Tag:San Antonio Spurs
Posted on: February 14, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2011 7:12 pm
 

Contenders or pretenders: Western Conference

Who are the contenders and pretenders in the NBA's Western Conference? Posted by Ben Golliver.
lakers


Before we get to the list of Western Conference contenders and pretenders, check out Adam Aizer, Greg Urbano and I as we discuss the most underrated and overrated teams in the NBA and more in our weekly CBSSports.com NBA podcast:  


CONTENDERS


Los Angeles Lakers: Loads of experience, high-end talent, top-notch coaching, size and length, defensive versatility and arguably the best one-on-one player in the game. If that’s not a championship-contending package I don’t know what is. 

Throw in the extra confidence boost that comes with being the two-time defending champs, and you’re looking at a team that can pencil its way into the Western Conference Finals, at the very least. Sure, there are questions: Andrew Bynum’s health, Derek Fisher’s age and Steve Blake’s facial hair, among others. But L.A.’s core of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom – flanked by Bynum, Ron Artest and the other role players – is balanced and lethal, posing match-up concerns for everyone except, maybe, the Boston Celtics. Bet against the Lakers in Phil Jackson’s swan song season at your own risk.

San Antonio Spurs: Owners of the league’s best record, the ageless Spurs are perhaps the most Spurs-like rendition of themselves that we've seen. 

The three-man core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili is still intact, but it has shifted focus seamlessly to a guard-dominated attack, with Duncan getting his fair share of rest throughout the regular season. To beat the Spurs you need to be disciplined, intelligent on defense and able to score from both inside and outside on a consistent basis. That's asking a lot, and none of the fringe playoff teams seem likely to rise to that challenge. 

The question, as always, is whether San Antonio’s role players will be up to the challenge when the bright lights turn on. They haven’t faltered yet this season and no one has devised a clear gameplan for how to exploit them. If the Spurs are to be beaten, it will happen in the paint and on the boards, where Duncan and undersized DeJuan Blair might not be able to keep pace against more imposing frontlines over a seven-game series. 

Dallas Mavericks: If you haven’t figured it out yet, those who have been there and done that before get an extra boost in my eyes when it comes to the Western Conference. 

Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion have been through plenty of fires and don’t figure to be knocked off this year by an upstart. Tyson Chandler’s presence in the middle has also been huge, leaving wing scoring as the biggest question mark after forward Caron Butler went down with a serious knee injury. Butler has been making noise about trying to return for the playoffs and the Mavericks have popped up in their fair share of pre-deadline trade rumors.  As currently constructed, the Mavericks will be a tough, tough out. Should they make a move in the next two weeks, a run to the Finals isn’t out of the question. 

PRETENDERS


Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder feels like the only legit wild card in the Western Conference, as top-5 NBA player Kevin Durant and top-10 NBA player Russell Westbrook look to get over the hump and win a playoff series, where other up-and-comers have failed in recent years. 

The issue all season has been defensive efficiency, a huge problem in the slow-it-down, grind-it-out, physical playoffs, when stops are at a huge premium and the shootouts stop after the first round. The Thunder’s solid frontcourt players – Jeff Green, Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka – are guys that you like, want to love, but don’t totally trust when the money is on the line. More often than not during the playoffs, Thunder fans will be left hoping those guys play above their heads to keep a match-up even rather than forcing or exploiting a mismatch against the opposition. The good news: to make the jump to contender, the Thunder only need to get older. 

Denver Nuggets: Denver’s season got hijacked by Carmelo Anthony, but the Nuggets weren’t going anywhere anyway, even if their All-Star forward had agreed to sign an extension last summer. 

The Nuggets qualify as pretenders because there’s a decent chance Anthony is moved prior to the deadline – thereby torpedoing their chances – and because they’re a year older without improving on last year’s team, which got bounced in the first round. They’ve been healthier in recent months and have played some nice ball – but the consistency has been lacking. Their backcourt is just not talented enough; their frontcourt is just not long and versatile enough. If Anthony stays, and given the right match-up, they could win a series. That’s it.

New Orleans Hornets: The Hornets came flying out of the gates, starting the season 11-1, only to fall ahrd off of that pace, managing to play just .500 ball over the last 44 games. 

