Thursday, March 26, 2009

Three random observations ...

... about the NBA:

1. Maybe Dwight Howard is Superman. He pretty much singlehandedly lifted the Magic to what is likely their greatest regular season victory since the Shaq days, scoring 24 points and pulling down 21 rebounds in an 84-82 victory Wednesday in the showdown with Boston. Orlando now is in a tie with the Celtics for second in the East thanks in large part to Howard's fourth block of the game, a rejection that covered for Hedo Turkoglu's failure to contain Paul Pierce. Turkoglu was all set up to be the goat after a dreadful 3-for-18 shooting night, including an ugly heave that missed from 29 feet away that gave the Celtics a chance with 22 seconds to play. The Turkoglu miss came at the end of a poorly designed possession for the Magic, who had Rafer Alston walk the ball up the court and stall until the shot clock was under 10 seconds. It defied Stan Van Gundy's earlier calls for greater ball movement, and makes one wonder if Howard didn't have to overcome poor coaching as well as poor play by his teammates. Rashard Lewis, who nailed four three-pointers, was the only player for Orlando other than Howard to shoot better than 36 percent. That made what should have been an easier night against a visiting team that had Kevin Garnett for only 17 minutes much more difficult.

2. Denver's problem is that no one can score other than Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. The trouble in New Orleans is that some nights, no one can score at all, as evidenced in the 101-88 victory Wednesday by the visiting Nuggets over the Hornets. No one can make the argument that Chris Paul isn't an elite player, but as a point guard, his main function is ball distribution. The trouble is that there are no elite finishers on the team. David West is indeed an asset on a winning team, but he's not a top-shelf scorer, averaging barely 20 points a game. Peja Stojakovic, who missed the game with a sore back, has been wildly inconsistent this year, and Tyson Chandler, who was also out with his nagging ankle injury, is a defensive bedrock whose offensive contributions are really only a bonus. Wednesday night, when Paul led the team with just 19 points while the Nuggets got 29 from Anthony and 26 from Billups, was a prime example of how the Hornets lack the firepower to advance deep in the playoffs.

3. So there are rumblings that Isiah Thomas and Donald Sterling have had talks about Zeke joining the Clippers' management team. There's more to this than you think. Sterling has figured out how to keep making money even if there's a lockout in 2011. Hiring Isiah would give him and the Clippers two years to perfect their act before they go on tour with the Harlem Globetrotters as the new Washington Generals. Great idea, guys!

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