We’re a month away from the All-Star break, and we can write certain teams off, right.
Such as the Orlando Magic — except for the fact that they just went into Staples Center and snapped their 10-game skid against a Los Angeles Clippers team that has the NBA’s best record.
Or the Philadelphia 76ers, who just got done playing 12 of 13 on the road and followed a 10-6 start by losing 16 of their next 22 as they played 12 of 15 on the road. Now, they get 12 of their next 13 at home — and this seems like a good time to remind everyone that they looked like the worst team in the NBA last April before reaching the playoffs as a No. 8 seed and kept going until May 26, when they lost Game 7 of the second round at Boston.
Or the Los Angeles Lakers, who are on a six-game losing streak for the first time in six years but are ready to get serious. Seriously.
“I told the team, the biggest thing is our season starts Sunday,” coach Mike D’Antoni said after Kevin Durant dropped 42 on them Friday night at Staples. “We’ve got to make a run. We’ve got one shot at it, and everybody needs to get ready mentally and physically. From there on, we can’t make any more false steps. That’s just how it is. We put ourselves in this ditch, and we’re the only ones that can get it out, and hopefully we can get some guys back and start our season Sunday.”
Truth be told, the Lakers are every bit in the playoff race as are the Orlando Magic, who had the good fortune of being at the forefront of the Montenegrin revolution — you know, the new dynamic that the sweeping the NBA. Any 7-footer who doesn’t know where Podgorica is does not deserve to be voted an All-Star starter — if that’s the way folks still voted. The anti-Montenegrins who designed the All-Star ballot did away with the center position, depriving us of the Nikola Pekovic-Nikola Vucevic jump ball we all were longing to see in Houston a month from now at the league’s showcase event.
Just kidding. Anyone who follows the league closely knows that J.J. Hickson (20 double-doubles) should be jumping center against Al Horford (18 double-doubles) in the All-Star game. We’ll just have to settle for Dwight Howard vs. Kevin Garnett or Chris Bosh, depending on whose supporters stuff the ballot box the most (never under estimated Floridians when it comes to election shenanigans).
Voting for All-Star starters ends Monday, and then the fun part happens — we get to dissect who got picked as reserves by the coaches and who got snubbed. Then comes the game itself, the trade deadline four days later, then the dog days when 99 percent of the country hopes Duke does what it did yesterday — loses.
Anyway, John Wall is back, Grant Hill is back, and Andrew Bynum might be walking without a cane by this point. Could Bynum end up being the MVP if he leads the Sixers into a late-season push that lands them in the playoffs.
Just a little food for thought as we get to the ranks that really (do not) matter – the MVP ranks as of Jan. 13. Here they are …