Lakers steal Oklahoma City's thunder
Come to think of it, the whole freakin' night was really about the repeated stealing of thunder, in one form or another.
In their own right, OKC entered Staples Center on quite the little roll. 7-6 (at the time). Above .500 on the road. One hellvua young nucleus being hyped as one of the new teams worth watching. But there's potential and there's reality. The Thunder may be on their way, but the Lakers have clearly arrived. A fact clearly, quickly, and- eventually- flashily established during a 101-85 hometown victory.
As BK and I noted during the postgame breakdown, there were fundamentals a-plenty on display to complement the "big top" moments. The Lakers played excellent defense, took hawkish care of the ball while forcing it out of the Thunderians' mitts, took advantage of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol's increasingly fluid teamwork and whipped the ball around with ease. Similar tasks to those on the Thunder's "to do" list, but the difference in achievement was very pronounced.
Also pronounced was the entertainment factor throughout.
Had he just canned this once-verbotten shot, folks would have been satisfied their money's worth had been discovered.
Like I said, that's something for the "sick" and "slick" enthusiasts. But Kobe didn't limit the tricks to just one helping. There was another behind the backboard make, a wicked reverse layup and a lefty floater to beat the first quarter horn. Dude's got quite the flair for the dramatic if you ask me.
But it wasn't just Mamba upping the showmanship factor. Shannon Brown may be a second stringer, but when it comes to an ability to rise folks from their chair, a place in the starting lineup is more than secure. Working off a running alley from bench backcourt mate Jordan Farmar, YouTube landed on his nickname-sake website approximately twelve seconds after pulling off this display of elevation.
And like Kobe before him, Shannon contributed another feat of aerial insanity. The Staples patrons eagerly await the moment when SB checks into a contest, and he eagerly awaits the chance to please them. That appreciation never ceases to provide energy and motivation. (The video begins with him discussing a high-flying block attempt with the lead around 20.)
And then came the concert, which turned the entire night on its ear. Because what's a basketball game without a time out performance of "I Gotta Feeling?" Not this one. Nor this one. This one.
All cliches aside, this really embodied "only in L.A."
-Eddy Curry's return has been positive for the Knicks. Hopefully, a career jolt will follow suit.
-Once regarded as a gangly, annoying one-dimensional role player, Joakim Noah has suddenly evolved into a gangly, annoying All-Star dark horse.
-Perhaps Gilbert Arenas doth protest too much when complaining about teammates playing with an agenda?
-Vince Carter is still disliked north of the border.
-While it's debatable whether the Clippers even need additional firepower, they're nonetheless excited at the idea of getting Eric Gordon back. In particular, Mike Dunleavy could learn to live with seeing him.
-Paul Westphal has a good life.
-Marv Albert denies reports that his crew and 50 Cent's crew went at it. Which is believable, since Fiddy's crew is still alive to tell the tale.
-What Paul Allen's cancer battle means for the Blazers.
-Boston isn't playing like a true contender at the moment.
-Dirk's crazy, scheming', jailed ex-fiancee still pines for her former fiance.