by Holly MacKenzie / @stackmack
Another night where I chose NCAA over the NBA. What is going on with me? I’ve been affected with the madness and I hope you were, too. At least for the Xavier/K-State game. Wow. A 2OT thriller that saw Kansas-State finally pull away for the 101-96 victory. The game was everything that is right about college basketball and the kids playing in this tournament. Both teams left their hearts on that floor, playing hard, fearless and tough. Big shots, huge makes and so much emotion showed by everyone in the arena. It was pretty much perfect. Even though I realized I was rooting for Xavier hard when I was shaking my head no as K-State made a bucket late in regulation.
Jordan Crawford was great. He finished with 32 points and made one of the most ridiculously deep threes I’ve ever seen in a college game to keep the game going into a second overtime. Terrell Holloway had 26 and was the picture of calm on the free throw line down the stretch. They just missed a couple of shots while Kansas-State made made a couple of free throws and that was the end of their season.
The smiles of the players on the bench during timeouts as they recognized the epic game they were a part of, the shots of a nervous coach’s wife and the fans ohhin and aahing and then going silent. Gus Johnson. 28 points and back-to-back threes in the second overtime for Jacob Pullen. Six 3-pointers in the game for him. 25 points for Denis Clemente. Just, yeah. There were too many amazing moments to mention.
It was a game that won’t soon be forgotten by anyone that watched and it’s one that will be cherished by each guy that played in it.
It also made me feel better about Syracuse losing to Butler. That still makes me sad to think about. 18 turnover and that #1 means nothing.
Okay, enough about the NCAA from me, but what else is there to talk about? Surely you don’t want to hear about the Bulls (and I’m kinda trying to save our boy Russ from having to live through that awfulness again), who were down 30 at the half to Miami and went on to lose 103-74. It was a game I’m kinda glad I didn’t see much of. Jermaine O’Neal led the Heat with 24 points while Dwyane Wade heard cheers from the hometown Chicago fans as he scored 12 points to go with 10 assists. Michael Beasley added 15 points and the Heat shot 52 percent for the game compared to just 32 percent shooting for the Bulls. Lots of long faces on the bench through the second half of this one for Chicago. Hakim Warrick’s 14 points off of the bench were a team-high while Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose scored 12 points apiece.
In Houston, the Clippers got the 99-93 road win thanks to 25 points and 12 rebounds for Craig Smith, while Drew Gooden had 17 points and 14 rebounds and Baron Davis added 16. Trevor Ariza had 18 points to lead the Rockets, but he needed 20 shots to get them. He did have eight rebounds and eight assists though. Aaron Brooks had 18 points and nine assists in the loss. The win snapped an 11-game road losing streak for the Clippers and I realized Shane Battier is a big part of enjoying the Rockets play. Without him, it wasn’t as fun.
In Portland, there were a whole lot of hardcore K. Pritch supporters, rooting for their guy and their Blazers as their team won, 101-89 against a Mavericks team that collapsed late, scoring just 14 points in the fourth quarter. Andre Miller didn’t go off for 50, but he did finished with 19 points and 10 assists while LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 and 10 and Marcus Camby scored 17 to go with 11 rebounds. Brandon Roy scored 16 points. For the Mavs, Caron Butler had 25 points and nine rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki struggled from the floor, shooting 5-for-13 and finishing with 15 points as Shawn Marion also added 15 in the loss.
Feels like it’s the final week of the season with all of these teams juggling for playoff positioning, right? Gotta love it. You know what else I love? Chris Webber on Inside the NBA. He’s been my favorite part of the NBA on TNT this season. Such a natural and so much fun to hear him speak honestly about the game and it’s players.
Perhaps my fave NBA moment of the night: Charles interviewing Spoelstra and messing up by holding the mic in front of himself and not his interviewee. Awesome. With sports, reality is better than fiction. Always.