Tag Archives: NBA

Cavs send LeBron back to South Beach with a Heat loss, 102-90

30 Mar

For Cavs fans, beating LeBron’s Miami Heat just made this season a whole lot better. 

It’s like if Buckeye fans had to suffer through a 1-11 OSU football season…if that 1 win came against Michigan.

LBJ got the cold shoulder from Cavs players, fans & gameday workers, then left his old city with a loss. Take your talents back to South Beach LeBron.

The Cavs led by 23 (a fitting # given LBJ’s old uni in C-town), gave it all back, & still punked the Heat when Miami desperately needed a win to keep pace with Boston.  Right now Miami is stuck in the 3rd spot, headed on a crash course with the surging Philadelphia 76ers, a team no one is too excited about playing right now. 

Unless Miami somehow runs down the Bulls for the top spot in the East, they’ll be forced to face either the 76ers or the Knicks in the 1st round, yikes.  Either one is capable of pushing the Heat to 6 or 7 games, which is the last thing the Heat needs before a potentially brutal 2nd-round matchup with Boston (where the Celtics will likely have home court advantage).

ESPN.com has more from the AP:

CLEVELAND — As he left the arena, Cavaliers coach Byron Scott smiled and accepted fist bumps and congratulations from security guards lining the hallway.

“Coach,” one of them said, “we’re going to talk about this one all summer.”

And probably for many more.

Cleveland got the win it wanted most.

Take that, LeBron.

Despite blowing a 23-point lead, the Cavs battled back to beat the Miami Heat 102-90 on Tuesday night, getting a small dose of satisfaction against James, the franchise’s biggest star who was making his second homecoming visit to Cleveland since bolting last summer.

J.J. Hickson scored 21, Anthony Parker scored 20 and unsung center Ryan Hollins threw around his weight for the Cavs, who were embarrassed by the Heat 118-90 on Dec. 2 — a night when Cleveland fans unleashed pent-up hatred on James, the native son who scorned them.

This time, it was James who left the floor beaten. He finished with 27 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds and had to endure another night of constant booing from fans who once cherished his every move but now view him as a bitter enemy for betraying them.

James took the loss in stride, giving the Cavs credit they deserved.

“Anytime we play anybody, we know we’re going to get the best out of them,” James said. “They came out and played extremely well. It was a good win for them.”

It was more than that for Cleveland.

James’ departure was a crippling blow to a city that hasn’t celebrated a championship since 1964, and a region desperate for something positive to happen.

For at least one night, Cleveland rocked again.

“This was for the fans and for their support,” Cavs guard Daniel Gibson said. “They’ve stayed behind us and this was a way of saying thank you.”

In the closing seconds, the sellout crowd of 20,562 cut loose at a victory even the most loyal Clevelander couldn’t have imagined. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who accused James of quitting in last year’s playoffs after the two-time MVP announced he was joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in a poorly conceived TV special, high-fived anyone within reach.

Gilbert also posted on Twitter, “Not in our garage!!” a reference to James’ difficulty passing through security at Quicken Loans Arena earlier Tuesday.

On the floor afterward, Parker, whose last 3-pointer with 2:47 left capped a 12-0 run and put the Heat away, addressed Cavs fans.

“You guys deserve it,” he said as the fans erupted.

Later, Parker said the Cavs were out to fix what went wrong on Dec. 2.

“The first time we played them here, we were embarrassed and they took a little from us,” he said. “This is the night that we wanted to get that back, for us, but more for the fans. That was great getting it back for them.”

The Cavaliers were a different team — literally — from the one that laid down against the Heat here in December. Injuries and trades have reduced Cleveland’s roster to a shell of the one James played with and helped win 60 games last season.

The Heat rallied from a 71-48 deficit, tying it at 83-all on Mike Bibby‘s seventh 3-pointer with 7:03 left. But Miami, which wasted a chance to move into second place in the Eastern Conference standings, went scoreless for 4:24, allowing the Cavs to get just their 15th win — and most lopsided this season.

Wade added 24 for the Heat, who had their winning streak stopped at five.

Cleveland shot a season-high 56 percent from the field, a number that made coach Erik Spoelstra’s skin crawl.

“The majority of time in this league you get what you deserve and we got exactly what we deserved,” Spoelstra said. “They played harder than us. They came out with much more desperation and sense of urgency. This pattern started two games ago, and we’re a little confused what our identity is.”

Baron Davis made his first start since coming to Cleveland in a trade, and the veteran scored 10 points and provided floor leadership. The Cavs also got a big lift from Hollins, who had 13 points, three blocks and played physically — something none of Cleveland’s players did in December.

Hollins stopped one of Wade’s drives with an elbow, exchanged words with Miami’s guard and knocked James’ headband off under the basket.

“I feel like if they’re more concerned about me, then that’s a good thing for our team,” Hollins said. “That’s the way I wanted to play tonight.”

There wasn’t the same venom and hatred that shrouded James’ first visit four months ago. The crowd was energetic but not as outwardly angry toward James, who was booed every time he touched the ball. Security was extremely high, but there were no reported incidents.

The teams took turns going on extended runs in a wild, back-and-forth third quarter.

Cleveland scored 18 straight and opened a 71-48 lead, sending their fans into a frenzy and putting the Heat in a deep hole. But Miami was a long way from done as Wade hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored 10 points in a 19-1 spurt that pulled the Heat within 72-67 on James’ jumper.

Christian Eyenga‘s 3-pointer with 2 seconds left put the Cavs ahead 75-67. James flung a 3-pointer from a few steps beyond halfcourt to end the quarter, a shot that was initially ruled no good but changed after the officials reviewed TV replays between periods and determined there was a clock malfunction.

After the game, the NBA released a statement saying the shot actually should not have counted, but it was too late to change the score.

James arrived at the arena that was his pro basketball home for seven seasons at 5:12 p.m. Wearing headphones and a shirt with the inscription: “Long Live The King,” James went through security and waved to a few guards before ducking into the visitor’s locker room for the second time.

James wasn’t sure what he would be facing, but he was confident things would not be nearly as hostile as his previous visit.

“I expect the worst,” he said. “But worse than last time, Dec. 2? No.”

He got something else he didn’t expect. 

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


Scottie Pippen calls early ’90s Detroit Pistons’ teams classless & unathletic

16 Mar

Pip didn’t mind taking some swipes at Detroit’s “Bad Boys” from 2 decades ago, calling the Pistons a “classless” organization & team.  The Pistons eliminated the Bulls 3 years in a row (’88, ’89 & ’90 playoffs).  It took the Bulls a while to break through DET coach Chuck Daly’s “Jordan Rules” defense against CHI – good thing Pippen isn’t still fired up about it.

