Thursday, April 2, 2009

Three random observations ...

... about the NBA:

1. The Wizards are one of many teams in the lottery who have shown signs of life as the season winds to a close. Injury-wracked Washington had Gilbert Arenas back for the second time all year, and Brendan Haywood started for the first time this season. Finally healthy, the Wizards took down the best team in the NBA, snapping Cleveland's 13-game winning streak with a 109-101 victory. The game meant much more for the Wizards than it did the Cavs, serving as a showcase for what Washington is capable of when it has all its pieces together. Cleveland still has a two-game lead for home court advantage throughout the playoffs, and a much more critical matchup Friday in Orlando. Yet the Wizards beat the Cavs earlier this year without Arenas and Haywood, and pushed homestanding Cleveland in a tight game on Christmas. The rivalry sparked by two recent playoff meetings between these teams will undoubtedly return in force next season.

2. If you're looking for a statistically bizarre game, Utah-Denver from Thursday night will fit the bill. Usually, four players with double-doubles, as the Jazz had, is enough to win. Deron Williams had 18 points and 10 assists, Carlos Boozer had 15 points and 11 rebounds, Mehmet Okur 14 points and 15 rebounds, and Paul Millsap 14 points and 12 rebounds. But Utah shot only 37 percent from the field, and Denver shot 10 percent better in a 114-104 victory. The Nuggets got a phenomenal three-point shooting night from J.R. Smith, as he tied a career high and was one short of the franchise mark with eight treys. Just one of Smith's 14 shots was from inside the arc. Just to adding to the rare numerical night was Chris Anderson, who had a career high eight blocks. Perhaps the only number that has lasting value, however, is zero, which is how many times the Jazz have won on the road against a team with a winning record.

3. Rookie point guard Mario Chalmers was having a pretty good game Wednesday, having totaled 18 points, six rebounds and five assists in a tough matchup with Jason Kidd. Then, a liability that is perhaps the most glaring one the Heat have heading into the playoffs reared its head at the worst time. Chalmers' inexperience was evident in a decision not to get the ball to Dwyane Wade or any of his team's other scorers with the clock under five seconds and his team down by a point, instead driving the lane. He was called for a charge against Josh Howard with 2.3 seconds to go, and the Mavs sneaked out of Miami with a 98-96 win that left the Heat in sixth-place, a percentage point behind surging Philadelphia. It was, oddly enough, the 10th consecutive regular season win by Dallas against Miami, any one of which they would surely trade for another chance to win Game 3 of the 2006 Finals.

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