Phoenix Suns

Shaq stars in "Plays of Our Lives"

Until Shaquille O’Neal takes to the court for Phoenix and proves he’s got a little Kareem in him like everybody seems to think, there are going to be plenty of doubters who feel the Suns got raw-dogged in the deal. But, for better or worse, the deal is done. We just didn’t realize exactly how much drama went into getting Shawn Marion to South Beach and Shaq into the desert.

Did Marion just say “I’m a man“??

Miami Heat

Around the Rim:The more things change, the more they stay the same

1. Marion can’t spark the Heat
The Heat were one unhealthy, unhappy superstar lighter on Sunday with Shaquille O’Neal departed for the desert, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the scoreboard. Shawn Marion made a dazzling debut for Miami, scoring 15 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and getting a trio of steals and blocks, but the result was the same: a loss. Kobe Bryant racked up 33 points to lead the Lakers past the Heat by 10 points, 104-94. Lamar Odom continues to improve his play with Andrew Bynum out, finishing with 15 points, 18 rebounds and six assists while Pau Gasol scored 12. In addition to Marion, all of the other Heat starters finished with double-digit points, led by Mark Blount’s 22 and Dwyane Wade’s 19.

2. Carmelo gets the best of his buddy

It got really ugly really quick in Cleveland for the home team last night. Right out of the gate, the Nuggets ran all over the Cavs and when the brutality finally ended, Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson combined for 52 points in a 113-83 stomping. It got so bad for Cleveland, LeBron James reverted to a five-year-old, throwing a mad fit between the third and fourth quarters when the Cavaliers were staring up from a 26-point hole.

I know he hates losing to me,” Anthony said with a laugh.

But even if James can’t stand losing to Melo, he’s still got love for his bro and he’s happy to be lining up across from Anthony in this year’s All-Star game.

People realize he’s one of the best players in our league, definitely one of the best scorers,” James said. “It took five years to finally get the opportunity.

3. The P.P. show
Paul Pierce did what Paul Pierce wanted to do against the Spurs on Sunday and it turns out Paul Pierce wanted to win. With Kevin Garnett sidelined again due to an abdominal strain, the O.C. (Original Celtic) reminded everyone that Beantown is his town. Pierce finished with a game-high 35 points, including 14 of the team’s 20 first quarter points, leading Boston to a 98-90 victory over San Antonio. Manu Ginobili started equally hot for the Spurs, scoring 11 in the first period before ending with 21. Boston improved to 5-2 without Garnett and after the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers broke the news that K.G. won’t be back into the lineup until after the All-Star game. But the biggest bummer of all is that Rivers hinted he might even miss the All-Star game itself. So, maybe Chris Bosh’s campaign will pay off with a starting spot after all.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Amare Stoudemire vs. Washington 43 min, 31 pts (FG: 10-17, 3FG: 1-1, FT: 10-10), 13 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl, 4 blk

Monday’s Game to Watch: Cleveland (28-22) @ Orlando (32-20)
When you talk about the future of the NBA, two of the first names to roll off your lips have to be LeBron James and Dwight Howard. At the ripe, young age of 23, James leads the league in scoring, averaging 30.1 points per game while Howard is the NBA’s best rebounder, pulling down 14.5 boards and he’s only 22. But it’s not just James and Howard who are getting better and better, the teams surrounding the young studs are constantly improving as well. Along with Boston and Detroit, Cleveland and Orlando are really the only other Eastern Conference teams getting any love as potential representatives in the Finals.

Buzzer Beater: The Phoenix Suns have Shaq on the roster, but they still haven’t needed the big fella. As Shaq Daddy continues to sit, the Suns continue to shine, but it’s getting harder. Phoenix eked out a one-point victory, 108-107, over the Wizards at home on Sunday night. All five Suns starters finished in double-digits with Amare Stoudemire (31 pts, 13 reb) and Steve Nash (10 pts, 12 ast) recording double-doubles. Even in victory, the Suns could have used the defensive skills of Shawn Marion. The entire Wiz roster went off, including some guys name Andray Blatche (10 pts, 11 reb), Roger Mason (18 pts) and Nick Young (10 pts).

