Its time to start focusing on the playoffs and our potential roadblocks to Banner 18. Every day we'll bring you what's making news in enemy territory. This way we know what they're up to when it comes time to take 'em out.
MagicBasketball: the Orlando Magic’s performance against the Portland Trail Blazers wasn’t bad. But it paints a stark picture that the Magic are nothing more than an ordinary team without their extraordinary superstar.
Orlando Magic Daily: the Magic did not help themselves. And with the margin for error so small without Howard in there, hurting yourself could not be an option. The 18 Magic turnovers — 12 in the first half as Portland built its largest lead of the game to 14 points — erased a solid night overall for Orlando.
Peninsula is mightier: I cannot believe that this is being made into such a big deal. Athletes are typically very emotional people and we often will see those emotions get let out during games, whether it be after making a big play, a bad call, scoring points…whatever. Now just because Erik Spoelstra said that some of his players shed a few tears after their loss to Chicago, media all over the country is making it into a huge story,
Miami Herald: “We’re a team that no one wants to see in the first round, no matter if we lose every game from here on out,” Dwyane Wade said after Heat players shot free throws (with team president Pat Riley observing) and watched film. “We’re fine. This is going to toughen us and strengthen us for this year, for next year, for the year after that.
By the Horns: If there was an online NBA Dictionary, and the term “Trap Game” was in it, last night’s blech-fest against the Hornets would be an embedded video included in that entry. Well, okay, not really. After all, the Bulls evaded the trap Indiana Jones-style. Only instead of finding the Lost Ark or the Holy Grail, they earned their 44th win of the year. It was also their ninth straight win at home, which is the team’s longest streak since a 10-game run during the 1997-98 season.
ESPN Chicago: "When we score under 90, we have a good record?" a confused Joakim Noah asked. "Well, I'd rather score 100. There's no question we'd rather score a lot and other teams not score a lot." Yeah, but that's not always possible, as the Bulls have been proving lately. They've scored fewer than 90 in five of their past six games, but they're 4-1 in that span.
Clips Nation: Griffin scored just 17 tonight, and it was the his lowest point total in a Clipper victory this season. It was also the first time this season that the Clippers have won a game without a 20 point scorer
ClipperBlog: Third quarter surge, on the road, with Eric Gordon back in LA. Yes, that really happened.
Project Spurs: But let's not forget Spurs fans, after this NBA season is over, he will be playing in the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship in Mar del Plata, Argentina for the Argentina national team this summer and is looking forward to it. This will be a concern for the Spurs and their fans considering that the Spurs are primed to make a deep playoff run, the amount of time he is seeing on the court this season, and knowing his international play this summer will only add to his wear-and-tear.
MySanAntonio: the Spurs left little doubt which end of their schizophrenic weekend would fuel them going forward. Friday’s 30-point thrashing of LeBron James’ Heat apparently meant less to them than Sunday’s meltdown against L.A. “It is a warning sign that we need to continue to work and improve,” guard Gary Neal said.
Mavs Moneyball: "Without [Brian] Cardinal I don’t think we would have won the game. His activity, rebounds, loose balls, deflections and shotmaking completely changed the game around, because we were down. I don’t remember the last time he played significant minutes, it’s been awhile. So, for him to keep himself ready and go in there, make four threes, make plays defensive and just play the heck out of the game, it tells you what kind of a pro he is."
ESPN Dallas: Jason Terry, despite a cold shooting game (3-of-11), padded his NBA Sixth Man of the Year résumé with another fourth-quarter dagger. His 3-pointer with 1:37 to play extended the Dallas lead to 101-97, a cushion the Mavs were finally able to hold after multiple Minnesota runs for their 46th victory of the season.
ESPN LA: "I know Derek [Fisher] is a clutch shooter when it matters, and he's a gritty defended; but his PER is 59th out of 65 point guards. Isn't the prospect of starting[Shannon] Brown or [Steve] Blake worth looking at? The starting lineup doesn't need veteran leadership and the triangle doesn't require a true PG. And Fish can still come off the bench and play those crucial minutes at the end of the game."
NBA.com: he Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce and Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook today were named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week. Westbrook led the Western Conference in scoring with 27.0 ppg, and his average of 9.7 assists ranked third in the conference, while his 3.0 steals ranked second. By scoring 20-plus points in all three games, including one 30-plus effort, the Thunder went 3-0 on the week. On March 4, Westbrook recorded a double-double with 32 points and 11 assists to help Oklahoma City knock off Phoenix 122-118 in overtime. This marks the fifth time this season Westbrook has garnered Player of the Week honors.
Daily Thunder: For whatever reason, the Thunder just has a lot, and I mean a lot, of trouble with the Grizzlies. OKC went 1-3 against the Grizzlies this season, two of those with the Grizzlies being shorthanded without Gay. Dating back a couple years, the Thunder and Grizzlies have now played 12 straight games decided by single digits or in overtime. There’s not a lot separating these two teams.
Monday, with both teams coming off a game the night before, the Grizzlies took down the Thunder 107-101 behind 20 points each from Mike Conley and Tony Allen. (In the four games, Allen, who is averaging 7.6 points per game on the season, is averaging 18.7 ppg against OKC. Everyone is confused by this.)