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: The pain that remains in Carlos Boozer's left ankle became a lot more bearable after he dropped 16 points in his first game in two weeks and his team won by 40. "I got my shots up even though I couldn't do too much on my ankle," he said after the Chicago Bulls' 132-92 win over the Sacramento Kings at the United Center.
Blog a Bull: outside of the opening stint by the starting unit (where a returning Boozer hasn't completely meshed with Noah yet), this was a full-on destruction. There were even lobs! Between the continually-impressive 2nd unit locking down on defense and then the offensive clinic by the crunch-time outfit (starters +Korver), the game was a laugher by halftime.
Miami Herald: it has been Bosh’s actions, not his words, that have spoken volumes since. Bosh has elevated his play by diversifying his offensive approach, rebounding more and shooting at a clip nearly five points above his season average. It’s no coincidence that the Heat has won five of the six games in that stretch, by an average margin of 19 points.
Heat Index: The NBA announced today that Miami HEAT forward LeBron James was named the Eastern Conference Player of Week for games played March 14-20. This marks the 31st time James has earned Player of the Week accolades in his career, the most times a player has earned the honors in NBA history. It also marks the 33rd time in franchise history a HEAT player has earned Player of the Week honors and the fifth time James has earned the honor as a member of the HEAT.
Sentinel: So, Stan Van Gundy, what do you take out of the Orlando Magic’s 97-86 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers? “Nothing,” he said. “We got a win and that’s what we take from it. We got a win, and we’re moving on. This one is done.” Van Gundy wasn’t pleased with how his team let up late, allowing a 26-point lead late in the third quarter to erode to nine points with about three minutes left.
Magic Basketball: To start things off, Cleveland trotted out a frontline that included Samardo Samuels, a player that belongs in the NBA D-League, to “match up” with Howard at the center position. That didn’t go so well, as Howard destroyed Samuels and treated him like nothing when he was on he court
Commercial Appeal: Grizzlies small forward Rudy Gay will miss the rest of this season after a second opinion on his partially dislocated left shoulder determined that the injury requires surgery. Gay received the news after traveling to Birmingham, Ala., to visit renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews.
Commercial Appeal: If Hamed Haddadi can score 10 points in 12 minutes, if the Grizzlies can rack up a season-high 33 assists, if Zach Randolph can get five of them himself, if O.J. Mayo can drop in three 3-pointers, if the Grizzlies can dominate another team in the paint (66 points to 40), if all that can happen against an ostensible playoff rival like the Jazz, then, well, why not put the Griz down for 40 wins? Or, heck, why not make it 42? At Boston, then at Chicago, then home against San Antonio.
Ball Don't Lie: For Bryant's knee to be so overtaxed that the fluid buildup demanded a draining on a nearly monthly basis during the playoffs last year says quite a bit. And his right knee isn't even his stronger knee. Kobe is right-handed, so he does most of his jumping off of his left leg.
Kobe earned quite a bit of rightful stick around these parts for choosing to go public with his post-game shootaround, rather than doing his work in the anonymity of the practice court in the American Airlines Arena a few weeks ago. But while he may be a bit of a showboat in that regard, the man still puts in the time. And his body, 14 seasons in, is paying the price.
ESPN LA: "He's been very productive," said Jackson of Odom. "It's invaluable. We made a decision as an organization two years ago to sign Lamar which put us into a difficult cap situation, yet we were convinced that without him, we wouldn't win a championship again. That was a good decision by the organization."
When approached with the topic of Pau playing extended minutes in Bynum's absence (as was the case against Portland), PJ couldn't resist a mild tweak: "He gets depressed out there when he has to play that much. It just wears him out."
Project Spurs: Duncan crashed to the floor after hitting a short jumper, appearing to twist his foot on the ankle of Golden State rookie center Ekpe Udoh. He was in pain for more than a minute, grabbing at the left ankle with both hands, before he limped back to the Spurs locker room for treatment. X-rays were negative. Duncan's availability for the Spurs’ upcoming road trip which begins Wednesday night in Denver is uncertain.
My SA Spurs Nation: The Spurs will likely have to play without Tim Duncan for the next several games as he recovers from a sprained left ankle. It’s nothing the team hasn’t done before. Here’s a look at how the Spurs have fared with Duncan in and out of the lineup during his career.
ESPN Dallas: Brewer has 19 fouls in 62 minutes of action with the Mavs, meaning he commits a foul every 3.26 minutes he's on the floor. It took him 1:25 upon entering Sunday's game in the second quarter to put Al Thornton on the line. Another 1:16 went by before Brewer got hit with foul No. 2.
ESPN Dallas: coach Rick Carlisle gave Beaubois a quick hook. Before the second-year guard could make his way to the bench, Carlisle stopped him on the sideline and engaged him in a one-way conversation as the game played on in front of them.
"He told me to — because at the beginning of the game I wasn't aggressive like I was supposed to be and I didn't have my focus — just be ready to play because I wasn't ready to play," Beaubois said after Sunday's 101-73 win over the Warriors. "For sure, he wasn't happy about what he was seeing on the floor."
News OK: Harden, though, shot up to a level few thought he could reach — at least not this quickly. In 15 games since the All-Star break, Harden has averaged 17.7 points. That total trails only Dallas' Jason Terry for points off the bench over that span. Harden's 50.6 percent shooting over that same span, meanwhile, ranks fifth among shooting guards with at least 10 games played.