New Orleans Hornets

Around the Rim: Putting in work

1. Double overtime
The Suns didn’t appear to miss Shawn Marion in the least on Wednesday night as they ran up and down the court at breakneck speed, scoring 130 points against the Hornets in a pair of overtimes. And Marion certainly didn’t miss being on the Suns because New Orleans managed to score 131 points, winning on a buzzer-beating Peja Stojakovic jumper. Tyson Chandler missed a doozey, sidelined with the flu, but his teammates stepped up on the road. Stojakovic finished with 26 points while David West grabbed 13 rebounds to go with 21 points and even though Peja gets credit for the win, Chris Paul gets the game ball. Paul just missed setting a new career-high with 42 points to go along with nine assists and a career-high eight steals. Shaquille O’Neal wasn’t in uniform for Phoenix yet and it’s a good thing because he probably got winded just watching. Amare Stoudemire did his best `Showtime Shaq’ impression, scoring 26, grabbing 20 and blocking four shots. Former MVP Steve Nash finished with a triple-double the ugly way – 32 points, 12 assists and 10 turnovers

2. Overtime

The Kyle Korver trade continues to pay dividends for Utah. Korver scored 27 points against Denver, nailing four big-time free throws in the final 20 seconds of overtime to give Utah a 116-115 victory. Allen Iverson had a shot at winning the game and adding to his game-high 34 points, but his shot wasn’t true. The Jazz are 16-2 since acquiring Korver from Philly, but he can’t get all the credit. Deron Williams finished with 29 points, 11 assists and six rebounds while Mehmet Okur had a double-double with 15 and 10. The Denver starters scored 104 points with A.I. (34 pts, 10 ast) and Carmelo Anthony (29 pts, 8 reb) combining for 63. Marcus Camby (17 reb) and Kenyon Martin (10 reb) yielded a ton of boards, but they also committed some boneheaded fouls down the stretch of both regulation and overtime.

3. Losin’ it
Joe Johnson scored 28 points, leading the Hawks to a 98-95 win over the Lakers, but, in the end, Kobe Bryant gave the game to Atlanta. With eight seconds on the clock, Bryant lost his handle of the ball and got hit with an over-and-back violation, turning the ball and the game over to the Hawks. A pair of clutch Johnson free throws with three seconds left sealed the deal. Josh Smith played an All-Star caliber game with 17 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, five blocks and a pair of steals. Oh, but that wasn’t it for Hotlanta. Rookie Al Horford grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds to go with 15 points. Lamar Odom led the Lakers in defeat with 19 points and 11 rebounds while Bryant struggled with more than just his handle, missing 12-of-14 shots for 11 points.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Chris Paul @ Phoenix 50 min, 42 pts (FG: 18-33, 3FG: 4-9, FT: 2-3), 5 reb, 9 ast, 8 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Cleveland (27-20) @ Houston (28-20)
Get ready for a showdown of international superstars when the Cavs and the Rockets hook it up. Nobody in the NBA is currently a hotter commodity than LeBron James. What’s not to like – he’s funny, he’s got sick skillz and he drives like a bat outta hell. On a global scale, Yao Ming’s da man; more importantly, he’s playing like da man. Over his last four games he is averaging 20.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 blocks per game. Coincidentally, the Rockets are undefeated in that span. Then you got the King. Like Yao, James’ squad is a perfect 4-0 in his last four starts (DNP @ Sea), and like Yao, he’s straight ballin’! LBJ has been good for 34.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.8 steals over his last four contests.

Buzzer Beater: Speaking of James; for a guy who’s normally good for a few soundbites a day, we were really disappointed that he didn’t give us more when informed of the blockbuster deal that sent Shaq Daddy to the desert.

“Unbelievable,” James said after practice Wednesday. “That’s all I got. It’s unbelievable.”

We don’t think he was necessarily speechless because Shaq returned to the West, we’re figuring he was just realizing that he’ll be defended by Shawn Marion three or four times every year.

Phoenix Suns

The Matrix Relocated?

Hearing trade demands coming from Andrei Kirilenko is understandable. After all, who actually wants to spend their whole career in Salt Lake City? Apparently not even Russians. But hearing the news of trade demands coming from Phoenix is something totally different. Especially when those demands are coming from Shawn Marion, the face of the franchise for the past eight years.

