Sunday, February 8, 2009

Three random observations ...

... about the NBA:

1. A perfect storm of factors led to the Nuggets' worst loss in 12 years, a 114-70 shellacking Saturday at New Jersey. Denver was dominant against Washington in a blowout win on Friday, and perhaps boarded the train that took them up the east coast late that evening with too much of a sense of complacency. The Nets then put up one of their all-around best efforts, getting 28 points from Devin Harris, 15 points and 9 rebounds from Brook Lopez, and a surprising 13-point, 12-rebound night from Ryan Anderson. The Nuggets meanwhile played about as poorly as ever, getting only 15 points from Carmelo Anthony and a clunker of a nine-point, three-assist effort out of Chauncey Billups. Then there was the disparity at the line, where Denver went 14-for-23 and New Jersey was 32-for-41.

2. There are nights when it's hard to imagine Dirk Nowitzki was the MVP of the league just two years ago. Last night was not one of them. Nowitzki turned into a one-man show in overtime, scoring 14 of his 44 points to avoid a damaging loss at home on a night the Mavericks sustained an even bigger hit with the loss of Jason Terry. Halftime X-rays revealed that Terry, the leading sixth-man candidate with a 20.2 points-per-game average off the bench, broke a bone in his left hand, and with Josh Howard in foul trouble, the onus was on Nowitzki. He delivered, taking 34 shots and making 16 of them from the field and going a perfect 11-for-11 from the line, grabbing nine boards along the way. Dallas also got 20 points and six assists from J.J. Barea, but with Terry out for what would appear to be a long stretch, the Mavs' playoff chances rest squarely with Nowitzki.

3. Say what you will about O.J. Mayo's 12-point fourth quarter, but the 11,498 who paid to see the Raptors-Grizzlies game in Memphis wasted their money on one of the worst basketball games in quite some time. The Grizzlies shot 39 percent and had only three players in double figures, which is usually more than enough to lose. The Raptors though, playing with Chris Bosh, stunk it up even worse, shooting just 30 percent, including just 5-for-23 from behind the arc, and Toronto sustained the 78-70 loss. Yuck. Memphis is talked about as the NBA market in the worst shape right now, and last night did little entice more of a following.

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