There’s no point in pretending like you don’t know where this is going to start, so let’s get to it.
1. Your Linsanity update that isn’t really an update.
What, you thought one loss would stop this media machine? After Sunday’s 28 point, 14 assist performance against Dallas, Linsanity gained credibility it couldn’t get from wins over teams like Minnesota. But it’s silly to use any one game as a referendum when no single contest, whether a win over the Mavericks or a loss to the Hornets, will give unequivocal answers about just how good Lin is.
No assumptions can be made about how he’ll play once the Knicks have their full complement of players, either. Carmelo Anthony should help, but his return will mean one more thing for a young point guard to think about, and that thing is big. Melo doesn’t need to get out of Lin’s way. Lin needs to figure out what Mike D’Antoni hasn’t bothered to determine -- how to get the most out of an absurdly talented volume scorer whose points per game are down more than six points from the 2009-10 season. That’s what good point guards do, and that task is more important -- and daunting -- than anything Lin has done thus far.
2. Our Linsanity update.
ESPN apologized for a series of insensitive gaffes on its airwaves regarding Lin. For obvious reasons, notably my mortgage, I’m not as free to discuss the matter as I would prefer. However, this was simply more proof that the most Lin-sane thing about this phenomenon is rational people’s inability to refrain from making bad, improper jokes about Asians in public. Not even MSG, the Knicks in-house network, could get it right. That said, we’re still going for low-hanging fruit, chastising foolish boxers, being outraged by penis jokes and cracking down on name-calling with a fervor often unseen when substantial, damaging racism is before us. But if this is how we handle Lin, how can we be trusted with the really important issues?
3. Aren’t you glad the Knicks are back?
Love the Knicks or hate them, but there’s no denying that the NBA is more interesting when they’re good. This was even the case when Rileyball was ruining the NBA, and it’s been easy to forget while the Knicks have been down. But Madison Square Garden is just as star-studded as the Staples Center without being Hollywood, the perfect venue for the purest underdog story in recent memory. Add Lin’s stardom to the playground energy of the Garden, and every Knicks game is now must-see. And the league, from the suits to the teams to the fans, are better for it.
4. So, about the Spurs...
Thanks to Manu Ginobli’s strained oblique, last week’s observation that the Spurs could begin their takeover of the West carries less weight. But given how well the Spurs are playing, any injury that won’t keep Manu out for the season can be overcome. That’s because Tony Parker has been the best point guard in the West not named Chris Paul. Somehow, he’s managed to be underrated while running point for three championship teams. Now, he’s keeping the Duncan/Popovich era alive almost by himself.
5. This weekend showed just how far the Clippers have come.
Forget the worst play of Chris Paul’s NBA career, a "whiskey tango foxtrot?" pass into the backcourt that the Spurs’ Gary Neal instantly converted into a three-pointer. Two times in three days, the Clippers stormed back late after trailing on game to take control of games against teams that will be in the playoffs. And anyone watching the games will tell you -- as soon as Los Angeles took the lead against Portland and San Antonio, the games felt over. The end of regulation Saturday was shocking, even though plays like that were expected of the bumbling Clippers for 30 years.
That’s the power of Paul, the single most trustworthy player in the NBA with the ball in his hands. Vinny Del Negro may not be Red Auerbach, but he seems smart enough to realize CP3 can lead this team better than he can, and he’s staying out of the way.
6. Where are they now? Headed to the parking lot, actually.
Clearly, referee Karl Hess wasn’t trying to hear any lip from fans Saturday, so he violated protocol and had security eject N.C. State legends Tom Gugliotta and Chris Corchiani from the Wolfpack's game against Florida State. Maybe Hess overreacted, but have you ever paid money for front row seats and left peacefully after being kicked out for no good reason? In a building where your jersey hangs from the rafters, no less? And could the insane workload of a college official maybe shorten Hess’ fuse? Hess certainly went too far, but good luck convincing me Gugliotta and Corchiani didn’t get their collective money’s worth.
7. Good luck guessing how far Ohio State will go in March.
You can almost mark Michigan State in the Final Four on your yet-to-be-printed bracket. But Ohio State, even though the Buckeyes have strongest starting lineup outside of Lexington, look right now to be the team most likely to blow the office pool for you. It’s not because they lost to Michigan Saturday. It’s that they were down by five with 1:20 left, and the lead felt insurmountable. That’s what happens when you shoot 32.5 percent from three-point range as a team. That’s worse than the 2009-10 Kentucky team with four first round picks that lost to West Virginia in the Elite Eight because it couldn’t buy a triple. Coming back in a game with a 35-second shot clock almost mandates trading threes for twos, meaning a slow start could be "all she wrote" for the Buckeyes.
8. Just imagine if the Thunder had a big man with any offensive game.
In case you forgot who the best scorer in the NBA is, Kevin Durant went for an easy-looking 51 in Oklahoma City's 124-118 overtime win over the Nuggets. And for the dolts who dare put Jeremy Lin's name in the same sentence with Russell Westbrook's, Russ put up 40 and nine assists against two turnovers. That said, with all due respect to Serge Ibaka's triple-double, the rest of the team scored 33 points. It's not a good look for the Thunder when its two stars, elite players, play out of their minds, and you have to go to overtime at home to beat the eight-best team in the West.
9. Dereck Chisora managed to lose three times in two nights.
It started when Chisora made a fool of himself and slapped Vitali Klitschko at a press conference Friday. You’d think, having already lost a heavyweight title fight against Klitschko Saturday night, he’d be satisfied with spitting water on Klitschko’s brother Wladimir. But there he was leaving the dais of his post-fight press conference to tangle with fellow British heavyweight David Haye. Was this a presser or a hockey fight? Not a soul tried to stop this, not even the suits sitting next to Chisora as he walked toward Haye. Chisora’s team probably saw good publicity. Instead, their fighter spent hours with the police. Has any fighter lost so much in such a short period of time? Add that to the two previous matches Chisora lost, and it might be time for him to start wrasslin’ full-time. He seems more like a jobber than a boxer.
10. J.R. Smith looked just like a guy who’s been out of the country for months.
Cut J.R. some slack. Instead, let’s applaud his do-it-yourself spirit. You think he could find a barber shop in China? And you expect me to believe he paid money for that cut? I know a DIY job when I see one. Kudos to Smith for challenging himself to get stylish with it. Yeah, that’s it.