By Paul Meadors | Sports Editor
LaMelo has a ball for Chino Hills
Late on Feb 7, around 10:48 p.m. I would guess, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed as I often do, catching up on the happenings and going ons in the Twitterverse and then I saw it – the number 92. Then it popped up again a few Tweets later, and there it was again, and again with exclamation points and emojis galore. I thought to myself that this couldn’t be right, but my shock turned into confirmation as I fully realized that Chino Hills sophomore guard LaMelo Ball had just scored 92 points in a single high school basketball game.
Now, being a basketball junkie (and of course high school basketball in general) I am well aware of the show in SoCal that is the Chino Hills basketball team and the famous Ball Brothers Trio that made national news last year with their points a plenty offense, winning a state title, No. 1 national ranking and 35-0 record. Oldest bro Lonzo is now a record-setting freshman at UCLA, middle child and senior LiAngelo scored 72 points in a game earlier this year and LaMelo, well, he made his own national news, leading off the 11 p.m. SportsCenter.
But this 92 thing, good golly, that’s a lot of points. Surely the high-haired 6-foot-2 guard got scorching hot, perhaps he made between 18-20 3s and a bunch o’ layups, scoring in volumes against a paper thin defense; the final score was 146-123 in a 32-minute game, a California state record for points in a non-overtime game, a 36.5 points per quarter pace. It’s tough to wrap your brain around such things.
There have been 19 boys and 6 girls who have scored at least 100 points in a high school basketball game and LaMelo was eight away from basketball immortality. (And who can forget Herman Saygar’s 113 points in Culver’s 154-10 win over Winamac in 1913 in Indiana? What a time to be alive!)
Then the video clips started to trickle in and that’s when my amazement turned a 180 faster than you can say cherry pick. There was LaMelo jogging back on defense, hanging out at halfcourt waiting for a home run pass after a rebound or even a made shot by opponent Los Osos. He drove to the rim with little resistance and chucked up off balance 3-pointers in a flurry. It resembled a glorified layup line at times. His final stats: 37-61 from the field, 7-22 from beyond the arc and 11-14 free throws, 63 points in the second half and 41 in the fourth quarter.
Well alrighty then.
Now, before you think I’m going all “get off my lawn you darn kids!” isn’t the goal of basketball to score more points than the other team? There have been lots of innovations and tweaks to the game of basketball over its history so perhaps Chino Hills has found something that works extremely well for them and critics beware, we ain’t changing for no one. Perhaps their motto is only the scoreboard matters not how you get there. Heck, they won a state title last year and are 26-1 this season.
But I can’t help but wonder about all intricate details of the game of basketball and how, when firing on all cylinders is a beautiful game to watch; the help defense, the extra pass to an open teammate, accepting the challenge of not getting beat defensively, scoring within the rhythm of the game, a down screen curl cut for a tough, driving layup.
These are some of my favorite things.
Best four words ever; pitchers and catchers report
What were you doing on Valentine’s Day this year? Perhaps a lovely dinner date and a movie with your significant other. Maybe you were scrambling online at 2 o’clock, looking for a flower shop to deliver a bouquet for a last minute save. For me, I had a wonderful time with my 13 year-old daughter at the Twenty One Pilots concert at the Save Mart Center. Not kidding, I love those guys.
But for 16 Major League Baseball teams, Feb. 14 signified four of the greatest words that can be uttered by man – pitchers and catchers report. Spring training. The Cactus and Grapefruit League in Arizona and Florida respectively. Music to my ears. By Feb. 21, all 30 teams’ pitchers, catchers and full squads will have reported.
The Los Angeles Dodgers used their moolah in resigning closer Kenley Jansen, resurgent pitcher Rich Hill and third baseman Justin Turner. No big, new-to-team free agents for the boys in blue.
The Giants shored up their bullpen deficiencies in signing Mark Melancon and that’s basically it. They’ll be riding the starting pitching wave of Mad-Bum, Cueto and Samardzija and the bats of Belt, Posey and Pence. Like the Dodgers no new splashes either.
And then there’s the Oakland A’s, still small market (if you haven’t read “Moneyball” the time in now) and thrifty in their spending. After Sonny Gray, they have a pitching staff unfamiliar as backup singers at a county fair. They were able to sign Santiago Casilla (yes, that guy) and Rajai Davis and third baseman Trevor Plouffe. And us Central Valley folks sure love ourselves some Stephen Vogt, and we’re pleased as punch to see he’s back.
Spring training is pure joy to keep tabs on, from the hot-shot youngsters trying to make an impression to the journeyman trying to make the team to the guys getting an inning in here and there, there’s a little something for everyone.
Boogie no more: Kings trade Cousins
What’s surreal moment it was to watch DeMarcus Cousins at the post NBA All-Star Game press conference when he was informed he was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the New Orleans Pelicans. Literally mid-sentence amid a myriad of reporters he was informed through a whisper that he was no longer a King, the only pro team he would know, thus ending eight years of more up and downs than the Giant Dipper roller coaster at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
Ironically the All-Star game was held in New Orleans, now his new team. He’ll join forces with fellow big man Anthony Davis, forming impressive bookends to be sure.
There are many ways to describe the 6-foot-11, 270 pound Cousins; talented, skilled, heart-of-gold, impulsive, lazy, volatile. His talent is immense; big men who can move like him, shoot like him and pass like him are rare. But just how much drama and incohesiveness can one team take? It seemed when the Kings would win a few games in a row Happy Boogie (his nickname since his one year at Kentucky) would emerge, but when they went into a tailspin, forget about it.
Numbers can be misleading at times (one could think how is a team going to replace 28 points and 10.5 rebounds that Cousins gives the team) but here are some that stand out: 25, 24, 22, 28, 28, 29, 33 and 34. Those are the amount of wins each year the Kings have with Cousins as their centerpiece.
So, the Kings’ brass flipped Cousins for Tyreke Evans, 2016 first-round draft pick Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway and first and second-round draft picks this summer. There was a prevailing thought a lot of teams soured on Cousins due to a questionable attitude (he’s already reached 16 technical fouls this season and every one moving forward now results in one-game suspensions) and some think the Kings got pennies on the dollar in their return.
Vlade Divac said in a press conference it “was the best offer they could get.” That can be pretty telling. National pundits are all over this, but Kings announcer and talk show host Grant Napear Tweeted this: “Trading DMC was an absolute no brainer! There has been a dark cloud over this franchise for years! That cloud is now gone!”
Cousins was due for a huge contract extension from the Kings this summer, five years and $209 million is the report, but now he’s off the books for good and no longer the big presence in Sacramento, but there’s no questions both franchise and player needed a fresh start.