... about the NBA:
1. The Spurs got a double dose of good news this week. Manu Ginobili returned Wednesday from his ankle injury, but struggled against the Hawks, scoring only two points on 1-for-7 shooting against the Hawks. Then he turned it around, going 5-for-17 for 14 points and dishing out seven assists in just 17 minutes Friday in a 111-98 against the Clippers. He was the old Manu, even if it was a limited appearance against inferior competition. This is exactly what the Spurs feared they wouldn't be getting while Ginobili struggled to come back from the injury. Now that he looks like 100 percent, the Spurs are once more the greatest threat to the Lakers in the West.
2. Just as there is optimism in San Antonio, the Celtics have to be really worried about Kevin Garnett. The Big Ticket was held out of Boston's 99-93 win at Atlanta after struggling to only four points in 17 minutes Wednesday at Orlando. He's only five games into his comeback from a right knee strain, and he has yet to play his usual minutes as the Celtics have treated him with kid gloves. It could be over-cautiousness, but it could be that the knee hasn't fully healed, too. The Celtics got a Garnett-like 19 points and 12 rebounds from Glen Davis and a superior performance from their bench that helped them withstand a comeback attempt by the Hawks. But they've learned this season that they can count on neither. They need Garnett at or near 100 percent not just to be a contender, but to merely escape the second round.
3. That was a strange game Friday in Dallas. The Nuggets outshot the Mavs 56 percent to 36 percent from the field and still won by only two points, 103-101. Blame it on a 30-12 advantage at the line for Dallas and the fact Denver, with 14 giveaways, turned the ball over more than twice the amount of times as the Mavs, who did it only six times. But it wasn't the fault of Carmelo Anthony, who had 43 points and 11 rebounds and the only basket while the Mavs went on a 13-2 run over a seven-minute stretch in the fourth quarter. J.R. Smith had 22 points in support for Denver, but only one other Denver player scored in double figures, and that was Kenyon Martin, with 10. At the same time, Dallas had Dirk Nowitzki with 26 points, J.J. Barea with 22 and Jason Terry with 20, but no one else with more than the nine points Ryan Hollins put up. An odd evening, indeed.