I’ve broken down three pairs of teams that have something in common; it’s easy to tell with the first two, yet the last one may require some explaining, so I’ll get right to it.
Lakers & Clippers. These two have been linked at the hip as soon as there became two teams in LA, but now it’s not as an example of how to (Lakers) and how not to (Clippers) do things; it’s finally because each team is so very talented.
Kobe had a moment on the third of this month: His first thirty point game of the season. And if that wasn’t enough, he added 8 rebounds and 6 assists to his point total of 37. But the real story of the Lakers’ young season is Andrew Bynum—who’s registered a double-double in each of the three games since his return to the lineup. Bynum scored 29 in his debut on the last day of 2010; then, during the Lakers last contest versus the Rockets, he dropped 21 and grabbed 22 rebounds.
The other team in LA has put up some impressive numbers as well. Chris Paul’s 20 points and 10 assists last night came from less than 30 minutes of playing time: Impressive; he’s also averaging 2.6 steals a game. Nice. Yet he’s not the only one, for DeAndre Jordan is averaging 3 blocks per game and shooting 70% from the floor. Even better.
Heat & Magic. Who’s the best team in Florida? Sounds like a fairly simply question, until you hear someone like me answer it: It’s the one from Orlando.
Dwight Howard is an animal—an unstoppable one too. He’s had between 2-4 blocks during every game this season, and he’s put up a double-double in 5-of-the-7 games the Magic have played this season. Howard, furthermore, grabbed 20 rebounds or more thrice—two of them on back to back nights.
Add to him solid starters like Ryan Anderson, Jason Richardson and Jameer Nelson—plus a bench that includes Chris Duhon, J.J. Redick and Glen Davis—and the Heat will have trouble with this team just a few miles north of them.
Miami looks good nevertheless. As their coach-on-the-floor, LeBron has gone over 30 points four times, and without Wade, Super Bron Bron put up 33/8/13 yesterday. Cool—but what’s cooler is watching Dwyane Wade hit game-winners against the Bobcats and Timberwolves, because the Heat know who to give the ball to when it matters.
Bulls & Knicks. I’ve put these two together because they’re teams in transition. The Bulls are getting better daily thanks to Tom Thibodeau’s coaching style, and the Knicks appear to be getting worse, but there’s no reason to be worried about New York.
The Bulls played three games in as many nights, and Chicago kept their winning streak going nevertheless. You could talk about Derek Rose, but the real reasons they’re such a dangerous team are Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton. Deng’s playing like a man possessed, and Rip’s addition to this team makes them look like the favorite in the East.
The Knicks are fine, so stop worrying New York. Melo is still putting up good numbers—23/7/5 on 12/31, 35&11 on 1/2 and 32/6/5 last night—and the Knicks don’t even have all their pieces yet, for when Baron Davis returns to play ball, NYK moves into the upper echelon of the East where they belong.
Enough talk of basketball, because TNT’s got a double header for us tonight: Heat @ Hawks and then Lakers @ Blazers. Enjoy it; I know I will.