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Friday, March 30th, 2012 at 8:35 am  |  43 responses

Post Up: Revenge Tour

Miami wins a Finals rematch, while Derek Fisher and OKC defeat his former Lakers.

by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad

We eased into the weekend with four games on Thursday, and two had far greater intrigue and ramifications than the others—I’m talking of course about the Wizards and Hornets fighting for ping-poing balls! (Not.)

Pacers 93, Wizards 89

Pacers fans can breathe a sigh of relief—losses to the Nets and Wizards on back-to-back nights would have been downright shameful for a team hoping to make some noise came Playoff time. After playing one of his worst games of the year on Wednesday in Jersey, Danny Granger bounced back to lead Indiana with 25 points. And George Hill, who had scored a grand total of zero points over his previous two games, had 14 points off the bench. Still, the Pacers shot just 39 percent form the field and were outrebounded 45 to 40 by the Wiz. Luckily for Indiana, Washington only shot 42 percent, struggling from the 3-point line and the charity stripe (64 percent, 9 misses). Jordan Crawford led the team in scoring with 20, but needed 20 shots to get there, and with the Wizards down just 2 with 32 seconds left, John Wall (13 points, 2 assists, 5 turnovers) turned the ball over, spelling a fifth straight defeat for D.C.

Heat 106, Mavericks 85

Miami seems to remember the NBA Finals well. After last night’s drubbing—led by 19 points and 9 rebounds apiece for Chris Bosh and LeBron James—the Heat completed the 2-game sweep of Dallas this season, exacting what minimal revenge they could against the team that made saddled them with the title of “runner-up” in 2010-11. Miami snapped a two-game slide and extended its home win streak to a ridiculous 15 games, finally reversing their rebounding struggles by outdoing Dallas 44 to 29 in that department en route to the W. Dirk Nowitzki scored 25 points, but shot just 1-9 in the second half, and the Mavs were outscored 26-13 in the fourth quarter. The Mavericks could muster only 2 fast break points the entire game, as opposed to 13 for the Heat. Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem scored 16 points each, while Jason Terry—who was a Miami killer in the Finals—shot just 1-10 from the floor and finished with 3 points in his 31 minutes of action.

Trail Blazers 99, Hornets 93

LaMarcus Aldridge racked up 25 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists, Wes Mathews scored 18 points and Ray Felton had 12 points and 10 assists as Portland eeked out a win over the Hornets, who are now 3-7 over their last 10 games. Even Luke Babbitt (I know what you’re thinking—who??) scored a career-high 16 points, including 4 threes as the Trail Blazers fought off the pesky Hornets. New Orleans actually led for most of the first half, and even stuck around as the Blazers jumped out to an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter. But alas, even with Marco Bellinelli stroking 7 three-pointers and dropping a game-high 27 points, the Hornets just didn’t have the fourth-quarter firepower to upend PDX. As BlazersEdge puts it, “the Blazers did what fringe playoff contenders do: hold off lottery teams at home.” Still, the best part of this game came in the final seconds, on a meaningless Chalupa-erasing pair of missed Felton free throws.

Thunder 102, Lakers 93

Russell Westbrook received an inbounds pass with 2.9 seconds left in the third quarter and promptly sprinted upcourt, stopped, popped and drained a three-pointer to beat the buzzer. It was the exclamation mark on a big evening for both he and his Thunder, as it put OKC up by 10 heading into the fourth, and came complete with finger gun celebration. Westbrook dropped 27 of his 36 points in the second half, and sparked an 11-0 Thunder run to start the second half. His buddy Kevin Durant chipped in 21 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists and OKC scored 25 fast break points. Los Angeles’ inability to keep up with fresh legs for at least one night was ironic considering it was the return of 37-year-old Derek Fisher—who scored 7 points in 16 minutes for the Thunder after coming out to a standing ovation. Kobe Bryant scored 23 points and got help in the form of 25 points and 13 rebounds from Andrew Bynum (and hey, zero 3-point attempts!), but even when the Lakers cut Oklahoma City’s lead to 7 with 40 seconds remaining, it was simply too little too late for L.A. The Thunder have now won 5 straight and 6 of their last 7 games, while the Lakers are now just a game and a half up on the Clippers for the 3-spot in the West. After starting out the year 18-2 at home, the Lakers have lost 3 of their last 4 at Staples Center.

Line of the Night: 36 points, 6 assists, 1 turnover for Russell Westbrook. RW had 27 in the second half.

Moment of the Night: Check out the DFish tribute video the Lakers played at Staples Center prior to last night’s game. Classy move, L.A.

Dunk of the Night: LeBron throws down nice, twice. And KD puts one on Pau Gasol’s head.

Tonight: Before this weekend becomes engulfed in college hoops tomorrow night, enjoy the dozen NBA games on deck for Friday. ESPN’s got Mavs-Magic and Blazers-Clippers for a national audience, while League Pass addicts can enjoy Grizzlies-Rockets and Celtics-Wolves. Pete’s got all your recaps until Monday, so be easy.