Thankfully for Pippen the Bulls swept the Pistons in the ’91 Eastern Conference Finals, so he wasn’t called upon to make any game-winning shots (it was a different story 3 years later against the Knicks, where Toni Kukoc bailed him out). 

Also, everyone forgets that while most of the Pistons did walk off the court with 8 seconds left in 1991’s Game 4, Joe Dumars, John Salley & Vinnie Johnson did stay behind to shake the Bulls’ hands.

Pippen still calls the Bad Boy Pistons classless for leaving their bench...ironically Pippen has been called classless for staying on his in crunchtime against NY in the '94 Bulls-Knicks Game 3.

Here’s the report by Steve Schrader of the Detroit Free Press:

It was supposed to be a joyous celebration in Chicago over the weekend, the 20th anniversary of the Bulls dethroning the Pistons, but Scottie Pippen went all Bobby Hurley on the Bad Boys.

“The Pistons were a nasty team,” Pippen told the Chicago Sun-Times. “… They’d go out of their way to be mean and try to hurt you. And because we had better athletes, coach Chuck Daly just let them play the way they had to play to win.

“Bill Laimbeer was no real athlete. The same for Rick Mahorn and Joe Dumars and James Edwards. We were faster, quicker, more competitive and smarter.”

It’s enough to give you a migraine. But Michael Jordan’s caddie wasn’t finished.

“It was gratifying to see the Pistons walk off the court before that last game ended,” Pippen said. “We didn’t expect anything less because they were a classless organization and everybody saw they were a classless team.

“I didn’t care to shake their hands anyway.”

Miami Heat Lose 5th Straight Game: Time to Panic (or Rejoice)?

9 Mar

The Miami Heat have recently embraced Charlie Sheen's definition of winning; in other words, they've been losing...a lot.


In the aftermath of the Miami Heat’s fifth straight loss, this time to a Portland Trail Blazers team that displayed more composure and better execution from start to finish of last night’s contest, the panic level of many Heat fans appears to have risen to extreme levels.  After all, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade combined to score 69 points between them last night while each played more than 40 minutes in the game.  Collectively as a team, the Heat shot better than 50% from the field.  And they faced a team that they had beaten on the road earlier this season (albeit in an OT game, one of the few this season in which James attempted and actually made clutch shots in the 4th quarter and OT).  And they still lost.  But this panic reeks of short-term thinking and undermines what the Heat have accomplished up to this point in the season.  Remember, Miami rattled off 21 wins in 22 games from December through January, and while many of those wins came against mediocre to sub .500 teams, the streak did include victories against the Lakers and Trail Blazers, with the only loss coming in a tight game against the Mavericks.  This 5 game losing streak is not some sort of anomaly that never occurs to elite NBA teams; with the exception of San Antonio, all of the league’s elite teams have suffered similar rough patches this season:

Celtics:  2 stretches of close to .500 ball, with records of 6-5 and 8-6 from December – February.

Mavs:    1-7 stretch in January that included losses to the Pacers and Pistons

Bulls:    Started the season 9-8, and had a 5-4 stretch that saw them lose to the Bobcats twice

Lakers: 2 separate 3 game losing streaks, as well as a 4 game losing streak to close out November

Even after this current 5 game losing streak, which has the potential to stretch to as much as 8 or 9 with upcoming home games against the Lakers, Grizzlies, Spurs, and Thunder, the Heat still rank quite well in many statistical categories that are proven to be effective predictors of playoff success:

Category Value NBA Rank
Pts Scored 101.5 9th
Pts Against 95.0 6th
Pts Diff. 6.5 4th
Reb Diff. 1.8 6th
FG % 47.6 T-2nd
FG% Against 43.1 2nd


The statistics don’t lie.  Of course, anybody could choose to cherry pick stats and select some that paint a bleak picture of the Heat’s future, whether it’s their near NBA worst assist percentage, mediocre free-throw shooting percentage, or NBA worst shooting percentage when attempting game tying or winning shots late in the fourth quarter.  But take a look again at those above stats: the Heat are still an elite offensive and defensive team; despite lacking an adequate center and having a power forward who oftentimes plays softer than Charmin toilet paper sprinkled with angels’ tears and wrapped in a cloud, they more than hold their own in the paint when it comes to rebounding and blocking shots (9th).

You can blame a whole host of things on this recent five game slide: LeBron and D-Wade choking late in games; Chris Bosh appearing scared to even be on the floor in the fourth quarter; Mike Miller shooting more inaccurately than Stevie Wonder on a pheasant hunt; Joel Anthony delivering passes directly to fans in the floor seats (check out the highlights); and coach Erik Spoelstra seeming confused on what plays to run in crunch time.  However, there’s still time for the Heat to correct these problems, and they’ll have the luxury of doing so with a very easy schedule after the OKC Thunder leave town.  The Heat could easily close the season 14-4 or 13-5, giving them 56-57 wins that would be plenty good enough to lock up the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.  LeBron, D-Wade, Mike Miller, and yes, even Chris Bosh, have good track records when it comes to delivering in the clutch.  Their woeful end of game shooting will not continue.  Their defense, which is already at an elite level, should continue to be strong.   And don’t forget the pending return of Udonis Haslem, who has been a key contributor to the Heat on both ends of the floor that brings a level of physical and mental toughness they’ll desperately need in the playoffs.  Sure, the King’s quest for a ring isn’t looking too rosy at the moment, but there’s still plenty of time for his team to get on the right track and make a serious run at an NBA title.  Whether you enjoy rooting for the Heat or against them, one thing is certain: the final chapter of their 2010-2011 season is far from being written.

Knicks punk Heat in Miami, showing why they will be a dangerous 1st round playoff opponent

28 Feb

Last night the new-look Knicks gave everybody a taste of what’s to come in the future, stealing a game on the road against the hated Miami Heat.  At least for one night, Billups’ experience & the scoring punch of Melo & Amare showed that NY’s “big 3” may be better than Miami’s trio of LeBron, Wade & Bosh. 

What’s so impressive is that Mr. Big Shot (Billups) nailed a deep 3, made a critical steal, & sank clutch free throws in the final few minutes; you can tell he has the respect of everybody on that Knicks roster.  He & Melo have only been on the team for a few games, but have already proved they can play well with Amare, Fields & co. 

