Lakers 107, Thunder 93: Break glass in case of emergency
Just because the Lakers haven't needed Kobe Bryant to play Superman on a night in, night out basis this season doesn't mean the guy doesn't show up at the arena every night with a cape, a point driven home (on the odd chance there was any lingering doubt) in the fourth quarter of LA's 107-93 win over the Thunder in Oklahoma City Tuesday night. With under 10 minutes to play and OKC pulling tight to the Lakers, a resting (and antsy) Kobe checked back in- the push/pull of time management between him and Phil Jackson having been sufficiently satisfied- and went to town, piling up 15 points in the frame, including eight straight and 13 of his team's next 17. (Just for funsies, he also tossed in a couple dimes, including a slick read out of a double team to a wide open Jordan Farmar under the basket.) The box shows a 13-21 night en route to 36 points. It wasn't anything Derek Fisher hadn't seen before, not that it becomes any less fun to watch.
For his part, Fisher pitched in with 12 points, including two big fourth quarter jumpers, adding to a list of important buckets he's delivered over the past few games. Luke Walton, who finished with 11/5/4, also continued to do what the Lakers need from him out of the SF spot.
LA is idle today, but will look to push their win streak to six Thursday against the Suns at Staples.
IN OTHER NEWS...
- Stephon Marbury is officially done in New York, and the expectation is that he'll sign with the Celtics, probably as early as Friday. How much impact he'll have remains to be seen. Some, like Adrian Wojnorowski of Yahoo! Sports believe Marbury is far more trouble than he's worth, "a loser" who won't be able to step up to Boston's title pressures. Others, like John Hollinger of ESPN.com see him as a low risk acquisition who could have a big impact on Boston's rotation if things work out. I agree with Hollinger. While it's important to remember that Marbury hasn't played in a year, has never been interested in defense, and is on his best day a marginal locker room presence, he's also an accomplished scorer who will allow Eddie House to vacate ball handling duties as a backup PG and concentrate on the thing he does best- hoist the rock. With Tony Allen out, the Celtics need more punch from an inconsistent set of reserves, and Marbury provides it. Dispositionally speaking, I don't expect problems. As the LAT's Mark Heisler writes, Marbury is "guaranteed to be on his best behavior, hoping to get a new contract, knowing he'll be cut if he so much as rolls his eyes."
- Joe Smith says he's not seeking a buyout, but if he got one would be a very popular man.
- Chris Mihm is yet to practice for the Grizzlies, and is again seeing a specialist regarding his ankle. He sought some help as well during the All Star break, but while Mihm wasn't pain-free he was reluctant to blame any lack of pop on injury. At that point, of course, he was trying to contribute to a championship caliber team. Memphis doesn't reportedly have any plans to buy him out.
- Detroit's Antonio McDyess could be a hot commodity this summer.
- Boris Diaw and Raja Bell were given warm receptions in their return to Phoenix. Didn't matter in the end.
- Agent Zero has been practicing at full speed for almost 10 days.
- Meanwhile, Greg Oden's knee injury- a chipped kneecap to be specific- has a lot of folks up in Portland flummoxed, including Nate McMillan.
- T-Mac, done for the year in Houston, underwent successful microfracture surgery on his left knee Tuesday.
- Looking to see who should get the call up from the D-League? Ridiculous Upside has you covered.
- A must-read counter to the Michael Lewis NYT article on Shane Battier from Talking Point Free Sports deconstructing Lewis and finds a lot of problems with his work.I still think the Lewis piece was interesting, if only because it one of the few mainstream pieces giving credence to the value of new metrics in basketball, but admit the TPF response brought up points about and problems with how Lewis constructed his argument that I didn't originally consider. Bottom line, as always- whether reading stats or prose, it's never a good idea to remove your critical thinking cap. (Thanks to Cactus Berry for passing it along in last night's live blog).