Smack / Apr 14, 2009 / 5:39 am

Cleveland clinches best record, Orlando keeps stumbling

LeBron James, Dime #47

LeBron James, Dime #47

If you’re spending money on NBA tickets right now, or if you’re in a fantasy league that’s still going, this is the most uncertain time of the season. With some teams having locked up playoff seeds, Lottery teams randomly benching vets to give their young guys some run, otherwise minor injuries upgrading to “shut-down” worthy, and each playoff team’s coach having his own philosophy on whether stars should be rested or stay in rhythm headed to the postseason, you never know who’s gonna be suiting up in this last stretch of games … Trying to lock up the NBA’s best record and homecourt throughout the Finals, the Cavs ran their full squad in Indiana last night. LeBron went for 37 points in front of a road crowd that was giving him scattered “M-V-P” chants, but his team was getting all they could handle. Danny Granger scored 38 for Indy, who were ahead in the second quarter and had it within single digits in the fourth, but it was just too much ‘Bron and Mo Williams (18 pts). Those two will likely be on the bench for Cleveland’s season finale … Right before the first-quarter buzzer, T.J. Ford hit Granger for an open three on the wing. After the shot went down, Granger did some kind of move that was between a disco dance and the D-X “suck it” sign … So much for the Magic looking at last night’s game in Milwaukee as a must-win. While Dwight Howard said his team needed to work out of its mini-slump — three losses in their last four games before Monday — Stan Van Gundy had to decide whether he’d let his guys get back on their game before the playoffs, or give ‘em some rest since the Magic are locked into the 3-seed no matter what. Van Gundy’s call? Rest. The starting lineup last night was Skip, Courtney Lee, Mickael Pietrus, Tony Battie and Marcin Gortat (10 pts, 18 rebs), and they got smashed. Battie claimed after the game, “We’ll be ready to go when it counts.” … Dwight was on the bench in the first half, but after the League let him know he was in violation of the dress code, he spent the second half in the locker room. Dude was wearing a sweater, a shirt with a collar and dress pants; isn’t that good enough? It’s not like he was rocking Ed Hardy and a rubberband chain … Pistons/Bulls resembled a normal game between two teams with something to play for: Chicago was trying to move past Philly for the 6th seed, while Detroit was trying to avoid the 8th seed and their first sub-.500 record since the Jerry Stackhouse/Mateen Cleaves era … Down three with about 45 seconds left in the fourth, Derrick Rose (24 pts, 8 asts) took the ball and went flying downcourt at Usain Bolt speed with just Rasheed standing between him and the basket. Staying under control somehow, Rose elevated and contorted his body around ‘Sheed (doing his best impression of a tree) to score the layup and get fouled. After tying it up at the line, Rose then blocked Rodney Stuckey‘s pull-up J on the other end, and on the Bulls’ next possession, Ben Gordon skated past Tayshaun Prince for the go-ahead layup that proved to be the game-winner …

Chris Paul (photo. Chad Griffith)

Chris Paul (photo. Chad Griffith)

Byron Scott on the Hornets after their crap performance last night: “We don’t play hard every game, and that is really a problem.” New Orleans had a chance to clinch the 6th seed in the West with a win at Houston, which obviously isn’t easy to do by any means, but N.O. came out like it was a mid-January game against the Nets or something. The defense wasn’t there, and when Chris Paul and crew weren’t being passive offensively, they were missing the shots they took when they were aggressive. In the end the Hornets scored just 66 points while getting 20-pieced … Some big stat lines from Monday: Drew Gooden posted 20 points and 15 boards in a win over Golden State, while Anthony Randolph had 24 points, 16 boards and four steals in the loss; Steve Nash put up 18 points and 12 dimes in a win over Memphis; Carlos Boozer had 20 points and 13 rebounds in a win over the Clippers; Chris Bosh and Shawn Marion each had 25 points and 15 boards in a win over the Wizards (Bosh hit the game-winning three); Brook Lopez posted 18 points and 20 rebounds in a win over Charlotte; and Dirk Nowitzki dropped 34 on the Wolves in a game that Jason Terry won with a baseline J with two seconds left … Of course in the one game where Ike Diogu remembers he’s an NBA player and used to be a Lottery pick, he gets overshadowed by a historic performance. Diogu put up 32 points and 11 boards for the Kings against the Nuggets, but nobody was talking about him because J.R. Smith stole the show. Smith (45 pts) dropped ELEVEN threes, one shy of the NBA record shared by Kobe and Donyell Marshall, against some of the sorriest perimeter defense you’ll ever see from an NBA team. On at least seven or eight of J.R.’s treys, somebody on the Kings was either running out at him two steps too late flailing their arms, or playing off him several feet, then looking surprised when he pulled in their face. You could just imagine Kenny Natt in the huddle reminding guys to respect J.R.’s drive when he’s steady lighting them up for 26-27 feet … Speaking of bad coaching, Florida International University is reportedly talking to Isiah Thomas about becoming the program’s next head coach. That’s actually not a bad move for Zeke. He’d be in his element on the recruiting/scouting trail, using his charm and stature to convince not-quite All-American high schoolers to come to FIU, and he’d have automatic authority amongst the youngsters and in a place without high expectations. No one’s ever said Isiah doesn’t know the game and doesn’t know talent; he just needs to be kept far, far away from things like salary caps and semi-attractive female employees. So maybe going to a college campus in Florida isn’t the best idea after all … We’re out like a winning Pistons team …

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  • AB_40

    the indiana game was nice to watch… but cleveland’s D was terrible. I just wanna see how good KG looks in his next game untill then there is no resolve about who wins the east.

    the west is still skintight it’s crazy gonna be fun to watch the next three days and of couse the playoffs but that’ll wait

  • Rickdaruler

    No one’s ever said Isiah doesn’t know the game and doesn’t know talent; he just needs to be kept far, far away from things like salary caps and semi-attractive female employees….LMAO

    I’m making a plea with boston and cleveland not to rest their starters. I need another Philly lost so I don’t have to watch KG comeback healthy and slaughter my Bulls

  • Flying_Aussie_Dutchman

    Don’t worry, The Pistons “will be ready to go when it counts” :D So im not worried ahaha

    Ok maybe a little :-(

  • Thats my boy Blue

    “Kevin Garnett will miss the Celtics’ final two regular-season games, at Philadelphia Tuesday and versus Washington in Boston Wednesday. Garnett is scheduled to return when the Celtics open the playoffs, Game 1 tentatively scheduled for Saturday.”

    http://www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/extras/celtics_blog/

    No KG so til playoffs.

  • http://www.nba.com ya boy

    no mention of that freakish hulk like jam by lebron.Gadaaam.
    And ladies n gents you see why george karl has no hair left.I swear if JR checked in on offence and improved his D even a litte every night,we’d mention this cat in the same breath as a wade or even an earlier iverson version.
    Drip..I mean,DRIPPING raw potential.
    but at least this new billups run crew should make the western playoffs a lot more fun than last year.
    go lakers.

  • dk

    @2 Imagine how many years and for what amount Rick Fox would have made to play in NY!

  • Sri

    No mention of Delonte West in the breakdown of the Cavs-Pacers? Mr. Redz had 20 points ahead of Mo’s 18, and pretty much singlehandedly took a previously red hot Jarrett Jack out of the proceedings on D because we left him on an island out there against Jack and Ford when the 2nd units were in.

    He is the ‘X’ factor, so to speak, for Cleveland’s playoff run. If he’s on point and is an effective “third wheel” (we already know he can bring it in the playoffs…he was the ONLY player besides Bron Bron and Big Z who took it to the C’s last year). Assume Mo’s being Mo, and Bron is being Bron…if DWest is on point, it’s a wrap for the East. And it’ll be THAT much harder for the Lakers because Delonte did not play in EITHER Lakers game. He could have definitely helped the Lakers’ matchup zone with his midrange and outside shooting, and by being a 3rd possible creator off the dribble.

    ANd watch out for the Pacers…they got MAD weapons on offense. All they need now is a legit crator at the point and…boy, oh boy. That team is going to run some squads out the gym next year.

  • http://allthatjazzbasketball.blogspot.com/ Amar

    props to the nuggets for retaking the division when no one thought they could do it!!!

    in other news: utah is in for a world of hurt this weekend.

  • that’s whats up

    can one last game really determine spots 2-8 in the West?

    Or do the Nuggets own a tiebraker with Houston/Portland/S.A.?

  • http://www.alltexasforums.com rangerjohn

    nuggets are set in the 2 spot with another win. spurs need the rockets to lose their last game and they have to win theirs. as a spurs fan we sure hope the hornest come out and play as bad as they did against the rockets. i guess we need portland to lose also to get the 3 spot.

    nuggets have the tie breaker over the spurs i know (remember the infamous “why the hell did pop rest tony, tim AND manu, and finley against the nuggets”?)

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    Houston up

    Way to hold it down at home. Now it’s the mission of going up into Dallas and just taking that ish!

    @that’s whats up

    It’s all so confusing it’s not even funny, they have to decided who won in head to head, who won the most in conference, best record, how many pets the starters have, blood samples and toe-nail clippings.

    Wonder if LA is sending Utah a serious message tonight? Or if Utah is going to send one back. Probably the former.

    Wed. is going to be crazy. 2-8 can’t even rest their cats really unless they blowing out the other team by the end of the third. Dang Playoffs here already.

    Good bad and ugly memories of the season.

    Shaq with the Jabawokees
    Eddy Curry to his limo driver (weird)
    Pop fouling Shaq at the beginning of a game as a joke
    Pop’s predator mustache
    Lotta injuries
    Pre-game fun (Shaq bowling pins, LeBron camera)
    Kobe and LeBron bustin up MSG
    Dunk contest
    Twitter drama
    Ron on his best behavior
    Tight battle in the West!
    Pretty good season!

  • the_don_mega

    @ GEE:

    nice call on the list bruh!!!

  • http://nerditry.com nerditry

    Sacto is the same team that gave up an NBA record 23 3-pointers this season to the Magic so F-Garcia, Beno, KMart2 are definitely known league-wide as guys to throw bombs on.

    The Magic are banged up and out of gas. Haven’t really suffered the injury bug except for Jameer 2+ months ago and now all of the little bangups are starting to take a toll. Hopefully they can get their wind and focus back before taking on what seems like the 76ers.

  • calvin brodus

    Mile High!

    Smith was fuego last night. I really thought he might break the record. I also can’t believe the record for threes in a game is held by kobe and DONYELL MARSHALL?!? WTF? Who let donyell drop twelve 3’s?

    The standings are wild right now. I think houston has the tiebreaker over denver in head-to-head games this season. So I’m not sure who gets the 2 spot if both teams win wednesday.

    Has anyone else bought playoff tix yet? Is it driving you crazy the playoff schedule isn’t locked and you have no idea what day your tickets are for? I can tell you it’s driving me fucking crazy. Can’t plan my weekend for shit.

    Amar, still good on that bet?

    This NBA season has been great. Coming down to wire too. Bring on spring and 40 games/40 nights! My favorite time of year.

    Mile mafuckin high!!!

  • b$

    i’m not sure bringing isaiah near a bunch of co-eds will work out much better

  • http://www.myspace.com/beenobrown BERN BROGDEN

    Just some thoughts from last night before I read y’all comments. “Speaking of bad coaching…” — CLASSIC SEQUE DIME. CLASSIC.

    GOODEN BALLIN’ — What! 20 and 15 off da bench. GOOD LAWD. Nice!