Despite the championship caliber club surrounding him, the Matrix is sick and tired of hearing his name coming up in trade talks and his not too happy about his contract either.

I’m tired of hearing my name in trades,” Marion said by phone from his Chicago home Tuesday night. “I love my fans in Phoenix but I think it’s time for me to move on.”

Marion, the highest paid Suns player, has two years remaining on his maximum-level contract – $16.4 million for this year and a $17.8 million salary if he did not opt out before the 2008-09 season. He said the Suns’ unwillingness to extend his deal is “only a part of why” he wants to leave but would not confirm that he has asked for a three-year, $60 million extension, saying, “The numbers aren’t important.”

Suns General Manager Steve Kerr declined comment.

And at this point, it doesn’t really look like there much for Kerr to say. According to Marion, he’s already packed his bags and is ready to go anywhere he has to. Even, dare we say it, Utah?!?

There are two known trade suitors in the Utah Jazz (for Andrei Kirilenko, if not others) and the Los Angeles Lakers (for Lamar Odom and a teammate), with Marion showing an interest in the latter because of a friendship with Kobe Bryant.

“Regardless of everything that went on with the extension, I’m tired of hearing my name in trade rumors,” Marion said. “It’s time for me to move on. I felt like they tried to force my hand to Boston with the (Kevin) Garnett stuff.”

In June, there was the possibility of a three-way trade sending Garnett to Phoenix, a Boston pick package going to Minnesota and Marion to Boston with a contract extension but the Marion camp killed it.

“I haven’t done anything wrong,” said Marion, a four-time All-Star. “I leave it on the floor night in and night out. Sometimes, it’s just time, and it’s time to go. “It’s been like a nightmare. It hurts me making this phone call. It’s hurting me in my stomach.”

Marion said he has no problem with any of his teammates but did not want to comment on the Suns staffers, saying, “It’s just a bad marriage. I’m not talking about anyone. It’s just time for me to go.

We know that Marion is standing up for his principles and all, but he’s going to be kicking himself if he ends up with the Clippers or Bobcats. Heck, even the disgruntled Kirilenko would rather go to Europe than play in those wastelands.


[]: Marion: `Time for me to move on’

NBA General

Around the Rim: Another ESPN Instant Classic was just born

And this was the scene before the game.

1. Phoenix gets burned in the Valley of the Sun
Game 5 between the Spurs and the Suns was a tale of two halves. The first half saw Shawn Marion light up the jumbotron with 20 points and 11 rebounds en route to an 11 point lead at the break as San Antonio was a nonexistent 0-of-7 from behind the arc. Fast forward past the Frisbee catching dog or whatever ridiculous half time gimmick the Suns front office pulled out of the hat for this game and in the second half, the Spurs were a very existent 8-of-16 from three land as Marion could only score four points and grab six boards over the final 12 minutes. Algebra 101 taught us that if you add those two halves together you get an 88-85 San Antonio victory, which is equal to one whole win for the guys in black; giving the Spurs a grand total of a 3-2 lead in the series. And you thought we slept our way through high school. The Suns fought a heck of a fight without their All-NBA first teamer Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw but Manu Ginobili played terrific down the stretch, minus a few unforgivable turnovers, while Bruce Bowen and Michael Finley hit several ginormous shots. Throw in the usual 20 point, 10 rebound, 3 block (21, 12 and 5 to be exact) game from Tim Duncan and the incredibly unyielding NBA rulebook and it all simply added up to odds that Phoenix just couldn’t overcome.

2. Like nats, the Nets just won’t go away

There must be something in the water over in the Eastern Conference because the Nets, like the Bulls, keep finding a way to avoid elimination and keep their postseason hopes alive. Perhaps they’re using the Vitamin Water that failed to get Tracy McGrady out of the first round but allowed him to perform one of the sweetest sheep tosses ever caught on camera. Now, Game 5 between the Nets and Cavs was nowhere near being as interesting as the Highland Games, but how could it when the final score was 83-72 and the Nets won despite scoring just six points in the final quarter on 1-of-15 shooting. Still, what the game lacked in excitement, it certainly made up for in importance as the Nets are now within one game, 3-2, of Cleveland with the series headed back to Jersey for Game 6. Whatever the mystery substance might be that New Jersey is chuggin’, they certainly didn’t share any of it with LeBron James. His royal highness finished the game with just 20 points as he missed nine of his 14 field goal attempts. Thank goodness for free throws.

