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.
Peninsula is Mightier: Bosh had emphasized that he wanted both himself and his team to produce more down low, and in the 1st half against the Lakers they did just that. Miami scored 26 of its 55 points in the paint. They out-rebounded Los Angeles 23 to 15, and of the Heat's 12 offensive rebounds they were able to score 15 second chance points. Miami had certainly brought their hard hats to the AAA on Thursday night and came prepared to work.
Hot Hot Hoops: It was also just one regular season victory. Plenty of work remains with the playoffs just around the corner. The Big 3 still get stuck sometimes forcing the issue and are prone to turning the ball over when it sticks to their hands for too long. But what a victory, won in crunch time less to the defending champions (ie. an elite team!), that the Heat and their embattled coach needed to stay afloat in the conference standings and an impressive showing for a struggling Chris Bosh as the cherry on top.
CSN Chicago: After spraining his left ankle following a flagrant foul by Bobcats center Kwame Brown Wednesday night in Charlotte, Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer is "day-to-day," according to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. "If the swelling is down more, he'll go [Friday night, when the Bulls host the Atlanta Hawks]," Thibodeau said after the Bulls practice Thursday at the Berto Center. "It could be anywhere from a couple days to a week."
ESPN Chicago: "Obama is my guy, man," [Derrick Rose] said. "That's my guy. He's been supporting us when we were a bad team, and now he's still supporting us and he's been a Bulls fan forever. It's kind of good when you've got the President on your side."
"I heard bits and pieces of it, yeah," Thibodeau said with a smile. "I can say that we certainly appreciate his support. And I certainly appreciate his support. And we know he's a big fan of the Bulls and we're excited about that."
Orlando Magic Daily: Still, defense has quietly been a problem for Orlando ever since the trades. Stan Van Gundy bemoaned it after the game. Even Matt Guokas of FSFlorida pointed out after Wednesday's game that the Magic have a lot of offensive players right now and that they are not defense-first guys. Van Gundy made mention of this too earlier this week when he talked about Brandon Bass' improvements on defense.
Sentinel: as far as picking up more technical fouls, well, he can't give you a guaran-T. "The way things have been called … I don't know," he said, laughing. "I just have to keep my head. I'm not a hot-head or anything like that, but I don't think people understand how frustrating it is when people are allowed to hit you. It's not a boxing match. You can't hit back."
Liberty Ballers: This time, Jeff Green is in green (like Kermit!) and Nenad Krstic hangs out sometimes too. No Nate Robinson to tear up Louis Williams on defense, thankfully, and no Shaq due to his injured Achilles. There will be plenty of room inside for which to bump uglies, should Collins decide to send his uglies in there for bumping. The Celtics are certainly ailing and tonight will be the best shot these Sixers have at making a statement game at home against their "rivals". Despite some recent sluggishness, the Celtics remain the best team in the East and second to San Antonio in the league. That would be quite a statement. Is it finally time to abandon the feel-good losses?
Silver Screen and Roll: If you were to tell me two weeks ago that the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat would play a hotly contested game, with a playoff atmosphere, and the game would be decided solely on the basis of who wanted it more, I would have just about bet the house on the Lakers winning the game. But circumstances change, and those circumstances (Miami on a 5-game losing streak, the Lakers on an 8-game winning streak) dictated that it was Miami that entered this game as the team desperate to taste victory. And so they did, out-crunching the Lakers and pulling out a 94-88 win that will stem the tide of all the panic press that has descended on South Florida.
Forum Blue and Gold: In fact, the Heat bench was one of their major issues coming into tonight’s game, scoring a combined 14 points in the Heat’s last two losses. Tonight, that bench combined for 18 points, completely out-playing the Odom-Barnes-Blake-Brown foursome. Mike Miller contributed 12 points, on 4-for-6 shooting with three offensive rebounds (seven overall). Mike Bibby came off the bench and hit a couple of big threes and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had a couple of offensive rebounds that hurt the Lakers. The Lakers bench struggled for the majority of the night, shooting four-for-17 with nine rebounds and only one forced turnover. Lamar Odom wasn’t horrible, with all four of the Lakers’ field goals, but missed a few easy shots around the rim and gave up some rebounds that led to Heat second chance points from not boxing out.
Dallas Morning News: So if this is soft, what exactly does that make theNew York Knicks? Just 24 hours after having a clear lack of toughness in New Orleans, the Mavericks manned up for the fourth game in five nights and the show of force was more than enough to completely dismantle the new-look Knicks, 127-109, Thursday night at American Airlines Center.
ESPN Dallas: It didn't matter that the bruised ribs on [Marion's] left side made it difficult to raise his left arm, or that he was still trying to recover from a pulled muscle in that same area from three weeks ago that he never made public, or that he rated the pain radiating from his ribs a 9 1/2 out of 10 before the game against the New York Knicks. …Armed with Advil and under-the-jersey padding… Marion piled on 22 points, nearly doubling his average and his largest output since Jan. 19 against the Lakers. He grabbed eight rebounds, six coming on swooping stabs on the offensive glass, and he added a couple of assists.
Project Spurs: The question is asked, are there any positive signs to build on from the losses? I’ve gone ahead and broken down all 12 of the Spurs' losses. I’ve put them into unique categories and given a quick summary of what the category represents and a brief summary of the game.
MySanAntonio: Jefferson shifted his release from above his head to out in front. He now begins his shot from a deeper crouch, his knees bent and permanently prepared to fire… Barring a complete tailspin over the final 18 games, Jefferson is set to produce — at age 30 — the best 3-point season of his career. He is shooting 43.8 percent (106 of 242) from beyond the arc, four points better than his previous high of 39.7 percent set in 2008-09 with Milwaukee.
Marc Spears (twitter): OKC coach Scott Brooks says newcomer center Kendrick Perkins will not make his debut tonight.
NewsOK: Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins went through a full practice Thursday for the first time since joining the team. "It went OK. I'd probably give myself a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10.," said Perkins, who added that he felt no discomfort and was able to move freely. "I was a little rusty in some spots but it went real well."