1. How the west was won.
All week, as the losses mounted for San Antonio, the vogue story became the Lakers incredible rundown of what was once seemed an insurmountable lead. But here’s the reality. With the Spurs pounding the hapless Suns yesterday coupled with a Lakers loss to Denver, the difference between the two teams sits at 2 and a half games.
The Spurs only have five games left and the Lakers need them to lose at least two of those to even have a chance at catching them. Three of those games are against the Kings, Jazz and Suns respectively. Those should all be wins. Even if the Lakers beat San Antonio in their April 12th match up they will still need the Spurs to lose at Atlanta this coming Tuesday to have a shot or have the Spurs lose as heavy favorites in any of the other three games. And this is all assuming the Lakers run the table and win out, even with the likes of at Portland and at home versus OKC still on the schedule.
You have to wonder what Lakers fans will think if they look back and realize it was one lazy Sunday loss that was difference between home court throughout and playing one, or possibly two (if they play the Bulls in the finals) series on the road in the playoffs. Of course, if the Lakers play at the same level they have for most of the post All-Star break period, home court may not even matter.
2. Fight Night
The big ruckus of the week? Matt Barnes went after Jason Terry who shoved Steve Blake to the floor after a foul was called on a drive to the basket. Barnes, Terry, Blake and Brenden Haywood were all ejected. Later, after coming to the defense of Pau Gasol, Shannon Brown was also sent to an early shower. I guess he figured if your last name starts with a B and you come off the bench, it’s your Lakerly duty to mix it up.
Afterwards TNT’s Chris Webber called out the Mavs for being soft. Then in an interview with Colin Cowherd, Jason Terry upped the ante by saying that Matt Barnes was “soft as Charmin…” For his part, Mavs owner Mark Cuban responded to Webber’s comments with a diatribe of his own.
Frankly, all this extracurricular verbal stuff is just bluster but it should add a little fuel to the fire if the Mavs and Lakers meet head to head in the playoffs. Not that I’d give the Mavs any chance of winning that series, but it will make it infinitely more watchable.
3. Power Trip
Speaking of ejections, did you see what Ken Mauer said (allegedly) to Suns third string point guard Zabian Dowdell? During the final minute of Wednesday’s Suns vs. Thunder game Mauer (allegedly) told Dowdell to stop being a a little, well, starts with a b and rhymes with ditch, at which point Dowdell confronted Mauer by asking him if that’s something he’d say to him off the court as well. Dowdell was ejected from the game. Moments later Aaron Brooks also apparently responded to Mauer’s comments with a physical gesture (one that Michael Jackson used to be fond of) and was subsequently tossed as well.
The use of foul language in NBA games is nothing new and I’m sure officials pepper in a few salty words here and there during conversations with players and coaches throughout the course of a season/game. But when you directly call someone a name that a) is plainly derogatory and b) could incite an emotional reaction that either gets that player tossed or results in a physical response, that is clearly crossing the line. Moreover, it’s just a foolish way to exert your authority during games. You’re a professional. Act like one.
I haven’t heard anything on this story since it happened. Maybe that means the league gag ordered the players on discussing it. Maybe there’s nothing to it.
However, if you don’t think Mauer gets out of control sometimes check out this clip of him calling five T’s in a span of about ten seconds or so during a Wolves vs. Spurs game.
4. Getting their Due
Dennis Rodman was back in Motown on Friday to have his jersey retired during the Bulls-Pistons game. The worm broke down in tears during a pregame media session but held it together during the halftime ceremony in his honor.
Rodman never averaged over 1 block or 1 steal per game in any of his 14 seasons in the NBA yet he was a two time defensive POY and seven time All-Defensive 1st team. Just goes to show you how overrated stats can be when considering the impact a player can have on a game. Rodman played incredible position defense, could lock players one on one forcing them to to terrible shots, boxed out his man so others could get rebounds (in addition to all the boards he sucked in) and was a terrific outlet passer. All skills that never show up in a box score but can make a huge difference in a game. Oh yeah, and how about all those rebounding titles and NBA championships he won. Next stop, Springfield.
Also getting recognition for his achievements this week was long time Phil Jackson assistant Tex Winter, who it was reported on Saturday will be inducted (finally) into the basketball hall of fame. Winter is most well known as the architect of the triangle offense, but personally I always loved him for being the one guy who was totally unafraid at getting on Kobe Bryant (or anyone else for that matter) for his sometimes impulsive play . His honesty, as caustic and blunt as it sometimes could be, was refreshing. We need more people like Tex in the game of basketball.
5. Don’t Mess with ‘Nique
Easily my favorite story this week, former NBA star Dominique beat down an attacker, an ex-NBA referee named Rashan Michel, who was apparently trying to collect a $17,000 debt he believed was owed for dress suits that he had made for Wilkins. Things didn’t go so well for our debt collector, though. Uh, Rashan, I think you’re doing it wrong because usually if you’re trying to squeeze someone for a debt it’s the other guy who should end up looking like this.
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