How much NBA basketball could one person watch in one day? Most can handle a good doubleheader, but asking for anything more than that is a little over the top. Unless, like me, you love the game like a fat kid loves cake.
In the event that something got in the way of you sitting down to watch some great basketball yesterday, like, ummmmm, I don’t know, something like Christmas maybe, we’re here to fill you in on what you might have missed.
Anthony Davis’ official welcome to NBA stardom took place yesterday with the Pelicans being included in the prestigious Christmas Day lineup. But while people are saying that he’s the league’s next up-and-coming superstar behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Kobe, LeBron and Steph Curry, he’s still got some work to do.
Chris Bosh reminded him of that yesterday, when he put up 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Miami’s 94-88 overtime win against New Orleans.
Despite the loss, Davis was spectacular in his own right with 29 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Oklahoma City walked into their Christmas game having won nine of their last ten games while Chicago has been struggling to define their personality and find some consistency after three straight losses. The Bulls took a small step toward getting out of their early season muck with yesterday’s 105-96 win.
Pau Gasol looked formidable with 21 points and 13 rebounds, Jimmy Butler scored 23 and Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson added 19 points and 13 points, 10 rebounds respectively. The Bulls played defense as if former coach Tom Thibodeu was still roaming the sidelines as they held OKC to a miserable 39% shooting.
And I know they need a few championships before we start including them in the conversations about the best duos ever, but Westbrook and KD are so uniquely exceptional and amazing, individually and collectively. Russ put up 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds while KD added 29 points, nine rebounds and seven assists of his own.
The Rockets looked like the dynamic squad we remembered from last year in their 88-84 win over the exceptional Spurs. Houston looked incredibly motivated on the defensive side of the ball.
People can try to clown Dwight Howard all they want, but his presence and defensive acumen, along with James Harden’s offensive combustability, give Houston a chance to beat anybody.
They’ve gone from looking apathetic to a squad to watch out for out West. Too bad Kevin McHale isn’t around to finish the job he started there and coach this team to its full operational capacity.
On Kobe’s final Christmas Day game in the NBA, the Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell was the team’s bright spot, despite losing 94-84 to the Clippers. Russell looked ready for prime time, as if he’s beginning to better adjust to the rhythms of the NBA game as the season progresses.
Chris Paul is not quite ready to admit that Steph Curry is the best point guard in the world, regardless of everyone else accepting it as gospel at this point. CPIII dazzled with 23 points, six assists and five rebounds as the Clippers improved to 17-13.
Doc Rivers’ starters can play with anybody, but the Clips bench will be their doom this year. They’ve got some big names playing reserve roles, but Paul Pierce and Lance Stephenson have been bigger Hollywood flops than Dan Akroyd and Gene Hackman in Loose Cannons.
And in the holiday headliner, the Cavaliers lost 89-83 in their first meeting with the Warriors since last summer’s NBA Finals. Draymond Green is seen as a supporting actor in this increasingly dynamic matchup that evolves around the drama and intrigue of Steph Curry challenging LeBron’s global hoops domination.
But Green continues to steal the spotlight like Christian Bayle’s mesmerizing portrayal of Dickie Ecklund in The Fighter. He looked like the best player on the floor yesterday, scoring 22 points, snagging 15 rebounds and dishing out seven assists. He overpowered his man in the paint, started and finished fast breaks, tossed alley oops, zipped backdoor passes and owned the backboards.
But there is plenty of optimism in Cleveland. Their defense, which is much overlooked because of how gifted LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are offensively, held the explosive Warriors to their lowest point output of the season.
And with Kyrie Irving trying to get his legs underneath him after coming back from the injuries that sidelined him in the Finals, and Kevin Love and Timofey Mozgov looking about as awful as Sofia Coppola in The Godfather Part III, if the Cavs can get healthy and have the full array of its weaponry by the time the playoffs arrive, we might get a chance to see what this team can do when they’re humming at full capacity.