Eleven seconds on the clock, Denver leads the Lakers by two at the Staples Center. Lamar Odom has just knocked down a clutch, momentous triple, and Nene is at the line for a pair of freethrows that could ice the game… but you know he’s going to miss one of the two. Good thing Kenyon Martin had that all under control. He softly placed Nene’s miss into the hoop, cementing a 6th straight victory for his Nuggets. He then proceeded to tell Laker fans where they could shove their nine-game win streak…
I’m not the biggest Mark Jackson fan in the world, but HUGE props to him for instructing Mike Breen to can it as he went all soccer mom on the swagged-out Martin. This is the big boy league, Mike. Obscenity-laced smack talk is nothing but a wonderful part of the game. If you can’t handle it, maybe you should go commentate the Little League World Series or some sh!t. Also, SMH @ ABC for cutting out in the middle of K-Mart’s outburst. I was thoroughly enjoying it, and then the screen just goes fuzzy. ABC’s NBA broadcasts just suck, period. Had I been watching this on Denver’s local Altitude network I guarasheed that I would’ve not only seen Martin’s entire walk down the sideline, but also heard every curse word over their cranked up courtside mics.
- Highlight Recap, Marcus Thornton & Donte Greene Edition:
- Highlight Recap, Everyone Else Edition: Dominic McGuire blocks the hell out of Javale McGee. Rudy Fernandez is hustlin’. Rajon Rondo is bounce passin’. Dwyane Wade is lobbin’ and LeBron James is jammin’. Get familiar with Chris Johnson. LeBron goes 360 for the layup. Patrick Patterson cleans up Courtney Lee’s mess. DeMarcus Cousins trucks to the rack. Carl Landry toasts Tyler Hansbrough.
- Kenyon Martin’s freethrow putback was only one of Denver’s 11 offensive boards in their 95-90 road victory. Martin had another big putback with 2:12 remaining, and the Nuggets essentially equalled the Lakers in paint statistics throughout the game. The paint points count finished at 44 a piece, and the Lakers won the battle of the boards by just one rebound. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum did combine for 28 boards on their own, but a variety of Denver bigs (Martin-8, Nene-7, Gallo-7, Mozgov-6) worked hard to match them. Overall, Denver’s frontcourt was not vastly outplayed, even though they are vastly overmatched. Much of the credit for this win should be given to Martin, Mozgov, Nene, and Gallinari… they all fought extremely hard against the larger Lakers. Credit Denver’s wings for giving a great defensive effort on Kobe Bryant as well. Bryant went just 10-27 from the field, and he only got a few easy looks around the basket. When you consider the fact that Arron Afflolo, one of the league’s best lockdown defenders and a much improved scorer, didn’t even play… well, that just makes the victory that much more impressive. The Birdman was unable to go as well, but honestly I feel like Timofey Mozgov is a better match for the Lakers size anyway. Andersen often gets moved out of position when trying to battle with Gasol and Bynum. Surprisingly, neither Ty Lawson nor Raymond Felton had monster games against Derek Fisher. Felton did pick it up late hit a lot of big buckets in the third and fourth quarters on his way to 16 points, but Lawson went just 1-6. He did contribute in other ways with six boards, eight assists, and two steals. This game was yet another outstanding team effort from the Nuggets. I felt like seven of nine players who saw the floor made key contributions. I feel like I’m rambling now, so I’m just going to wrap it up: this was a really impressive win by the Nuggets for a variety of reasons: the officiating was garbage (and the Nuggets certainly didn’t benefit), it was a grind-it-out defensive battle (Denver can actually win this kind of game now), and they were missing their best defender to throw at Kobe Bryant. Oh yeah, I’ve got to do a little criticizing here: Phil, ya probably should’ve put Andrew Bynum back in the game to snag Nene’s brick. And Lamar Odom, stop daydreaming about Khloe and box the f@ck out. This is the second time this year.
- The Hornets beat the Pace Makers 108-96 (Ariza, Paul, and Landry all scored 18+), so that means the Bobcats had an opportunity to move within just one game of Indiana and that 8th spot in the East… and all they had to do was beat the Wizards… at home. They couldn’t do it. The Wiz came in with just two road wins all season long, but led by 25/17 from Andray Blatche, they picked up their second in a row. The game was back and forth early, but Washington never trailed in the second half and led by as many as 18 in the third. They began the second half on an 11-2 run and never looked back from there. The ‘Cats were without Stephen Jackson, and even though Matt Carroll dropped a season-high 26 off the bench… they just aren’t much of a team without (or even with) Captain Jack. Charlotte shot poorly, got murked on the boards, and were crushed by over 20 points in the paint. Jordan Crawford dropped 23, his fourth game in a row with 20 or more. Following the W, Flip Saunders sipped Andray Blatche’s Kool Aid: “I really believe if he can get his weight to the 260s, he can become a very dominant forward.” …yeah, maybe if he could convert that lost weight into gained brain power.
- The Spurs got a big 114-97 victory in Phoenix that snapped their six-game losing streak. In doing so, they bumped their lead over the Lakers (and Bulls) back up to multiple games. Phoenix played without Steve Nash, so they were virtually doomed from the get go. Tony Parker didn’t do much, but George Hill came off the bench and lit the board up with 29 points on 10-16. Aaron Brooks struggled to reach 14 points on 5-12. Vince Carter, who played fewer than 10 minutes in the first half, was left in the game until the final buzzer after checking in late in the third. I found it a little odd that Alvin Gentry left him out there alongside guys like Zabian Dowdell and Garrett Siler as the Suns got dismantled. I wasn’t the only one… the commentators mentioned it too. I can’t find any news about it, and maybe it doesn’t mean anything. VC is riding the pine these days, so maybe Alvin figured he wanted to play. It almost seems like a bit of an insult to leave a veteran like VC in a game like that, though. Maybe he intended it to be some sort of insult or message… I don’t know, honestly. Like I said, I can’t find any news or comments on the matter. Anyway, it was an ugly L for the setting Suns, obviously. The stage was kind of set for it. Said Marcin Gortat, who’s quotes I have come to enjoy: “I’m embarrassed. I’m glad in the second half we stepped up a little bit and didn’t get blown out by 40 or 50, but it’s embarrassing.”
