Thu Apr 01 11:50am EDT
A couple of screw-ups -- the refs gave Mo Williams(notes) a 3-pointer when it should have been a two, Luc Mbah a Moute paid attention to Mo on a drive when he should have been paying attention to the game's best player -- and the Bucks barely lost.
That's how it goes when you play the team with the best record in the NBA, at home. And while I'm not ready to exactly hand the Bucks the win had the three been a two and Luc been a stickler in minding LeBron James(notes), things were that close. And it was a fantastic game.
Cleveland assistant coach
Michael Malone (LeBron James, actually) called the game-changing play for the Cavs, a drive for Mo, a screen set by Antawn Jamison(notes), a finish (he's good at that) at the rim from James, and the Cavs are to be commended for keeping focus and working with what can be a devil of a tough time when it comes to scoring on the Bucks.
James had 23 points, nine boards and seven assists, but he missed 10 of 17 shots (taking, and missing, just one 3-pointer), and he coughed up four turnovers.
Also, highlight this:
Antawn Jamison is now, after a 1-for-3 night on Wednesday, 28-of-62 from the free throw line as a Cavalier. That's 45 percent. Something weird is up.
The Cavs hit 21 more free throws than the Bucks, and I'm sorry, but they earned those 45 attempts. And the Bucks earned those nine free throw attempts. Spun away from context, sure, it appears as if the Bucks got a raw deal. But that isn't the case. The Cavaliers drive and get hit. The Bucks work the drive and kick game. Not the drive and get-slapped game.
Which shouldn't take away from a brilliant game. Loved this one, and would dearly appreciate it if it showed up in the Eastern Conference semifinals about five weeks from now.
Sacramento, is this the saddest trip, ever?
Losses to the Nets, the Celtics, the Cavs, the Pacers, the Timberwolves?
The Nets, Pacers and Timberwolves?
I didn't see much of this game. The Kings let the Timberwolves score 116 points per 100 possessions, a ton for them, and I can tell you that the last five minutes of this game were sad to watch. It's not as if Kevin Martin(notes) is some huge, uplifting presence, but the Kings have packed it in since he was traded.
On PTI Wednesday, Tony Kornheiser wondered if Sonny Weems(notes) was any better than Hedo Turkoglu(notes) (now that Turkoglu was being replaced in the starting lineup by Sonny Weems). The joke being that TK had never heard of Sonny Weems -- if that was his real name -- and that people who have been on prime time on ABC in early summer always deserve the benefit of the doubt.
That night, Sonny Weems went out and all but assured the Toronto Raptors a playoff spot.
OK, I shouldn't have gotten too over the top about this, but Hedo's a prat, Chris Bosh(notes) (34 points, 11 boards, just one turnover) went off, and the Raps are now two games up and pretty bloody likely assured a date with the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. And though I'm a Bulls supporter, that's a good and interesting first round matchup, even if it'll likely result in a sweep.
The Clippers hit just seven free throws all day, and they can't wait for May.
I've already written a post on the Lakers that you'll see later today. It's the Hawks that should impress you.
Every one of these guys went at it. Every one of them moved defensively, not just in the usual "switch everything!" mode, and closed out beautifully. The Lakers made things easy on them, I submit, but the Hawks earned this. The Lakers, at their best, would have lost this game.
Seven double-figure scorers for the Hawks, who piled up over 131 points per 100 possessions because they, I dunno, passed well and made shots? They just destroyed the Lakers. They worked, and the Lakers didn't. Effort makes a huge difference, and the Hawks were way the heck into effort on Wednesday night. Huge fans of the stuff.
Atlanta's starting five shot just one free throw (Joe Johnson(notes), he missed) all night, but that reeks more of the Lakers not contesting or closing out than it does the Hawks acting like prissy little jump-shooters. I mean, they are prissy little jump-shooters, but that didn't seem to be a detriment in this demolition.
Heading into halftime, it appeared as if the Sixers were ready to give a little offensive fight, but the Bobcats were too good defensively to make this anything less than a blowout.
Philly made only five free throws all day, which is a pathetic amount. Only topped by the fact that they only took 11. So it's just sadness, all around.
Charlie Villanueva(notes) got a DNP-CD because he's appeared a step slow recently, making the offense all about himself, and I've noticed two different opposition broadcasting duos mentioning how out of shape he looks. I like Charlie a lot and think he can be used in a way that can make a good team great, but he hasn't fit this year, and the Pistons are well within their rights to sit him.
