Atlanta Hawks

Around the Rim: Hawks fly high at home

1. Joe Johnson ignites late
It might sound impossible, but Atlanta has Boston’s number in the playoffs. After taking a 97-92 victory over the top-seeded Celtics, drawing the series to a 2-2 tie, the Hawks have now won five out of their previous six games against the Cs in the postseason. Joe Johnson posted 20 points in the fourth quarter for a game-high 35 points while Josh Smith played out of his mind with 28 points, six rebounds and seven blocks. Everyone and their momma figured this of all the series would end in a sweep, but after taking a 2-0 lead in Boston, the Celtics are winless on the road in the postseason. The Big Three combined for 59 points, but Boston could only muster 17 points in the final period when Johnson and the Hawks exploded for 32. Game 5 will be back in the friendly confines of Beantown on Wednesday.

2. Bust out the brooms

After busting their asses to make the postseason, the Nuggets’ hard work was for not following a four-game sweep at the hands of the Lakers. Denver didn’t roll over and die, but they died none the less, falling 107-101 in their own arena thanks to Kobe Bryant’s 31 points, including 14 in the final six minutes. Bryant’s playoff average this season is now up to 33.5 points per game after he was good for 28.3 during the regular season. LA is now waiting on the winner between Utah and Houston who play Game 5 tonight. Kenyon Martin and Carmelo Anthony both fouled out of the game in the final minutes, allowing Bryant to do his thing without Denver’s superstars on the court. J.R. Smith was the Nuggets high-scorer with 26 points while Allen Iverson and Anthony combined for 43 points. The Lakers look primed to make their first Western Conference finals since Shaq Daddy was in town behind the big efforts of Bryant, Lamar Odom (14 pts, 12 reb) and Pau Gasol (21 pts).

3. Orlando moves on
The kid did it again. For the third time in the series, Dwight Howard recorded at least 20 points and 20 rebounds by tallying 21 of each in Orlando’s 102-92 win at home over Toronto, advancing to the second round for the first time since in 12 years. The Magic dominated 4-1 behind Superman’s super play. Following postseason career-highs of 39 points and 15 rebounds in Game 4 Saturday, Chris Bosh finished with just 16 points and nine rebounds in the Raptors’ playoff finale. Orlando is now waiting on the winner between Philadelphia and Detroit, currently tied at 2-2 following a pair of disappointing performances from the Pistons. All five starters for Orlando and sixth man Keith Bogans finished in double-digit scoring, led by Howard’s game-highs and Jameer Nelson’s 19. Rashard Lewis was impressive as well, going off for a double-double of his own with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Josh Smith vs. Boston 37 min, 28 pts (FG: 8-16, 3FG: 0-6, FT: 12-13), 6 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl, 7 blk

Buzzer Beater: After 24 seasons, 2,186 games, 1,381 victories and five championships, Pat Riley’s coaching career appears to finally be ka-put. The Hall of Famer is coming off the worst year of his career, winning just 15 games with the heatless Heat who has replaced Riley with the now-youngest coach in the league Erik Spoelstra. It was obvious Riles was on edge all year, so it’s not surprising he wants to end the suffering. However, he will maintain his position as president, overseeing Miami’s immediate future which could include the drafting of Michael Beasley if the ping-pong balls bounce right.

Ironically enough, on the same day Riley retires, a key contributor from his Laker days was named NBA coach of the year. Byron Scott led the Hornets to the West’s second best record (56-26) and their first postseason appearance in four years.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Class of 2008

1. Hall of Fame time
While the NCAA national championship game might have been the most exciting event in San Antonio on Monday, it wasn’t the only ticket in town. Long before Mario Chalmers became truly Super, seven basketball legends were selected to grace the Hall of Fame. Of NBA note, Adrian Dantley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing and Pat Riley got the nod. However, nobody was more overcome by the moment than the voice of college basketball Dick Vitale. Dicky V was all choked up all afternoon as he savored the honor.

I can’t run, can’t jump, can’t shoot, but just have had a tremendous — I’d like to think — passion about the game,” said Vitale.

The fellas officially take their places amongst the other legends of the game on Sept. 5 in Springfield, Mass.

