The NBA: Two Players, Two Icons

Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are two of
the most recognizable NBA icons today.
(image by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant was the icon of the 2000s.

LeBron James is the icon of the current generation.

The former has 5 titles playing for just one team. His place in the Hall of Fame is set.

The latter has lost twice in the NBA Finals – one with his current team and with the team he left to dry. His place in Ohio’s Hall of Shame is set.

Kobe has scored 40+ for three straight games now, and his team is on a winning streak.

LeBron is the bona fide stat monster of the whole league, but his team has lost three straight.

Kobe, who has been regarded by many as a heel for most of his career, seems heroic now – playing with numerous injuries and showing the young guns how it’s really done.

Lebron, who was once Ohio’s favorite son, is now Ohio’s signature son of a b1tch. He’s one of the most dominant forces in the league, but he has choked quite a few times this season.

Two players who have so many things in common, and yet they’ll be judged this season for really just one thing – who can lead his team to the promised land? LeBron can very well end up the consensus best player by the season’s end, but Kobe has shown he’s more primed up for the big time. He doesn’t shy away from the pressure. He takes the big shot. He makes the big plays. He’s winning. And that could be the biggest difference of all.

After the JUMP, key stat-stuffers for today’s games:

DET over CHA, 98-81 – Cats are in the midst of a 6-game losing streak after dropping this game to the Pistons.
IND over TOR, 95-90 – George Hill’s 22 sends the Raps reeling to their third-straight loss.
PHI over WAS, 120-89 – Jody Meeks strikes gold as the Sixers regain their wining form.
HOU over SAC, 103-89 – Free agent acquisition Dalembert justifies his stock as the Rockets dump the Kings.
CHI over BOS, 99-79 – Rose returns and gives the Celts their third defeat in a row.
MIN over NOH, 87-80 – Kevin Love was at his best here, and the Wolves held back the Hornets’ late run.
SAS over POR, 99-83 – LaMarcus Aldridge was a beast on offense, but Tony Parker and the Spurs hold back their Western Conference rivals and move to 8-4.
DAL over MIL, 102-76 – Dirk struggled a little bit, but the Mavs still mustered enough to rout the Bucks.
NJN over PHX, 110-103 – Suns fall for the third straight in a row, and Deron’s big output nets the Nets just win #3.
DEN over MIA, 117-104 – Heat get the short end of the stick yet again, and Dwyane Wade got injured to boot.
LAL over CLE, 97-92 – Closer than expected, but the Lakers showed a lot of class in cutting down the Cavs.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
Kobe Bryant (LAL) – 42
Deron Williams (NJN) & LeBron James (MIA) – 35
Kevin Love (MIN) – 34
LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) – 29

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
Samuel Dalembert (HOU) & Luol Deng (CHI) – 16
Kevin Love (MIN) – 15

Samuel Dalembert was a tower of power
for the Houston Rockets.
(image by the AP)

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Deron Williams (NJN) – 14
DJ Augustin (CHA) – 13
Rajon Rondo (BOS) – 11  

Deron Williams, for all his magnificence, just
cannot will the Nets to a legitimate win streak.
(image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
George Hill (IND) & Raymond Felton (POR) – 5
Rajon Rondo (BOS), Gerald Wallace (POR) & Carlos Delfino (MIL) – 4

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
Bismack Biyombo (CHA) – 5
Samuel Dalembert (HOU) & Joakim Noah (CHI) – 4

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Deron Williams (NJN) & Jodie Meeks (PHI) – 6
Kobe Bryant (LAL) & Anthony Morrow (NJN) – 4

Jan. 13, 2012 First Five
C – Samuel Dalmbert (HOU) – 21pts, 16rebs, 4blks, 1stl
F – Kevin Love (MIN) – 34pts, 15rebs, 3blks, 1ast
F – LeBron James (MIA) – 35pts, 6asts, 5rebs, 3 triples, 2stls, 1blk
G – Kobe Bryant (LAL) – 42pts, 5rebs, 4 triples, 3asts, 3stls
G – Deron Williams (NJN) – 35pts, 14asts, 6 triples, 2rebs

Kevin Love's game is lovely, but the T-Wolves' win-loss
slate is anything but.
(image by the AP)
Honorable Mention:
Kyle Lowry (HOU) – 25pts, 9asts, 7rebs, 3 triples, 2stls
LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) – 29pts, 7rebs, 2asts, 2stls, 1blk
Jodie Meeks (PHI) – 26pts, 6 triples, 4rebs, 2asts, 2stls

For a full summary of the day, here’s today’s NBA Daily Zap:

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