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Thursday, April 19th, 2012 at 8:30 am  |  46 responses

Post Up: Fear The Beard

Harden’s 40 points and Pau’s triple-double highlight a jam-packed NBA Wednesday.

by Abe Schwadron | @abe_squad

14 games? You serious? Just when we were beginning to forget about that damn lockout…14 games! That means 28 of the L’s 30 teams were in action last night. What, couldn’t get the Wolves and Pacers out there, too, Commish? Anyway, given the insane schedule, and the fact that I was either on Press Row or traveling back and forth for Nets-Knicks until midnight, you’ll have to adjust your eyes to a re-formatted Post Up. Go ahead and use the comments section to help us all sort out what the heck happened last night.

Sixers 103, Cavaliers 87
Wizards 121, Bucks 112

Milwaukee’s hopes of grabbing the No. 8 seed from Philadelphia got off to a rough start, as the Bucks lost to the lowly Wizards and the Sixers blew out the Cavaliers in Kyrie Irving’s return to action. Jrue Holiday scored 19 points in what literally might have been a season-saving third quarter, during which Philly ripped off a 24-2 run to break a 57-57 tie and take care of the pesky Cavaliers. Meanwhile in the nation’s capital, Jordan Crawford went off for 32 points and John Wall had 14 points and 10 assists as the anti-tanking Wizards handed the Bucks an embarrassing L. Coach Scott Skiles described it as the “wrong time to have a bad game.” Uh, yeah, Scott. Luckily for Milwaukee—now 2.5 games back of a Playoff spot—one final head-to-head matchup with the Sixers next week offers a chance to make up some of the ground lost on Wednesday night.

Bulls 100, Bobcats 68
Heat 96, Raptors 72

I call this “awesome Eastern Conference teams beating the crap out of terrible Eastern Conference teams.” Rip Hamilton went, well, Ham on the Bobcats, dropping 22 points after starting out 7-7 from the field and 4-4 from deep. Charlotte, on the other hand, shot an abysmal 20.7 percent. For the entire game. (Side note: I’d bet a life supply of SLAM swag that Michael Jordan wouldn’t shoot that badly if he suited up right now. Make it happen, Mike.) The Heat couldn’t let the Bulls have all the fun, so LeBron James scored 28 points on 12-15 shooting and Miami held the Raptors to just 23 points in the second half, tying a team-low for a half of basketball. Oh, and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh weren’t even playing. At this point, I’m ready for the ECF…Lastly, peep the nice dime from LBJ:

Knicks 104, Nets 95

This is the one game I know everything about. Ask me anything, ANYTHING! Carmelo Anthony was simply en fuego (“on fire” in Spanish, fellas) in the first quarter, pouring in 21 points before any of the mostly Knicks fans in attendance could blink. He finished with 33, Tyson Chandler man-handled the under-sized Nets, and JR Smith and Steve Novak had 3-point cameos in the second half as the Knicks won the last-ever Nets-Knicks game to be played in New Jersey. Get ready for Hump-mania, Brooklyn! To get the rest of the story, hit my recap on NBA.com here.

Hawks 116, Pistons 84

T-Mac back? Tracy McGrady led all scorers with 17 points, 4 boards and 4 rebounds in only 17 minutes as the Hawks blew out the Pistons. Should I go on my Greg Monroe rant one last time before the season’s out? Okay, fine, I will—he had 17 points and 5 rebounds and the Pistons still lost by 32. How can Monroe even high-five dudes like Austin Daye, Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey after this game? Daye was 1-11, Gordon 3-11 and Stuckey was 0-3 with zero points in his 21 minutes.

Grizzlies 103, Hornets 91

Rudy Gay scored 13 of his 26 points in the third quarter, and the Grizzlies outscored the Hornets 37-12 in the third to break open the game and clinch a Playoff spot for Memphis. It was a team effort for the Grizz, who shot 51 percent from the floor and dominated down low, winning the “points in the paint” battle 56 to 34. A shred of upside for the Hornets was that rookie Jerome Dyson led NOLA in scoring with a career-high 24 points. Good for Dyson, who paid his dues in the D-League the past two season before getting the call-up.

