Monday, April 21, 2008

Playoff Predictions: Eastern Conference

Boston Celtics (1)

Atlanta Hawks (8)

The Celtics will maul through the Hawks easily. Their stars will outshine the Hawks' stars. Boston is too hungry for the win, while Atlanta is too young and too inexperienced (excluding Bibby). Garnett will keep the team focused and I don't expect there to be any let-downs in this series. I expect double digit wins in every game for Boston. And they could very easily sweep the Hawks. Their defense is that good. It will be interesting to see how the young guns from Atlanta fare. This is their first experience of playoff basketball. On paper, there are a lot of good matchups. Johnson vs. Allen. Smith vs. Pierce, in particular. But the Boston team has all the intangibles to win. I think Rondo will have a nice series. And their other role players will show the league they are for real. Watch out for them! --- Boston in 5

Detriot Pistons (2)

Philadelphia 76ers (7)

Differing from Boston, Detriot has the tendency to coast in games and play down to their competition. I think that will cost them a couple of games in this series. Philadelphia is a tough team that plays with alot of heart and hustle. And they will take advantage of Detriot's apathy. But Detriot is the deeper and more talented team. Their bench has been rock solid this year, and their starters are the same wiley and experienced pros from previous years. The team goes where Rasheed Wallace will take them. When he is motivated, he's one of the best in the league. It'll be fun to watch young guys like AI, Young and Williams from Philadelphia getting a taste of playoff basketball. --- Detriot in 6

Orlando Magic (3)

Toronto Raptors (6)

This series has a lot of intrigue because there are many mismatches in the starting lineups. Toronto doesn't have anyone on their team that can guard Dwight Howard. Likewise, Orlando does not have anyone that can matchup with Bosh. Toronto should have a huge advantage at the PG spot. Both Ford and Calderson are better than Nelson. Both teams have a lot of 3pt shooters so that could play a huge factor. I expect all of the games to be high scoring and very competitive. Toronto will need to use its depth to stand a chance. I don't have much faith in Bargnani or Nesterovic for Toronto. Will Howard's poor FT shooting cost Orlando any games? In general, Orlando is a better team and is better coached. Hedo Turkoglu will show everyone why he's the Most Improved Player. --- Orlando in 6

Cleveland Cavaliers (4)

Washington Wizards (5)

I had a tough time deciding a winner in this series. Cleveland has the best player in the series: Lebron; but I'm not too impressed with the rest of their team. I don't think the midseason trade really helped their team much. Only Ziggy has proven to be a reliable scorer for this team. Meanwhile, Washington has it's own version of the big 3 with Arenas, Jamison and Butler. I also like their depth; they have a lot of different scorers. The early injuries has allowed their bench players to elevate their game. Health will be the deciding factor of this series, though. Assuming Arenas and the rest of the Washington team can play at a high level, I like their chances. What their game plan should be is focusing on stopping the rest of the Cleveland team. Lebron can't beat them by himself. Or can he? --- Washington in 7

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Playoff Predictions: Western Conference

LA Lakers (1)

Denver Nuggest (8)

Despite the injury to Bynum, the Lakers should be able to dispose of the Nuggets fairly easily. Denver plays absolutely no defense; and as we all know, Defense wins championships. They can match up offensively with the Lakers, however. But you can't expect to outscore a very efficient Lakers team night in and night out. Iverson and Anthony will combine to score like 60+ PPG, but they may get little production from their other players. JR Smith will be an X-Factor for this team. But generally, the Lakers are a much deeper and talented team than Denever. Denver will win 1 game, possible 2, based on the will of their superstars. But Camby can't single-handedly stop the entire Lakers team. And Kobe is hungry for his first title without Shaq. --- Lakers in 5

New Orleans Hornets (2)

Dallas Mavericks (7)

Most experts pick Dallas to win because of experience, and I tend to agree. This is the Hornets first playoff run, and I think they are going to fall short. Chris Paul will be a beast, but I'm not sure if he'll get enough production from his bench to win. I dislike the lack of depth on this Hornets squad. Injuries or foul trouble will kill this team. Dirk and Kidd are way more experienced, and will find ways to win in those close games. Josh Howard should have a huge series also. Neither Peterson or Stojakovic will be able to defind him efficiently. Terry off the bench could be an X-Factor. David West and Chandler on the other side will need to take advantage of a weak Dallas front court. Dallas has struggled against teams with winning records. So this series could go to 7. Chris Paul could surprise everyone, though. --- Dallas in 7

San Antonio Spurs (3)

