The NBA: Rise and Fall

J-Lin's rise and Mr. Big Shot's fall.
(Lin image by Rob Carr/Getty Images, Billups image from the AP,
and both were compressed/combined by Hoop Nut)

*Unless otherwise specified, all images are from the Associated Press.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” - Confucius

This week saw the rise of one Jeremy Lin.

It also saw the fall of one Chauncey Billups.

Jeremy Lin was not drafted. He was cut by the Mavs in the 2010 Summer League. He got picked up by the Warriors, but got demoted to the D-League not long after.

And he’s from Harvard. If you want to be a corporate giant, that’s where you go. It’s not, however, the prime destination for NBA players.

And yet, despite all the uncertainties, J-Lin seems to have finally arrived.

And to do it with one of the most volatile franchises in the NBA? Awesome indeed.

With Baron Davis still sidelined and Toney Douglas being inconsistent, coach Mike D’Antoni took a risk and inserted Lin against all-world PG Deron Williams several nights ago. Lin surprised everyone and scored an erstwhile career-high of 25 points while throwing lobs and thread-the-needles to Tyson Chandler and Jared Jeffries.


He outdid himself in his next game against the Utah Jazz. This time he scored 28 points as the starter, and he continued orchestrating the NYK offense with aplomb. Somewhere out there, Baron Davis is hurrying up his recovery, lest his spot be taken over by this soft-spoken American of Taiwanese descent.

Here in the Philippines, some people are shivering with fear simply because Lin might opt to play for the Taiwan NT next year, which will make things ultra-tough for our dream of reaching the 2014 FIBA Worlds.

The big question, of course, is can Lin continue rising? Or will the bright lights of NYC blind him into thinking he’s got things made when, in reality, all he has are 2 great games.

In the meantime, Chauncey Billups, one of the most decorated and celebrated (and traded) PGs in NBA history, might be staring the end of his career right in the eye.

A freak fall against the Magic the other day cause him to rupture his Achilles tendon, effectively sidelining him for the season, and quite possibly, forever.

All of a sudden, the Clippers, currently the toast of LA, might also be staring the end of their 180-degree turnaround right in the eye.

Could the Clippers’ curse have finally taken effect? Right when things were really looking up, this injury might just cause the Clips to start a disastrous tailspin.

At the time of his injury, Billups was 3rd on the team in scoring, 2nd in assists, and 1st in 3pts made per game. With all that production gone, the Clips will look to Mo Williams and Randy Foye to pick up the slack. What those two can’t really replace, though, is Billups’s court-savvy and his championship experience.

Can the Clips recover, or is this the beginning of their end?

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

IND over UTA, 104-99 – Drunk with meds, and probably with thr prospect of another All-Star snub, Danny Granger took it all in and still led his team past one of the West’s better teams. He scored 12 of his 16 points in the pivotal fourth frame to pace the Pacer win, but even that might not be enough for an All-Star nod.
MIA over CLE, 107-91 – There doesn’t seem to be much hype for Cleveland-Miami games nowadays. Miami has the edge, definitely, but they got a bit of a scare against the Cavs in this one, too. Nursing a 1-point lead close to the end of the third, the Heat tightened up and made the Cavs miss 17 of their next 19 attempts. Miami is now 19-6, the best 25-game start in franchise history.
BOS over CHA, 94-84 – Paul Pierce passed Larry Bird as the Celts’ second-best leading scorer. Next up is John Havlicek. More importantly, though, the Cs have won their fifth straight. When asked about passing Hondo, all Pierce could say was that he was sure the fans would rather see another title. Way to get focused, Mr. Pierce
MIN over SAC, 86-84 – Who’s missing Love? With Nikola Pekovic, Michael Beasley, and Derrick Williams combining for 54 points and 32 rebounds, it seems the T-Wolves didn’t miss their would-be All-Star all that much. Oh, and Ricky Rubio stole the ball 5 times and had 14 dimes. All-Star material? I surely think so.
PHX over MlL, 107-105 – That Steve Nash may no longer be in the thick of the MVP race, heck, he might not even be an All-Star this season, but he can definitely still make the big plays. And he’s 38 to boot! Nash scored his 17th and 18th points by hitting the go-ahead driving lay-up with 5 ticks left on the clock. He also handed out 11 helpers.
OKC over GSW, 119-116 – Monta Ellis just showed the Thunder how potent he can be as a scorer. The Thunder, however, showed the Warriors that one man scoring 48 points doesn’t necessarily equate to a W. KD was visibly off-the-mark with his shot with 14.2 seconds left, but the bank was open and he cashed in. OKC gets away again with another cardiac game a night after barely escaping the Portland Trailblazers.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
Monta Ellis (GSW) – 48
Kevin Durant (OKC) – 33
Russell Westbrook (OKC) – 31
Dwyane Wade (MIA) – 26

Monta scores 48, but the Warriors still get
nipped by OKC.
Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
Michael Beasley (MIN) – 14
Josh Childress (PHX) & Ersan Ilyasova (MIL) – 12

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Rajon Rondo (BOS) & Ricky Rubio (MIN) – 14
Steve Nash (PHX) – 11

Ricky Rubio should make the All-Star Game in my book.

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
Ricky Rubio (MIN) – 5
James Harden (OKC) – 4
A LOT with 3

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
Roy Hibbert (IND) – 4
Derrick Williams (MIN) – 3
A LOT with 2

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Daequan Cook (OKC) – 5
Mario Chalmers (MIA) & Mike Dunleavy (MIL) – 4

Feb. 7, 2012 First Five
C – Nikola Pekovic (MIN) – 23pts, 10rebs, 3stls, 2blks
F – David Lee (GSW) – 25pts, 11rebs, 10asts, 1blk
F – Kevin Durant (OKC) – 33pts, 10rebs, 7asts, 1stl, 1blk
G – Monta Ellis (GSW) – 48pts, 7rebs, 3 treys, 2asts, 2stls, 1blk
G – Russell Westbrook (OKC) – 31pts, 7asts, 2stls, 1reb, 1blk

KD breaks the hearts of San Francisco.

Honorable Mention:
Dwyane Wade (MIA) – 26pts, 6asts, 4rebs, 3stls, 1blk
Darren Collison (IND) – 25pts, 5asts, 4rebs
Steph Curry (GSW) – 16pts, 10asts, 7rebs, 2stls

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

Here's a nice feature on Jeremy Lin's long journey in the NBA:

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