Lion Face/Lemon Face 12/26/11: Re-Introducing League Pass Alert

It’s not that we don’t love the high-marquee contenders squaring off on a Christmas Day marathon. We do. We really do.

But where the NBA is really at is last night. 12 games, one League Pass free preview, and a whole lot of faces.

Which faces, you ask? Well, that’s why Connor “Coner” Huchton and myself have combined forces to conveniently categorize all faces into two Affleck/Damon categories.

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Lion Face: Stephen Curry

In a game where the entirety of Golden State (population: millions) seemed to play well, Stephen Curry looked the best. We’ve come to expect 21 points on a given night from Curry, but 12 assists and seven rebounds against one of the league’s best defenses goes beyond the typical Curry game. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Curry’s sterling defense against reigning MVP point guard Derrick Rose coupled with seven (yes, you read that correctly) steals. Curry left the game late in the 4th quarter with another ankle injury, but the injury appeared (thankfully) less than severe. Injury or no injury, Golden State’s triumphant win largely belonged to Curry. -Connor Huchton

Lemon Face: James Johnson’s hair

Photo from Sergey Yeliseev via Flickr

-Noam Schiller

Lion Face: Eric Gordon

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Eric Gordon isn’t worried about getting traded from a contender to a possible lottery team. The change of scenery doesn’t phase him. Send him to New Orleans, and he’ll play the role of franchise player, however temporary. Need a primary scorer, and he’s ready. Need someone to look mildly unenthused in an introductory press conference, and he’s ready. And when New Orleans needed a game-winning shot, he was ready. That final pull-up jumper wasn’t quite Chris Paul, but it sure was Eric Gordon. -CH

Lemon Face: Kevin Martin

You know what’s worse than trade rumors? Being involved in a voided trade. Sure, Luis Scola has handled it well, but I’m not sure the same can be said for Kevin Martin. He’s been out of sync since “preseason” (two games and a whole lot of confusion), and looked terrible against the Magic. Hopefully this is just a cold streak and nothing else, but until that breaks, Martin might want to search for that jumper. 1-10 FG from one of the league’s most efficient players? I don’t understand what’s happening. -CH

Lion Face: Byron Mullens

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Don’t you dare call him B.J. That Mullens is long gone. This? This is BYRON MULLENS. And he will pick and pop you into oblivion if you don’t respect him. Those career high 10 points that just sunk the Bucks? That’s just the start. Beware of Byron. -NS

Lemon Face: the Washington Wizards

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What’s worst: losing to the Nets, at home, after going up 21 in the second quarter… turning the ball over down 5 with 17 seconds left and completely forgetting to foul… or complaining about your touches after the first game of the season? I’ll give you a hint: none of them is the worst, because the Wizards are the worst. Come back, Jan Vesely. -NS

Lion Face: Spencer Hawes

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When Spencer “Rondo” Hawes took the court on Monday night, we all knew what to expect: A severe triple-double threat, a true offensive threat. Wait a second, that totally wasn’t what we expected. But somehow, that’s what we got. Though he fell short one assist of triple-double, I’m sure this is only a sign of things to come. Spencer Hawes: Dynamic Scorer, Passer, and Rebounder. -CH

Lemon Face: Lamar Odom

Lamar wins the questionable pleasure of a second straight Lemon Face, and boy, is he earning them. Two games in, Odom is averaging an ejection for every 2 made field goals, is sporting a negative PER, and worse of all, he still isn’t Tyson Chandler. Pretty much the only positive thing one can say about him is that by coming off the bench, he’s still eligible for 6th man of the year. -NS

Lion Face: Ricky Rubio

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Ricky Rubio can’t play in the pros. Never mind the way he sees things that nobody else sees, and then he feeds those things with a no-look bounce pass. Never mind the way every single second with him on the court is an adventure, how the crowd is on its toes for the entire duration of his stay. Never mind that dreamy face. Nope. Ricky Rubio can’t play in the pros. -NS

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Lemon Face: Michael Beasley

Michael Beasley didn’t play his worst game. Sure, 24 points on 27 shots is bad by most measures, but he wasn’t a complete hinderance to the ‘Wolves. At times, he even contributed admirably. But damaging the flow of a now beautiful, Rubio-led offense is not easily forgiven. Don’t shoot those odd fade-aways with two guys on you, Beasley. Rubio is here, and he’s determined to get you a better shot than that. -CH

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Lion Face: Roy Hibbert

This is the Hibbert we saw to start last season, and the Hibbert whose absence we lamented once January came along. 16 points, 14 boards and 3 blocks. Swift decisions, a soft touch, a defensive presence. He even scored on the pick-and-roll! All we can do is hope we get to keep watching this guy, because a good Hibbert transcends international borders and languages. -NS

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Lemon Face: Stephen Jackson

I imagined it would be a glorious, Stephen Jackson-y return when the Bucks came to Charlotte for their first game of the season. The notorious Captain Jack was returning to the team that traded him, and I expected to see a virtuoso performance from the Captain upon his return. Instead, we got an oddly unenthused, out-of-sync performance from Jackson, a 1-5 shooting effort in 17 minutes that left me asking when the Stephen Jackson I expected would check into the game. -CH

Lion Face: Kyle Lowry

This is Kyle Lowry’s year. I can feel it in the basketball winds all around me. By March, maybe we won’t be so surprised when he plays so well and keeps his offense afloat. But for now, 20 points, 12 assists, and seven rebounds from the esteemed Mr. Lowry is a reason to be excited. Get excited, everyone. Kyle Lowry is back to being a great basketball player. -CH

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Lemon Face: The Detroit Pistons’ Offense

So far, the Pistons have the lowest single-game scoring total in the NBA. Sure, pace adjustments rank them slightly above the Grizzlies, but second-to-last is not exactly an achievement to be proud of. When the only player on your team to shoot above 50% is Jonas Jerebko (love ya, Jonas) and your roster has such offensive luminaries as Greg Monroe and.. uhm… more Greg Monroe, something is very very wrong. -NS

Lion Face: Boris Diaw 

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For all the talk of Boris Diaw’s seemingly endless weight gains and famous nonchalance, he can still play well when he finds a rhythm. And on Monday, Diaw found that rhythm. A near triple double (9 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists) is one thing, but serving as the de-facto point center(?) and essentially running the offense for large periods of time is another. Carmelo Anthony who? This is Boris Diaw’s game. -CH

Lemon Face: Antawn Jamison

We’re not sure when this happened, but some time along the way, Antawn Jamison turned into the worst. And it hurts quite a bit. Just like you don’t want your role model father to be caught for tax fraud, so does it pain us to watch the “consummate professional” slack on defense and chuck his way towards 6 for 20 nights. Soneone should get this guy to a contender – not because he “deserves” it, as was the case when Cleveland salvaged him from Washington, but because watching him in the lottery stains what’s still left of our good will. -NS

Noam Schiller

Noam Schiller lives in Jerusalem, where he sifts through League Pass Broadband delay and insomnia in a misguided effort to watch as much basketball as possible. He usually fails miserably, but is entertained nonetheless. He prefers passing big men to rebounding guards but sees no reason why he should have to compromise on any of them.