This Week in the NBA: Before, During and After the Break

While Kyrie Irving was near-perfect—including 8-for-8 from deep—in the midst of the Did Anyone Ever Think Team Shaq Would Beat Team Chuck? contest, Tony Parker won the Skills Challenge (I had Rajon Rondo), Kevin Love won the 3-pt shootout (I got one of these things right), and Jeremy Evans won the dunk contest (I had Derrick Williams): The real story happened on Sunday night.

Although it wasn’t one of the two people that dropped 36 (one from each side even), including All Star Game MVP Kevin Durant, it was just as important. No—maybe more…

Is Kobe Okay? Bryant was on his way to an impressive evening, with 27 points, and then he managed to take a bit of a hit, breaking his nose and suffering a concussion. But who hasn’t had a broken nose and subsequent concussion? Honestly?

Someone should’ve been asking that after the two road contests—and I believe I dropped the ball on that one indeed—when number 24 had two No Shows at a time when LAL desperately needed him. They did split the back-to-back, however, so You Can’t Cry Over Spilled Milk I’d imagine can be said here.

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This comes to mind mainly because of what Kobe did last night to the Love-less T-Wolves at Staples: 31/7/8: He led the team in both scoring and assists, as well. KB wore some sort of a protective mask, akin to what Rip Hamilton has sported for years, but his getup made him closer to a superhero than a mere 2-guard.

Can’t wait for the Kings on Friday night? Or the Heat on Sunday afternoon? Me neither.

The State of OKC. The league’s best team is an insane 15-1 at home (so maybe I was a little hard on the Lakers for losing there, you think?), and this team is scary good.

They’ve won 6 in a row—plus 8 of their last 10 ballgames on top of that. And as far this winning streak goes, taking just one look at the Thunder’s list of up-coming opponents, this thing is far from over.

Furthermore, if watching Durant hoist the MVP trophy, and Russell Westbrook fly around dunking on everybody, then watching them in Philly last night—not just the two of them, mind you, but the whole Thunder squad—makes you think the road to the finals in the Western Conference runs through the state of Oklahoma.

A Little Skid in Dallas. The Mavs are on a 3 game losing streak that started before the break, so you may be asking yourself What’s the Big Idea Here? So they’ve lost 3 straight, so what?

So what?—I’ll tell you what: Big D has 5 of their next 7 games on the road, and with their .500 record away from home this season, that seems subject to a bit of worry if you ask me.

Don’t go abandoning ship or anything like that; just prepare for some choppy water ahead.

Random Numbers. John Wall has a habit of being productive, yet he hasn’t figured out how to turn his productivity into W’s at this time. He had 21/9/11 against the Kings before the break in a 115-107 L, and then after, he netted 33 versus the Magic last night, but the scoreboard read 102-95, and not in the Wizards favor.

The last triple double before All Star Weekend was from Joakim Noah—13/13/10—and the first after was from Rondo (his third of the season)—15/11/10. Plus, Dwyane Wade had one during the All Star game itself—24/10/10—so I guess they’re in season.

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Welcome back Brook Lopez. He’s all healed, and you’ve been warned, for in just his third game back from his much-missed absence, he put up 38—on the road in Dallas, no less. I hope I’m not the only one that missed watching this kid play because it sure is fun.

TV Time. TNT has a double header for us this evening: OKC/ORL and MIA/POR; then there’s more of the same on Friday from ESPN: GSW/PHI and LAC/PHX; and another twofer from NBATV on Saturday: MIL/ORL and MIN/POR.

But wait—the real fun waits for Sunday. ABC has the Knicks in Boston, then the Heat traveling to play the Lakers; and later, ESPN contributes the Bulls in Philadelphia followed by the Nuggets in San Antonio.

So…that gives us more than enough to do over the next few days, but I’ll thank the NBA later; I got to find a TV—or a sports bar—or something…how about a cell phone?

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