This team is still a better than average group, but better than average isn’t good enough to truly contend in the Western Conference.  Chris Paul has returned to MVP-like form and David West’s numbers are right there with the elite power forwards in the West, but we’ve learned over and over that two All-Star quality players surrounded by parts won’t get it done in the playoffs. The additions of Jarrett Jack and Trevor Ariza added some headiness and athleticism but they weren’t season-changers, and the Hornets bench is tough on the eyes. Throw in first-year coach Monty Williams, who has never dealt with game-planning for a seven-game series, and there’s more questions than answers with this team, rendering them a pretender.
Posted on: February 14, 2011 2:33 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2011 2:45 pm
 

Popovich: Winning is 'boring as hell'

Posted by Royce Young

The Spurs are awesome. At a league-best 45-9, San Antonio is the ultimate take-care-of-business team. They're veteran led, have superb role players and all understand the system perfectly.

It's almost like the team can't fail.

But it's getting for Gregg Popovich. When you get almost the same result every night, there's no spice, nothing to work on, nothing to Jazz things up.

Take it away, San Antonio News-Express:
For Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, the first 52 games of the season have played like his own personal Groundhog Day. Every night, he dispatches the same starting lineup, uses mostly the same rotation, calls mostly the same plays, usually watches another Spurs’ victory, then goes home and eats dinner. Ho hum.

“It’s like I don’t have a job anymore,” Popovich said.

Popovich, it seems, has discovered a downside to a 44-8 record.

“It’s boring as hell,” he said. The upside? Popovich says the Spurs’ apparent shift to autopilot has freed up more time for his real passions. “Wine and reading,” Popovich said.

And if you believe any of that, Popovich has a bridge in wine country to sell you. Players say Popovich has been just as engaged this season as last, when he started 25 different lineups and the Spurs had to struggle just to make the playoffs as a seventh seed.

But what Popovich is driving at with that mentality is that you can't settle. They may be 45-9 and already have enough wins to make the playoffs, but there's always room to get better. Plus, as you can imagine with Popovich, tongue was firmly planted in cheek for those comments I'm sure.

The funny thing is, after Popovich said that, he switched up the starting lineup following a loss at Philadelphia puting George Hill in the first five. Just adding a little sizzle, I suppose.

Last season the Spurs were 31-21 at this same point. While that might not have been boring, I'm sure it wasn't near as satisfying as this season. The Spurs have had the boring tag put on them for a while. They play boring, their stars are boring, they win boring. And while Coach Pop feels it too, I'm thinking he likes the boring quite a bit.

Category: NBA
Posted on: February 11, 2011 1:54 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Friday 5 with KB: Trade Deadline Waters




Posted by Matt Moore 

In today's Friday 5 with KB: A favorite story from Jerry Sloan, the future of Utah, the choppy waters of this year's trade deadline, and when exactly are the Spurs going to hit double-digit losses?



1. So, yeah, Jerry's gone. Which kind of bums everyone out. Do you have a favorite Sloan story to share?

Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: Everyone, including me, made fun of Sloan's Hall of Fame acceptance speech two years ago because he basically told his entire life story. But I was touched by how nonchalantly Sloan talked about having lasted only five days as the University of Evansville basketball coach in the late 1970s. The season after he stepped down, his replacement, coach Bobby Watson, and the entire team and support staff were killed in a plane crash. Sloan said it matter-of-factly, just like that, and without blinking got right back to his story. "I spent 2 1-2 years as assistant coach of the Bulls ...," etc. That was Jerry. I don't know why I will always remember that, but I will.


2. Speaking of the Jazz, is there any chance they are able to reassert the kind of stability they've had over the past three decades? Is the organization and environment built in such a way as to develop that kind of constancy? Or are we going to see the Jazz back in the mire of the pack, having to reinvent themselves multiple times in a decade?

KB: The biggest priority, obviously, is persuading Deron Williams to stay. If he leaves as a free agent in 2012, there's no way around it: the Jazz are in for a major rebuild. Before they're faced with that possibility, however, the first order of business is maintaining stability on the bench. By naming Tyrone Corbin to succeed Sloan without saddling him with an interim title is an important first step. GM Kevin O'Connor and Gail Miller, the widow of later owner Larry Miller, both made clear they are committed to Corbin for the long term. Those intentions obviously will have to be backed up at some point by a multi-year head coaching contract, but that will come in time. There's been one head coach in Salt Lake City for nearly a quarter century. The plan certainly isn't to go from that to massive turnover.


