Phoenix Suns

Around the Rim: Toothless aggression

Say cheese! Uh, nevermind.

1. For once, Steve Nash didn’t bleed
Remember a few years back when Karl Malone delivered one of his patented elbows to the mug of a pre-MVP, Maverick’s jersey clad Steve Nash? Well, it was déjà vu all over again for Nashty last night when the Mailman 2.0, Carlos Boozer, delivered one of his man-sized elbows to Nash’s choppers, chipping the point guard’s front tooth right before halftime. Hey, at least Nash is capable of transforming his pain into our pleasure. Looking like a true Canadian, Nash went on to score 29 points and dish out 11 assists in the Suns 103-98 home victory. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Suns while extending the Jazz’s skid to a whopping five games. Boozer did all he could, including inadvertently making Nash’s smile as repulsive as his floppy hair, scoring 24 and grabbing 13 boards, but it wasn’t to be for Utah. The Jazz’s next opportunity to get a win comes on Friday when they travel to Portland and play against a team that won in Salt Lake City by eight points on Tuesday.

2. Ming’s motivation

Yao Ming stepped up and called out his club the other day, saying they were a bunch of softies. It turned out to be a good move because the Rockets ended up showing a little heart and won a grind-it-out game against a tough Detroit team, 80-77. Anytime someone calls out their teammates, that person has to produce and Yao did just that, scoring 21 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. And it always helps when your amigos buy in, which is what Tracy McGrady did, finishing with a game-high 29 points. Even though it was a gutsy victory, it wasn’t exactly pretty. Houston shot a pathetic 6-of-22 from the charity stripe that was spearheaded by McGrady’s 0-for-5 performance.

3. No point guard, no problem
T.J. Ford couldn’t play in Wednesday night’s game after he took a nasty, head-cracking fall on Tuesday, but the Raptors didn’t need their little big man as they spanked Dallas 92-76. Yup, the Mavericks could only muster up 76 measly points as they shot just .385. The reigning MVP continues to struggle with his consistency and just one game after dropping a season-high 36 on the Knicks, Dirk Nowitzki shot 6-15 for 13 points. Dallas has now lost three of their last five games with contests against New Orleans, Houston, Orlando and Phoenix looming on the schedule.

As far as Ford is concerned, he was released from the hospital and was even in attendance at Wednesday’s game. Luckily, it turns out he should fully recover and is expected to only miss about a week of action.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Steve Nash vs. Utah 36 min, 29 pts (FG: 10-12, 3FG: 3-4, FT: 6-6), 6 reb, 11 ast, 1 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: San Antonio (17-4) @ Los Angeles Lakers (12-8)
Could tonight be the night for the triumphant return of Tim Duncan to the Spurs lineup? We’ll have to wait until game time to be certain, but probably not. Duncan has missed three consecutive games with an ankle sprain, but it didn’t even phase San Antonio until the Warriors came along and snapped the Spurs five-game win streak on Tuesday. Trying to avoid back-to-back loses for the first time this season, SA heads to LA where Kobe Bryant is averaging 27.2 points for the season. The Lakers have struggled at home, dropping four of the 11 games in the Staples Center, but are riding a nice three game win streak in which they defeated Minny, Denver and Golden State. Should Duncan sit this contest out, we could be looking at a Bryant/Manu Ginobili highlight reel tomorrow morning which would be just fine by us.

Buzzer Beater: Glen “Big Baby” Davis got the first start of his career on Wednesday as the Celtics routed the Kings by 12, 90-78. Davis just missed out on a double-double in his debut, finishing with 16 points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes of work. And according to his coach, 28 might have killed the kid.