    Utah : See, they CAN win on the ROAD. And y’all doubted them. Y’all said they couldn’t win on the road and they went to LA and got one. LOL. That was a great win for thier franchise! Oh, Lakers DIDN’T play last night. Ummmmmm, forget everything I just said.

    BOOZ: 20 AND 13
    ILL MILL : 19 AND 11
    UTAH ROCKIN N ROLLIN if they keep this production up.
    Albeit against better comp.
    DWill messed up the triple “double double”
    DWILL: 17 AND 10MINUS1

    Oh yeah, some gotta show the rookie love. If he was on a winner, he’d be ROY.
    BROOK LOPEZ: 18 AND 20

    With teams like Orlando and N.O actin’ wrong at the wrong time, it’s GOOD to see the Bulls going in the right direction at the right time.
    4 starters in double digits, and they survived an OFF night from JOHNNY BUCKETS. In addition, they’re 8-man rotation does NOT look bad at ALL. Quite formidable. Boston be weary.

  • zcw

    To bad the Pistons go to guy is on the couch watching Family Guy reruns

  • http://allthatjazzbasketball.blogspot.com/ Amar

    calvin — you know it. email me your paypal info, your boys earned you a good weekend!

    allthatjazzbasketball@hotmail.com

  • SayItAintSo

    If I were the Nuggets, I wouldn’t get used to that top spot of the division. The Blazers put on a CLINIC last night…

    They’re such a feel good team, if they keep going like this I’m going to hate them. Some sort of character flaw needs to emerge now.

  • http://www.myspace.com/beenobrown BERN BROGDEN

    I got you SRI.

    DELONTE, with 20 points, was very effective and active last night. He took it to ‘em. His aggression on offense made him the 2nd leading scorer last night. His performance on the floor translated very well in the box score:
    20 pts, 6/13 FGS, 1/3 3FGS, 7/8 FTS, 6 BOARDS, 4 DIMES, 3 PICKS, 1 BLOCK, and NICE LIL’ COAST2COAST FINGER ROLL

    OK – maybe the finger roll wasn’t in the boxsheet.

    Now, on D, he was JUST as active, especially in the last quarter, making life miserable for Jack and reducing his effectiveness to contribute to an Indy win.

    Jack touched the ball only 5 times in the 4th quarter…
    …and this is what happened:

    BRICKED A 2PT JUMPER
    TURNOVER
    TURNOVER
    BRICKED A 3PTER
    MISSED A LAY UP

    Props to D for bringin’ the D.

  • Chaos

    Man the Nuggets might be for real this post season. I dont thinkk JR has played this well EVER! dude is peaking at the right point in the season and its gonna head in the playoffs. Melo has stepped up and Kenyon martin still look a little unstable in the mind. They might be alright (til the face the Lake-show).

    I was watching the nets play and i saw something promising from Brook Lopez…he got block twice at the rim by okafor..then said Fuck it! and and slammed that bitch down…way to go up strong

  • K Dizzle

    For Jazz fans

    Booz was supposed to opt out and go join DWade in Miami this summer. Except that the Heat traded for JO so that capspace is gone. So who does Utah sign now? Do you re-up Boozer for more money or do you keep the younger, more potential-havin and probably cheaper stud in Millsap?

  • http://allthatjazzbasketball.blogspot.com/ Amar

    jazz fans have only one clear option, and as luck would have it, the front office understands this as well.

    off-season plan:

    step 1) build time machine

    step 2) go back 2 years and get memo

    step 3) go back 3 years later and get AK

    step 4) go back to 1997 and add those guys to stockton and malone’s teams

    step 5) win at least one title

    step 6) wake up from dream

    step 7) get upset

    step 8) strangle boozer in his sleep for the injury excemption money on the cap

    step 9) resign key guys and dangle some money at a defensive wing

    step 10) realize how futile that is and go back to trying to build that time machine.