A Chance to Catch my Breath [Originally Posted on sportsblog.com 2/3/14]

A wild week of basketball orgasms left me spent and I slumped into bed almost immediately after the Seahawks destroyed the Broncos last night. On Saturday I fell asleep in the middle of what people called the game of the year. I woke up just in time to see Syracuse outlast Duke in OT, but I was too tired to even be sour about missing the game. I saw the highlights, I was into it as much as my serotonin would allow; but I have Feb.22nd circled on my virtual calendar for the rematch in Cameron Indoor (also for KU-Texas but we will get to that later). As it is, I’m in recovery mode from a wild week and an even more enlightening weekend.

First off, how about a second to process what we witnessed from Kevin Durant last month? When I said last post I went on record as saying KDTV was must see until the streak was over, I never considered that he would shoot himself out into breaking it. His performance on Friday was a work of art. He shot 10-12 with 26 points in 30 minutes of action. Serge Ibaka shot 12 for 12, and by the end of the third quarter, it was obvious that OKC was going to pull their starters early into the last quarter of the game.

What has been so amazing about “Iceberg Slim’s” (credit Jalen Rose for the best nickname anyone can think of for KD) streak isn’t just the points he’s been scoring, but how easy the points have been coming. Anyone who ever watched Kobe or Allen Iverson play in their primes, can attest to the sheer volume of shots that both players put up to get high numbers. Kevin Durant is much more efficient and has not forced many of his shots. Many of them seem to come in the flow of the game. He almost always makes the right basketball play, passing the ball when necessary and getting his teammates involved. For the month of January he scored 550 points and had 90 assists. The last person to do that was Michael Jordan, and that was in 1987.

I actually missed the majority of the Kansas-Iowa State game on Wednesday to see KD go head to head with Lebron. KU is undoubtedly the reason I live in Lawrence right now, but I couldn’t forgive myself if I missed my favorite basketball player on the planet go up against the BEST player on the planet. I was not disappointed to say the least. The hype and atmosphere of the match-up felt bigger than a playoff game, and this sequence in the third quarter confirmed that feeling.

Even when the thunder were up big, it still felt like Miami had that final run in them. I must admit that I was wrong about this OKC team. Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones III, and even Derek Fisher are playing better than I imagined at this point in the season. I knew KD would step up, but I didn’t think he would get much support. How much of this is KD being a great leader and making his teammates better? Does the absence of Westbrook, and Durant’s ability to take his game to an unbelievably high level mean that he is this year’s NBA MVP? I would like to think yes. Look at the record. Look at the conference OKC is playing in and then think about how many other players could do what he is doing. I thought Presti was a fool to let Harden go for so little, but a year removed from the trade and the Thunder look as dangerous as ever.

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It’s been fun watching some of these lottery bound teams and trying to figure out what player in the draft would be a great piece of the puzzle for such teams. Teams like New Orleans, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Orlando, Dallas and Sacramento could be one player away from being playoff contenders next season. Seeing what happens to these teams will be almost as interesting as seeing who will dethrone the champs this year.

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I really wanted to see Demarcus Cousins and Lance Stephenson on this year’s All-Star Teams. It would have been that much more entertaining weekend. If missing the teams make them improve even more, then look out NBA. I thought “Boogie” and “Born ready” were deserving this year though.

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This week I experienced a bit of lull in my Jayhawk fandom. I had to watch the Iowa State game on replay, and the Texas drubbing left me (and probably the rest of Kansas and Missouri) stunned.

The Iowa State rematch was about what I thought it would be. The game anchored out at around 11-12 points. I had given someone 17 points thinking the blowout would be in effect because of the home crowd, but ISU actually showed up. I like DeAndre Kane. He plays like a grown man (how about that block–not a foul on Embiid early in the game?) and I hope he gets to play in the League next year. He has this “take no guff” attitude that I love. I think his aggressiveness and swag will get him far in life–even if its outside of basketball.

Iowa State may become the regional rivalry that has been missing since Mizzou took the money and ran to the SEC. KU fans respect the Hoibergs, much more than the ‘cats in Manhatten, and they actually make the Jayhawks sweat. A third game against the Cyclones in the Big 12 tourney could turn out to be really competitive.

As for the Horns……..well they done up and snuck up on everybody. I hadn’t had a chance to watch them this year, but I figured with Rick Barnes and the lack of NBA talent on the squad, they would be an after thought. It is never a good sign when a team out-muscles your team, out-hustles your team, while your team whines to refs and looks around for foul calls.

I don’t know if the team got a taste of that Austin nightlife or what, but they admittedly were not ready for Texas had to bring to the game. Cameron Ridley and Isiah Taylor were awesome. Texas was not intimidated in the least bit by the Jayhawks. They took it to them. The problem with having such a young team is that some games that team will look unbeatable, then the next game can look like a bunch of DIII players.

Consistency is something a team aims for but usually doesn’t achieve until they reach a certain level of maturity. Senior laden teams usually prepare better, because they know talent can only take a team so far (ask the 2010 Kentucky team if this is true). This butt whupping is exactly what KU needed. They looked soft on defense and on the boards, but take nothing away from Texas. This is a team that can actually push the Jayhawks for the Big 12 title. They a legit point guard in Isiah Taylor and they have a bruising front court. I was planning on going to a Shocker game on the 22nd, but Saturday proved that I need to stay in town and get tickets for when the Longhorns come to Lawrence.

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Quick Big Up’s to:

Golden State’s second half D vs. Portland/L.A. Clippers a few nights ago. I know Portland hasn’t been playing all that well and the Clippers came off a back-back, but Golden State put on a show in both games. They scored a lot of points, but a lot of points came off turnovers as well. They are twice as much fun to watch when they play defense, because of the increased number of fast break points created. Seeing Iggy and Steph run that break is a thing of beauty.

How about LSU’s Johnny O’Bryant III against the Kentucky front line? 29 points and 9 rebounds. He gave Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein the business. He single handedly put LSU on my must-watch list.

We’re expecting snow tomorrow night. Tuesday will be a good night to curl up and stream some hoops and not drink whiskey. Some cola beverages will just have to suffice.

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