Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Frank McCourt and Monday's Sports Stories
Last night, as the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the New Orleans Hornets, Kobe Bryant hurt his ankle and used crutches to leave the arena. Will the Los Angeles star be at 100 percent, or will someone else on the team have to step up and play at a championship level?
Speaking of teams that aren't playing at a championship level, the Orlando Magic lost again to the Atlanta Hawks, continuing to frustrate and fail to live up to expectations. As Orlando continues its downward slide, does it signal the end for Dwight Howard in Orlando?
Finally, Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is fighting to keep control of his team after MLB took over the operations of the team. As he struggles against the powers that be, it's time to ask if he should ever get another shot to own another team.
We'll talk about all of these stories and more so if you have any thoughts, as always, leave them in the comments.
NBA Playoffs 2011 Has Seen the Mavericks Blow A Golden Opportunity
Dirk Nowitzki has seen this before.
He's been a part of teams that have had its opponent on the ropes only to watch it slip away in a dizzying flameout.
This weekend was the perfect example, as the Mavericks imploded, letting Brandon Roy run wild on them in the Rose Garden, blowing a 23 point lead and giving Portland life after a 3-1 series deficit looked all but inevitable.
It was classic Dallas, a team with all of the talent in the world but never the fortitude to finish it off when the moments were the biggest. The Mavs' implosion in the NBA Finals against Miami is stuff of legend, and now, a new legend is being crafted as the Trail Blazers have fought back from two games down to even the series as it moves back to Dallas.
It starts at the top for the Mavericks, who have a star who shrinks in the clutch and a head coach in Rick Carlisle who has proven he doesn't have what it takes to get over the top and lead a team to a championship.
If Joe Dumars thought he could get the job done in Detroit, he wouldn't have fired him after a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals and brought in Larry Brown, who led the Pistons to one title and a game away from another.
Now Portland believes. Now the Blazers have momentum and a star player who is playing like every game might be his last. That's a tough combination to stop, and that game was the moment that momentum shifted and the Mavericks lost control.
As the series shifts, all of the pressure is on Dallas. The window of opportunity is closing for this group and flaming out in the first round will be a catastrophic failure for a team that was a legit contender earlier in the year.
The Blazers are in the driver's seat and the pressure is all on Nowitzki and Carlisle. That's never been the best atmosphere for either man.
How they respond will determine the fate for this team. If they falter, it will add more to a legacy of short-comings. If they rise up and win, it will help turn the tide of popular opinion against them.
It's bigger than a series for this team. It's about a persona and it's about legacies.
New York Knicks Were Promptly Swept From the Postseason, But Should the Stars Have Input on Personnel Decisions?
It's been a long time since the New York Knicks were relevant on the national stage.
With Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire on the roster, the future is bright in the Big Apple as the team heads into the offseason after being swept by the Boston Celtics.
This is very much a team in flux, a group looking for its identity as it moves into a new era with these two superstars. As the Knicks do that, the stars made it clear they'll have some idea of what's going on and put their two cents in.
Per the Associated Press:
A day after New York's best season in a decade ended with a first-round sweep, Anthony and Stoudemire both said they'll seek input in putting together the pieces around them that are missing.
"I'm pretty sure this offseason there will be a lot of talk, a lot of communication, I hope it is, with me and the front office, with Amare and the front office,'' Anthony said Monday. "As being the faces of this organization, we want to do everything we have to do, look at some pieces out there that we need to add.''
Anthony, who has been here only since his acquisition from Denver in a blockbuster trade in February, was asked if that meant he should have a role in personnel matters.
"Yeah, I mean, why not? I mean, I'm going to be the guy they're going to have to go out there and play with. So why not have some input with who we want?'' Anthony said.
Ah yes, letting the inmates run the asylum, something that always works out in pro sports.
The last thing that should happen is allowing the stars to call the shots. It always ends poorly. Then again, it's James Dolan, the inept owner of the Knicks, who has always been easily star-struck. Why else would Isiah Thomas lasted as long as he did in New York?