I didn't see much of this game, but when I did flip over it did seem like the Pistons were giving the Heat lanes to the basket that the Heat just didn't deserve. That Detroit was making Miami a better offensive team than it really is, and the post-game stats (118 points per 100 possessions for Miami) back that up.
The Nets hung close in the first half, but because the Suns are better than the Nets, Phoenix pulled away and won. A stop, then two Phoenix scores. And while Steve Nash was integral, the Suns didn't need him to win. Would things have been closer without Steve? Sure. But do you really want to pull up this BtB when Steve is struggling through a 4-for-11 night next month, dealing with that back? Wondering why they felt they needed him against the Bulls, Nets and Pistons?
Phoenix is 18-4 since the All-Star break, the league's best record, and it is tied for the fourth seed in the West. These are important things. But compared to having your most important player working at a C-level during the postseason? I don't think this week is worth it. I hope I'm proven wrong.
For whatever reason, the Oklahoma City Thunder got a ton of calls.
They were awarded free throws, and while I don't think the Celtics earned more free throws (the team shot 17 freebies), the Thunder also got away with quite a bit. Moving screens, the whole deal. I save my bullets with the refs, but the C's were also right to complain about things after the game. Maybe not about Kevin Durant(notes) (who earned just about all of those 15 free throw attempts, with the iffy ones still undecided to these eyes, even after several slow-motion replays), but Boston is right to complain.
Because the Thunder whupped their butts Wednesday night.
OKC may have only won by a few points, but the Thunder darted into Boston and handled the old men with a series of sound moves, great shots, and fantastic execution on both ends.
Rasheed Wallace(notes) was great in this game, for reasons that went beyond scoring 18 points on eight shots (he was swiping at drivers and helping defensively), but I also just noticed his one rebound in 25 minutes, and he's still out of shape, so forget that guy. Durant had 37 on 20 shots, Russell Westbrook(notes) was finishing and ended the night with 21 points and 10 dimes, while Jeff Green(notes) was a killer (3-4) from behind the arc.
The C's can complain all they want, but the Thunder decided to set the terms in this win.
"People were saying we were not going to get a win in March, and we got one."
The Wizards won because they set to executing well offensively. They didn't break many plays, they got into their sets quickly, and the Hornets relented. The Hornets just -- and I apologize for diving into gym coach speak -- they just didn't bring it. Didn't care enough to try to win, for the full 48, and you have to work to win in this league.
Even against the Wizards.
As little as I think of Tim Floyd, did the Hornets miss his play-calling? Maybe not in this loss, but that might be the case as we move toward the end of the season.
Dirk missed open shot after open shot. Wide open looks, 17-foot looks, and he aimed them and they clanged, clanged, clanged. The guy just didn't have it.
Until he got it.
Six of eight makes to end the game, all sorts of extended confidence handed to his teammates, the usual Dirk-ness. We'll have more on the Mavs on Friday.
This game was not the usual Mav-ness nor Grizz-ness. This was not a pretty offensive game, as both teams missed a ton of shots they usually make, both inside and out. The Memphis offensive execution down the stretch was iffy, but I'm not going to kill their (quite iffy) defense down the stretch, because the Mavericks are just that hard to contain.
Dallas had a 43-11 bench edge.
Not to take away from San Antonio's impressive win (coming off that road jaunt? Nice), but the Rockets looked beat. And they're missing too many players to ably compete, especially defensively. They just didn't have it.
If you're looking to take something away from this game, stop. The Golden State Warriors are thin, they don't have many good players, they made bad decisions, and they came through with a poor effort on Wednesday night. The worst sort of cocktail. Nothing went right, both of their own design, and because of the circumstances handed to them.
The Jazz just hand it to people these days. They were well on their way to a 40-point win before the fourth quarter (Carlos Boozer(notes) and Mehmet Okur(notes) played for a combined six minutes in that term, Deron Williams(notes) sat for the whole thing), and the team's extra passes and top gear finishes were just too much (too marvy) for the Warriors to handle.
Williams had 19 assists in 31 minutes. Easily the best point guard of 2009-10.
At least the Warriors tried, at times.
The Knicks didn't give a rip, no pun intended. Golden State was playing against a championship contender, and while I like the Blazers, they aren't getting out of the first round. In fact, because Portland didn't score 140 points in this (I don't want to hear about pace), that's a reason to hate the Blazers. What's your deal, Portland? Where's your heart?
Nothing from this game counts, outside of the fact that Portland is fantastic offensively, and that the Knicks don't care.
The MSG feed was nice. Pretty, even. The Rose Garden looks like a wonderful place to be.
Thanks for reading.