Every month an American friend kindly comes into work with USA Today basketball article newspaper clippings sent from the States for me that I read and keep in an Air Jordan shoebox under the bed to fuel that fire (reading breeds writing). But nothing could prepare me for what hit my desk this morning.
Two overtimes. Two titans. Texan shootout, San Antonio Spurs, 154. Oklahoma City Thunder, 147.
“Man this game” Stephen Curry tweeted. “Basketball is good”.
You can say that understatement of the year again.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Russell Westbrook. Two Goliaths of this game of God’s putting up Wilt numbers as their teams did the same on their stilts.
Now if you thought one of modern day and for all times greatest, storied franchises in their post, original big-three and Kawhi era were done. Think twice. And if you thought one of the last great big men and Tim Duncan clone LaMarcus Aldridge was a mere past afterthought, he has 56 points to go along with 9 rebounds and 4 assists blocks to tell you different. No one in history has scaled these levels. The amount of All Star votes he’s going to get this morning. The ballots are about to go Gaga like a star reborn Spotify streamer. Dominating the whole four quarters and two extra bits of change, on both ends of the hardwood from on the floor to above the rim, tip to horn. Only the Iceman (George Gervin’s 63) and the Admiral (David Robinson’s 71) have recorded more record book engraving, box score points in a Spurs uniform. Now how’s that for the coldest big-three? The last guy to come close was a decade and change ago with Tony Parker’s 55 in ’08. Welcome to the over 50 club L.A. This season a welcoming Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker and James Harden(s) await.
But despite the clicking Spurs winning this dueling draw you have to give it up for the six shooter they roulette with. The Thunder weathered a 16 point defecit and the Spurs almost gunning every downtown shot (although in this three free-for-all Aldridge became the first player to hit at least 56 in nothing but paint and just outside those lines since Shaq’s 60 in the year 2000) to almost come up with the $10,000 reward near the Alamo in a night banked at the AT&T. This is the kind of contest were only one can take home the W but everyone is a winner. And in the game of the season out in the wild, wild west, Oscar worthy Russell Westbrook put up Robertson royal Academy numbers too. The triple-double machine doesn’t just average one, he obliterates one. Here writing his own for the record, storied chapter of 24 points AND assists (the most high since Rondo’s 25 passes in 2017. Now call that selfish) to go with a lucky for them 13 rebounds off the glass as he shattered all these unbreakable records with a split. The first player to ever do this, beating the 1985 record by Bad Boy Detroit Pistons, Isiah Thomas who recorded both 24’s but 10 rebounds the year this writer was born. Almost 34 years ago…yep I’m old. And this guy is cold. Now in 20-10-20 vision Westbrook’s two trail the totals of only Magic and Oscar at three.
Now how’s that for a big-three?
Combining for 301 points both teams offered mathematicians a statistician’s dream last night by the numbers, doing the books. And with sidekick superstars like DeMar DeRozan and Paul George hitting 16 and 30 respectively, young guns like Horace and Harvey’s Jerami Grant for OKC (25 points) and the Spurs Derrick White (23) marked new career highs. But when it all came down to it in an association were some teams don’t even taco break 100, it was all but one of Aldridge’s total points over a century that lifted the Spurs over the reign of Westbrook’s Thunder out West.
MVP Brandon Clarke dominates, leads Grizzlies to 2019 NBA Summer League Title
Canadian Brandon Clarke, the 21st pick of the 2019 Draft dominated the NBA’s annual summer showcase — becoming the first player to take home both tournament and championship game most valuable player honors with a dominant 15 points, 16 rebounds double-double. The No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies the Minnesota Timberwolves 95-92 to win the 2019 NBA Summer League championship.
The former Gonzaga standout added 4 assists, 3 blocks and a steal in 25 minutes.
In six games of summer league action, Clark averaged 14.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.8 blocks per game. The Vancouver native shot 55% from the field and becomes the first ever Canadian to win MVP at the NBA Summer League.
Clarke was also named to the first-team all-NBA Summer League team. Other standouts included fellow Canadians Nickeil Alexander-Walker who joined Clarke on the first-team. Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher was named to the second-team.
