Phoenix Suns

Around the Rim: Amare Stoudemire shines in a fight to the finish

1. Sun-sational finish
The Suns were supposedly shopping Amare Stoudemire over the summer in hopes of winning the Kevin Garnett lottery. Well, losing out never felt so good. Stoudemire, who was rumored to be an eyelash away from landing in Atlanta, went off in Indy last night, netting 42 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in Phoenix’s 121-117 victory. Of course, with Steve Nash getting the ball to any open player in a purple jersey, even Kwame Brown could thrive in this system. Nashty was on fire, torching the Pacers for an 18-point, 17-rebound double-double. Not enough fat numbers for you? Shawn Marion had 14 points and 12 boards in the win. On the other side of the floor, home fans were thrilled to have a Jermaine O’Neal sighting during the contest as the former All-Star had a big man double-double of 30 and 11, but they could have gone with out the game-high six turnovers.

2. Even nauseous, Kobe’s better 95% of the league

Kobe Bryant spent his Tuesday feeling sicker than a dog. Then on Tuesday night, he took to the court against Minnesota and threw up 20 points, 13 in the first quarter, and a sick 360 dunk as the Lakers killed the T-Wolves 116-95. Andrew Bynum had the same stomach ailment as Kobe, but unlike the team’s sole superstar, the youngster went to the hospital and missed the game. Kobe takes a lot of flack for being selfish, but he’s got more heart and will to win in his pinky finger than most players have in their whole body. We hate when anybody gets compared to Michael Jordan, but we gotta agree with Jerry Sichting on this one.

How are you going to tell if he’s got the flu?” acting Wolves head coach Sichting said. “He’s a lot like Jordan. It doesn’t matter with guys like that. He made ME sick.

Don’t worry coach, he makes opposing coaches ill on a nightly basis.

3. Chalk up another upset for the Kings
The Sacramento Kings don’t exactly instill the same level of fear in their opponents that they once did, but maybe they should. Nobody is expecting the Kings to make it to the Finals or even to get out of the first round, but they have some solid wins over playoff-bound squads of late and they might not be done yet. On Tuesday, Sacramento was clutch down the stretch, scoring 43 points in the fourth quarter to knock off the Jazz by 10, 117-107. Despite being just half a game away from sitting in their division’s cellar, Sactown has wins over the Pistons, Spurs, Rockets and now the Jazz. But Sacramento’s trek is about to become even more of an uphill battle as Kevin Martin, the league’s seventh best scorer (24.5 ppg), is out for the next four to six weeks with a groin tear. Ouch.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Amare Stoudemire @ Indiana 36 min, 42 pts (FG: 15-24, FT: 12-13), 13 reb, 4 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Los Angeles Lakers (10-8) @ Denver (11-7)
One game currently separates the Lakers and the Nuggets in the standings out west, but nobody cares about teams anymore. We’re a superstar society and we want points, points and more points when we tune into the Association. Well, there are three players in this game who are capable of dropping 50 on anyone’s head at any time, so that should satisfy the masses. Bryant is sitting at second in the league in scoring with 27.2 points per contest while Carmelo Anthony is fifth (25.3 ppg) and Allen Iverson comes in at eighth with 23.5 points. And you can expect the Denver duo to be looking for some revenge after the Lakers routed the Nuggets 127-99 on Nov. 29 in L.A.

Buzzer Beater: For a minute there it looked like the NBA’s version of Sideshow Bob was going to quit his gig as sidekick to one of the league’s biggest attractions to waste away in Charlotte. According to Cavs GM Danny Ferry, that isn’t going to be happening. Terms of the contract haven’t been disclosed, but Ferry said on Wednesday morning that the team has matched the Bobcats’ offer, meaning Anderson Varejao and his hair aren’t going anywhere. Unfortunately, is appears the Cavs aren’t going anywhere either until LeBron James gets over his finger injury. James was injured in a loss at Detroit on Nov. 28 and has missed the last three games, all loses, with a sprained left index finger.

Sacramento Kings

David Lee plays streetball in the projects? It’s true, Ron Artest said so.

No, no, no; not that David Lee.

