Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Three random observations ...

... about the NBA:

1. The ship be sinkin' for a lot of teams, but none faster than the Pistons. Their current seven-game losing streak has rendered them sub-.500 this late in the season for the first time since the '01 season, and one more loss matches their longest losing streak since the mid-1990s. It's clear the Iverson-for-Billups trade wrecked the team more than anyone imagined it would. What appeared to be, at worst, a first-round exit at the time has become a struggle just to make the playoffs. What's worse, anointed point guard of the future Rodney Stuckey hasn't exactly lit it up now that's he's been given a chance to shine. The guy had eight points, a pair of turnovers, and nothing else -- no rebounds, assists, steals or blocks, in 31 minutes Tuesday in a 103-91 loss to the Heat.

2. The loss Tuesday in Chicago exposed a major weakness for Orlando. The Magic's bench was thoroughly outplayed by the veteran bunch the Bulls have. Tim Thomas, John Salmons, Kirk Hinrich and Brad Miller, all former starters in the league, outscored Orlando's reserves 43-26, outrebounded them 19-13 and, most glaringly, distributed 14 assists against three for the Magic, who need people who can create offense with Jameer Nelson out. Orlando will get Mickael Pietrus back soon from a wrist injury, but the likes of J.J. Redick, Tony Battie, Marcin Gortat and Anthony Johnson won't scare anybody come the playoffs.

3. It was quite a clash of styles in Phoenix last night, where Larry Brown's slow-down Bobcats went up against the Suns, who are having a Seven Seconds or Less renaissance. Speed ruled the day for most of three quarters, when Steve Nash, who already had a team-high 22 points, turned an ankle. Nash's injury did not appear serious, but it kept him out for the rest of the game and slowed the pace considerably. Both teams scored only 18 points in the fourth quarter, but with Shaq's 20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks dominating the middle, the Bobcats were unable to rally. It's worth noting that, not coincidentally, the Bobcats were led by Boris Diaw, who had 27 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and got 23 points from Raja Bell, two players who came over from Phoenix in a midseason trade. Jason Richardson, who went the other way, put up 20 points of his own.

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