Baby was good after hyperventilating through the first half. He was terrific,” coach Doc Rivers said

Phoenix Suns

Around the Rim: Pass happy

1. Phoenix sharpshooter -passer
Everybody knows that Steve Nash is a passing machine, but this is getting to be plain silly. In his last four games, all wins, Nashty dished out a whopping 64 assists! The pass fest began on Nov. 30 when he had 14 assists at home against the Magic. Then the Suns began their current five-game, east coast road trip and the two-time MVP went off for 15 on the Knicks, followed by a 17-assist display against Indiana and culminating with Wednesday’s season-high 18 dimes against the Raptors. Of course, Sebastian Telfair could probably pick up 18 assists if he had scorers like Grant Hill (15.7 ppg), Shawn Marion (16.3), Amare Stoudemire (21.1), Raja Bell (11.7), Boris Diaw (7.4) and Leandro Barbosoa (17.7) running the floor with him. Okay, so maybe Se-Bass couldn’t do it, but a good point guard could.

2. Old friends?

Wednesday’s game between the Bull and the Bobcats served as a reunion of sorts for a pair of former teammates. Not on the floor, but on the sidelines. Chicago coach Scott Skiles and Charlotte big cheese Sam Vincent played ball together in college at Michigan State and then again in the pros when they both landed in the Orlando. Skiles’ Bulls took the game in Charlotte and afterwards the two reminisced on their initial memories of one another.

Skiles said he didn’t think Vincent would end up a coach when he was leading the Spartans in scoring. “I thought he was going to end up being an actor,” Skiles said.

“I thought he was a little [expletive] who couldn’t play basketball,” Vincent joked.

3. Guard-ian angles
Despite playing at home, the Spurs were facing an uphill battle against Dallas as Tim Duncan sat on the sidelines with an injury. But what probably should have been a loss turned into a welcomed W, 97-95, thanks to some outstanding backcourt play by the silver and black. Manu Ginobili was unstoppable as he found himself in the starting lineup for the first time this year, scoring a season-high 37 points (50% FG) to go with four rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block. Tony Parker chipped in 23, but struggled offensively, while Michael Finley came off the bench to score 14 on his former squad. All together, the trio of Spurs guards scored 74 of San Antonio’s 97 points. The Mavericks shot the ball very well, out rebounded the Spurs and scored 23 points off turnovers, but Dirk Nowitzki’s last-second trey from the corner didn’t connect and Dallas went down for the second time in three games.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Allen Iverson vs. Los Angeles Lakers 48 min, 51 pts (FG: 18-27, 3FG: 0-1, FT: 15-18), 2 reb, 8 ast, 1 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Denver (11-8) @ Dallas (12-7)
Both of these teams are coming off Wednesday losses in which some significant truths were revealed. The Nuggets were fortunate to learn that Allen Iverson has still got it. The Answer blew up against the Lakers for a mile-high game-high 51 points, the most he’s scored as a Nugget and the most by any Denver player since Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf scored an identical amount in 1995. Unfortunately for the Mavs, their revelation is a lot more depressing. Dirk Nowitzki must reinvent himself if he is ever going to lead his team to a championship. His skills are incredible, but his style of play is incredibly soft. The seven-foot jump-shooter has a phobia of the lane and continues to be shut down by smaller players, as he was by Bruce Bowen on Wednesday. Granted, Bowen is a tremendous defender, but he is also giving up five inches and 45 pounds to the German MVP. Nowitzki shot four-of-11 for 15 points in the loss while Tim Duncan’s absence left a huge hole in the lane.

Buzzer Beater: Believe it or not, but Tracy McGrady only had two career triple-doubles before hitting Memphis up for 17 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists on Wednesday. The last time he accomplished the feat was nearly five ago when he had 46, 13 and 10 against the Nets on Feb. 23, 2003. Last night was certainly a good time to give an all around effort because his normally reliable shooting motion was out of order. T-Mac opened the game by going three-of-15 from the field before finishing with a less than respectable seven-of-22 performance.