Celtics 102, Magic 98

Orlando cut a 4-point Boston lead in half on a Glen Davis steal-and-dunk with 30 seconds left, but Big Baby caught switched off on Paul Pierce on the very next possession, and The Truth delivered a vintage step-back jumper to put the Celtics up by 4, sealing the deal on the ailing Magic. Davis, the former Celtic, scored 27 points, but Pierce one-upped him with 29 points, 5 rebounds and a career-high 14 assists. Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass combined for 44 points, and from the DNP section: Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard sat out, with differing levels of back pain, while Ray Allen had the night off, too.

Clippers 104, Nuggets 98

It was a frantic pace (17 turnovers each, 49 fouls combined) with loose balls changing hands on every rebound and Blake Griffin boinking another would-be Dunk of the Night. But let’s fast-forward to crunch time:

That’s right, on a night when Chris Paul led the Clippers with 21 points and 8 dimes, it was ex-Nugget Kenyon Martin who made a pair of game-winning plays on back-to-back possessions—one offensive, one defensive. CP3 cashed some free throws and Lob City escaped with a wild win.

Mavericks 117, Rockets 110
Thunder 109, Suns 97
Jazz 112, Trail Blazers 91

Trying to sort out the total mess that is the back end of the Western Conference Playoff race is going to be a nightly chore from now on. Houston, Phoenix and Utah are all currently fighting for the 8-seed, and after last night’s results, the Jazz (33-30) has a half-game lead over the Suns and Rockets (both 32-30). That follows, since Utah was the only one of the 3 teams to pick up a win last night. Then again, the Jazz were facing the least resistant opponent, too—Devin Harris scored 25 of his game-high 27 points in the first half as Utah built a double-digit lead and cruised to a win over the bumbling Blazers. Phoenix and Houston both ran up against monster games from opposing stars. In Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 of his 35 points in the second half and the Mavs closed out the Rocks with 39-point fourth quarter. And in Phoenix, James Harden put on an absolute show—actually, it was more like a clinic on efficiency (shout out to the NERD rankings!). The Bearded Wonder had himself a Hardy Party, scoring a career-high 40 points on 12-17 field goal shooting (5 threes), 11-11 free throw shooting and still found time to grab 7 rebounds, drop 3 dimes and get 4 steals. Playoff beards, anyone?

Spurs 127, Kings 102

That’s 5 straight for the perpetually underrated slash first-place Spurs, who shot 59 percent and had 7 players score in double figures against Sacramento last night. Tony Parker had 15 points and 8 assists, and San Antonio’s bench outscored the Kings’ reserves by a 71-28 margin. Isaiah Thomas led the Kings with 21 points and 8 dimes, none sweeter than this no-looker on the break:

Lakers 99, Warriors 87

The Lakers once wanted to trade Pau Gasol. He cares not. Last night, the veteran big man’s well-rounded game was on display, as he recorded a triple-double (22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists) while helping the Lakers mount a 17-point advantage by the second quarter en route to an easy win over new-Western Conference pinching bag Golden State. Andrew Bynum had 31 points and 9 rebounds as Los Angeles won again, with Kobe Bryant sitting out a 7th straight game. Also, can someone please explain to me how in the world the Warriors got on national television so much this season? At this point, there’s barely anything redeeming happening in Golden State, as they’re content to “rest” Steph Curry, Andrew Bogut and David Lee the rest of the year.

Lines of the Night: Pierce’s 29-5-14 will get overlooked, but it’s hard not to hand the hardware to Gasol (22-11-11 triple-double) and Harden (40 points on 17 shots).

Dunk of the Night: Joakim Noah on the Bobcats. Because Charlotte hasn’t been made fun of enough.

Tonight: Bulls-Heat and Clippers-Suns on TNT highlight a 5-game schedule.

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  • A-Money

    MELO IS BALLIN’

  • Fat Lever

    And this is what’s so frustrating about Jrue Holiday. He gives you glimpses here and there of what he’s capable of, but he’s not aggressive enough to consistently put up a line like last night.

