Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Virgosis Sports Report (61*)

I watched the halftime numbers (34 pts), I saw that Kobe was in the 40's by the 3rd quarter. Next thing you know, dude has 61 points and Madison Square Garden is chanting "MVP." Let's be honest, when you think you've seen it all, Black Mamba takes it a step further. Greatest scoring performance in MSG history (and I remember him scoring 50 a while back and thinking that was nuts...this was more than Bernard King's 60 and MJ's double-nickel in 95)

Now the asterisk comes in for two reasons. 1) We got punched in the gut (or maybe the knee) when Andrew Bynum hit the deck Saturday and tore his MCL in the right knee. It's deja vu all over again because he's gone for at worst 3 months and we all know how sorely the Lakers missed him in the Finals (I can see Kendrick Perkins screaming "Hallelujah" right now for Thursday's game). You feel bad because he was finally playing like he did last year before his previous knee injury.

2) Kobe scoring a lot of points is not always a great thing (only had 3 assists and zero rebounds on 31 shots). I was more happy that Lamar Odom grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked 3 shots. I was satisfied that Pau Gasol had a phenomenal night that would've been a headliner any other day. (31 pts, 14 rebs, 5 assts, 2 blks). But I'm gonna need more games like that from Pau, Lamar and the bench (Ariza did have 13) so Kobe can rack up his assists/rebound total not his point total. It's a known fact that the team does better when Mamba facilitates so I take yesterday's win as hopefully an aberration.

Right now, our title hopes have gotten a lot shakier without Bynum. It's up to the bench to get tough and take the weight and if Gasol and Odom can be this consistent, we can be fine. But it's gonna be tough because we got Boston Thursday and Cleveland Sunday who have revenge on their minds.

Did I say UCLA was boring and not fun to watch last week? I guess the Bay Area is where the fun lies because the Bruins had plenty of it kicking the crap outta Cal and Stanford while doing the Thizzle Dance (*throws up the T while rockin stunna shades). That Stanford game was a straight butt-whupping and sorry Johnny Dawkins, you got your work cut out for you.

The No. 15 Bruins (17-4) are tied for the Pac-10 conference lead (7-2) but all that matters this week is Round II with USC at Pauley Pavilion. Did I mention that SC is a game behind in conference? As if the Bruin/Trojan faithful needed any more reason to get hyped this week. I'll be there sitting high in Magpie Alley (c) Jim Murray. Of course I can't cheer but I'll be looking to see how good these teams are in person and maybe I'll do a blog that night about it.

Finally got some time to talk baseball and with the Dodgers playing Russian Roulette with Manny Ramirez, I'm not surprised he rejected their one-year offer of $25 mil. If he rejected a 2-yr deal, why would he take a 1-yr deal??

I come out in the middle with these negotations. On the one hand, the Dodgers need to at least attempt to sign Manny for 2 or 3 years because he'll be a big boost in the clubhouse, the lineup and with the fans (don't underestimate the large Latino Dodger following being key). On the other, Scott Boras and Manny need to realize that they won't get what they are looking for and should take a favorable offer should the Dodgers give it.

Take it from me, the Dodgers' young guns are ready to show they can be on point after last year. The transition will be a lot easier if they had a proven veteran in the lineup who is willing to teach them and provide a great atmosphere along with it (unlike Jeff Kent, who will not be missed by this Dodgers fan). At least it'll be easy since Joe Torre will have a lot going on come spring training thanks to his new book.

By the way, I know the clubhouse has a code of keeping dirty laundry in but anybody judging based on a few quotes with no regard for Torre's character is an idiot. Why do you think talking heads are more upset than most of the players who are waiting to read it? Use that brain, people...snap judgments may be in vogue but let's think it all the way through, shall we?

Quick hits
- Duke found out why being No. 1 leaves you open for a bullet in the heart. A lil' back-door layup by Wake Forest wins the game?? At least they'll get a chance to expose Clemson on Wednesday (no bigger fraud in the ACC than Clemson, start out hot and ranked, finish cold and fighting for their tournament lives).
- San Diego got blasted by Gonzaga on ESPN. Note to self, maybe we aren't ready for prime time just yet without Brandon Johnson running the show.
- Is it ironic that UConn and Oklahoma are 1-2 in both men's and women's polls. Easily the biggest shock is the Oklahoma men's team but Blake Griffin is the truth. Keep on freshman PG Willie Warren

HS Scene
National Signing Day is tomorrow and I'm happy for all the kids I covered who are heading somewhere (mostly going to USC). USA Today All-Americans James Boyd and Marquis Simmons and Army All-Americans Chris Metcalf and Shaquelle Evans (headed to Notre Dame) are great kids that I wish well. The big story has been USC losing commits like Carson TE Morrell Presley to UCLA and Narbonne DB Byron Moore (I laugh at the irony of seeing Moore wearing a sweatshirt with USC-bound on it at a Serra game and now thinking he's headed to Notre Dame).

I think USC will be fine because of who they are but I think that the 2010 class will have a lot of thinking to do before they commit. USC's philosophy of biding your time and learning from All-Americans for 3 years is highly effective (just check the No. of draft picks Pete Carroll's had) but in the wake of 3 transfers and 2 major de-commits, don't be surprised if a big name recruit signs with UCLA or somebody else because they have a better chance to play (esp. if UCLA improves like I think they will this year).

I'll be chilling at the Nike Extravganaza at Mater Dei High School Saturday for some high quality basketball featuring the No. 1 team in the country (Mater Dei minus Stanford-brown Andy Brown who tore his ACL) versus No. 2 St. Benedict's, No. 8 Westchester (fantastic guard play), No. 10 De La Salle vs. No. 12 Dominguez (doing it big without Jordan Hamilton), and No. 19 Fairfax (you might know this as Renardo Sidney's team). Did I mention Westchester and Fairfax get it on Friday night?? It's all gravy.

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