Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Three random observations ...

... about the NBA:

1. So Kobe would like to remind Knicks fans that he is just as worthy of getting worked up for as that other star visiting attraction named LeBron. It was only the Lakers' 13th game in Madison Square Garden during Kobe's career, so he hasn't had the chance to make himself a Jordan or Reggie Miller-like supervillian in New York, but he will go down as the most potent performer in a single game. His 61 points breaks Bernard King's record for most points scored in a game in the NBA's oldest arena, and it's Kobe's fifth 61-point game, second-most all-time behind Wilt Chamberlain. The Lakers needed a jolt like this just hours after they learned Andrew Bynum will be out until at least April, and Bryant, whose body rolled into Bynum's legs to cause the injury, quickly made everyone forget all about it, at least for a night. The Knicks's starting backcourt, by the way? Ten points combined for Chris Duhon and Quentin Richardson.

2. Monday was a bad day to be a rising NBA star. We learn Bynum is out for a while, and then Chris Paul and Jameer Nelson leave their games with injuries. Both point guards will have MRIs today. Their teams took a turn for the worse once they left the game last night, most notably the Hornets, who blew a 20-point lead in a loss to the Blazers. More such deflating losses may well follow for New Orleans and Orlando if the two All-Stars are out for any length of time.

3. A lot of teams would fold when they're behind 89-77 with 8:39 to go, particularly when it's a veteran team trying to keep up with the go-go Warriors. Not the Spurs, who relied on their big three (and 15 rebounds from Kurt Thomas) to force overtime and then pull away for a 1101-05 win, even as Tim Duncan, who went for 32 points, 15 rebounds and five assists, fouled out with 3:17 left in the extra period. Manu Ginobili went for 32 points, and Tony Parker had 23 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Nights like this are why the Spurs are in prime position to be the team that overtakes the Lakers if they falter without Bynum.

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