Most Complete Box Score Line
LeBron James, Miami Heat
37 points, 11-for-19 shooting (58%), 15-for-19 FT (79%), 10 rebounds (3 offensive), 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Not only that, the Heat beat the Mavericks far easier than most expected, and his +27 was tops in the league.
Best Line in a Loss
Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
With Paul Pierce sidelined by a bruised right heel, Rondo took matters into his own hands and nearly pulled off the win at Madison Square Gardens over the latest overhyped team, the Knicks. He attacked, attacked, attacked, resulting in 12 free throws (downing 9), completed 11 of 19 shots for a cool 31 points, served up 13 assists to 5 turnovers, grabbed 5 rebounds and 5 steals, and all around stayed aggressive and active in all facets of the game in order to lead the 3rd quarter charge, along with Ray Allen, that brought the Celtics back from an embarrassing first half (down 52-62) to take an 8-point lead into the final period. His efforts weren’t quite enough to earn the victory, but he did plenty to make you think he would.
An honorable mention goes to Orlando's Ryan Anderson: 25 points (9-for-17 FG, 6-for-12 3FG), 10 rebounds (4 offensive), 2 steals
Best Lines By Reserves
Brandon Bass, Boston Celtics
20 points, 9-for-13 shooting, 11 rebounds (5 offensive), 1 steal, 28 minutes
Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat
9 points, 3-for-6 shooting, 14 rebounds (6 offensive), 1 block, 32 minutes
Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks
23 points, 9-for-18 shooting (4-10 from deep), 3 assists, 2 steals, 29 minutes
James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder
19 points, 4-for-11 shooting, 10-for-12 FT, 6 rebounds, 3 assists (0 turnovers), 32 minutes
Most Unexpectedly Bad Line
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Curry had a great end to his rookie season in 2009-10, had a decent sophomore season last year, and is now expected to take that next step up to becoming a truly dependable team cornerstone for the Warriors. Instead, he dropped this turd in a 19-point loss to the Clippers at home:
4 points, 2-for-12 shooting (0-for-4 threes), 0-for-1 FT, 5 turnovers to 4 assists, 4 fouls
You Were Expecting Improvements, But Not Like This
Chris Paul's arrival in LAC not only meant good things for Blake Griffin, but most fans expected C DeAndre Jordan's 7 ppg to rise quickly, chiefly on fast break dunks. Well Jordan never really got going offensively against the Warriors, attempting only 2 shots and missing 8 of his 12 free throws on the way to a 6-point, 5-rebound night. But one thing that did improve by leaps and bonds for one game was his shot blocking; after averaging an impressive 1.8 bpg last season, Jordan rejected 8 Golden State shots on Christmas, stuffing the attempts of 6 different Warriors. Obviously this pace won't keep up, but his energy and aggression on D helped facilitate the Clippers fast break and provided a yang to Blake Griffin's offensive yin.
High Turnover Totals That Are More Telling Than Most Fans Admit
Derrick Rose, 5 (to 5 assists)
Kobe Bryant, 8 (to 6 assists)
Russell Westbrook, 7 (to 6 assists)
Stephen Curry, 5 (to 4 assists)
All four of these stars have posted sub-par Assist-to-Turnover ratios throughout their careers, and now they’ve each started off 2011-12 with some terrible turnover totals. Keep an eye on how regularly these guys lose the ball during the season because if this is the type of sloppiness we can expect from them after the long hiatus when we already know their issues distributing the ball before, their clubs might lose a few more games than expected, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Best Clutch Performance
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
Brandon Bass’s jumper to start the 4th quarter put the Celtics up 89-79, which seemed like it would be enough considering how brutal of a beating Boston had just put on New York in the 3rd quarter (35-17). Instead, Anthony—statistically the most clutch superstar in the league for years—went to work. Over the next 6 minutes, every Knicks point had Melo’s fingerprints on it: Anthony 3-pointer, Anthony jumper, 2 Anthony free throws, Chandler bunny assisted by Anthony, and 2 Anthony technical free throws. During those same 6 minutes, Anthony drew 4 fouls from Boston defenders and blocked a shot. At this point, the Knicks had closed the gap to 94-90.
In the final three-and-a-half minutes, Anthony hit a 3 to tie the game at 100 (3:25), hit a free throw to tie the game at 102 (2:11), nailed a jumper to give the Knicks a 104-102 lead (1:34), and completed two free throws to win the game 106-104 (0:16). For those keeping score at home, that means Melo scored 17 of his 37 points in the final period after being thrown into a double-digit hole by a determined, veteran team.
Worst Clutch Performance
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Bryant shouldn’t have been playing in the first place due to his injury, but he has the career scoring record firmly in his sights, so he suited up. With the Lakers carrying a 6-point lead at home into the final 50 seconds, the following sequence happened:
-Bryant plays no D whatsoever on Luol Deng, who goes right past him for the layup and an and-one as Kobe heads up the court looking for an outlet pass (?).
-Bryant misses a tightly-contested jumper.
-Bryant fouls Deng, who drains two free throws.
-Bryant throws a bad pass that Deng picks off.
-Derrick Rose scores at the other end with 4.8 seconds left to push the Bulls ahead 88-87.
-Bryant forces up a running jumper while triple-teamed that gets blocked by Deng at the buzzer; Chicago wins.
Again, he shouldn’t have played—which his horrendous defense and 8 turnovers will attest to—but at least he got 28 points closer to Jabaar.