Orlando Magic

Around the Rim: It’s no illusion, the Magic are for real

1. Road warriors
It took an extra five minutes to get the job done, but the Magic continued their winning ways by outscoring the league’s highest scoring team in an East vs. West track meet. 240 total points were scored as Orlando downed Golden State 123-117 in Oakland. Dwight Howard almost cost his team the game when he picked up a technical late in the game, but he still gets `Beast of the Game’ honors for collecting 18 points, 23 rebounds and seven blocks. Jameer Nelson almost had himself a triple-dip as he finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists. Orlando is still giving Boston a run for their money in conference race. The squads are currently tied for first place, but the Celtics (14-2 – .875) have a better statistical record than the Magic (16-4 – .800)

2. TD’s knee screen is clean

Gregg Popovich felt his heart sink into the pit of his stomach when Tim Duncan crumpled to the parquet on Sunday and was subsequently carried off the floor by his teammates. Well, Pop’s heart started beating again on Monday afternoon when doctors discovered no significant damage to the two-time MVP’s right knee or right ankle. There’s still no concrete timetable for when Duncan will return to the lineup for the silver and black, but the team spokesman confirmed that TD would miss the rivalry game against the Mavericks. We’re figuring that the Spurs are going to sit Duncan until he’s absolutely, undoubtedly, 100 percent healthy. Popovich ain’t no fool; he’d much rather take the extra losses than rush his goldmine back on the court too soon and risk further damage.

3. Score one for the Americans
By many accounts, Steve Nash is just about the best thing to happen to basketball since the shot clock went into effect. Other people can’t believe he has more MVPs than guys like Allen Iverson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett or David Robinson, to name a few. Either way you look at it, he’s about all Canada’s got when it comes to international competition. Correction: `he’s about all Canada had.

On playing for the Canadians in the 2008 Olympics, should they qualify:

I would say no, but I can’t really talk about it until the situation arrives and this season’s come to a conclusion,” Nash said. “But in my mind right now, I’m not going to play for Canada anymore. I just can’t do both.

Okay, can someone talk Manu Ginobili out of playing now?

Monday’s Player of the Day: Carlos Boozer vs. Miami 40 min, 24 pts (FG: 10-18, FT: 4-6), 15 reb, 5 ast, 4 stl, 1 blk

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Phoenix (13-4) @ Indiana (9-9)
Phoenix’s three All-Stars have been playing accordingly all year long, but now they’re benefiting from a former All-Star who’s looking a lot like a youngster who use to dazzle in a Detroit uniform. Grant Hill might be 35 years old according to his birth certificate, but 28 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals certainly doesn’t sound like the production of someone who should be using the Clapper and watching The Peoples Court according to young NBA standards. On the other side of the court, the Pacers are sporting a crew of anti-Hills. They’re young and wild and you never know what you’re going to get, good or bad. This has the potential to be a nail-biter or a blowout, just depends on which crew shows up next for coach Jim O’Brien.

Buzzer Beater: We’re seriously starting to worry about Gilbert Arenas. The guy has always been a little loopy, but now that he’s injured and without the mental drain of basketball, there’s a lot of crazy stuff backing up in his cranium. Not only is he pushing a shoe that comes with a dry erase marker so you can write messages on your kicks, but he’s also devoting his time to a project known as GilTV. It’s an interesting endeavor to say the least. Still, those aren’t the oddest tidbits of information that Agent 0 reveals in his blog.

So, Gilbert, why don’t you like to take pain pills?

I didn’t take the pills for two reasons:

1. I’m against pills in general. I think it’s a coward’s way to deal with pain. You take some pills, then the pills get you sleepy.

2. The main reason is though that it blocked my stomach up last time and I couldn’t use the restroom. I couldn’t use the restroom for like five days, and I didn’t want to go through that pain again.


Phoenix Suns

Phoenix’s public enemy #1: Big Shot Bob

In case you haven’t noticed, the Phoenix Suns and their fans are just a little angry with Robert Horry. His infamous forearm to Steve Nash in the final moments of Game 4 sent shockwaves through the NBA as Big Shot Rob’s actions coaxed Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw off the Suns bench which earned the duo a pair of suspensions for Game 5. It’s arguable that the flagrant foul ended up costing the Suns the pivotal fifth game and possibly the series. So, has come up with this creative method of allowing the Phoenix faithful to gain a small measure of revenge against Horry; even though it was their own player’s stupid decisions that kept them out of the arena on Wednesday night. We present to you… Whack-A-Horry.

Sure, it’s not nearly as much fun as the arcade version but how could it be without the feel of a giant padded mallet in your hands. But if it can calm the rage of a city then we say whack away. It might seem a bit silly to sit at your desk and virtually beat the crap out of an animated Horry head but it is a hell of a lot better than how Raiders fans decide to take out their frustrations.