If you’re curious about how Ron Artest is spending his off-season, you’d probably be surprised to know that the NBA’s bad boy is currently in Nairobi, Kenya, with Theo Ratliff, Maurice Evans, Etan Thomas and NBA Players Association president Billy Hunter in a joint effort with “Feed the Children.” Surprisingly, Artest is being productive for a change. At least he’s not the latest celebrity to treat a third world country like a petting zoo as they look for a cute native child to pluck from some village. And thank goodness, no child deserves to be raised by Ron Ron. What’s even more surprising than Artest actually participating in a charitable cause is that he seems to be learning from the experience.

These people are not eating,” Artest said. “They haven’t taken showers, and the sewers are right outside their house. And it’s not even sewers with running water. It’s like a little ditch so they can throw their feces in.”

“And little 1-year-old babies are walking around and playing right next to it, wearing clothes that look like they’ve been in a New York train station and run over by a ‘7’ train 100 times. All the ghettos in New York City, the only thing that can compare to this is New Orleans when Katrina happened. And this is worse than Katrina.

We say any maturity is good maturity when it comes to Artest, so we’re pretty impressed with his actions. But, even more shocking than Ron starting to act his age is that he plays streetball in the ghetto with David Lee.

If some crazy scenario happened where I was with the Knicks, I would want David Lee there,” Artest said. “I love David Lee. I played with him in the ‘hood last summer, and he showed so much heart. They were trying to rough up David Lee, but David Lee got rough right back. And this was the projects, you know? And I respected that.

Wow, does this sound like a real life White Men Can’t Jump or what?


[]: Ron Artest now a man on a mission

Sacramento Kings

Reggie Theus is the Prodigal King

The Kings are bringing home one of their own by hiring Reggie Theus as their new head coach. Reggie played 13 seasons in the NBA and 3 with the Sacramento Kings. This isn’t like Reggie Miller going back to coach the Pacers but he has some connection with the club.

The Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof might have been a little too over-enthusiastic in their press release announcing the hiring of Theus though:

He’s the King of Kings. He had a great career as a player with this franchise and now he has a chance to be the head coach of the team. He did a wonderful job with the New Mexico State program. He’s very well thought of and revered in Las Cruces and we’re just really excited to have him on board.

Coach Bill Fuller is now Jesus Christ? How’d that happen? Let’s hope he assembles a better team than this sorry squad.


Sacramento Kings

Ron Artest wants a fresh start

It’s been a rocky road for Ron Artest since he entered the league in 1999, but the troubles could be coming to an end soon.  Well, at least for the Kings.  

While Artest won’t publicly say it, Corliss Williamson told the Sacramento Bee that Artest sent him a text that said he would be retiring at the end of the season in order to spend more time with his family.  There’s no word yet on if his family wants to spend more time with him, but Artest still seems serious about his desire to call it quits.  He also told the editors of, the site that publishes his personal diary, that he wants to retire.  

But this doesn’t mean that Artest is done starting on-court riots.  In fact, he could be taking his show overseas, where riots are much more common, in order to escape some of the negative attention that has hounded him in America.  But how is hot-head Artest going to handle getting beaned with a battery considering he went ballistic after getting hit by a plastic cup in Detroit?

Still, Artest seems to think that with a little separation he can repair his image and go from villain to hero in the eyes of the American public just like his hip-hop heroes Flavor Flav and Ice Cube did.  But Sacramento president Geoff Petrie doesn’t seem to have much faith in Artest’s decision just yet.

He’s under a lot of scrutiny and at a point, really, in his own career where he needs to be a better keeper of his own soul in some ways,” Petrie said. “We’ll assess in the context of the whole season where we go (with Artest from here). But again, it’s sort of Ron being Ron.

Petrie went on and hinted that the team might be better off without the continuous distractions that Artest brings.

You’ve got to change something — change for the betterment of himself and for the betterment of the team he’s playing for,” Petrie said of Artest.  “There’s no team that needs continuous distractions, no matter how substantive they may actually be.

So, don’t worry Ron, it looks like you might get to work on that Flavor Flav impression after the post season concludes whether you want to or not.  

[]: Is Artest calling it quits?

NBA General

Around the Rim: They All Look Like a Bunch of Girlie Men, Right?

I just pop random pills!