3. Lost in Ray Allen's epic three-pointer and Kobe's late game heroics Thursday night was this: Boston's lost their last two, and are 5-5 in their last ten. Has the time come for the Celtics to coast through the second half?

KB: I think their recent struggles are less about coasting and more about injuries. The return of Kendrick Perkins has been muted by the absence of Shaq, Jermaine O'Neal and even Semih Erden. Boston also is without Marquis Daniels, Delonte West and Nate Robinson. So it's time to begin wondering if the only thing that can hold the Celtics back -- health -- is starting to rear its ugly head.


4. Alright, Ken. When are the Spurs going to hit double digit losses?

KB: With Philly, Washington and New Jersey next up on the road, I'm going to go out on a limb and say not before the All-Star break. The Spurs haven't lost two straight since early January, so I'm going to say their 10th loss doesn't come until March 4 or 6, when they play Miami and the Lakers.


5. Instability in Utah, the Denver situation, Portland teetering on the brink, Charlotte looking at a need to dump salary, Houston desperate to make a deal. For a long time it looked like we weren't going to be seeing much in the way of trades this year. But are the storm clouds gathering for another busy deadline?

KB: The way I see it now, there will be more buyers than sellers. Several teams have contracts they'd like to dump (Philly with Andre Iguodala, Charlotte with Stephen Jackson, Cleveland with Antawn Jamison or Mo Williams, the Bucks with Corey Maggette or Drew Gooden), but who is going to take on those kind of obligations heading unto uncertain CBA territory? Also, the teams with the most cap space, Sacramento and Minnesota, are going to be less likely than in past years to take money into that space given that they don't know what the 2011-12 cap and rules will be. First-round picks also will be more expensive on the trade market because they represent cheap labor. Whereas in past years, teams would be willing to give up a first simply to get off a contract, this time they'll want something else in return -- such as a second-round pick. The teams that will be able to do something are those that have quality players on expiring contracts -- such as Indiana with Jeff Foster, Mike Dunleavy, and T.J. Ford; and Portland with Joel Przybilla and Andre Miller (whose 2011-12 salary is non-guaranteed).
Posted on: February 4, 2011 1:57 am
Edited on: February 4, 2011 3:02 am
 

The Game Changer: Magic don't have enough magic

Posted by Royce Young

Each game is made up of elements that help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the previous night's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what led to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.  

THE BIG ONE: MIAMI HANGS ON TIGHT

With six minutes left, Magic fans started filing out. The Heat led 90-70 and appeared to be on cruise control headed toward an easy but big divisional win over the Magic.

Orlando, being a good team, wasn't completely finished. Jason Richardson hit a shot. Ryan Anderson hit a 3. Gilbert Arenas hit a 3. Then Anderson another one. The Magic hit six long-balls in the last six minutes, finally cutting the Miami lead down to three.

And after the Heat failed to get the ball in with nine seconds left, the Magic somehow had an opportunity to tie the game. Anderson got another look from deep by was just long on it.

What's interesting about the set though was how open J.J. Redick was coming off a Dwight Howard screen. Have a look:



Hedo Turkoglu instead went out top to Anderson which wasn't a bad play, seeing how Anderson was open. The difference is that the ball had a long way to travel to get to Anderson, meaning the Heat defense had a chance to recover. If the ball goes to Redick, it's catch and shoot. Easy to pick nits now knowing it didn't work, but at the time, everyone saw Redick flash open.

It's easy to look at how the game almost blew up in Miami's face, but in the end, the Heat won a game against a good Magic squad. They did it with incredible defense for 42 minutes, crisp offensive execution and oh yeah, LeBron James is still freaking incredible.

He started the game 11-11 which tied a career best and finished the game with an NBA season-high 51 points on 17-25 shooting. Just for fun, he added in 11 rebounds and eight assists. He owned this game. Just completely dominated it in every way he could.

And he did it from the start. LeBron scored 29 in the first half and after Dwyane Wade left for a while following a hard fall, LeBron just continued to kill the Magic. It's nights like this where you truly fear the Heat. I mean, how do you stop that?

MCDYESS DICES LOS ANGLES AT THE BUZZER

It was obvious how important this game was to the Lakers from the tip. They've been answering a lot questions, their general manager is talking about making trades and Kobe Bryant is a little extra chippy. And they had the league's best team in town and played like they had something to prove.

