Derek Fisher's swag is phenomenal, and not because he barreled down the lane, his Lakers trailing the Clippers 86-85 with seconds left, at age 36, with what little quickness he had in his prime dissipated. Fisher has hit big shots, and in attempting another the Lakers had absolutely nothing to lose. Heck, the Lakers were fortunate to even be in the game, a beneficiary of some truly mindless Clipper turnovers that turned a 12-point lead into nothing, and made a 5-point lead with about a minute left disappear.
Kobe wanted the ball, and looked exasperated (or worse) when Fisher looked him off and began the drive. That will be forgotten, but it shouldn't, because it shows again what Fisher means to this team beyond his meager stats.
That may sound fluffy, too fluffy for championship-level basketball. But to me, this is what separates a player with the resumé of Fisher from a so-called winner like Robert Horry. Big Shot Bob hit, uh, big shots, and got along with everyone. Fisher manages his team, a squad overflowing with egos and feelings and personality. Only one Laker can get away with looking off Kobe in the final seconds, down one, in Staples Center. And that's Fisher. If he'd missed, Kobe wouldn't dare say a word about it, either. That's Fisher.
Silver Screen And Roll points out how impactful Shannon Brown's 57-footer to end the third quarter wound up being; Clips Nation has remarkably sober clarity on what a devastating loss like this means. CN's Steve may not want to read Adrian Wojnarowski today. Just a hunch.
There is little more satisfying in basketball than the old game-winning alley-oop. Take it away, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Andrew Bogut.
When you see a play executed so beautifully, it's easy to forget how many things must go absolutely right for the play to be pulled off. The Bucks had one shot -- you can't get a do-over on a play like that, so Mbah a Moute had to see Brandon Jennings screen Jeff Foster, had to see Bogut make his break for the hoop, and had to get the ball high enough to avoid allowing it to get broken up by Foster ... and he had to do all of this with a 7-foot Roy Hibbert hopping in his face. It's a ballsy playcall by Scott Skiles, and just perfect execution by Mbah a Moute, Bogut and Jennings.
Memo to Jeff Foster: jump!
Jerry Seinfeld has a bit where he explains that friends can't date because they know each other's tricks; it becomes like two magicians trying to entertain one another by pulling rabbits out of hats. Amar'e Stoudemire (34 points, his sixth consecutive game over 30 points) and Andrea Bargnani (41 points!) were like two completely gullible magicians: they knew exactly what was coming, and they fell for it and bowled over in
laughter defensive fail every single time. Raymond Felton was the voice of reason, at least until sacrificed two sides of beef to the Holy God of Every Inch of the Rim.
Memphis has been flopping around like a suffocating fish all season, and this might be the signature win the Grizzlies need to build some internal confidence and, hopefully, some momentum. The Grizzlies' starters outmatched those of the Suns in regulation; Memphis' famously thin bench was killed by Phoenix's deep second unit, however. The game was tied at 88 with less than 10 seconds when Phoenix's Hedo Turkoglu stepped back for a mammoth three-pointer.
After a time-out, the Suns elected to foul up three. They sent Mike Conley to the line; he hit the first, and Channing Frye rebounded the second. The Grizzlies fouled him, and he hit just one of two, giving the Grizz (after a time-out) 2.8 seconds to make up a 92-89 deficit.
Rudy Gay stepped up, nailed a corner three, and looked very, very serious afterward.
Memphis had no trouble finishing the game in overtime from there.
In action that required no beating of buzzers:
Heat 111, Jazz 98: You may remember that in possibly the biggest indictment of the early Miami Heat, the Jazz had an epic comeback in South Beach in November that involved something called a Paul Millsap scoring more than 40 points on Chris Bosh. The Heat have regained their compass, or reality has caught up with theory, or something, and Miami showed off its new modus operandi in Salt Lake Wednesday by whipping the Jazz by 13. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are officially the most scary fastbreak duo in the NBA.
SLC Dunk is disappointed the Jazz didn't step up in the fourth quarter, while Peninsula Is Mightier celebrates the entertainment value of the game, made all the sweeter by it becoming the Heat's sixth straight double-digit win.
Spurs 111, Warriors 94: A Warrior scored 31 points, and it will probably take you a couple guesses if you didn't watch the game or highlights. That's right: Reggie Williams, the quasi-star of the Don Nelson's swan song season last year. Williams went large off the bench, and David Lee contributed 16 points and 13 rebounds, but most other Warriors stunk (Monta Ellis shot 7-24, Stephen Curry played only 10 minutes after re-aggravating his ankle injury) and the Spurs are really, really good. Golden State Of Mind wasn't surprised by a loss to the Spurs.
Celtics 105, Nuggets 89: Carmelo Anthony didn't play in this one due to an inflamed knee, and ESPN execs no doubt thanked him profusely, as his absence made a compelling game into a (relative) dud. Gary Forbes just doesn't carry your hype, 'Melo. Denver Stiffs rues the fact that the Nuggets wouldn't match Boston's physical play; Celtics Blog credits Doc Rivers for ensuring his players wouldn't overlook a short-handed Denver.
Bulls 88, Cavaliers 83: As I think we learned from a million flowery dispatches last week, the Cavaliers are Cleveland. Well, Cleveland is frozen right now, and the Cavs were ice-cold on Wednesday. (Groans? Why is everyone groaning?) Cleveland shot 38 percent, Derrick Rose scored 29, and the Bulls won. The Cavs has lost six straight. Blog A Bull champions Chicago's small lineup; check out Fear The Sword for Cavs reaction.
Thunder 111, Timberwolves 103: Oklahoma City trailed by 19 points to the Timberwolves early in the second quarter, but stormed back for the eventual win. The OKC defense really tightened up; I would hereby like to credit Serge Ibaka for a lot of that, given that Ibakaveli had eight blocks, several on Minnesota star Kevin Love. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 55 points. Love ended up with a double-double animal style (22 points, 21 rebounds) and Michael Beasley filled it up with 26. Welcome To Loud City loved the long, grinding comeback the Thunder accomplished; Canis Hoopus points out that Sebastian Telfair is, indeed, horrible.
Hornets 93, Pistons 74: Marco Belinelli scored 22, and no, this isn't summer league. Detroit Bad Boys considered the game a hopeless attempt anyway, while At The Hive cheered an easy win (for a change).
Kings 116, Wizards 91: Yes, the Kings won by 25 points. Before Wednesday, Sacramento had four wins, and won those games by a combined 12 points. That's how bad the Wizards on the road with John Wall and Andray Blatche on the bench. Well, forget about the injuries; the Wizards are just awfulawfulawful on the road: this loss pushed Washington to 0-12 away from Verizon, and the team is being outscored by an average of 16.4 points on the road. That's a lot of bad!
And despite what you might think, I assure you that there no bragging rights between SBNation.com bud Mike Prada (a Wizards devotee) and I; the Kings, after all, are still 5-15. Prada, at Bullets Forever, is looking on the bright side (or not), while Kings fans at Sactown Royalty are ready for the playoff run. Jason Thompson had 22 points and 14 rebounds and looked as legitimate as ever, while 27-year-old rookie Pooh Jeter is drawing accolades for picking up the pace in Sacramento. This highlight is a mash-up of those storylines.