- The Orlando Magic lost, 102-98, to the Craptors……… ew. Dwight Howard scored 31 points, but he recorded just nine boards and clunked 6 of 15 freethrows. Toronto is 25th in the league in rebounding, yet they out-boarded the Magic, who are ranked 6th, by 18 (15-7 on the offensive glass). Credit Reggie Evans… he came up with 17 of those boards… and discredit the Orlando Magic, who seem to give you at least one super-ugly letdown on a weekly basis. Rarely, though, is rebounding the problem… especially against a frontcourt as terrible as Toronto’s. I suppose this one is on Dwight, Bass, and Anderson. Well, maybe not so much Dwight… he was taking a brief rest as Toronto went on their key 12-3 run to take a one-point lead three minutes into the fourth. Honestly, I don’t even care if Dwight missed the entire game… you can’t be letting the Craptosaurs out-score you in the paint and beat you up on the glass. That’s inexcusable. Andrea Bargnani didn’t play, which probably helped, but still… inexcusable. Jerryd Bayless started for the second time in a row, and dropped 20+ for the second time in a row. It seems that Bayless always puts up big numbers when given minutes. He averages 17 PPG in nine starts with Toronto. Time for Jose Calderon to become a permanent pine rider?
- The Mavs suddenly find themselves in the midst of a three-game losing streak after another bad loss to a Western Conference playoff team. The Blazers never trailed after the first quarter’s six-minute timeout and pretty much ran away with it. The final score showed just an eight-point differential (104-96), but it felt like a much larger win, and they led by more for much of the night. As I mentioned a few days ago, the Mavs haven’t beaten a good team since the middle ages, and this is certainly no way to enter a likely playoff series against these same Blazers, who have now beaten them twice in a row. Portland will have to hold their one-game lead over the Hornets and Grizzlies if they want to see Dallas, and Dallas will have to hold their two-game lead over OKC… but no matter what happens it looks like the Mavs are in for a challenge. If they slip to fourth (not likely), they probably face the Nuggets. That damn sure won’t be a walk in the park. Memphis moves into 6th? They aren’t going to roll over either. The David West-less Hornets could get that 6th spot (I’m sure that’s what Dallas is hoping for), but I doubt it. It looks like it’ll be the Nuggets, Grizzlies, or Blazers in the first round for them. No one wants to see any of those squads.
- The Other Games: The Knicks FINALLY defeated the Cavaliers, 123-107 at Madison Square. With the victory they clinched their first playoff appearance in seven years. Congratulations on the East sucking, New York! Shaq hobbled off the court after a non-contact injury just six minutes into his return from achilles issues. The Cs beat the Pistons 101-90, but I don’t think anyone in green really gives a flying f@ck about that right now. Supposedly it’s nothing but a minor calf strain for the Shaqtus (yeah, I’m still going to call him that), but at his age, you never know. He could be in and out of the lineup for the duration of the season, and that wouldn’t be good for the Cs. We’re just going to have to wait and see with Boston. Three Heaters not named James, Wade, or Bosh scored in double-figures as Miami beat the Nets 108-94. They went a pathetic 19-32 from the stripe, but that’s okay because New Jersey… is New Jersey. Utah lost their 8th in a row… this time to the Queens, 97-106. Tyreke Evans did 24/10 in Sacto’s 5th win in 7 tries. Houston continues to cling to their playoff lives with a 114-109 win over the Hawks. For some reason, Jeff Teague ended up with the ball in his hands with 10 seconds left. ATL trailed by three, and Jeff ended up dribbling in a circle for five seconds and then firing a leaning, ducking, long-ball that he most certainly should’ve passed up. Hey Jeff… ever heard of Jamal Crawford? He’s pretty good at getting shots off, and he’s been clutch in the past. I really wish the injured/unexciting Hornets would just lose out and the Rockets could take that 8th spot… but it isn’t likely.
Quote of the Day: Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard on… lots of things…
SVG: “They wanted to win, we didn’t care, so they won.”
SVG: “We certainly didn’t even try to turn it on tonight. Our guys want to try to pick their spots. I’m not at all confident. I’m confident in what we’re able to do when we want to play, but I’m not confident that our guys will come with an approach to really come out and play hard and play with great energy. I’m not confident in that at all.”
Dwight: “I don’t want to say I don’t care what Stan says but sometimes he is very passionate and he says things that we might not like,” Howard said. “I just have to do whatever I can to motivate my team and get ready for the playoffs.”
SVG: “You don’t see teams get outrebounded by 18. That’s absurd.”
SVG: “It’s a little ridiculous that we can’t even let Dwight get a drink of water, but that’s the way it is. When he leaves we have no defense and today we had very little offense. It’s crazy, but we should be able to take him out to get a drink of water.”
Photo of the Day: Timofey Mozgov studies the official NBA basketball as Andrew Bynum dunks one on his face…
“Eh.. who is this David J. Stern, and why he sign basketball?”
You have much to learn, young Timofey.