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 Bulls' reserves — specifically, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, Taj Gibson, Kurt Thomasand Omer Asik – have developed a cult-like following over the past couple of months because of their solid play and unselfish attitude. And because of the fact that the aforementioned group is one of major reasons the Bulls come into Friday night's game against the Detroit Pistons with a two game lead for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. "We call our bench our second wave and our second wave, it's a monster," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said last week. "We've got a monster second wave."
Miami Herald: During a fastbreak attempt in the second half, Evans jumped on the back of LeBron James to prevent an easy basket. Although Evans’ foul appeared to be intentional, and possibly flagrant, no such call was made. Instead, James was assessed a technical for complaining a little too vociferously about the play.Such is the life of the NBA’s physical anomaly, James, the player with the size of a forward, speed of a guard and body-type of a football player. James often doles out just as much contact as he receives and doesn’t make a habit of complaining, but on Wednesday he voiced his displeasure after the game.
Miami Herald: Heat forward Udonis Haslem is progressing faster than even he expected, but coach Erik Spoelstra indicated Tuesday that Haslem’s return still might be a month away.
Sentinel: Guard Gilbert Arenas said he plans to spend much of this upcoming summer in Chicago working out with renowned trainer Tim Grover in an attempt to strengthen his troublesome left leg.
Magic Basketball: In reality, the actual MVP candidate’s impact near the end wasn’t easy to identify on offense. Dwight Howard only touched the ball once in the closing moments. Seriously. Stan Van Gundy deserves credit, though, for trying to get his best player the ball in crunch time. With 13.0 seconds left, the Magic ran a pick-and-roll with Nelson and Howard. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Dwight is the best roll man in the NBA, averaging 1.45 points per possession. The plan was great, but Jameer kept the ball, and lofted a floater over Jason Collins.
Peachtree Hoops: Do the Hawks owe Jamal Crawford an apology? Probably not after his trade demand over his lack of a contract extension, but that still doesn't hide the fact that the team has turned what should have been valuable component into an afterthought and even a weakness on many nights. Last year's Sixth Man of the Year Award winner has been turned into a back up point guard that is a defensive liability which doesn't have a whole lot of value in the NBA.
Project Spurs: “The game was won when we got a little three happy in the third quarter. Then the transition defense didn’t follow," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Some of the shots were very good and open, some were contested. The transition after it is really important and they took advantage of it. They made it a ten-point game at that point and we couldn't get back in it and that was the game.”
My SA: The Spurs have had trouble all season defending the NBA’s toughest point guards. Chicago MVP candidate Derrick Rose torched the Spurs for 42 and 33 points earlier in the season. Deron Williams got them for 39 points when he played against them for Utah. And Thursday’s game was no different for another one of the NBA’s best.
Silver Screen and Roll: Let's put it this way: in the fourth quarter this evening, Theo Ratliff, who hadn't appeared in a game since early November, got pulled off the bench, at the behest of Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, to shoot a pair of free throws, and that was maybe the eighth-weirdest thing that happened tonight.Higher up on the weirdness rankings are:
- Little Steve Blake rolling up hard on little Jason Terry after the JET hit him with a shooting foul and then a cheap-shot push in quick succession, a fourth-quarter incident that led to a flagrant foul on Terry and the ejection of both players (and thus the insertion of Ratliff to shoot, and miss, the two freebies),
- Matt Barnes charging into the scrum in a blaze of righteous anger, after which Mavs assistant coach Terry Stott tried restraining him from behind, to which Barnes reacted by shoving Stott to the ground, then getting ejected and leaving the court shirtless,
- Brendan Haywood also getting sent off for… I don't know, something I missed amid the other chaos,
- Shannon Brown becoming the fifth player to be ejected late in the fourth, when he stood up for Pau Gasolafter the latter got clobbered by Brian Cardinal in garbage time, and
- Mike Fratello attempting to argue, apparently with a straight face, that Glen Davis should win Sixth Man of the Year over Lamar Odom. Seriously, this happened.
ESPN LA: While the chippiness of the second half- five players found themselves in the showers early by the time the game was over (along with three ejections in the crowd on a crazy night for the Staples Center red coats)- will dominate the news Friday, the final score, and how the Lakers decimated the Mavs down the stretch, should really be the story. Dallas is a very solid team worthy of L.A.'s respect, but still seem lacking in answers for what the Lakers can do down low. Nothing about tonight's game leaves the impression they could beat the Lakers in a seven game series.
ESPN Dallas: "It’s been a long week for me," said Terry, who traveled to his hometown of Seattle on Tuesday to attend his aunt’s funeral. "Emotions got the best of me tonight. I already apologized to the team. You just can’t let that happen in big games. But the game was getting out of hand, so things happen." Terry acknowledged that he was frustrated by his performance. He scored only five points on 2-of-9 shooting in the loss.
ESPN Dallas: [Tyson Chandler] just isn’t good enough to beat L.A. Maybe it’s too early to jump to that conclusion, but there was a major mismatch in the middle during the Mavs’ two losses to the Lakers in March. Center Andrew Bynum, not perennial MVP candidate Kobe Bryant, was the most dominant force in those two games.
NewsOK: A 22-year-old budding superstar considered the fastest player in the league when in attack mode, Westbrook now has added the occasional 3-ball to his arsenal and opponents are starting to be victimized. Ask Utah, where Westbrook went 4 for 4 beyond the arc on Feb. 5; or Boston, where he was 2 for 3 on Nov. 19; or New Orleans, against which he went 4 for 6 in back-to-back games; or Portland, which just got torched by a 4-for-5 performance last Sunday night.
Daily Thunder: Trailing by 15 with 4:55 remaining, the Suns were watching the Thunder run away from them in the fourth quarter and with it, maybe taking their playoff hopes with them. Alvin Gentry was desperate and so he busted out a tactic I haven’t seen in a while. Intentionally foul the other team’s bad free throw shooting big man. It didn’t really work as Kendrick Perkins made five of six from the line. Scott Brooks said after the game he was fine with their strategy , but it’s not something he would do.