The future is uncertain for the Knicks, as Donnie Walsh is no lock to return to the front office and if he doesn't, I shudder to think who Dolan will tab as his replacement. As we know, Dolan isn't exactly an eye for talent, and isn't the smartest man to ever run a pro sports franchise.
What New York needs is a third man, that's painfully obvious. Chauncey Billups is a solid piece, but he's not getting any younger and it's clear his best days are behind him.
It's obvious that it has to be Deron Williams or Chris Paul, so you don't need Anthony or Stoudemire to tell you that. I don't see how they need to have any pull over decisions about the roster. Leave it up to the general manager and the coach to do that.
The Knicks have a good thing started here, letting players call the shots is only going to end in disaster. New York needs a team, not two superstars and a bunch of yes men in the lineup.
Kentucky Derby 2011 Approaches, But How Much Longer Can The Sport Survive?
Horse racing used to be a giant sport in this country.
Going to the track was one of the most popular leisure activities and is what going to a ball game is today. However, over time, other sports, other distractions have come in and worn horse racing down into a secondary existence.
It isn't a sport that gets national mainstream attention on a yearly basis. It's a niche sport now, only emerging for the biggest events. Then, and only then, does it capture the national attention span.
There have been numerous plans to save the sport, ideas to turn it around, but so far, nothing has worked.
Per Andrew Beyer of Daily Racing Form:
McKinsey has been hearing a wide range of ideas from its interviewees: The sport needs stronger central leadership. The sport needs to promote itself better. The sport needs to attract new and younger fans. The sport needs more TV coverage. Many people who love the game still dream of reviving the era when fans packed the grandstands of American tracks to cheer for their Thoroughbred heroes.
It’s time for the industry to get realistic about its product. Aside from a few special places and events (Saratoga, Del Mar, Keeneland, the Triple Crown, the Breeders’ Cup, and some tracks’ marquee stakes races) horse racing can no longer attract large live crowds. It is unlikely to be a mainstream sport again. But the game still has one significant strength.
In a country that loves to gamble, the racing industry allows customers to play a great gambling game with unmatched convenience.
Okay sure, gambling is great. But we can also gamble on things that get a ton of attention. I could go to a sports book right now and put down money on one of tonight's NBA playoff games if I wanted to. So rule out gambling as something that can save this sport.
If anything, gambling's a lifeline. Nothing more than a respirator, keeping a dying giant alive.
The reality is that nothing can save the sport. Nothing, no matter how big can really turn the sport into a giant. Accepting that is the first step to saving horse racing. If you act like a giant, you better be able to back it up, and this sport simply can't do that.
Horse racing's day has been left behind, and scaling down operations has to be done to help preserve this sport. Throwing out watered down, small fields at tracks across America isn't something that's going to save the sport. It turns away gamblers, or in other words, the base, and only serves to hurt everyone involved.
The sport will die if the people at the highest levels don't make changes. It starts with scaling down, and setting realistic goals. If they try to be like the NFL, NBA or any of the major sports leagues, they will fail.
Nothing can compete with today's giants. Now it's a matter of recognizing their niche fan base and cultivating that.
Otherwise, years from now, we'll be talking about horse racing like a relic.
UFC 129 Fight Card is Set, But Can Georges St. Pierre Retain His Title?
Georges St. Pierre isn't used to losing.
This is someone who has only lost twice, and his last loss was in April of 2007 and has been Welterweight Champion of the UFC for years.
On Saturday, St. Pierre will defend his championship against Jake Shields, a tough opponent, but sadly, someone who is poised to become just another victim to St. Pierre's deadly offense and superb defense.
On ESPN.com, they polled a bunch of fighters and trainers to get a read on what people think the result of the fight will be, and most came back in favor of St. Pierre.
Honestly, can you blame them?
St. Pierre is deadly in the stand-up and has a defense that's almost impossible to penetrate. Shields will want to take this to the mat, but he's going to find major resistance from the champion and the challenger is not someone who can go toe-to-toe and walk away with the victory.