1. What’s Wrong With Kids These Days?
Kobe Bryant’s smack to Marko Jaric’s head didn’t result in a win for the Lakers against the Timberwolves, and it probably cost Los Angeles their game against Milwaukee last night. That’s because David Stern suspended Bryant for the game against the Bucks, stripping the Lakers of his 29.2 points per game average as Milwaukee rolled to an easy 110-90 victory. Lex Luthor, er, Charlie Villanueva torched the Zen Master’s decimated lineup for 26 points on 10 of 12 shooting.

While Bryant kept quiet about the incident, Jaric came out and actually supported Bryant’s behavior. “I haven’t seen the replay, but if you ask me what I thought about the play when it happened, I don’t think he did it intentionally, and I don’t think players should be suspended for things that happen unintentionally,” Jaric told First Tyler Hansborough says Gerald Henderson smashing his nose into his face was accidental, and now Jaric calls Bryant’s cheap shot unintentional? It’s getting kinda hard to blame the sucker punchers when the sucker punchees condone getting their craniums cracked.

2. $5 Million Bargain
Dwight Howard’s 18 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks per game has earned him a lot of recognition this year, but he’s not going to receive his most valuable award until this summer when he becomes a free agent. Orlando is expected to offer Howard a deal which would generate the young All-Star $87.5 million over the next five years. The first year of the deal would be worth approximately $14.5 million and increase to about $20.5 million. That’s about a $10 million raise from his current salary of $4.8 million. Howard is obviously the future of the franchise and he might be the future of the league. At 6-11 and 265 pounds, Howard has one of the most chiseled bodies in all the league and he can perform feats that smaller players only dream about. Once the Magic begin giving Howard a superstar’s share of the shots, he’s only averaging 11 attempts per game, he’s going to truly become an unstoppable force on both ends of the court.

3. Dropping Bombs
After smoking virtually every team in the NBA this year, the Suns nearly dropped the ball against one of the weakest teams in the league. In fact, it took a career-high 32 points from Leandro Barbosa off the bench and an extra five minutes for the Suns could put away the Bobcats, 115-106. Phoenix’s previous five games against the Cats were won by an average of 15.8 points. Barbosa nailed seven of the team’s 19 treys which was just one shy of the franchise record. Raja Bell threw in five triples of his own in the contest to help offset some of 44 points that Adam Morrison and Gerald Wallace teamed up for. It probably wasn’t the kind of win Phoenix was expecting before the game, but winning eight out of nine games is still pretty good, regardless of the competition.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James @ Detroit 51 min, 41 pts (FG: 17-31, 3FG: 1-3, FT: 6-8), 7 reb, 8 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: San Antonio (43-18) @ Sacramento (28-32) Thanks to a ten game win streak, the Spurs have quietly moved ahead of Utah for the third best record in the league. It took a while, but SA has regained their trademark defense (league best 89.8 points against) that led them to three championships in seven years. Tim Duncan appears to be completely healthy for the first time in a long time which is bad news for opposing defenders. The Kings have won five of their last six games and sit just one game behind the Clippers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It will be interesting to see just how long the Kings can maintain their current high level of play without starter Ron Artest who was dismissed from the team on Monday.

Buzzer Beater: One of the league’s most admirable citizens over the past decade has been Lindsey Hunter, but being a good guy doesn’t get anyone out of a positive drug test. But it’s probably not what you think; it’s not weed, it’s not cocaine or steroids. No, Hunter proved that he was indeed a good guy by getting busted for phentermine, a pill commonly used by his wife for weight loss. Hunter’s airtight explanation for popping his partner’s pills was simply that “we do that at our house.” But regardless of reason, the little pill is going to cost Hunter a lot of money. $205,000 over a 10 game suspension to be exact. But it’s worth it; have you seen how trim he looks?

NBA General

Around the Rim: Second Rate All-Stars

Vegas bound

1. Wrecked West
All-Stars are dropping like flies and now, in addition to Carlos Boozer and Yao Ming, Steve Nash and Allen Iverson will both miss the contest for the West. Mehmet Okur and Ray Allen were named as their replacements by David Stern on Tuesday. Stern also inserted Carmelo Anthony and Josh Howard into the squad for Boozer and Ming. Now, there are a total of 16 All-Stars in the Western Conference but it appears the East will be assigned a new player soon after Jason Kidd announced he will miss at least one more game with a strained back. No word yet on who could replace Kidd, but we do know that the Hornets’ Chris Paul will replace Nash in the skills competition.

