Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Los Angeles Lakers 122, Denver 107 

Kobe Bryant is brilliant nearly beyond belief.

And the Denver Nuggets, I'm sorry, they've been shoving some insipid, inconsistent, uncaring, insulting basketball down our throats.

Kobe Bryant (49 points, ten assists) is one of the best shooting guards to ever play this game.

Kobe Bryant was guarded, mostly, by a pair of power forwards who couldn't keep up with most of this league's small forwards. If you can't follow Ryan Bowen around the pine, why should you have to guard Kobe Bryant? George? Kenyon and Eduardo want a word. And they want to move back to Ronny Turiaf, if at all possible.

Kobe Bryant is so incessantly competitive that he finds a way to mellow each possession out to a point that things reveal itself in slow motion.

Marcus Camby, last year's "defensive player of the year" (lower-case, I think you'll agree) gets consistently caught in the midst of a lame "zone" defense that allows genius types like, say, Kobe Bean Bryant to recognize the appearance of an out of place 7-footer and attack with the precision, touch, and timing of someone who obviously cares about the pro game.

It doesn't matter if that player ends up with two points, an assist, or a trip to the line - he (rhymes with "Kobe") just wants to peel apart the weakness and put together a win.

Denver coach George Karl has a wing athlete named Yakhouba Diawara, who you may not have heard of. He won't do much to enhance Karl's celebrity, he's not great on offense, and he's not a lockdown defender. But he's pretty good, defensively. He's very good. Somehow, this leaves Karl unsatisfied, mainly because Diawara will still get scored on by Kobe.

I mean, half the power forwards in this league can drive their way around Kenyon Martin and Eduardo Najera, especially with J.R. Smith providing "relief." Don't let this diminish what Kobe has done. No player, since Michael Jordan, has cared more about his own game, and worked harder. Karl Malone came close, but he also enjoyed pro wrestling, and that tends to ruin things for me.

And George Karl ... geez. George Karl is messing with our time and a whole host of NBA-worthy talents and a lot of people's money. The man can inspire like few other NBA coaches, he's about the only pro basketball coach that could walk into an NFL or MLB locker room and have the team in question ready to kill by the end of a seven minute rant, but he also falls short. On so many levels.

So, prove me wrong, George. Win a few games, or lose without implied martyrdom. We're all anxious.

In the meantime, we're all lucky to be alive and have cable in Kobe's lifetime.

And we all should give thanks to a work ethic behind the talent that allows us to take in nights like this.

Thank you, Kobe Bean.

Believe me, we appreciate it. 

Detroit 105, Philadelphia 88

The Pistons rocketed back up the American charts with a bullet with this one; as well they should, though the core remains a bit hollow. You'll have to excuse for that. After all, it'd be that way if Detroit went up 3-1 on the Celtics sometime next month, because you can't count on much with this squad.

That doesn't do much to mitigate Wednesday's brilliant, and much-appreciated, run. Detroit was anticipating (so fun to watch), cutting off all the expected angles while getting in front of Philly's relentless batch of offensive-minded blanksmen, and this has nothing to do with Andre Iguodala.

(AI is 5-24 for the series, a glorified fourth option, a swell talent, but a bit out of place trying to do anything but offering a post-game fist-bump to Tayshaun Prince.)

So, Philadelphia was outclassed, the Pistons could hold the 1986 Celtics to 72 points, and Antonio McDyess still wants the ring that he deserves. Nothing new ‘ere, sadly.

Boston 96, Atlanta 77

Buoyed by all the other, tougher, series; I feel like I should be tearing the Hawks apart for daring to pretend to have a place amongst these postseason stalwarts.

But if they will dare, then I will dare, (Peter Buck mandolin solo), and I can't kill these guys for playing exactly how they've played all season.

The Hawks, as mentioned incessantly (and rightfully) in the broadcast, refuse to make the extra pass. They don't know better, their coach (not his fault, mind you) looks like he's wearing a powdered bald cap due to his newly shaved dome, and the Boston Celtics are deep, talented, motivated, and so, so good.

Steve Kerr would trade his team's next six draft picks, staggered over 12 years, not minding the luxury tax, not minding when his boss fired him for going 48 cents above the luxury tax, just because he loves the game, hates his bench, and is green with envy over the C's bench. Boston's pine is that good.

A bit about TNT's usually spot-on coverage:

I'm a huge Dick Stockton fan, and I'd rather pay 12 quid to listen to him call a game than Kevin Harlan, Matt Devlin, or most other third-tier play-by-play guys for free. That said, Mike Fratello cannot stop talking about his dear, departed Marv Albert whilst in Stockton's presence. It's like watching Don Rickles go on and on about Frank Sinatra while Steve Lawrence laughs nervously a few feet to Mr. Warmth's right.

I should also point out that, according to Reggie Miller, Kobe Bryant "garnishes a lot of attention."

Also, Miller used the "word" advertant.

Meanwhile, Steve "Snapper" Jones sits at home.

Enjoy it, America! I'm assuming you'd rather have a shot of Crown Royal with Reg than bowl a 37-strong frame with Steve Jones.

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