2. LeBron takes it easy for a change

The last thing the Cavaliers need right now is to drop out of the top four in the Eastern Conference and lose home court advantage in the opening round. And that’s exactly why LeBron James didn’t practice on Monday. King James has been dealing with a bad back for a while now and in order to make sure the superstar is ready to finish the season strong, the Cavs gave him the day off. It’s not like he needs to practice anyway, he’s a triple-double waiting to happen for cryin’ out loud. The kid should have been shut down two weeks ago when this problem first started. Now Cleveland is dealing with an injury-laden James, a losing skid of five losses in seven games and it owns a measly two-game lead over Washington in the standings. Luckily, its next game is against New Jersey.

3. Eric Gordon follows Kelvin Sampson outta Indiana
Eric Gordon has confirmed he’ll be entering the NBA draft, meaning the Heat and the Sonics can finally start to get a glimpse of what their future’s could hold. The six-foot-four guard led the Big Ten in scoring with 20.9 points per game while setting the school and conference record for freshman scoring with 669 points. Unfortunately, all that glitz was somewhat negated when he injured his wrist back in January and his game went downhill. And with guys like Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo, D.J. Augustin and Kevin Love possibly in the mix, Gordon could slide to a tail end top 10 pick.

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Utah (51-26) @ New Orleans (54-22)
On paper the Jazz look pretty darn good with a 50-win season wrapped up and a current grip on the fourth seed in the West. But looks can be deceiving. While owning the league’s best home record, Utah is a pathetic 16-22 on the road. In fact, the only reason they even have homecourt advantage at the moment is because the three division leaders are guaranteed one of the top four seeds. But it should still be a compelling matchup, especially at the point guard position where Chris Paul and Deron Williams will go head to head.

Buzzer Beater: Without saying he was going to pick Michael Beasley in the draft, Pat Riley said he was going to pick Michael Beasley in the draft. Of course, this is assuming Beasley goes pro and the Heat grab the top pick. But assuming all goes according to plan, Riley expects his recent scouting trip to the opening round of the NCAA tournament in Omaha to pay off. In case you don’t remember, Kansas State just so happened to open and close its March Madness in Omaha.

If the ping-pong ball falls right, I think one of the players I saw will be in a Miami Heat uniform,” Riley said. “That was why I was in Omaha.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Around the Rim: LeBron lights up the Garden

1. Battling it out
Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are running neck-and-neck down the final stretch as they both try to grab their first regular season MVP trophy. Currently, James has a slight advantage, but that is only because he was the last one to play. The King almost racked up a wicked triple-double against the Knicks on Wednesday by scoring 50 points, dishing out 10 assists and grabbing eight rebounds in a 119-105 victory in the Garden. It was James’ second 50-point outburst this season as he shot a blistering 16-of-30 from the field, including 7-of-13 from behind the 3-point arc. In fact, LBJ was so hot that the New York natives were chanting “MVP! MVP!” for him during the final moments. And why not? After all, James became just the third player ever to get 50 points and 10 assists in the historic building. The other two: Stephon Marbury and Michael Jordan. While Bryant takes a couple of days off before taking on the Clippers on Friday, James will be busy putting in more groundwork for his award ceremony by playing the Bulls tonight.

2. Boston mails in its R.S.V.P.

The Celtics are in. It seems like an eternity has passed since the last time Boston was involved in postseason play, but on Wednesday they became the first team to secure a spot in the playoffs by defeating the Pistons 90-78 in Beantown. Kevin Garnett set a season-high by scoring 31 points, helping to mask the horrible shooting performance by teammate Ray Allen who was just 1-of-9 from the floor for three points. Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups finished with 23 points apiece, but Detroit could only must 11 points in the fourth quarter which proved to be its downfall. While the win put Boston into the second season, perhaps more importantly it gave them a 2-1 advantage in the series, meaning should the two reunite in the playoffs, the home-court advantage goes to the Celtics.