2. He’s Not All Bad
Ron Artest has been playing great lately with at least 20 points in eight of his last nine games but, last night, Artest put together the best offensive output of his career. Artest went off against the Rockets and scored 39 (5-7 3-pointers) points and grabbed eight big boards for the Kings, but it wasn’t enough as Sacramento lost to Houston in overtime. The Kings are now sitting in the basement of their division as Artest and Mike Bibby have both become hot commodities with the trade deadline approaching. The latest rumor had Bibby heading to Cleveland for Cavs forward Drew Gooden.

3. Hornets Get Stung
The Hornets were in position to move into the playoff picture last night, and all they had to do was beat the pathetic Grizzlies. But it wasn’t New Orleans’ night as Memphis picked up their first division win of the season with an exciting 108-104 victory at home. It was the Grizzlies third crack at the Hornets this year; in all Memphis was 0-13 versus division foes (0-4 vs. DAL, 0-4 vs. HOU, 0-3 vs. SA, 1-2 vs. NO) before they finally picked up a win. Tyson Chandler went bananas, grabbing a franchise record-tying 23 rebounds while matching his career-high in points with 17. With the win, the Grizzlies are now only 11 ½ games out of the playoff picture. Keep up the good work guys.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Dirk Nowitzki @ Milwaukee 43 min, 38 pts (FG: 15-28, 3FG: 2-6, FT: 6-6), 11 reb, 8 ast, 2 stl

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: San Antonio (34-18) @ Detroit (32-18) The road trip continues for San Antonio and so far the Spurs have been on a pretty bumpy ride. SA is 3-4 during the stretch but gained some confidence last night after blowing out a struggling Nets team. Detroit will prove a tough task as they are 17-9 at home this year and currently riding a seven game win streak. Much like when the Pistons added Rasheed Wallace to their squad mid-season a few years ago, Detroit is becoming better and better as the postseason approaches.

Buzzer Beater: It took a few seasons but Eddy Curry is finally living up to the draft day hype. He scored 19 points against the Lakers last night and scored the go-ahead basket with seven seconds remaining. Curry is even received some All-Star consideration and if Jason Kidd misses the game, Curry could still be injected into the Eastern Conference’s lineup but it’ll be tough for the commish to pass on a high scoring Joe Johnson.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Christie Mania

“Who wears the pants?”

1. Newlyweds Again
After being waived by the Dallas Mavericks in 2005, Doug Christie is hopeful that he will be able to make a return to the NBA soon. Supposedly, Christie would like to rejoin the Raptors, where he spent five years from 1995 to 2000. Of course, he would have to get approval from the old lady. Maybe he could run it by her during the couple’s 12th wedding (no joke – they renew their vows every year), which will occur on July 8. But in the meantime, there are plenty of things to occupy their time. Primarily, themselves. In addition to pitching a second season of their reality TV show, Committed: The Christies, to several networks, the couple now has a self absorbed film which is based on their lives. The Christies Un-Cut, is written, directed, starring and sold by the estrogen pumping Christie and his wife, Jackie, and is available online for $19.95.

2. Can He Rebound?

We have a new leader in the NBA when it comes to rebounding. After holding the leagues best average for almost the entire season to this point, Dwight Howard was surpassed on the list. Not once, but twice. Kevin Garnett and Marcus Camby are now tied for first in the category with both averaging 12.6 per game which is only slightly better than Howard. With a couple low totals in some recent games, Howard’s average is now 12.5. The slide could motivate Howard as he looks to make history this season. At 21, should Howard end the season with the league’s best average he would become the youngest player to ever win the rebounding title.

