NBA General

Around the Rim: Steve Nash Splash

1. NBA Action Is Fantastic!
Last night’s game between the Mavs and the Suns was billed as the biggest game of the season. And neither team disappointed, as the game went down to the wire and took a pair of overtimes before Phoenix walked away with a much deserved 129-127 victory in Big D. The loss marked the first time this year that the Suns defeated the Mavs as Dallas has now lost consecutive games for the first time since opening the season with a four game losing streak. The Suns are now only three games behind the Mavs for the best record in the league. Has there ever been a less productive 17 game win streak in the history of the NBA? Despite their long run of victories, both Phoenix and San Antonio are right on the heels of Dallas. Steve Nash had an epic performance in the triumph that consisted of big free throws, big threes and big steals in the most important moments of the game as he put up 32 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds. And Nash wasn’t even the team’s most productive player on offense because Amare Stoudemire torched the Mavs for 41 points on 16 of 19 shooting to go with 10 boards. Only 18 more days until Phoenix vs. Dallas IV!

2. Built Ford Tough

TJ Ford has been playing at a spectacular level of late, but last night might have been his best performance of the season as he racked up 18 points and matched that with a career-high tying 18 assists. About the only thing that didn’t go Ford’s way against the Knicks was his half time buzzer beater that was denied by the officials after reviewing the play. With the way the Atlantic Division is shaking out, Toronto has already locked up the division crown and with it a guaranteed home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. But everyone knows that Chris Bosh is the T-Rex amongst these Raptors, averaging 22.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.38 blocks per game. There are a lot of great point/forward combos in the league right now and these two are right in the midst of the most promising duos out there.

3. This Is Getting To Be Boston Bad
It wasn’t too long ago that Indiana was in the thick of the playoff race with the possibility of pulling down a home court advantage in the first round. Well, those days are long gone now that the Pacers have lost 11 straight, one shy of tying the franchises’ longest streak of futility. Not even the return of Jermaine O’Neal could pull the Pacers out of their funk, but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort on O’Neal’s part (24 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks) in his first game back after missing three games with a sprained knee. With the loss to Washington last night, Indiana has fallen out of the top eight in the conference and now suddenly faces the possibility of making an early draft selection. Hey, Reggie, are you sure you don’t want to come outta retirement?

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Steve Nash @ Dallas 48 min, 32 pts (FG: 11-25, 3FG: 2-6, FT: 8-8), 8 reb, 16 ast, 1 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Los Angeles Lakers (33-31) @ Denver (31-31) The Lakers are struggling monumentally at the moment but records really don’t matter when the game sports three of the league’s top five scorers. Denver’s dynamic duo is combining for 58 points per game thanks to Melo’s league best 29.8 points per game average and his partner in crime’s 27.9. But that’s still not going to be enough firepower to count out the explosive one man scoring machine known as Kobe Bryant. One of these games, LA is going to break out of their slump and when they do it will probably be due to a huge offensive outing by the Mamba. Tonight is as good as any to drop another 50 point performance.

Buzzer Beater: Kobe Bryant feels that the criticism of his play is “insulting.” Phil Jackson referred to the negative media attention as a “witch hunt.” Bryant said that he doesn’t “need to be a dirty player” and doesn’t “want the image of a dirty player.” Well Kobe, if you don’t want to have your integrity questioned then don’t perform acts that bring your integrity into question. The high elbows, the awkward releases and the flailing forearms are occurring all too frequently to be considered anything but intentional. As a highly skilled athlete and one of the greatest basketball players to ever hit the hardwood, Bryant has complete control over his body’s every movement at almost every moment of every game. He can twist, turn, squeeze and shoot all while in flight, but for some strange reason he loses all control of his arms anytime they come near a player’s face? C’mon, gimme a break.

NBA General

Around the Rim: There’s No Crying in Basketball!

