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.
Checkmate. D’Angelo Russell Eliminates The King’s Lakers
“I’m glad it’s you”, Hollywood icon Paul Newman told acting legend Tom Hanks in San Mendes’ gangster epic ‘Road To Perdition’ before Tom, Tommy Gun shot him down in the rain.
And here in Hollywood as Laker fans who are just glad it’s over, we’re glad it was by his hand. We’re glad it was D-Lo who delivered the final blow.
If you didn’t know that with the ‘Luke Cage’ like Notorious B.I.G. red portrait, new SLAM magazine classic cover with the crown that in Brooklyn, D’Angelo Russell was the new King of New York, now you know. And last night his crown with a gauntlet gem of infinity stones took the L.A. King, checkmate, endgame. Showing this games chess not checkers.
You passed your ‘Training Day’ kid.
You want to talk about karma Lake Show? Because this is more than a lesson learned, this is a fitting end to this courts chapter wrote by the Basketball Gods under the heading line, “what goes around, comes around”!
Revenge is a dime dish best served ice in his veins cold.
And now you’re season is done as the jello is jiggling in the refrigerator Chick.
But as D’Angelo had 21 points to go along with 13 double/double dishes as he set the table for what we thought would be his West logo 44 career-high smash, everyone ate as the Nets had a balanced diet and attack of the twine as they coasted the Lake Show 111-106 in a close game, albeit one that always looked like theirs. Another former Laker in big man Ed Davis got his with 14 and 15. Whilst sparky Spencer Dinwiddie got 19 and 3, DeMarregards Carroll 15 and 6 and big Jarrett Allen 13 and 11 as all the Nets went harder than his ‘fro. But the high man was Joey Buckets with 26 points. Including 6 for 8 from downtown New York as for some reason L.A. thought leaving Joe Harris-this year’s three point shootout winner at the All Star in Charlotte-as open as stores on the Dolly Parton, 9 to 5 shift wasn’t going to leave them crying like ‘Jolene’.
But now the Nets have taken their man it’s nothing but tears. With all due respect to George Gervin, D’Angelo Russell is the next generation iceman. As finger to lips he silenced STAPLES. The most passionately driven guard since Iverson. And he just stepped over the Lakers again, eliminating from the playoffs as Luke Walton watched his job go to Lue from the sidelines. Magic said this kid couldn’t lead as he gave the Ball to Lonzo. But now everyone is getting played by this big baller, as this number one leads his cutting Nets to the playoffs as an All-Star and Team LeBron end up being all for show. As number 23 will not be raised to the brackets for the first time since 2005. Let alone the finals for the last decade gone.
With all the jumbotron tributes from teams to past players right now (Isaiah *cough* Thomas, LeBron), the Lakers should play one of D’Angelo’s ice clutch shot the day after his grandmother’s death that won the game for the Lakers (unlike the castles bricks here tonight) as he fell into his family’s arms uptop the stands. And just end it with one word that says more than thank you…
I feel like Brad Pitt’s war wounded character with my ‘Fury’ for the team I love here. But like he says, “I’m trying to teach you something”. LeBron and the Lakers needed this. A season that started in bloom in the sunshine of California has turned to the Autumn leaves that have fallen to a crisp. Injuries were the problem, but then the reason came with the added insult of the Davis drama. And now this reality show is in disarray and it all came from Magic, not LaVar Ball. Imagine seeing that one in a crystal ball last Summer. The Zubac, Bryant (Thomas), Nance Jr, Clarkson, Russell and Randle-less Lakers need to learn from this and realize their formidable future of Lonzo, Kuz, Hart, Brandon Ingram (who is still two years younger than Lo) and maybe even Moe is not worth one man. Whether that’s Anthony or LeBron. Even a team-less Carmelo was out off joining this assembly line that has meme-d its way through good guys like Mike Beasley. This team could still be something (I mean this season like last nights City Edition threads has been ugly but somehow still appealing), ‘Stranger Things’ have happened, but right now it’s in the upside down with no sign of Winona Ryder’s Christmas lights. Not even a decoration for a declaration.