Phoenix Suns (6)

While the Phoenix Suns have won the last two meetings against the Spurs, I'm not convinced that they can take out the defending champions in a 7 game series. The Spurs are starting to get healthy and will be dangerous in the playoffs. Amare and Shaq have gotten in foul trouble in previous games, and I think that could be a huge factor in this series. Bowen will have to do a solid job in slowing down Steve Nash for the Spurs to win. I like the Spurs because they consistently play good defense. I think the Suns need more time to gel with Shaq before they can compete for a title. Ginobilli and Parker are going to scorch the Suns. But don't sleep on Duncan, who is the foundation of this team. Both on offense and defense; everything runs through him. It will be a tight series, regardless. --- San Antonio in 7

Utah Jazz(4)

Houston Rockets(5)

I'll be rooting for Houston to win this series, but I don't like their chances. They lost to Utah last year in 7 games, and this year they are missing Yao. Utah is unbeatable at home, so if Houston falters in the first couple of games, this series could be over quickly. Houston plays great defense, but they are going to struggle to make points without Alston and Yao. Also they don't have anyone to match up against Deron Williams or Carlos Boozer; the two big stars on the Utah team. Korver is an underrated pickup by Utah and could be a difference maker in the series. Houston has been thriving in the underdog role all season, though. But I think their miracle run will come to an end with this series. At least, they have 22-0. T-Mac cannot be blamed for this year's lose. Injuries were the culprit. --- Utah in 6

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Handing Out The Hardware (Part II)

This is Part II of the soon-to-be annual Handing Out The Hardware entry. I'll be covering MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, 6th Man of the Year, and Executive of the Year. I'm a little more meticulous than Zee, so expect to see a tidy 1,2,3 format for my selections. While I'm the main writer for these 4 award selections, Zee will be chiming in with his comments sporadically throughout my entry. Just like I'll be leaving my comments in Zee's entry. Without any further adieu, let's get this party started.

Most Valuable Player

My main criteria for selecting a league MVP are as follows: 1) team success, 2) do they make their teammates better, 3) individual stats, 4) how will their team fare without them.

1) Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers) It pains me to say that Kobe is the front runner for the MVP award. He's done a tremendous job this year leading a young team to the top of the Western Conference. He's learned how to trust his teammates and defer to them in clutch situations. And as a result, his teammates are giving him the support that he needs to succeed. Even though his individual numbers are down from previous years, he is having the best year of his post-Shaq career. And his team's success is indicative of that. He's also had to overcome a lot of adversity this season: winning back the trust of his teammates and management after demanding a trade in the offseason, and overcoming injuries to Bynum, Gasol and Odom. Can you imagine what this team would be like without Kobe? They would not be making the playoffs at all. I gave him the nod over Chris Paul because the Lakers beat the Hornets a few nights ago, and will finish with the #1 seed.

2) Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets). CP3 is every bit as deserving of MVP as Kobe. He's putting up ridiculous stats (better than either of Steve Nash's MVP seasons), and is carrying a sub-par team to a division crown. Chandler and West are solid big men, but Stojakovic is gimpy and Peterson is garbage. And they have the worst bench out of all of the contending teams. The only reason they have such a good record is that Paul is willing them to victories. Rarely has a player done so much with so little. He's a once-in-a-generation player. I can't believe that Atlanta passed up on him when they desperately needed a PG. But with that said, I don't think it's his turn to win the MVP award yet. He still has many great years under his belt.

3) Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics). I can't believe how overlooked Kevin Garnett is in the MVP race. He's the best player on the best team. While he's not putting up great numbers, his impact on the franchise is unquestioned. He leads by example and has elevated the play of all of his teammates. They are now the best defensive team in the league. And you can't say that Ray Allen or any of the other new acquisitions are the reason for that. I understand why people would not vote for KG, though. He has a much stronger supporting cast than Kobe or CP3. Also when he was injured earlier during the season, the team did not miss a beat without him. Though that's partially because his impact on the team is still felt when he is not out on the floor. The only other candidate worth mentioning is Lebron James. But his team's overall performance will hurt his chance at winning MVP. They are struggling to win 45 games this year. But he is one of 3 players to average 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists in a season. The other 2 are Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson. Impressive.

Defensive Player Of The Year

Just like MVP, I look at team success when selecting a Defensive Play of the Year. I like to reward players from the top defensive teams in the league. In previous years, I would have given Bruce Bowen the award, for example. It's shocking to me that neither he nor Tim Duncan has ever won the hardware, given that the Spurs are always a top defensive team in the league.

1) Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics). He's the anchor for the #1 defensive team in the NBA. He leads by example, and inspires his teammates to play their best. He sets the defensive tone for the team, and never takes a game off. While his numbers are down from previous years, it's only because The Celtics are blowing away the competition, which allows him to play less minutes. Prior to this year, he was good for 12+ rebounds, 1.5+ steals, and 1.5 blocks every season. Those are ridiculous numbers. You cannot discount the impact that this guy has on his team. It's the intangibles that make Kevin Garnett a winner and great defender. And besides, it doesn't look like he is going to win the MVP award, so he needs some recognition for his efforts.

2) Shane Battier (Houston Rockets). The perfect team player. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty and defend the other team's best player. He'll make the hustle players, hit the occasional open shot, give up his body for charges and crash the rebounds with reckless abandon. He just knows how to win. I'm sure everyone remembers his masterful performance against Kobe Bryant during their 22-0 streak. Houston is the second best defensive player in the league, and that's with Yao Ming missing a huge chunk of games. You have to give Shane Battier credit for that. He's a defensive stopper and also a great help defender. He's an unsung hero and a glue player for this Houston team.

3) Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks). I refuse to nominate Marcus Camby for defensive player of the year when his team allows the second most points in the league (only behind the Warriors). Granted, Denver plays a fast style, but that's inexcusable. So for that reason, I have selected Josh Smith instead. J-Smoove is a defensive beast. He gets nearly 3 blocks per game, combined with 1.5 steals and 8.5 rebounds. Those are just nasty numbers from a Forward. He plays with great energy, defends the oppositions best player, and will only get better. It's scary to imagine what his upside is. A couple other players that deserve mention are Tim Duncan, Tayshaun Prince, Shawn Marion and Kobe Bryant. These are great defenders that bring it every year, and will always be in contention.

6th Man Of The Year

What I look for in a 6th man is someone that can provide energy off of the bench. Someone that can make a big play to change the pace of the game. Someone with versatility that can play multiple positions and do a little of everything.

1) Manu Ginobilli (San Antonio Spurs). For me, this is a no-brainer. Manu has put up ridiculous numbers playing in less than 32 minutes a game. Until recently, he was averaging over 20 PPG, which is crazy for a bench player. He's a player that really should be starting, but is willing to step down for the betterment of the team. He's a winner. Simple as that. He has been the motor for this San Antonio team. Their team will only go as far as Ginobilli will take them. He's their go-to-guy in the clutch, who will make all the big plays for them. He'll make the big shot, make the great pass, or get the big steal/block. For me, he's the model for the 6th man of the year award going forward.

2) Josh Childress (Atlanta Hawks). I prefer Josh over some of the other 6th man candidates because he's a two-way player. He has great versatility and is a very efficient player. He's shooting a ridiculous 57% from the field, and 81% from the charity stripe. So you know he'll make the most of every shot he gets. But he doesn't need to score to help his team. He can fill the stat line with his rebounds, passing, and defensive stats. He can replace any of the guys in the starting lineup, and their team won't miss a beat. He is an unsung hero for Atlanta and a perfect example of a utility player. He does a little of everything.

3) Travis Outlaw (Portland Trailblazers). Well, there are a number of candidates that are deserving of the #3 spot, but I decided to go with the unsung Travis Outlaw. He's a guy that doesn't get the credit that he deserves. He's really improved his game in recent years, and has become a reliable scorer off the bench. He's a go to guy in the clutch for Portland and has been a crucial part of their team's success. But he's not just a scorer like some other 6th men, he can contribute in other areas too. He has great versatility and is a great spark off the bench. Some other candidates worth mentioning are Jason Terry, Ben Gordon, David Lee and Leandro Barbosa.

Executive Of The Year

The difference between a good executive and a bad executive is simple. Look at the Timberwolves who were not able to bring in the talent to surround Kevin Garnett to win a championship, compared to the Celtics who have made all the right moves and positioned themselves for a Finals run.

1) Danny Ainge (Boston Celtics). He's done a brilliant job of assembling this Boston team and revitalized a floundering franchise. He deserves as much credit as Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers for the Celtics success. Danny rebounded well from the disappointment of not getting a top 2 pick, and made two blockbusters trades instead: getting first Ray Allen and than Kevin Garnett. He than was able to replenish his bench with some wiley veteran acquisitions such as Sam Cassell, PJ Brown, James Posey, Eddie House. In a blink of an eye, he completely re-made over this team and led them to 40+ more wins this season. Insane. Only 6 players remained from last year's team, yet this team has blended together brilliantly and has the best record in the league this year. You have to give Danny a lot of credit for that. He took a great risk in mortgaging off his team's future for a chance to win a championship, but I think it will pay off.