1. Tears of a Clown
Just when it looked like things were going to start turning around for the Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade injures his left shoulder and a loss spoils Pat Riley’s return to the bench. Wade got wrapped up with Houston’s Shane Battier in the fourth quarter and appeared to be in pain as he headed for the bench with 27 points and nine assists. Eventually he was taken from the court in a wheelchair. Geez, what a drama queen. And we thought your new Eurkel commercial was the extent of your thespian talents. Seriously though; a wheelchair? But despite his theatrical exit, should this injury prove to be serious, it could spell the end of any legitimate hopes Miami had for a title defense. Before last night, the Heat had been, well, hot, winning six of seven since the Daddy made his way back into the lineup at the beginning of the month.

2. Two Games, Five Players, 178 Points
Last night’s game between San Antonio and Atlanta saw a trio of players combine for whopping 100 points as the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili put up a season-high 40, while Tim Duncan scored 30. On the other side of the court, Joe Johnson had a team-high 30 points to match Duncan’s output. But two is always better than one and the Spurs took the contest, 103-96. During one stretch in the first half, Ginobili scored 24 consecutive points for San Antonio as he took a 27 point performance into the locker room at halftime. But that wasn’t the only game had an impressive offensive output. The New Jersey Nets’ Vince Carter (46 points) and the Hornets’ David West (32 points) combined for 78 points. Guess Vince figured that if he’s going to go out, it might as well be in style. Today at 3:00 p.m. ET marks the deadline for teams to make any trades before the postseason push begins.

3. Shining Sun
Maybe there’s something to this Steve Nash for MV-Three talk after all. As Nash rested a sore shoulder for two weeks, the Suns were outplayed by some of the more miserable teams in the league. By the time Nashty returned, Phoenix had dropped three of four games by a combined 46 points. Since emerging back into the lineup, the Suns have won their last two games by a total of 35 points. Against the Clippers, Nash scored 13 while dishing out 12 assists; he followed that with a 14 point, 13 assist effort against Boston. On a team that is as loaded as the Suns are, it’s pretty amazing that subtracting one player can create such a striking difference in performance. This isn’t like Minnesota losing Kevin Garnett or Kobe Bryant going down on the Lakers. Phoenix has two additional All-Stars in Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion on their ultra talented roster. Hell, even Van Halen was able to make some good music after David Lee Roth left.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Mike Miller @ Golden State 49 min, 45 pts (FG: 16-27, 3FG: 9-17, FT: -6), 5 reb, 6 ast, 1 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Miami (26-27) @ Dallas (44-9) Everything had been lining up perfectly for an awesome Finals rematch; until last night. Pat Riley’s back, Shaq’s coming off a 20 point, 16 rebound performance, Dallas has put together a nine game win streak and Mark Cuban is taking shots at players’ leadership abilities. But a majority of the luster was removed from this match-up when Dwyane Wade started sobbing like a baby before being wheeled off the court like a geriatric coot at Country Meadows nursing home. However, the emotions should still be high as this young rivalry continues to develop. Unfortunately, without their star, the Heat are facing the difficult task of defeating the best team in the league on their home floor, where they hold a 24-3 record. But as Rudy T once said, “Never underestimate the heart of a champion.”

Buzzer Beater: We all knew that it was going to happen eventually. We all knew that “Dancing With The Stars” would come looking for NBA talent after the NFL’s Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith showed the world what twinkle toes were all about. But that still doesn’t keep you from scratching your head at the selection. Prepare yourself to witness retired baller Clyde “The Glide” Drexler performing the electric slide in a sailor suit or the two-step dressed in the traditional attire of crotch-hugging Wranglers on NBC’s primetime lineup. Drexler could prove to be Baryshnikov, but does it really matter? At this point, he’s just another sporting icon reduced to reality-show celebrity status. And plus, how much satisfaction can he get by beating a one legged Heather Mills?

NBA General

Around the Rim: Child Support Payments are a Bitch!

1. One Last Reign?
First it was Scottie Pippen who was on the comeback trail, now Shawn Kemp is considering making a return to the NBA. But while Pippen could be back in uniform within the next few weeks, Kemp will probably not be helping any team make a postseason push until next season. When Kemp was last seen on a court he looked nothing like the young Reign Man who is considered by many to be one of the most explosive players of all time. At 36 years old, Kemp will most likely have to wait until he can get an invite from a team during training camp. Of course, he’ll have to resist the buffet line over the next six or seven months if he wants to be taken seriously by any coaching staff.

