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Kobe Bryant, LeBron James
If this was a preview of The Finals, Kobe Bryant (left) has reason to be hacked off.
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

24-second thoughts: Steamed Kobe and hot LeBron ... ho ho ho

Posted Dec 27 2010 11:25AM

24-second thoughts:

24 -- Well, at least now the Lakers can stop fretting about how they're going to beat Miami in the NBA Finals. It's getting out of the second round that's reason to worry.

23 -- Since Larry Brown, at 70, says he's probably done with coaching, how long before Flip Saunders, Paul Westphal and Vinny Del Negro should start looking over their shoulders?

22 -- So the Miami megastars needed a month to pull it together and it only took Orlando two games to figure it all out?

21 -- Sorry, Pat Riley. Otis Smith says you don't get to clear out a space on the trophy shelf for the Executive of the Year Award just yet.

20 -- You can count the mid-season acquisitions that have produced championships over the past two decades on two fingers: Rasheed Wallace (2004) and Clyde Drexler (1995).

19 -- In you have haven't noticed, the best two teams in the league so far will meet on Thursday when the Spurs visit Dallas.

18 -- Why was everyone surprised when LeBron James said he might be in favor of the contraction of teams in the NBA? Didn't he already start the process by shutting down Cleveland? And nothing says solidarity with your union brothers than advocating the elimination of jobs.

17 -- There's surely nothing better to get an oboe player to hit all of the right notes than Video the sight of the sight of Shaquille O'Neal with a stick in his hand as he conducts the Boston Pops.

16 -- When Kobe Bryant snorted and ranted in the locker room about the Lakers who don't have the right focus, was he talking at all about the guy who has shot just 35.9 percent (47-for-131) in their six games (2-4) against teams at .500 or better this season and scored just 17 against the Heat?

15 -- How much will Kobe's mood improve if the Lakers drop their next game, Tuesday at San Antonio?

14 -- Now that Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler and Larry Brown are gone, who's left in Charlotte for Michael Jordan to blame?

13 -- Uh, well, that would be you, Paul Silas.

12 -- Since J.R. Smith says he no longer wants to take part in the slam dunk competition at NBA All-Star Weekend, should we make him the prohibitive favorite in the layup contest?

11 -- This is exactly what Doug Collins does: Goes into a downtrodden situation, gets the players to buy into his system, puts a premium on defense and, after a slow start, gets them going in the right direction. He's done it in Chicago, Detroit, Washington and now Philly. Even though the Nuggets were without Carmelo Anthony, winning in Denver is another step in the process.

10 -- You bet there's a new world order. The Lakers spent all of 34 days out of first place in their conference over the previous two seasons. Now they trail the Spurs by five games, the Mavericks by three and, based on the current standings, would have to beat them both in the playoffs to get out of the West.

9 -- C'mon, admit it. Wouldn't you like to see Brendan Haywood (25.5 percent) pick up the phone and ask Shaquille O'Neal (56.3) for help with his free throws?

8 -- Plenty of people have stayed in China longer on vacation longer than than Steve Francis in his latest career move. Word is the erstwhile Stevie Franchise in Houston is ready to pull the plug on his stint with the Beijing Shougang Ducks of the CBA after just six games. Evidently his goose is cooked over riding the bench.

7 -- If I'm looking to stake out an early seat for Game 7 of the 2011 NBA Finals, I'm still leaning toward the tent, grill and space heater already set up outside the TD Banknorth Garden over slathering on coconut lotion and ordering another mojito on the steps of American Airlines Arena.

6 -- Stan Van Gundy mockingly says he's seen the light and is now ready for 24 consecutive hours of nonstop NBA games on Christmas Day. Of course, few things would ever be more fun than listening to Stan fill the air with holiday invective -- ho-ho-uh-oh -- just after that 2 a.m. start.

5 -- How concerned should Kobe and his buddies be that the fate of their entire season might rest upon three words: Andrew Bynum's knee?

4 --That's a short list -- Larry Bird (1984-86), Wilt Chamberlain (1966-68) and Bill Russell (1961-63) -- that LeBron James appears on his way to joining with three consecutive MVP awards.

3 -- Taking into account the rumors of a possible coaching change in Sacramento, wouldn't those Kings huddles with coach Bill Walton be infinitely more entertaining than the games? "That's the worst excuse for an offense since the Persians were beaten by the Greeks at Thermopylae in 480 B.C!"

2 -- Has any role player learned exactly where and how he fits into the system better than Glen Davis in Boston?

1 -- Is it possible that this time next year Ron Artest will be hoping to win a championship ring in a $600,000 lottery just so he can remember what one looks like?

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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