[]: Whack-A-Horry: Arizona Website Posts Anger-Venting Game For Suns’ Fans

NBA General

Around the Rim: The West is almost set

1. No Mailman needed for this West finals delivery
The best story in the NBA postseason is finally over as the Jazz put together a late run and sent the league’s version of Cinderella packing for the offseason with a 100-87 victory in Game 5, but, more importantly, the win put Utah into the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1998. But just because Golden State is out of the picture doesn’t mean that there are no true heroes left. At least that’s what the media keeps shoving down our throat about Derek Fisher. Handling the rock in all the critical moments and knocking down his shots with a sharpshooters’ precision (7-10 FG, 4-5 3FG), Fisher left his fingerprints all over this game. Now the Jazz are left to practice, watch, wait and repeat until the dramatics over in the other half of the West bracket finally get hashed out. But GS can still be proud of what they did this year and how they played. Unfortunately, they were just a bit too raw for the refined playoffs and while it was rabid emotion that carried the Warriors over the Mavericks, it was that same enthusiasm which would eventually be their downfall. There was a whirlwind of whistles directed at The City ballers toward the end of the third quarter and the Warriors just began to slowly unravel over the final 12 minutes. We all knew that the Golden State run would eventually end but it still doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye to Jessica Alba.

2. Who’s getting Bull-ied around now?

Two games ago, the Bulls were beaten up, thrown around and left for dead on the side of the road after falling down 3-0 to Detroit. But unlike those bloated deer that get blasted by speeding SUVs on streets across the nation, these guys rose from the dead to win two consecutive games against the Pistons. Never seen road kill do that before. Ben Gordon was obviously alive and well as he scored a game-high 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field that included a 5-of-6 performance from behind the arc. Kirk Hinrich didn’t resemble a dead armadillo or opossum either as he dished out 13 helpers to go with 17 points in the 108-92 Chicago victory. The Pistons are known for blowing comfy leads in the postseason but they are also known for winning the games that they have to have. But if they want to end this series quickly they are going to have to take care of business on the road. And Chicago is where Ben Wallace has had his biggest games of the series. In the two games in Chi-Town, Big Ben has pulled down 29 rebound while he only has 20 boards in the three Detroit contests.

3. The commish shows no love for Amare
We all knew that there would probably be suspensions handed out by David Stern after Robert Horry sent Steve Nash flopping flying into the scorer’s table. The incident had Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw hopping mad, and unfortunately for the Suns they hopped off the bench and onto the court which earned each of them a game suspension. Guess the whole “I was checking into the game” strategy didn’t work out for Amare. On the other side of the series, Horry’s actions earned him a two game suspension. It would seem that the Suns just lost Game 5 but now there is a ton of extra pressure on the Spurs as the suspensions have put them in a must-win situation that they must capitalize on. But, hell, we think it’s pretty safe to say that any coach in the league would rather be in Gregg Popovich‘s loafers instead of Mike D’Antoni‘s in this pivotal Game 5.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Andrei Kirilenko vs. Utah 34 min, 21 pts (FG: 8-12, FT: 5-5), 15 reb, 1 ast, 3 stl

Buzzer Beater: Dwyane Wade had to be feeling like a total idiot as he started putting on that stupid paper garment before going under the knife to repair both knee and shoulder. This was a surgery that he could have done back in February but instead opted to skip the procedure and rehab his way back into shape for the playoffs. And we think everybody knows how productive that decision turned out to be for Flash. Turns out that Dwyane’s pains were primarily coming from his knee and not the shoulder that sent him sobbing from the arena in a wheelchair. The recovery will probably take the entire offseason and possibly longer. Unfortunately, for Miami the “jumper’s knee” condition is nothing new to the franchise. Jason Williams had a similar operation performed last July and he was still in pain for half of the season.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Spurs and Suns get even more physical

Nash is mad as hell and he’s not
gonna take it anymore!

