1. Dirk saves the best for last
Thanks to a last-second dagger from Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs are in the playoffs. With the scored tied at 94 apiece, Nowitzki got a trey to fall with 0.9 seconds on the clock and Dallas secured a seed in the second season. Nowitzki scored a game-high 32 points in the 97-94 home floor victory to go along with 21 points – all in the second half – from Jason Terry. The twosome was basically impossible to stop down the stretch as they combined for 25 points in the fourth quarter. After picking up a big time road win in New Orleans on Tuesday, the Jazz returned to their disappointing ways away from home. Utah is now 17-23 on the road, but thanks to its division title, it will have homecourt advantage in the opening round regardless of how their regular season ends.
2. Warriors dealt a brutal blow
For the Nuggets and the Warriors, last night’s battle was perhaps the most important game to date for either team. In the end, Allen Iverson and the Nuggets proved too difficult a challenge and laid claim to a one game lead in the home stretch of an intense playoff race. A.I. posted 33 points in the 114-105 win at Golden State and the Nuggets finally have a measure of breathing room. Carmelo Anthony added 25 points, nine rebounds and five steals while J.R. Smith came off the bench to score 24. Led by Baron Davis’ third triple-double of the season (20 pts, 10 reb, 11 ast), all five starters for the Warriors finished in double-figures. But the numbers mean nothing at this point because the loss was devastating for Golden State. The Warriors almost have to win their final three games while praying the Nuggets drop at least two.
3. LA beats LA in LA
The Lakers only got 16 points out of Kobe Bryant last night against the Clippers and that was 16 more than they needed. Los Angeles grabbed a road victory by pounding the Clippers 106-78. What was briefly a rivalry between the two L.A. clubs has again turned into a manhandling. On Thursday, Luke Walton had the honors of personally dismantling the Clips by scoring 18 points while Lamar Odom went off for a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. The Lakers are still trying to catch New Orleans for the top seed in the playoffs, but need to move up another 1 ½ games to do so. Coincidentally, the two just so happen to be playing each other tonight.
Thursday’s Player of the Day: Allen Iverson @ Golden State 48 min, 33 pts (FG: 12-21, 3FG: 1-2, FT: 8-12), 3 reb, 9 ast, 3 stl
Friday’s Game to Watch: New Orleans (55-23) @ Los Angeles Lakers (54-25)
This game has a whole slew of storylines. First off, the clubs are battling it out for conference supremacy with Nawlins currently holding a slight (1 ½ game) lead over the Lakers. To date, the Hornets own a 2-1 advantage in head-to-head battles this season, including a 118-104 victory in Los Angeles back in November. But, perhaps, the most compelling reason to watch this game has to do with the matchup between the two most popular candidates for league MVP. Kobe Bryant is the most explosive scorer in the league and he’s become one of the best team players in the league, averaging 28.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. Meanwhile, Chris Paul is playing out of his mind this season, averaging 21.2 points and posting league-best numbers in assists (11.5) and steals (2.7) per game.
Buzzer Beater: Good news for Miami Heat fans, if there are any left. The team is desperate to get people back into the arena after an embarrassing 14-64 season, which means cheap seats!
The team with the NBA’s worst record is offering $10-per-game season tickets for 2008-09.
The Miami Heat announced the “Ten Gets You In!” promotion on Wednesday. The seats selling for $10 are in the upper deck behind the baselines.
Get ’em while they’re hot!