2) Mitch Kupchak (Los Angeles Lakers). A close second, Mitch is responsible for acquiring Pau Gasol. This move shook up the entire Western Conference and forced Phoenix and Dallas to make knee-jerk responses. By far, this was the biggest steal in recent years. They did not give away any of their core players, but got an all-star in return. Well played, Mitch. I also give him credit for not trading away Andrew Bynum when everyone was pressuring him to trade for Jason Kidd. And also for standing still and not trading away Kobe during the offseason when he was demanding a trade. He had faith in his team, and made a big pickup at mid-season to give them a shot at the title. While Ariza is injured, I also think that was also a solid trade by Mitch. He'll be an excellent addition to this team's bench. Signing Derek Fisher was a huge move during the off-season, as well.

3) Steve Kerr (Phoenix Suns). In his first year as GM, Steve makes one of the biggest trades of the year. He trades away Marcus Banks and Shawn Marion for the Big Cactus. It's a huge gamble, but it looks like it might pay off dividends. Shaq looks like a great fit for the Phoenix team, despite skepticism by a lot of experts and a slow start by the team after the trade. Most executives would not have had the guts to make a trade like that, as the trade changes the entire complexion of their team. But Steve realized that Phoenix needed to make a drastic move to compete in the Western Conference. I also like the pickups of Grant Hill and Gordon Giricek. Honorable mention goes to Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets for stealing Luis Scola from the San Antonio Spurs, drafting Carl Landry, and trading away 2 locker room cancers: Bonzi Wells and Mike James for Bobby Jackson. That's a great example of addition by subtraction.

Handing Out The Hardware (Part I)

Welcome to Double-Technical's first ever handing out the hardware write-up! Kay will be handling a portion of the awards and I will handle: Rookie of the year, Most Improved Player and Coach of the year.

So without further delay, here are my selections:

Rookie Of The Year: With Greg Oden out, and no serious competition at the time, Kevin Durant was the front runner for this award. His being the top scoring option on the Sonics, coupled with the fact that the kid was going to jack up shots from any and everywhere with no repercussion, and you'd think he'd have no comp from this years rookie class. When out of nowhere, this guy appeared:

(Big Al sure does have a thing for Al's ya think?)

Al Horford has single handedly changed my opinion for who deserves rookie of the year. This kid is a animal. He already has a NBA body, can bang with the big men, and has managed to stay consistent in averaging 10.5 ppg, 9.7rpg and 2 apg. At this point in the season, he is currently out-rebounding: Shaq, Amare Stoudemire and Ben Wallace, while also shooting 50% from the field and 72% from the charity stripe.

I almost forgot to mention that he has been one of the much needed pieces in the Atlanta Hawks quest to return to the playoffs, you can argue that both the Sonics and the Hawks weren't on any one's pre-season lists to make it to the playoffs, which makes Horford that much more deserving. I believe he'll blossom into one of the league's premier double-double guy's and if Marvin Williams and Acie Law come around, this Hawks team will be dangerous in years to come. Durant may win the R.O.Y. but Horford will be too busy playing playoff basketball to worry about it.

Kay: Horford has been a beast, and contributing to a playoff team. But there's no way he beats out Durant for ROY. Not only does Kevin have the great numbers, but he's had the extra pressure of being the face of a floundering franchise. He's been put into a leadership role, and has to carry this young team on his back. In the last 20 games or so, he's shooting above 50% (a weakness that a lot of people have criticized him for). He's also close to hitting the 1-1-1 milestone: 1 3PG, 1 SPG and 1 BPG. That shows his great versatility. This kid is a star. Simple as that. Other honorable mentions go to Al Thornton and Luis Scola. Had these guys gotten solid minutes for the entire season, they would be up there in the ROY discussion.

Most Improved Player: This may sound crazy, but I'm giving this to Monta Ellis. And while I doubt he'll get the award two years in a row, he's done more than enough to be in serious consideration. And as a SG/PG he's currently averaging 20.2ppg, 4 apg, 5 rpg and is shooting a ridiculous 53% (FIFTY THREE PERCENT!!) from the field.