2. European Vacation
The NBA will be sending four teams to Europe in October to participate in training camps and exhibition games. It’s too bad for the fans across the pond that the teams making the trip are Memphis, Boston, Toronto and Minnesota. As of now, the Celtics and Grizzlies are the two worst teams in the entire league and Minnesota is barely clinging to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Surprisingly, the Raptors own the fourth best record in the East. But while the overall teams are not that impressive, the individual talent should have the fans lining up for tickets. Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh will provide the primary star power this fall, with Paul Pierce and, possibly, Pau Gasol acting as supporting actors.

3. Mr. MVP Returns

Steve Nash has missed the last four games and in that time, the once white-hot Suns have lost three in a row. But Nash is looking to get back on to the court tonight when Phoenix travels to Los Angeles for a game against the Clippers. And it’s not a moment to soon for his All-Star teammates, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire, who were running all over the court for the West on Sunday as they combined to score 47 points. While the Suns are anxious to get back into the win column, their division lead remains intact as the Lakers are sitting a full 10 games behind. The main concern for Phoenix right now is to chip away at the 4 ½ game lead that Dallas has over the Suns for the best record in the league.

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Denver (26-25) @ San Antonio (35-18) Playtime is over and now teams are getting serious about improving their place in the playoff seeding. The Nuggets are hoping to finally have their dynamic duo together for the road game against the Spurs after Allen Iverson received some additional rest by pulling himself from the All-Star game over the weekend. Carmelo Anthony had a great outing against the other superstars as he scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds in just 25 minutes. San Antonio will be looking to take advantage of their home crowd after struggling on their annual rodeo road trip. As the oldest team in the league, the Spurs were grateful for the break which allowed some of the veterans to rest their elderly bones. Even Tony Parker and Tim Duncan got to take it easy during the All-Star game as they combined for only 39 minutes in the contest.

Buzzer Beater: Baron Davis is rumored to be eyeing the 27th as the date when he will return to the court after undergoing knee surgery just last Tuesday. That would be great news for the Warriors considering that they have lost four of their last seven games. But the good news doesn’t stop there for Golden State. Jason Richardson could return by Wednesday when the Warriors host the Grizzlies. J-Rich has missed the last 22 games. Currently, Golden State is only one game away from being in the playoff picture, which would be a remarkable feat considering their string of injuries and lack of big bodies while playing in a stacked Western Conference.

Cincinnati Reds

Odds and Ends: Shackleford is cleared

A couple of weeks ago, we told you how Reds pitcher Brian Shackelford was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault in a hotel room. Today, Shackleford was completely exonerated and his attorney was told he would not be charged. No further details were available. The media likes to report on athletes getting arrested but tends not to follow up when it turns out they’re innocent. We’re just helping to clear his name.

In other news…

[SI]: Zidane suspended for three games even though he’s retired.

[Yahoo]: Duke QB suspended for plagiarism

[Sportsline]: Kentucky in trouble for recruiting violation because fans were contacting recruits on their myspace page

[The Sports Dirt]: Redskins owner Daniel Snyder starts sports-talk chain

[Sports BBQ]: Steve Nash cuts off his hair — coincidental that his wife’s name is Delilah

Dallas Mavericks

Nash and Nowitzki’s jam session

You know, it’s a shame that Dallas never resigned Steve Nash. First, they might have a championship already. And second, we are missing out on photos of Nash and Nowitzki drunk off their asses and impromptu locker room jams like this one. It sounds like a Bob Dylan song from the way they’re singing but it’s hard to make it out from the warbling.

Thanks to for the pointer.

Phoenix Suns

Two straight MVP trophies gets you… Nelly Furtado?

According to the New York Post, Nasty Nash is getting it on with Nelly Furtado. (You know, the chick who absolutely ruined the Missy Elliot song Get Ur Freak On. A remix/collaboration that will go down as the worst in music history.)

