JO-SE, JOSE JOSE JOSE… JOOO-SEEEE…. JOOO-SEEEE!!!
After a pretty boring string of events to get us there, the end of the game was pretty damn exciting, wasn’t it? After everyone had sweated out their hangovers (poor Kristaps “stomach flu” Porzingis couldn’t hang, I guess. Part of growing up, kid) the 4th quarter was downright captivating for a game that meant nothing for either team. Kobe made a couple of signature shots, and had a couple of signature dumbass-hero-ball moments that cost his team. Melo made a couple of long jumpers to put the Knicks back up 1 with a minute left. It was everything I had hoped for, and in the end, Kobe clanged a go-ahead shot (what a shocker) and Melo would get his chance after a timeout to win at the buzzer. Right?
Not this night, apparently. The Gods reserved the spoils of victory for a Mr. Jose Calderon, an oft-maligned member of this ragtag group we call the Knicks. I don’t take back anything I’ve said about him, but you had to be happy to see the guy sink that 3 and march off with a W. This season has been winding down to an end more bitter than Taylor Swift after a break-up, so any happiness we can get, we’ve gotta take it, and I hope that’s how the team felt in the locker room. I’m pretty damn sure the boys all had fun this weekend living it up in LA and remembering that behind all the basketball stuff we talk about incessantly here and everywhere else on the interwebs, they are young men in the prime of their lives making ridiculous amounts of money to do a job most of us would kill for.
Kobe had 15 points on 5/15 from the floor in a game fitting of this forgettable late stage of his career. We just saw Peyton Manning suck his way to a Super Bowl before retiring, dragged by a dominant defense so as to hide how bad we would have all felt if Peyton had just slunk away after being benched for Osweiler. Kobe won’t get that kind of Hero’s goodbye; the perfect end to his story. It almost feels like the Jordan-on-the-Wizards years for Kobe right now, though he has remained a Laker his entire career. His team will likely finish with the 2nd-worst record in the league and he will fade away to the relief of many in the Lakers organization.
I was impressed with Melo (10-20, 26/12/4) last night, but also with RoLo (6-7, 16 PTS, 8 REB). There wasn’t a lot of stats to go around in this game that predictably was played at a snail’s pace of 90.8, which would be easily the slowest pace in the league if a team were to average it. As we all assumed, these guys were hung over and had no incentive to play hard anyways, so we’ve come to the “light jogging” portion of the season for teams with nothing on the line. At least it bodes well for Melo’s knees. Even if Rambis is throwing him out there 40 minutes a game, they’re not hard minutes and nobody should be taking any real risk of injury at this point.
D’Angelo Russell was a no-show (literally, a DNP in the 4th) in this game, going 1-7 for 4 points. I thought he would feast on the Knicks backcourt, specifically with Get Cic’ or Die Tryin’ starting, but he was the embodiment of a rookie guard last night. Those things happen, but it was a little disappointing given what I’ve heard about his improvement lately. I don’t watch many Lakers games for the same reason I don’t watch My 600 Pound Life—I’m not interested in watching something specifically about misery unless it’s The Leftovers. So I haven’t really seen the kid play much, and most of what I’ve heard about him throughout the season was bad news for his development, which in basketball circles is referred to as “Byron Scott-ing” a player. I enjoyed him at Ohio State and thought he would make a great player in the league, and I still do. But we saw no evidence of that in this game.
I’m writing about the Golden State game Wednesday, because even though it’s time for me to switch gears and focus on college basketball for the next week or so, I am a huge Stan of the Dubs simply because they are the equivalent of basketball porn IMO. If you’ve read any of my stuff, that’s probably come across pretty plainly, as I manage to fit them into roughly every other game thread or recap I do. They’re just so damned interesting. For history’s sake, this season feels really important. The question of “is this the best team ever?” isn’t asked very often, and if it is, it can usually be shot down quickly. But right now, that question is a very earnest one, and it’s impossible to look away from that. No, the Knicks have no chance on the road against a team that hasn’t lost a regular season game at home in over a year. But they also had no chance against the Spurs in a similar situation a couple of months back, and they were a wide-open Calderon 3 away from winning that game in stunning fashion. Anything can happen, folks. It’s basketball, after all, and it’s March Madness season. The basketball Gods make strange decisions around these times, and it creeps into the NBA too.
Have fun filling out those brackets, people. So far as I’m concerned, Christmas has nothing on March. Right now, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. So enjoy it, because the weather is getting warmer and basketball will dominate the sports landscape for the next three months.