NBA wRap: Kobe’s return, Bulls vs Pelicans triple OT

Enzo Flojo
Kobe Bryant returns to the court after an 8-month lay off, and Bulls, Pelicans triple overtime draws career-game from Ryan Anderson

BLACK MAMBA IS BACK. Kobe Bryant grabs a rebound in his first game of the 2013-2014 season coming back from an achilles tear. Photo by Paul Buck/EPA

MANILA, Philippines – After being out for 8 months because of an achilles injury, Kobe Bryant hit the court for the first time this season against the Toronto Raptors. More on that later. The win streaks of both the Blazers and the Spurs were unceremoniously snapped, which means Miami holds the league’s longest streak at nine games. At least the Pacers remained on top with a 15-1 start through the end of the season’s first month (Manila time). Every NBA fan is talking about the New York teams and Derrick Rose’s return prior to the season, but the Pacers are showing the way.

The Best Games

Chicago Bulls vs New Orleans Pelicans

How can a triple-overtime game NOT be one of the week’s best? It was all capped by a huge three-point play by Jrue Holiday, who put in the deciding points with under 3 ticks to go in the third extra session. This was made even more significant by two things: New Orleans Pelicas were playing on the road and this was the Pelicans’ first game without leading scorer and rebounder Anthony Davis. Aside from Holiday, other guys who stepped up were Ryan Anderson, who dropped a career-high 36 points, and Eric Gordon, who canned 23 markers. Holiday was the one who actually tied the game and sent it to a first OT. He finished with a 19-points and 12 assists.

This was the Bulls’ first loss at the United Center this season. They wasted huge games from Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, and Mike Dunleavy, Jr., who scored 37, 26, and 23 points respectively.

New York Knicks vs Brookliyn Nets

Another great game was the rout of the Nets at the hands of their cross-town rivals, the Knicks. Melo proclaimed his disgust at how his team has been playing, which seemed to light a fire in his teammates, as they responded by beating Brooklyn black and blue. Anthony scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and handed out 6 assists in a virtuoso performance, while supporting cast members Iman Shumpert and Andrea Bargnani contributed 17 and 16 points respectively for the Knicks. Coach Mike Woodson’s wards halted their nine-game losing skid. Once again, Joe Johnson shot mostly blanks for the Nets, who lost their 14th game of the season. Johnson shot just 4/15 from the floor to finish with 13 points. This was Brooklyn’s sixth loss at home.

The Best Performers

KD had a stellar outing against the Minnesota Timberwolves this past week, helping OKC win, 113-103, at home. Durant shot 14/21 from the field, including ¾ from rainbow country, to total 32 points. He also hauled down 10 rebounds and had 12 assists to round out a superb triple-double performance. The former scoring titlist also tallied 4 steals and 4 blocked shots to underscore his status as one of the best players on the planet. This turned out to be OKC’s ninth straight home win. We don’t see plenty of triple-doubles from Durant, who’s known really as more of an offensive powerhouse, but more well-rounded games like this will certainly help his case as a strong MVP candidate this season.

A few days later, Durant and the Thunder were on the receiving end of another great game, but this time it was delivered by Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge outdueled KD in this encounter, scoring 38 points to Durant’s 33. The 6’11 Texas native shot 17/28 from the field while also hauling down 13 boards on top of 5 dimes and 3 steals. This was the Blazers’ 16th win of the season, which placed them firmly at the top of the Western Conference. Aldridge has always been a great player, but this season has seen a progression in his game that was not really expected. If he remains consistent with this kind of production, then his “jump” from being a borderline all-star to true top-flight superstar will be one of the most amazing in recent history.

Key Developments

5-time NBA Champion Kobe Bryant returned to action Sunday (Monday Philippine time) against the Toronto Raptors after an 8-month lay off caused by an achilles tear he suffered prior to the start of the 2012-2013 playoffs.

The Black Mamba tallied a humble, by Kobe standards, 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. But the star of the game was Raptors forward Amir Johnson who scored a career-high 32 points and 10 rebounds to lead Toronto to a 106-94 win over the Lakers.

We love the game of rookie sensation Michael Carter-Williams. His size and skill-set remind us of Penny Hardaway back in the day. Another similarity is both players’ penchant for getting injured. The unfortunate thing for MCW is that he hasn’t even gone through two months in his NBA career and he’s already been sideline a couple of times, the latest of which is a skin infection that has placed him in the hospital for the past three nights. This is a shame, of course, as he was the East’s Rookie of the Month for November. Here’s to hoping he recovers fast and continues to show us just how good he can be. – with reports from Rodneil Quiteles/

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