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NBA Awards – 1/3/13

Correction: Yesterday I said this: “…May 1983 when my 76ers swept the Lakers in 4 straight for their only title.”  Completely wrong…somehow I’d forgotten 1967 when Chamberlain led the 76ers to the title, beating the Celtics 4-1 and then the San Francisco Warriors (led by a 2nd yr SF who’d averaged 35.6/9.2/3.6 asst that year – Rick Barry) in the finals 4-2. That Philly team is one of best rebounding teams all-time: Wilt at 24.2/gm, Luke Jackson 8.9, Chet Walker 8.1, Billy Cunningham 7.3, and even SG Hal Greer averaged 5.3. Thanks to my uncle in Philadelphia for reminding me. Also, the Philadelphia Warriors (who later moved to NorCal) won the title in 1956, led by Paul Arizin (24.2 pts/gm) and Neil Johnston (22.1/12.5 rebs).
 
Wednesday Action
       SHOCKER!: Brooklyn breaks out of funk, Joe J & D-Will break out of slumps, Nets manhandle the Thunder in Oklahoma 110-93. Joe J scored a season-high 33 pts after scoring 16 or less in his prior 5 gms, while D-Will (19/13 asst, 5 stl) also had his best game in quite a while. Brook Lopez was aggressive and impressive in scoring 25 pts, none more emphatic than when he posterized Serge Ibaka on a dunk – a sad moment for fans of explosive athleticism everywhere (the explosive, more athletic Serge is supposed to reject those and make it HIS highlight). Durant (27, 11-16) and Westy (26/10 asst, 11-19) were fine, but they had 11 of OKC’s 19 turnovers, and outside of Ibaka (14/8/5 blks) they received very little help.
       The Clippers (25-8) were perfect in December, and are now perfect in January…0-2, both losses blowouts. This time it was the very legit Warriors (22-10), led by their Big 2, Stephen Curry with 31 pts, 25 in the 1st half, 6 rebs, 8 dimes, 6 treys, and 11-16 shooting, and of course, David Lee (24/13/7, 9-16). Both should probably be All-Stars this year. For the Clippers, Jamal Crawford was quite nice off the bench (24/5 asst, 2 stl), but Blake went 2-11 with just 6 rebs, DeAndre Jordan gave them nothing (4/4 rebs, 1 blk), and CP III was solid (23/4/6) but not spectacular…..Miami struggled at home against Dallas, needing OT and monster efforts from LeBron & Dwyane to finally defeat the Mavs 119-109. LBJ was absurd again (more below), while Wade had one of his better all-around games of the season – 27/10/5 asst, 2 stls & 2 blks. Dirk got increased playing time in the gm and responded with 19 & 6 rebs in 29 minutes; OJ Mayo led Dallas with 30 & 6 dimes….Phoenix hosted Philadelphia and took them down 95-89 behind Scola (21/4/9 asst), Gortat (11/14), and Dragic (20/4/6 asst, 3 blks). Jrue Holiday notched his 2nd career triple double in the contest (16/10/10) but his highlight of the night was a block shot on Jared Dudley, 3 inches taller. Jrue quickly left his man and jumped out to get a hand in Dudley’s face on the play – great defensive instincts and athleticism…..The Bulls barely got by the feisty Magic, 96-94 as Carlos Boozer (31/11), Taj Gibson (21/11), and Luol Deng (23) scored 75 of Chicago’s 96 points. Jameer Nelson had a career-high tying 32 pts for Orlando while Vucevic followed up his career 20/29 performanc e with a strong 20 & 12…..The Rockets have gotten hot (won 7 of 9 now) after beating N.O. last night 104-92. Harden (31/7 asst), Asik (21/8 rebs), and Patrick Patterson off the bench (15/10, 7-8 in 22 min) led Houston while Greivis Vasquez had a strong 15/14 asst double-double for the Hornets…..Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Duncan (28/13/6 asst, 3 blk), Parker (23/11 asst), and Ginobili (16/6 asst) led the Spurs to a win – this time atMilwaukee 117-110. The Spurs have now won 7 in a row, have the best record in the league, and are averaging 113.8 pts/gm in their last 6 – watch out for the black & white! Brandon Jennings scored big for the Bucks (31) while John Henson was quite active (20/9 rebs) in just 23 min off the bench, making 10 of his 11 shots…..The Celtics (14-17) are still in a deep, ‘Gee, we’re old’ funk as they lost again, this time to Memphis 93-83. Mike Conley scored 23, including a prayerful 3-pointer, to go with 9 assists while Rudy Gay was solid with 19/5/6 asst. Tony Allen scored 15, none more impressive than his putback dunk (this is actually a sweet putback from 2 or 3 nights ago – couldn’t find last night’s). Pierce scored 17 for Boston, no one else had more than 12. Rondo needs to step it up for this team, he’s been way too quiet so far this year (13/5/11.6, 1.9 stl)…..Paul George and the Indiana Pacers remain on a roll as Indy downed the Wizards 89-81 and George was huge with 29 pts, 14 rebs. The Pacers are now 19-13 after starting off 4-7, and George is now averaging 16.9/7.3/3.7, and 1.5 stl after scoring more than 16 just twice in his first 12 games (and just 20 in those two). BTW, he’s still just 22 yrs old in his 3rd year…..It was again DeMarcus Cousins (18/16/6 asst) and Jason Thompson (19/10/3 blks) leading the Kings, this time to a victory over Cleveland 97-94. A 56 foot desperation heave by Kyrie Irving at the buzzer almost sent the game into OT, barely rimming out. Alonzo Gee was the star for the Cavs with 16 pts, 10 rebs, and 6 dimes…..Utah destroyed Minnesota 106-84 as no T-Wolve could do better than Kevin Love’s 13 pts (on 4-14 shooting). Enes Kanter came off the Jazz bench to post a fine 15 & 8 rebs in just 19 minutes…..Last but certainly not least – The Raptors!!! They have now won 8 of 9 after crushing the Blazers 102-79. Their average margin in those games is +10.7…if you throw out their 20 pt loss to San Antonio, it jumps to 14.5 in their 8 wins. Impressive stuff…now they gotta figure out what to do with Bargs when he comes back – a tough dilemma. They’d love to just bring him off the bench for maybe 12-18 min a night for some scoring punch if they need it, but that would kill his trade value. Bottom line – they don’t need him with Ed Davis and Amir Johnson, two young athletic PFs, playing so well right now.
 
The Akeem Olajuwon Award —  LeBron James  —  32 pts, 12 rebs, 9 asst, 9 FTM, 3 stl, 1 blk, 1 trey, and 11-20 shooting…Suddenly the frontrunner in the MVP race (Durant) is probably now tied with LeBron, if not behind him, as James has been on an absurd tear lately, averaging 31.2/8.8/8.0/3.2 stl/7.4 FTM/1 blk, and 1.4 treys while shooting 54.4% (which is exactly his entire season FG%) in his last 5 games. 
 
The Mark Randall Award —  Austin Rivers  —  4 pts, 1 rebs, 1 asst, 1 FTM, 0 stl, 0 blk, 1 trey, and 1-5 shooting in 17 ‘should I have stayed at Duke?’ minutes…Rivers actually shot worse from the stripe (1-6) than the field in this game, and is shooting just 56.5% on free throws for the season – a fine match for his God-awful 34.3% from the floor. 10th overall pick of the 2012 Draft…for a 6’4″ SG with average at best athleticism. I don’t want to jump the gun here, but the name Trajan Langdon is coming to mind…
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