Not the most entertaining night in terms of close games or exciting finishes but there were some pretty good highlights to look back at. My personal favorite for the night was Roy Hibbert’s nasty dunk in the first quarter to set the tone early for the Pacers. Indiana rode their shooting performace to take the victory over the Hawks 113-98 and a 2-0 lead in the series. I watch this series between the Pacers and Hawks with the slight feeling that the Hawks aren’t playing with too much enthusiasm. Not going to go as far and say they’re not trying, that’s a little harsh but there seems to be a lack of effort or spark from Atlanta. Or maybe that’s just Atlanta’s style of play and i’m just missing it entirely. Either way, i’d be surprised if the Hawks managed to win a single game in the series. The first game, it was the Pacers playing good defense on Atlanta and last night’s game was the Pacers simply outscoring the Hawks. This one will most likely result in a sweep.
Am I the only who thought it was really weird that we were having a game in Oklahoma City start just after 6pm local time? I’m just used to the western conference games starting much later but sometimes, that’s just the way the schedule falls. It was a tight game between the Thunder and Rockets, coming down to the last few plays but eventually OKC edged out the Rockets 105-102. I was very surprised at how well the Rockets were able to get stops late in the game in order to climb back in it. It was simply too big of a task for Harden and co but I do applaud the effort. The Rockets seem to have figured out how to defend the Thunder but at times, Durant and Westbrook are just too good. Things shift back to Houston in a couple of days and if the Rockets have any chance of extending this series, game 3 is a must win. Teams don’t recover from being down 0-3 in a series.
Tony Parker looks like he’s back to 100% health and that’s pretty much it for the Lakers because when he’s back to full health, Parker is the best player on the court in this series. Led by Parker’s 28 points, the Spurs used a strong second half to cruise by the Lakers 102-91. The Lakers need to have Dwight Howard out on the court as much as possible but during the 3rd quarter, Howard picked up two quick fouls and that kept him on the bench for most of the quarter. It’s no surprise that in the same quarter Tony Parker had his best stretch, scoring 15 and leading the Spurs to a comfortable lead. What can the Lakers do to make this a series? Well for starters their back court has to play better and try to do what they can to contain Tony Parker. I’m anxious to see how much the referees influence will come up after game 3.
Most people consider the regular season a sort of “warm up” or preparation period for the elite teams, a time where teams that have a shot at the title can work out whatever problems they have before the playoffs begin. Or the “real” season as most experts like to call the NBA playoffs, only a couple days away. Even though i’m pretty bummed out that the Mavs aren’t going to participate this season (i’d almost forgotten what it’s like) i’m still very excited for the postseason to begin and all these series to get going. First things are first, every team in the NBA is playing tonight and the 8th seed in the western conference still has to be decided. Kobe’s injury was a massive blow to the Lakers (obviously) but nonetheless, the “lake show” still controls their own destiny and secures a playoff spot with a win over the Rockets tonight. That game will be on ESPN at 10:30 ET but before that game even goes down, the Utah Jazz will be in Memphis looking for a victory and keeping their chances of postseason participation alive. That game is also on ESPN and things get going at 8:00 ET. Don’t forget that the Jazz own the tie breaker over the Lakers so a Jazz win over the Grizzlies will put the maximum pressure on the Lakers. I think most fans around the NBA would prefer Utah to win if only to put the pressure on LA and create extra drama for the end of the regular season.
There were a couple of games last night but there wasn’t anything that great to mention, mostly because the losing teams from both games had nothing to play for. Something that did catch everyone’s attention was the San Antonio Spurs signing none other than Tracy McGrady. T-Mac is back! Well, sort off. In case anyone was wondering, McGrady has been spending this past season in China playing for the Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles, putting up some pretty good numbers as the team struggles. T-Mac always was considered as an elite NBA talent but injuries always seemed to be the roadblock for McGrady, never advancing past the first round of the playoffs in his NBA career. Who could forget when he did this? It’s interesting that the Spurs would release Stephen Jackson just last week and then a few days before the postseason, sign T-Mac. It seems like a very low risk/medicore reward type of move so we’ll have to see what kind of impact McGrady has.