Kobe in a ‘Get Up’ interview for ESPN promoting his new ‘Wizenard’ book series said that this game was about more than stats and about feeling, energy. For decades they’ve said this game is like jazz. And just like that form of music, the notes are all there, but it’s what you do with improvising them that counts. And the only number and note from the Lake Show you need to know last night (apart from our energy high guy of the season McGee’s Kareem like 33 with the hook. A career best along with one in rebounds with 20 off the shot rim and glass) is that with his 8th turnover the King toppled to the ground as his crown slipped on a crucial possession. It’s kind of symbolic of how his Hollywood season has aged and played out. But one of the best players in the league, if not the best will be back on his throne in the hills and he’ll have plenty more Kawhi or Kyrie knights with him and these young princes.
But last night the one that hey exiled showed he could make a king bleed from the borough to the big city. D Loading just needed President Johnson to please wait. But with his own Magic cast last night, Russell showed he was fully charged now and ready to go like the Lakers never should have told him to. Because the only place in this postseason they’re going now is home.
Ice. In. His. Postseason.
Green & Gold. I.T. Was A Special Moment With Isaiah Thomas Back In Boston
Bill Russell, Larry Bird.
Antoine Walker, Paul Pierce.
Rajon Rondo. Kevin Garnett. Say what you will but Ray Allen too from three.
Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum. IF they can get it together and turn what looks good on paper into what’s engraved wrote read in history books for the most storied franchise in NBA history.
Boston Celtic legends. The pride of New England.
From the last cigar to the golden era, Isaiah Thomas belongs there like his spelt differently namesake Detroit Piston being a Bad Boy to all that Magic and Bird in the Showtime of the 80’s.
And last night in the Garden perfect parquet court was held for the return of the fourth quarter king. Since Beantown, the microwave juggernaut, spark plug off the bench has bounced around the league like drinking too much coffee. From LeBron’s Cavalier land to the Los Angeles Lakers. Always providing that brief spark off the pine of what could be and what he had here, despite being Nygma green riddled by injury and franchise business disloyalty. But last night decked out in green and gold like Lianne La Havas, special edition Kobe’s for the night that even a Laker would love (forget that never wear green meme), as he took to the floor none of that mattered.
Sat back on the scorers table as cool as Celtic green cucumber in his warm-ups, I.T. took in a fitting tribute on the jumbotron for a team that knows too that they shouldn’t have traded him (he postgame not so quipped that if they never dealt him they could be dealing with another championship in those league leading rafters right now where surely his number 4 jersey held up by fans behind him will one day reside in pride of place). Beaming with that same Celtic pride through all the pain, you’ve never seen the slow grind smile like his since he was putting in work here in Massachusetts. The big screen video took us through his fourth quarter heroics, big shots and the moment he’s overcame it all to play in the wake of his sister’s tragic death and lead his team to epic, emotional glory.
And once the ovation stood up for a call game, more than a minute of time and moment of Paul Pierce like truth tribute, there wasn’t a butt on a bleacher or dry eye in the house.
Especially Isaiah, who couldn’t contain his pride and joy. Wiping away tears and wordlessly mouthing thank yous to everyone in attendance who clapped until their hands were red and cheered until hoarse. Celtic fans are real NBA fans who recognize that green collar hard work and know a Boston boy when they see one, no matter the uniform.
Thomas on limited minutes as the golden Nuggets make that postseason push to conference contention behind the state of those dynasty reigning Warriors, only sealed seven minutes in the actual game and he didn’t make a basket for more Boston bravado cheers. But that didn’t matter in this instance. Neither did the W his new team took away on the road with a 114-105 pruning in the Garden, as the Joker and all the Mile-High basketball cards clinched a playoff berth outside Colorado.
What mattered was this beautiful reunion between team and one of its favourite players. Sure this current Celtics outfitted for the banners and Hall looks so much better on dry erase like their storied LeBron Laker rivals with the King in throne tow. But look at the Magic of Hollywood right now. With a guy like Isaiah, Boston basketball was that little bit more inspired with the iconic little man. There was a little more hoop dream hope there too. And for both city and son it hasn’t been as sweet the same since.
Like I.T. says with the last word from last night.
“This feels like home”.
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