3. Whoa No Nellie!
He’s only been back behind the clipboard for a year now, but Don Nelson could be done with the Golden State franchise that he rapidly resurrected into the feel-good story of the year. Well, at least until they got eliminated by the Jazz they were. And forget about all their poor sportsmanship that resulted in tons o’ techs and flagrant fouls. But, other than that, totally a feel-good story. Still, Nellie might not be ready to write another chapter in this book because, as he says, he’s “not so sure it’s important that I stay on.” C’mon, Nelson, stop being modest. This team would be on the fast track to a Jailblazers-esque reputation without the Don around to keep this fast paced squad in check, both on and off the court. Talk about a fork in the road! Golden State could grow into a Western Conference contender with Nelson at the helm or they can take their old position alongside the Clippers, Hawks and Bobcats of the league with some other ham-fisted, poor excuse of a coach. Fans of The City better hope Nellie feels like his body can take another yearlong beatdown or they can forget about using those yellow “We Believe” shirts for anything other than wearing to the gym.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Shawn Marion vs. San Antonio 46 min, 24 pts (FG: 9-16, 3FG: 2-4, FT: 4-4), 17 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk

Buzzer Beater: Mark Cuban is one of the most annoying, childish and arrogant human beings to ever walk the face of the earth. Oh, and he cries like a baby too! Having said that, he also makes some pretty solid points from time to time. After all, he didn’t become a billionaire by being an idiot. So, as much as it pains us to agree with this jackass, here’s an excerpt of what Cubes had to say about the Spurs/Suns suspensions in his blog.

First, let me go on the record as saying that in the event that a vote comes up to change the rules about suspensions for players leaving the bench, I will vote against changing it.

Why ? Because its incredibly simple to educate players about the rule. Its a rule they fully understand and they understand the consequences of violating the rule. That makes the NBA stronger because it removes uncertainty. Can it result in a game(s) being impacted , yes. However, that impact results from an action a player knew violated the rules and was a mistake. There is no uncertainty about it. All they had to do was not leave the bench.

NBA General

Around the Rim: That’s all she wrote, folks

1. Bye Bye AI (and the rest of you guys)
Tim Duncan put on quite a show during Wednesday’s Game 5 against the Nuggets, but it was Michael Finley who lit up the scoreboard and put an end to Denver’s dreams of advancing to the second round. Finley hit 8-of-9 from downtown en route to a game-high 26 points as the Spurs swept the Nuggets out of the first round, 93-78. Oh, SA lost Game 1? We forgot all about that opening loss after Robert Horry reminded us why they call him “Big Shot” in the final minute of Game 4. But Denver gave it the good ol’ college try and George Karl will get another shot next year to make his Carmelo Anthony/Allen Iverson two-headed monster become one of the beasts in the league. But Denver was just 2-23 when they didn’t score 100 points during the regular season and unfortunately they ran into a team that thrives on keeping teams below 90.

2. See ya in the fall Kobe

Kobe Bryant might be the best basketball player on the face of the planet but it doesn’t matter when you’re playing one on five. Even when the Lakers finally get a big time game out of their second best player as Lamar Odom put in a career playoff-high 33 points to go along with Bryant’s 34 point performance, Phoenix still had more firepower. The Suns’ big three of Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire combined for 70 points in the 119-110 Game 5 victory to eliminate Los Angeles from the post season. The losing has got to be becoming more than Phil Jackson can take. He’s been bumped in the first round in each of the past two years and still has another year left on his contract. Guess he should’ve stay retired after splitting up the greatest one-two punch in the history of the game.