Spike Lee took his talents to South Beach Sunday night, & so did the Knicks. NBAE/Getty Images

Despite being outsmarted & outhustled in the final quarter, the Heat had the ball down just 1 pt. late but couldn’t cash in.  With just a few seconds left, LeBron did his typical dribble-drive to the rack, expecting to either get contact (& a foul) or an easy look at the basket.  Ut-oh!  Melo, who Kevin McHale labeled earlier in the week as having a reputation of playing poor team defense, beat LBJ to his spot on the low block.  LeBron had to put up a high-angled shot, which Amare brilliantly swatted away to seal the game. 

It’s worth mentioning that on that play Amare came from the opposite side of the paint, knew LBJ’s tendencies (LeBron loves to shoot game winners) & the clock situation (not enough time for LBJ to make a safe pass, then have the recipient dribble/setup & shoot) to make the game-saving block.  And they say this Knicks team won’t play any defense?  That is a textbook example of great team defense when the game is on the line against one of the best finishers in the NBA!

Hats off to the Knicks – a signature win after that awful loss to the Cavs – they are officially that 5-6-7 seed we find about every couple years who nobody wants to play!

Click here to view ESPN’s 2 cents & the box score.

Celtics surprisingly break up starting 5, deal Perkins & Robinson for Jeff Green & Krstic

24 Feb

It basically looks like the C’s didn’t think they could re-sign C Kendrick Perkins & the Thunder didn’t think they could re-sign SF Jeff Green, so the teams made  a swap.  Boston didn’t want to bank on Perk’s knees holding up for another postseason, & could feel the bench depth slipping away from them with each passing month.

Still, why would the Celtics make this trade??  With Perkins’ great size & toughness, he neutralized Dwight Howard & would abuse anything the Bulls, Heat or Knicks could throw at the center position come playoff time.  With him gone, the Celtics gave up one of the biggest matchup advantages they would have had in the postseason this year.  Krstic will need a lot of help from Shaq (if he can play), Jermaine O’Neal & KG whenever he guards Howard, Bynum, or another wide, physical center.

Jeff Green brings you instant scoring pop & is great for the future, but the Celtics need to win now!  Plus, they had to lose Nate Robinson in the deal just to make the money work (NBA trades have to have relatively equal total salaries for the players on each side of the deal, within roughly 20% of each other at last check).  Robinson was a guy Boston already knew jelled with the 2nd unit & was Mr. Sparkplug.  Will Green, who was averaging 15 pts./game for the Thunder, be happy playing behind Pierce, Ray Allen & KG at the 2, 3 or 4 spots – especially beyond this season?

Is Danny Ainge trying to follow the new Bill Belichick teambuilding model of Boston’s NFL franchise, where you ship off core members of your team when “their value is still high” for “younger assets” to get ready for the years ahead?  Much like the aging Patriots really could’ve used Randy Moss & Richard Seymour (players they dealt away for draft picks) in the playoffs recently, the Celtics may really regret trading away part of their starting lineup when their window to win another title is closing. 

I wonder if Doc Rivers supports this trade, considering he pointed out earlier that the starting 5 of Perk, KG, Pierce, Shuttlesworth, & Rondo had NEVER lost a playoff series when all those guys started every game of each series.  Based upon anticipated matchups, the Celtics must be pretty confident they won’t face ORL in the playoffs or LAL/DAL/OKC in the NBA Finals (if they get that far), otherwise this trade could really backfire on them.

For the Thunder, this is a big gamble I don’t blame them for making.  Big men are hard to come by, & Perkins will frustrate every center he faces in the West.  Sure, if his knees go south the Thunder are hosed, but did anybody really think they were winning it all this year or next season with the team they had?  OKC realized it had to make a move to have a chance at the title, & managed to trade small for big in the process.  Who cares if you build your team to be good enough to win 48 games & get bounced in the 1st round every year?  Most fans remember championship years; anything else is usually forgotten a few seasons later.

Also, OKC still has to pay Westbrook, & knew it couldn’t afford to give Durant, Westbrook AND Green new big contracts all within 1-2 seasons of each other.  Besides, Green provided little more than scoring punch, & the Thunder still have plenty of pieces who can put up numbers.  Hat’s off to the Thunder for making an aggressive move that will give them a legitimate chance to represent the Western Conference!

The Thunder now have just as good a shot as anyone to come out of the West if Perkins is healthy come playoff time.


From Chad Ford & Chris Sheridan at ESPN.com:

Just before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, the Boston Celtics agreed to ship center Kendrick Perkins and guard Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for forward Jeff Green and big man Nenad Krstic in a deal the NBA approved about five hours later.






Neither team was done, though.

The Celtics also traded rookie center Semih Erden and forward Luke Harangody to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 2013 second-round draft pick. The Cavaliers waived veteran forward Leon Powe to make roster room after also trading away Mo Williams and Jamario Moon for the Clippers’ Baron Davis in a separate move.

While the Celtics were unloading big men, the Thunder acquired another one, sending Morris Peterson and D.J. White to Charlotte for center Nazr Mohammed, sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher.

Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Wednesday that Perkins is out at least a week after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. He missed 43 games this season recovering from right knee surgery.






Robinson tweeted reaction to the deal: “All I can say is wowzers — Will miss all my Boston fans I love y’all, u guys showed me love.”

It’s a homecoming of sorts for Green. He was selected by the Celtics in the first round (fifth overall) in the 2007 draft. But he was traded with Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West to the then Seattle SuperSonics for Ray Allen and Glen Davis.

The Celtics’ pursuit of a slashing type player intensified when it became apparent that Marquis Daniels might miss the rest of the season with a spinal injury. Daniels himself will be rehabbing in Sacramento. The Celtics traded him and cash considerations to the Kings on Thursday for a protected second-round pick in the 2017 draft, Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie announced.

Daniels has appeared in 49 games for the Celtics this season. He is averaging 5.5 points and 2.3 rebounds. He has been out since bruising his spinal cord on Feb. 6 against Orlando.

Green is averaging 15.2 points and 5.6 rebounds this season as the third option for the Thunder behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. In his three-year career, he has averaged 14.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

Eastern Conference gets even tougher: Jazz trade Deron Williams to NJ Nets for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris & draft picks

23 Feb

The Nets just landed stud PG Deron Williams, making them a player in free agency this summer – they may even be able to make another move before the trade deadline.  The Nets shrewdly made the Knicks improve NYK’s offer to finally land Carmelo Anthony (who probably never wanted to play for the Nets anyway), then got one of the top 3-5 point guards in the NBA. 

