NBA Monday Morning Shootaround: Kobe Bryant, Linsanity and More
Welcome to the "Monday Morning Shootaround," Bleacher Report's recap of the weekend that was in the NBA. In this week's edition of the MMS, we'll get you caught up on the latest playoff action, show you the strangest technical foul that you'll ever see and tell you exactly where Kobe Bryant's greatness comes from.
The Opening Tip
The Pacers controlled the contest for the first two quarters, but were powerless to stop James and Dwyane Wade after intermission. Wade and James combined for 42 of Miami's 53 second-half points and were forced to carry the load after Chris Bosh suffered a lower abdominal injury in the second quarter. Bosh's status for Game 2 is in question pending the results of an MRI.
* The Los Angeles Clippers captured just their third playoff series in the past 41 years with an 82-72 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday. Chris Paul paced the Clippers with 19 points, but the 41 points chipped in by the LA bench was the difference in the double-digit win.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro went with an unconventional lineup that included Eric Bledsoe, Nick Young, Mo Williams, Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans. In less than six minutes, the Clippers' reserves turned a one-point deficit into a 10-point lead and effectively put the game out of reach.
* Inexperience. It's the only word to describe how the Philadelphia 76ers lost Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Boston Celtics on Saturday.
Philadelphia had a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but a series of questionable shots down the stretch allowed Boston to steal a 92-91 victory. In the win, Kevin Garnett led the Celtics with 29 points, while Rajon Rondo tallied his eighth career playoff triple-double (13 points, 12 rebounds, 17 assists).
* Eager not to blow a 3-1 series lead, the Los Angeles Lakers came out aggressive on Saturday and beat the Denver Nuggets 96-87 to take Game 7 of their first-round playoff series. After getting outworked by the Nuggets' frontline in Games 5 and 6 (and after getting called out by teammate Kobe Bryant), Lakers' big men Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined for 39 points and 35 rebounds on Saturday.
The game marked the return of Metta World Peace, who missed the first six games of the series due to his elbow to the head of Oklahoma City's James Harden. World Peace completely neutralized Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari (1-for-9, three points) while also contributing 15 points and five rebounds.
* In case you missed it, Reggie Evans of the Los Angeles Clippers picked up the first technical foul in the history of the NBA for high-fiving his teammate on Friday. This actually happened.
* Most of these postseason award press conferences are pretty mundane, but when LeBron James spoke after winning his third MVP on Saturday, we saw a side of him that we don't get to see all too often.
The Full-Court Press
* Now that he's back from suspension and headed towards a matchup with James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Lakers forward Metta World Peace says that he doesn't even plan to acknowledge Harden. World Peace's rationale? "I don't shake substitutes' hands." Never change, Ron.
* After Boston’s Game 1 victory over the Sixers, Rajon Rondo has no time for reporters who think that the Celtics are old.
* When asked about the prospects of Phil Jackson returning to the sidelines, girlfriend (and Lakers' executive vice president) Jeanie Buss told the "Mason and Ireland" show that "[Phil's] got his energy back." If Jackson is truly interested in coaching again, there would be no shortage of teams looking to acquire his services.
* In other coaching news, New York Knicks’ interim coach Mike Woodson fired his agents in an attempt to negotiate a long-term deal to stay in the Big Apple.
* Champagne, Patron and Victoria's Secret models? New York Knicks' guard Jeremy Lin may be new to NBA success, but he's clearly a well-seasoned veteran when it comes to having a good time.
* Free agent point guard Deron Williams spent the weekend in Istanbul, Turkey with Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and general manager Billy King. If nothing else, it's a sign that Williams hasn't completely ruled out a return to the team.
* According to reports, Denver Nuggets center Chris Andersen is the victim of an elaborate extortion plot and has been under investigation for the past three months.
* For a player picked with the very last selection in the 2011 NBA draft, Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas put together a mighty impressive rookie campaign.
* We here at the MMS would like to take a moment to congratulate everyone out there who is graduating this spring. One freshly-minted college graduate is former NBA head coach Don Nelson, who earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa last week.
The Four-Point Play
* Grantland's Bill Simmons with an ode to one of the greatest players of the modern era: Paul Pierce.
* Forty-five years ago, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor—both of whom had just finished their sophomore seasons in college—played a series of legendary pickup games in Washington, D.C.
* You've likely never heard of the Alpha Physical Culture Club. But in an excerpt from Claude Johnson's book Black Fives, we learn that the club helped redefine the game of basketball more than a century ago.
* You probably won't read five articles this year better than this Chris Ballard piece from the most recent edition of Sports Illustrated. In it, Ballard examines Kobe Bryant from afar, traveling nine time zones to find one of the main reasons for the success of the Lakers' superstar: father (and former NBA player) Joe "Jellybean" Bryant.
The Tweet of the Week
We usually have a little fun with the "Tweet of the Week" section, but this post from Nazr Mohammed of the Oklahoma City Thunder was too good to ignore:
We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
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