Oh, how the mighty have fallen on a Tuesday League Pass night. New Year's Day was a time of many shocking upsets. It's enough to make you wonder whether a hangover is the great equalizer (kidding, NBA!).
The Clippers, Knicks and Lakers all met their matches, as a couple of these teams struggled to incorporate recently injured stars. Of course, there is the matter of whether the Lakers losing to Philadelphia constitutes an "upset." They remain the greatest rickety show on earth. They're even a bigger story than the crosstown Clippers, on a night in which the Clips see their incredible 18-game winning streak ended.
There were a few moments on Tuesday night where Dwight Howard and Kwame Brown appeared to move in much the same balky manner. That has to be concerning to Los Angeles Lakers fans who watched in horror as the Philadelphia 76ers dominated most of the game en route to a 103-99 victory.
Dwight was 1-of-7 and looked far worse than that sad tally. The once-notorious dunker was blocked four times at the rim. The 15-16 Lakers, quite frankly, look like toast. If they can't get consistent games from Howard, they aren't winning a championship.
Life might change between now and the spring, but Los Angeles cannot be considered a contender with the current version.
Playing at altitude is a ready-made excuse for any good team. It's not your fault—it's the city of Denver's fault. That's why you couldn't extend your incredible 18-game win streak.
While I can make light of how teams often use this excuse, it's hard to rip on the Clippers for finally being human. This was just a reminder that the Clippers can be beaten, especially when Jamal Crawford reverts to form and goes 2-of-11.
Many are excited about Crawford's sterling play this season, but I can't help but worry that there's been an element of "fluke" to his outside shooting. He's been .201 from three-point land over the past five games, so he just might be in the process of mean regression.
We're not done with the Lakers yet. Their defensive problems extend beyond just Dwight Howard, and were most prominent on Jrue Holiday's game-sealing dunk out of a half-court set. Jrue Holiday blasted past Kobe Bryant, and split the Lakers center like so much warmed butter.
Pau's slowness was a factor in the play, and it was a factor for much of the game. Spencer Hawes burned Gasol in the fourth quarter, calmly swishing two jumpers over the seven-footer's sluggish closeout.
If Pau Gasol can't hang with Spencer Hawes near the perimeter, then how is he going to handle say, Kevin Durant when he plays at the 4-spot? This doesn't bode well for the future.
Lawrence Frank has fascinated what few Pistons observers exist with his steadfast refusal to play Andre Drummond big minutes. Detroit was struggling against Sacramento until Drummond subbed in and started making DeMarcus Cousins' life more difficult than it already is.
The Pistons built up a lead, then Andre sat. The Kings came rushing back as Jason Maxiell gave up four turnovers and had a minus-14 on the night. Though Detroit narrowly escaped with a 103-97 victory, you'd think Lawrence Frank would want more than 21 minutes of this:
This isn't the first time we've discussed Dre's minutes dearth in this space. But the issue persists, as does Drummond's tendency to make awesome plays in his abbreviated time.
Evan Turner looked to be a certain bust. While he's not out of the woods yet, he reminded people on Tuesday night of his second-pick status in 2010. Turner scorched the Lakers for 22 points on 14 shots, to go along with 13 boards. Perhaps Doug Collins' stubborn insistence on playing Turner is paying off.
Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young also show immense promise, though I wish Coach Collins would let Young shoot threes. Holiday was especially impressive on Tuesday, notching 26 points and 10 assists, including the play of the game (50-second mark):
If the Sixers climb above .500, Holiday stands an excellent chance of making his first All-Star team. While Philadelphia might not have the most exciting style of play, they certainly have a lot of exciting young talent.