Williams was basically on sale b/c the Utah brass was petrified of him doing to the Jazz what Melo did to the Nuggets (disrupting the team for over half a year then basically forcing the team to trade him).  The Jazz also were likely scared of an even worse scenario, where Williams would ambush them by leaving via free agency after next season (in which case Utah would get nothing of value in return besides perhaps some compensatory picks and/or trade exceptions, like what happened to the Cavs when LeBron left).

The Nets have a great PG to rebuild with in Deron Williams. With Williams & Melo recently going to the Eastern Conference, has the balance of power shifted? The Spurs, Mavs, Lakers & Thunder have to be loving this. Utah & Denver fans: As a Cavs supporter, I empathize with you!

From Marc Stein & Chad Ford from ESPN.com:

Trying to rebound from the disappointment of their failed pursuit of Carmelo Anthony, the New Jersey Nets have agreed to a blockbuster trade with the Utah Jazz for Deron Williams, sources said on Wednesday.

The Nets will send Derrick Favors and Devin Harris to Utah for the All-Star point guard. The Jazz will also get New Jersey’s first-round pick this year, Golden State’s first-round pick (by way of the Nets) next year and $3 million, sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard.

No Dropoff

The Nets had been after Carmelo Anthony, but an argument can be made that they got a player as good, if not better, in Deron Williams. Here are their stats:

Points 21.3 25.2
Rebounds 3.9 7.6
Assists 9.7 2.8
Steals 1.2 0.6
FG Pct. .458 .452


In a separate deal, the Nets will send the expiring contract of forward Troy Murphy to the Golden State Warriors for center Dan Gadzuric and power forward Brandan Wright, sources told Broussard.

Williams took some heat this month for the retirement of Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. The two had disagreed during halftime of a home loss to the Bulls on Feb. 9. Sloan retired the next day.

“Maybe arguing was the last straw, so there I am, guilty of that,” Williams said at the time. “But I think anybody who believes I could force coach Sloan to resign is crazy. He’s stronger than that and personally if I said that to him, he’d probably go tell me to go do something.”

More critical to Williams’ situation is the fact that he can become a free agent after next season and hadn’t made headway with the Jazz on a new deal. Utah could have faced the same kind of circus atmosphere that the Nuggets encountered with Anthony this season.

Unlike Anthony, who could opt out of his contract after this season and was allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement to sign an extension with the Knicks, Williams can’t opt out until after next season and can’t sign an extension until July 2011. The current CBA expires after this season, however, making all contract talk uncertain.

Nets blog

Nets Looking for more information on the Nets? ESPNNewYork.com has you covered. Blog


Williams was an All-Star the past two seasons. In his sixth year in the league, the 26-year-old is averaging a career-high 21.3 points and 9.7 assists per game.

Harris has played three-plus seasons in New Jersey after starting his career in Dallas. He has made one All-Star team and is averaging 15.0 points and 7.6 assists this season.

Favors, who was a major piece along with Harris in the Nets’ proposal for Anthony, was the third overall pick in the past NBA draft. He’s averaging 6.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game this season.

New Jersey has been desperate to make its first score under new Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov. The Nets talked with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh last summer and when that failed they turned their attention to Anthony.

Just Tuesday night, the Dallas Mavericks were talking to the Nets about re-acquiring Harris, according to sources. The Mavericks had shown interest in the point guard in January and told the Nets the sides should talk again if New Jersey didn’t ship him out in an Anthony trade.

Sources said Dallas turned down a New Jersey proposal of Harris for Caron Butler, Mavs rookie Dominique Jones and a first-round pick.

Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com, Chad Ford is ESPN’s NBA Insider and Chris Broussard covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

NY Knicks make blockbuster trade, add Carmelo Anthony & Billups in NYK-DEN-MIN deal

22 Feb

The Knicks got their man in a blockbuster trade late last night, landing superstar SF Carmelo Anthony.  The Knicks get big ups for realizing that ‘Melo wanted to get his $65 MIL extension so badly that he would re-sign with the Nuggets or go to the Nets if he had to just to get paid.  This is because there will be a new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) after this NBA season, where superstars are likely not going to be able to get as much max contract money as they can now.

The Knicks even got Chauncey Billups in the trade, & only had to surrender some middle-tier players, one 1st-round pick & two 2nd-round picks rather than the “four 1st-round picks” that Denver was rumored to get Monday morning in a supposed NY-DEN trade.  As you’ll see below in ESPN’s trade breakdown, the Nuggets got a pretty nice haul for Melo, a guy who was going to leave them in a couple months.  Are you reading this Cavs??  Pretty good idea to figure out BEFORE the trade deadline whether your free agent star is re-signing or not!

Denver even managed to get rid of plenty of veterans (Billups, Carter, Balkman, & Sheldon Williams) who make little sense to have on the team unless you’re trying to win it all.  Again, are you reading this Cavs??  What in the world do we have Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams & Anthony Parker on our team for without LeBron??

The Knicks now have a very respectable starting 5 of Billups, Landry Fields, Melo, Stoudemire, & Ronny Turiaf, which should give the rest of the East problems.  The Knicks will almost certainly still get bounced in the 1st or 2nd round of the playoffs this year anyway, but who cares?  The NBA is always better when the Knicks are relevant, & if they can land Chris Paul or Tony Parker before next year’s playoffs then they are an immediate title contender.

There are obvious questions about the Knicks’ ability to play team defense, & we have no idea if Melo & Stoudemire can play well together.  Stoudemire is also making max money, coming off microfracture surgery & dependent upon his Lowe’s workglasses to shield him from sustaining another dangerous eye injury.

Regardless, superstar talent like Anthony doesn’t come around every year & I respect the Knicks for having the guts to make a deal that gets them closer to being a serious contender in the East.  We all know that today’s superstars like to play together for the most part, & if trading for this 2nd superstar helps the Knicks land a 3rd, look out!

Melo is headed to the Big Apple...winning the Eastern Conference just got a little tougher for the Celtics, Heat & Bulls.

From ESPN.com:

Other suitors came and went, but Carmelo Anthony‘s long anticipated marriage to the New York Knicks appears to have finally taken place.

The Knicks and Denver Nuggets agreed to a blockbuster three-team trade on Monday night that sends the All-Star forward to the Big Apple, sources told ESPN The Magazine senior writer Chris Broussard. The deal does not become official until a conference call with the league takes place on Tuesday.