Problem is, they had the San Antonio Spurs in town and they don't exactly go down easily.

The Lakers thought they had it won three different times. With Los Angeles up 88-87 with 22 seconds left, the Spurs ran a great set but Manu Ginobili missed an open 3. Rebound Spurs. Tony Parker had the ball at the top of the key, made a move left and rimmed out a tear drop runner. Again, the Lakers didn't secure the rebound and the ball went out, off yellow.

And the third time indeed was a charm for San Antonio. Tim Duncan caught the ball, didn't get the hand off to Parker and had to force up a falling jumper over the extended hand of Pau Gasol. The shot was long, catching back-iron except for a fourth time, the Lakers didn't get on the glass. Antonio McDyess beat Lamar Odom and tipped in the game-winner as time expired. 89-88, Spurs.

The game had every feel of a playoff classic with both teams fighting tooth and nail for 48 minutes. Every possession was a complete grind. Both teams shot under 43 percent. The Lakers were playing like the game meant something more. And of course the Spurs brought it.

Read the rest of how the Spurs topped the Lakers at the buzzer here.

GO-GO-GADGET LINES

LeBron James had an NBA season-high 51 points on 17-25 shooting, grabbed 11 rebounds and had eight assists.

Dwight Howard had 17 points and 16 rebounds.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had 15 points and 19 rebounds against Golden State.

Ersan Ilyasova
finished with 23 and 13.

Gary Neal'S BUZZER BEATER WAS COOL TOO

Antonio McDyess's big tip at the horn is getting all the love, but how about Gary Neal's buzzer-beater at the half? You know, without it, McDyess's play might not have meant as much. Think about that one.


PARTING THOUGHT

Don't overlook Golden State's 100-94 win over the Bucks. Two things this showed: 1) The Bucks truly are a horrible offensive team, only mustering 94 points against the Warriors and 2) Golden State is just good enough to stay interesting for the rest of this season.

With Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and David Lee, the Warriors have the players to be in every game, but obviously aren't totally ready to be a playoff contender. It feels like they aren't really that far off though.
Posted on: February 4, 2011 1:35 am
 

McDyess and the Spurs finish the Lakers late

Posted by Royce Young



It was obvious how important this game was to the Lakers from the tip. They've been answering a lot questions, their general manager is talking about making trades and Kobe Bryant is a little extra chippy. And they had the league's best team in town and played like they had something to prove.

Problem is, they had the San Antonio Spurs in town and they don't exactly go down easily.

The Lakers thought they had it won three different times. With Los Angeles up 88-87 with 22 seconds left, the Spurs ran a great set but Manu Ginobili missed an open 3. Rebound Spurs. Tony Parker had the ball at the top of the key, made a move left and rimmed out a tear drop runner. Again, the Lakers didn't secure the rebound and the ball went out, off yellow.

And the third time indeed was a charm for San Antonio. Tim Duncan caught the ball, didn't get the hand off to Parker and had to force up a falling jumper over the extended hand of Pau Gasol. The shot was long, catching back-iron except for a fourth time, the Lakers didn't get on the glass. Antonio McDyess beat Lamar Odom and tipped in the game-winner as time expired. 89-88, Spurs.

The game had every feel of a playoff classic with both teams fighting tooth and nail for 48 minutes. Every possession was a complete grind. Both teams shot under 43 percent. The Lakers were playing like the game meant something more. And of course the Spurs brought it.

Tony Parker was terrific, leading all scorers with 21, Richard Jefferson had 18 on 7-12 shooting and Duncan and Manu did just enough to get it done. This is the way the Spurs do things. You look at the box score and spend 15 minutes wondering how in the heck they won the game. They understand better than anyone what it means to get a key stop, a key basket or a key rebound. They win. They've mastered it as well as anyone.

On the Laker side, Kobe Bryant didn't shoot the ball well (5-18) but to his credit, didn't force things late in the game when his team needs points every trip. He did a great job creating good shots for Odom and Gasol, drawing the defense and making the correct pass. Kobe finished with 10 assists to go with 16 points and nine rebounds. He didn't play great, but did enough to get his team a win.

