You got to love the rookie of the year LaMelo Ball. Basketball is just about showboating as it is about respect. The crowds come to watch plays like this one. This was Friday night NBA, LaMelo’s Hornets taking on basement franchise Orlando Magic. Hornets were set on course for the win(which never happened) by plays like this. LaMelo was switched on to the possibilities, the pass to Wagner on the corner of the arch. From there he had teh freedom to do what he wants with the basketball. What did he choose? To put it between his legs on the transition just for good measure as he waited for Bridges to come from behind him. Bridges doesn’t need a second invite to slam home the dunk. I bet you this rubbed Orlando the wrong way and galvanized them to produce a 4th quarter comeback to seal a rare win just their 8th of teh campaign.
The technique by Burkina attacking midfielder Gustavo Sangare in scoring the opening goal from the Africa Cup Of Nations caught my attention. Coming from a cross from Traore, keeping the ball down as well as on target takes some skill. His body shift at the right moment also made the goal possible.This came after a period of pressure from the Burkinabe in which Onana from Ajax saw his goal live a charmed life. First from the clearance on the line then from the shot-cum-cross. Onana should have made sure to collect the ball when he came out to cut the cross but his height sometimes is his undoing. Two penalty awards for Cameroon would save the day for the hosts but it looks like its going to be a tough tournament for both these teams.
The Houston Rockets have sadly never matched the heights of 1994 when Hakeem “the Dream ” Olajuwon made guarding such a laborious chore. They like to win ugly. Sometimes that is not such a bad thing hey especially if you are struggling defensively as they are. But they have time and youth on their side. One of the promising young players is rookie Josh Cristopher who was the first round pick and 24th overall. Check out this steal from Russel Westbrook which makes the play of the week. Look Russ is having an iffy season I get that so he wanted to show off a little. Get the pass out early to Carmelo (number 7) who is open to his right and give your team a chance. But no he underestimated the rookie who had eyes fixed on the ball. There was no catching him from that point, exclamation point flush to rub salt in the Laker wound to tie the game with the Q1 winding. The Rockets ended up shipping 132 points to LA in the 29 December 2021 match showing why exactly they are the tail of the Eastern Conference to lose this one. They are in a rut and as far as this season goes they wont make the play offs. But sometimes patience pays off, they will come good in two to three years.
For the second week in running, an Arsenal lad has taken my player of the week. The gunners are on a roll in both league and cup games 6 wins on the trot. In this play one of the fringe players Eddie Nketiah gives Mikel Arteta another selection headache with a goal from the top drawer. This was part of a hat trick of goals against Sunderland, a third tier team in the Carabao Cup. Do not let the lower status of the opposition fool you, they played pretty decently up to half time in this match. Eddie hat trick goal takes the gong this week. This was a goal made by Pepe, another fringe player who nutmegs a helpless Denver Hume. Eddie has a lot to do after Pepe squares it to him, that is no lie. He has a defender on him and there is no passing options available to him. The awareness to flick it past the Sunderland goalie BELIES HIS 22 YEARS OF AGE. The young man has reportedly asked to leave the Emirates sensing first team opportunities will be rare. After this display he is worth keeping seeing as Aubameyang’s time at Arsenal may be coming to an end.
Lakers signed Isaiah Thomas on a 10 day contract as health protocols and injuries took their toll on the team. No Dwight Howard and Avery Bradley for them. The Wolves without Anthony Edwards and Prince. Lakers go into this one 16-13 and 6th the West. Minnesota are 9th in the standings at 13-15 so I expected a close encounter. Towns strong on the paint for Minnesota, check out 6-2 Wolves. Very little that the defender can do just watch, stand tall and hope for the best. Wolves were all over LA in the first Q. Watch out Townes’s block on Brown. A little too predictable from the Laker don’t you think? Way too many turnovers in the first Q for my liking from both sides thus the low scoring first stanza wasn’t that big of a surprise. Best play from LA thus far, 21-14 Minnesota. Ball movement mesmerizing finished off by the flush from LeBron. Just look at that big space inside the arch. Like an open invite. Big assist to Rondo and Westbrook
Look, the Lakers defense wasn’t that good today. But it had its moments. Watch LeBron pick the ball off the head of the attacker at 29-22 taking advantage of the attacker’s short height. But Minnesota always made sure they were always s step ahead on the scoreboard. LA couldn’t cope with Townes on the paint and shooting from FG from Russell. A big Q3 was needed from the Lakers if they were to win this one. Not a good start though. 59-47 Wolves. James aiming straight at the head of the defender, turnover to Minnesota and easy bucket. Was it an accident? Victim seemed to think so. This match was a poor by his standards. We didn’t see the devastating combo with Anthony Davis such as at 61-53, Wolves, often enough. A 20 point Wolves lead going into Q4 was a big mountain to climb for any team. One player with pride intact, Isaiah Thomas. He nailed a technically great three pointer at 90-71. Short guy getting the elevation right. In truth Timberwolves looked the hungrier of the two sides. Watch the huge offensive rebound by Vanderbilt at 98-79 and resultant 3 by Beverly. Minnesota comfortable and deserved winners.