More From ESPN.com

The Knicks will be better in a year or two but have the pieces to be credible by April, ESPN.com’s Michael Wilbon writes. Story

In getting Melo, the Knicks made themselves better in the short and long run, ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian O’Connor writes. Story

Carmelo Anthony has the Knicks back on the hoops map, ESPNNewYork.com’s Stephen A. Smith writes. Story

The Knicks aren’t a title contender yet, but still figure to be a tough out, ESPNNewYork.com’s Chris Sheridan writes. Story

The Nuggets may have lost Carmelo Anthony but did do well for themselves in the end, ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande writes. Story

• Hollinger: Grades Insider
• Ford: A power trio in 2012? Insider

The deal ends the season-long trade saga involving Denver’s All-Star forward and sends him to New York where he has publicly stated he would like to play. If it goes through as anticipated, Anthony is expected to sign a three-year, $65 million extension with the Knicks, where he will play alongside good friend Amare Stoudemire.

New York gets a potentially explosive frontcourt — Stoudemire is second in the league in scoring at 26.1 points per game and Anthony is sixth at 25.2 — but it comes at a heavy cost.

As a part of the deal, the Knicks will send Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov and a 2014 first-round draft pick to the Nuggets, who would get additional picks and cash, the sources said. Along with Anthony, New York would get Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter and Renaldo Balkman from Denver.

Multiple media reports say that the additional picks the Nuggets will get are two second-round selections that the Knicks acquired from Golden State.

The Minnesota Timberwolves got involved to help New York clear salary space to accomodate its new players. The Knicks ship Anthony Randolph, the expiring contract of Eddy Curry and $3 million to the Wolves in exchange for Corey Brewer, according to multiple media reports.

The Nuggets were reluctant to take on Curry’s $12 million salary this season for luxury tax reasons.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Nuggets coach George Karl said, according to the Denver Post, which first reported the megadeal. “I’m glad it’s an opportunity to reinvent. I think everybody handled it as classy as you could handle it. There’s some sadness to it, there always will be.”

Denver might not be Gallinari’s final destination. League sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher the Nuggets are looking at deals to ship him out for a draft pick once the deal is complete.

While Broussard reported that the Nets might try to acquire Gallinari after striking out on Anthony, there are several other interested teams with first-round draft picks to offer in exchange for the perimeter-shooting forward. Other potential suitors include the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors.

Denver pulled the trigger on the Anthony deal Monday night, rather than get closer to Thursday’s trade deadline, to have more time to shop Gallinari, sources said. The Nuggets are not looking to deal Felton or Chandler, a league source said.

The Nuggets have explored an Anthony trade since he refused to sign the three-year contract extension worth nearly $65 million they offered him last summer. They appeared on the verge of sending him to the New Jersey Nets on multiple occasions. At one point in the past month, it was reported that the Lakers even kicked the tires on an Anthony trade. But the Knicks increased their offer enough recently to land Anthony.

The Knicks hope he can be in uniform Wednesday when they host the Milwaukee Bucks. If he is, he’ll probably be wearing a different number.

Anthony wore No. 15 for his seven-year tenure with the Nuggets. He also wore No. 15 during his one season at Syracuse. But that digit will be off limits for Anthony in New York because the organization retired No. 15 twice — once for Earl Monroe and once for Dick McGuire. When contacted by ESPNNewYork.com late Monday night, a team official said he was unsure which number Anthony would wear with the Knicks.

Heating Up in February

Anthony It’s cold out, but the Knicks are acquiring Carmelo Anthony in the middle of a hot month. In nine February games, he’s averaging 31 points per game and shooting 53 percent from the floor.

Carmelo Anthony This Season

1st 41 Games 9 Games in Feb.
PPG 23.9 31.0
FG pct 43.4 53.0
RPG 7.9 6.4
APG 3.0 1.7

powered by ESPN Stats and Info

Anthony led the Nuggets to the playoffs in each of his first seven seasons in Denver after winning a national title at Syracuse as a freshman and had them positioned for another playoff run this year. But Denver advanced out of the first round just once in that time.

He stood to become the headliner of the 2011 free-agent class but didn’t want to risk free agency knowing a new collective bargaining agreement could cost him millions. But once he refused the extension with the Nuggets — plus put his Denver mansion on the market last year — the Nuggets’ new front-office team of general manager Masai Ujiri and team president Josh Kroenke had to begin trade talks so they wouldn’t risk losing him and getting nothing in return as the Cavaliers did with LeBron James and the Toronto Raptors did with Chris Bosh last year.

There were persistent rumors Anthony wouldn’t take the extension if traded to the Nets, which was a prerequisite for them agreeing to a trade. He instead gets his apparent wish to join a Knicks team that is in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and in position for its first playoff berth since 2004.

But the Knicks will make their postseason run without the core of the team. Felton, Gallinari, Mozgov and Chandler were four of New York’s top six players, and there is some thought the Knicks gave up too much to get Anthony, a sensational scorer headed to a team that doesn’t necessarily need more scoring.

However, the Knicks felt they couldn’t pass on the opportunity to land a 26-year-old superstar once he became available. Assuming he extends with the Knicks, Anthony and Stoudemire would be under contract for four more seasons, though the uncertain salary-cap situation could wreck New York’s plans to be spenders over the next two summers.

Knicks Blog

Knicks Looking for more information on your Knicks? ESPNNewYork.com has you covered. Blog

The Nets wanted Anthony, hoping the Brooklyn native would be the face of their franchise when they open their new Barclays Center in 2012. Though he never publicly confirmed the speculation that he wouldn’t have signed an extension with the Nets, he did note Friday during the All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles that the Knicks were further along after acquiring Stoudemire last summer.

Anthony met with both Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan over the weekend and hoped there would be a resolution before he returned to the Nuggets. That indeed happened — he was excused from practice Monday so he could remain in California to appear on Conan O’Brien’s show.

The Nuggets made out well, considering they could have lost Anthony for nothing in the summer. The Nets’ offer, centered around rookie Derrick Favors and draft picks, would have meant a rebuilding situation. With the New York trade, the Nuggets get a solid point guard in Felton (17.1 points, 9.0 assists per game) to replace Billups, a young small forward in Chandler (16.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg) to play Anthony’s position and add a 7-footer in Mozgov. If they do trade Gallinari for a draft pick, they will have acquired options in the draft while having the talent to remain relevant in the Western Conference playoff chase.

The Nuggets host Memphis on Tuesday night.

Karl said he’ll miss Billups, a hometown favorite and consummate professional who helped Denver reach the Western Conference finals in 2009, when the Nuggets nearly eliminated the eventual champion Lakers.