3. Shooting Guard

The Golden State Warriors just got Stephen Jackson, but they might already be regretting their decision to bring him on board. Based on some probation issues, he must appear in a Michigan courtroom on Friday where he could be incarcerated immediately for 93 days. But because of an incident outside of an Indianapolis strip club when Jackson shot his gun at least five times, there is a possibility that Jackson could be placed in prison for up to five more years. Things have really gone downhill for Jackson since he played an important role in bringing San Antonio their second championship in 2003. Larry Bird must be relieved that Jackson’s not weighing the Pacers down with his problems anymore.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Dwyane Wade @ Indiana 46 min, 32 pts (FG: 12-22, 3FG: 1-3, FT: 7-8), 5 reb, 8 ast, 5 stl, 3 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Dallas (35-8) @ Chicago (24-19) The Bulls have only lost six games at home this season but they have been struggling lately, going 5-7 in 2007. There have been lots of trade rumors surrounding Chicago over the past few weeks but Ben Gordon and some other pieces might be too high of a price to pay for Pau Gasol or Kevin Garnett. On the other side of the court, the Mavs recent successes have been well documented and they have no interest in making any major moves. Dallas is on track to having home court advantage throughout the playoffs, especially if they continue stringing together double digit win streaks. Chicago could really use the boost in confidence that would accompany a win over the Mavericks.

Buzzer Beater: It’s not too often that you hear about a professional sports franchise imposing a curfew for their team, but Jerry Sloan doesn’t mind sticking out. This year, Utah players must be in their rooms by midnight when traveling on the road. Sloan said he has never made a team abide to a curfew before but some troublesome preseason behavior involving four players and an exotic dancer changed the coach’s mind. Sloan is old school; he’s not going to put up with immature behavior that tarnishes the franchise’s image. There’s a reason that Karl Malone and John Stockton’s teams never had a bedtime when playing on the road.

NBA General

Around the Rim: All-Star Saturday Night Fights

1. Forgive and Forget? Uh, No.
J.R. Smith is hoping he can earn back some of the cash he lost during his suspension by participating in either the three-point or slam dunk contest at the All-Star Game in Las Vegas. Apparently Smith hasn’t heard about the vendetta David Stern has against the leagues trouble makers. The aftermath from the brawl in Detroit is still being felt in the league today; it’s safe to bet he hasn’t forgotten about Smith’s bad behavior in New York just yet. Smith returned from his ten game suspension on Wednesday and proceeded to shoot and miss all four of his three point attempts; not a good endorsement for his long range skills. But Smith can certainly dunk in impressive fashion and it’s a shame that the fans won’t be able to enjoy his talents because of a flagrant foul gone wild.

2. New Life in New Jersey
For a guy who’s supposed to be going through one of the more traumatic experiences in life, Jason Kidd sure isn’t showing any ill effects on the court. His team is currently winning the Atlantic Division and Kidd picked up the 82 triple-double of his career with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in a win over the Bulls last night. Since filing for a divorce from an allegedly violent Joumana on Tuesday, J-Kidd has led his team to a perfect 2-0 record and the Nets have won five of their last six games. So, something about the bachelor life must be treating Kidd right. It could be the cold pizza in the morning. It could be Jason simply finds sanctuary from his problems on the court. But it’s probably the lack of physical abuse.

3. The Antique Road Show
The Kings use to be one of the best home teams in the NBA; now, not so much. But one thing remains the same from the early part of the decade, and that is that the Kings are not good hosts. As of now, visitors have a 50/50 chance to take home a win when traveling to Sac Town but that’s still not enough motivation for some players to want to take the trip to Arco Arena. Even coaches hate the accommodations. Phil Jackson recently compared the locker room to a dungeon. It’s situated in a confined area with a small rack for clothes and there’s no television for players to watch while they are kicking back in folding chairs during their stay. Oddly enough, one of the most hated men in Sacramento loves the amenities offered by the Kings. “I’m a traditionalist,” said Kobe Bryant. “Look at that chalk board, the stains all over it. This is Arco. I love coming here. I don’t want them to change a thing.”

Thursday’ Player of the Day: Jason Kidd @ Chicago 43 min, 23 pts (FG: 8-17, 3FG: 3-5, FT: 4-6), 14 reb, 11 ast, 2 stl

Friday’s Game to Watch: Orlando (22-14) @ Los Angeles Lakers (23-13) Orlando has worked their way back to the top of the Southeast Division after a stretch where they lost ten of 14. Behind the play of Dwight Howard, the Magic are riding a five game winning streak into Los Angeles where the Lakers are 16-4. L.A. has amassed a remarkable list of victims who have all fallen within the walls of the Staples Center, including Phoenix, Utah, San Antonio, Houston, and the recent, streak ending victory over Dallas. But the Lakers have lost their last two games; a defeat to the lowly Grizzlies and a 25 point beat-down by the Rockets.

