NBA HOOPS: The defending champs are in a bad skid, while Carlos Boozer joined the Bulls in an underwhelming fashion. Here are some scores from last night’s NBA action.
HEAT 97, DETROIT 72 (MIA 11-8): This is what needs to happen against piddling lottery teams: LeBron had 18, Bosh and Wade both scored 16 and none played more than 27 minutes. The Heat didn’t relinquish a 20-point lead after three quarters. Which is good, because they need to prep themselves for tonight’s game in Cleveland, which is going to be a mildly hostile atmosphere. (And just imagine how Toronto will treat them!)
ROCKETS 109, LAKERS 99: That’s four losses in a row for L.A., which is weird, because how could they lose when Kobe went 10-for-24? Oh, right, Pau Gasol went 2-for-8. Of note: Miami, the team instantly declared a bust after losing three in a row, didn’t make it four in a row. Are we going to see the same kind of freakout we saw the Heat face, with declarations that things need to change, coaches ousted, et cetera? (Maybe Phil Jackson needs to focus more on coaching his team than on the Heat’s coaching situation, perhaps.)
No, of course we aren’t. Because the Lakers are the champs and “know how to win” and blah, blah, blah, we’re going to hear nothing of the sort. Except their last three losses have come to non-playoff teams (Memphis, Indiana and Houston), which is a bad sign. And in their last 10 games, they are just 5-5. (The Heat, by comparison? 6-4. Just saying.) The Lakers are currently fourth in the Western Conference seeding and at 13-6, only two games better than Miami and two and a half games behind the Spurs.
MAGIC 107, BULLS 78: Carlos Boozer made his Bulls debut and looked every bit like a player coming off of a sketchy injury: Just 2-for-5 in 22 minutes. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah tried their best, but five Magic players scored in double-digits.
THUNDER 123, NETS 120: It took three overtimes, but the Thunder (playing without Kevin Durant) finally prevailed behind Russell Westbrook’s 38 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists. At some point, he’s got to enter that “best point guard in the league” talk, because he took over a game in a way Rondo can never do and Nash and Kidd can’t do anymore. Is it Paul, Williams, Westbrook, Rose right now? Some other configuration?
CLIPPERS 90, SPURS 85: This is why you can never predict the NBA. The league’s best team was 15-2 and promptly drop a game to the 3-15 Clippers, who have the league’s worst record. So there’s that. The Spurs are also cooked.