Gasol who has taken some criticism lately, played hard and played well. He had 19 points (8-10 shooting) and seven rebounds. He was a little more involved and locked in than he's appeared the past couple weeks. He definitely played with fire, but obviously it wasn't enough to stop Duncan and the Spurs.

In the end, it was about getting one stop to seal it. Except the Lakers gave the Spurs four chances.

It's still only February and Phil Jackson has already said he's not panicking until the playoffs. But you could see it after the officials confirmed McDyess got his tip off in time. The Lakers looked devastated. Pau Gasol hung his head, Kobe quickly exited the floor and the rest of the team just looked deflated.

They put a little extra into this game. They wanted to beat the Spurs and prove how good they still are. Losing by one on a tip isn't reason to hang your head in shame, but the Lakers still feel like they're searching for something. I'm convinced there's no reason to worry for this team (yet), but Thursday's game isn't going to make them feel any better.
Posted on: February 2, 2011 11:27 am
Edited on: February 2, 2011 11:29 am
 

Game Changer: LMA drops 40

The Rockets keep bugging the Lakers, DMC gets into it with KG, and LaMarcus Aldridge has the game of his life, all in today's Game Changer. 
Posted by Matt Moore

THE BIG ONE: LMA TAKES OVER TO KEEP PORTLAND ALIVE

LaMarcus Aldridge has become a complete player this season, and has gone from good player to star. No further proof is needed beyond the performance Aldridge gave Tuesday night in the Blazers' 99-86 win over the Western-Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs. Aldridge dropped 40 on the Spurs, with a barrage of inside layups, dunks, and perimeter mid-range jumpers. See for yourself, in the shot chart from our GameTracker: 



7-13 on jumpers? That'll do, LMA. That'll do. Aldridge made a strong case for All-Star reserve in front of the coach for the Western team, not only with his shooting display to go along with 11 rebounds.  Aldridge has become the focal point of the Blazers, and he's the reason they're hanging onto the 8th spot in the West. That Aldridge has become the focal point after so often being passed over by Blazers management and fans is equally notable. First it was Brandon Roy, then Greg Oden, then Andre Miller, and most recently sophomore Wesley Matthews. But with Roy and Oden on the shelf, Miller marginalized by age, and Matthews still learning consistency, it's fallen upon Aldridge to shoulder the team. And he's risen to that challenge. 

Patty Mills at one point lobbed a dangerous, ill-advised pass into traffic for Aldridge. Mills knew it was a poor pass, but trusted in Aldridge to make a play. Aldridge nabbed the pass and nearly threw it down, drawing a foul. That's trust in your star, and the Blazers have it. That Aldridge has had to wait so long to reach this level must make it all the more worth it. Always the consolation prize, with the Blazers hopes for a title run with their young core vanished into a mist of lost opportunities, Aldridge is now the Blazers' best hope moving forward. He's a legitimate star to build around. 

For the Spurs, this game serves as a warning. The Spurs had no one to extend their perimeter defense against Aldridge with.  DeJuan Blair is not mobile enough and Duncan is unable to cover the distance and recover. As a result, Aldridge dropped the array of mid-range top-of-the-key shots you see above.  It's his sweet spot, just as Dirk's is the corner elbow, and David West's is the 16-foot baseline. All give the Spurs problems. Stretch fours are a problem for the Spurs, and they're going to be seeing a lot of them in the playoffs. Meanwhile, their offense sputtered and their defense wasn't able to hit the gear they're going to need in the playoffs.

Not the way they wanted to start the rodeo road trip. 


GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:

Aldridge, obviously.

Runners-Up:

Kobe Bryant: 32 points, 6 rebounds, 11 assists

Luis Scola: 24 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists

AN UGLY COIN FLIP

The Celtics and Kings engaged in a pretty brutal standoff with the officials Tuesday night. The Celtics played their usual brand of brutal, physical, abrasive style, swiping, clubbing, shouldering, and creating so much contact the officials couldn't call everything. And when they did call something, the Celtics reacted with their usual outpouring of incredulity. What the Celtics weren't expecting was for the Kings to attempt the same approach. The Kings sped the pace up, which the Celtics hate, and then got aggressive down low, repeatedly blocking Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, and Glen Davis. That helped the Kings to a three-possession lead, which of course the Kings blew down the stretch when their entire offense came unglued as the Celtics buckled down. 

