You would have thought that Jason Terry could have found a way to hit one more three-pointer in a 122-86 victory to make the NBA Playoffs record all his own. Instead his nine treys tied Rex Chapman, Vince Carter and Ray Allen for the most ever in a postseason game. So he will have to settle for hitting 9-for-10 from behind the arc while setting the “times running down the court pretending to be an airplane” record. As JA Adande cleverly put it, the “Lakers are letting Jason Terry turn this place into DFW airport today.” Pretty good consolation prize, I suppose.
Nevertheless, below is video evidence of all nine of Jason’s treys.
The kick-out pass that Dirk makes on the first one might be the most perfect pass I’ve ever seen. Perfect parabola into Terry’s shooting pocket.
This is a highly underrated aspect of setting up teammates. People concentrate on assists and fancy-pants dishes, but in many instances, a shooter will have to, even if ever so slightly, adjust to the pass and regather himself before letting it fly. These guys are pros so, when open, they still often hit the shot. But when a guy like Dirk makes a pass like this to a shooter like Terry, we may as well give Dirk two of the three points. Everyone in the building knew this one was about to become the FourSquare mayor of twine-ville before Terry even started his release. That’s all Dirk. Very Steve Nashian work by the big German.
In the midst of an embarrassing, sweep-culminating, Jason Terry-three-pointer-fueled, blow-out loss that ended with “You stay classy, San Diego” ejections for both Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum, it started to feel like there was no way that Phil Jackson would return to coach this Lakers roster next season. I suspect that the Zen master is going fishing. Literally — fly fishing in Montana, his favorite hobby and the only sporting endeavor I suspect he ever wants to do again at this point.
And if we can read anything into Kobe’s casual look at the scoreboard in the third quarter, I’m guessing he wouldn’t be mad at Phil if this was his last game ever. This franchise just ended it’s three-straight-NBA-Finals run about as poorly as any team could and these Lakers, as we knew them, are likely never to be heard from again.
Shame, too, because Bynum’s elbow turned this into a game that in no way belongs on Jackson’s resume.
By contrast, here’s Mark Cuban a few minutes later.
It was the best performance during a weekend full of nothing but (the Knicks notwithstanding). Chris Paul was the epitome of basketball brilliance a Game 4 win over the Lakers that evened this series and brought his Hornets within two wins of what has seemed an impossible task for New Orleans: advancing to the second round of the Playoffs.
Tonight, CP3 set or tied game highs, for both teams, in points (27), assists (15), rebounds (13), field goals made (shooting 7-for-14), free throws made and attempted (11-for-11), three pointers made (shooting 2-for-4, tied with Steve Blake and Ron Artest) and steals (2, tied with Artest). He had already recorded a triple double by midway through the third quarter, which was really just when he got started dominating the contest, recording an absolutely insane 23 points, 7 boards and 6 dimes in the second half alone. (h/t Rohan Cruyff)
But it was much more than numbers.
When he’s playing at this level, there are few players in history who have ever seemed so in control of a game. He runs the team with such precise execution and discipline that there are few possessions where the team doesn’t create a decent look at the hoop. And let’s keep in mind that he spent much of the 44 minutes he played tonnight (he played every second of the final two quarters) sharing a court with the likes of NBA immortals Aaron Gray, Marco Bellinelli, Willie Green, Trevor Ariza and Jarrett Jack.
The kid is one of the best five players on the planet. When he plays like this, he might be the best, orchestrating an on-court symphony will the ball in his hands that has the other nine players reacting to his commands like puppets on a string. Mixed metaphors aside, he envisions how a play can develop and then uses subtle dribble moves to reorganize the spatial configuration of everyone on the court, forcing players to relocate into spots that he can then exploit with a shot of his own or, more often, a slick pass to an open teammate who is in a position to score a bucket. It’s artwork.
It’s this nuanced stuff that really separates him from most of the other human beings who have ever worn shorts. But he can also simply wow you with stuff that even my mom could recognize as greatness. The whole arsenal was on display. He hit threes, floaters, layups and mid-range jumpers while using an array of crossovers, through-the-leg-dribbles, spin moves, step-backs and herky-jerky hesitation stuff that kept the defenders powerless to know which weapon Paul was about use to chop the head off of their defense. Here’s the crossover Chris Paul unleashed on Kobe Bryant in the second quarter, for example. Here you can see that even when he over-forces the action (in the sense of coming close to taking a bad shot on key play), he often still makes the right decision in the end. And above you can see in the video embedded at the top of the post how unfair it gets when he plays around with a guy twice his size. (HD/non-EPMD version here.)
For all his in-game exploits, he was perhaps equally entertaining after the game. On the court, he offered some good comments about battling and getting chippy with his pal Kobe Bryant. “He’d do me the same way,” said CP3. “It’s all in fun. But this our livelihood. I don’t care if my mama was out on the court — I’d hit her too.”
“My performance? It was cool. It was enough to get us the win. It was, it was cool. Ya know what I mean. Fun. Ya know what I mean. It’s fun. Ya know, it being Easter Sunday, I’m just so thankful to get to say this is my way of life, this is my job. They pay me to do this. They crazy. They done lost they mind, man. I’m just happy I get to hoop. Get to play ball.”
Hard not to appreciate such sentiments. He wasn’t done though, keeping the comedy act going while playing around with teammate Trever Ariza. First he dropped a “Nice answer, Trev” as if he was a smart-ass uncle at one point after Ariza gave a pedestrian response about his days as a Laker and then he ended the post-game media session with a retort that garnered a laugh break.
Ariza was asked how he thought CP3 played and started to wax poetic about his point guard’s wonderful game, focusing on how impressive it was for the little man to lead the team in rebounding with 13 when both Trevor and Emeka Okafor only had 6. “He’s maybe six feet— ” said Ariza before the height-conscious Paul cut him off, interrupting with, “WHAT!?!?! Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa, Trev. Whoa, Trev. I got on dress shoes today, too, buddy.”
Ariza continued with his response but it was clear that the press conference was over. Just like the game, the 5-foot-something assassin owned the media session, getting in some final words and they both walked off.
“Wow. Wow. Whoa. I thought we was better than that. ‘Maybe six feet?’”
Regardless, he seemed about twice that tall in Game 4 while giving the world a lesson on how the sport of basketball should be played.