... about the NBA:
1. The Celtics aren't as good as their 19-game win streak, and they aren't as bad as their stretch of seven losses in nine games. But if their play in the last week is an accurate indication of their ability, man, they're tough. They bookended wins at a competent Miami team and title-contending Orlando with blowouts of Phoenix last Monday and Dallas on Sunday. If the Celtics can beat the Mavs with only eight points from Paul Pierce, look out.
2. It was an interesting juxtaposition of missing pieces in the Indiana-Charlotte game last night. The Pacers have in Danny Granger the scorer/finisher the Bobcats need, and the Bobcats have the supporting cast the Pacers lack. Granger and his running mates performed well enough Sunday to overcome the more balanced Bobcats, largely because of a huge rebounding advantage (52-37). One could only imagine, however, what would happen if a player like Granger were surrounded by a team like Charlotte.
3. We thought J.R. Smith's numbers were going to surge with Carmelo Anthony out. But it's been Nene who has blossomed instead. The one-name Brazilian, whose progress has been stunted by injuries, has averaged 17.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in January, while Smith's scoring averaged has slipped by a point from December. Nene tied a career high with 28 points last night, adding nine rebounds and four steals. Smith wasn't bad either, with 22 rebounds and six assists. Anthony is back Friday, so the onus is on Nuggets coach George Karl now to integrate everyone's production to maximum effect.