The most interesting part of the game was the interaction between DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Garnett. Garnett did his usual "Look at me, I'm so crazy" act, hitting himself and mumbling obscenities. Cousins, for the most part, seemed off-put by Garnett's defense of him in the post, which involved a lot of slapping at the ball, missing, and hitting Cousins, then predictably getting the call because it's Kevin Garnett versus a rookie.  Cousins did mouth off to Garnett once, prompting Rajon Rondo to try and ease him back with his hand, which caused Cousins to slap the hand away, ending in Rondo shoving him and drawing a technical. It was a weird mirror image to Garnett's own behavior, if obviously less mature. 

Cousins was brilliant on offense, hitting everything from tap-backs and fadeaways to three-pointers.  But on defense, he too often lazed around getting back, didn't commit off-ball, and wound up in poor position. Imagine if the kid had a work ethic. 

LAKERS FINALLY FIGURE OUT THEY'RE TALL

The Lakers needed a win, and an injured, short-handed, small, poor defensively Rockets team was the perfect cure for what ails them.  Of course, for 48 minutes, the Lakers refused to take their medicine, and the Rockets used crack perimeter shooting and savvy ball movement to outwit the Lakers on their way to overtime. The Lakers would make a run by being tall and very good at basketball, the Rockets would call timeout, and then the Lakers would completely go away from everything that worked previously. Sure, the Lakers were missing Andrew Bynum. But the Rockets were missing Yao Ming, obviously, so it's not like they were full strength.

Meanwhile Pau Gasol drifted and drifted until overtime. Kobe Bryant dished seven assists before he scored 7 points in the first quarter, then started to take over offensively again.  Guess when the Rockets came back?  Meanwhile, he went back to distributing and finding Lamar Odom late, which allowed the Lakers to close the deficit and force overtime. In the extra period, it was simple physics.  The Lakers are tall and long, the Rockets are short.  The end. 

It wasn't a great win for the Lakers, but it's a win, and it's a start for their way back.
Posted on: February 1, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Lakers C Andrew Bynum out with bruised left knee

Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum is out with knee soreness on Tuesday night. Posted by Ben Golliver. andrew-bynum

I've been consistent in advocating patience and calm in assessing the Los Angeles Lakers this season, as the mid-season ups and downs are inevitable and the Lakers remain the most talented and tested team in the Western Conference. But if you're in the market for a good reason to freak out about L.A.'s title hopes, Andrew Bynum's health is as good as it gets.

Bynum, who didn't return from offseason surgery on his right knee until Dec. 14, is out for Tuesday night's game against the Houston Rockets after an MRI revealed "a bone bruise on his left knee," according to Lakers.com. This after Bynum missed practice due to knee soreness on Monday. Going forward, Bynum is officially listed as day-to-day.

Bynum is averaging 11.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 24.6 minutes per game so far this season, and he managed 11 points, six rebounds and a block in 28 minutes against the Boston Celtics on Sunday. He is a talented, big body that causes problems for the other Western Conference contenders and he would be a critical piece in a potential Finals match-up with either the Celtics, Orlando Magic or Miami Heat.  

While it's not clear whether Bynum's left knee soreness is a compensation injury stemming from his surgery and rehab on his right knee, or if it's entirely unrelated, I'm sanctioning a raise of the Lakers panic level from 0 to 1 based on this news. The Lakers are talented enough to beat Boston with Bynum, but not without him. As championship-or-bust is the ridiculously high standard that the Lakers operate under as back-to-back champions, any knee issue related to Bynum, who has dealt with them in the past, is enough cause for Lakers fans to get a little nervous. That the MRI came back clean otherwise, however, prevents this from being anything except an issue worth monitoring closely in the short-term.

Following Tuesday's game against the Rockets, the Lakers next play the Spurs in a nationally-televised game at Staples Center on Thursday night.
Posted on: January 27, 2011 1:30 am
 

Game Changer: Where the Spurs silenced the Jazz

Posted by Royce Young

THE BIG ONE: SAN ANTONIO KICKS UTAH WHILE ITS DOWN

That big red button is getting bigger by the night. I'm not typically one to punch a panic button in January, but boy, things are not going well in Utah right now.

But pull your finger away for now. Yes, the Jazz dropped a sixth straight. And yes, they trailed by as many as 19. But Utah showed some mettle at home, fighting back behind 39 points from Deron Williams and had the game within reach with under a minute yet.

