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.
Sentinel: I planned to write a long-form, detailed look at why Dwight Howard is a more deserving Most Valuable Player than Derrick Rose this morning. In a nutshell, I felt Howard’s presence on both offense and defense was being overshadowed by Rose’s more entertaining story — the young point guard carrying a team of veterans to the conference’s best record is more riveting than the dependable, rock-solid big man making up for his team’s defensive deficiencies to finish fourth in the East.
But after what’s happened on the blogs and Twitter today, that argument is played out. While the mainstream media is whole-heartedly behind Rose —as Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy correctly said yesterday — some of the Internet’s most-respected writers have put their support behind the Magic’s superstar center.
By the Horns: Think about it. The NBA is a business. Fun, positive, feel-good stories are great for any business. Human beings love novelty. NBA fans are no different. Most of the anti-Rose hand-wringing is coming from the advanced stats community. But if stats are the only thing that matter, why don’t they just watch game simulations on NBA 2K11? Wouldn’t that be a dream world? Where every action and reaction was governed by hard data…where the only storylines were cranked out on a calculator or inside a computer…
Thanks. But no thanks.
Miami Herald: At times, it seems Heat shooters are so open they could eat a snack before the nearest defender offers resistance [...] Some have improved their accuracy, but several have not. Miller’s 40.7 overall shooting percentage and 38.4 percent accuracy on threes are below his career averages of 46.4 and 40.5 entering the season, though his earlier injury obviously has been a factor.Eddie House is shooting 40.2 and 37.7, slightly below his career averages of 41.0 and 39.0. Mario Chalmers, now injured, is shooting 41 percent overall, on par with his 41.2 career mark.
Rufus on Fire: I hope you're used to blowouts, like I am, by now. Head coach Paul Silas says he doesn't expect Jackson to return any time soon. And he's probably going to sit Tyrus, too, according to Rick Bonnell's article. So we're looking at where we were a week or two ago. I expect the starting lineups to be Augustin/Henderson/Cunningham/Diaw/Brown and Rondo/Allen/Pierce/Garnett/Krstic. Yeah, um, ouch. No worries, I'm sure our advantage of Kwame over Krstic will win the day.
Mavs Moneyball: Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry combined to score 19 of the Mavericks' 28-fourth quarter points and that was the difference in the 104-96 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The dynamic duo triggered the 11-2 run over the final 2:38 en route to the win. With the victory over Minnesota, Dallas secured their 11th straight season with at least 50 wins. The Mavericks are just the third franchise (since the NBA went to an 82-game schedule in 1967) to record at least 11 consecutive seasons with 50-plus wins (also the Spurs from 1999-present, the Lakers from 1979-1991).
ESPN Dallas: There certainly were no wild celebrations after the Mavs extended their streak of 50 wins to 11 seasons with an unimpressive win over a wounded version of the Western Conference’s worst team. “I think I’ve said it the last couple of years: I’d rather trade it in for a championship,” said Dirk Nowitzki, the lone man on the Mavericks’ roster throughout the 50-win run. “Eleven 50-win seasons don’t mean nothing.”
Project Spurs: The Blazers seem to have the Spurs' number. Though San Antonio broke a five-game losing streak to Portland earlier this season winning 95-78, in the following meeting Portland once again beat San Antonio, 99-86. Why does Portland do so well versus San Antonio?
First of all, Tony Parker goes down and suddenly the Blazers could get the win- but honestly, I think the Blazers and Spurs play very similar pace, and the three point shooting of the winning team usually makes the difference. The slow, defense-centric grind-it-out style of play is what the Blazers are used to and they are comfortable with that on both offense and defense, so the fact that they can match the Spurs pace really works to inhibit a lot of what the Spurs are normally successful at doing- which is lulling opposing teams into bad shots and broken defense.
My SA Spurs Nation: He is the oldest player on the Spurs’ roster, a 36-year-old in his 15th NBA season. But at times Wednesday in Denver, without Tim Duncan around to provide direction, Antonio McDyess felt more like a callow rookie than seasoned vet. “I’m so used to him being there,” McDyess said. “When he’s not, it seems like I’m lost.”
ESPN LA: Center Andrew Bynum, suspended for his team's previous two games for a flagrant foul 2 against Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley last week, said Thursday he's excited to return to the court Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. "[I'm feeling] really good," Bynum said following practice. "My knee's feeling all right. Ready to go."
ESPN LA: The future of L.A.'s head coaching position is still something of a back burner issue (whether because the playoffs are around the corner or the perception Brian Shaw has already been tabbed as Phil Jackson's successor), but for those getting a jump on postseason speculation, don't look towards Durham for a potential Shawternative.
As ESPNLA.com's Arash Markazi reports, while there once was a time Mike Krzyzewski almost considered coming to Los Angeles, back in '04 when Jackson left the first time, that window has closed.
News OK: After answering a steady stream of questions by two lingering reporters, Perkins was free to go home. Free to rest his bones after battling Jazz bruiser Al Jefferson for the better part of 26 minutes. But, as he pushed in his black swivel-style chair, Perkins voluntarily offered up one last bit of insight just before calling it a night.“Tha-bo is my new fav-o-rite de-fen-der,” Perkins announced, elongating each syllable in his South Texas twang for maximum effect.