1. The Grizz are rollin’!
For the first time all season, the Grizzlies have finally won two games in a row after they knocked off the Lakers on Tuesday and then the Trailblazers last night. Pau Gasol has been playing some excellent ball lately but it took an entire team effort to overcome Zach Randolph and his 43 point, 17 rebound performance. What’s even better fot Memphis is that they actually have a shot at extending this win streak. Tonight they will to Seattle to play a banged up Sonics squad before receiving a pretty tough test Golden State on Sunday. The Warriors sit just one game out of the playoff picture, so they should ready to put away the Gizz if they truly want to make a post season appearance.
2. Total eclipse of the Suns
It’s not very often that the Suns are the team getting run up and down the court by their opponents, but that was exactly what happened last night as the Warriors gave Phoenix a taste of their own medicine. Golden State opened the game by scoring 45 points in the first quarter before finishing the first half with a whopping 77 points and a 14 point advantage. The Suns struggled to fill the hoop with as much frequency as their opponents until the fourth quarter when they managed to outscore the Warriors 18 points but that was only good enough to get them within five points at the final buzzer. The Suns have been slipping in the standings lately, thanks to a 6-4 record over their last 10 games, and now they are just two games ahead of the Spurs for second place in the West. Next Thursday the two teams will get together for what should be a barn burner in San Antonio.
3. Chicago showdown
With a two point victory over the Pistons last night, Chicago was able to clinch a post season spot. Ben Wallace had a big game against his old team and helped to reverse a trend that has been plaguing the Bulls since Michael Jordan retired. Since 1998, the Pistons have owned the Bulls inside of the house that Jordan built, also known as the United Center, to the tune of winning 15 of their last 18 in the building. Now, Big Ben knows what it is like to be on both winning sides of the rivalry, but he almost didn’t get the chance to enjoy it. With under three minutes remaining in the game, Ben Gordon went to the line and missed three consecutive free throws which left the door open for the Pistons to take over. But Gordon lucked out and these two could just be warming up for a seven game series in the playoffs.
Thursday’s Player of the Day: Zach Randolph vs. Memphis 40 min, 43 pts (FG: 16-26, FT: 11-16), 17 reb, 5 ast, 2 blk
Friday’s Game to Watch: Utah (47-24) @ San Antonio (51-20) The Spurs almost dropped an easy game against the Hornets on Wednesday, but they had a late rally and won their fifth game in a row to pull within 2 ½ games of Phoenix for the number two spot in the Western Conference playoff picture. But they are going to have to play for a full 48 minutes against the Jazz if they expect to pick up a victory. Utah has already wrapped up their division title and they have won four of their last five games thanks to Carlos Boozer who has been putting up some of his best games of the season of late. There are so many great individual match-ups when these two teams get together, hopefully we can see these two hook it up at some point in the post season.
Buzzer Beater: In October, the Cavaliers and the Magic will be meeting up for a pair of preseason contests on a neutral court in China. Talk about a road trip! Good thing there are a lot of youngsters on these squads who can recover from jetlag in a jiffy. Dwight Howard and his boys will be playing an additional game against the Chinese national team in between the other contests. But this should be becoming routine for the NBA starved nation, after all, David Stern did send their native son Yao Ming along with the Rockets to play against the Kings back in 2004. And next year the United States will send an outfit of the NBA’s best and brightest talent to Beijing for the Olympics. They did qualify for the Olympics, didn’t they?