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.
By the Horns: How high have the expectations gotten for these Bulls? On a night when the Bulls won by 19 points and took over first place in the Eastern Conference despite missing their second and third-best players — Carlos Boozer (sprained ankle) and Joakim Noah (flu-like symptoms) both sat this one out — there was an overwhelming sense that they should have won by more than 19 points. Should have crushed the Wizards much sooner and much harder
ESPN Chicago: The last word: Brian Scalabrine walked out of the locker room and told the media that if they wanted to write a story they should say that he was sorry he couldn't hit the 3-pointer that would have put the Bulls over 100 points — and given all the fans in the United Center free Big Macs.
Peninsula is Mightier: A big part of the Heat's recent resurgence has been Chris Bosh's re-dedication to creating a low post presence. He is averaging 24.0 points and 10.3 rebounds while shooting 61.4% from the field during Miami's 3-game win streak, this coming after averaging just 14.6 points and 8.1 boards on 38.3% shooting in the 7 games leading up to it.
Hot Hot Hoops: It was a familiar but welcome sight: Udonis Haslem in sweat-soaked Miami Heat practice gear after a team practice. After weathering heavy criticism for their mini-losing streak by going on a mini-winning streak, the Heat not only have righted the ship but appear to be one step closer to finally having a full, healthy squad for the first time this season. Limited to shooting 50 jumpers at a time, he won’t be going full contact anytime soon and refused to give any timetable for his return.
Orlando Pinstriped Post: Sports Illustrated polled 138 NBA players for its latest issue, on newsstands tomorrow, and asked which head coach is the most annoying during games. The Orlando Magic's Stan Van Gundy, with 65 percent of the vote, "won" in a landslide; Phil Jackson of the L.A. Lakers and Scott Skiles of the Milwaukee Bucks tied for second place, receiving seven percent of the votes apiece.
Orlando Magic Daily: As of right now, the Magic are 4.5 games behind Miami, a pretty large gap with so few games remaining, but a favorable slate of opponents for Orlando could give the Heat a sprinted race to the finish to win the division.
Eight Points Nine Seconds: Just when it was beginning to appear that everyone on the Indiana Pacers except for Tyler Hansbrough had forgotten how to play basketball, the team turned things around and beat the New York Knicks back-to-back. Sunday’s 106-93 win was impressive…. Tuesday night’s 119-117 win was more impressive because the Knicks came to play. Granger returned to the lineup and he, Darren Collison and Roy Hibbert all came to play as well. Granger hit a sweet game winner with 0.3 seconds left, while Collison and Hibbert contributed numerous big baskets down the stretch. Granger ended up with 26 points, Collison 24 and Hibbert 15. It was nice to finally see the big three actually play well at the same time.
Mavs Moneyball: The Dallas Mavericks might be in the midst of a late-season slump as they suffered a 104-101 loss to thePortland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night in the Rose Garden. The Mavericks have now lost four of their last six games. The loss also marked their fourth consecutive defeat to a potential playoff opponent in the last 10 days (Memphis, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Portland). Dirk Nowitzki had a chance to tie the game, but he missed a three-point attempt from the corner on their last possession of the game.
ESPN Dallas: Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge drilled the Mavs for a third consecutive time this season. He finished with 30 points and eight rebounds, while drawing Mavs center Tyson Chandler into foul trouble. A technical foul on Chandler after he picked up his fourth foul against Aldridge shifted the momentum in Portland's favor. Moments earlier, the Mavs had their biggest lead of the game of eight points
My San Antonio: The Spurs already have posted as many losses in March as in any other month, and those defeats — to Memphis, the Lakers and Miami — have come by an average of 20.7 points. Asked whether he might use this stretch to provide clues as to where the Spurs go from here, coach Gregg Popovich unleashed his world-famous smirk. “If it’s this late in the season and we’re looking for clues, I’m in trouble,” Popovich said. “We are who we are. We just try to get better.”
Silver Screen And Roll I took a look at just how much better the Lakers defense has been with Drew on the court since the All-Star Break, and the numbers are as shocking as they are heartwarming. And they certainly provide all the justification that we've never really needed to be as bullish on Andrew Bynum as we want to be.
OC Register: Bynum is averaging 13.1 points and 13.3 rebounds in the Lakers' past nine games; he has pulled down double figures in rebounds in eight of those games.So where is he headed? Can he sustain this level and be considered one of the game's elite centers? That remains to be seen. Bynum needs to stay healthy for an entire season first.
NewsOK: Kendrick Perkins wants you to know he isn't the savior some swear he is. The recently-acquired center likes to think of himself as just another building block, not the final piece to the Oklahoma City Thunder's championship puzzle. “I'm just trying to bring what I know to these young guys,” said Perkins, who won it all with Boston in 2008. “We've got a good group of young guys that work hard, stay humble and are talented. I'm just trying to do what I can to come in and fit in.”