Unfortunately for myself and Mavericks fans everywhere else, this is the first time in 12 seasons that Dallas will not be participating in the NBA playoffs. It’s disheartening to be frank. I’d gotten so used to at least a shot at the NBA title for so long that i’d begun to forget what it’s like to not see the Mavs listed in the playoffs picture with their 1-8 seed number right next to it. Maybe if Dirk didn’t need surgery in the off season and hadn’t missed those first 27 games. There are tons of “maybe” scenarios for this team but I don’t want to sound like a whiner, I just wanted to put my thoughts out there before tonight’s final game against the Hornets. I enjoyed this season through the good and bad times but i’m looking forward to next season that hopefully holds a brighter future for my Mavericks.
Side note: There are multiple new sources reporting that an arrest has been made regarding the Boston Marathon bombings. No official statement has been made by the authorities but i’m hoping that it’s true so whoever is responsible can be brought to justice.
Normally division titles aren’t very important in the NBA, a banner is hung and it might attract more fans but it’s not a do-or-die situation. It’s not like in the NFL or MLB where a division title is almost necessary or else it’s going to be a tall order to get into the playoffs. Don’t tell that to the Knicks though. Last night the New York Knicks won their 13th straight game and in the process, clinched the Atlantic division title for the first time since 1994. Of course the scoring and offense flowed through Carmelo Anthony, who has been on a ridiculous tear and it didn’t slow down last night (36 pts, 8 reb, 6 ast) as he lead the Knicks to a 120-99 victory over the Wizards. Melo isn’t the only Knicks player that has it going right now, it’s pretty much the entire team but last night it was on another level. The Knicks went 20 of 36 from behind the arc. It doesn’t matter how well John Wall played last night, a Knicks team that is firing on all cylinders is very tough to beat. How far can this Knicks team go? It’s hard for me to see anyone in the eastern conference taking down the Heat but a Knicks team playing this well is going to give the best teams in the NBA all they can handle.
Not among the best teams in the NBA but still grabbing all the headlines are of course, the Lakers. Strides of progress for Kobe and co, they took down the Hornets last night at home and as of right now they’re in the playoffs.The 8th seed isn’t the most coveted spot particularly because the west is so strong at the top but every team just wants a shot. The downside for the Lakers is that the Jazz own the tiebreaker and have the more favorable schedule in the fight for the 8th seed. It’s going to be very interesting how the Lakers respond, controlling their own destiny but finishing the regular season with four very tough games. If the Lakers can win out and secure their spot in the post season, it will be very much deserved. My Dallas Mavericks are still in the race, however limited the percentages are for a team down 2.5 games with only five to go. I’m still holding out hope for a miracle but mostly I just want the Mavs to get to .500 tonight so they can get rid of the beards. Dirk is starting to resemble Ron Burgundy when he was drinking out of the milk carton.
The Heat continue to play without their full squad and they continue to look like the best team in the league. It’s going to be scary to see all these well-rested Heat players in the postseason, first round sweep of the Bucks here we come! Another playoff team that looked really good last night was Memphis. The Grizzlies easily handled the Bobcats 94-75 and if i’m one of the top teams in the west, I don’t want to face Memphis at any time. It’s a match up nightmare for most teams. I think they took that “don’t want to see them” title from Denver once the unfortunate injury to Gallinari happened. Blunder of the night easily goes to Jermaine O’Neal, who interfered on a buzzer beating shot by James Harden, giving the Rockets the win over the Suns.
I love that NBA does these Top 10 videos on a regular basis but this edition had an error. Westbrook’s dunk deserved to be #1.
As if she needed even more attention, Rihanna basically wore the ugliest possible outfit she could find inside her closet so that a little kid sitting in the nosebleeds could spot exactly where she was sitting. SERIOUSLY, what the fuck was she thinking?
In comparison to RiRi, will.i.am. was looking boring and average, but we still had to highlight those freaky-looking harem-skinny-jeans he has going. There’s simply no better way to look like a complete douche bag than wearing those babies.
