About Last Night

There Is Kryptonite For Everyone

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – One of the best things about this new season in the NBA is how far removed we are from last season, when a three-game losing streak by the Miami Heat signaled doomsday chatter.

Gone are the days when each and every Heat loss was met with an endless cycle of analysis, statistical and otherwise, in a vain attempt to explain the most basic of principles in a league where the difference between the best of the best and the rest is razor-thin.

The Heat’s current three-game skid will serve as the bedrock principle of the 2011-12 season that we’ll keep tucked away in safe place from now until the NBA Finals end, just as a reminder (and I promise, this was scribbled on the back of an old airline boarding pass late last night after the superstar-starved Nuggets upended the Heat in Denver):

“THERE IS KRYPTONITE FOR EVERYONE”

Maybe it’s the abbreviated season that has produced this sensation. Or perhaps it’s the fact that through the first three weeks of this season, no team stands out to us as a head and shoulders prohibitive favorite to sprint through the competition on their way to the Larry O’Brien trophy presentation.

The Heat being exposed the way they have by zone defenses and the ravaging grind injuries can have on any team in a compacted season, Heat star Dwyane Wade turned an ankle against the Nuggets, serves as the latest reminder that what looks one way on opening night or even the first week of the season can shift dramatically the deeper we delve into the season.

Every single team with legitimate championship aspirations has an exploitable weakness that could cost them a shot at their ultimate goal this season, which is not exactly breaking news. But the fact that those weaknesses have been exposed in every single one of those teams less than a month into the season is worth noting.

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Kobe And LeBron In The Clutch (Video)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The seemingly never-ending debate surrounding the late-game prowess of both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James went under Kenny Smith‘s microscope last night on TNT.

It’s as concise an examination (with video assistance) of their late-game strengths and weaknesses, and what it all means their respective teams, as we’ve seen. So we figured we’d share for those that might have missed it:

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A little more info on Kobe and LeBron in the clutch, courtesy of my main man and NBA.com’s John Schuhmann (aka StatMasterFlex):

Thus far this season in clutch time (last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime with a score differential of five points or less), Bryant is 8-for-23 (35 percent) from the field, 1-for-4 from 3-point range and 7-for-8 from the line, with five assists and five turnovers. James is 5-for-15 (33 percent) from the field, 0-for-3 from 3-point range and 7-for-12 from the line, with 10 assists and four turnovers.

About Last Night: In The Groove

– Rock Your 2012 All-Star Vote – 

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We had too many games and way too many sick highlights from Wednesday night for us to waste your time this morning yapping.

So instead of lowering the boom on the Knicks or Wizards about their feeble showings or celebrating the Clippers … or the Hang Time Grizzlies … or the Heat … or the Bulls for looking great again. While some teams are struggling to find their way, some teams are already in the groove!

You can check them all out on the Daily Zap:

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Heat fans will insist that we don’t dole out the proper love for their team around here on a regular basis. But don’t confuse us keeping two car lengths behind the Heat bandwagon with us not respecting their power.

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About Last Night: Perfect No More

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If you’re not a big believer in signs, the Heat and Thunder losing their first game of the season on the same night means little to you.

But if you’re as fixated on these sorts of things as we are here at the hideout, those two teams losing on the same night makes us feel stronger than ever that our preseason prediction that they will battle for the Larry O’Brien trophy is on the money. (Yeah, we’re reaching a bit but the whole Mayan calendar thing has us a bit spooked.)

The Thunder losing to the Mavericks and the Heat losing the Hawks won’t rank as the day’s top news, however (sorry T-Mac). That honor goes to the fine folks in San Antonio and the Spurs, who suffered a much bigger loss last night when Manu Ginobili broke his hand in a loss to the Timberwolves.

Catch up on all of last night’s action in the Daily Zap:

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Whatever struggles the Mavericks might be experiencing early on this season, Dirk Nowitzki seems to be immune.

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About Last Night: Fireworks For 2012

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’ve barely been at this thing for a week and already there are tons of fireworks. And we get them on a daily basis.

The Timberwolves, armed with a Kevin Love-led young crew and the dazzling magicianship (made that word up) of young Ricky Rubio, stunned the reigning champs to kick off the New Year (ending an 18-game slide in the process). The Heat steamrolled their way to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history, capping a huge weekend for LeBron James in style. The Nuggets beat back the Lakers in a rematch of their New Year’s Eve tilt despite Kobe Bryant reaching the 28,000-point club. And the Clippers lived up to their “Lob City” moniker (see the handy work of Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin below) while handing the Trail Blazers their first defeat of the young season.

