After so long watching the 'Black Mamba', is anybody surprised?
When the business end of the season comes along, Kobe Bryant can always be counted on for match-winning performances when it matters most. Last night was no exception. With the Lakers just half a game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the final Play off place in the Western Conference, it was critical that they continued their good form on the road against an inexperienced Portland side.
Thanks to Bryant, the Lakers were able to do just that.
The Lakers emerged from a close fought encounter with a vital 113-106 victory. Bryant was nothing short of sensational. His stat line was off the charts. 47 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks. What was more impressive though was that Bryant played all 48 minutes of the game, refusing to rest as he drove the Lakers past the winning post. Everybody watching Basketball over the last few years has been waiting for Bryant to slow down and for his considerable talent to fade as his age and minutes increased.
On Sunday, April 7th, The Los Angeles Lakers lost their regular season, round four “Thriller In Manila” bout to the much improved, “Lob City” Los Angeles Clippers 109-95. The Clippers swept the Lakers all four regular season games.
The Lakers are fighting for their very playoff lives. They are on a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown, must win, playoff like games to secure the last playoff spot available in the Western Conference playoff race, maybe? The Utah Jazz is also in the hunt for the last playoff spot. If there is a tie at the end of the season between the Jazz and the Lakers, the Jazz will win the tie-breaker, because they have more wins against the Lakers during the regular season.
The loss to the Clippers on Sunday hurt the Lakers as every game down the home stretch is monumental and can easily decide their fate regarding making the playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers kept hope alive last night as they beat the New Orleans Hornets 104-96 taking care of # 5 in the countdown run. The Oklahoma City Thunder helped the Lakers out by beating the Utah Jazz the same night as the Lakers victory.
Kevin Durant just cannot catch a break. The league's most prolific scorer is about to complete a historic 50-40-90 shooting season, one of the most amazing in NBA history. Yet LeBron James from the Miami Heat is considered to be the unanimous choice for MVP.
At least Durant was locked in to win the league's scoring title for a fourth consecutive season. It would serve as a nice consolation prize for the league's most dangerous scorer, who had led the NBA in that category for most of the regular season.
However, a late-season surge from New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony has threatened to take the title away from the Oklahoma City superstar. Durant's scoring average of 28.3 points per game as of April 9, 2013 has been eclipsed by Anthony, who holds a narrow lead at 28.6 points per game.
At its inception in 1993, AND1 set out to change the landscape of basketball by bringing those in the shadow, into the spotlight. They brought notoriety to those who innovated on the court, stayed true to their style, and exuded passion for the game that was contagious. AND1 created a brand of basketball that became instantly iconic in the 90’s. The Mix Tapes became an immediate craze, showcasing streetballers and ballhandling, and eventually, some of the best dunkers in America. People like Air Up There, Helicopter, and Spyda were creators in this space, throwing down unimaginable dunks and inspiring kids everywhere to perfect their 'around the world' move. Off the court, the brand’s popularity skyrocketed. Everybody owned one of the “Trash Talk” t-shirts with sayings like “Check the want ads, your game needs work” across the front. In 2000, the AND1 Tai Chi shoes were arguably the most popular at the time, especially after Vince Carter wore them while putting on a clinic at the Slam Dunk Contest that year.
With three regular season wins against the Miami Heat, could the New York Knicks be the ones to stop the current NBA Champions from repeating?
Stranger things have happened.
Tuesday's 102-90 victory in Miami was the third time the Knicks have beaten the Heat by double-digits this season, the other two by an impressive 20 points. While this game saw the Heat air on the side of caution with their stars LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, who were both rested to ensure their health is at full capacity for the Playoffs, their performances against the Knicks this season should give Heat fans cause for concern.
The Knicks match up well against the Heat without question. They have a solid interior presence with Tyson Chandler who can guard Chris Bosh. They have Iman Shumpert, who has taken his time to get back into NBA conditioning following a serious ACL injury, but is now considered one of the elite perimeter defenders in the league once again and will be given the responsibility of guarding two-time NBA Champion Dwayne Wade.
Then there's the matchup everyone will be salivating over if the Knicks/Heat rivalry is to continue in the post-season.