When you're as well-rounded and dangerous as St. Pierre is as a fighter, it's a nightmare for challengers and Shields has a chance, but in reality it's a slim one. They're both great competitors with diverse skill sets, the only problem is that St. Pierre might be the most dominant fighter alive right now, and can thrive in any environment.
Shields is going to have to drill St. Pierre and get him off balance to steal the title away, and it's going to be hard to do that with how rock solid his defense is.
This will be an all-out war, and it will go the distance, but don't expect Shields to have his hand raised when it's all said and done.
Madden 2012 Cover Vote Ends on Wednesday, But It Looks Like Peyton Hillis Might Have It Locked Up
In an unlikely twist, it looks like Michael Vick will be the next victim of the Peyton Hillis upset.
Hillis, a 10-seed in ESPN's cover vote bracket, has beaten Ray Rice, Matt Ryan, Jamaal Charles and Aaron Rodgers to get to the finals and now according to Darren Rovell of CNBC, it looks like the cover is his to lose as voting winds down.
Rovell took to Twitter yesterday to let people know inside information about how the voting was going.
Sources: If vote ended today, Peyton Hillis would be on the cover of Madden '12. Cover will be announced Wednesday.
Well it's time for the funeral for Madden Football, because if Peyton Hillis is the coverboy, the cover has officially become meaningless.
No one, and I mean no one, has ever picked up a copy of this game and wanted to play with the Cleveland Browns.
You only play with the Browns when you decided to hit the button to get a random team with your buddy and land on Cleveland. Even then, you try and get a do-over.
What player on that roster makes the team an exciting choice? That's right, none. Yet somehow, someway, Hillis is going to be the cover man for this game.
This makes Vince Young look like a brilliant cover choice after his rookie season.
The only silver lining is that we might get a game mode where we recreate all of the biggest moments in the history of the Browns. You know, like "The Drive", or driving the moving trucks to Baltimore and selecting Tim Couch with the first-overall pick.
In fact, Hillis may be the lowest rated cover guy in the history of the game. While people are going to buy the game because it's Madden, it's not like Hillis is going to have the copies flying off of the shelves. This is a player who had one good season and a part of another. Sounds like a great choice.
Most casual fans couldn't even tell you what team he plays for and it's stunning that he beat out players like Matt Ryan and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers to do so.
I guess the Browns and their fans have to win something. Too bad it's not football games.
When you haven't won any championships as a franchise since 1964, you'll take anything you can get, I suppose.
In hindsight, it probably shouldn't shock us that Hillis is in line to win the cover, I mean, the fans have to be fanatical about it, after all, it's the only place they can win the Super Bowl.
Jim Tressel Continues To Be In Hot Water As the NCAA Circles In
It's not a good time to be Jim Tressel.
The Ohio State football coach can't duck the scandal that has followed after it was revealed that he willingly hid knowledge of his players involvement in a tattoo scandal that resulted in the suspension of players for the start of the 2011 regular season.
Tressel himself will take a five-game suspension for his part in the drama, but today, as the NCAA proceeds with its investigation into what happened in Columbus, things are not looking good for the man in the sweater vest.
Per Stewart Mandel of SI.com:
The NCAA sent a Notice of Allegations to the school last Friday, less than seven weeks since Ohio State self-reported Tressel's violation on March 8, virtually warp-speed for the governing body. As expected, the NCAA accused Tressel of ethical misconduct for failing to inform OSU officials of an e-mail tip he received that at least two of his current players were selling memorabilia to a local tattoo parlor owner and stated that Tressel "knowingly provided false information to the NCAA" by signing a compliance form last September stating he knew of no potential violations by his players. The letter also cites the school for using ineligible players last season.
The penalty for the latter is easy to predict: Ohio State will have to vacate its 11 regular-season wins from 2010 and presumably its Big Ten title. It should be off the hook for the Sugar Bowl because the NCAA reinstatement staff specifically cleared the players for that game (though the NCAA might contend it did so after being provided with false information).
The piece goes on to say it will be difficult for Tressel to keep his job after such allegations (just ask Bruce Pearl).
