1. Spurs win in battle of big men
The Spurs appear to be completely over their mini slump. On Monday, they took care of the Magic in Orlando, winning by 10 points, 107-97, behind a game-high 28 points from Manu Ginobili off the bench. Michael Finley chipped in 24 while Tony Parker posted 11 points and nine assists as the Spurs connected on 54 percent of their shots. Of course, as usual, Tim Duncan was the one who made everything come together, finishing with 19 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks to lead SA to its fourth consecutive win, bringing his team to within one game of the West’s top record. Orlando dropped its second in a row despite a 24-point, 21-rebound performance from Dwight Howard. The 20/20 game was the eighth of the season for Howard, but it wasn’t enough to keep his club from becoming the only team to have never won a season series against the Spurs.
2. Who needs Dirk when you’re playing the Clips?
You’d think the Mavericks would miss having the league’s current MVP in their lineup, but, then again, they were playing the Clippers. Jason Kidd still hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record since joining Dallas, but with a 103-90 win over the Clips yesterday, the Mavericks improved to 10-0 against losing teams since the trade. The formula might be keeping Dallas in the playoff chase (just barely), but it certainly doesn’t bode well for its postseason chances. However, with Dirk Nowitzki nursing a lower leg injury for the next couple of weeks, it’s good to see other players are able to fill the void. Josh Howard had an awful shooting performance (8-22 FG), but managed to tally a game-high 32 points to compliment three other double-digit scorers for Dallas, including Erick Dampier who accounted for 19 points and 17 rebounds. But the Mavericks are now facing a seriously difficult stretch, going against five playoff-bound clubs in their next six games.
3. Hornets take their show on the road
New Orleans is currently sitting atop the Western Conference with a 48-21 record after heading into Indianapolis and beating the Pacers 114-106 last night. The game was the first of a six-game road trip for the Hornets that includes visits to Cleveland, Boston, Toronto, Orlando and Miami. If Nawlins is planning on holding onto the No. 1 seed then its needs to keep getting monstrous production from its superstars like David West and MVP candidate Chris Paul. Both starters posted double-doubles in Indy as West finished with 35 points and 16 rebounds and Paul recorded 31 points and 14 assists in the team’s fourth consecutive win. The loss dropped Indiana 1 ½ games behind Atlanta for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Tuesday’s Player of the Day: David West @ Indiana 42 min, 35 pts (FG: 14-24, FT: 7-7), 16 reb, 1 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk
Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Phoenix (47-23) @ Boston (55-15)
There will be plenty of star power on the court tonight when the Suns and the Celtics hook it up in Beantown, but the matchup that stands out is between a pair of guys straight from high school. Kevin Garnett and Amare Stoudemire are two of the best big men in the game today and they will each be instrumental to their team’s success in a game that could be a preview of the NBA Finals. Of course, almost anytime a team from the West plays either Detroit or Boston you could say that. Both teams are currently on losing skids with Phoenix coming off a loss in Detroit and Boston dropping a pair to New Orleans and Philadelphia. The good news for Celtics fans is Boston owns a 23-5 record against the West.
Buzzer Beater: Chris Webber is set to retire at the ripe age of 35 due to knee problems that he just can’t seem to shake. While Webber will be most remembered for calling the timeout heard round the world and dunking on Charles Barkley as a rookie, his career can be defined by more than just that. Over his 15 seasons, Webber averaged 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game, putting him on an elite list with Kevin Garnett, Larry Bird, Billy Cunningham, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor as the only players to pull off 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists over their career.