What you missed around the NBA last night while wondering what it would be like to see Doc Rivers snap like that hockey coach…
Mavericks 109, Nuggets: 93: Dallas won this one with their forwards. The obvious part of that is Dirk Nowitzki’s triple-double — 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists. Usually Denver puts Kenyon Martin on Nowitzki and Martin gets physical with him. But Martin is still out (14 games now) with his knee injury, and while Denver tried a number of people and systems, but they had no answer for Dirk, who just had too much room to do whatever he wanted.
The other forward spot saw Shawn Marion shut down Carmelo Anthony. Yes, I know, it felt weird just to type that sentence. But it’s true. Marion used his length, Melo just seemed off and was just 3 of 16 from the floor. Without him — and with Chauncey Billups going 3 for 14 the Nuggets struggled to generate offense.
Another ego boost for a Mavericks team that thinks it has at least the Western Conference Finals in its future. They’ll have to do this four out of seven times, but they are starting to believe they can.
Raptors 103, Bobcats 101: Stop just for a second and think about the big picture — if you had before the season offered Toronto and Charlotte the chance to be playing a game in late March with serious playoff implications, they would have jumped at it. Jumped without looking. This is a step forward.
As for the game… The Bobcats stake their claim with defense. And it was not good in this one — gave up 115.7 points per 100 possessions, well above their 102.3 season average. If they get to the playoffs, they can’t do that, because their offense isn’t going to bail them out of anything.
Don’t believe me, think about the last play of the game — down two and a chance to tie, With 6 second Raymond Felton starts a drive to the lane and draws three-fifths of the Toronto defense, including Chris Bosh just looking to get a game-saving block. Tyson Chandler goes in to crash the boards, and the other three Bobcats do a poor job of spacing the arc — they are all on the left side within 15 feet of each other, allowing two Raptors defenders to cut off all three. Felton realizes he has no shot so he throws a pass hard and low that Chandler was not expecting and couldn’t have handled anyway. Out of bounds. Ballgame.
Hornets 108, Lakers 100: Lakers fans, you should be a little nervous. Not as nervous as many of you are, but nervous. Because — as Darius of Forum Blue & Gold asked — when was the last time you saw the Lakers put a complete game together? This team has flaws (questionable guard play, spotty outside shooting, not running the triangle smoothly) that it can overcome with focused play But how often do you get that consistently? They are bored, but last year they had some games that made you fear them. This year they have a half here, a quarter there. But not a game.
Great win, great hustle and effort from the Hornets. They stood up to Lakers runs and held their ground. They can do that with Chris Paul back.
Nets 90, Spurs 84: It’s not the big things with the Spurs that look bad. It’s not the injuries to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. It’s the execution that is off, something that used to be there players 1 to 12. From little things like not calling out back screens to the miscommunication that caused Tim Duncan to throw the ball out of bounds with the game on the line, the little things are right. The Spurs used to be the kings of the little things. Now they are not, and that is a bigger problem then the Big Three getting older.
Jazz 103, Knicks 98: Toney Douglas is a nice young rookie point guard, has had some good games and could develop into a quality player in the league. But he is getting an education — two nights ago it was Steve Nash and tonight it Deron Williams.
Aside that, all the Jazz did tonight was improve their playoff position and their lottery position all in one win. (Remember, they have the Knicks first round pick this year — Isiah Thomas, the gift that keeps on giving.)