3. Shaq’s Suns slip and slide down the standings
The Shaquille O’Neal experiment continues to go sour in Phoenix. Down the stretch, the move could prove invaluable, but, as of now, the Suns are just 3-5 with O’Neal in the lineup and they are losing ground quickly in the Western Conference race. Last night, Denver ran over the normally fast-paced Suns 126-113 behind Allen Iverson’s 31 points and Carmelo Anthony’s 30-point, 13-rebound performance. As a result, Phoenix woke up this morning sitting in sixth place in the standings. Sure, with just a couple of wins, they could hop right back up to the top of the list, but with a couple more losses, they could easily slide to eighth place or possibly find themselves in a dog fight if they drop out of the top eight altogether. It would seem that eventually the Suns will mesh all of their talent into a cohesive unit, but it might not be anytime soon as they have games against Utah and San Antonio looming on the upcoming schedule.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James @ New York 44 min, 50 pts (FG: 16-30, 3FG: 7-13, FT: 11-16), 8 reb, 10 ast, 4 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Houston (40-20) @ Dallas (39-22)
The Rockets are rolling right along, not even missing a beat without their starting center. Thanks to Tracy McGrady and the rest of the supporting cast, Houston currently has a franchise-record 16-game winning streak under its belt with four of the victories coming after Yao Ming’s season-ending injury. In fact, their current tear is tied for the 12th longest streak in NBA history. The odds of reaching 17 straight improved dramatically with the news that the Mavericks MVP Dirk Nowitzki is suspended for the contest following his WWEesque clothesline on Utah’s Andrei Kirilenko. Still, Dallas is 25-3 at home and they are currently fighting for their playoff lives, sitting just 2 ½ games ahead of ninth place Denver. A streak snapping victory without their main man could be exactly what the Mavs need to get rolling toward the postseason.

Buzzer Beater: Pat Riley is pissed off…again.

After watching the Heat lose for the 29th time in 32 games, Riley said he should personally write refund checks to season-ticket holders, plus — once again — questioned Miami’s effort, saying it was “so unprofessional, it’s ridiculous.”

He’s seen enough. Problem is, there’s 24 games left.

“I’ve got to ferret out the guys who really don’t care,” Riley said. “I’ve got to ferret them out of here and just put them on the bench and bring in a bunch of young guys. … The season’s over for them. That’s how they’re playing, some of them, anyhow.

Houston Rockets

Around the Rim: Houston: we have a serious problem…or maybe not

1. Rockets win game, but lose in the long run
Yao Ming was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his foot yesterday, rendering him useless for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. This is just about the worst news possible for Tracy McGrady as he will most likely go another season without tasting the second round. The Rockets were the hottest team in the league before Yao went down, winning 12 consecutive games. Guess what; they are still the hottest team in the league. Houston crushed the Wizards on Tuesday, winning by 25 points, 94-69, against the Wizards. Washington scored a pathetic 23 points during the opening half with old man Dikembe Mutombo patrolling the paint. Mutombo finished with just four point and six rebounds, but he had four finger-wagging blocks in the contest. A bummed out McGrady shot just 4-of-15 from the field, missed half his free throws and finished with a mere 11 points. Luckily, Luis Scola was on fire, connecting on all seven of his attempts for 14 points.

2. Phoenix finally plays like Phoenix again

Shaquille O’Neal finally got himself a double-double in a Phoenix uniform, going for 13 points and 11 rebounds in a 127-113 win in Memphis. The big fella got plenty of help from his friends in this game as Steve Nash (13 ast) and Amare Stoudemire put up 25 points apiece while Grant Hill tallied 23. In all, six of the seven Suns players to get significant minutes got double-digits in scoring. Memphis had a pretty impressive outing in the loss with all five starters going for 15 points or more, led by Rudy Gay’s game-high 36. The Suns 127 points were a welcome sight after putting up 85 and 86 in their previous two contests.

3. Lakers roll, still best in the West
Kobe Bryant is playing out of his mind right now. The Lakers superstar scored 30 points, grabbed nine rebounds, dished out seven assists and poked free two steals to led the his club past an undermanned Portland crew. Bryant got 11 of his 30 points in the final period, lifting Los Angeles to a 96-83 win while maintaining the buffer zone between first place L.A. and the rest of the surging Western Conference. Pau Gasol added 15 points and 10 rebounds and Jordan Farmar came off the bench to put in 21 points, helping the Lakers grab their ninth consecutive victory. Without Brandon Roy in the lineup, it was an uphill battle for the Blazers, but sophomore LaMarcus Aldridge filled in nicely, producing 24 points. Portland can look for revenge this Friday when the Lakers head to the Rose Garden for a rematch.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Steve Nash @ Memphis 40 min, 25 pts (FG: 8-11, 3FG: 3-5, FT: 6-6), 2 reb, 13 ast

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Cleveland (32-25) @ Boston (43-12)
The new-look Cavaliers are going to get the biggest challenge since acquiring Ben Wallace tonight when they head to Beantown for a game against the league’s top dogs. Cleveland is just 15-15 on the road this season, but with LeBron James in the lineup, a win in Boston isn’t all that farfetched. James is unstoppable at the moment, averaging 30.0 points, 10.6 rebounds and 9.6 assists per game over his last five contests with two triple-doubles in the same span. Of course, he hasn’t been lining up across from the best triple-threat in the game either. With a healthy Kevin Garnett back, Boston is back to being the scary squad from earlier in the season, even if their record doesn’t indicate it. The Cs are 2-3 since KG’s return.