As for the game, the Clippers once again owned the Lakers 109/95 and in the process they became the Pacific Division Champions for the first time in their 40 year history. Furthermore, they swept the Lakers for the first time since the 74/75 season. Here’s a recap of the game:
These were snapped last night as superfan Jack Nicholson was seen creeping on a couple Laker girls during the Lakers/Mavs game at the Staples Center (Lakers won 101-81). We’re still trying to confirm this, but judging by his past, we’re pretty sure Jack attempted to take one of those chicks home following the game. That’s a fair assumption, right?
Obviously, this isn’t anything new. Everyone remembers his awkward advance at Jennifer Lawrence during a post-Oscars interview with George Stephanopoulos. Watch the classic exchange unfold below…
Believe it or not, there were other games last night that didn’t include the Heat or the Bulls. In fact there were so many games last night in the NBA that the Pistons and my Mavericks were the only teams that didn’t play. But as things went on elsewhere around the league, the attention was going to be centered around the Miami Heat and their win streak going into Chicago to face a tough test. And it was certainly tough to say the least, filled with many plays that brought people back to the “old school” basketball that seems to be long gone and it all favored the Bulls. The Chicago Bulls used a physical style and made plays late to win the game 101-97 over Miami and end the Heat’s streak at 27. Six shy of the 1971-72 Lakers but people have to realize how impressive this streak was. Here’s a little fact: the last time the Heat lost a game was two days before the Super Bowl. The good thing for the Heat is now that they’re in the record books for the second longest winning streak of all time, they can focus on the ultimate goal. Was losing a good thing for the Miami team? Not in the short run, a team will always prefer to win no matter the situation. In the long run it’s for the best because if you’re going to win the most important game of the season, you prefer that it’s the very last game of your season and for Miami it’s the 4th win of the NBA Finals.
There were so many other games last night that it was hard to keep up with all the scores, even if you were at a place that was showing every single game. Personally I had my eyes on the Lakers-Timberwolves game because of the implications that it had on the Mavericks and the 8th seed in the western conference. The Lakers had a great lead behind Dwight Howard’s play but the Wolves rallied, only to fall short. Who would’ve thought that Celtics would need Jeff Green to be clutch against the Cavaliers? The Celtics seem to be missing Kevin Garnett severely but signs point to him returning in time for the playoffs. How about JR Smith? Scoring 35 points off the bench to help the Knicks with a dominant victory over the Grizzlies. Well, it looked dominant until the 3rd when Memphis had a furious comeback but a Jason Kidd 3-pointer late in the game sealed the victory for New York. The Nets (half of ESPN’s other game), Jazz, Hawks and Clippers all looked dominant in their victories. I was surprised that the Spurs had to edge out a Nuggets team that didn’t have Ty Lawson anywhere near 100%. The Spurs’ yearly tradition of quietly contending for the league’s best record continues.
What was better: Kirk Hinrich tackling LeBron or LeBron’s hockey-style check on Carlos Boozer? Never mind those plays, it’s Jimmy Butler’s dunk over Chris Bosh on an alley-oop pass that won last night.
So it’s up to 20 for LeBron James and the rest of the South Beach gang as they head into Milwaukee tonight. Believe it or not, the Bucks have had the Heat’s number so far this season. Last time the Heat were in town (Jan 29th) the Bucks took the victory by a pretty good margin. Also, don’t forget that when the Bucks were in Miami, the Heat needed OT to win the game. It’s just a matter of the Bucks matching up well against the Heat with their own young and athletic players. What’s on the line tonight for the Heat? Well, for starters if Miami is able to take the victory, their win streak will officially be in third place in the all time ranks and only 1 game behind a tie for second place (set by Houston a few years ago) at 22 games. By the way the standings look right now these two teams have a very strong possibility of facing each other in the first round of the playoffs. If there’s any chance for the Bucks to upset the Heat when it comes to the playoffs, some sort of confidence needs to be established during the regular season. The Heat are playing as well as any team ever but this Bucks team can certainly push them to the edge so keep a close eye on this. Why doesn’t the NBA just nationally broadcast every Heat game from now until their next loss?
