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.
ESPN Chicago: When it comes to how he's feeling in the midst of the long grind of an 82-game NBA season, Derrick Rose readily admits the thing that no Chicago Bulls fan wants to hear. "I'm beat up," he said after Friday night's 115-108 overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers. "But that's basketball … I think I was out there playing my hardest, giving my all, but physically I feel fine."
By the Horns: There haven’t been very many times this season — especially recently — when the Bulls have failed on defense. Unfortunately, it happened last night. The Pacers scored 115 points. That’s the fourth-highest point total the Bulls have surrendered this season
Peninsula is Mightier: For a team that hadn't played a game on the road in two weeks, the Heat certainly looked right at home as they ran the Atlanta Hawks right out of their own building in a game that wasn't as close as the 106-85 score would indicate. [...] James ended up scoring 23 points in that ridiculous 3rd quarter, and the Heat took a 29-point lead into the final quarter of a game that was well over. LeBron finished with 43 points on 16-of-21 shooting in just 31 minutes, as he would watch the 4th quarter from the bench.
Hot Hot Hoops: James would drain shot after shot after shot after shot shot shot, like needles deflating bubbles of hope and felicity, turning cheers for their Hawks into boos for James, then morphing into uncontrollable cheers and MVP chants. James loved every second of it, antagonizing fans to coax the vitriol out of them, only to use it as fuel to power his competitive locomotive.
Orlando Magic Daily: Jameer Nelson’s 3-point jumper as time expired not only lifted the Orlando Magic 85-82 in dramatic fashion, but it also gave them a playoff-caliber victory against the Denver Nuggets Friday night.
Orlando Sentinel: The Magic beat the Denver Nuggets in an unsightly game — 18 turnovers, 37.3 percent shooting, 11 missed free throws. It resembled a playoff game, where you win by getting stops when the offense dries up and you have to grind away. Nothing pretty about it, except the W.
Hornets 24/7: This Saturday is going to be LOUD, and even though there will be more than a handful of Celtic fans in the house, it’s the Hornets fans who will be making the real noise. Rondo-Paul is always fun, since they clearly don’t like each other, but this one will likely be decided in the front court. This guy named Shaq will be there, too. Maybe you have heard of him.
At the Hive: Calling Chris Paul's last three games encouraging is an understatement. To see the leader of the Hornets come back from what seemed like a devastating injury in tip-top shape is simply amazing. His numbers over the last three games have been eye-popping, but the most telling statistic has been his FGA. For the season, CP3 has been averaging a modest 11.5 FGA per game, down considerably from the last few seasons. However, since returning from his concussion, Paul has attempted an astonishing 17.7 field goals (making 31 of them for a 58.5 FG%).
Forum Blue And Gold: Yes, the Lakers beat the Timberwolves. They outlasted visiting ‘Wolves 106-98 to up their post all-star record to 11-1. And when you combine the Lakers’ win with losses by the Mavs, Celtics, and Bulls the Lakers were able to gain ground in the playoff standings taking a full one game lead for sole possession of 2nd place in the West while also picking up a game on teams in the East that were ahead of them in the standings.
ESPN LA: Bynum's frustration over an offensive foul resulted in an elbow to an airborne Beasley's ribs as the forward attempted a layup. It was a reckless and ridiculous play on Drew's part, and unfortunately similar to a sequence in 2009 where Bynum left Gerald Wallace with a punctured lung and a collapsed rib. (Beasley actually left this game with a bruised left hip.) I don't consider Drew a dirty player, but in both cases, these were dirty plays.
My San Antonio: When they made a defensive mistake on Dallas’ first possession at American Airlines Center, they heard a lot more during a 20-second tirade during a timeout called by an irate Gregg Popovich. “We were supposed to switch,” said point guard Tony Parker, “and we didn’t switch. We’d talked about defense for three days, and the first play we had our first mistake. Pop was on fire from the get-go.”
Project Spurs: Manu Ginobili has been playing stellar ball this season for the Spurs averaging 17.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 5.0 assists this season and after eight years in the NBA, he shows no signs of slowing down. He signed a three-year extension with San Antonio but when asked about when he might retire from playing, Manu said he doesn't know but his plan is to finish out the next three season with the Spurs. However, retirement does goes through his mind year-after-year:
Mavs Money Ball: San Antonio took the season series 3-1 with a win in Dallas on Friday. The Mavericks won the season series 3-1 in 2009-10. The Mavericks fell to 3-2 in their last five match-ups with the Spurs at American Airlines Center.
The Mavericks are in the midst of a tough stretch of games and the results are not what they were hoping for. It does not help that they are losing against teams they could potentially see in the playoffs. Dallas needs to use the last 13 games of the season to get things in order or things could be rough when they arrive in the first round.
ESPN Dallas: A Mavericks victory would have clinched a playoff berth. The loss instead kept them from the top two seeds in the Western Conference as they enter the late stages of the season. The Mavericks now have lost three of four games, with all those losses coming against playoff teams — the Los Angeles Lakers, the Portland Trail Blazers and now the Spurs.
Welcome to Loud City: This evening's game against the Bobcats goes down as another win in the record books, and we are now privileged to see the Thunder in the midst of their longest winning streak of the season at six [...] While the team got out to a decent start in the first quarter, you could begin to see the tell-tale signs of a team that had not fully recharged its batteries after its time in South Beach
News OK: With 1:40 left in the Thunder's 99-82 victory at home over Charlotte on Friday night, All-Star forward Kevin Durant suffered a bruised left shoulder injury and was taken to the locker room. Durant was injured by an inadvertent elbow while playing defense and fighting through a screen. “It was a quick stinger,” Durant said afterward. “They're being cautious. That's why they took me to the back, but I'm all right.”