NBA General

Around the Rim: The Battle of Los Angeles

1. Iron unkind
Kobe Bryant kept his hot string going last night as he dropped 29 points on the Clippers but the Lakers still ended up losing the game by eight points, 90-82. But don’t let the big number fool you, last night was one of the ugliest games Bryant put together all year. The Mamba shot a wretched 13-of-34 from the field, including three misses from behind the arc. LA has now lost four of their last five games and if they don’t turn things around pretty quick, it’s not unreasonable to think that they could fall completely out of the playoff picture. Golden State and New Orleans are both riding three game winning streaks and are now pounding on the door to the post season.

2. Wizards need a dose of magic

If the Wizards weren’t in trouble before their game against the Bobcats last night, they are certainly knee deep in it now. Not only did Washington drop a crucial late season game to one of the laughing stocks of the league, but they also lost their best player to an injured left leg. And with only eight games remaining in the Wizards’ season, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. On Sunday, Caron Butler broke his hand while trying to block a shot and is expected to miss at least six weeks of action. The Wiz appeared to have the Southeast Division wrapped up just a few weeks ago, but they are now sitting a game behind Miami in the division and currently hold the sixth spot in the playoffs. Antawn Jamison has finally gotten healthy, but without Arenas and Butler his health is a non-factor.

3. From bad to worse
The Portland Trailblazers don’t have much to cheer about these days, but, as unbelievable as it may sound, thing just got worse. Portland’s promising rookie, LaMarcus Aldridge has been sidelined indefinitely after being diagnosed with a rapid heartbeat and having bouts of dizziness. Aldridge had struggled to find his place in the pros for the majority of the season, but had put together several impressive games after taking over a starting spot when Joel Przybilla went down for the season with knee surgery. Aldridge averaged 15 points, eight rebounds and two blocks during the month of March, and had his best game as a pro against Denver on March 13, when he scored 24 points to go along with 17 rebounds and four blocks.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Gerald Wallace @ Washington 44 min, 27 pts (FG: 11-20, 3FG: 1-3, FT: 4-4), 12 reb, 8 ast, 4 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Phoenix (56-18) @ San Antonio (53-21) For the last few weeks everyone has been talking about the games between the Suns and the Mavs. But it’s the Suns/Spurs match-up which has a greater chance of becoming a playoff reality. San Antonio is trying desperately to catch the Suns before the end of the season in order to grab the number two spot in the West. But regardless of who finishes second or third, should both of these teams advance past the first round, they would run into each other in the second round. However, whoever ends up with the second seed will have home court advantage in what could be an epic showdown. Both teams have eight games remaining on their schedules and only three games currently separate the two Western Conference powerhouses. This should be a fiercely contested game.

Buzzer Beater: Everything was going fine for the Hornets as they entered into the fourth quarter of last night’s game with a 13 point lead in their back pocket. By the end of the fourth, New Orleans was staring at the scoreboard as it read 5:00. Yup, the Hornets blew their 13 point lead by only scoring six points in the final quarter, a franchise low. But wait, there’s more. NOKC would explode for 17 points in the extra period behind a seven point outburst by Bobby Jackson to win by nine points, 101-92. Oh, did we mention they were playing the Sonics? That explains the comeback in OT, but there is no excuse for letting Seattle’s sorry D hold you to six points in 12 minutes.

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