1. Wait; who won that game?
If you decided to turn in early last night and skip out on the end of Game 4 between San Antonio and Phoenix then shame on you. The Spurs were in control for almost the entire game, but almost was just enough space that the Suns needed and they put together a late surge that closed an 11 point gap and gave Phoenix a 104-98 victory that tied up the series at two games apiece. It was a stunning turn of events in SA as it looked like the Spurs were ready to take a commanding 3-1 advantage but it quickly fell apart as Tim Duncan got nailed to the bench with his fifth foul. As the game was coming to an end tempers began to flare as Robert Horry delivered a hard forearm shot that sent Steve Nash flying into the scorers’ table. A brief melee broke out with Horry, Nash and Raja Bell but the situation was quickly diffused as Horry was ejected from the game. However, what could prove to be quite costly was Amare Stoudemire‘s and possibly Boris Diaw‘s decisions to leave the bench area when the scuffle broke out. If David Stern decides to go by the book then their actions are worthy of an automatic one game suspension.

2. Cavs advance; well, almost

The Nets stuck around until the final buzzer but when the horn sounded it was Cleveland who had grabbed a 3-1 lead in the series and put themselves in an excellent position to finish this thing off at home on Wednesday. LeBron James is just one little victory away from etching his name into Cavaliers history by taking the team to their third conference finals ever. It has been 17 long, long, long years since the Cavs last made an appearance in Eastern Conference’s big show. And New Jersey made it a lot easier than it should have been as the Nets’ big three just couldn’t get anything going offensively because they combined for a pathetic 11-of-48 from the field. Sorry, Jay-Z, but that’s just not gonna cut it when King James is exploding for 30 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Cleveland fans finally have some positive postseason memories to hold on to; hopefully Michael Jordan’s runner over Craig Ehlo hasn’t been too damaging over the years.

3. Could Larry Brown and Greg Oden be a package deal?
It looks like Larry Brow is the top candidate for the open head coaching gig with the Grizzlies, but in typical Larry Brown fashion he’s not making any decisions until he’s sure he’s going to get exactly what he wants. And apparently what Brown wants is the same thing that every coach is desires, Greg Oden. The draft lottery will be held on May 22 which means that we should know exactly where the ol’ ball coach stands by the time the last logo gets pulled from its oversized envelope. Memphis has a great chance of grabbing the top pick which would give the Grizz a solid core for the Yoda-like guru to mentor into young Jedi masters. But the journeyman doesn’t have the patience these days to groom some stick figure into the defensive stopper that his systems so desperately require. It’s an all or nothing situation for Memphis in this year’s lottery. But, then again, we can’t imagine the Grizzlies being too disappointed if Kevin Durant falls into their laps.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Steve Nash @ San Antonio 41 min, 24 pts (FG: 8-12, 3FG: 2-3, FT: 6-8), 2 reb, 15 ast

Buzzer Beater: After two long years of singing the praises of Steve Nash, today we finally usher in a new era of elite as Dirk Nowitzki dons the MVP crown and reduces Nash from “reigning” to “former” MVP. Dirk will probably be so stoked during his press conference that he starts doing his best impersonation of German sensation David Hasselhoff during his acceptance speech. Not! But if Dirk started mumbling while picking at a plate of food with his shirt off, you’d have to admit that it would make for some entertaining television. Hell, we couldn’t really blame the guy if he did show up to the ceremony in a drunken stooper just like his childhood hero. It’s gotta be rough when your best friend and the previous MVP is still ballin while you’re having to pretend to be happy and smile for the cameras when all Dirk really wants to do is hide under a rock until training camp begins.

Dallas Mavericks

Dirk is the regular season MVP; key words "regular season"

An MVP has never felt so sad.

According to reports, Dirk Nowitzki will be named the NBA’s MVP sometime next week and despite his team going down in flames to the Warriors in the first round it was the right choice. After all, this is the regular season MVP, isn’t it?

