Saturday, March 7, 2009

Three random observations ...

... about the NBA:

1. Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis turned it around just in time Friday for the Magic. Lewis had 15 points and four rebounds, and Turkoglu just five points and four rebounds as Orlando trailed by seven at home with 6:15 to play against New Jersey. It looked like Dwight Howard, with 26 points and 15 rebounds, was going to have to pull all the weight. Then the Orlando forwards went to work. Lewis scored six straight points for the Magic, and Turkoglu the next eight to put their team in front for good. Lewis wound up with 21 points and five rebounds and Turkoglu 13 and eight as the Magic won 105-102 to within three games of Boston and Cleveland for first place in the East. They play the Celtics on Sunday, and must get more consistent production from Turkoglu and Lewis to win that one and snatch one of the top two seeds in the conference.

2. It's hard to be a big-time scorer when you have to create all the offense for yourself. That was the case for Dwyane Wade, the league's leading scorer, Saturday against Cleveland. He had 25 points but was the only player on the team to dish out more than a pair of assists, dropping a dozen dimes and grabbing eight rebounds in a 99-89 loss. The performance of rookie point guard Mario Chalmers, who wound up with a single assist after 32 minutes of play, isn't going to cut it. LeBron James, with a triple-double of 14 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, had a lot more help on his side, but still had twice as many assists as the next Cavalier and was the only guy on the team with more than seven rebounds.

3. It was a great night Saturday for the Hawks, who got a little separation for fourth place and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They beat Detroit, which could have crept to within a game back of Atlanta, and the Heat, which entered the night just a half game out of fourth place, lost to Cleveland. The Hawks entered the game having lost six of eight, and trailed by as many as 11 before their defense turned solid at just the right time. The Pistons went nearly eight minutes without a field goal during one stretch in the second half, and their starting frontcourt was held to 10-for-34 from the floor. A balanced effort led the Hawks, but Josh Smith's performance was key, as he led the team with 19 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.

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