There were 12 games on the NBA schedule on Wednesday night. That's 576 minutes of basketball (because none of them went into overtime, duh) and, as you might expect, a lot of stuff can happen in nearly 10 hours of NBA play. There was something weird about this particular Wednesday, though — in multiple games across the league, things took place that seemed to mirror each other, occurring in pairs, seeming to invite direct comparison. And so, I will compare them.
After the jump, let's play a little game of This or That? — we'll take a look at a pair of clips tied together by a thematic thread, I'll pick one I like better, and then you can go to the comments to tell me why I'm wrong, which I won't take to heart because at least we all will have just gotten to watch a bunch of stuff worth watching.
Sound good? Great. Let's hit it:
DOPE PASSES MADE ON THE BREAK BY INTERNATIONAL GENIUSES
THIS: Ricky Rubio's between-the-legs no-look bounce pass to Andrei Kirilenko against the Los Angeles Clippers (via @cjzero).
THAT: Manu Ginobili's mid-stride receipt/behind-the-back feed to Danny Green for a corner 3-pointer against the Charlotte Bobcats (via NBAShowtimeHD).
Devine's Verdict: THAT. Both were awesome, both were unexpected even though they were made by players from whom we should at this point expect the unexpected, and both led to high-value shots (a layup for AK, a corner 3 for Green). But while I like the way Rubio's refusal to look at Kirilenko froze Caron Butler to open AK's lane, I love the fluidity of Manu's catch and release.
DOPE NONSENSE SHOTS BY 6-FOOT-10 FORMER LOTTERY PICKS
THIS: Danilo Gallinari's running, flailing, heading-out-of-bounds heave against the Houston Rockets (via the NBA).
THAT: Blake Griffin's post-twirl falling-down double-clutch bank shot against the Minnesota Timberwolves (via @cjzero).
Devine's Verdict: THIS. Sure, Blake's shot was basically the dagger in the Clips' 96-90 win and capped another big night for him (26 points on 11 for 17 shooting, 13 rebounds, three steals in 36 minutes), but he was also being guarded by J.J. Barea, then spun his way into a double-team, which is why the shot had to be (and maybe "had" should be in scare quotes) so acrobatic. Gallo, on the other hand, had to let it fly with the shot clock winding down on a dead run, and in the process got Kosta Koufos an assist, which is a relative rarity (he's got 23 in 1,073 minutes this year). As noted world traveler JaVale McGee might say, "Molto bene."
DOPE TRAIL BLOCKS BY ONCE-AGAIN-HEALTHY YOUNG GUARDS
THIS: John Wall traces and erases (word to Clyde) Spencer Hawes against the Philadelphia 76ers (via NBAShowtimeHD).
THAT: Avery Bradley tracks and shellacs (ditto) Isaiah Thomas against the Sacramento Kings (via Cherill Kiper).
Devine's Verdict: THIS. Bradley's chasedown might have a more aesthetically appealing ending, but it still came against a dude charitably listed at 5-foot-9; Wall snuffed a 7-footer. Plus, I'd much rather see someone reject to a Segway guy than a pizza guy. Pizza's the best.
NOT-SO-DOPE EJECTIONS BY GENTLEMEN WITH MANY TATTOOS
THIS: Matt Barnes shoves Greg Stiemsma in the throat, gets a flagrant-2 and gets the gate against the Timberwolves (via cshulme).
Devine's Verdict: THIS. Barnes' attempted dry-gulch, while overboard and ridiculous, was to some degree part and parcel of the role he plays on the legit-contending Clips. He serves not only as a sound multipositional defender who can also space the floor and do damage in transition, but also as the kind of take-no-crap lunatic who's willing to get himself in some trouble to keep opponents from overstepping lines with his teammates. Plus, with the depth the Clippers have at the wing positions, and the relative lack of depth the Wolves have on the wing, L.A. could kind of get away with this for a night in service of reminding the league that they've got goons and aren't to be trespassed against.
Jennings' freak-out, on the other hand, seemed more like a response to the frustrations of largely losing his individual matchup with Nate Robinson, a reversal of their matchup three weeks back. While erasing a 10-point Chicago lead with three minutes left would've been a tall order, it wasn't impossible, especially considering the success Milwaukee's had in walking down the Bulls this year; by getting hot under the collar, Jennings took himself off the board and put the Bucks down a big gun in the comeback effort, which came up short. (And, if the league doesn't like how he got loud with the refs, Jennings could find himself off the board for Milwaukee's next game, a Friday night matchup with the New York Knicks. Poor form, Brando.)
DOPE ACCIDENTS/H.O.R.S.E. SHOTS BY VETERAN POINT GUARDS
THIS: Jameer Nelson's frustrated post-whistle bounce pass 3-pointer against the New York Knicks (via NBACalifornia).
THAT: Andre Miller's two-hand pass, intended as a lob for Kenneth Faried, that wound up a banked-in 3-pointer (which was waived off due to basket interference) against the Rockets (via Oskar Jamtander).
Devine's Verdict: THAT. We've seen Jameer do this before. How many times have you seen a 40-plus-foot banked-in 3 DURING an NBA game? For that matter, how many times have you seen Andre Miller screw up a lob pass that bad? Being the best at lob passes is his thing; it's what he's known for. That was amazing, and precisely the kind of bit of blissfully ridiculous nonsense that makes watching late-game late-January basketball for an entire Wednesday night so worth while.