Sure, Nowitzki choked like no MVP should ever gag in a must win Game 6 against eighth seeded Golden State by producing just eight points on 2-of-13 shooting, but that’s the postseason. And there is already an award designated for the best player in the playoffs, it’s called the Finals MVP. During the 82 games leading up to Dallas’ monumental collapse, Nowitzki was undoubtedly the top dog in the league. He averaged 24.6 points, 8.9 boards and 3.4 assists to go along with shooting percentages that were out of this world (FG-50%, 3FG-42%, FT-90%). And he did all this while leading his team to a league best 67-15 record.

Plenty of people out there will argue that Steve Nash should be considered for the award now that the Mavericks have been sent packing but it would be nothing less than a farce for Nash to get his third consecutive trophy based on Dallas’ loss. Anyways, Nash isn’t even the best player on his own team and the guy already has more MVPs (2) than some of the greatest players to ever step on the hardwood (Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, John Stockton and Patrick Ewing to name a few), which is a shame in itself.

But Nash isn’t to blame for his achievements, the media is. The voters almost always give this award to the best player on the best team that year, which is why we knew long ago that Kobe Bryant wouldn’t even sniff the MVP. This year, however, the formula happened to be correct with Nowitzki. There’s no real argument that he wasn’t the regular season MVP, but that’s not going to make the press conference any less awkward for Dirk, and the MVP isn’t going to clear his name as a postseason gag artist.

I understand the business by now. If you play well and you win, you’re the greatest,” said Nowitzki. “And if you lose, you’re the worst player in the league.

And now Nowitzki can join Moses Malone and Wes Unseld as the “worst players” to ever win the MVP and get bumped in the first round, but, hey, he can take comfort in the fact that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the award in 1976 and didn’t even make the playoffs. But at least none of those guys were humiliated at the hands a team that hadn’t made the playoffs for 13 years!

From being up 2-0 in the Finals, only to get swept in the next four; to having the best record in the league; to becoming the victims of the biggest upset in postseason history; to winning the MVP. Dirk Nowitzki is now the official poster boy of the term “bittersweet.”


[]: Dirk Nowitzki’s the MVP and You’re Not.
[]: Mavs’ Nowitzki will be named NBA MVP next week

NBA General

Around the Rim: A pair of easy wins for the home teams

Suddenly Nelly’s Band-Aid is looking a lot

1. Happy 56th birthday Coach D’Antoni, we’re got you a win!
The Suns did a much better job of getting into the paint against the Spurs in Game 2 and as a result Phoenix evened the series at a game a piece with a 101-81 victory. Steve Nash hooked up with Amare Stoudemire a whole bunch of times during the game but it was their second quarter contributions that helped Phoenix put together a 30-17 effort that opened up a solid halftime lead. The Spurs had won five consecutive playoff games in the Suns’ gym but nobody can put the blame on Tim Duncan who had a stellar game for SA. However, their will be lots of fingers pointing at the other Spurs’ stars. Tony Parker was just 5-of-14 from the field and Manu Ginobili went 3-for-9 for just six points. But the Suns still have to win a game in San Antonio in order to advance and that’s just where this series is heading next, Saturday to be exact. However, if Stoudemire gets another 27 points while Nash is dishing out 16 assists and scoring 20 then Phoenix could very easily leave from deep in the heart of Texas with 3-1 strangle hold on the series.

2. The Cavs and the have nots

LeBron James had a head cold before Game 1 and he managed to hit the game winner. In Game 2 he was feeling even better and it showed as the Cavaliers took a 2-0 lead in the series with a 102-92 victory. King James put up 25 points in the second half to finish with 36 and 12 assists as he is now poised in prime position to take his team to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in a long time. For the second game in a row, Cleveland has obliterated New Jersey on the glass as the Nets got outrebounded by 17 (49-32) but James had virtually nothing to do with that stat as he only pulled down ONE board. What’s worse is that Jersey could only muster up three offensive rebounds compared to the 19 that Cleveland pulled down. Wait; you don’t thing those extra 16 offensive possessions might have had something to do with the Cavs 10 point win, do ya? Guess Lawrence Frank never got to the chapter about boxing out in the NBA 101 textbook.

