Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Three random observations ...

... about the NBA:

1. Somehow I think Dwyane Wade would be good at stand-up comedy. Why? Because this season he's become an expert at being up on stage all alone. He scored 42 points last night, but other than 13 for Mario Chalmers and Jermaine O'Neal's 10, no one so much as scored in double figures for the Heat, who fell 101-95 to the visiting Magic. Orlando, conversely, had balanced scoring, led by Dwight Howard's 22 and Rashard Lewis' 21. The final three minutes of the game were a microcosm of the entire night as the Magic pulled away for the win. Howard, Lewis and even J.J. Redick, who sank four free throws to seal it, all scored for the Magic off assists by Courtney Lee and Hedo Turkoglu. Wade scored all the points for the Heat in the final three minutes, and created all of his own shots. It's scary to imagine what the Heat could do with a supporting cast around their superstar this year.

2. No lead is safe against an up-tempo team, a lesson the Jazz have learned twice. Utah blew a 21-point lead before recovering to beat the Suns on Saturday, and Monday they were up by 24 in the third quarter before the Knicks rallied to take a one-point lead with seven minutes to play. The Jazz regained the lead and prevailed 112-104, but Jerry Sloan has to hope his team understands now that they can't get complacent against an inferior team if it can score points in a hurry. It was at the line where the Knicks made hay, as the Jazz committed 13 fouls that sent New York to the free throw line during the comeback, including an illegal defense call. The opportunities became limited once the Jazz retook the lead with with 6:35 to play, and the Knicks took only three free throws the rest of the way.

3. You can pretty safely scratch off another team that had been contending for the final playoff spot in the East after a de facto elimination game Monday. The Nets absorbed a withering 107-78 beating at home to the Bucks in a game that was never close. Devin Harris, who has been only a 35 percent shooter in three games since returning from a shoulder injury, and Vince Carter both went 3-for-11, and no one else was able to pick up the scoring slack. The Bucks added to the Nets' offensive woes, forcing their NBA-leading average of 16 turnovers. Richard Jefferson, conversely, had a hyper-efficient night, going 8-for-12 for 29 points in 29 minutes and somehow found time to grab 10 rebounds, too. Charlie Villanueva added 20 points and rookie Joe Alexander had 16 points off the bench for a team that desperately needed the win, only their third in March. Milwaukee is barely hanging in the race, in 10th place at four games back with nine to play. The Nets, in 12th place and five and a half back, are all but mathematically eliminated.

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