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.
Heat Index: "It is common sense, we can talk about it, but I think it's evident," Bosh said. "I just have to get it where I'm effective. I'm a big man. I can shoot the ball but I'm a big man. So I have to get it where big guys get it. Then I feel I can start helping out this team more."
[...] "Hopefully guys can be aggressive and contribute more," Wade said. "There are guys on the bench that can help us, no question about it. That is all on coach. We've had guys like Eddie [House] help us win games and James Jones, etc. He's going to have to decide whether or not people are on the floor." [...] "I've got to get back in my comfort zone, I haven't been in my comfort zone," Bosh said. "A lot of things are new for me. I just have to be more aggressive in demanding my [the ball] comfort zone, you know I'll take the fault for that… I'm effective down in the low post area, so that is where I need to start getting the ball. I need to be assertive in demanding it."
Miami Herald: "When we were winning … in December and January, no matter what the score was, we were still getting fast-break points in the last minute and a half," said Wade. "Now, we’re letting teams defend us by letting them set up their half-court defense. Now we’re put in a position where a lot of times, you have to take jump shots or go in the paint and leave it up to someone else to make a call. We’re settling too much for, ‘Let’s just run our offense.’ We’ve got to understand why we’re a good team, and that’s because we’re able to do both.”
Blog a Bull: MVP arguments (the predominantly mainstream ones) are usually silly, and these past few games show why: Rose's play dipped slightly, Bulls won anyway, yet those wins strengthen an MVP case built on saying his teammates would be nowhere without him. And anytime you invoke the team in what is an individual award in the first place…you're probably doing it wrong. That all said: 'deserved' or not, Rose was correct preseason: winning takes care of everything. If the Bulls get that #1 seed, Rose will be MVP, and we can all be happy with that outcome.
Sentinel: Back [in mid-January], the Magic were consistently winning and Turkoglu’s unselfish style was working for them. But now the Magic are in desperate need for another reliable scorer to help Dwight Howard, and Turkoglu possesses the skills to be that guy. That’s why the Magic need Turkoglu to turn up the aggressiveness.
Sentinel: "You guys can estimate how many of those were hard hits and how many of those were above the shoulders," Van Gundy said to reporters after the Magic completed their shootaround. "And for [Dwight] to retaliate as few times as he has? By the way, not one of those 593 hits, with so many of those being above the shoulders and hard, not one has been deemed a flagrant foul. Not one. Five hundred and ninety-three. Amazing restraint for those guys to hit him that hard and not go over the line and get a flagrant foul. Getting no protection from the referees, he's only retaliated from that a handful of times.
Clipper Blog: With all the attention focused on Blake Griffin, it’s somewhat amazing that he has been improving one of his worst weaknesses and there hasn’t been much notice. At the beginning of the season, if you would have asked anyone what Blake needed to improve, they would have said defense and free throws. Now, ramped up defense hasn’t come to fruition (he’s challenging slightly more shots but he’s not blocking more) and guys like Boris Diaw still carve him up, but Blake’s free throw percentage has made huge progress.
Project Spurs: After witnessing the Los Angeles Lakers and Andrew Bynum take full advantage of the Spurs in the paint Sunday afternoon, keeping in mind the team made no moves at the trade deadline, one has to wonder if the questions about the Spurs lacking size in the frontline will hurt them down the stretch and in the playoffs? I’m here to ask the question: How does the Spurs' frontline compare with the other playoff teams?
ESPN LA: What came first: the Lakers defense looking dominant because of Andrew Bynum or Andrew Bynum looking dominant because of the Lakers' defense? No matter what the answer to the question, the result of the game was more of the same as L.A. throttled Atlanta with Bynum leading the way with 16 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks.
Silver Screen & Roll: Tonight's performance featured a resplendent offensive attack that cut the Hawks' defense to ribbons. All evening long, the Lakers played inside-out from the post, exploiting their height advantage over Atlanta's front line and ripping seams in the Hawks' interior D. Sharing the rock, making strong moves to the hole, stepping into jumpers… all that good stuff was on the plate, and it came together deliciously in the form of 1.20 points per possession. Kobe Bryant set the pace with 26 points, his game smooth and in the flow of the Triangle system. In the process he passed Moses Malone to reach sixth on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
ESPN Dallas: Big offensive outputs have masked shortcomings on defense, where a resurgence must occur. When the Mavs were rolling at 24-5, they ranked in the top five in the league in defensive scoring and defensive field-goal percentage. Players preached defense as much as Carlisle and talked of buying in as the only way to win a championship. With 19 games left, the Mavs now rank 10th in scoring defense (96.1), 12th in field-goal percentage defense (45.1) and 12th in 3-point percentage defense (35.2 percent).
SLAM: Asked about his perception of Perkins before the trade, Durant says, “I didn’t like him, I didn’t like him of course. He’s a guy—cause I didn’t really know him as a person—but on the floor, you see he plays with a lot of passion, he plays for his teammates and he has no hidden agendas and he plays to win. That’s the type of teammate you love. I always said he was a great defensive player and somebody that I would love to have on our team, but I thought that was so farfetched that we wouldn’t be able to get him. But we did and he’s happy he’s here, that’s the best thing. He’s expressed how much he loves being here and he’s a great teammate off the floor, I love being around him already.”