You can see all of that and more in the Daily Zap:

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There is at least one notable absence from this morning’s delivery of highlights from last night. Second-year Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins was sent home before Sunday’s game against the Hornets after demanding a trade. No worries, though, as both Jason Thompson and Tyreke Evans made up his absence in the Top 10 plays:

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Whatever issues the Celtics have this year, it won’t be the play at the point guard position. Rajon Rondo was as splendid Sunday, notching a triple double in a win over the Wizards:

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About Last Night (Video)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We don’t do resolutions around here. It’s simply not in the Hang Time DNA.

But we do understand the need to refine certain traditions here at the hideout. And far too often our friends around the globe awake without a full grasp of what went on the night before around the league. Some folks fall asleep early, some hit the club before the action is done and some of you are grinding at work before the final buzzer on the final game of the night goes off.

Well, we’re going to fix that in 2012 by making sure you get your highlights from us (and the best AV crew in the business) on a daily basis. And we promise, we’ll have you caught up and out of here in a matter of minutes.

So, about last night:

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We mentioned a little something here Saturday morning about being excited about Andrew Bynum‘s regular season debut. Turns out the big fella was excited, too. He dominated the Nuggets on both ends of the floor as the Lakers pulled out a close one:

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Finally, no morning is complete without a glance at the top plays. And there were plenty of guys that wanted to finish 2011 the right way as they prepare to do bigger and better things this year (what did the rim do to you Russell Westbrook?):

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Rubio ‘Heats’ up chilly Target Center

 

HANG TIME MIDWEST BUREAU — Sombreros are wrong on a couple of levels. First, it’s a little shaky to reduce anyone’s ethnic heritage to an article of clothing and a clichéd one at that. (There, HTB’s political correctness obligation is officially met.)

Second, and more pertinent, the big, floppy brimmed hats that dotted Target Center Friday night are a product of Mexico. Ricky Rubio is an import from Spain.

But a little misdirected enthusiasm – along with the “Ole! Ole!” calls – was understandable given the excitement and the circumstances Friday night in Minneapolis. Rubio, the much ballyhooed No. 5 pick from the 2009 NBA draft for whom Timberwolves fans had waited two years, had the locals en fuego and the mighty Miami Heat in trouble. For a while, anyway, in the Heat’s 103-101 victory.

In only his third NBA game, Rubio scored 12 points with 12 assists and six rebounds – the first Minnesota player with a stats line like that since Sam Cassell in 2004. He ran the Wolves’ attack in nearly 31 minutes off the bench. Hit a pair of 3-point shots among his 4-of-7 shooting. Dazzled the joint several times with uncanny, casual reckless (for most guys, at least) passes that generally found their marks – except for that costly fling past Wayne Ellington, out of bounds, in the final minutes. It was one of Rubio’s five turnovers.

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Fantastic Finish: All 30 Teams In Action

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We wouldn’t have believed it if we didn’t see it for ourselves.

There was a basketball party last night and everyone was invited!

Having all 30 teams in action on the same night provided a truly fantastic finish to the final night of the NBA regular season. It serves as the perfect appetizer to what should be an absolutely electric playoff season.

** Check here for all the Eastern Conference and Western Conference matchup and information you need **

So before we dive off into the second season, we wanted to make sure you got one last look at Wednesday night’s action from around the league. And that includes the Daily Zap (above) as well as the Top 10 Plays:

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West Race Rests On Bynum’s Knee

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The sight of Andrew Bynum‘s giant body crumpling to the floor Tuesday night should have been enough to frighten Lakers fans while providing a glimmer of hope for fans of contenders everywhere else.

Even if it was just a momentary jolt, Bynum hyperextending his surgically repaired right knee in the second quarter while simply running down the floor, reminded the Lakers — and everyone around the league — just how fragile a team’s title hopes can be.

Bynum said he’s fine, telling my main man Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times, “It’s not really that bad. It was painful right when it happened but it’s not that bad right now.”

The Lakers’ three-peat bid takes a serious blow if Bynum is hobbled in any way. He’ll have an MRI today to determine the extent of the damage, but Lakers coach Phil Jackson sounds like he’s already prepared to work without Bynum for at least a couple of games.

“He could be out a couple games,” Jackson said. “There could be a bone bruise involved when you hyperextend the knee. His reassurance was saying, ‘I’m going to be OK.’ I think that he might have an idea about it because he’s been through this before.”

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The Final Sunday: Video

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Not sure what you’re snacking on for lunch today.

Around here, we dine on video highlights. And the last Sunday of the regular season provided plenty, including yet another wicked from MVP frontrunner Derrick Rose:

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