BallinEurope gets things rolling on Saturday with highlight clips – okay, some links to online stuff You Should Read as well, but the main point is highlight clips, right? This morning, then, a quick look at some excellent performances turned in in last night’s NBA action from the Continent’s top players. Starring Tony Parker, Luol Deng, Tiago Splitter, Ty Lawson, and of course a certain Spanish point guard you may have heard something about…
• Tony Parker contributed perhaps his best NBA performance of 2011-12 last night, with 20 points and nine assists to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 99-83 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. Fellow TrueHoop blog 48 Minutes of Hell does some “Statistical Sleuthing” in an excellent piece on Parker’s play in the paint and at the rim this season, for ages a strength for the Spur.
After crunching the numbers, 48 Minutes’ Aaron McGuire deduces that “The fact is, Tony Parker has been playing atrociously, *especially* at the rim, and it’s tough to say whether this should make Spurs fans excited or terrified. Why excited? It’s easy to simply chalk this up to small sample size and assume he gets better as the year goes on, which would be an instant improvement to San Antonio’s already gelling offense. Terrified is more obvious — if this represents a permanent change in his game, the Spurs are essentially down to *no* all-star caliber offensive players.”
Regardless of Parker’s play and Manu Ginobili’s absence, San Antonio has managed a competent 8-4 start with the win over the Blazers; oddly enough, they’re now 8-0 at home at 0-4 away.
Also of note: Former Baskonia big man Tiago Splitter went for 14 points off the bench; check out the nice play in aggressively working the ball inside against Gerald Wallace for a key fourth-quarter and-one at about 1:31 in the game highlight clip.
• Dirk Nowitzki scored his 23,000th career NBA point in the Dallas Mavericks’ 102-76 immolation of the Milwaukee Bucks. The defending champs are now on a 7-2 run, while the big German put in perhaps *the* clutch NBA play of last week in besting a too tightly-guarding Kevin Garnett.
• Speaking of beating the Celtics – as a Lakers fan, one never gets tired of speaking of beating the Celtics – Boston went down to the Chicago Bulls last night, 88-79, in Beantown. Derrick Rose was naturally his typical badass self, but whoa, what a line turned in by Team Britain stud Luol Deng, eh? 21 points, 16 rebounds, a steal and a block – nice.
While much of the Bulls-centric press has been devoted to D-Rose’s MVP repeat chances and/or the harmony between Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, Deng has suddenly caught fire in averaging 18.0 points, 14.0 rebounds, 2.66 stocks (steals plus blocks, statistic courtesy Bill Simmons) in over 44 minutes per the last three games.
• Yeah, BiE’s still a hater. So what’s better than the Miami Heat losing a third straight game? How about losing to the Denver Euronuggets despite 35 points from Lebron James?
It was a barn-burner in Denver, with the homers outlasting in a 117-104 shootout. Red-hot Žalgiris Kaunas favorite Ty Lawson (at 17.8 ppg and 7.5 apg for the surprising, league high-scoring Nuggets, where’s the bandwagon for an all-star nomination?) came back from a minor foot injury to net 24 points and nine assists while exposing weak Heat perimeter defense throughout. Off the bench, Rudy Fernandez also helped in deconstructing the Miami backcourt with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Danilo Gallinari added 14 points, five rebounds and three steals.
• While watching last Tuesday’s Chicago Bulls-Minnesota Timberwolves game, BiE was struck with a revelation: The reason why Ricky Rubio has performed so well ‘Stateside is because NBA players are geared toward going hard to the hole. Blake Griffin wants to rave about “Lob City”? Hell, La Pistola’s the mayor of that town.
Unfortunately, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon quoted none other than Magic Johnson as having recognized the same thing, only way, *way* earlier. Said Magic: “[Rubio will] be better in the NBA than he is in Europe because our guys are more athletic and they run to the rim. In Europe, guys don’t really run the break; they fan out around the three-point line, they pump-fake, they look to score in other ways. Our guys are going to see a dude who can pass it like Rubio and run like hell to the rim…”
At least BiE can take solace in the fact all the hyping here did not go for naught; even Wilbon confessed he was wrong…
Rubio was the hero in his first NBA start last night as the ‘Wolves eked out the 87-80 victory at the New Orleans Hornets. Kevin Love contributed another ridiculous game (34 points including 17-of-18 from the free-throw line, 15 rebounds and three blocks), but the Human YouTube Highlight Clip is sure to snag headlines for simply coming through in the clutch at the free-throw line with 4-of-4 shooting in the final two minutes of play to seal the win.
Along the way to the final buzzer, Ricky was once again Globetrotteresque, with nine assists alley-oops, no-look behind-the-back passes, and a bouncer that even made Darko look good.