Something about this game just said that the Jazz are going to figure things out. The Spurs are the league's best team and they aren't easy to beat anywhere. So the fact that the Jazz almost beat them means something. I think.

Though I'm sure Jerry Sloan doesn't want to hear anything remotely close to a moral victory.

On the other side, the Spurs moved to 39-7, which is just terrific. I loved the way they won this game. The execution late was just flawless. The way Manu Ginobili just makes winning play after winning play is astounding.

People want to say San Antonio is boring, but if beautiful basketball is boring, then sign me up for another borefest. Because watching the Spurs in the halfcourt move the ball, reverse it, set a pindown screen and find an open shooter is just basketball poetry. I could watch it all day.

KEVIN VS. KEVIN AND WE ALL WIN

You were probably too busy watching Jimmer Fredette, but holy cow I hope you at least caught a little of the Thunder and Timberwolves.

There were 19 total lead changes and eight in the final three minutes of regulation. The game went to overtime where Oklahoma City eventually edged Minnesota 118-117 because of a silky Kevin Durant jumper with 28 seconds left and a big free throw miss from Corey Brewer with six seconds left.

(Watch Durant's step-back jumper in the highlights though. It's just stupid good. Like how could anyone ever dream of stopping that?)

Don't get me wrong, the game was fun and terrific and all of that, but the two Kevins are really what stole the show. Kevin Durant tied his career-high with 47 points, 36 of which came after halftime. He also added a career-high 18 rebounds to go with it.

Kevin Love dropped another 30-20 game, this time going for 31 points and 21 rebounds, giving him 32 straight double-doubles and three 30-20 games on the season (nobody else even has one). Love had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation but his 12-foot jump hook just rimmed out.

That's the Thunder's eighth straight win over the Timberwolves, but this isn't one that just goes in the books and we forget about. It was really a great game that featured two incredible performances from two of the league's very, very best.


GO-GO-GADGET LINES

Kevin Durant dropped one of the season's best lines with 47 points on 15-28 shooting while grabbing a career-high 18 rebounds.

Kevin Love had another huge night scoring 31 points and grabbing 21 rebounds in a loss to OKC.

Dwight Howard had an otherwise nice games scoring 19 points and pulling in 16 rebounds. If it weren't for Kevin Love, Howard's line would've looked a bit better.

Deron Williams set a new season-high with 39 points and he also dished out nine assists.

Chris Paul had 18 points and 17 assists in the Hornets 10th straight win.

NOLA KEEPS IT MOVING

How freaking impressive are the Hornets right now? They won their 10th straight and while someone finally topped 100 points against them, it was the pace happy Warriors that did it and it came in garbage time.

During the 10-game streak, only two teams other than the Warriors have topped 100 and those games went into overtime. Against Golden State, New Orleans clamped down from the beginning, but also used some crisp, decisive offense to get off to a nice start, build a cushion and play with a lead the entire night.

All five Hornet starters notched double-figures with Chris Paul scoring 18 points and dishing out 17 assists. David West did his normal David West thing dropping 22 points on only 12 shots. And Trevor Ariza chipped in 19 on 7-11 shooting.

When the Hornets are scoring the ball, they're just about as good as anyone out there. Their defense is almost always there every night, but they find themselves in stretches trying to find baskets. Granted, it helped to be playing the Warriors, but when NOLA is scoring the ball and moving it like they did Wednesday (32 assists on 46 field goals), they match up with anybody.

Nobody was saying that a couple weeks ago when everyone was dying to write this team off. But here they come again. And look out.

JIMMER GETTING PROPS

Kevin Durant, just an hour removed from dropping 47 points on the Timberwolves tweeted last night about the game of the night, BYU's big win over undefeated San Diego State in which Cougar sensation Jimmer Fredette dropped 43 points.


A classic Durant move, giving props to someone else instead of playing up his own big night. It's why we love him.

PARTING THOUGHT

The 76ers quietly won again, moving to 20-25 on the season. But the way they won was the impressive part. The team scored 107 points, which is good. But the starters only put in 49 points. That means the Sixer bench poured in 58 points! Marresse Speights had 23, Lou Williams 15, Thaddeus Young 10 and Evan Turner 10.

The Sixers are figuring things out a bit lately and if that sort of depth is for real, they may be a lock for the playoffs in the East.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com