By Sam Rubenstein

Last night, I left work early to meet up with some friends and go watch the latest Frank Miller graphic novel come to life (on film), 300. Omar has already reviewed it, and I agree with every thing he says. This is a very enjoyable film, not the greatest dialogue or plot I’ve ever seen – which was disappointing coming from the mind of Frank Miller – but I highly reccommend you see it. They took some liberties with historical facts though. For example: the Spartans and Athenians reach a level of respect for each other and face a common enemy together. If you believe the history books, the Spartans only cared about Sparta and the idea of Sparta, and they would never align themselves with other Greeks, especially not Athenians. I could point out a lot more, but I don’t want to ruin the movie for you, because you need to see it. And I’m kind of an amateur scholar on Greek mythology and history, so if I got into detail it would really bore you. Also, there is an undercurrent of racism in the movie that is far from subtle, and I’m surprised it hasn’t blown up into a full out Passion of the Christ-like controversy yet. Despite that, it’s an awesome movie and the blood and gore and spears going through people’s bodies are cool.

Ah… regular season NBA basketball. So anticlimactic after 300, especially with Phoenix at Dallas tonight and then the first day of the Madness tomorrow.

CLEVELAND 124 SACRAMENTO 100
No LeBron, Cavs win easily. Yes Ron Ron, Kings lose. Cleveland is 9-2 in the LeBron era when he does not play. So, which of the following is the best team? Cleveland without LeBron, Philly without Iverson and Webber, Miami without Wade, the Hawks without Joe Johnson, or the Knicks without Jamal Crawford? Everything we’ve been told about needing a superstar (and Jamal Crawford) is LIES! Unless you’re the Celtics, who really missed Paul Pierce. Or the Bucks with Michael Redd. I digress… let’s stop promoting these superstars, cut player salaries down to a tenth of what they are, restart the league promoting the teams instead over the overhyped individual, and go from there. Who’s with me? Not David Stern.

ATLANTA 104 PHILLY 92
Lang already wrote about this game, and the Hawks four game winning streak without Joe Johnson. It almost sounds as if he’s starting to believe the Hawks are going to be in the playoffs. That’s cute. He’s kind of like a dog that keeps running through an invisible electrical fence. How many times do you have to receive a jolt to learn the lesson? The Hawks are what the Clippers were when they had that never ending stream of lottery talent and no idea how to use it. They will tease you with their athletes, have one solid quiet player (Joe Johnson=Elton Brand), and never go anywhere with all that talent. Josh Smith has been playing great though.
MIAMI 88 UTAH 86
Dwyane Wade has been amazing in fourth quarters this season. The Heat went into the fourth quarter of this game without him, down 14, and they won. Antoine Walker is back to hitting big shots. Deron Williams did a great job of breaking down what happened “We choked, plain and simple.” OK then. I don’t know how Miami keeps doing this, but they keep doing it. Seven wins in a row and counting.
SAN ANTONIO 93 LA CLIPPERS 84
Tony Parker led the way with 25 as the Spurs pushed their winning streak to 13 games. If this is your first season watching the NBA, try to understand that these extended streaks are not normal. We are seeing dominance at the top and a lot of garbage at the bottom. The Clippers are clinging to the eighth seed and unwilling to take any initiative while the Lakers injuries have ruined their season. Golden State is poised to jump the Clips. Just to give you an idea of how long this season has been, there was once a time when the Clippers blew out Dallas and it led people to write “What’s wrong with Dallas” columns as the Mavs were 0-4, and the Clips were looking like the best team in the whole NBA. Loooooong time ago.

NEW JERSEY 112 NEW ORLEANS 108
Chris Paul put together a 25-12-6 night against Jason Kidd, but the return of Richard Jefferson has the Nets looking like a playoff team again. They’re only 5 games under .500 now, and there is a three way tie at the bottom of the East between Jersey, NY, and Indiana for the right to play either Detroit or Cleveland in the first round. The Western and Eastern Conference gap has never been wider. Vince hit the winning free throws, and it seems like the return of RJ has taken some pressure off him and Vince can just go out and be the good Vince this week.

DENVER 107 PORTLAND 99
LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 and 17 with 10 offensive boards. Take that, Durant! The Nuggets power couple are starting to mesh, probably as a way to counter the whole “Stars are losers” theory. Wouldn’t it be typical of Iverson and Melo, two guys who play the disrespect card as much as anyone, to find motivation in the fact that teams across the league are playing better without having to circle their orbit around a star of their caliber? AI scored 31, dished out 10 assists, and got to the free throw line 16 times. Melo added 29 and 8 rebounds. Denver is now .500.

MINNESOTA 86 INDIANA 81
The good news for Indiana is that Jamaal Tinsley scored 37 points. The bad news is EVERYTHING ELSE. KG was playing PG in the fourth, and led the T-Wolves to the win with 30 and 9. The Pacers have lost 10 in a row, which in today’s Eastern Conference is so embarrasing I don’t know what to tell you. The Hawks and Sixers actually have a chance at making the playoffs because of Indy’s collapse. The winner in the Golden State-Indy trade has been the Warriors in a landslide. The winner in the Artest for Peja trade has been… well, Ron Artest is getting booed at Arco. That has got to be a first for a Kings player. I’d still give Sacramento the edge in that trade, even if the Ron experiment is riding off the rails of late. The winner in the Marquis Daniels for Austin Croshere trade has been… the Mavs are putting together an amazing season and Austin Croshere has done more for them than Daniels has for the Pacers. Darrell Armstrong has probably been the best part of that trade, but Dallas is still the winner just because they are Dallas and Indy is Indy. With all of that in mind, what is up with the Larry Bird-Donnie Walsh brain trust? I thought them, Rod Thorn, and Jerry West were supposed to be the genius GMs of the league? Sorry for the rant, has the Dallas-Phoenix game started yet?
DETROIT 101 SEATTLE 97
Webber was in a little funk for a minute, but he’s warming up again and so are the Pistons. It almost seems like as Chris Webber goes, so go the Pistons. That is amazing when you consider they are supposed to be one of the few real teams in the East, and that CWebb was on the scrap heap a few months ago. He had 24, 8, and 6 while Ray Allen scored a bunch of points and the Sonics lost, if you can believe that.

CHICAGO 95 BOSTON 87
Ben Wallace scored 19, taking 21 shots. Hopefully many of those were on offensive rebound putbacks. Maybe he was just switching it up cause he’s bored and this was the second game of a home and home between these two teams. Tyrus Thomas led the Bulls with 23. Apparently this was all part of a Doc Rivers strategy to not let the Chicago guards beat his team. I don’t know what’s more remarkable, that Doc is applying strategy to try and win games with this team, or that the players are still listening to him. Paul Pierce led the way with 24. Now that it’s the time of the year when people who write about basketball have to pretend they pay attention to the college game (such as myself and Bill Simmons, to name a few), here is your Oden-Durant update: Memphis and Boston are blowing everyone else out in the race for lottery balls. I would love it if some random third team swooped in and stole the first pick.