Photos: Carmelo Anthony’s career

MeloDrama is over: Anthony is going to be a Knick. Enjoy photos of an All-Star’s career: Carmelo Anthony Photo Gallery

“I think Chauncey will go down as one of the greatest winners,” Karl said. “His record of seven or eight conference finals is, I mean, that’s incredible. I think that’s who he is, that’s what he stands for. He brought one of them to us. Last year we had a miserable ending. I think there’s many people, including myself, that will be sad for Chauncey. I know he loves Denver and we love him, but things happen. There’s decisions that have to be made.

“I’m 100 percent behind the decision we made, even though it will be dangerous and there won’t be the veteran point guard back there,” Karl added. “Felton, I thought was having a great season this year. But I think Ty [Lawson] and Felton are going to have a great challenge to live up to what Chauncey has given us in past years.”

Asked who his starting point guard would be, Karl said, “Probably Ty,” then got into his maroon SUV and drove away.

Information from ESPNNewYork.com’s Mike Mazzeo and Ian Begley, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

West takes 2011 NBA All-Star game in L.A., Kobe wins his 4th All-Star MVP

22 Feb

Great to see Kobe show everyone he’s still the alpha dog with an impressive performance on his home court!  The Black Mamba won the All-Star MVP (again) & showed flashbacks to his old days of leaping to the rim with spectacular up-and-under dunks that wowed the crowd.  Durant & Westbrook also had impressive dunks, as did LeBron & Rose…outstanding game!  Watching this showdown in L.A. reminded me of why the NBA has far & away the best all-star game of the 4 major sports:  Guys are hustling, trying to win, showcasing their moves, & it is genuinely entertaining to watch!

From ESPN.com

LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant always shines brightest among the stars, especially in his hometown.

Bryant brought Showtime back to the All-Star Game, scoring 37 points and tying a record with his fourth MVP award, leading the Western Conference to a 148-143 victory over the East on Sunday night.

Kobe beats LeBron to the rack, reaffirming who is the master & who is still the learner.

Team Grades: West | East
ESPNBoston.com: Celtics look ahead

“I feel like we have a sense of responsibility and we are voted in for what we do during the season, which is play hard,” Bryant said. “And we come here, that’s what the fans want to see. They want to see us go at it and see us compete and that’s what I try to do and that’s what I try to tell my teammates to do.”

Returning to the game he dominates after a one-year absence, Bryant added 14 rebounds in a spectacular performance in front of the usual celebrity-filled crowd that turns out to see his Lakers at Staples Center.

“It feels great, being at home here and playing in front of the home crowd,” Bryant said after receiving the MVP trophy. “This will be my last All-Star game in front of these home fans, so it feels good to do it.”

Kevin Durant chipped in 34 points, scoring five straight after the East cut a 17-point deficit after three quarters to two points with 2:34 to play. The NBA scoring leader added the clinching free throws after the East got back within three in the final seconds.

LeBron James powered the East rally, finishing with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to join Michael Jordan as the only players with a triple-double in the All-Star game. Amare Stoudemire also scored 29, but Miami’s Dwyane Wade, the MVP of the East’s win last year, had to leave with an ankle injury after scoring 14.

Wade said he rolled the ankle he originally hurt in a loss at Boston last week. He was hoping James would pull it out without him.

I Wanna Be Like Mike

LeBron James became the second player to tally a triple-double in an All-Star game, following in the footsteps of Michael Jordan.

LeBron James Michael Jordan
Year 2011 1997
Points 29 14
Rebounds 12 11
Assists 10 11

* Neither player was named game MVP.
— ESPN Stats & Information

“I wish the East would’ve won, then my teammate with the triple-double would’ve stole [the MVP],” Wade said. “But [Bryant] deserved it.”

Plenty of Hollywood giants were sitting courtside, but Bryant’s popularity here can rival most of them. This week, he became the first athlete to have his handprints and footprints put in concrete outside Hollywood’s famed Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

He told fans to “enjoy the show” before the tip, and as always he delivered a good one.

Always more about focus than fun, Bryant had 21 points by the time Rihanna came out for her halftime performance, putting him halfway to Wilt Chamberlain’s record from 1962, the year of his 100-point game.

“You could tell he started out from the start, he wanted to get the MVP,” Stoudemire said. “He was not passing the ball, at all. But that’s Kobe.”

And when the East made it close in the third quarter, Bryant dunked over a chasing James who was going for the block, then nailed a 3-pointer to make it 90-79.

Kobe Doing Work

Kobe Bryant’s 37-point night tied him for fourth on the list of most points scored in a single All-Star game.

Points Year
Wilt Chamberlain 42 1962
Michael Jordan* 40 1988
Rick Barry* 38 1967
Kobe Bryant* 37 2011
Kevin Garnett* 37 2003

* Won All-Star Game MVP
— ESPN Stats & Information

“He was unbelievable tonight,” James said. “You definitely saw his motor was going tonight.”

Carmelo Anthony scored eight points in his possible goodbye to the West team. The weekend was dominated by talk of a potential trade to New York or New Jersey, and the Denver Nuggets forward appeared alternately entertained and annoyed by the constant questions.

“At times, it can be tough, but it’s fun at the same time,” he said while walking on the magenta carpet before the game. “During this weekend I’m still having fun.”

While hearing some of the usual “MVP! MVP! chants he’s usually serenaded with at Staples Center, Bryant tied Bob Pettit’s record for All-Star game honors. He was scoreless for the final 6:48, but Lakers teammate Pau Gasol had a big basket to help the West hold on.

Gasol scored 17 points, helping the West hold on against an East team featuring a combined seven players from Boston and Miami, considered two of the biggest threats to end the Lakers’ reign.

The exhibition game had a bit of a finals feel with the presence of a record-tying four players from the rival Celtics.

Paul Pierce — who grew up in nearby Inglewood — and Kevin Garnett received the heaviest boos during the starting lineups. Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo were also here from the group that lost Game 7 on this floor last June and would love another chance to come take the title back.

East coach Doc Rivers sent his four players out together midway through the first quarter to loud boos that usually provide the soundtrack of June in Los Angeles. They quickly turned to cheers when Allen threw up an airball on his first shot attempt.

Bryant denied gaining extra motivation from seeing the two rivals, both of whom already won at Staples Center this season. But he was clearly into the game from the start, driving for a couple of strong dunks or knocking down jumpers when defenders gave him room.

The crowd of entertainers included Beyonce and Jay-Z, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Jack Nicholson, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and Justin Bieber — who was called Justin “Berber” by the public address announcer while mentioning the teen star’s MVP performance in the celebrity game on Friday.

Perhaps trying too hard to impress the stars surrounding them, there were errant passes and shaky shooting in the early minutes. The West got it right in the final minute of the first quarter, with rookie star Blake Griffin of the Clippers catching an alley-oop pass from Deron Williams for one of his powerful dunks — though not quite the degree of difficulty as his slam while leaping over the hood of a car Saturday to win the dunk contest.