Buzzer Beater: Could any one play better sum up the season of the Boston Celtics than the attempted dunk during the final moments of the game against Indiana on Wednesday? The answer is no. Late in the fourth quarter, guard Tony Allen went for an unnecessary, uncontested dunk after the whistle had blown and in the process of landing tore two ligaments in his left knee which will cause him to miss the remainder of the season. Poetically, Boston lost the game, 97-84. In addition to Allen, the Celtics are without Paul Pierce, Theo Ratliff and Wally Szczerbiak.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Greg O-Done?

1. With the First Selection

A lot of the draft talk has been about Greg Oden, and deservedly so. Oden will be an immediate blessing to any team that is coming off a lottery level season. But before anyone starts dropping games in order to pick up ping-pong balls for Oden’s rights, they should be willing to be flexible because there’s a kid at Texas who just might change the way the draft plays out. Longhorn guard/forward Kevin Durant is dropping jaws across the nation with his dominance and versatility as a freshman. In 15 games, Durant has averaged 23.4 points (49% FG, 39% 3FG, 85% FT), 10.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists, while blocking 1.9 shots and snatching 1.5 steals per game. Durant torched Colorado for 37 on Saturday and followed that up by picking up his fourth straight double-double with 34 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Missouri last night. Durant’s performances should have teams like the Sixers, Hawks, Celtics and Bobcats reconsidering exactly what all this losing is for.

2. Kings of Comedy
Mike Bibby is trying to get his teammates to rally together and focus on winning, but pointing fingers might not be the way to approach it. Bibby said, “Try to win a game instead of trying to see how many points you can score or how many shots you can get up.” The hot-headed Ron Artest has never been one to take criticism lightly which could lead to problems down the road if he feels Bibby is placing blame on him. But it’s hard for Bibby to accuse others of taking too many shots when he leads the team in shots per game, yet he has one of the worst field goal percentages on his team. The frustrations for the Kings continue to pile up as Sacramento sits at the bottom of their division after losing three in a row and 12 of the last 18 games.

3. Webber Can Come, Garnett’s Got To Go
Chris Webber is a free man and now he’s searching for a team that will bring him a ring. Most rumors are focusing on joining Webber with Kevin Garnett in Minnesota. K.G. has said that he would love to bring Webber aboard, but the move couldn’t possibly bring the Timberwolves any closer to a championship ring than a move for Allen Iverson would have. It’s going to take a lot more than an old Webber who can’t stay healthy to get Garnett into the Finals. Once A.I. was sent to Denver, it became painfully obvious that Minnesota is going to remain a one man show. Perhaps, the time for a K.G. trade is upon us. If Minnesota won’t bring a superstar to Garnett then there are multiple teams who would love to bring Garnett to their superstar.

Wednesday’ Player of the Day: Dwight Howard @ Golden State 45 min, 30 pts (FG: 11-18, FT: 8-15), 25 reb, 2 stl, 1 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Cleveland (22-12) @ Phoenix (26-8) The Suns have been tough to beat this season, but an opponent’s chances are greatly diminished when they must travel to Phoenix where the home team is 15-3. The Cavs are undefeated in 2007 and own the longest winning streak in the Eastern Conference with five in a row, but despite their recent success, Cleveland is only 7-9 on the road. It’s going to be difficult for the Cavaliers to keep up defensively in the transition as Phoenix will try to beat the Cavs down the court on every possession. Cleveland has proven they can produce on offense but Zydrunas Ilgauskus’ abilities on defense could be negated in the up and down game.

Buzzer Beater: You’ve gotta love a short, stocky basketball coach. At least Memphis seems to like theirs. The Grizzlies are 3-3 under their version of Rick Magerus, interim coach Tony Barone. Now, 3-3 might not sound like much, but when you start a season off by going 6-24, a six game stint of 3-3 becomes a big deal. Can Barone keep it up? It depends on if Pau Gasol can remain healthy. Gasol has strung together four consecutive games of 24 or more points and he continues to improve his efforts on the glass. If only Stan Van Gundy were around, he’d be so proud.