Wed Mar 31 10:00am EDT
Probably a season-killer for Chicago. Though most wrote them out of the postseason a few weeks ago, the team had a chance to finish a half-game up in the playoff bracket after Tuesday had the Bobcats downed a flighty Toronto Raptor team in Charlotte on Monday, and had Chicago hung in there to win against the Suns.
Instead, two close games went the wrong way for the Bulls, and the team is a game and a half out of the playoffs with eight to play.
And not eight to play for the Cavs or Magic or Lakers. The Bulls have to play those eight games themselves, so we're not expecting much.
Steve Nash(notes) took over the contest late, destroying Jannero Pargo(notes) (why was Jannero Pargo guarding him? Why didn't Acie Law(notes) play more than four minutes?) down the stretch as the Suns took the close one. On the other end, Pargo was taking shots late for Chicago, and I couldn't tell you why.
Pargo was 5-for-15 shooting (ohfer four in the fourth) and scored 12 points and was just about as bad as any basketball player in the land on Tuesday. I understand that Law has had a pretty miserable pro career to this point, but he's played quite well as a Bull (17.6 points, over four assists, 46.7 percent shooting for every 36 minutes he plays; compared to 15.5 and four with 34.7 - ! - shooting for Pargo for every 36); but the Chicago coaching staff tends not to rely on statistical documentation or in-person observations.
Instead, they like people you've kind of heard of. Like Pargo.
Not to take away from the Suns, who appeared to drag a bit defensively at times, and are clearly missing Robin Lopez(notes) (oh, we all miss Robin Lopez), but put together a fine road effort in the win.
Sacto didn't have the wings to stay with Danny Granger(notes) in the second half, either in delayed transition or the half-court sets, and Granger was getting good clearance on his jumper and went off. The Pacer swingman had 25 quiet-ish points, 33 overall, as Indiana came back to top a Kings team that had them somewhat on the ropes in the first half.
Though the Kings pulled in a healthy chunk of available offensive rebounds, they just weren't hitting shots at the same rate, and I don't think the up-tempo pace (97 possessions) agreed with them.
Concentration, honestly, seems to be a factor with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Eddie Jordan's team rushes shots, and it acts distracted and/or hesitant on shots that they should have plenty of time to follow through on and toss in. Add to the fact that the Sixers turned it over on 18 percent of their possessions, and you have the recipe for a safe Thunder win.
Things didn't always feel so warm for OKC. Philadelphia hung around, Andre Iguodala(notes) on the outside and Elton Brand(notes) on the inside, but the shots stopped falling as the third quarter dwindled and the fourth quarter took off. A quick 12 off the bench for James Harden(notes) in 21 minutes, 26 points for Kevin Durant(notes) (though he didn't even score in his six minute fourth quarter stint), and Serge Ibaka(notes) (10 and seven in 21 minutes) continues to get better with each passing game.
The Bucks really piled up the points against the Clippers, as 121 points per 100 possessions is quite a bit for them, and the Clips just didn't have the depth to hang. Los Angeles did its part to try by getting to the line more and crashing the offensive glass, but even with Baron Davis(notes) (left in El Lay with back spasms), it's hard to see the Clippers pulling this one off.
With John Salmons(notes) (3-for-12) struggling to find his shot, Ersan Ilyasova(notes) and Jerry Stackhouse(notes) combined for 36 points off the bench on 15-24 shooting, moving into open spaces and catching the Clippers acting all Clipper-y. Los Angeles also had trouble converting in the few transition opportunities it was afforded from Milwaukee's good shooting.
It says Andray Blatche(notes) made 13 of 23 shots, and I promise I'm not piling on because of his (bad) move from last week, but I swear this man takes the worst shots in the NBA at this point. Pargos included. And I'm not overreacting to his missed game-changer down the stretch of this Washington loss. You think he's going to give up on the possession, clearly beat, but ... nope. Still going up.
Blatche had 31 points, but the Wizards took it again. Chase Budinger(notes) surprised Mike Miller(notes) by not needing an extra dribble or step after coming off a screen to nail a jump shot (you used to not need that extra step, Mike; although you don't shoot anymore), the rookie scored 24 points and the Rockets rolled.
Kyle Lowry(notes) helped keep things together in the second half for Houston, making up for an awful night from Trevor Ariza(notes) (missed all seven shots, though I doubt this will be the "STOP SHOOTING" wake-up call we've been begging for since November), and the fact that Houston had to start Jermaine Taylor(notes) with Kevin Martin(notes) out.
Taylor wasn't awful, 14 points on 13 shots, but with Aaron Brooks(notes) struggling again (missing 15 shots in 20 attempts), every bit of help was needed. Also, Jordan Hill(notes) remains a terrible defender.