What Happened Last Night: The Lakers Won, But It Still Felt Like They Lost Anyway
Welcome to another edition of “What Happened Last Night?” where we’ve reached the “basically all NBA, all the time” part of the week. Unless something big happens in college basketball, that is, and we’ll get that out of the way right now – six top 25 teams played, and they all won. No sizable upsets or marquee matchups to speak of, unless Stanford-N.C. State is your idea of a marquee matchup. And now that I’ve pooh-poohed that game, watch those teams catch fire at the exact right time and wind up playing for the national championship. Stranger things have happened. For now, let’s head to the pros.
The Lakers beat the Bobcats by as little as one team can beat another.
It’s not just that the Lakers won by a single point, surviving 101-100 at home against a team that has now lost 12 straight. It’s not just that L.A. needed to overcome an 18-point third quarter deficit to get that win. It’s not just that they responded to the 18-point deficit with a 28-4 run to build a six-point lead, then almost blew that. No, what really put this over the top into “basically a loss” territory was the Bobcats’ final possession. Here is that possession:
Now, I could be off on this, but by my count, the Bobcats missed 234 shots in those final 10 seconds, including a layup that would have hardly been a more outrageous miss if it had gone halfway down and then had a giant boxing glove on a spring pop up from below the basket and punch the ball out. So no, the main takeaway from this game wasn’t that the Lakers won (and, in fairness, it was their third victory in a row, so they’re putting a bit of a much-needed streak together). It was this:
Lakers announcer: “See, now, you’re only down 10 and you’re feeling good about yourself.” Yup, this is what it has come to.
— Eye on Basketball (@EyeOnBasketball) December 19, 2012
Lakers fans celebrating a win over the Bobcats like Game 7 of the NBA Finals. It has come to that.
— Marcel Mutoni (@marcel_mutoni) December 19, 2012
So, uh, congrats on your big victory, Lakers.
Around the Association…
The Heat’s “go all-in on small ball and shooters” strategy got a big test last night in the form of the T-Wolves, with their two board-crashing big men. And indeed, the Heat were outrebounded by the downright fake-looking margin of 53-24. That spells trouble, right? Well, we’d think so… if the Heat didn’t actually win, 103-92. Part of the reason why? 13-of-25 shooting from three. Oh, and LeBron and Wade being their usual selves (46/10/15 combined) didn’t hurt either. So long as the Heat defend well (which, for much of this season, they haven’t), smallball and shooters looks like it can still be a title-winning formula.
In other title-contender news, the Spurs are sliding, having lost four of five following a 112-106 loss to the Nuggets last night. You know who’s not sliding, though? Tim Duncan. Here was his stat line last night: 39 minutes, 31 points (11-25 FG, 9-10 FT), 18 rebounds, six assists, two steals, five blocks. You thought Prime Tim Duncan still didn’t reside somewhere under that aging exterior being preserved by reduced minute totals? Well, those numbers are about as strong a rebuttal as could be delivered.
And in non-title-contender news, the rest of last night’s games: the Raptors beat the Cavs because suddenly Jose Calderon is tearing up the league (and also four bench guys scored in double figures). The Bulls beat a Celtics team that’s looking pretty damn average (Boston’s record after last night: 12-12). The Bucks beat the Pacers because when Brandon Jennings is good, he’s real good (34 points). The Mavs beat the Sixers because the same could be said for O.J. Mayo (26 points, eight assists). The Warriors topped the Hornets despite Anthony Davis being awfully top-pick-like (15 points, 16 boards), the Jazz edged the Nets, and the Hawks topped the Wizards in overtime despite a Jordan Crawford triple-double. That should do it.
See ya tomorrow.
This roundup will probably be all NBA again. Unless Cornell beats Duke, or something. (Please, Cornell, make that happen.)
Photos via Getty