CUPID may have slam-dunked Nelly Furtado into the love net of Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash. In her new song “Promiscuous,” Furtado fawns over the 6-foot-3 court hunk, singing, “Is that the truth or are you talkin’ trash, is your game MVP like Steve Nash?” Toronto columnist Shinan Govani says the pair appear to be sizzling off-court ever since hitting it off when Furtado performed at Nash’s charity event in Canada last summer. But her rep says, “110 percent not true.”

First off, who writes this shit for the NY Post? Second, with his greasy hair and overall dirty vibe, it’s hard to believe someone actually called Steve Nash a “hunk”. It’s also hard to believe that somehow he’s hooking up with Nelly Furtado. Sure, she hasn’t had a hit single since the mid-90s but she’s pretty damn hot. Still, she’s no Eva Longoria. Tony Parker 1, Steve Nash 0.

LA Lakers

Kobe demands a recount

You think perhaps the writers who voted for Steve Nash over Kobe simply because they don’t like Kobe want their ballots back? And you think maybe the Arizona Republic cost the Suns a playoff series by breaking the story and pissing Kobe off?

Not only did Kobe come up huge yesterday with a game-tying and a game-winning shot, he did it at the same time that Steve Nash came up very small in the 4th quarter and overtime. Of course, the fact that the refs swallowed their whistles didn’t help Nash.

From the Arizona Republic website comes this segment of live blogging: (Is there anything better than live blogging? It might be a top 10 blog invention.)


:00: Bryant hits a last second shot for the win. Heartbreak hotel for the Suns. Tim Thomas looks stunned as Kobe spends time chest thumping. A sickening loss for the Suns.

Luke Walton fouled Nash when they got the jump ball call. Bad officiating in the playoffs is inexcusable.

:06: Nash was mauled in the double team and its a jump ball. Nash was attempting to call a time out.

:15: Lakers ball after a messy Bell attempt. Why was Kobe on the bench? He will be undoubtedly in for the final seconds of this first OT.

:45: MVP Steve Nash hits a three. Ice water.

Fanboy probably wants that last statement back.

[You Tube]: Very nice video of highlights from the Lakers-Suns playoff series. (Not recommended for Suns fans)
[]: Flea’s Lakers blog. Either he thinks the world is all poetry or he can’t figure out his blogging software.
[MSNBC]: Kobe plays like MVP, lifts Lakers to tie
[Fox Sports]: Nash over Kobe for MVP? What a joke

Phoenix Suns

Hating on Steve Nash

2nd MVP? I’m shocked!

When Steve Nash won the MVP last year, a lot of people cried foul and said Shaq should have won it. Hell, some even said he was the worst MVP of all time. Well, people got even more apoplectic this year when it was announced he would win his second straight MVP, beating out Kobe, LeBron and Chauncey Billups.

From around the web comes these reactions:

[Dime Magazine]: “Kobe perfectly fits the two criteria that voters traditionally use when deciding on an MVP: he’s the best player in the League and he’s invaluable to his team. Kobe Bryant is the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. It’s not even close.”

[The Gambler]: “Every night, against the superior competition of the West, Kobe carries the Lakers. If he doesn’t have a great game, they don’t win. He is easily leading the league in scoring (35.3 points per game) in the context of winning basketball games…

People say that Kobe doesn’t make his teammates better. But that’s bull. He averages 4.5 assists per game and he frequently passes up shots at the beginning of games in order to let his teammates find their groove. He turns it on when he needs to. And all the attention he draws creates tons of open shots for them.”

[Sweet Emotion Iverson]: “I can’t remember a worse MVP in all of professional sports winning once, much less twice. While the sportswriters may be trying to make a point of where they want the NBA to go, they are emphatically neglecting the best player in the league, which can be an argument about Kobe and Lebron.”

[Pety Cash]: “Is steve Nash the best player in the NBA? no. Did Steve Nash have a better season then every other player in the NBA? no. Then why does he have 2 straight mvp trophies putting him in elite company with magic johnson? He has solid numbers and also has a solid supporting cast. This year Nash averaged 18 pts. and 10.5 assists per game. These numbers do beat out Chauncey Billups, despite being on the NBA’s best team (18.5 pts 8.6 assists p/g).”