Around the Rim: Kobe + Pau = Kapow!

1. Gasol watches as Bryant shows off
Just because the Lakers traded for Pau Gasol doesn’t mean they need him; at least, not against the Wizards. Kobe Bryant exploded upon tipoff, scoring 19 points in the first quarter and leading Los Angeles to a 30-15 lead after 12 minutes. By the end of the game, Bryant scored 30 points and the Lakers left D.C. with a 103-91 victory. Gasol was picked up on Friday, but Lakers coach Phil Jackson isn’t rushing the former All-Star into the lineup, choosing instead to let Gasol get some practice team with the team first while simultaneously healing a nagging injury. Antawn Jamison finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds while Caron Butler scored 15 in defeat.

2. Bad Boy beatdown

The Mavericks are trying to catch up with the Hornets in the Southwest Division, but Detroit didn’t do Dallas any favors on Sunday, whooping them by 23 points, 90-67. The Mavericks were pathetic on offense, scoring just 29 points in the entire second half. Perhaps the Pistons defense played a role in Dallas’ defeat. Detroit held the Mavs to 23-of-76 from the field (2-14 3FG) while stealing five balls and blocking eight shots. Rasheed Wallace recorded four blocks to go with 21 points and nine rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki shot three-of-18 from the field, including missing all five of his three-point attempts and he didn’t do much better on defense. In fact, Sheed let the entire Dallas bench know exactly what he thought of Dirk’s Irk’s defense, yelling “He can’t guard me!” after dropping a bucket on Nowitzki’s head.

3. Somebody’s gonna have one heck of a 4th of July this year
There were plenty of fireworks on the court for the Pistons on Sunday, but it didn’t matter how badly Detroit spanked Dallas, the team would still be looking for more.

Officials say a trailer has been stolen that was carrying pyrotechnics to be set off before the Detroit Pistons game against the Dallas Mavericks at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

The theft was discovered Sunday morning by employees of Windsor, Ontario-based Band-Ayd Systems International Inc. at a company facility in Warren.

Band-Ayd President Nino De Benedetti says the trailer contains about $75,000 worth of pyrotechnics and gear, and the trailer itself is worth $8,000. The trailer held liquid propane and noisemaking devices.

The company is offering a $5,000 reward for the return of the equipment, no questions asked.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Rasheed Wallace vs. Dallas 34 min, 21 pts (FG: 9-18, 3FG: 3-4), 9 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 4 blk

Monday’s Game to Watch: New Orleans (32-14) @ Utah (30-18)
Utah was slipping down a slippery slope a month or so ago, but that was before they signed Kyle Korver. Since Korver and his deadeye from behind the arc joined the Jazz, they have won 14 of their last 16 games, including their current eight game winning streak. The Hornets know all about winning streaks, but recently they’ve been getting an education of losing spells. After winning 17-of-19 games and earning the best record in the Western Conference, the Hornets lost their last two games, allowing Phoenix to slide into the top spot. New Orleans has been stewing over their pair of defeats since Friday and should be ready to make a statement against the hottest team in the NBA.

Buzzer Beater: To Americans, when the Rockets and the Bucks get together it serves as a perfect opportunity to clear a few hours of American Idol off their DVRs. But to China, it is must see TV. An estimated 200 million people tuned in on Saturday evening to watch the Rockets escape Milwaukee with a 91-83 victory. The main attractions were rather mundane as Yao Ming finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds while Yi Jianlian went one-of-10 from the field for six points and seven rebounds.

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