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  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6A-lRdi688 IAMORANGE4EVER

    Well, that didn’t go too well for the Lakers in their first big game with their “new” team that didn’t get swept by the 2011 World Champion Tyson Chandler led Mavs…F

  • logues

    i really wanna know what kobe, fish, and westbrook were jabbering about during that one free throw

  • ALD

    @logues.. westbrook told kobe he’s old and noone on the lakers can guard him….

  • shm

    The Mavericks ceiling this year is 2nd round.

  • Mike From Spain

    The last thanks was almost like the dolphins’ farewell in the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy: “so long and thanks for all (the) fish”

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    I see Dirk’s still in ‘swag to the symphony’ mode.
    Nice shooting JET (more like Jet after a birdstrike this season)

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jahmai

    I’ve heard it on this site before but Westbrook is playing the best from the PG position this season, he is an animal. BTW I’m 100% sold on the Thunder they’re so good right now, they’re stars struggle in the 1st half KD, RW, Harden and they’re still in the game then they get going and just look much better than the Lakers in LA. I think the Thunder will win the championship this season (not just because of this game btw :p)

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jahmai

    *their stars

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/tray24 T-Ray

    My Lakers…sigh

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Jahmai
    Westbrook averages fewer assists than LeBron. His assist to turnover ratio worse than Jeremy Lin’s.
    You can’t be the best point guard and have those things be true. The best point guard this year has probably been Tony Parker to be honest. Most consistent, best overall numbers, great team success.

  • Heals

    Speaking of jawing funny how Kob went from giving Thabo the biz during an early FT with the lead to dapping KD on that monster finish when they were down double digits…

  • Heals

    I said it before and it bares repeating take OKC whenever they get down big early. I was certain they’d comeback and win by 10 or so cause they’ve done it all year. It’s crazy they’re the anti-Celtics who always blow 10+ point leads with 5 mins or so left…

  • LA Huey

    Heat just need to keep wearing those new black jerseys. Aren’t they undefeated in them this season?

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    They need to play the sort of defense they played in the second half all the time. That’s what they need to do.
    And I hate how often LeBron drifts to the three point line, and how often he comes off the pick and roll with his mind already made up to pass.
    I like how Durant comes off the pick and roll with score first on his mind. And he forces the defense to stop that before he makes the pass. Wade does the same thing.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/tray24 T-Ray

    Cosign the hell out of Allenp
    I noticed that a few times last night. LeBron had the ball with the shot clock at 6 and he came off the screen hesitating then he kicked it to Haslem for his bread and butter top of the key eat the nut strap shot ya see jumper.

  • abaci

    That second Lebron dunk was brutal

  • http://espn.go.com/nba/ Paul H

    After garnering so much praise for not settling for threes anymore, going to work In the post and taking what he wants, Lebrons 3 attempts having being going up month by month. He started out taking less than two In Jan, now he Is consistently putting up 3 or 4 again. Is the addict relapsing into his old ways?

  • Craigmasterflex

    What’s with Miami looking half empty 5 minutes into a finals rematch? Bunch of bandwagon fans.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I believe he is. In the games I watch, he spends way too much time wandering around the perimeter. T-Money will probably disagree with me though.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/tray24 T-Ray

    I think in games where the other team goes zone is where he relapses to roaming the perimeter like a dog on the other side of the fence. When teams play straight up man he’s a bully on the block. The Heat actually play well against zone this year when they are constantly screening and cutting. There was a lot of inside scoring and free throw attempts as a result of the movement.

  • http://espn.go.com/nba/ Paul H

    Oh and co-sign on the Parker comment. I find It strange that Parkers numbers are nearly a carbon copy of CP3′s yet I have never seen him higher than 5 on any Mvp list, despite his Team having the fourth best record In the league. YET when CP3 and the Clips were rolling early In the year, many had him top and almost everyone had him top 3. One of the Perks of the name and the market I think.

  • T-Money

    web actually agree on this Allen, bron thinks passe first off the pnr and he doesnt go to the block as often. with the inconsistent pg play, hes been essentially playing the 1 for thé last month or so.

  • http://theillustrationboard.tumblr.com/ Stepfan

    Got to say I was very impressed with Westbrook performance last night. KD was struggling. 1-9 to start the game; but he does that from time to time when it’s a big game. Not to say it was nerves I just think he was too hype/ Tebow excited. This is the best I have seen Westbrook play. He made great decisions when passing and when to attack. I was one of those people who said he shoots to much but looking at this roster besides KD and Harden West has to shoot a lot to create offense. You can make the same comparison with Rose since he doesn’t have a caliber players like Harden and KD thus him having to score and be a hybrid “point guard.” I truly believe that KD and Westbrook are starting to figure it out. Whatever “beef” they had (S/O to Starbury and KG) it’s gone. This team once to win and if they play defense like they did in the second half I don’t see any team beating them. And that includes the Spurs.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Russell Westbrook is in the top 3 of my favorite players to watch. Even when he plays bad it is just entertaining as hell to see someone attack the rim like he does. And How he only averages 5 assists a game playing with Kevin Durant is like the 8th wonder of the world to me. But other then that I love his game, and his aggression.