Another gem in Mr Ellis's crown is in February he became only the 9th guard in the history of the NBA to shoot 60% from the field in a month, joining only: John Stockton, Ricky Pierce, Earl Monroe, Jim Paxson (?!?!?), Fred Brown, Sidney Moncrief, Brad Davis and Steve Nash to do this. Some people complained that it was done in the month of February and it was a shorter span of time than the other players, but 60% is 60% no matter how you look at it. Give him props and stop hating.

When I watch Monta play, I'm amazed on a nightly basis at the stuff this kid's quickness allows him to do.(See Below):

His adding on a mid-range jump shot only makes him that more deadly, and if he ever becomes consistent from three point range, I really don't know how teams are going to guard this guy. Now that free agency is on the horizon, Mr Ellis is going to have quite a few people clamoring for his services, and will be in line for a well deserved pay bump.

Kay: There's no way I'm naming Monta Ellis as Most Improved Player for the second straight year. He's a good talent and has made some nice strides in his game, but I still think that a big part of his success is the system that he is playing in. With that said, my top picks would be Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldrige, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Kaman and Danny Granger (in no particular order). Had Andrew Bynum not missed over half of the season, he would be in that equation, too. Gay and Granger have elevated themselves from inconsistent, underachieving rookies to franchise players for their respective teams. Turkoglu has become the go-to-guy in the clutch and play-maker for Orlando. And the Cave Man is putting up a ridiculous stat line of 16 PPG, 13 RPG and 3 BPG. Those numbers speak for themselves.

Coach Of The Year: Tough one here, I could go for the obvious and pick Byron Scott, or Doc Rivers even. But truth be told, there are several other coaches in the league that are legit options.....

Such as- Stan the Man!

All VanJeremy did was get ousted from Miami by Pat Riley in order to fullfill his selfish needs for one more championship, have to tell the press he was leaving to "spend more time with his family" (I love that one) and recycle his coaching career. All he ended up doing was coaching Orlando to a 51-30 record with one game left to play (best in the Southeast), a decisive turnaround of last years 40-42 record. And a homecourt advantage in the first round that they haven't had in years.

He'll most likely lose out to Scott, being that New Orleans is having a phenominal year and Byron Scott and the media are probably playing up the move New Orleans made from the East to Western conference as well as the season long chase they were in to try and secure first place in the west. Scott being named C.O.Y. is something I don't have a problem with, but Van Gundy really has done a great job this season, and as all great coaches do, they work with what they have.

Kay: The front runners for the award are Byron Scott and Doc Rivers. Both are deserving winners. But I'd like to pimp Rick Adelman and Phil Jackson for the award. Both guys had to overcome a ton of injuries and led their respective teams to 50+ wins. Props to Adelman for 22-0. While the Hornets came out of nowhere to win the division crown, they did not have to endure the injuries that the Rockets or Lakers had. Van Gundy is a solid pick, and underrated coach. But not in my top 3. My dark horse picks would be Eddie Jordan and Mo Cheeks. Eddie Jordan for the second straight year leads a injury-plagued Wizards team to the playoffs. Meanwhile, Mo Cheeks miraculously leads this young Philadelphia team into the playoffs.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Darius Miles End

So I just read on RotoWorld that Darius Miles's career is over. Miles was "recently examined by an independent medical examiner jointly appointed by the NBA and the NBA Players Association and the damage to his right knee was deemed serious enough to be career ending". That's crushing news for all Darius Miles fans out there that were holding their breath and anxiously awaiting his return. The league will no longer be graced by any of Darius Miles' inspirational "antennas up" poses. Today is a sad day for the NBA. Miles is only 26 years old. He was one of those kids that jumped straight from High School into the NBA.

Darius Miles hadn't picked up a basketball in over 2 years, so it's not surprising to hear that the injury is career-ending. The last game he played in was April 15, 2006. He had micro-fracture surgery on his right knee back in the offseason of 2006 and was never able to recover. There were multiple comeback attempts, but they never came to fruition. On the bright side, Portland will get over 18 million dollars of cap relief. So if they spend their money wisely, they could make some noise in the upcoming years. In his honor, I tried to find a picture of him doing the "antennas up" pose that made him and Q-Rich famous. Below are the results I found in Google while searching for this:

The first picture of Darius Miles that comes up.

Darius Miles doesn't need "Pimp My Ride".

Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson preparing to embrace.

I thought this was a gag poster initially, but it's actually a documentary film. I like the tagline.

No joke. This is one of the first images that comes up when you search for Darius Miles; him being arrested.

We're getting close. But this is Q-Rich, not Darius Miles.