While Tressel may lose his job, the Buckeyes have already proved too spineless to do anything about it on their own as of now.
Cutting ties with him when this all broke would have sent a strong message to everyone, especially since the school was well within its rights to do so. Not many employers would tolerate what he did, but in the realm of college football, such behavior is not only tolerated, but at times encouraged and awarded.
As was expected, Ohio State stood by its man, a decision that looks more foolish by the second.
Tressel will be the inevitable fall guy here, one way or another. The man simply cannot keep his job under these circumstances, regardless of how comfy the arrangement is for both sides.
That bright red sweatervest is a huge black eye on the face of a program that used to pride itself as being above the scandal and drama that plagues other schools.
Well now, Tressel is just as crooked as the rest of them. Welcome to the club.
He lied to everyone, including his employer, and it's just bad for business to have this person as the face of your program.
Ohio State will be fine. The program likely won't suffer long-term consequences, even though the Buckeyes could technically be seen as a repeat offender in the eyes of the NCAA.
However, Tressel will not escape so easily and nor should he.
He has lied, deceived and weaseled his way through this entire situation. One way or another, it's time for him to leave Columbus.
It's just a matter if it's going to be the easy way, or the hard way.
Kevin Garnett Has Been A Lightning Rod For His Mouth in the Past, Now An Anonymous Player Called Him Out In Print
You either love Kevin Garnett, or you hate him.
If you're a Celtics fan, you have to love the man because he helped bring the Celtics their first championship in a long time.
If you happen to root for any other team, you're annoyed at how Garnett constantly runs his mouth and mean mugs for the camera, playing up this tough guy persona that doesn't exist. Just ask Anthony Peeler, who jaw jocked KG years ago.
Well, ESPN has had NBA "Player X" writing for the site and he had some very pointed comments as it pertained to Garnett.
Per ESPN.com (Insider Only):
Garnett is a punk and a coward. I know, I know. Easy for me to say behind this column. Don't worry, I'll tell him to his face, too. And I'm not the only one who thinks that: If you're not on his team, chances are you hate the guy. You can learn a lot about him by watching his eyes. If he's talking to you -- and he's always talking -- he avoids eye contact. My advice to other guys in the league: Stare him down, and he'll retreat. From what I've seen, he'll never mix it up with a player who's bigger than he is. Personally, I think he's scared to fight -- like a playground bully who barks but doesn't bite.
Is Player X right? Yes. But if he says he'll say it to his face, come forward and own up to your comments. We've seen that Garnett won't do anything about it than run his big mouth and try and act tough, so just tell him what a coward he really is.
I have no problem with a player calling out another, but when you call someone a coward from behind the title of Player X, I do.
Either have the guts to have your name next to your comments or don't say anything at all. If you don't, you're just as bad as Garnett, hiding behind something so you can say whatever you want and not have to face questions for it.
Garnett is a coward. He is a phony tough guy and always has been, ever since his days in Minnesota. He always talks a bigger game than he actually possesses and never has lived up to the billing his mouth has created.
It's gotten worse since he's come to Boston and he deserves to be called out for it. Charlie Villanueva didn't back down from him and neither should Player X.
Player X, whoever he is, needs to be a man and come out of hiding. If not, he's just another coward with a big mouth who can't back it up.
WWE Draft 2011 Is Tonight, But Should the Company Consider Changing Things Up?
Does anyone remember the first WWE Draft?
Remember when Ric Flair and Vince McMahon were dueling as owners of Raw and SmackDown, fighting for the top talent and the roster was split up by the brand extension?
We went from having a sports-style draft, to having more of a lottery, switching talent based on the outcome of matches. Yawn.
My question is, what is the point of the brand extension anymore?
In fact, the company itself has pretty much done away with the idea as superstars like Alberto Del Rio and the Undertaker have regularly crossed borders to appear on other shows.
If the creative team doesn't care, why should we?
