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.
Orlando Magic Daily: It seemed like either the game plan was flawed or his ability to defend was flawed. On the first two possession Robin Lopez played a little too physically but got away with it. Howard didn't get frustrated. He got angry. And took it out on Lopez. And then later on his former protoge, Marcin Gortat. Dwight scored 26 points, grabbed 15 rebounds (5 offensive) and blocked five shots.
Sentinel: Battling a strained lower abdomen, Redick missed his second consecutive game Sunday, sitting out against Hill's Phoenix Suns. Redick said he was feeling better. "I told J.J. that he can't mess with this type of thing. I don't know if it's related to mine, but I'd go a few days and it would feel great and then hurt again," said Hill, a former Duke star like Redick. "I just told him to watch it."
Blog A Bull: it's important to remember during this pursuit that the #1 seed is it's for just that: a seeding. It doesn't 'mean' they're the best team in the conference, or that they need to give up their 'underdog' label, or that the expectations are any more raised, or any other non-essential narrative.
By The Horns: As near as I can tell, Deng’s game has remained essentially unchanged. The main differences seem to be a) he’s playing more minutes, b) he hasn’t gotten injured, and c) he’s taking more threes than long two-pointers. In terms of effort and productivity, Deng is still Deng.
Heat Index: Less than one month ago, [James] Jones won the 3-point competition at All-Star weekend, beating out prolific shooters Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Durant, among others. He was a fixture in the rotation of one of the best teams in the NBA. Now, he’s fortunate to receive minutes during garbage time. During Saturday’s game against Memphis, Jones watched from the bench as the Heat blew out the Grizzlies for the team’s second win in a row. The deficit in Saturday’s game swelled to 35 points before Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called for Jones to enter the game. There was only five minutes remaining in the contest.
Miami Herald: A Chicago court awarded Wade sole custody of his two children Friday. Wade announced the news to his teammates after Saturday’s game, in which Wade had 28 points, nine assists, five rebounds and five blocks. “I heard the best news I could possibly hear,” Wade said. “So I was like, ‘I’m going to go out there and play free and enjoy it.
Nets Daily: John Schuhmann moves [The Nets] up one place to #24 but notes that big challenge that is the Celtics. "With Deron Williams, the Nets won two straight with offense. Without Williams, they won two more with defense. Williams is back on Monday, but they'll have to beat the Celtics to make it five straight, which they haven't done since they still had Jason Kidd (Jan. 2008) running the point."
NorthJersey.com: Although [Deron] Williams was able to make it through practice, the time off didn’t help his strained right wrist or make him feel any better about talking about it. "It’s going to be the same, man," Williams said in annoyed voice. "A doctor, actually multiple doctors told me that I need three to four weeks rest. I don’t know what else I can tell you about my wrist. "You can stop asking me."
Project Spurs: The Miami Heat do have some of the top selling jerseys. They do draw more ratings and have household named players like “LeBron” and “Wade”. They are on Sportscenter most nights with highlight plays. Even when they lose, they are the center of attention and before the season even began they said they’d win multiple championships. Lastly, they nicknamed themselves. The Spurs don’t nearly have as many of the accolades listed above, but they do have something Miami doesn’t have – humility.
Project Spurs: In the first meeting in San Antonio, the Spurs left the Heat in shambles, beating them by 30 points on national TV. Now the Heat will look to return the favor and Chris Bosh hasn't forgotten what the Spurs did to the Heat in San Antonio: "We want to redeem ourselves,'' Chris Bosh said. "They beat the crap out of us,'' Bosh said. "And it was on (national) TV. Everyone saw it. My friends starting asking me what happened and they don't even watch basketball."
ESPN LA: Unless, of course, I'm reading too much into this statement Sunday afternoon from Phil Jackson: "[Kobe will] be a game-time decision." Bryant didn't speak with the media, but received treatment and will have his left ankle re-evaluated [Monday]
Silver Screen And Roll: Tonight, the Lakers get to see how their knock-off Dwight Howard measures up against the brand-name version, as Howard himself visits Staples Center to pick out a locker for 2012 face the defending champs. As nifty as [Andrew Bynum's] been since the All-Star break, he hasn't encountered an opponent as fearsome as Howard. That's because in the world of NBA big men, Howard's the unquestioned gold standard for fearsomeness.
ESPN Dallas: What Saturday night reminded in no uncertain terms is that however exciting and productive everyone wants Rodrigue Beaubois to be, he remains a young, undersized shooting guard with 68 NBA games to his career and just 12 this season. As the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers picked their spots around the halfcourt circle for the opening tip, the 6-foot, 170-pound Beaubois had the look of a young boy about to engage in a man's game. And that's exactly how it played out.
Daily Thunder: It’s kind of hard to be impressed when you beat a 12-win team in March in almost any circumstance. But I’m pretty impressed by the Thunder’s effort Sunday. Take into account the variables. It was a road game. It was against a bad team, meaning sometimes focus is an issue. It was a noon start time but was Eastern time zone as well as daylight savings, so basically it was a 10 a.m. start. The excuses were certainly there for the Thunder if they sort of mailed in a half, or even a quarter.
NewsOK: Center Kendrick Perkins did not play Sunday and continues to be listed as day-to-day by the team. Brooks wouldn't say with certainty following the Cavs win whether Perkins would make his debut tonight at Washington.