3. Spurs + Suns = fun, fun, fun
If you’re enjoying the Mavericks/Warriors series or the Rockets/Jazz series, just wait until you get a load of Phoenix vs. San Antonio. You’ve got five All-Stars; you’ve got sixth men, MVPs galore, and lots of defense to go along with lots of offense. It’s gonna be a whirlwind of fantastic match-ups at every position on the floor with Tim Duncan and Amare Stoudemire highlighting the series. And if you remember back to the 2005 Western Conference Finals when these two teams hooked up, Stoudemire averaged 37 points per game and had a pair of games in which he topped 40 against SA. Too bad the plethora of points was in vain as the Spurs took the series in five games before winning their third trophy against the Pistons in the Finals. This year’s winner only gets to face the Mavs, Jazz, Rockets or Warriors in the finals out west. But can you say “battle tested?” Whoever emerges from this war will be able to.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Shawn Marion vs. Los Angeles Lakers 38 min, 26 pts (FG: 11-21, 3FG: 1-5, FT: 3-3), 10 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk

Buzzer Beater: Well, Pat Riley came out and said it. He said that his team had a severe case of being too big for their britches or, in his words, thinking they could “turn it on” whenever they wanted. Riley went on to add that it “will never be uttered again or though again.” We’d hope not, because that appears to be a reoccurring problem for the Big Broom. Shaquille O’Neal might have four rings on his humongous fingers but he has also been swept out of the playoffs six times during his career. Shaq literally and figuratively has a big head, but we just never expected his coach to call him on it.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Welcome to the neighborhood

1. San Antonio just got bucked
Last night was one of the greatest games that Coach K has ever been a part of. No, not the Coach K that choked away Duke’s first round game of the big dance for the first time since 1996. We’re talking about coach Larry Krystkowiak who snapped San Antonio’s 13 game winning streak in his first game as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks after Terry Stotts was fired on Wednesday. Well, a little credit has to go to Michael Redd who chipped in 29 points, five rebounds and five assists in the upset. Stotts was even able to make Andrew Bogut keep his fingers to himself. The win is nice but when a team has only won nine of their last 36 games, there’s really nowhere to go but up.

2. Miami’s heat check

Dallas’ 17 game winning streak is long gone and has since been replaced with a two game losing streak, and San Antonio had their 13 game win streak snapped by the Bucks last night which leaves Miami as the possessor of the league’s longest consecutive string of victories. The Heat were supposed to struggle without their superstar point guard in the lineup. But instead of flaming out (insert your own John Amaechi reference here), Miami has been torching opponents and have slowly worked their way up the playoff ladder in the East. With a win over Sacramento tomorrow, the Heat can grab the lead in their division via a 2-1 head-to-head tiebreaker with Washington and vault all the way from their current seed (sixth) to either third or fourth in the Eastern Conference.

3. Say cheese!
Scot Pollard took a brief moment during a 20 second timeout in the midst of Cleveland’s decimation of Indiana on Sunday to let the world in on his personal message to the future of America. As a camera passed, Pollard moved into frame and said, “Hey kids, do drugs.” There’s been no confirmation on if Pollard was actually inebriated at the time of the remarks but we’re guessing he probably had a nice buzz going. The white Dennis Rodman minus the skills has since apologized and said the comment was a “bad joke.” But we really know that the guy with the dyed locks, funny hairdos and ridiculous facial hair is the most comical punch line.

In other camera related news, the last time Mark Cuban was seen he was shoving a camera after storming across the court following the Mavs double overtime heartbreaker to the Suns. So far, the league has not come down on Cubes for the incident but you know that David Stern is frantically thumbing through all the latest manuals on rules, regulations, policies and procedures just scanning for a fine or suspension to slap on the league’s most annoying owner.

Thursday’s Player of the Day: Kobe Bryant @ Denver 38 min, 25 pts (FG: 9-19, 3FG: 0-5, FT: 7-8), 5 reb, 9 ast

Friday’s Game to Watch: Detroit (41-22) @ Phoenix (50-14) This could be a preview of the championship series later this year. The Suns are hotter than they have been all year after pulling out the biggest game of the season against Dallas earlier in the week and the euphoria from such an epic contest could be the momentum that sends Phoenix off on another long win streak. But the Pistons will be no pushover as they hold an impressive 22-10 record away from Detroit. The Pistons have so many people who can step up when it counts and now Chris Webber has become a valuable offensive contributor to the cohesive unit. But it will take a trademark Detroit defensive effort to shut down the trio of Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion.