Buzzer Beater: Pat Riley has been a cantankerous old fart all season long. Frankly, we can’t blame him. But on Tuesday, he finally had reason to smile as the Heat snapped an 11-game losing streak by spanking the Kings 107-86. Heck, Riley even joked around after the game:

I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony,” Riley added. “I know what to do. I just don’t know where to start.

Dallas Mavericks

Around the Rim: Now Mark Cuban has something to dance about

1. 4-1 in their last five against SA; too bad it’s not a playoff series
The Spurs came into Dallas as a sizzling hot team, but it didn’t take long for the Mavericks to toss a bucket of ice water all over San Antonio’s flames. Behind runs of 17-1 and 11-0, the Mavs hit the court running and never bothered to check their rearview mirrors, toasting the Spurs, 105-92. Tim Duncan (24 pts) and Manu Ginobili (25 pts, 9 reb, 7 ast, 3 stl) showed up to play for SA, but they were about the only ones. Mr. Longoria was 1-of-11 for seven points and Michael Finely went 0-of-6. Outside of four rebounds, Finely put up zeros across the stat sheet in 25 minutes against his former club. Meanwhile, Dallas was scoring at will with four players finishing the game with at least 17 points. Josh Howard had a team-high 23 and Dirk Nowitzki was solid with 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

2. Bulls get bullied, again

Chicago did what they could, but that wasn’t good enough to knock off the Suns. Grant Hill had a game-high tying 24 points to pace Phoenix as six of the eight Suns to record minutes finished with double-digits in the 112-102 win. What’s amazing about this team is that they continue to roll with just a seven man rotation. The only question surrounding Phoenix at the moment is if they have enough depth for when the playoffs roll around. But there’s plenty of time for that to develop, it’s Chicago that is running out of time. The Bulls are 1-6 now after having four full days to prepare for this game. They’ve got the Clippers, Lakers and Nuggets coming up on the schedule, so, like the old Flintstones Vitamins commercials, the Pistons division lead is at 4 ½ games…and growing.

3. Houston can exhale now
Good news for Rockets fans. After taking a shot to the right elbow, Tracy McGrady couldn’t even shoot a pair of free throws with the arm during Houston’s loss to the Lakers. Turns out that that there’s no damage to the elbow and it’s just a sprain. He’ll probably miss a week or so and then he’ll be putting up 40 on fools like nothing ever happened. Bad news for Rockets fans. Houston heads to San Antonio tonight for their second contest of the season against the Spurs. But it is not the end of the world. Back on the 6th, the Rockets survived a 4-for-14 shooting performance by T-Mac to beat their instate rivals 89-81. In fact, the Rockets might get through this without too much damage. Considering the Spurs got roughed up by Dirk & Co. last night, with a big effort, they might steal one on the road. They have to turn right around and host the Suns on Saturday, but after that they’re off until next Wednesday. Meaning McGrady could be ready to go just in time for a huge game against the Mavs.

Thursday’s Player of the Day: Manu Ginobili @ Dallas 31 min, 25 pts (FG: 7-15, 3FG: 1-4, FT: 10-13), 9 reb, 7 ast, 3 stl

Friday’s Game to Watch: Miami (1-7) @ Boston (7-0)
It’s not too often that you’ll see a team as bad as the Heat make our Game to Watch, but today’s a little different. Pat Riley is on the edge of insanity after enduring the most embarrassing start of his career. Following getting drummed by the Sonics, he threatened to make “a massive shakeup” in his lineup. Well, “massive” really only describes one man on the Heat. So, don’t be surprised when Shaquille O’Neal isn’t jumping for the opening tip against the Celtics. And if Riley follows through, don’t expect Shaq’s absence to be the only new wrinkle in the starting five. So, will his tinkering pay off? Eh, probably not. We all know that Boston is on top of their game and the NBA at the moment. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are about as nasty a trio as the league has ever seen. All we know is that if this trick doesn’t smack some life into the Heat then Riley is probably going to be curled up in the corner of the visitors’ showers, mumbling and sucking his thumb after the game.

Buzzer Beater: Leave it to ESP-freakin’-N to go totally overboard with the Celtics quick start out of the gate. Now, we know that Boston has looked pretty darn good over their first seven games, but are we really doing this already?

