The residents of some parallel universe took in a TNT doubleheader last night, featuring Carmelo Anthony's defensive mastery of Kobe Bryant in the Knicks' 82-possession win at the Staples Center and Chris Paul's 33-point, 21-assist performance against Deron Williams' Nets. Unfortunately, we are not those aliens, nor do we live in their extremely different yet also curiously familiar universe. No, their Carmelo Anthony vs. The Lakers is but our Carmelo Anthony vs. National Basketball Association.
Of course, the NBA's loss is international basketball's gain, and over the past week, rumors of NBA players heading abroad have built to a climax and exploded over front pages. Aaron Brooks left for China, with Jamal Crawford possibly following him. Kevin Durant reportedly could join Valencia or Euroleague sides Anadolu Efes (Turkey) or Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel). Omri Casspi rejoined Maccabi earlier this week. And the closer we get to an actual full season cancellation, the more names will likely be tossed out. Andrea Bargnani? Tiago Splitter? Dwyane Wade? LeBron James? When will the madness stop!*
*After Tiago Splitter, probably.
The Eurofile's conception of European cities is almost entirely based on excessive play of the Age of Empires series of video games, and so the lack of sentry-tower defensed town-centres in cities like modern day Madrid or Istanbul has always been a source of immense disappointment. The German city of Bamberg, however, fits the medieval mold perfectly. It's historic -- a Holy Roman Emperor was buried there in the 12th century, hundreds of presumed witches were burned in the 17th, and it served as an important center for Enlightenment-era thought -- and its medieval feel extends into the present.
Many of the city's 11th- and 12th-century churches still stand, as does its famous Cathedral and Old Town Hall. The Regnitz River, which runs through the city, is adjacent on one side to a fisherman's colony from the 1800s. Each of the city's seven hills is topped with its own church, and sections of the city are devoted solely to the cultivation of vegetables and open market gardens. UNESCO named Bamberg to its World Heritage List in 1993 for the way it retains the soul of the Old World in a way few European cities still do.
The streets of Bamberg, via lille2de on Flickr
Bamberg is more than a sleepy throwback ecclesiastic town though; in basketball terms, it's also Freak City, home of some of the most dedicated fans in the world, the fans of Germany's Brose Baskets Bamberg. That an arena with a 7,000-person capacity could earn an entire city a title so booming is remarkable. But such is the support for Brose Baskets, who went undefeated at home during the 2010-2011 season, picking up the German Cup, a second consecutive German league title, and a spot in the 2011-2012 Euroleague.
After a shaky start to their campaign, including a 20-point drubbing at the hands of Andrei Kirilenko's Moscow three weeks ago, Bamberg jumped into the top four of its group with an impressive 79-76 victory Thursday over the defending champion Panathinaikos (Greece), headed by the delectably named and highly talented Dimitris Diamantidis. It was Bamberg's third home game of the season, and its second successful home defense, the single loss coming at the buzzer against Unicaja Cabral in Week 3.
Bamberg converted 62 percent of its shots from inside the arc, led by Predrag Suput's 19. Tibor Pleiss -- whose rights are held by the Thunder -- fell short of a double-double by a single point and rebound off the bench, and had six offensive rebounds, while the former Phoenix Sun Casey Jacabosen started and scored 10. Bamberg may have looked overmatched a few weeks ago, but with half of the group stage complete now, it doesn't feel at all inconceivable that Freak City can make it into the second group stage.
PARTIZAN COMES BACK
Armani Jeans Milano's matchup with KK Partizan yesterday was always going to be an interesting game; Acie Law is a starter for Partizan, Danilo Gallinari plays regularly for Armani Jeans, and one of the teams is called Armani Jeans. But the game itself transcended those attractions as Partizan turned in one of the great comebacks in league history.
Milan dominated the first half, ceding just 19 points, holding Partizan scoreless for the final seven minutes of the half, and scoring 12 consecutive points to close the second quarter, all while Partizan missed a variety of open shots. After taking a 31-19 lead into the break, Milan proceeded to blow the game wide open in the third quarter, eventually building a 21-point cushion with 14 minutes to go. And even though Partizan began to convert possessions into points at that juncture, the lead was still 15 with five minutes to go, which, of course, is when all hell broke loose. Vladimir Lucic, Dusan Kecman, and Minnesota's Nikola Pekovic all contributed during a 17-0 run to end the game, fueled by a plethora of close-range misses on the part of Milan, an "unsportsmanlike" foul on Gallinari, and, eventually, missed three after missed three as Milan attempted to hold its lead in desperation.
Law did a decent enough Tim Tebow impression, playing well down the stretch despite finishing with an awful 2-for-13 shooting line, and Pekovic's strength was too much for Milan's frontline to handle in the closing minutes. With the win, Partizan goes third in Group C, with Milan dropping into a tie for 4th with Sasha Vujacic's and Ersan Ilyasova's Anadolu Efes.
THE NBA, ABROAD
In the line of the week, Utah's Andrei Kirilenko (Moscow) scored 17 points on three shots, had 9 rebounds and 6 steals, and was named the week's MVP.
In the same game, Boston's Nenad Krstic (Moscow) had 12 points and 7 rebounds in his team's 11-point victory over Jorge Garbajosa's (heh) Unicaja.
Houston's Donatas Motiejunas (Siena) went off for 26 and 9 on 10-for-16 shooting, including four shots from downtown in his best Euroleague performance to date.
Acie Law (Partizan) scored 7 points on 13 shots, committed 2 turnovers with 3 assists, but also drew 6 fouls in Partizan's win over Milan.
His teammate, Minnesota's Nikola Pekovic, led all foul-drawers in the same game with 8, and also scored 15 points on 9 shots.
Denver's Danilo Gallinari (Milan) came off the bench for a second straight week, and after scoring 17 points on 8 shots last week, contributed 14 on 9, but struggled defensively in the post.
Washington's Kevin Seraphin (Caja Laboral) scored 9 points on 6 shots, with 6 rebounds, including 4 offensive to lead the game in the Caja Laboral's loss in Italy to Gescrap.
Portland's Nicolas Batum (Nancy) struggled for the first time this season, scoring just 9 points on 8 shots, missing 3 of 6 free throws and committing 3 turnovers. Nancy lost by 13 to Olympiacos, who played a physical style of defense on Batum.
New Jersey's Jordan Farmar (Maccabi) struggled for the first time as well, committing 5 turnovers against just 2 shots made in 7 attempts, but his team won anyways against Belgacom Spirou's woeful offense.
Oklahoma City's Thabo Sefalosha (Fenerbahce) played an extremely efficient game --14 points on 7 shots, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals -- but he also committed 5 fouls in Fenerbahce's overtime victory over Bennet Cantu.
Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova (Anadolu Efes) started and scored 14 points with 5 rebounds and 3 steals in his team's 20-point loss to Real Madrid.
His teammate, New Jersey's Sasha Vujacic, also started and scored 8 points in 27 minutes.
In the same game, Real Madrid teammates, Dallas' Rudy Fernandez and Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka, registered 14 points in 25 minutes and 3 points and 1 rebound in 8 minutes respectively.
And finally, Denver's Ty Lawson (Kaunas) played just 16 minutes, with 4 points and 2 assists. His team lost by two to Zagreb.