By John Harris |@JHBasketball
Rondo goes insane for career-high 44 but Heat top Celtics in OT:
In an epic performance for the ages, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo went off for a career-high 44pts to go along with 10 assists and 8 boards but couldn’t stop the Miami Heat from taking a 2-0 lead in their best-of-7 series. Rondo played the entire game (!!) and made a mockery of Miami’s plan to stand off him early as he torched them for 22 first-half points on an array of layups and mid-range jumpers. Lebron James nearly added a triple-double with 34pts, 10rbs and 7ast but it was Wade stepping up late that was key for Miami. Wade went 0-5 from the floor in the first half but shot 8-10 in the second and powered through the defense for big AND1 plays that invigorated the South Beach fans.
Boston adjusted their defense to double Wade at the outset, and the strategy looked to have worked as the green team took a 15pt lead and picked-off numerous passes for easy buckets going the other way. Despite their increased defensive effort they allowed Battier and Chalmers to knock down 3 shots each from downtown as they barricaded the paint but couldn’t get out to the shooters.
Doc Rivers was glad he was talked out of resting Ray Allen, as Jesus Shuttlesworth tied the game with a clutch trifecta from the wing with 38 seconds to play in regulation, just 10 seconds after Paul Pierce had fouled out. James then had two good looks to get the W but they wouldn’t drop. With the game tied in OT at 105, Rondo got raked across the face by Wade but didn’t get the whistle and was saved from a technical by a quick-thinking Doc who called timeout to calm him down. The Heat gradually pulled away but Boston could have had a shot to send it to 2OT had Wade missed the back-end of a pair from the stripe late. Instead Wade knocked it down for a 4pt lead and the Heat head to Beantown with a 2-0 lead.
“Rondo was absolutely amazing. The performance he put on tonight will go down in the record books. … It was a battle, and we never felt like we won the game or lost the game when there were zeros on the clock.”
- Lebron James
Charlotte loses out, New Orleans steals top pick in 2012 NBA Draft:
The New Orleans Hornets stole the top pick in the NBA Draft with the 4th best odds of winning the prize, knocking Charlotte and Washington back into 2nd and 3rd place respectively. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings rounded out the top 5 and every other club was drawn according to the odds.
The new-look Brooklyn Nets had traded their first-round pick to Portland, however it was top-three protected, meaning they would retain it should it fall in one of the prime positions. However the Nets failed to move up, remaining at 6th and so the Trailblazers — who will also pick 11th — will receive Brooklyn’s 6th pick. The Hornets are the only other club to pick twice in the lottery positions, also choosing at number 10 with Minnesota’s pick (via the CP3 trade with the Los Angeles Clippers).
University of Kentucky one-and-done star Anthony Davis is a certain lock to go at #1, but there is no consensus #2 pick with Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, UNC forward Harrison Barnes, UCONN center Andre Drummond and Kentucky forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist all with a chance at the spot.
Lithuanian star Valanciunas set to join-up with Raptors for 2012-13:
Jonas Valanciunas — the 20yr old Lithuanian who was taken with the 5th pick by Toronto last year — looks set to join the Canadian club as buyout talks commenced between the Raptors and his home club Lietuvos Rytas. Valanciunas — an offensively-minded 7ft center — is expected to make an enormous impact in Toronto, both in the short-term and as a long-term franchise player.
“I have no doubt that is the right pick or was the right pick for us [...] We drafted a 19-year-old center prospect and despite the pressure of picking a so-called sexy pick or someone that might be a more-popular pick, we made the pick that we felt was the best decision, long term and short term, for the franchise because it fit right into this building process that we’re going through right now.”
- Bryan Colangelo (Toronto President & GM)
Valanciunas joins the Raptors on the back of several awards, currently holding the FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year and the Lithuanian Player of the Year accolades, in addition to winning the MVP of the Lithuanian All-Star game.
Will wasting Rondo’s huge game come back to haunt C’s? Who will go #2 in late June? What is Valanciunas’ ceiling in the NBA? Hit us up below!
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