Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Three pretty good games, not a lot to pick apart, few surprises, just three sound NBA teams playing up to their usual standards. 

Unfortunately, today's BtB will not be up to its usual standards. As it usually is with Thursday night games, I'll Tivo all three; but because there's no need for me to flip around between contests I can't tape, I use Thursday nights to catch up on sleep, then go through the games in the early morning hours on Friday before posting. The fact that the girlfriend and I are both semi-recovering from a bout with some head cold nastiness only aided in my hitting of le hay.

Something happened tonight, I haven't the foggiest idea why, but I lost the first two hours of the Suns/Warriors "telecast" (which means, for those of you who are used to doing this, about the last quarter of the first game in TNT's double-header).

Consequently, I'm working without knowledge of what was apparently a hum-dinger of a finale to the Cavs/Wizards game; and most what we all expected to be a brilliant Suns/Warriors showdown.

So, at this point, I've moved beyond the "incredibly angry"-stage and into the, "quite bemused, hoping I can find some Bit Torrents of each game"-stage, but this post will suffer as a result.

Two things can save this, however:

1. Comment away. Tell us about the games, tell us about the travels you thought LeBron got away with, talk about Caron Butler's(notes) swag (which, according to Tough Juice, is at "an all-time high"), post away, make my day.

2. I'm going to be live-blogging from the 76ers/Bulls game on Friday night, with nary an ice storm to get in my way this time. I'll make it up to you.

Sacramento 96, Portland 85

The Trail Blazers have yet to be mathematically eliminated from the Western Conference postseason, but the team's race is almost run: 8th-place Golden State is on track to win 53 games, while the best the Blazers can manage is 50 wins assuming they win out.

Which they won't.

Which is why it's time for Nate McMillan to see what Sergio Rodriguez(notes) can do.

The 21-year old Trail Blazer backup's backup is not having a good season, shooting 36 percent while throwing out a turnover for every two assists. That said, it's hard to make your mark when you're being thrown out there for the final few minutes of the first and second halves, paired with teammates that are still wiping their palms on the bottom of their soles and making sure the headband is on straight.

We know he can play, we know that strong point guard play is Portland's only potential failing at this point, and we watched as Steve Blake(notes) and Jarrett Jack(notes) stunk it up on Thursday night, in a combined performance that (sadly) doesn't seem far beneath the pair's usual standards.

In about 47 combined minutes, Blake and Jack put together two points on 2-17 shooting, with six assists, four turnovers, and a pretty lousy recognition of the fact that Beno Udrih(notes) is - in fact - left-handed.

Sacramento came out hot, putting up 52 points in the game's first 20 minutes, and they were intent on moving the ball even if the total assist total (18) doesn't seem like a whole lot. Plenty of rimmed-out jumpers in this one.

Washington 101, Cleveland 99

One thing that got to me, throughout the first three quarters of this one, was how well each of these teams know each others plays.

Since Larry Hughes(notes) jumped from the Wizards to the Cavaliers in the summer of 2005, and the Cavs shored up their roster as we (nearly) know it, it's safe to say these two are a little familiar with the hop-steps and probable charges that are coming from the team in the other uniform.

Counting the playoffs, the teams have gone up against each other 22 times since then, and it's quite possible that we're a win or two away from seeing both outfits meet each other in the first round for the third consecutive season.

As it usually is, the team that makes the least amount of mistakes while coming through with some surprising performances usually pulls out the win. Washington probably won this one because Darius Songaila(notes) put the Wizards over the edge with his touch, shooting, and willingness (with one board in 18 minutes) to let his teammates take over with that whole rebounding thing. 

I'd say this regardless of whether or not LeBron James(notes) missed the potential game-winning shot tonight: the man is taking way too many threes.

The fact that he missed six of seven has nothing to do with it, LeBron has been consistently hiking up the treys (it's not the number of attempts per game, just the way he takes them) since dropping 50 in the Knicks win a little while ago, and he needs to get back to attacking the basket.

While we're at it: Happy 28th, Tough Juice. Props for hurrying back.

Phoenix 123, Golden State 115

There are 30 teams in the NBA, and they all play 82 games. Sure, some of them will play an extra 51.9 seconds, and 16 teams take to the postseason every year (playing anywhere between four and 28 extra games), and there's a lot of fun to be had.

And if I could pick, way back in August, one game to have to miss due to a Tivo malfunction (and I know it was the Tivo's fault, we had rain in the area but nothing too nasty), this particular Suns/Warriors game would be far, far, far down the list.

Far down the list.

(Suck it up, KD.)

Sorry.

The Suns looked great. Steve Nash(notes) looked accurate, Amare Stoudemire looked interested and active (yay, and yay with caveats - sometimes the activity nets him some foul trouble), Grant Hill(notes) contributed a great game (11 needed rebounds) while struggling from the floor, Boris Diaw(notes) was aggressive (which we'll take in spite of the four turnovers), and Shaq fouled a lot. If the team would have cut out the dumb turnovers (a 16 to seven edge for Golden State), they would have walked by 20.

Then again, the Warriors looked good. Baron Davis(notes) had a monster night (38 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, just two turnovers in a 99-possession game that he played 46:12 of, three steals, one block), Al Harrington(notes) can't rebound, Kelenna Azubuike(notes) might be in line for a 25-point playoff game that would surprise some, Stephen Jackson(notes) has found an alternative to violence (that's not me being a smart-aleck), and Andris Biedrins(notes) will only improve this team once he rounds into shape.

So fill up that comment box, and I'll see you tonight around 7:30 Chi-time.

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