HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Just so we are absolutely clear, there is nothing wrong with Kobe Bryant‘s knee.
He wishes people would leave him alone about it. And so do we.
After what we saw from Kobe (17th career triple double) and the Lakers in a win over the Kings in Sacramento on Wednesday night, no one should question the readiness of that crew to grind through this season.
Back to Wednesday night’s 12-game slate of games … there was a lot more drama and action than what we saw on the court. From coast to coast. And the hideout crew didn’t miss a thing.
The only question is Did You See What We Saw?
Looking good: It’s someone different every night carrying the 5-0 Hawks. Josh Smith did the honors in this win over the Pistons, helping the Hawks overcome their own lethargy to send the Pistons to a fifth straight defeat. Smith’s 22 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocks led five Hawks in double figures.
Sound the Alarm: Pistons coach John Kuester blasted his team’s lack of leadership Tuesday night. Wednesday night he called on Rodney Stuckey twice early in the third quarter and was ignored by his point guard. Kuester benched him for the rest of the night and then cut off a postgame media session after one question. Did we mention the Pistons are off to their worst start since the 1980-81 season? Drama.
HT’s Take: While the Hawks are adjusting well to their new head coach (Larry Drew), it’s clear there is something amiss in that Pistons’ locker room. Charlie Villanueva‘s Twitter spat with Kevin Garnett was old news by the time the Pistons exited Philips Arena. This was clearly a snapshot of two teams headed in totally opposite directions.
Looking good: D.J. Augustin’s free throws with 30.9 seconds to play provided the winning points but it was Gerald Wallace and Boris Diaw that did the heavy lifting to finally get the Bobcats a mark in the win column. Larry Brown still wasn’t particularly impressed with his team’s sloppiness, but we’re sure he’ll take the win.
Sound the Alarm: Stephen Jackson‘s a shadow of the force he was for the Bobcats last season, when he averaged 21.1 points and spearheaded the first playoff run in Bobcats history. His minutes and rebounding numbers are down but his scoring dip (14.8 so far this season) is the most dramatic dip in his performance. Something’s amiss.
HT’s Take: Even in defeat we continue to like what we see from the Nets. Brook Lopez and Devin Harris are grinding through the tough times, playing through the pain of injuries and keeping this team in every game. Rookie forward Derrick Favors is making it hard to ignore him with the way he works on both ends, and above the rim. Avery Johnson‘s fingerprints are all over this team.
PHILADELPHIA 101, INDIANA 75 (Prime Minister Special Report)
Looking good: Two things that surprised in this one for the Sixers. First, they got a big lead (26 points at halftime) and kept control of the game from there, something Philly has struggled with all season as our man Andy Jasner points out here. Second, Elton Brand went for 25 points and 12 boards in 42 minutes … stats not surprising in and of themselves, but moreso when you consider this was just the seventh time he had 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in a game in his three seasons as a Sixer.
Sound the Alarm: Not to incite undue Hideout panic, we are a little concerned about Doug Collins‘ well-being after he suffered dizzy spells related to vertigo at halftime. He said after the game that he’s “all good,” but also said that as the team headed to the locker room for halftime, he had to hold on to assistant coach Michael Curry so he wouldn’t fall over.
HT’s Take: After looking so sharp three nights ago in their home win over the Sixers, the Pacers looked stuck in the mud. There were plenty of missed shots (Indy shot 31.5 percent), the stars disappeared (Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and Darren Collison all struggled) and Indiana rarely seemed to let its offense run a play before someone jacked up a shot. Jim O’Brien summed it up best: “”Sometimes you’re the pounder; sometimes you’re the poundee,” O’Brien told the Indianapolis Star. “We were the poundee tonight.”
ORLANDO 128, MINNESOTA 86 (PMSR)
Looking good: Orlando’s 78 first-half points against Minnesota were better than an entire night of offense from the Indiana Pacers (who managed only 75 points), and the Magic’s outburst set a franchise record for points in a half. The usual suspects did the damage for Orlando, but there was plenty of help off the bench with some particularly strong play by Brandon Bass and Marcin Gortat in the paint that overpowered the Wolves.
Sound the Alarm: Though this game was a blowout early, the Wolves have some work to do on defense. They’ve given up 105 points or more in four of their five games and haven’t been able to keep up with up-tempo teams like the Magic or Heat. Every player on the Wolves but one — Maurice Ager — is averaging at least 10 minutes a game, but no one is averaging 30 minutes a game. There might be too many guys playing.
HT’s Take: What helped Orlando more last night, having an extra day off thanks to their Tuesday night game in New York being postponed or simply having the Wolves come to town? Hard to tell in this one. The Magic’s reshuffled depth chart — namely giving more minutes to Bass, Chris Duhon and J.J. Redick — seems to be paying off.