It was quite a week in the NBA, we had our first all New York City battle, a clash of egos, a dustup between the Cetlics and Nets and, lo and behold, Kobe Bryant calling out a teammate.
Take a breath, put your big boy pants on and let's take a look at what went down.
Gangs of New York
Monday night was all about New York as the Nets and Knicks squared off for the first time since the Nets' move to Brooklyn.
The game didn't disappoint either as the two New York teams needed overtime to settle things. The Nets eventually came away with a hard fought 96-89 victory in front of a sell-out crowd at the Barclay's centre.
It was a stirring start to what should prove to be one of the league's best rivalries.
Rondo gets Rough
Boston point guard Rajon Rondo's streak of games with double digit assits came to an end last Wendesday night after he was ejected during the Celtics 95-83 loss to the Nets.
Rondo retaliated for a hard foul against Kevin Garnett in the second quarter by shoving Brooklyn forward Kris Humphries into the courtside seats. A fine mess ensued as the pushing and shoving extended into the stands. Rondo, Humphries and Nets forward Gerald Wallace were all ejected after the melee.
It was a strange way for consecutive games with double-digit assists streak to come to an end. At 37 games, his streak is tied with Hall of Famer John Stockton for the second-longest in NBA history. With the way he had been playing, he would have had a legitimate chance to catch Magic Johnson for the NBA record of 46 games in a row. Too bad.
I was disappointed to see Rondo's streak end, and the fighting spilling into the stands was a bad thing, but what I actually liked about the play is that it showed that Rondo was willing to put aside personal accolades to stand up for a teammate. The Celtics have been lacking their usual fire and toughness this year and maybe this will help spark them.
It also sparked David Stern to hit Rondo with a two-game suspension. And speaking of the commish...
The commissioner was not happy after Gregg Popovich delivered something of a middle-finger to the NBA's schedule maker last Wednesday when he decided to have his three biggest stars, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, along with Danny Green fly home to San Antonio rather than play against the Miami Heat.
On the one hand, the Spurs are one of the NBA's oldest teams and were at the tail end of a brutal six-game road trip. The Miami game was their fourth game on the road in five nights. Popovich likes to give his veterans nights off now and then and by doing so against the Heat, he was letting the commissioner exactly what he though about his team's (and the league in general's) scheduling.
Well, Stern got the message and was not impressed. This was a nationally televised game, marketed as a matchup between two of the league's top teams. Stern came down hard on the Spurs for sending out their 'B' team hitting them with a $250,000 fine.
Ironically, the game ended up being quite entertaining as Miami barely pulled out a 105-100 victory against the Spurs subs.
Part of me is now hoping the Spurs win the title now just to see the look on Stern's face as he is forced to hand over the trophy to a grinning Popovich.
La La Land
The Lakers continued to puzzle this week as they struggled to find the rhythm under Mike D'Antoni.
First, they dropped a narrow 79-77 decision at home against the Pacers. Next thing you know they can 16 three-pointers in routing the Denver Nuggets.
And then on Sunday, they go right back to their bad form and lose to the Orlando Magic as Dwight Howard missed seven free throws in the fourth quarter against his old team.
Oh, and Pau Gasol also continued to struggle this week which leads us to...
Quote of the Week
And that is why I simultaneously love and hate Kobe Bryant.
Statline of the Week
Larry Sanders 10 point, 12 rebound and 10 block effort in the Bucks loss against Minnesota. I definitely could not have predicted a triple-double coming from Sanders this year.
Dunk of the Week
Blake Griffin threw down a monster alley-oop from Chris Paul against the Timberwolves, but the dunk of the week goes to Danilo Gallinari who grabbed a rebound on the defensive glass against the Lakers, dribbled the length of the court and flushed a big one-hander over the Lakers D.
Slick Rick was the halftime entertainment for last Monday's battle of the boroughs between the Knicks and Nets. The performance was anything but slick as Rick slurred and sloshed his way through the performance.
This Week's Marquee Matchups
Oklahoma City at Brooklyn (Tuesday at 7:30pm et)
New York at Miami (Thursday at 8pm et on TSN)
LA Lakers at Oklahoma City (Saturday at 9:30pm et)
The Raptors kick off a five-game road trip on Monday night in Denver. With the Nuggets, Clippers and Jazz all on the slate this week wins may be hard to come by. On paper, the easiest of their four games this week comes Wednesday against the Kings. If the Raptors can knock off the Kings and pull off at least one other upset it will be considered a successful week.
Monday, Dec. 3 at Denver 9pm et/6pm pt on TSN
Wednesday, Dec. 5 at Sacramento 10pm et/ 7pm pt
Friday, Dec. 7 at Utah on TSN 9pm et/6pm pt
Sunday, Dec. 9 at LA Clippers 3:30pm/12:30pm on TSN
Projected Raptors record for the week; 1-3.