1. He said, he said
The Spurs and Mavericks got together in Dallas on Sunday and as usual, they tore the house down with an extremely competitive game that we can only hope to see duplicated in the Western Conference Finals. The Mavs limited San Antonio to just 10 points in the fourth quarter to win 91-86, but the turning point of the game came in the third quarter when Joey Crawford decided to flex his officiating muscle by slapping Tim Duncan with his second technical as he sat on the bench laughing. Duncan claims that Crawford came into the game with a personal vendetta against him and the old man even challenged Timmy to a fight. “He looked at me and said, `Do you want to fight? Do you want to fight?”‘ Duncan said. “If he wants to fight, we can fight. I don’t have any problem with him, but we can do it if he wants to. I have no reason why in the middle of a game he would yell at me, `Do you want to fight?”‘ Meanwhile, Crawford said that Duncan called him a piece of $#*! as he walked off the court. Wow; forget about Barkley vs. Bavetta 2, we wanna see Duncan vs. Crawford in a boxing match during next year’s All-Star weekend.
2. The Oden Ordeal
So, what’s the deal with Greg Oden? We already know that Kevin Durant is bolting from the Longhorns and into the pros, but conflicting reports over the weekend are leaving people scratching their heads about Oden’s intentions. First Oden’s old man told The Indianapolis Star that his boy was leaving Ohio State because “They had an exciting season, but why take the chance on him getting hurt?” But then Mike Conley Sr., father of Oden’s teammate Mike Conley Jr., basically told the press that Greg Oden Sr. was completely out of the loop. “The process for Greg Oden is, he’s going to talk to his mom today, he’s going to talk to me tomorrow, and he’s going to talk to Thad Matta on Monday,” Conley Sr. said. “And after that, he’s going to decide what he’s going to do and when he’s going to report it.” Conley Sr. can claim whatever importance in the equation that he wants to, but we’re going to believe Oden’s pops on this one.
3. The Magic’s Magic Man
The Orlando Magic guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs on Sunday when they narrowly defeated the Celtics, 88-86. Thanks to the victory, the Magic are back in the post season for the first time in four years and nobody is happier about it than Dwight Howard. Not only did he hit the final point of the game on a free throw with 4.6 seconds remaining, but he is also having some monster games as his team prepares for a playoff run. On Saturday night against the 76ers, Howard scored a career-high 35 points on 14-of-15 shooting and despite a poor offensive performance against Boston (3-8 FG, 4-12 FT), Howard still managed to pull down 14 rebounds. Howard now just needs to grab 18 rebounds while keeping his field goal percentage high over the final two games of the regular season to become only the second player in NBA history to shoot 60 percent and grab 1,000 boards in the same year. Not too bad for a 21 year old.
Sunday’s Player of the Day: Kobe Bryant vs. Seattle 42 min, 50 pts (FG: 18-25, 3FG: 3-6, FT: 11-13), 8 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl
Monday’s Game to Watch: Phoenix (61-19) @ Houston (51-29) With the playoffs beginning in less than a week, it’s match-ups like these that really get you excited about the post season. The Suns and Rockets are currently the two hottest teams in the West as they enter the games with five and four game winning streaks, respectively. Houston has looked like a completely different team since Yao Ming returned to form and is providing the perfect compliment to Tracy McGrady‘s stat sheet stuffing ability. But the two superstars are going to have to be at their best when the All-Star adorned Suns come to town. Phoenix really has nothing to play for considering they have already locked up the second seed in the playoffs, but this will be a great chance to get a feel for their possible second round opponent.
Buzzer Beater: The Lakers have been in a free fall for the past three weeks, but in their next to last game of the regular season they finally locked up a playoff spot by beating Seattle 109-98. In the process Kobe Bryant became the most prolific scorer in league history not named Wilt Chamberlain by racking up his 10th game with at least 50 points as he racked up an even fity against the Sonics. Los Angeles has a tough road ahead of them with a first round match-up against Phoenix or Dallas but, hey, at least Phil Jackson’s streak continues as his teams have never missed the playoffs in his 17 years as a coach.