Behind the Box Score, where the Mavs are reaching for answers

Denver 104, Dallas 96

The Mavericks are sort of adrift on memory bliss right now, realizing that there is only so much they can do without Tyson Chandler manning things defensively. And Jason Kidd's absence killed the team offensively -- several buckets in this game off of improvisation in delayed transition that Dallas relies on to win just weren't there in this loss.

Brendan Haywood had a great game both on paper and in reality, but though he pulled in 19 boards and blocked five shots, the Maverick center just doesn't have the same impact showing on pick and rolls as Chandler does, and despite J.J. Barea's continued great work off the Dallas bench, Denver's waves and waves were just too much.

The Nuggets forced turnovers and made shots in the paint and in the mid-range. 114 points per 100 possession as Denver played on the second night of a back-to-back. The Mavericks have some bad timing with this four game swoon, as we have to point out that Denver won this game more than Dallas lost it.

23 points and zero turnovers off the bench for J.R. Smith. He does that sometimes.



Golden State 95, Los Angeles Lakers 87

We can pretend to be blasé about the Lakers losing three in a row, three games that they clearly could have won, and point out that the playoffs start in a week and a half, but … well, no. Get your act together, Lakers.

94 points per 100 possessions against the Warriors? That's about, oh, 25 points fewer than you're supposed to score at that rate against Golden State. The Warriors played D, we all saw it, and it was admirable. But … no, Lakers. Get it together.

I liked the way Kobe Bryant was driving late. He took a couple of terrible threes, and a terrible long-two hero shot that went in, but he was also curling and making quick decisions upon taking in the pass on his way to the hole. The rest of his teammates couldn't hit a shot from the perimeter, as Kobe steamed post game about how his teammates need to "take care of their bodies" and "get rest when they need to." So, obviously, Derek Fisher (2-9 shooting) and Steve Blake (ohfer five) were out way late the night before, just owning the town.

Credit those Warriors. They moved their feet on the perimeter and helped when things got away from them up front. The team shot under 39 percent and still beat the Lakers. That's not supposed to happen, but through defense, Golden State put itself in a position to succeed.

Now it's time for the Lakers to do the same.


San Antonio 124, Sacramento 92

Those jerk Kings like to go around the NBA, crushing everyone's dreams, beating up on teams both in the playoffs, or vying for the final spot. Big bullies, those Kings.

Well, the Spurs had had enough. Saw them a mile away and prepped to end it after a too-close first half. Great ball movement and spacing for San Antonio, and great effort coming out of the locker room at halftime. 73 points for the Spurs in the second half, as everyone seemed to be getting good looks because of constant movement in the Spurs' offense.

Manu Ginobili had gone 3-18 from long range over his last six games, but he rebounded and nailed 4-6 in this win. Hopefully those wheels are ready for the playoffs.


Oklahoma City 112, Los Angeles Clippers 108

Thirty-one fourth quarter points for the Clippers as they staged a late rally, but the team couldn't get it completely straight in downing the Thunder. The Clippers turned it over more, and allowed OKC to rule the offensive glass, and that was enough for Oklahoma City to pull out the Division-clinching win.

The Thunder didn't play their best game, but they do what's necessary on most nights to pull out a win, as evidenced by Kevin Durant's 9-11 free throw stroke in this win. Good team, man. Good team. Great times. Reach for the best. Go for the gusto. Go for a Schlitz.

Kendrick Perkins is having a great April, and I don't care how he's converting with his shots. Great defense, and though he's at 33 percent shooting on the month, Perk is also averaging over 11 rebounds per game in just 27.8 minutes per game.


New Orleans 101, Houston 93

I can't destroy the Rockets too much for their last two losses; the team came out like gang-busters in this one, but quickly fell victim to what is a brilliant New Orleans defense at times. The Hornets dug in, and Chris Paul gave an MVP-style performance against a defender in Kyle Lowry that some have pegged as All-Defensive material.

Twenty-eight points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds for CP3, with just one turnover. And this was a 90-possession game, too. Brilliant work. He also had a few shots that I saw (including a late jumper that could have really clinched it) that spun in and out.

Seventeen turnovers for the Rockets and 3-11 shooting from Lowry did the team in. He had some good looks on drives and jumpers, but it just wasn't falling. Houston isn't officially out of the playoffs, but things aren't looking good for the Rockets.

Since shooting 10-16 in a win over the Warriors on March 23rd, Courtney Lee has shot 15-48 (31 percent) from the field.