New Knick RJ Barrett Treated Las Vegas Summer League Like A New York Playground
Magnitudes off the Richter. An earthquake hit Sin City like jackpot in the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas, Nevada out in the desert last week.
And as the Jumbo-tron still shook like the music it was pumping, many people in awe inspired attendance would have been forgiven for thinking it was Zion. As the Duke standout and the first pick in the 2019 NBA Draft Williamson made us feel more tremors than Kevin Bacon. As the new New Orleans Pelican burst out the hardwood and flew, man-handling a steal off an opponent who’s just a poster now’s inbounds pass and put back a viscous, signature slam that felt like they still tested atomic bombs out in the Nevada desert overlooking the electric, neon skyline. All whilst new and former teammates respectively, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Anthony Davis looked on with “here comes the big airplane” mouths.
But after the road to Mount Zion’s knee injury lead to more Patrick Ewing ice than up there in Japan’s Mount Fuji, it was better the Blue Devil you know. As the Knicks third pick RJ Barrett ended up moving the needle more over this scorching, seasonal tourney of the youthful future of this association. Looking as good as those beautiful blue Knicks Summer League jerseys that are so clean we want to see them fresh off the press in the the NBA Store in NYC. So much so that even if RJ handed you one of his autographed signatures post game you’d still be like, “you got this in a medium?”
Sounding better than all those thirsty announcers singing “Summer Leeeeague” like The Isley Brothers this time of year classic, ‘Summer Breeze’. Making everything feel fine as he blew through defenders like the Jasmine in my mind. RJ initialed his dynamic debut and mainstream moment. Making Knicks’ fans almost forget that they just lost out on their number one goal, Zion Williamson. Or their free agent duo desire of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who ended up on the other side of New York, across that bridge from Manhattan in Brooklyn with the Nets…almost. Following the sweated out, hard nosed 90’s were only Jordan and Starks shots got in the way of golden era glory, the Knicks’ now have their first real leader in the post Porzingis era since Syracuse star ‘Melo for the Orangemen.
And he’s not alone. Barrett who was choosing Knicks’ mannequin heads to bucket on New York’s Late Night show with Jimmy Fallon nights before the draft cap has plenty to pass to in a Pelican rivaling young core of young guns, Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier, new free agent signing Julius Randle (this Pel is still a big ‘cat out of Kentucky like Anthony Davis or DeMarcus Cousins reunited on the Lake Show like purple and gold fans hoped he would be too), Elfrid Payton and of course the soaring Dennis Smith Jr. Not to mention a bolstered bench of Taj Gibson and Reggie Bullock from more than midtown. Call it Chelsea, the Tribeca or even Battery Park after the High-Line of the Meatpacking District. The future of this franchise to the naked eye of ignorance is about to look better than the view from that new Vessel structure in Hudson Yards.
Barrett began in Vegas with some early snake eyes trouble. But rolling the dice again he turned into a killer like Brandon Flowers. The man. Come round. Nothing can break. Nothing can break him down. First he scorched California’s new look King sized Lakers for 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. But it was his spell in his last Summer forecast against the Wizards were RJ showed Washington that just like NYC, DC may be America’s capital, but there’s nothing like New York, New York. He was so good you had to check the instant replay twice, with another 21 and 10, two perfect precision passes off cashing in a triple-double chip like he was a team that had both James Harden and Russell Westbrook on their roster roll call. Houston, do you read me?
Averages of 15.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists in a televised tournament that is basically a glorified practice scrimmage (tell me, do you even know who won the thing?) show he will be above so. The Canadian Maple Mamba has that syrup for your bacon. Even without free agent big names like Kevin and Kyrie who are one more decision away from being journeymen, forget super-teams, the Knicks may have a lifer in RJ from Coach K’s Duke fraternity administration in the association now. Can you relate? Barrett could be brilliant and New York no longer a rotten apple. But a couple of big names away from having their title again in the Mecca of Madison Square Garden’s, World’s Most Famous Arena in bright Times Square lights.
It’s almost a New Year for New York, time for the ball to drop.
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