A 10-0 close-out run highlighted by Mbah a Moute’s 3-pointer gives #1 UCLA a 68-63 win over #11 Michigan State, after trailing for 39 minutes — and by as much as 13; The Power of Love, Westbrook, and Shipp left the Spartans smartin’, and Bruins sportin’… smiles
Tom Izzo and his #11 Michigan State Spartans came into the game with a plan: Pound Love into the ground. While many of your ex-wives may have worked that strategy to perfection, the scheme failed for MSU. Izzo sent wave after wave of big goon at the Bruin Freshman Center, TRYING to unnerve him with overly-physical play. All the goons got into foul trouble, but they couldn’t slow down Kevin. Love was able to shake off the assault and battery, to score 21 points and snag 11 Rebounds, including about 8 on the Offensive end.
Love was platooned with Lorenzo Mata-Real in the final minute, allowing Mata-Real to play Defense, and Love play Offense, while keeping Mata-Real off the foul line, where he is struggling monumentally. With the Bruins down by 5 in the closing moments, Love hit a tough bank shot and converted the “and one.” Two other huge plays: Russell Westbrook got a steal and dunk, and Alfred Aboya got a steal, drive that led to a follow-dunk byLuc. Finally, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s clutch shot from Downtown gave the Bruins the lead. Then MSU threw up a three-point airball — against Mata-Real’s tough Defense — and Josh Shipp hit two free throws to ice it. Shipp was the go-to guy during the Comeback, but Westbrook’s intense effort was driving everything, and Love’s strength and relentlessness were the glue that held it all together. Aboya also contributed mightily — on both ends of the floor — including an alley oop dunk from a great Love Assist.
The main thing to take away from this game is that, once again, Ben Howland’s squad refuses to lose, and never says die, regardless of the adversity on and off the Court. Case in point: The Bruins didn’t score a single point in the first five minutes of the game, but they weren’t fazed, and despite trailing by 11 at the Half, the Bruins came out fired up, and more importantly, composed and patient. They never panicked, and they methodically chipped away at the lead, without ever going into desperation mode.
Yes, the Bruins look fallible on Offense, especially against the Zone, but there is absolutely NO DOUBT that their level of Offensive execution increases exponentially as soon as Darren Collison returns, allowing Westbrook to keep doing his thing, from a more natural position for him. Their Defense, too, will improve, with Collison’s unparalleled quickness and magic hands, which is good to know, because the Bruin D actually broke down several times in this game, way more than in any game this Season.
Finally: Think of the depth that they will have when healthy. Even with 3 Players out, the Bruins still managed to be the stronger, fresher, more energetic team at the end of a very physical game, on the SECOND NIGHT OF A BACK-TO-BACK. That really speaks volumes for the conditioning that Howland has gotten his Players to buy into. Not to mention buying into the confidence that they can win any game, regardless of how bad they start it off.
And in a shocking piece of NBA-Bruin-Laker News: The Los Angeles Lakers just dealt away Brian Cook and Maurice Evans to Orlando… for…
Ariza, the 4th Year, 6’8″ Forward who was one & done at UCLA, must have really improved since his days as a Knick, because it seems like Cook and Evans are each individually more valuable than Ariza. The Lakers, including Kobe, are NOT PLEASED. Sometimes it’s hard to figure the motivation behind GM Mitch Kupchak’s decisions, but here are four possible illuminating factors/explanations:
1) Phil Jackson says that Ariza is a Defensive FORCE. We don’t remember that being a fact, but PJ knows from where he speaks, and perhaps Evans and Cook were not putting out the Defensive effort that Jackson requires, SO…
2) Cook was in Phil’s Doghouse, and Phil just wanted to send him far away back East, and…
3) Cook and Evans were expensive, while Ariza is in the last year of his Contract, so if they don’t want or need him next Season, it’s no financial hardship for them. However…
4) Kupchak COULD be doing what the Angels just did: Trade away a popular player for less than he’s worth, but in order to set up a SECOND trade, with another team. The Angels dealt repeat Golden Glover Orlando Cabrera, who just hit .300 this year, to the Chisox for Pitcher Jon Garland. That in itself would SUCK, except that the rumor is, that was just part one in a multi-team deal that will bring a slugger like one of the Miguels (Cabrera or Tejada) to Anaheim. So maybe Ariza shouldn’t settle back into his old Westchester hometown too soon.
Of course, WE hope he stays. That would give Dr. Busc’ Lakers THREE Bruins: Jordan Farmar, Ariza, and Special Asst. Coach Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. If only Buss would now sell the team to the the Samueli’s (The Bruin owners of the Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks) or (another Bruin Bazillionaire) Eli Broad, who could and should just utilize his home-building company to renovate Pauley in the blink of an eye, and then buy the Lakers too. And this website, for a mere fraction of its worth. C’mon, Eli — Help a fellow Bruin out!