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.
Miami Herald: Being a fan of the formerly maddening and now-magnificent-again Miami Heat might benefit from a little pharmacological help. I say this understanding that, unfortunately, science has yet to invent what is most needed: a chill pill.
Heat Index: Basketball teams are rarely as bad as they play in their worst moments, nor as good as they look in their proudest moments. It's fair to say the two meetings between Miami and San Antonio — both resulting in 30-point routs for the home team — represent outliers for both squads. For instance, on March 4 in San Antonio, the Spurs knocked shot 68.2 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts (15 for 22), but on Monday night in Miami, that number dropped to 25 percent (5 for 20).
Orlando Magic Daily: Although Dwight Howard led Orlando with 22 points and team-high 15 rebounds, he contributed to the Magic woes with nine turnovers. In total, the Magic committed 18 turnovers, which resulted in 20 points for the Lakers. Howard battled against Andrew Bynum, allowing 10 points, 18 rebounds and four blocked shots from the Lakers’ center.
Sentinel: the Magic couldn't get away from him Monday night, especially. Kobe shook off a sore ankle and a fractured first-half shooting linescore to help the Los Angeles Lakers beat Orlando 97-84 at Staples Center. Bryant was a game-time decision after re-injuring his left ankle Saturday night, but he played — not that anyone was surprised.
By the Horns: Despite a season of doubt (specifically about the quality of the team’s starting two guard) and injuries (to Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah), the Bulls could actually finish with the number one seed in their conference. Can you believe it? There are some potential stumbling blocks, though.
ESPN Chicago: even [Derrick Rose] had to chuckle after hearing Michael Jordan's comments on Saturday night, in which he proclaimed that with the way Rose and the new-look Bulls are playing they can win "six more" titles in the future. "That's a lot of pressure," Rose said with a smile after the Bulls wrapped up practice Monday afternoon. "A lot of pressure, I don't know why he did it. We're still trying to become a 48-minute team and that's the only thing we're worried about right now."
Indy Cornrows: With the epic tailspin the Pacers find themselves in, [Sunday] night's win against the Knicks notwithstanding, it's been difficult fo find reasons for optimism. No matter how obscure or obtuse the topic, I was determined to find something for this week's post that Pacers' fans could feel good about. I started with the idea that things could be worse. Sure, our favorite team has hit a bit of a rough patch over the past few years but certainly we're better off than some teams. Right…?
Forum Blue And Gold: There’s no denying it now, the Lakers are rounding into championship form. They’re looking stronger by the game and continue to find ways to put the clamps on their opponents and pull out impressive victories. Tonight it was the Magic that stepped in front of the Laker buzz saw, falling 97-84, allowing the Lakers to up their post all-star record to 10-1…. Considering that this game was a measuring stick contest of sorts, I’d say Bynum showed that his post all-star game surge is very much real and his impact comparable to any big man in the league.
OC Register: You can't be a barometer if you don't respond to high pressure, and Bynum continued his march toward redemption against Orlando's Dwight Howard on Monday night.
Project Spurs: 95.8 - The Heat were nearly perfect from the line, making 23-of-24 (95.8%) free throw attempts. The Spurs on the other hand, struggled with their foul shots connecting on just 12-of-19 (63.2%) free throws.
80 - Miami Heat's "Big Three" combined for 80 points equaling the Spurs' point total as a team.
Project Spurs: as the season has progressed, [Richard Jefferson's] numbers have dropped and Spurs fans wonder if Jefferson is regressing into the player he was during his first season with San Antonio or if the Spurs should be trying to establish him more often in the offense. Taking a look at his usage rate, it is at an all-time low at 15.5%. Basically, he is finishing only 15.5% of the Spurs plays. That's down from more than 18% last season. Not to mention his turnover percentage has gone up to 11.6% this season. Meaning, Jefferson isn't a big part of the Spurs offense but a higher percentage of his touches end in turnovers, even though is turnovers per game number is slightly down from last year.
Daily Thunder: So let’s talk a second about Perkins and what he added. In the first five minutes he had pulled down five rebounds and set one illegal screen. His presence was unmistakable. He’s such a wide, strong body inside that he truly allows Ibaka to play that rover a bit more. Ibaka has been piling up the blocks lately with seven against Cleveland and now eight tonight, but both Ibaka and Perkins worked well in tandem defensively.
Obviously Perkins isn’t much of an offensive player and we knew that. No jumpshot, little to no post game and most anything he gets comes from an offensive rebound or easy at the rim. But that’s not what he’s here for. Perkins finished with six points, nine rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes and really looked good. It’s clear that he’s a difference maker on the defensive end and can plug the paint almost on his own. This was a good first run for him because it was low stress and gave him an opportunity to just kind of get a feel. Wednesday versus Miami will be a much better test.
NewsOK: “I felt good; a little rusty in some spots,” Perkins said. “But it felt good to be out there with the guys and be able to contribute in a positive way … I think this was a good first game for me. I just want to improve.”
ESPN Dallas: Saturday night against the Lakers, Brewer entered the game at the 11:30 mark of the second quarter and 20 seconds was on the free throw line. Four minutes later he buried a 3-pointer. Three minutes later he missed a 3-pointer, picked up a foul and was replaced by Dirk Nowitzki. Brewer would not be seen again.
There was certainly excitement within the franchise when Brewer chose the Mavs over a handful of suitors and signed a three-year deal. Adding another long player with a defensive mentality to guard dangerous wings in the playoffs seemed to be only a plus for the Mavs. But, for Brewer to be a plus, he will have to play.