Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Three random observations ...

... about the NBA:

1. Deron Williams offered a clinic Tuesday on how to contribute when you're having a poor scoring night. He shot 1-for-9 and had only five points in Utah's 112-100 win against the Pacers, but dished out 12 assists, forced five steals on a night when turnovers were key, and grabbed five rebounds. He gave away the ball only twice, in contrast to opposing point guard Jarrett Jack's six turnovers. Utah scored 22 points off of Indiana's 22 turnovers as a team, while Indiana got eight points off of 12 Jazz giveaways. Those are major reasons why Utah was able to overcome Williams' lack of scoring, a pedestrian night by Carlos Boozer and 46 percent shooting by the Pacers.

2. Damning loss for Phoenix last night. The Suns were at home to the Dallas team they're chasing for the final playoff spot in the West. The Mavs got a 23-point second half from Dirk Nowitzki, and a critical 10-2 run late in the fourth quarter helped send the Suns to a 122-117 loss that puts them five games back of the playoffs. The sequence that symbolized the night was Dirk Nowitzki's four offensive rebounds that kept alive a Dallas possession during that fourth quarter run and finally led to a made jump shot from 16 feet by Nowitzki, which gave the Mavs a nine-point lead and prompted the demoralized Suns to immediately call time out. Another key was the move by Dallas coach Rick Carlisle to insert J.J. Barea into the starting lineup for just the seventh time this season. Pairing Barea with Kidd in the backcourt may not work long-term, but it was certainly the right move against the small-ball Suns, as both guys wound up with double-figure scoring.

3. The evolution of the Mo Williams-LeBron James one-two punch continues. Williams and James either scored or assisted on nine of the 10 field goals Cleveland made down the stretch in a comeback from down 19 at the Clippers. James had his second straight triple double with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, while Williams struggled until the fourth quarter. But it was when Williams showed up to score 12 of his 14 points, it showed how the Cavs are only a great team with both guys around, not just LeBron.

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