Saturday, March 21, 2009

Three random observations ...

... about the NBA:

1. Dwight Howard played an uncharacteristically sloppy, foul-plagued game Saturday in a spot where he should have dominated. But the Magic pulled out a 110-103 win anyway in a welcome, auspicious sign for their title chances. Superman was less than heroic against the visiting Knicks, staying on the floor for just 30 minutes and attempting only seven shots in a 15-point performance even though opposing center David Lee missed the game with tendonitis in his knees. Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu played the Robin roles to near-perfection to save the day. Lewis was 11-for-18 from the floor and 4-for-10 from behind the arc to lead the Magic with 27 points, while Turkoglu went 4-for-7 from long range, dished out nine assists, pulled down seven rebounds and scored 20 points.

2. Kevin Garnett returned Friday for Boston, and even though he played limited minutes, the emotional lift to the team was palpable in an 80-77 win at San Antonio. The heart and soul of the Celtics provided inspiration that was most obvious in the play of Rajon Rondo, who had his best game in weeks, scoring 16 points and dishing out 12 assists against only one turnover. It was a point guard duel between Rondo and Tony Parker all night, with Parker going for 25 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and if the mental toughness provided by Garnett was the difference for Rondo, it was a brain-lock for Parker that doomed the Spurs. The 79 percent free-throw shooter on the season missed four straight free throws in the final minute. San Antonio as a team scored only two points in the last 3:27. It's the sort of loss you almost never see in San Antonio, and the kind of win that could right Boston's ship.

3. How does Miami lose 96-88 in New Jersey when the Nets are playing without Devin Harris? You could lay blame on the Heat's frontline of Jamario Moon and Udonis Haslem, which was a combined 1-for-9 with five points, but it has more to do with defense, specifically against New Jersey's bench. The Nets had a 41-31 advantage in bench points, led by 18 points from both Jarvis Hayes and rookie Chris Douglas-Roberts. It was a career high for Douglas-Roberts, who shot 5-for-6 from the floor and a perfect 7-for-7 from the line, and the bench went 15-for-22 from the field as a unit. It was the kind of defensive lapse Pat Riley, now the team's president, would never have tolerated as coach. We'll see how they respond the next time out, Sunday afternoon at Detroit.

No comments: