With a career-high 43 points last night acting as a bolded semicolon in the middle of a wonderfully crafted sentence of a season, we have officially entered the Paul George age of the LeBron epoch. Not to be outdone, Kevin Durant showed up with his fourth career triple-double. Jason Kidd has successfully transferred some of his craftiness as a player to the bench, and subsequently to the floor as well. The Eastern Conference is a desolate wasteland. Also, Tim Duncan is a technically skilled basketball player who should consider becoming a pitching coach upon retirement.
1. Paul George is now Indiana basketball: Before the season began, I staked the claim that Andre Iguodala was damn near the best all-around basketball player this side of LBJ. Now, of course, a Fresno State product who is only a year-and-a-half my senior is making me eat my words for breakfast, lunch and dinner. George put up a 43-3-3 statline against the Trail Blazers last night, including the Pacers’ final 15 points, in a Curry-like display. Although it came in a loss, it is obvious to see how much George has grown in the last two seasons alone. Rest assured that growth will continue, as George has vaunted himself into top-5 player discussions league-wide. By the end of the season, we may very well be discussing a “LeBron, Durant and George” world. Not to be outdone, a night earlier Kevin Durant recorded the first triple-double of his season to carry the Thunder over the Timberwolves. More importantly, he reached a level only MJ himself had before him, at least in recorded history: 30 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 4 blocks and 4 steals. He almost got a penta-penta, which is incredibly impressive. There’s a reason George has a long journey before he can challenge @Kdtrey5 for the right-hand slot among individual NBA superstars.
2. Jason Kidd maintains an absurdly high basketball IQ: At a critical moment in a close game against the Lakers, Nets head coach Jason Kidd asked Tyshawn Taylor to bump into him so he could intentionally spill his drink and disrupt the flow of the game. That is a brilliant example of gamesmanship, and even though the league fined Kidd $50K for his actions, one can’t help but imagine him signing that check with a clever grin on his face, patiently awaiting the next time he can aid his team via a blast from the past.
3. The Eastern Conference is unabashedly abysmal: Only two teams, the Heat and the Pacers, are above .500. Washington, Boston and Charlotte currently own playoff spots. If basketball was a single conference, none of the 3-8 seeds would be anywhere near a playoff spot. Much to the chagrin of fans, the Knicks and the Nets, they of eight combined wins, have to play each other on Thursday night. These teams are solely relevant due to their proximity to nationally-recognized media and an area of high population density. Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t care that Metta World Peace and Kenyon Martin got into a dispute over “pasta.”
And-1: Tim Duncan can curve a basketball 75 feet across the court for an assist. No, really. Look at this. I could watch it all day and continuously be astounded. It is stupid impressive how good Tim Duncan is at thinking about basketball and then executing it. Duncan has mastered every part of basketball skill, and the public may never again see a player with his unique blend of talent, dedication and all-around greatness. Next time around, surely, we will appreciate it. Or maybe that next player will find himself in a larger market. Oh, wait…