Los Angeles is the basketball capital of the world. The home of the Lakers, the sport’s most storied franchise, is also the breeding ground for many of the NBA’s best ballers, and will likely continue to be for a long, long time.
Two of the most notable current alumni of the city of angels squared off in Toronto last night, and got to reawaken some friendly childhood rivalry while they did so. DeMar DeRozan and James Harden go way back, and DeRozan’s 42 points in a 99-96 Raptors victory over the Houston Rockets sent DeRozan into some delightful nostalgia about their bond.
"He didn't have no beard back then," DeRozan kidded about Harden, after the win. "It's definitely cool because we've been playing against each other since we were kids. That’s one of my close friends in the league to this day. I'm close to his family, he's close to my family, so it's always cool. Now we can cherish this 20 years from now, 30 years from now, just joking, you know, have fun together."
DeMar, of course, might end up cherishing it more than James. Harden’s 31 points, five rebounds and five assists weren’t enough to push Houston to a road victory, one they needed in their race toward optimal playoff seeding. As the Western Conference standings lie today, they’re in the conference’s No. 3 spot, and would face the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. Taking the second position from the Memphis Grizzlies would net them the much more beatable Dallas Mavericks.
Toronto, meanwhile, is trying to bump up from No. 4 in the East, and displace the three-seeded Chicago Bulls. As it stands, they’d face John Wall and the Washington Wizards to start the playoffs. If they can get ahead of Chicago, though, they’ll go up against the unseasoned Milwaukee Bucks. Stay tuned as these races develop.
— John Wilmes