NBA Best Teams Ever Comparison

2007-08 Celtics vs. 1995-96 Bulls

Twelve years ago, the Chicago Bulls set a standard of success that many think will never be matched: 72-10 in the regular season. Almost a perfect season.

Well, now we have another fast-starting team, and so far they are running with the Bulls. The Boston Celtics are on pace to surpass the Bulls’ 72 wins and become the second team to win 70 in a season.

Imagine that, they’re on pace to “become the second team to win 70 in a season.” Actually, right now, they’re on pace to win 82 games this season. This is so stupid; can’t we at least wait 10, 20, 30, dare we say, 40 games before we start clearing the pedestal for the new greatest team ever. These guys aren’t even the best Celtic team ever!

Boston Celtics

Around the Rim: From worst to first

1. How ya like us now?
They did it again. The Cs are now 6-0, the lone unbeaten, after putting a hurtin’ on the Pacers, 101-86. Just so you know, they didn’t have six wins last season until there were already 13 ticks in the loss column. For a little while, it looked like this could actually be a game, but things fell apart for Indiana when Paul Pierce transformed into the Truth, scoring 31 points in the game with 13 coming a second-quarter, three-minute explosion. And yes, at one point, you did see Pierce doing push-ups in-between free throws. Apparently, the men in green are so bored with their competition that they’re working in a lil’ extra cardio training during the actual game. Frankly, we can’t blame `em. The big three are just toying with teams now, they combined for 66 points and 25 boards against the Pacers.

2. Two outta three ain’t bad

There is no NBA state feared more than Texas. All three of the Lone Star teams were in action on Tuesday and the Spurs and Mavericks both escaped their opponents, the Lakers and Sixers respectively, but the Rockets weren’t so lucky. They got downed by the lowly Grizz 105-99. It’s a shame too because Tracy McGrady had a terrific game for Houston. T-Mac was 16-of-28 and finished the contest with 41 points, four rebounds, four assists and a pair of pokes. But to the Rockets defense, they weren’t using their home state advantage last night as the game was held in Memphis. The trio of teams is a combined 11-0 at home on the year, but something is going to have to give here soon. On Thursday, the Spurs heads to Dallas; on Friday, Houston plays in San Antonio and next Wednesday, the Mavericks will be wearing their road unis against the Rockets.

3. He’s got that Magic touch
Rashard Lewis has to be loving life after putting up a game-high 22 points on his old club. Oh, and the fact that the Sonics fell to 0-8 while he’s raking in $14.9 million this year in sunny Florida probably didn’t hurt any either. Lewis led the way offensively during the 103-76 beatdown, but, as usual, it was the man-child who did all the dirty work. Dwight Howard finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in the game. If this guy isn’t the closest thing to Tim Duncan since Tim Duncan then we don’t know who is. Of course, we can’t mention the Sonics without mentioning Kevin Durant. It was another tough night for the rookie as he went 4-of-13 for 10 points to go along with a single rebound and zero assists. Rashard Lewis has to be loving life.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Philadelphia 37 min, 21 pts (FG: 7-14, 3FG: 1-3, FT: 6-9), 12 reb, 8 ast, 2 stl, 3 blk

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Orlando (6-2) @ Cleveland (4-4)
Cleveland’s been on the road for a majority of the season so far, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be welcomed home. The Magic are undefeated on the road (4-0) and they’ve ripped off a streak of four wins in their last five games to rise to the top of the Southeast standings. The trio of Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson is clicking on all cylinders as Orlando enjoys the early season ride. Cleveland, on the other hand, has no such trio to speak of and they’ve given up 35 more points than they’ve scored. However, the end result is they are only 1 ½ games behind Detroit in their division. Not too bad for a team that is riding one horse; it’s not too good, but it’s not too bad either.

Buzzer Beater: So, how bad are things for the 1-6 Miami Heat? Well, according to Pat Riley, they’re PRETTY BAD, pretty bad.

Me? Play. I guarantee you I should suit up. I’d play better than some of them right now,” Riley said Tuesday night. “I guarantee it. I swear to God. With an old hip and 62 years old and I can’t see, I’ll play better than some of my guys tonight. Come on, they were pretty bad.

C’mon coach, aren’t you being a little hard on your guys? Oh, wait; they lost by 15 to the Bobcats? Are you serious?! Okay, you’re right; lace `em up.

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.