo was not happy and not looking to be part of a long-term rebuilding project, that he was gone at season’s end as a free agent.
Now former teammate Kendrick Perkins just came right and said it — Rondo wanted out of Boston.
That’s what Perkins told Mark Spears of Yahoo Sports. If he did want out he got his wish with a trade to a contender in Dallas.
“He wanted out, but he would never say that though,” Perkins told Yahoo Sports….
“Going to nice weather, a contender,” Perkins said. “Hopefully, he will do what he got to do in terms of his contract extension. It’s a great opportunity. I’m happy for him. I’m not happy he is in the West, but I’m happy for him. His time was probably up in Boston. He did his due.
“He was cool, happy. He was excited. He’s going to a contender. He’s 29 [years old] so rebuilding is out of the question now.”
We should add for the record that Perkins and Rondo are still good friends after their five years together as Celtics. Rondo was the last member of the 2008 title Celtics still wearing green.
This is all kind of moot now, whether he wanted a trade or not. Danny Ainge had to move him because he was likely gone this summer and, while he could have waited it out to see if a better offer came in, that was not likely. Teams were not offering much (the Knicks and Lakers don’t have much to offer). So he took the best deal he could.
Now we will see how much of the 2008 Rondo is still in there after some surgeries.