3. The Captain and the King
In more Lebron James news…with his 36 point outing last night, LBJ scored at least 20 points in each of his 19th consecutive playoff games. That puts the King just eight games behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (27) for the record for 20+ point games to start a playoff career. It looks like the Cavs will advance past the Nets which will give him an opportunity to break the record in a long series against the Pistons most likely. The Detroit defense will probably focus in on James during the series, but holding LeBron under 20 points is like trying to keep Charles Barkley down to just two dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts during TNT’s double-header action. Either way you look at it, 19 just ain’t gonna be enough for these guys.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Tim Duncan @ Phoenix 35 min, 29 pts (FG: 12-20, FT: 5-7), 11 reb, 1 ast, 2 blk

Buzzer Beater: The NBA All-Rookie Team was released on Tuesday and, yawn, oh who cares? Wake us up when any of these guys actually become ballers. We’re sure that some of these guys will eventually pan out, Brandon Roy appears to have the most potential, but this has got to be one of the most boring draft classes in the history of the league. It’s pretty bad when you rookie class highlights are, uh, highlighted by Jorge Garbajosa’s broken leg and Tyrus Thomas’ stupid comments before All-Star weekend. We can almost guarantee that Kevin Durant and Greg Oden will provide more memorable moments as rooks next year than this entire sorry class did this year. Never thought we’d say this, but Joakim Noah could have really improved last year’s draft!

NBA General

Around the Rim: Ding! Ding! And round 2 is underway!

1. A bloody good game
The incredible upset of Dallas by Golden State in the first round was undoubtedly the best series of the 2007 postseason, well, until now. With the Mavericks out of the picture, San Antonio and Phoenix are now the two best teams (record wise and otherwise) remaining in the playoffs and on Sunday they put on a memorable show as the Spurs squeaked out a 111-106 victory on the road. It was a physical contest but you don’t have to take our word for it, just take a look at the reigning MVP and his bloody beak that was running like a faucet til the final buzzer after he had a good old fashioned meeting of the minds with Tony Parker in the fourth quarter. But Parker gave the Suns more headaches than headbutts as he torched Phoenix for 32 points on 14-of-22 shooting to go along with eight assists. Throw in 33 points and 16 boards from the Big Fundamental and it’s going to be tough for almost any team to compete. Ah, but Phoenix is not just any team and despite losing their MVP in the late, critical moments of the game, they still almost grabbed the first game. Whew, hold on tight because that was only Game 1 and we just might see six more of these bad boys.

2. Winning is the best medicine

LeBron James had a really bad cold with all the usual symptoms before Cleveland took the court for an early tip against New Jersey in Game 1, but you wouldn’t have known it by the way he played. He must have taken a couple of Dayquil; you know, the daytime, non-drowsy, congested-stuffy head, sore throat, cough, aching, fever so you can get trough the day medicine. King James even felt good enough to hit the final shot of the game with 32 seconds remaining to give the Cavs an 81-77 victory and a 1-0 lead in the series. The score might have been close but the rebounding battle was completely dominated by Cleveland as their starting frontcourt outrebounded the Nets starting big men 39-9. 30 rebounds; wow! The last time that happened in a playoff game was on May 9, 1979 (Washington at San Antonio, 47-16).

3. Van Gundy Out?
Tracy McGrady said that all the pressure, as well as the blame, of the Rockets first round series against Utah was to be placed squarely on his shoulders. Well, it’s sounding like coach Jeff Van Gundy might be the one who takes the fall for Houston’s home floor loss in Game 7 which knocked them out of the postseason. Van Gundy has only been with the Rockets for four years but in that time they have failed to reach the second round three times, and for the second time under JVG the Rockets have blown a 2-0 lead in a series. Now, four years might not seem like a long time but in today’s NBA it’s more or less an eternity. In fact, only two coaches have been with their teams longer than Van Gundy has been with Houston: Jerry Sloan has been with the Jazz since 1988 and Gregg Popovich has been roaming the SA sidelines since 1996.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Tim Duncan @ Phoenix 40 min, 33 pts (FG: 12-24, FT: 9-15), 16 reb, 1 ast, 3 blk

