1. One Down, 15 to Go
With a 13 point victory over the Nets, the Mavericks not only extended their current winning streak to 16 (23 straight at home), but they tied 1982-83 76ers and the 1971-72 Lakers with the fourth best record after 60 games (51-9). And while it was only a matter of time, the Mavs also became the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot. And sitting in the front row during the game was a trophy hungry Scottie Pippen who seems more than willing to provide his services to the Mavericks during their postseason run. But how much more talent does Mark Cuban need on one roster? In last nights game, all five starters finished with double digits in points while two more players came off the bench to score at least ten.
2. Melo Mopes as the Nuggets Nosedive
Allen Iverson seems to be happy in his new Rocky Mountain surroundings but his fellow All-Star is probably not as cheery about his current situation. Denver coach George Karl has been critical of Carmelo Anthonys selfishness and says that he fails to play smart, team basketball. In fact, Karl is so tired of Melos self-centered antics that benching the leagues top scorer is the coachs next step. As expected, Anthony has been the teams top scorer for almost every game since returning from his 15 game suspension, but the Nuggets have only won nine of their last 21 games and are in serious jeopardy of falling out of the playoff picture. All the pieces are there but Anthony just hasnt developed the ability to lead his team, which is exactly what Karl is desperately trying to draw out of his superstar. It would be a ballsy move by Karl, but maybe riding the pine will pain Melo to the point of maturity.
3. Yes, Were Talking About Practice
So, what do you do when as one of the worst teams in the NBA you suddenly rip off a four game winning streak? Well, if youre a member of the Philadelphia 76ers then you take in a game of paintball at the local field. Much like a group of ten year olds at a birthday party, the Sixers were running, jumping, diving and hiding from each other on Tuesday as they currently sit six games out of the final playoff spot. Not to be a buzzkill, but shouldnt these guys be practicing? After all, a four game win streak doesnt exactly cancel out the teams 18-38 start to the season.
Tuesdays Player of the Day: Kobe Bryant @ Minnesota 53 min, 40 pts (FG: 13-30, 3FG: 3-10, FT: 11-13), 13 reb, 8 ast, 2 stl, 3 blk
Wednesdays Game to Watch: Cleveland (35-25) @ Detroit (37-21) Its a division battle, a budding rivalry and a showdown between the Easts two best teams all wrapped into one. The Pistons are three games ahead of the Cavs for the conference crown but its Cleveland who has won three of their last four games. Nobody has been hotter than LeBron James over the past few weeks but the Pistons notorious defense could put an end to James streak. Detroit seems to finally be cooling down (1-2 in their last three games) after going on a run of 15 wins in the teams first 19 games with Chris Webber. The modern day Bad Boys need to make the remainder of this season count because Chauncey Billups has said that he will consider joining the Grizzlies when he becomes a free agent in the offseason.
Buzzer Beater: Dammit! Kobe did it again, and Im not referring to his 40 point effort. In last nights game against the Timberwolves, Bryant delivered a blatant forearm to the head of Marko Jaric on the follow-through of a jumper with under a minute remaining in the fourth quarter. The scene was eerily similar to the one in LA about five weeks ago when Manu Ginobili took an unintentional elbow from the Mamba. Both the players spent significant time crumpled on the hardwood after being hit by the supposedly legitimate release. Bryant might think his cheap shot tactic is smooth, but his intent is obvious and malicious and the scenario is becoming far too frequent. Go get him Stern!