Indiana 136, Washington 112

Two things not to dismiss after a blowout like this:

Indiana's insistence on confirming their trip to the postseason. The Pacers wanted to stop fooling around, and end the damn thing. Or, at least, move an inch closer to clinching that playoff berth and wait for the Bobcats to do the rest. Indy came out moving the ball and concentrating on its long shots, and absolutely dominated from the get-go, and Orlando took care of Charlotte's playoff business soon after the Pacers' buzzer sounded.

The other thing?

As it's been all year, when the Wizards go bad, they go real bad.

Terrible defense from Washington. Sure, they were caught in a buzzsaw, whatever the hell that means, but they could have reacted better.

59 percent shooting and 13-24 (54 percent) from long range for the Pacers, who have clinched the final spot in the East.


Phoenix 108, Minnesota 98

Phoenix sat Steve Nash for the second and fourth quarters, same for Grant Hill, Phoenix has a roster that wasn't good enough to make the playoffs this year … and they still beat Minnesota. At home.

The Timberwolves couldn't get any stops, against any set five Phoenix threw out there. The Suns missed 18 of 23 threes, but still shot well over 50 percent on the team's way toward the win.

24 points and 11 rebounds for Michael Beasley, and though he made a few gorgeous moves, he was shooting himself in the foot by needing 23 shots to score those 24, while adding five turnovers.


Milwaukee 90, Miami 80

It's the latest trend, sweeping the NBA nation, but it's not wrong. Mike Bibby kills the Heat's defense. He also adds, considerably, to its offense; but overall the Heat play about even with Bibby on the floor. And championship teams do not play about even.

So Bibby would be a step slow or lose someone on a screen, someone else would step over, the ball would be passed, someone else would step over, another pass, and then an open made shot. Done seemingly every time I clicked over to this game.

You can point to the Heat only scoring 101 points per 100 possessions, but I'm not too upset about that. Miami was without Dwyane Wade, and the Bucks can really D-up. The Bucks can't really shoot, though, but Miami allowed them to score 107 points per 100 possessions, way too much for the worst offense in the NBA. And Wade wasn't the difference, there. No way.


New York 97, Philadelphia 92

Tough breaks for the 76ers in this one, though the miscues weren't anybody's fault but their own.

Philly missed 16 of 18 three-pointers, and that was the killer in what was a hotly-contested game. The 76ers aren't really known for their outside shooting, but when Jodie Meeks is launching eight of those bad boys without a make, or a struggling Andre Iguodala is missing four of five, you're going to have issues pulling a game out.

When he moves quickly and decisively, Carmelo Anthony never has an issue pulling a game out. 31 points, 11 rebounds and zero turnovers in a fantastic performance against a defense that would seemingly have its way with him. And the Knicks have won five straight.


Orlando 111, Charlotte 102 (OT)

By overtime, Orlando had just about enough of the nonsense, and made 6-7 shots (Gilbert Arenas was the only one to miss, geesh) on its way to 15 points in five minutes, as the Bobcats just couldn't keep up.

Somewhat dismayed by the way that Orlando allowed Charlotte to keep up over the four quarters in regulation. 96 points might not seem much by itself, but Charlotte dropped that number in a slow-paced contest, working without Stephen Jackson, Tyrus Thomas, Gerald Wallace or Glen Rice, and against the NBA's third-ranked offense.

Or, against the NBA's 30th-ranked defense, plus Dwight Howard.

Charlotte is officially out of the playoffs, while the Magic have won 50 games for the fourth consecutive year.


Detroit 116, New Jersey 109

Of course the recently-benched Rodney Stuckey came back with 20 points and 10 assists. It's the NBA. Players always do obvious, stupid things following obvious, stupid incidents.

Detroit really spread the floor very well against New Jersey. This game actually wasn't bad to watch, even if the League Pass feed wasn't very good (the score was obscured throughout), as the Pistons and Nets traded baskets rather than clangs.

Reason 1,948 why I don't think Avery Johnson is some coaching genius in waiting: he started Mario West again. I understand bringing Travis Outlaw off the bench, but West missed all three of his shots, had three fouls and two rebounds in 13 minutes. He doesn't do anything. Sorry for going simple with this, but you can't have one of your five guys not doing anything, unless they're Bruce Bowen.


Cleveland 104, Toronto 96

Same as you saw on Tuesday, when the Cavaliers downed Charlotte. It's simple analysis, but it's also the sort of stuff I'm comfortable in saying after watching -- Cleveland wanted it more. Worked harder, made more of a move early in the game to try and put the Raptors away, and earned the win.

Eight assists in the first quarter, and seven points with two assists in the last half of the fourth quarter for Baron Davis, who was pushing the ball and making an impact throughout. Great to see.

Take away Reggie Evans' 6-8 shooting, and the Raptors' starters shot 9-34 (26 percent).

Thank you for reading.

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