Buzzer Beater: John Amaechi thought that America was full of insensitive, gay-hating, jerks (Wonder where he got that idea? Tim Hardaway maybe.), but he was wrong. Turns out that most of the nation, 95 percent according to Amaechi, have actually been pretty open to his coming out of the closet. “I imagined that it would be a firestorm, that it would be some insane number of letters demanding my deportation or my death,” said Amaechi. Hey, John, don’t flatter yourself buddy. Nobody cares enough about your sorry ass to actually demand that you be deported or put to death. Give us a break! Everybody knows that you are attempting to use your homosexuality to sell a book and further line your pockets, and more power to you for doing so. But don’t act like you thought you were going to be some type of martyr. You’re a gay, retired ball player; big freaking deal.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Da’ Bulls are dancing all over Miami

1. Repeat defeat
Most people seem to think that a team isn’t in trouble in the playoffs until they lose a game on their home court. Well, Miami hasn’t lost on their home court but they still appear to be in serious trouble after the Bulls ran over Miami for a 107-89 win and took a 2-0 advantage in the series. The defending champions are getting thoroughly thrashed by what appears to be a more complete team unit in the Bulls. Luol Deng continues to abuse defenders as he put together another impressive outing with 26 points and six assists to go along with Ben Gordon’s game-high 27 points. But you can’t count out the Heat just yet; after all, Miami did drop the first two games of last year’s finals before going on to take the title away from Dallas in six games. Chicago, on the other hand, blew a 2-0 lead in the first round to the Wizards two years ago.

2. The Mamba strikes and misses

At the end of the first half of game one it looked like Kobe Bryant was going to carry the Lakers on his back to playoff victory. The past six quarters between the Phoenix and Los Angeles have proven that nothing could be further from the truth. Even if Bryant could string together another batch of 50 point games like he did earlier in the year, it still wouldn’t be enough to get this lackadaisical Lakers squad past the first round. The Suns just toyed with LA like a cat with a mouse on Tuesday as Steve Nash dished out 14 assists and newly crowned Sixth Man of the Year Leandro Barbosa put up a game-high 26 points off the bench in the 126-98 win. The odds are definitely going to be stacked against Los Angeles when the series heads to Hollywood and it’s going to take a lot of extra rooting from Jack, Denzel, Dyan and the other famous faces in the Staples Center crowd to keep the Lakers from falling down 3-0.

3. Sam’s the man
There were lots of worthy candidates for this season’s Coach of the Year award, but when it came down time to vote only one man could earn the honor. Toronto’s Sam Mitchell was named that man on Tuesday and rightfully so. Mitchell took the award with 394 total points, including 49 first place votes, over other possible candidates like Jerry Sloan (301 points), Avery Johnson (268 points) and Jeff Van Gundy (134 points). Who would have ever guessed that Mitchell would turn around a struggling Toronto franchise that was widely considered to be one of the black holes of the league? Certainly not the players of the Association because last April a Sports Illustrated informal poll amongst league ballers declared Mitchell to be the NBA’s worst coach. But nobody is saying Mitchell is a bottom feeder anymore since the Raptors made a 20-game improvement over last year’s dismal 27-55 record. And just hours after receiving the award, Mitchell went out and led the Raptors as they evened up their series with New Jersey by defeating them 89-83. Suck on that SI!

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Steve Nash vs. Los Angeles Lakers 25 min, 16 pts (FG: 7-11, 3FG: 2-4), 5 reb, 14 ast

Buzzer Beater: Danny Ainge thought he was getting Boston’s point guard of the future last year when he made the trade for teenage phenomenon Sebastian Telfair. Turns out that he got a giant headache instead and after just one season the Celtics have decided that enough is enough and cut ties with the 21-year-old. “I wanted to let you know that we have removed Sebastian’s nameplate from his locker in Waltham,” said managing partner Wyc Grousbeck in an e-mail to the Boston Globe. Geez, you removed his nameplate; guess there’s no turning back now. Telfair was arrested on Friday after a gun was found in his car, but his attorney, Ed Hayes, thinks that Boston’s decision to get rid of Telfair is far too sudden and they should reconsider. Save your breath Ed; didn’t you hear? They already removed his nameplate, it’s over.