Buzzer Beater: You have to believe in yourself in order to achieve your goals and nobody personifies this idea better than Shawn Marion. After the double overtime instant classic against Dallas on Wednesday, Marion was more than happy to share his opinion about his performance. “I think I should be the defensive player of the year,” he said. “I’m going to do my own publicity.” At least he’ll be endorsing a quality candidate. Marion guards everyone from Kobe Bryant to Kevin Garnett and averages two blocks and two steals to go along with 10 rebounds. But just so there’s no confusion, Marion is more than willing to clarify his stance on the matter. “Defensive player of the year, hands down,” Marion said of himself.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Oh No He Didn’!

1. Makin’ Bacon
We all know that Boston is clueless as a basketball team, but now we know that the lack of common sense reaches all the way to the team’s on air personalities. After radio analyst Cedric Maxwell observed what he believed was a questionable call during the Celtics-Rockets game on Monday, he said that female referee Violet Palmer should “go back to the kitchen” and “go in there and make me some bacon and eggs, would you?” Was Maxwell in a cave during the whole Tim Hardaway incident? Let me guess; that’s just how you talk, right? Maxwell apologized at last night’s game, but it could be too little too late. Entercom is the corporate owners of the radio station that Maxwell works for and, unfortunately for him, they don’t take too kindly to chauvinistic commentary. Entercom fired talk show host John DePetro in November after he called gubernatorial candidate Grace Ross a “fat lesbian” while doing a show last year.

2. Playoff Bound, For Now
New Orleans has been receiving some bad pub of late, but despite being hated on by front office officials and players alike, as a team, New Orleans has been doing pretty good for themselves. The finish line is approaching quickly and the Hornets are making a frantic push to make the postseason. With a healthy Chris Paul back in the lineup, New Orleans is sitting in the eighth position after winning seven of their last ten games including 107-100 victory over the lowly Hawks last night. Against Atlanta, CP3 went off for 24 points, five rebounds, 13 assists and four steals, while spurring Tyson Chandler and David West to double-double’s of their own. But the Hornets are going to have a tough time holding on to their playoff hopes with virtually every Western Conference team, minus Memphis, breathing down their necks.

3. The Matrix Replaced
Everybody is always talking about how important Steve Nash is to the Suns’ success, but apparently Shawn Marion is a pretty valuable piece. Without the Matrix last night, Phoenix fell to the 76ers and blew their opportunity to become the only team in league history to go undefeated in interconference road play. Marion didn’t play because of a bruised hand and a bruised quad. He has the complete package as a basketball player and is one of the most underrated players in the league every year. Marion could be a superstar on almost any other team, but unfortunately his talents are often overlooked as Nash and Amare Stoudemire grab the media spotlight. But while Nash and Stoudemire are becoming one of the best combinations in the league, it’s Marion’s 18 points on 52 percent shooting to go along with 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks per game that are putting the Suns over the top.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Allen Iverson vs. Orlando 46 min, 34 pts (FG: 13-25, 3FG: 1-4, FT: 7-9), 4 reb, 7 ast, 5 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Cleveland (33-24) @ Dallas (48-9) LeBron James has been on a tear of late, racking up at least 29 points in each of the last five games. And the Cavs are going to need another monumental effort if they are going the defeat the leagues hottest team. The Mavericks continue to plow over everyone in their way as their streak has grown to 13 consecutive games. But these aren’t the same Mavs you’re use to. This squad is playing defense. On Tuesday, Dallas set a franchise record by holding the Timberwolves to just 65 points and became the first team this year to hold Minnesota to under 30 percent shooting from the field (.296 on 24 of 81 FGs). The last time Cleveland visited Big D, James went off for 36 points, 12 rebounds and five assists, while Dirk chipped in 30 points, 13 rebounds and six assists as the Mavericks held on for a 91-87 victory. We could be in for a similarly thrilling contest.

Buzzer Beater: What’s up with the Celtics? After being the laughingstock of the league for practically the entire season, Boston goes off and uncharacteristically wins back-to-back games for the first time in two and a half months. To say this has been a tough year for the Celtics organization would be like saying Britney Spears has shown subtle symptoms of neurosis over the past few months. But maybe this is the turning point that will allow Boston to finish strong and end their season with some respectability. Oh, who am I fooling; tank ‘em all and grab Kevin Durant with the first pick.