Out west, Bryan and his Lakers fanbase continue to be up in arms after Kobe suffered a pretty bad ankle injury on a last second shot attempt a couple of days ago in Atlanta. The injury took some of the headlines but a bulk of the attention was spent analyzing whether or not the play was “dirty” and if the referee should have called a foul. Hawks’ guard Dahntay Jones was defending Bryant and even though his demeanor didn’t seem malicious, Jones certainly took plenty of heat following the play. Jones played for the Mavs and I never got a hint of him being dirty but I do agree that a foul is the right call there. It’s very Bruce Bowen-ish so whether or not it’s a dirty play depends on an person’s opinion. As of this afternoon, Kobe is a game time decision but even if he does play one has to assume that he’s not going to be 100%, even with Kobe being such a warrior. The Lakers are fighting to keep the final spot in the playoffs so it’ll be interesting to see how coach D’Antoni adjusts the offense without it’s leader at full capacity when they visit the Pacers tonight.
There are plenty of games this weekend that don’t include the Heat or Lakers and two good ones tonight start a little later but they’re certainly worth checking out. The Grizzilies are in Denver tonight to face the Nuggets in a battle of two playoff teams that play very different styles. The Bulls just suffered a terrible defeat to the Kings on Wednesday so it’ll be interesting to see how Chicago bounces back as they visit the Warriors and their high powered offense. Saturday isn’t as exciting but both the Pacers-76ers and Grizzlies-Jazz games (both on NBA TV) have playoff implications in their respective conferences. Sundays always feature good games as Miami’s streak might still be going in Toronto, the Knicks visit the Clippers (ABC 3:30 ET) in the premier game, Warriors visit the Rockets and my Mavs try to keep their playoff hopes alive as Durant and OKC come into town.
Lots of action and plenty of headlines this weekend in the NBA!
With the NBA heading into the All-Star weekend (held in Houston this season) what better way to finish the stretch with two great match ups. Well, at least they looked like great games on paper. The Heat went into the Thunder’s house and looked like the best team in the league. Led by LeBron (who else?) the Heat lead by as many as 23, taking down the Thunder 110-100. LeBron didn’t keep his streak going but that didn’t stop him from having a monster game (39 pts, 12 reb, 7 ast, 2 stl) to offset Durant (40 pts, 8 reb, 4 ast, 3 blk) and the rest of the Thunder squad. The Heat had a more balanced attack, lots of help from Bosh and Wade was involved while Russell Westbrook was the only Thunder player aside from Durant to reach double digits in scoring. The Thunder got back into the game with a late surge but every time the crowd got back into it, it was either LeBron or a Heat 3 point shot that answered. The only that sucks for NBA fans is that these two teams won’t have the possibility of facing each other until June, when it’s Finals time in the NBA.
Out west the battle for LA went sort of how the season has gone for these two teams. The Clippers came out strong, led by a red hot Blake Griffin (20 points in the first quarter) and things looked like they were going to be ugly. The Lakers made a comeback during the 2nd quarter but second half was all Clippers en route to a 125-101 victory in the final game before All-Star weekend. What stood out for me during this game was how effective Chauncey Billups and Antwan Jamison were for their respective teams. It’s like 2006 all over again! Anyways, the Lakers simply didn’t play enough defense (no surprise there) to keep up with the Clippers offensive efficiency. For now, the Clippers are trying to catch the Thunder or Spurs for a higher seed and the Lakers are looking to catch the Rockets or Jazz for one of those final playoffs spots.
Now come the festivities of All-Star weekend in Houston. I wonder if Glimmer (lives in Houston) will be out in the clubs with some big names this weekend. Any word from him? So we know about the dunk contest and 3-point contest tomorrow night. I like James White for the dunk contest and Steph Curry for the 3-point contest. If you get a chance, check out the Rising Stars Challenge (rookies/sophomores) tonight, simply for the chance to watch Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard in action. Those two are the future of NBA back courts and are must watch for basketball fans around the country. Enjoy the East-West game on Sunday!