  • Craigmasterflex

    Um, what’s with Lebron just staring at Haslem after he falls? Mike Miller ran in from the 3 point line to help him out, but Lebron just looked away. I literally just went from impressed to disgusted in a split second because of that.

  • Heals

    First off props to Tor and Was, although final scores may not show, at least they haven’t decided to play dead like many of their lottery counterparts…

  • Heals

    Tough last 10 days for Mil, from the NYK’s many near losses to their own inability to beat teams they’re better than. Thought Hou was gonna run away from Dal with all their first half 3′s, but Kidd going off before half kept it close. Hou is busting their a$$. but just seem a player short this season. Phx tried but OKC is just too much, and the schedule won’t be any easier for the Suns. For all the popular opinions on Lob City it was fun to see Den come out and “track meet” on them in the 1st quarter, but to their credit the Clips have been erasing early deficeits (something that wasn’t happening on their losing streak) like crazy lately…

  • Heals

    K-Mart with some sweet revenge at the end of Clip v Nugs and for those that don’t know PP34 rouninely takes over PG duties with the effectiveness he did last night when Rajon or others are out. Dude is amazingly versatile, but usually only viewed as a scorer by a majority of hoops fans…

  • http://www.slamonline.com KulchaKris

    So, MJ is book-ending his career, by being the lynchpin of both the greatest team ever, and the worst team ever. Pretty awesome, if you aske me.

  • http://www.slamonline.com KulchaKris

    …and let’s not forget the bang-up job MJ did with my hometown Bullets. Is he worse than Isiah at this point?

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Heals
    I remember in the horrible year the Celtics had before they had Garnett he was playing at an MVP level regularly dropping like Lebron-esque lines, but nobody really gave him credit because the team was so horrible.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    KulchaKris
    To be fair, he took over the Wizards when their core was Mitch Richmond, Juwan Howard and Rod Strickland all on the decline but still being paid max money.
    He flipped those cats for young assets, like Rip Hamilton and others. His biggest blunders were drafting Kwame and kiling his confidence along with hiring Doug Collins to allow him to rebuild the team’s entire offense around his 40-year old knees.
    But, he did put them on the path to rebuilding fairly well. Thought that needed to be noted, even as we discuss how he sucks now.

  • http://slamonline.com AllBall

    Pierce was great last night. He has versatility that is pretty un matched. Like a SF Pau Gasol.

  • 23

    Craigmasterflex, I was thinking the same thing. Then I realized he was staring at the ref.in shock of the no-call. By the time Miller ran to haslem, he had no choice but to run back on D. But I think we all know LeBron likes to milk his big plays haha.

  • http://www.slamonline.com KulchaKris

    @AllenP, yes, MJ did a pretty decent job of clearing out the “dead weight”, especially when most people thought it almost impossible to get rid of some of those contracts. But, I believe “his biggest blunders”, as you describe them, pretty much negated his good deeds. Missing on the # 1 pick in the draft set the franchise back significantly. Not to mention that Abe Pollin basically fired MJ for being an a$$hole.

    The thing that I wonder is, as competitive a guy as he was on the court, is his failure as a NBA GM/Owner burning him up inside? Or is he content to rest on his laurels, and he just doesn’t give a fu@k?

  • http://slamonline.com/ Abe Schwadron

    Yeah, AllenP…”But, he did put them on the path to rebuilding fairly well.” I can’t stand idly by while you say that. You can’t give him credit for Rip Hamilton because, um, he traded Rip for an aging Jerry Stackhouse!!! Because he wanted to play alongside JStack, which was a joke. You can’t start a rebuilding process by making yourself, a 40 yr old, the No. 1 shot-taker on a team and breaking down every young player’s confidence by harassing them. (I can’t type the things he said to “He Who Shall not be Named”) He got frustrated with “rebuilding” and decided he’d like to play a couple more years, in the process crippling the franchise for years to come. You can’t tell a Wizards fan with a straight face that he did anything to “put them on the path to rebuilding fairly well.” No. NO. NO0o0o0o0o0o. OK, I’ll go cry now.