A promotional shot of the movie, "The Perfect Score". Darius stars as the token African American in the film.

The dynamic duo that wasn't meant to be. Let's hope Greg Oden doesn't follow in Darius' footsteps.

A picture of Darius as a young teen.

A rare action shot of Darius Miles dunking.

Finally, a picture of Darius doing the "antennas up" pose. What's up with the lightning in the background?

A bonus picture of Darius Miles in bobble head form. I had almost forgotten that Miles and Lebron played together.

I think this image montage sums up Darius Miles' career nicely. What do you think? The only thing that it's missing is a picture of Miles walking around on crutches. Jokes aside, Darius was putting up some solid numbers before he got hurt. It's a shame that injuries had to derail his promising career.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I like the fear....

So just a quick post, I'm going to to get back to the Laker's/Spur's game. But I happened to see this ad for the 2008 playoffs. Is this a clever ad? Or just plain scary? I mean I love the fact that KB24 and Big Cactus are in a commercial together, but they are speaking at the same time and sound like a other-wordly alien that is sending a ultimatum to the people of earth. Anyhow, check it out for yourself. [Add-On by Kay: As of April 16th, there are three other ads in this series also. One of them features Lebron James and Kevin Garnett, another features Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, and the last one features Steve Nash and Jason Kidd. I've included links to the videos below]

Thursday, April 10, 2008

9th place sucks, 2nd ain't half bad...

So as of this moment, the Golden State Warriors are in 9th place with a bullet, losing 114-105 courtesy of A.I. and Carmelo (with a surprise cameo from....J.R. Smith!!). Living in the bay, I've been privy to television coverage of the Dub's and honestly I can say this doesn't surprise me as to how the season is winding down. Seriously, the Warriors only know one way to play and that's warp speed. One thing people don't understand is the sacrifice that comes with playing that way.

The Warriors last year were playing helter-skelter ball after the trade with Indiana, which ultimately wasn't for the full season. Now this season, in the uber-competitive Western conference, they have been forced to play full throttle for all 82 games, and it's taken a toll. not only do they have to play this style, but with little to no PG support for Baron Davis. Say what you want about Monta Ellis, but the kid is clearly a shoot first, shoot second kind of player, and the injury in the pre-season when Coach Nelson was trying to work him into the PG role pretty much meant B-Diddy was going to be playing a whole lotta minutes this season.

Add to the fact that they have little to no bench support, and you are stuck with a few guys to carry the load and basically score 20-25 plus points every single night. Combine that with no defensive presence and you have no chance of advancing deep into the playoffs. Or as this season is showing, maybe not even making it at all.

On a brighter note, the L.A. Lakers,with a 106-78 beating of the Clippers, now have sole possession of second place (Yeah!). Normally if you see that Luke Walton has outscored Kobe Bryant, you'd think Kobe got hurt, or the Lake Show really sucked that night. But this evening, it was the contrary. In a Away/Home game in the Staples Center, the Lakers showed that they have the tools to play together and hopefully gel into a cohesive unit before the beginning of the playoffs.

Also, you have to feel for the Clippers, seriously. Elton Brand comes back to test out his injury and get in a little run, and he has to deal with this?!? What in the world is going on with the Clippers? Last year they looked as if they were poised to make a mark in the division. My how things things have changed, as now the Lakers look like they are going to have a nice little run for the next 3-5 years.

I'm watching the game and I can't begin to tell you how annoying Reggie Miller is. Why does TNT employ this guy? Maybe Cheryl got this guy a hook up or something. Whatever the case, he made sure his stating the obvious was on full display.

Here's a snippet:

Marv Albert (after a DJ Mbenga score): Lakers continue to add to the lead in the fourth quarter on a jumper by Mbenga.

Reggie: Yeah Marv, he's trying to score and add to the lead. it's important to have your bench players out there playing in this stage of the game.

No? Really Reggie? Thanks for that insight. Idiot.

And lastly, who woke up the Dallas Mavericks? Nice last second win courtesy of a Dirk jumper. They suddenly woke up, and are playing some solid ball against winning teams. If i'm correct, they've won games in the last week against Phoenix, Golden State, and now, the Jazz who were fresh off a defeat of New Orleans in New Orleans. not saying that I expect them to defeat the number 2 seed in the playoffs, but I do expect them to play hard until the end of the season. but whoever gets that number two seed is going to make mincemeat out of Dallas in the playoffs. But at least they're putting it all out there every night. Maybe reality about them being all axed from the Mav's roster woke them up. Bout time Dallas, bout time.