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.
By The Horns: the Bulls built a 22-point third quarter lead, and the Suns nearly came back. Fortunately, as has been the case recently, and at various times throughout the season, Derrick Rose was able to close out the game. With 1:52 left and the Bulls clinging to a 91-89 lead, Rose hit a layup while getting fouled by Grant Hill, then converted the layup for a three-point play. With 52 seconds left and the Bulls up 94-92, Rose used his defense to help harass Nash into a shot clock violation. With 33 seconds left, Rose drilled a 19-footer that put the Bulls up 96-94. After that, Chicago had to sweat out a layup by Vince Carter, a missed free throw by Kyle Korver and a final (but failed) flurry by the Suns.
ESPN Chicago: "I don't feel like I won tonight," Bulls point guard Derrick Rose said," "We're taking steps back. We've got to come back [Wednesday] practice hard, and make sure we get things together." This coming from a man who's team just won its 57th game of the season. He wasn't the only one who felt bad. "We did not play tough with a lead," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Our shot selection hurt us, our defensive transition hurt us. We have to do a lot better. We have to clean up a lot of things."
Sentinel: The Magic have “The Dirty Half-Dozen.” [...] they are Howard, Jason Richardson, Jameer Nelson, Brandon Bass, Hedo Turkoglu and sixth man Ryan Anderson. And that’s about it.
Magic Basketball: The Orlando Magic were able to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks by the score of 78-72, putting themselves in position to win their 50th game of the regular season when they play again on Wednesday. Also, the victory ensures that the Magic will be facing off against the Atlanta Hawks at the No. 4 seed[...]This game exemplified everything that’s boring about the end of the regular season in the NBA. With two teams having nothing to play for, they simply stepped onto the court, performed without putting forth maximum effort, and went home.
Heat Index: Where do the Heat rank on that list? Not very high. With 116 games missed, the Heat rank 19th most in the league. The Heat better not whine on Wednesday about their injuries, even if Dwyane Wade (Wednesday status: doubtful) sits out with a deep thigh bruise. Why? The Heat's Wednesday opponent: the Milwaukee Bucks, who lead the league with 267 games missed between 15 (fifteen!) different players. They don't want to hear it.
Heat Index: Remember that series of commercials that LeBron James made a few years back, showcasing his multiple personalities? Well, they blew out that commercial line into an online cartoon series called "The LeBrons" and it made its debut Wednesday on YouTube. Without further ado, here's the first episode called "Lion"
Forum Blue & Gold: Over the past twelve quarters, the Lakers have played well for two of them. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to win consistently and tonight – like Sunday – that poor play resulted in another loss, this time to the Jazz by a score of 86-85. Any hopes of home court in the West have now slipped away and the Lakers find themselves in a dogfight to stay ahead of their chief competitors in the East (while also falling 2 games behind the Bulls in the loss column). Just a frustrating night all around.
OC Register: There are plenty of Kobe Bryant videos set to music, but now Bryant’ is starring in an official music video — or is it a glorified Sprite commercial? Whatever it is, it’s goofy at best. Starring with Chinese musician/actor Jay Chou, Bryant starts off by asking whether the pop star knows how to play “b-ball.” Chou’s answer clearly shows his lack of basketball skills. There’s more singing and dancing than basketball for Chou and more basketball for Bryant than singing — a win-win combo for the respective stars.
Project Spurs: Defense, and a very efficient game from the “Big 3” were the keys to the Spurs’ victory on a night where they weren’t looking for their accustomed array of outside shots. The Spurs only attempted eight three pointers in the game. After the game, Spurs guard George Hill commented on head coach Gregg Popovich’s main focus. “He wants us to be a solid team defensively.”
MySA: Hours after the Spurs polished off a 97-90 win over Atlanta on Tuesday night, the Utah Jazz provided them more good news on the opposite coast. Thanks to Utah’s 86-85 victory over the Lakers at Staples Center, the Spurs are now 3 1/2 games up on Los Angeles with four to play, their magic number to clinch the Western Conference’s top seed winnowed to two games. Without any further assistance from the Lakers, the Spurs could sew things up on their upcoming homestand that begins Wednesday against Sacramento and concludes Saturday against the same Jazz who just won in Los Angeles.
ESPN Dallas: Caron Butler, who ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee a little more than three months ago, continues to work toward a playoff return. The Mavs continue to be cautious about that possibility. “I can’t give you a medical opinion,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “My coaching opinion is his jump shot looks great. He’s doing great and he’s way ahead of schedule, but timetable-wise, I don’t have one. He’s been able to step up his activity moderately, but he’s not running yet or anything like that. It’s extremely unlikely we’ll see him in the first round.”
ESPN Dallas: An anticipated center matchup between the Denver Nuggets' Nene and Tyson Chandler of the Dallas Mavericks might not pan out tonight. Chandler is not sure if he'll play because his bruised tailbone remains sore, but he said it's the associated stiffness that could keep him out. "I can deal with the soreness and all that sort of stuff,” Chandler said. “It’s more so the restriction with my movement that’s keeping me out.”
NewsOK: If one image could tell the story of Tuesday night’s clash between the Thunder and Nuggets it came with 22 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Both teams big men, Kendrick Perkins and Nene, stood in a forehead-to-forehead stare down. The two had just gotten tangled up underneath the basket. Bumping occurred. Pushing ensued. Words were exchanged.With that, the stage became set for what is now all but guaranteed to be the 4-5 matchup in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Welcome to Loud City: I know, it's not official yet. But with five games remaining in the season and the Thunder up four games on the Nuggets, it would take an absolute miracle for the Thunder to lose their lead. Thus, I'm unofficially locking up the title. On the other hand, the Mavericks are only two games ahead of us, so if we could run the table and they could somehow lose three games, miraculous things would happen, and we'd avoid a first round clash with the Nuggets. Sure, I'm a dreamer, but the snowball effect could start tomorrow when the Mavericks play the Nuggets, so stay tuned.