  • Heals

    @Allen, thinking of that bad (okay awful) C’s team and the recent news about “potential” trades they might’ve made got me thinking. What if Jersey convinces Bos to make that PP for Okur/draft pick trade, signs DWill to the extension and then snags DH12 in the offseason. DWill, Brooks, Pierce, Hump, DH12, Morrow 6th man, Lopez as trade bait, yikes…

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Abe
    I’m not going to defend him completely. Just pointed out that he gutted a team that people said it was impossible to gut. He drafted Rip, good pick which most people discounted.
    He trade for Stackhouse right after Stack averaged 29 points a game, to be fair. And because Jordan wanted to come back and thought hte team was on the cusp of the playoffs and needed to get a vet talent. He should have kept the young talent, which was happy to just be hooping with him, while Stackhouse was irked by Jordan’s role in the offense because Stack has always wanted to be “The Man.”
    He missed on Kwame.
    But, he did sign Larry Hughes. Jahidi White was decent if overpaid. Decent pick in Haywood.
    He was pretty mediocre in Washington, not horrible. He’s never been a great drafter, decent at judging free agents. He’s cursed with short patience too.
    But honestly, look at the two drafts he presided over. Those were bad years. Then the year before he came, the team didn’t even have a first round pick.
    I don’t think Jordan was a good GM, but just like with Isiah, I think he got a bum rap to a degree. They were both branded as idiots pretty quickly and honestly Abe Pollin shafted Jordan.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Sorry, he didn’t draft Rip that was Unseld. Unseld did a lot more damage to the Wizards and basically gets a pass because he was a great player for the team.
    Jordan inherited an old crappy team with no draft picks.
    He was given a year to turn them around, then people were saying that he should play with the squad he assembled if he thought it was competitive. Which he stupidly did.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Man look how long Ernie Grunfield has been allowed to be fairly crappy and how many poor decisions he’s been allowed to make. Or Larry Bird. Or Kevin McHale. Jordan’s rep meant that if he didn’t produce immediately, it was over for him.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I saw Jahidi White at the gym a week ago.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Abe Schwadron

    Agree on Ernie, he’s got to go for the Wiz to move forward. Bottom line on MJ, it was a team that needed a re-build and his influence stunted the re-build with personnel choices, which included his own return to the court. There’s no question the 2001 Draft was one of the worst in the last 15 years. I don’t necessarily disagree with some of what you said, I just couldn’t let a MJ-Wizards comment go by without sticking up for Wiz fans everywhere by pointing out that the Jordan era was a complete and utter botch job from beginning to end. He showed up, got some shots up, tried his hand at “the whole GM thing” and 2 years later he left, with the team in total disarray. That much is hard to argue.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    @ Allenp: What bad decisions has Kevin McHale made again, on par with Jordan? I want to disagree but I need a refresher on what McHale did with Minny.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Joe Smith.

  • http://www.examiner.com/minnesota-timberwolves-in-minneapolis/smith-signing-scandal-crippled-timberwolves nbk

    You can click my name. It’s safe to say McHale was one of the worst front office people the league may have ever had.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    He’s a pretty decent coach though.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qNzF0mZUPI MeloMan15

    Melo’s first quarter was amazing… no matter what he threw up, it went in

  • http://www.examiner.com/minnesota-timberwolves-in-minneapolis/smith-signing-scandal-crippled-timberwolves nbk

    Writing for NBA(.Com) Abe?!?! that’s awesome man.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Joe Smith, Wally Word, Troy Hudson, letting Billups walking, trading Marbury for Terrell Brandon!. Letting Gugs walk. Drafting Ndubi Ebi. Trading Brandon Roy for Randy Foye.
    Drafting Rashad McCants.
    The Garnett trade fiasco and subsequent handling of the leftover parts.
    Oh, don’t forget drafting William Avery and Rasho.
    And to be clear, I’m just going down the list picking his horrible draft picks from the list on Basketball Reference and doing the trades from memory.
    And the Joe Smith debacle is inexcusable since he basically wasted 3 years of prime Kevin Garnett thanks to that move.
    Paul Grant?
    Trading Ray Allen for Steph and then trading Steph needs to be mentioned again.
    Dude screwed the Timberwolves like a two dollar whore and stayed in that job for more than a decade.
    Horrible man, just horrible.