The game was a welcome diversion from the Anthony talk and the troubling labor situation that threatens the league. Next year’s game is scheduled for Orlando, but nobody can be sure it will be played. The owners and players’ association met Friday to discuss a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the one that expires June 30. Though it was described as a positive meeting, there was also no progress made, and the sides have a significant gap to close in order to prevent a work stoppage.

And it was a welcome break for Lakers fans, whose defending two-time champions stumbled into the weekend with three losses in a row.

They’ll be all right if Bryant is as sharp in the spring as he was Sunday.

Chris Bosh scored 14 points, Allen had 12, and Derrick Rose and Joe Johnson finished with 11 apiece for the East.

Following a pregame performance by rocker Lenny Kravitz, and a tandem talc toss by James and the rest of the East starters, Bryant scored 11 points in the first quarter. The West led 76-64 at halftime.

Russell Westbrook, who played at UCLA, scored 12 points and Chris Paul added 10 for the West.

Game notes
Not all Celtics get booed in Los Angeles. Hall of Famer Bill Russell, who this week became the first person from the NBA to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, received a standing ovation when his honor was announced during the second quarter. … The record of 14 straight All-Star selections is shared by Jerry West, Shaquille O’Neal and Karl Malone. … Dolph Schayes was honored for scoring the first points in the first All-Star game 60 years ago.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

Viewer’s Guide to Television: Feb 21-27, 2011

20 Feb

“The Can’t Miss List” – Your Guide to the Top 10 Must See Events on TV

February 21 – 27, 2011:          

 The week of February 21st makes up for a lack of compelling sporting events by bringing us a host of new episodes for our favorite television shows, as well as a great conclusion to the weekend with the Academy Awards presentation (all listings are in Eastern time).

 10.       The Office –  Thursday, 9pm, NBC:  The chemistry between Steve Carell and Amy Ryan always elevates the quality of this series; in this new episode, Michael Scott’s crude friend Todd Packer makes another appearance at the Dunder Mifflin office.

9.         Fringe – Friday, 9pm, FOX:  Truly one of the highlights of Friday night

programming, Fringe is a sci-fi based show that seems to get better with every passing episode; intriguing plotlines in both universes continue to propel us towards the season finale.

8.         Parks and Recreation – Thursday, 9:30pm, NBC:  Don’t flip the channel once The Office ends; stick around for this highly amusing comedy series centered around a small town Parks and Recreation Department that features great writing, stellar acting, and new recurring roles for Rob Lowe, Adam Scott, and various special guests.

TBS, Conan is the only original programming you have that is funny. Are We There Yet? House of Payne? NOT FUNNY

7.         Conan – Monday, 11:00pm, TBS:  Conan is worthy of your viewing attention on a nightly basis; an appearance by Ed Helms, who has started to land some well-deserved leading roles on the big screen, elevates this to the must see Conan episode of the week.

6.         Lakers at Thunder – Sunday, 2:30pm, ABC:  These two teams met in the 2010 NBA Playoffs and gave us one of the more memorable series of the entire postseason.  LA will be looking to start the second half of their season on the right track after heading to the All-Star break with many doubts surrounding their title aspirations.

5.         Modern Family – Wednesday, 9:00pm, ABC:  Arguably the funniest show on all of television, Modern Family almost always guarantee to not only make you laugh, but to make you laugh out loud uncontrollably at least once. 

4.         American Idol – Wednesday and Thursday, 8:00pm, FOX:  Say what you will about the judging panel for this season, American Idol’s time tested structure is able to overcome the lack of any value the judges bring to the show.

3.         Glee – Tuesday, 8:00pm, FOX:  Glee is the type of show that plays much better on the screen than it does on paper; if you haven’t seen an episode yet, do yourself a favor by making time to catch it this week.

2.         Heat at Bulls – Thursday, 8:00pm, TNT:  This game has two of the top Eastern Conference powers  meeting  in a possible preview of the upcoming Conference Finals, and features two of the top MVP candidates in the entire league in LeBron James and Derrick Rose.

We can guarantee you that Brendan Fraser won't be winning one of these for his leading role in "Furry Vengeance."

1.         83rd Academy Awards – Sunday, 8:30pm, ABC:  There are so many movies up for Best Picture this year that it was almost surprising to not find Furry Vengeance amongst the nominees; the best part of the program promises to be how hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway respond to the immense scrutiny they are sure to receive.  You read it here: these two underrated comedic actors will do just fine, and create the template for future Oscars presentations to follow.

Just Missed List of Guilty Pleasure Honorable Mentions:

10a.     Jersey Shore – Thursday, 10:00pm, MTV:  Any reality show that features so many people known by simply a nickname has to be good, right?  Right?

10b.     Wipeout – Thursday, 8:00pm, ABC:  The true definition of a guilty pleasure, this show always seems to have at least 4 to 5 moments per episode that feature a hilarious wipeout of a contestant.   Be sure to check your underwear each commercial break to see if you really did end up wetting yourself during one of your violent laughing streaks.

10c.     1000 Ways to Die – Wednesday, 10:00pm, Spike:  Just look at who the hapless victims are this week: a caretaker, 2 hunters, a Japanese game-show contestant, and a stripper.  Enough said.  Half of the fun of this show is simply trying to guess what the show’s creators name each of their stories.

10d.     Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern – Tuesday, 9:00pm, Travel:  Andrew’s mouth goes where most men’s mouths only dare dream of: this week, he travels to Namibia to tackle wildebeest eyeballs.

10e.     Piers Morgan Show – Monday, 9:00pm, CNN:  The star of the show isn’t Morgan, who has received mixed reviews so far as Larry King’s successor.  The true attraction is his guest, Rod Stewart, whose success on and off the stage continues to generate jealousy in the minds of countless men.  Here’s hoping that Rod shares with the rest of us how he went about signing a pact with the Devil that promised him lifelong career success and an endless supply of supermodels to father children with.

10f.      When Harry Met Sally – Saturday, 8:00pm, E! 

10g.    Love Actually  Saturday, 11:00pm, LMN

Saturday affords us little in the way of original programming, so why not use this opportunity to curl up in front of the TV with your soul mate and generate some romance for the night?  And with “Saturday Night Live” being a rerun this week, “Love Actually” is a wonderful movie to laugh and smile yourself to sleep with.

Lakers lose by 20 to Bobcats, then to NBA-worst Cavs – Will David Stern just eliminate the L.A. franchise?