  • http://espn.go.com/nba/ Paul H

    I absolutely love watching russell westbrook play to NBK, but (and It pains me to say this) Skip Bayless may have a point when he says that this may become a problem In the postseason?

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    Well it might be a problem but I doubt it would be the reason the team loses if they lose. Scott Brooks is a much much bigger problem. Although his offense looks a lot better then it used to.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jahmai

    Derrick Rose is by far my favorite player and I think he’s the best PG in the league, but Chris has been disappointing to me, Deron has had his moments this year but I can count on my fingers, Rondo is weird, Tony Parker has been great but still he’s as much a scorer as Westbrook is and it is my OPINION that RW has been playing the best ball from the PG spot (maybe that wasn’t very clear on my 1st post). Again, the PG spot has changed, we’re seeing alot more scoring and less passing, now maybe people don’t like it, I don’t have a problem with it, but Westbrook has just been so dominant it makes me question KD’s MVP candidacy and that takes a lot. Again I think TP is fantastic and if everybody thinks he’s been the best that’s fine with me. I’m a Bulls fan not a Thunder fan and I’m just calling it like I see it.

  • davidR

    test test..

  • Kadavour

    Russell Westbrook’s assist numbers are easy to explain – he’s not a point guard.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Jahmai
    You are definitely entitled to your opinion. But if you’re a point guard averaging five assists and four turnovers, there is a problem.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/tray24 T-Ray

    Yea it’s hard to turn a SG into a PG. There’s just a mentality that you develop when you play the position for a while. I played AAU ball for a while and I was used to playing PG until my coach saw I could shoot lights out so he put me at the SG. It was an adjustment because I would pass up open looks due to my facilitating attitude and skills.

  • LA Huey

    Kadavour with the simple truth. What would the market value of a legit PG with SG size go for in this league (either All-Star caliber or solid role player)?

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    -Ugh that was a gross game for the Lakers. I don’t know why Sessions played like crap, but we need him to be a steady 10+, 5+ guy for us. 7-5 with 4 turn overs isn’t going to cut it.
    -Everyone had a bad game for the Lakers. Everyone. Bynum might have scored efficiently, but he didn’t protect the paint what-so-ever (4 blks be dammed).
    -Gasol got punked once again by a small forward. WTH Pau? KD was the guy that couldn’t bench like 150 lbs at draft day. So they knew he couldn’t guard opposing PF’s, yet you have a center playing PF and he still can’t score or even play make with Durant guarding him. He got dominated by him just like LeBron did. I don’t know what’s wrong with Pau, but the guy plays no where near the 2nd best PF in the game moniker he gets.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Pau is soft. He’s always been soft. The current offense encourages him to give in to those impulses even more.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Agreed. Agreed. Agreed. = Gotta change…

  • http://sdjfklfl.com Jukai

    LakeShow: We all tried to warn you about Mike Brown. Everyone tried to do it.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    man yall tripping saying westbrook is playing like the best pg at the position, that would be TONY PARKER. westbrook is scoring well but he still averaging almost as many turnovers as assist.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Juk’s. I had no choice in the matter. I still support him. I just think he needs to give the assistant coaches some leeway to help him with the offense. He’s alright. I don’t know who would have been better between him and a rookie coach in Brian Shaw. Adelman is who a smart son of an owner would have wooed over.
    If I was Pau Gasol I would not care if the offense told me to shoot a dozen jumpers. I would get my a$$ on the low block and do what I get paid to do. I kind of doubt Browns offense tells him to shoot jumpers only and that is effectively what he has been doing lately.

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    cosign slick. as much as I love westbrook, he has a point. although. part of westbrook’s assists going down is that Durant is now better at creating his own shot, and that harden has been distributing the ball more. IMO. I could be wrong more.

  • http://espn.go.com/nba/ Paul H

    @ Jamhai, TP takes an average of less than 16 shots a night, to westbrooks 19.5, he is NOT a “scorer” like russell. And again I’m a Westbrook fan (as an overall player not a PG). In terms of playing, intelligently, within a system unselfishly, TP takes the best PG crown In his stride.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Actually Paul, Tony could score if he wanted to. But the team doesn’t need that. they need him to run the team.

  • http://espn.go.com/nba/ Paul H

    Oh I know he could but right now he Is way more of a distributer, a purer point guard In the traditional sense of the word. RW Is putting up Kobe Byrant numbers (nearly hitting that magical 25/5/5 line), which Is exactly why he should be considered a shooting guard and not a point In my opinion. I’m not really knocking Westbrook just reiterating what a lot have people have said, dude Is simply out of position when the team tries to make him a point. I mean I can’t see It as anything other than a problem when a teams “point” Is taking more shots that a 50% shooter who also happens to be the consensus pick as the best scorer In the game. (Again I hate If some of that sounded like skip bayless, but damn It the bas*ard took the words out of my mouth again)

  • Washtub

    Ugh, that fisher video is some fake azz ish. Dude didn’t leave voluntary, remember? So don’t turn around two weeks after the fact and go all teary eyed on his ass

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