  • Geoff

    Jordan’s patience, rather lack there of, is his biggest weakness as an executive. That plus a tinge of arrogance that made him believe his success as a player would make running a team easier than he thought. The Stackhouse trade was foolish, and he’s an awful talent scout.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Horrible man? Thought we were talking about GM abilities lol. If McHale is a horrible man than what kind of man is MJ?
    The Warriors started a rookie team last night. That was awful. They are going to be so good next year though. How long have we been saying that? Bogut, Lee, Rush/Wright, Klay Thompson, Steph Curry. Healthy, they might be a middle of the pack playoff team. Looking forward to seeing them put it together.
    Kobe said some really good things last night about how he is hoping to incorporate everyone more after seeing that Ron Ron is back and Pau can hold his own when called upon. Bynum shot 12-14 last night. He was banging on Mikki Moore though…

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    JP, Btw. I know you were saying “man” as a slang term of endearment not the general sense of “man.” Haha.

  • http://slamonline.com The Philosopher

    James Harden has the greatest beard in NBA History…

  • RIGGS

    “The Hoop Squadron” should be a blog that abe should be writing on.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    @ Allen: Fair enough… lmao. McHale’s got some coaching prowess in him though.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Lakeshow
    WTH are you talking about?
    I said horrible in the context of “That’s just horrible man, just horrible.”
    Slow your roll.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Oh, my bad. Typed off my response before reading down to the next comment.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    I realized I didn’t put enough “joking-ness” in there the first time so I put the second comment lol. Sol good.
    .
    What do ya’ll think will happen to Monta Ellis next year?

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    He will shoot a lot of shots and not play good defense.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    MJ was horrible though, Allen. Not just mediocre. McHale > Michael. He at least got Al Jefferson for KG, and the Wolves did a helluva lot better than the Wizards, in a tougher conference. He also did Love for Mayo, which turned out to be a GREAT move for the Wolves.

  • http://www.examiner.com/minnesota-timberwolves-in-minneapolis/smith-signing-scandal-crippled-timberwolves nbk

    He got LIT UP by Jordan Crawford last night. Which i guess doesn’t say much since he’s “better than Michael Jordan” and all. Just sayin though.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    McHale was absolutely horrible. Terrible even. At least equally horrible to Jordan. Probably worse. The only reason he seemed even semi-competent is because he had Garnett while he was arguably the best all-around player in the league. That’s the only reason. — And trading Garnett for Jefferson and nothing was not a good move. The team got considerably worse. Many people just saw that as McHale lending a hand to Danny Ainge and the Celtics. Which is a pretty logical thought process. Al Jefferson is far and away one of the top 5 most overrated players in the league. He supplies absolutely no defense, he’s worse on that end than any other player in the league paid more than 10 million dollars a year. Which includes such defensive stalwarts as Amar’e Stoudemire, and Carlos Boozer. Sh*t Al Jefferson is probably a more detrimental defender to his team than Steve Nash is. Real Talk.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Al Jefferson is the poor man’s Kevin Love and the center version of Kevin Martin. Stats but no substance.

  • http://sfjklf.com Jukai

    Jordan was bad. Isiah and McHale were horrendous. Anyone who considers any three of them as even ‘decent’ have multiple screws loose in their heads.

  • http://sfjklf.com Jukai

    and I actually think NBK is right about Jefferson. Amare will at least block a shock once in a blue moon. Nash and Boozer will at least draw a charge. I don’t think I’ve actually witnessed Jefferson make a defensive play. Ever.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Whelp, the Rockets just missed the playoffs for the third straight year… How the hell did they manage to lose 6 f*cking straight at THIS time of the year? To some really bad teams too, SMH.
    F*UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKK

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Isiah’s worst mistakes came as a coach not a GM.

  • http://sfjklf.com Jukai

    Teddy: My heart goes out to you, but for my Suns to succeed, your Rockets had to die
    Allen: Yet Isiah was still a horrendous, horrendous GM. What does that tell you about his coaching?

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