The truth is that this is nothing more than an reason to boost ratings for one night. It won't factor into any storylines, and it's frustrating. These days, the roster is pretty watered down and feuds never have time to build like we saw in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
I remember when we were given long buildups and feuds that spanned months with classic moments. The closest thing we've gotten since then is the feud between John Cena and The Miz, and even that has gotten stale.
What the WWE needs can't be found with a draft lottery.
It needs to start focusing on getting back to what works, and being unafraid to take risks and shake things up. Years ago, people wouldn't have thought of turning Hulk Hogan heel, but WCW took the plunge and it paid off big-time with the nWo.
A Cena heel turn is something that would get a ton of eyeballs and could be the big-time gamble that changes the direction of the product.
The product isn't terrible, but it isn't great either. It's stagnant, and taking the top star in the company and changing his character would bring people back who are tired of Cena's over-the-top, corny promos and worn-out persona.
A draft is a short-term fix to a long-term problem. Gimmicks don't work in the long run, but sometimes, risks do.
The WWE hasn't taken a risk in a long time.
Kobe Bryant Went Down with an Injury Last Night, So Should He Still Try to Defend Chris Paul?
After Chris Paul ripped Derek Fisher to shreds early in this series, the Los Angeles Lakers changed their philosophy on defense.
Fisher took a back seat to Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest, who took turns checking Paul, giving him different defensive looks and making things harder on the electric point guard who has helped carry the New Orleans Hornets as they tied the series at two.
Now, as the series shifts back to the Staples Center, the Lakers do so with Kobe Bryant nursing a foot injury he suffered last night.
If I'm the Lakers, I put Bryant on Paul as little as possible, even if the former MVP insists on it. Let Artest take the majority of those assignments and try to put as little stress on Bryant's foot and ankle area as possible.
Paul attacks the rim relentlessly, and if Bryant's trying to guard it on a bum foot, he's going to get torched time and time again. The Lakers simply can't afford to let the Hornets get confidence and momentum in a pivotal Game 5.
Phil Jackson has to set the tone early, let Artest check Paul, allow him to get physical and push the point guard around. Make the rest of the Hornets beat them. Chris Paul cannot be allowed to assert himself like he did in Game 4.
If that happens, then the Lakers are going to have their backs against the wall and that's not a situation anyone wants to be in on the road.
Bryant is too proud to take a backseat, but the Lakers can't have him trying to check one of the best point guards in the game on one leg.
Lenny Dykstra Is in Trouble Again, This Time for Getting Naked in Front of a Woman
Lenny Dykstra just can't get out of his own way.
Dykstra, the former baseball player, has been in the news since his playing career ended for numerous things, but most importantly, his shady financial dealings. Now it's for something that I bet he wishes he could take back.
I don't know about you, but I've never gone to a job interview and had the person interviewing me strip naked and ask for a massage, but according to a criminal complaint, that's exactly what happened when a woman went to an interview to be Dykstra's housekeeper.
The woman told police ... when she arrived to the home, Dykstra explained that she wouldn't just have to clean the home, she would also be required to give him massages as well.
The woman claimed Dykstra then took off all of his clothes and told the woman he wouldn't be able to hire her without first sampling her skills. Smooth.
We're told the woman denied his request ... left the home immediately ... flagged down a nearby cop ... and filed a police report. She also locked down a high power attorney, Mauro Fiore Jr., to handle the case.
My question is, how do you transition from running down the criteria of the job, to stripping off all of your clothes and asking for a massage?
Do you just stand up and start ripping clothes off? I mean, I don't want to think about it, but it's so bizarre. The crazy part, is if this is true, he somehow thought this was socially acceptable behavior. He didn't even ask if it was okay.
Smooth move, Len.
Dykstra is evidently a straight shooter and he got right down to business in the middle of the interview. It's horrible what happened to that woman, but you have to chuckle a little bit at how brazen he was in propositioning this woman. Now he's in more hot water and it's only getting worse for him.
Somehow I doubt he's getting a housekeeper any time soon. Well, that and any appointments at local massage parlors.
The word's out, Lenny's a little too forward with his desires.
