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: Dwyane Wade pounded his fists in frustration.Seconds later, Wade and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra received technical fouls almost simultaneously. And that was just about all that was in synch for the home team Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Hot Hot Hoops: Chris Bosh has been unfairly targeted this season as a reason for the Heat’s supposed shortcomings. He has performed at an efficient level on reduced touches. In fact, if you look at many of the advanced metrics that take into account usage and pace, Bosh’s play compares favorably to that of LaMarcus Aldridge and Amar’e Stoudemire, players who have been routinely praised this season. Bosh and Aldridge have been almost the same player when accounting for usage; and Amar’e is the better offensive player, yet Bosh is a better defender and rebounder.
ESPN Chicago: Joakim Noah returned to Chicago Bulls practice Wednesday and is expected to start against the New Jersey Nets on Thursday. Noah missed Tuesday's victory over theWashington Wizards because of flu-like symptoms.
Chicago Tribune: It's when players start complaining to the referees that Kurt Thomas knows he's not only smothering their bodies but messing with their head. "I hear that all the time," Thomas said. "But opponents know that's what I do. They know I'm going to set a hard screen on them every time."
Orlando Magic Daily: [Jameer] Nelson was probably yelling at himself as much as the fans when he fouled Brandon Jennings late and allowed Jennings to erase a 3-point lead at the free throw line instead of in play with four seconds left in the fourth quarter. He probably kicked himself again when he fouled Jennings as he made a 3-pointer to help Milwaukee erase a four-point overtime lead in one fell swoop. But with the Magic needing a bucket to finally put the game out of reach, the Magic turned to Nelson. And after so many mistakes that would frustrate anybody, Nelson drained an elbow jumper to put the Magic up four and effectively put the game away for Orlando.
Orlando Pinstriped Post: Of all the problems the Orlando Magic must try to correct before the playoffs begin next month, turnovers might be the most prominent. The Magic needed overtime to dispatch a pesky Milwaukee Bucks team missing Andrew Bogut, its best player, last night due in part to Orlando's butterfingers, as it coughed the ball up 19 times in 92 trips down the floor. It was the Magic's second straight game with a turnover rate over 20, as they committed 18 miscues in just 85 possessions Monday night against the L.A. Lakers.
Red 94: Surprisingly, this matchup with the defending Eastern Conference Champions likely shows the most promise for this collection of young, too-dumb-to-know-when-to-quit bunch in Houston. In the last couple of seasons, Houston’s assembly of role players has enjoyed a 2-1 advantage over the 2001 All-NBA team in Boston, including an impressive overtime victory in the final 10 games of last season. The problem with deriving too much from Houston’s recent encounters with the boys in green lies in the absence of Aaron Brooks, who in those two victories posted lines of 30 points on 17 shots and 24 on 15. Brooks’ combination of raw speed and deft ball-handling appeared to trouble Rajon Rondo, or maybe Brooks just likes tradition. Regardless, the new-look Rockets really have not had much experience against all this… experience.
Welcome to Loud City: As I watched this game, I wondered to myself. Were we playing the heralded Miami Heat, or were we playing some struggling Eastern Conference team? Because I never really felt threatened by the Heat's so-called talent. The only time the Heat led was when the score was 6-4, and they couldn't complete a huge second quarter run, falling flat in the third
Daily Thunder: Pretty sure this is what Sam Presti had in mind when he pushed the big red button on that trade three weeks ago. This team had a look tonight. It was unmistakable. It was clear. They may not be officially ready this year, but try and tell them that. Oklahoma City needed a big statement win in Miami and the Thunder got it, basically controlling the game from the first quarter on and beating the Heat 96-85. OKC was just nasty defensively, holding Miami 38.5 percent shooting and the vaunted Big Three to a 4-24 effort in the second half. Serge Ibaka protected the rim (three blocks), Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed plugged the lane (10 points, 14 rebounds between them) and Durant did the scoring (29 on 12-21 shooting). It basically all went according to plan.
The Two Man Game: The Mavs trailed by 18 points in the first quarter, and came back to win this game in spite of themselves. Hooray? Victories are certainly valuable (particularly with the Mavs now in a tie with the Lakers for the West’s second seed), but I doubt this game did anything to quell the doubts many have about this team’s playoff chances. If Dallas is a contender, they’re certainly the most vulnerable of the bunch.
ESPN Dallas: The Mavs stemmed a two-game losing skid and picked up a big come-from-behind win considering the well-rested Spurs are in town Friday. The Spurs haven't played since losing by 30 at Miami on Monday. The Mavs and Lakers are both 48-20 with 14 games left to determine the No. 2 seed.
My San Antonio: “The way we are playing now, it will be a quick exit in the playoffs,” point guard Tony Parker said. “We need to forget about our record and go back to playing good Spurs basketball.”
Throughout the franchise’s championship past, the term “good Spurs basketball” has been synonymous with “playing some semblance of defense.”
That was the emphasis Wednesday, and it will continue to be during the season’s final month for the Spurs, who are trending downward defensively at the precise moment they’d hoped to be hitting their stride.
Forum Blue And Gold: Some are pointing to the all-star break as the key moment for ‘Drew as well but as noted by Eric Pincus in quote from Phil Jackson, Bynum’s turning point may have actually been a bit sooner. As in the Boston the game on February 10th. As Pincus points out, since that game Bynum has put up 12 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game while serving as the defensive anchor for a team that’s suffocating opponents on that side of the ball.
ESPN LA: This development isn't simply a matter of Bynum hitting a defensive groove. He's acknowledging a specific role and embracing it wholeheartedly. More importantly, he's truly grasping the importance of a defensive impact. Drew has always understood the crucial nature of clogging the middle and hitting the glass, but that's not the same thing as truly understanding. After all, this isn't the first time Drew's been asked to prioritize defense. But as Bynum explained after Monday's win over Orlando, there's now a tangible connection felt.
"I just think it's because I've realized it's a way to get into the game without having to dominate the ball on offense. We have scorers on this team. It's just a way to keep your energy level high. … I just did it a couple of times and was like, 'Wow, it works.'"