17 Feb

“For years we have marketed the Lakers as a premiere NBA franchise, & their success is important to the health of our league,” Stern said.  “Losing to the lowly Bobcats & Cavs – especially the Cavs – is out of step with how we market the Lakers to NBA fans.  We cannot continue to tolerate this choking behavior from such a prominent ballclub.  In order to protect the league’s image, we had no choice but to remove the Lakers’ franchise from the NBA, effective immediately.” 

“We’re not saying Kobe, Pau & Lamar are banned from the game of basketball.  They are free to assemble in any gym, armory or blacktop playground, & Phil can even tag along if he wants.  The players can showcase their moves for current NBA teams, but the Lakers are done playing pro ball in the top-heavy league I claim to be in charge of,” Stern explained.  Stern wanted to speak in greater detail on the issue, but had time constraints to deal with.  “I’d love to talk more about dissolving Jerry Buss’ franchise, but I have a conference call to help the Knicks get Melo & Chris Paul.  I also have a meeting to help the Heat get Blake Griffin & Tyreke Evans.  Gotta run.”

Okay, so obviously the above quotes from Commish Stern are totally fake, & sound like something you would find on TheOnion.com rather than TheFloorSeats, but I just wanted to make you think about how ridiculous it is that the 2-time defending NBA champs have suffered bad losses to the Bobcats & Cavs.  Bear in mind in each case it was the opponent, not the Lakers, suffering from injuries, bad trades & free agency!

Even NBDL vet Christian Eyenga is dunking on the Lakers now?? The Spurs & Mavs must be licking their chops!

Here’s what ESPN.com & the AP had to say:

CLEVELAND — Kobe Bryant slipped a black backpack across his shoulders and left Quicken Loans Arena without talking about what had just happened.

After losing to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, nothing needed to be said.

The Lakers hit the All-Star break broken.

Looking nothing like two-time defending NBA champions, they dropped their third straight game, a stunning 104-99 loss Wednesday night to the Cavs — the league’s worst team, which avenged a 55-point embarrassment against Los Angeles last month.

The Lakers, who played so crisply and with purpose in recent wins over New York and Boston, look absolutely lost.

“It’s a painful, painful loss,” said Pau Gasol, who had 30 points and 20 rebounds. “It’s very disappointing. I don’t understand it.”

Ramon Sessions came off the bench and scored a season-high 32 points for the Cavaliers, who were beaten 112-57 by the Lakers on Jan. 11. That loss — the worst in club history — was No. 11 in a league-record streak that eventually reached 26 before Cleveland ended it last week with an overtime win against L.A.’s less-heralded squad, the Clippers.

After his club’s worst loss this season, coach Phil Jackson didn’t tell his players anything other than what time they’re due to report for practice Monday.

“I think they took the break before the game started,” he said.

Playing the finale of a seven-game road trip, the Lakers spent much of the night looking as if they were already on vacation. They threw errant passes, forced outside shots and couldn’t catch the Cavs down the stretch despite a frantic comeback.

“It’s back to the drawing board,” said Lamar Odom, who was asked what’s at the top of the team’s to-do list. “Defense. Cohesiveness. Our chemistry on offense. I’m not that worried. I think it’s things we can fix.”

Bryant finished with 17 points on 8-of-25 shooting. Derek Fisher had 19 for the Lakers, who committed 19 turnovers and enraged the normally tranquil Jackson, who screamed at them during timeouts after inexcusable defensive lapses.

Losing in Orlando on Sunday was hardly reason for much concern, but a 20-point setback in Charlotte on Monday left both Jackson and Bryant speechless. Now, a loss to the Cavaliers, who are 3-37 since Nov. 27, is enough reason for the Lakers to be worried.

Odom believes the Lakers coast against lesser teams.

“That’s our problem overall,” Odom said. “We take teams lightly at times. We play the cat-and-mouse game. Sometimes the cat loses.”

But as poorly as they played, the Lakers did cut a 10-point lead to two in the final minute. But Anthony Parker and Sessions made two free throws apiece in the last 17.9 seconds.

After the final horn, the Lakers walked slowly toward their locker room and a trip home not knowing what might happen next. With the trading deadline just a week away, the rumors involving Denver star Carmelo Anthony will likely heat up.

This much is clear: Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak needs to do something to awaken his team.

The Cavs, on the other hand, reached the season’s unofficial midpoint on a high.

This was their best effort of the season. They played with the energy coach Byron Scott wants every night, and they gave their dedicated fans a taste of what could be ahead. Beyond that, they somewhat erased the memory of being pummeled in Los Angeles.

“The only time you should be beating somebody by 50 points is on a video game,” said forward Antawn Jamison. “That night it felt like we were in one. It shows you when we focus for 48 minutes what we’re capable of doing. The biggest question is how do we be consistent doing that.”

Bryant’s 3-pointer helped the Lakers trim a 12-point deficit to three late in the third, but Cavs rookie forward Christian Eyenga followed with a dunk that had Cleveland fans instantly texting “OMG” to friends and one that is among the league’s best this season.

Eyenga blew past Bryant on the baseline, reared back with his right hand and smashed the ball through as Gasol made a halfhearted block attempt. Cleveland’s bench erupted at a dunk not seen around here since LeBron James delivered them on an almost nightly basis.

Jackson appears to have lost patience with his star-studded team, which seemed road-weary and disinterested.

In the second half, the Zen Master yelled at Gasol during two separate timeouts and the 11-time champion coach was animated while showing the Lakers what they were doing wrong on his erasable clipboard.

Things didn’t start well for the champions. Bryant picked up his second foul with 5:37 left in the first quarter, and on his way to the bench he said something to referee Kane Fitzgerald and was slapped with a technical. With Bryant out, the Cavs went on an 11-2 run and opened a 10-point lead.

It was a sign of things to come.

The Lakers were out of sync, and their sloppy play was perhaps best shown during a second-quarter possession when Gasol turned and fired a pass to where he expected a teammate to be. No one was there and the ball skipped into the feet of Los Angeles’ coaches.

“We had a lot of turnovers that really hurt us,” Jackson said. “We didn’t play a good road game at all.”

Game notes
Bryant credits Scott with being his mentor when he joined the NBA. The two remain close friends. Bryant sympathizes with what Scott has endured during a trying first season with Cleveland. “This is tough for him,” Bryant said. “He’s competitive. It’s killing him.” … Cavs G Mo Williams, who recently returned after missing 13 games with a hip flexor, injured his right ankle in the opening minutes. Scott said it was his decision to play Williams just 3 minutes.