Frank McCourt Has Lost Control of His Team, But Should He Have Ever Had It?
You'd have to do a pretty terrible job to become a worse owner than Frank McCourt.
McCourt, the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, has had his team taken away from him by Major League Baseball and he's not going away quietly. He's fighting to keep control of his team, but the question is, why did he ever have it in the first place?
The embattled owner landed the Dodgers after countless attempts to land other sports franchises, including the Boston Red Sox. Once he landed in Los Angeles, the concerns quickly mounted.
Per Larry Stone of the Seattle Times:
Going back to 2004, Selig never should have let the overleveraged and underfunded McCourt purchase the Dodgers. Many, many people warned that he didn't have the financial means to make it work, though I don't think anyone foresaw the comedy of errors (no, that's not a Rafael Furcal reference) that was to ensue.
Dodger Stadium has been allowed to deteriorate, which is bad enough, and season-ticket sales are off dramatically this year. The Angels might actually out-draw the Dodgers for the first time.
But the capper might have been the gruesome beating of a Giants fan in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on opening day — he remains in a coma — while the Dodgers were without a full-time head of security.
The Dodgers are deep in debt and have been struggling to make payroll. McCourt had to do an end-around Selig to orchestrate a personal $30 million loan from his television partner, Fox, in order to do so — another final straw for the commissioner.
Oh, and if that wasn't bad enough, the team was backed by money from a Ponzi scheme. Brilliant.
Simply put, McCourt shouldn't keep his team, nor should any league, anywhere, allow him to own a franchise.
He has shown time and time again that he has no idea what he's doing in terms of managing finances and putting together an atmosphere that is safe and enjoyable for fans. He may fight to keep his team, but under no circumstances should he ever get it back.
The man is inept, he's delusional and out of his league. He has been since he stepped foot in baseball and McCourt has eliminated any doubt with the way he has run this historic, proud franchise right into the ground.
Bud Selig did the right thing by stripping the team away from him, and now it's time to force him to sell and get him out of professional sports for the rest of his days.
Boston Celtics Finish Off the Knicks, But Can This Team Win the East?
The Boston Celtics were reeling heading into the postseason.
Flash forward to now, and the Celtics couldn't look any stronger. I guess we should have seen this coming.
Sure, this was a group that hadn't looked the same since the trade deadline, when they shipped Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City in exchange for Jeff Green. This was a group that stumbled into the postseason, losing games and looking lifeless.
With a matchup against a red-hot Knicks team looming, a lot of people, myself included, expected a slugfest of a series, with New York emerging with the victory.
Boy were we wrong.
The Celtics swept the Knicks, blowing them out in the final two games and advancing to the second round and a likely matchup against the Miami Heat. Now the question is, can this team continue to baffle LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and company?
You have to believe they can after what we've seen.
While this team doesn't have the size that gave the Heat trouble earlier in the season, this is a veteran group that knows what it takes to become a championship squad. We saw last year that this is a team that can surprise in the postseason, and this is a series that is going to be a dogfight in every single game.
That gives the Celtics the advantage.
While Boston has weaknesses like every team, one of its biggest strengths is the ability to execute in the biggest moments of the biggest games.
On the flip side, that's one of Miami's biggest weaknesses, as we saw yesterday afternoon.
This is the series we've been waiting for all year long and it looks like we're going to get it. This is a series Boston can win, and I think will win.
Do you trust the Heat to come up with clutch plays? I know I don't.
Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley Will Meet, But Does the Veteran Fighter Have Any Shot?
Manny Pacquiao is the greatest fighter in the game today.
Shane Mosley is a man who has seen the prime of his career go by but will have a chance to rise to the top of the mountain with an upset of Pacquiao, who has dominated opponent after opponent for the past couple of years.
With that at the front of his mind, Mosley has immersed himself in this fight.
Per Nick Giongco of MB.com:
Holed up in Big Bear, a high-altitude training camp around 100 miles from Los Angeles since early-March, Mosley has done nothing the past seven weeks but eat and breathe Pacquiao, something that has injected a sense of heavy optimism in his camp.
