Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant (pictured above), wowed a national audience today with a 44 point performance. Is this guy in the same elite class as Kobe Bryant and Lebron James?
Christmas is always one of the most special days of the year. A day of giving. A day of reflection. A day of family time. But it is also always a day of big time NBA basketball. And this year had the makings of being one of the all time greatest Christmas Days of NBA Action. So the games did not exactly pan out to be as close and exciting as expected. There were some big time performances though.
Some of the League’s main MVP candidates put their talents on display for the whole world to see. In the early game, the Knicks sported their traditional “festive (green)” Christmas jerseys. They put on a show and brought home a victory for the jam-packed Madison Square Garden crowd. Two of the League’s top MVP candidates took part in this one.
Rose almost willed his “Noahless” team to victory by filling up the stat sheet. He had 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists. It was quite the performance. Sadly though, he put up 28 shots and committed 7 turnovers. It was an impressive performance. And the 22-year-old out of Memphis continues to wow me with his improvement each time I see him. But I give him a C+ on the day. This is due to the fact that not only did his team lose, but he committed nearly as many turnovers as assists, and he shot well below 50 percent from the floor.
This guy is definitely in the discussion to take home the MVP hardware at this point in the season. He is absolutely lighting up the stat sheet. Today was no different as he put up yet another double/double. 20 points to go with 10 boards and a Knick’s victory is a solid day. He did not exactly wow the crowd with his lowest scoring effort in some time, but he did do enough to lead his team to another victory. I give him a B on the day. An above average performance, but no wow factor.
Game two was a very hotly anticipated matchup. It pitted two teams that have duked it out for the East the past couple of years. Though neither of these teams have a sure-fire MVP candidate, they demonstrate the importance of team basketball as well as anybody.
KG is not the force that we all once knew. The guy can still play defense as well as any guy in the League though, and today he showed some of his old school offensive prowess. Garnett shot a very efficient 10 of 14 from the floor and finished with 22 points. 7 above his regular season average. I give the guy a B+ for the day’s work. He played above average, but his team lost for the first time in 14 games.
How many of you had heard of this guy before today’s game? If you were not a Magic fan, you probably had no idea who this kid out of LSU was. Boy did he show up to play today. Bass shot 8 of 15 from the floor and finished with 21 points to go with 9 boards. Bass averages just 11 points and 5 boards a game. This kid had the best game of his career. He was a main reason why Orlando picked up their biggest victory of the season. I give the kid an A for the day.
Game 3 was the most anticipated game of the entire season thus far in my eyes. All of the talk around the NBA has centered on the Miami Heat since July. The Lakers are the two-time defending champs yet nobody has been talking about them. This matchup featured the likes of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Chris Bosh, and Lamar Odom. Sadly, this game was way overhyped. LA forgot that they had a basketball game today. They did the same thing last Christmas in a showdown with Cleveland. Did it affect the final outcome?
I will admit that I am not the biggest fan of the “King.” But the guy really played an outstanding game today. Plus he kept his composure while a pesky Ron Artest did everything he could to throw him off. James went 8 of 14 from the floor and shot an amazing 5 of 6 from 3 point range. Who says LBJ cannot shoot from the perimeter? Plus James ended up with the first triple/double every recorded on Christmas Day. Nobody can fill the full stat sheet like the King. 27 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, and 4 steals. Give me a break. Plus his team won on the road by 16. I give the guy an A+.
It is very hard to choose a most valuable player for LA on this day. Nobody brought their A game, much less their B game. But Kobe has been the rock of this franchise for some time now. And he did have the best numbers on the day. Bryant finished with 17 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. He really never got a rhythm going though. Could it have been Miami’s outstanding defensive effort? Could it have been the lack of production from his supporting cast? Whatever it was, I give Kobe a D- on the day. Do not take this game as an indicator of things to come though. The Lakers know how to win when they need to. Today was an off day. It also could serve as a wake up call.
The 4th game of the day was another big time matchup. A Nuggets team that has been around the block versus a young and very talented Oklahoma City Thunder team. Plus this was probably the last Christmas that fans would get to watch Carmelo in a Nuggets uniform. Sadly, Carmelo did not play.
This guy has been one of the best big game players in the NBA for over a decade now. He just always comes to play when he is put on the big stage. Well today was no different. The former Piston’s star finished with 30 points, on 10 of 16 shooting. Plus he was a perfect 7 of 7 from the charity stripe. The guy did everything in his power to give his injury riddled team a chance to win. It just was not in the cards tonight. I will give him a B+.
This guy may be the best player in the NBA now. After watching Kobe, Lebron, and Kevin Durant today, it is hard to not consider this guy in the same elite class. The guy has become the face of this franchise that is all the sudden looking like a contender. 44 points on 14 of 20 shooting? Absolutely outrageous. This guy is leading the League in scoring for a reason. He is the leader of the most exciting team to watch in the NBA. Today he just continued to do what he has been doing all year. I give the guy an A+.
To conclude my thoughts on the first 4 games today, Kevin Durant is my MVP. With Lebron James in a very close second. If you have not gotten to watch Durant play a full game this year, tune in next time they are on national television. He has hit that elite level and is a joy to watch. Lastly, I will state that the Heat put on the best overall team performance this afternoon. I know that the Magic’s win over Boston was huge, but they did not exude dominance the way that the South Beach boys did. Miami looked awesome. And believe me, ABC Sports Analyst Jeff Van Gundy will make sure you know it. This guy hated the Heat 10 years ago. What happened? LA will be fine though. They will work out the kinks just like they have in past years. I still have the Lakers winning the title.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.