Around the Rim: Dallas continues to lose its grip on a playoff appearance


1. Free fallin’
Dallas thought trading for Jason Kidd would give them the magic they needed to keep pace with the other big time teams in the West. However, with Dirk Nowitzki riding the pine with an injury, the Mavericks are now in danger of becoming the team to miss the postseason after falling to their rivals in Golden State 114-104. The loss was the second consecutive for Big D and they are now sitting in a three-way tie with Denver and Golden State for the final ticket to the second season. Obviously, one of these three teams will be worrying about ping-pong balls come playoff time instead of looking to grab a ring and at this pace, don’t be surprised if it’s the new-look Mavs. Dallas is 5-5 over its last 10 games and must now prepare for contests against the Warriors (again), the Lakers and the Suns.

2. Rockets need a booster

The Rockets’ big win streak continues to look more and more and more like a fluke everyday. On Sunday, they looked like the team that earned the No. 1 pick to get Yao Ming instead of the team that went on the second-longest successful streak in league history, losing to San Antonio by 21 points. The Spurs dominated from the get-go, rushing out to a 35-24 first quarter lead before winning 109-88 behind 22 points each from Tony Parker and Michael Finley. The victory was the seventh consecutive for SA and put them into second place in the Western Conference race while dropping the Rockets to sixth. Luckily, Houston has an excellent opportunity to increase its stock as they wrap up the regular season with contests against Sacramento, Portland, Seattle and the Clippers coming up; unfortunately they are all on the road.

3. The many faces of Kobe Bryant
Just one game after dropping 53 points in a loss to Memphis, Kobe Bryant decided to be a facilitator against the Wizards and led his team to a 126-120 overtime win. Bryant finished with 26 points and 13 assists to snap a two-game losing streak and move back within one game of the West’s best record. The victory gave LA its 50th of the season for the 29th time in franchise history. Caron Butler went off for a triple-double (17 pts, 12 reb and 12 ast) and his team connected on 17-of-30 treys (.567). But Washington wasn’t alone in its three-point accuracy. Los Angeles hit 14-of-27 (.519) and the game marked the first time in league history that both teams shot over 50 percent from behind the arc, but under 50 percent from the floor (LA: .494, WAS: .466).

Sunday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James vs. Philadelphia 42 min, 26 pts (FG: 11-18, 3FG: 1-2, FT: 3-3), 9 reb, 9 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk

Monday’s Game to Watch: Denver (45-28) @ Phoenix (49-24)
The Nuggets currently own the final playoff spot in the West, but that doesn’t mean anything at the moment.
If they want to hold onto their position then they will have to rise to the occasion once again in an arena where the home team is 26-10. Denver is streaking with five straight wins, however in a super competitive race, all it takes is one loss and the Nuggets will be back on the outside looking in. Barring a complete collapse, the Suns are in, but they are defiantly looking to improve their seed because as it sits now, they would most likely have to play on the road for the opening round against Utah. But like we said, everything can change with one game and this very well could be that one game.

Buzzer Beater: The Miami Heat set another record in futility against the Celtics on Sunday by connecting on a mere 17 field goals – the fewest since the shot clock came into play – in an 88-62 loss. After the game, the Truth told the truth about the horrible, horrible Heat.

They got D-Leaguers out there, so I think we just handled our business,” the Boston forward said (Paul Pierce), listing some of the five Miami players who spent time in the developmental league this season. “We’re supposed to do that. We knew this was a game we were supposed to win, and we just focused from the jump and went out and did it.

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