While Richardson remains tightlipped about their chances as he once praised Pacquiao to the high heavens as though Mosley will have to come up the ring with a crowbar that he will use to whack Pacquiao, Mosley sounds a bit more certain that he will “shock the world” next month.
“He hasn’t fought somebody like me,” said Mosley, who, even at his age, remains a livewire opponent owing to his vast experience, fast hands, punching power and durability.
Sorry, but I'm not buying it.
Pacquiao is a machine and he's been in overdrive in his current training regime. Mosley has a puncher's chance, but that's not exactly the best odds of winning this fight. We saw Floyd Mayweather Jr. beat him not too long ago, so what does that mean for his chances, especially when Mosley isn't getting any younger.
This is going to be a fight where Pacquiao gets Mosley off balance and just works him with powerful jabs to the face and bone-crushing body shots. I haven't seen a fighter like him in a long, long time, and when he's in the zone, he's almost impossible to beat.
Mosley has been working hard to try and beat him, but the reality is that at this stage of his career, he doesn't have a chance to beat Pacquiao.
Chris Paul Helped Take Down the Lakers and Tie the Series at Two, Can New Orleans Pull the Upset?
If you didn't watch the game between New Orleans and Los Angeles last night, you missed a performance for the ages.
Chris Paul, the star and leader of the Hornets, took over the game, dropping 27 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists as New Orleans beat the Lakers and tied the series at two games a piece. We've seen Paul take over games like this before, but the way he attacked the glass needs to be commended.
Paul had as many rebounds as Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combined. That is a damning stat if you're the Lakers this morning. You simply have to rebound better than that, and not let the smallest guy on the court beat you for rebounds.
The truth of the matter is that this Laker team is a wounded fighter right now. Kobe Bryant is nursing an ankle injury and the sense of urgency simply isn't there for the two-time defending champions. A Game 1 loss wasn't enough to wake this group up and now, as the series shifts back to Los Angeles tied at two games a piece, someone has to step up.
Unfortunately for Los Angeles, the only one stepping up has been Paul.
He has been simply electric in this series and he always seems to make the right play at the right time to give his team the advantage.
Paul has been torching Derek Fisher on a nightly basis and this is the biggest mismatch for this team. However, I don't see the Hornets winning this series.
The Lakers are a veteran group, and we saw them get pushed to the limit by the Oklahoma City Thunder last year and go all the way to a second straight championship. Despite the injury to Bryant and the lack of production from Gasol, who has been an utter no-show in this series, this is still Los Angeles' series to lose.
If the Lakers can go home and get Game 5, then there is no way this Hornets team can win two in a row, including a deciding Game 7 in Staples Center.
This is a scrappy team, but it's not a group tough enough to overcome that type of adversity.
Jered Weaver Has Been Dominant as He Goes for His Sixth Win Today
If I had to ask you who leads American League pitchers in ERA, wins and strikeouts, who would you guess?
Felix Hernandez maybe, what about C.C. Sabathia? While those may be the obvious choices, unfortunately, you'd be wrong.
The man who holds that distinction is Jered Weaver, who has stormed out of the gate to a 5-0 start, the only pitcher to do so in the American League, and he's looking to extend that today as he goes for his sixth win of the season.
Weaver has shown potential in the past, but nothing like this, and even though it's really early, he has emerged as the top dog in the AL Cy Young race. He has been simply dominant in all of his outings, allowing no more than two runs in any of his starts.
Not only has he kept the runs off of the board, he's been fanning batters at an extremely high rate, striking out 39 batters, including his 15-strikeout masterpiece against Toronto. There has been no pitcher as dominant as Weaver, and it shows in his stat line.
While the Angels are scuffling a little bit after being knocked around by the Boston Red Sox, Weaver has been a true bright spot for the franchise that really missed out in the offseason and settled for Vernon Wells and his monster contract.
However, any time Weaver takes the hill, the Angels are going to have a great chance to win the ball game.
If he pitches like he has all season, Los Angeles should have no problems.