Archive for April 9th, 2011
The Memphis Grizzlies managed to outplay the Sacramento Kings in an entertaining 101-96 win and thus secure the last available berth into the Playoffs in the Western Conference. Zach Randolph hit two free throws with 4.8 seconds and sealed the deal for the Grizzlies, which managed to earn its first ticket into the Playoffs in the last 5 years.
Randolph finished the night with 27 points, 15 rebounds while guiding Memphis to a 45-34 season that eliminated the Houston Rockets from the race for the last spot in the Western Conference Finals. Point Guard Mike Conley had 12 points and eight assists while Marc Gasol chipped in with 18 points and Tony Allen scored 13 as Memphis won for the fifth time in six games.
But it wasn’t easy. Truth be said, the Sacramento Kings put on one heck of a fight in the last quarter. Quite frankly the Kings could very well have won the game. As a matter of fact, Sacramento pulled itself back into the game and when there where only 39 seconds to go in the game, they were down 97-96.
It was a good effort from the Kings. Marcus Thornton led the Sacramento with 18 points, seven coming in the final 2:30 to keep the Grizzlies from celebrating too early. Samuel Dalembert had 17 points and 16 rebounds. Tyreke Evans had 16 points, and Jason Thompson had 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
Had it not been for the Kings turnover rate, things would had been very different. Sacramento was very dominant in the paint, dominating the boards. The Kings outrebounded Memphis 49-42. That is including 16 offensive rebounds that contributed to 31 second-chance points, a season high for Sacramento. The Kings were a bit better shooting, and despite cutting down a 12-point deficit, their 10 turnovers would eventually end up costing them a bit too much.
Marc Gasol had 13 points during the first two quarters to help Memphis carry a 46-43 lead at halftime, but regardless of his performance, the first half was a bit of a disappointment. The Grizzlies shot 38 percent, while the Kings were at 42 percent and both teams missed all five of their 3-point attempts. Francisco Garcia nailed the first 3-pointer of the game right after the halftime break then followed with another to help Sacramento retake the lead.
The Grizzlies will now have to face the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday. These where the last two teams to clinch a NBA Playoffs berth in the Western Conference, neither of them are locked into the last position, so this game will be decisive for securing a higher berth in the final. New Orleans (46-33) secured a playoff berth by beating Houston on Wednesday, and Memphis (45-34) clinched the conference’s final spot Friday with a 101-96 win over Sacramento.
On the other hand, New Orleans is trying to avoid a first-round matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers, who will probably clinch the No. 2 seed in the West. The two-time reigning NBA champions outscored the Hornets by an average of 10.8 points in sweeping the season series, so chances are they might have a similar fate should they meet again in the postseason.
Ok, let’s be fair to the Boston Celtics and perhaps for the sake of precision lets just say that the Boston Celtics still have a mathematical probability of winning the Conference Title and holding on to the No.1 seed in the East for the NBA Playoffs. But on the other hand we must also say that the Celtics gasping the No.1 seed is as improbable as it is for the Bulls to lose all of its pending games.
For starters, the soon to be named the league’s MVP, the talented and spectacular Derrick Rose outplayed no other then one of the NBA’s finest point guards: Rajon Rondo. As if that was not enough, Rose, with 30 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists almost, single handedly outscored the Boston Celtics Big three: Kevin Garnet, 10 points, 10 rebounds; Paul Pierce, 15 points, 4 rebounds; Ray Allen 7 points and 6 rebounds.
So this better be a wake-up call for the Boston Celtics if they are really hoping to emulate their National Championship in 2008. Sure, they made it to the finals last year, but considering all the rebuilding and insane investments that the teams in the Easter Conference have made, it is certainly going to be a bit more of a challenge to play the Bulls, the Miami Heat, the Orlando Magic and the Knicks for a spot in the NBA Finals.
The guys from Chicago were playing with much more cohesion and style, there is really no doubt about it: the Bulls deserved the win. Boston was not at its best, and the Bulls made sure they showed everyone watching the game the Celtics many flaws. Chicago outscored the Celtics 44-22 in the paint, outrebounded them 44-35 and held Boston to 38.4 percent shooting. And that’s not the Celtics that we expect to see on a daily basis. That’s not the team that held the Miami Heat to a 3-0 record and which on Sunday could very well sweep the season with a 4-0.
Because there is simple one big issue: Derrick Rose has been certainly a prominent force in this new era for the Bulls. Because let’s face it, we haven’t seen the Bulls play like they have since, well, since Scottie Pippen and Micheal Jordan were working their way into becoming NBA Legends.
Rose was a one-man highlight reel against Rajon Rondo, beating him with his crossover and getting to the rim. His performance in the first half was just outstanding. Rose scored 16 points in the first two quarters as the Bulls build a 48-43 lead. Luol Deng scored 23 points, and Carlos Boozer added 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The bottom line: Rose outplayed Rondo and that just was not good news for Boston. Twice, Rose completely lost Rondo with hard crossovers. In the second quarter, Rose duped Rondo by stepping back and left, fainting to shoot, then crossing back to his right and flying pass three Celtics Players for the layup. It was a beautiful play that simply made Rondo and the Celtics look a bit too soft, too weak, and not quite ready yet for the Playoffs.
The Knicks had an awful March, but they are sure doing their best to make up for it this April, as the Knicks have set up a very decent 5 game winning streak since their 113-106 win in overtime against the Orlando Magic in an intricate overtime. It really seems as if the key to this success lies behind the talent of one Carmelo Anthony.
Yes, we have to recognize that since joining in late February, after an extensive 15-player deal that finally landed him from the Denver Nuggets into his new home, the Knicks have suffered a big deal of upsets, including the last two weeks of March where they lost all but one in a 10 game stretch.
But things are slowly but surely looking a bit better and with a 97-92 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, they have successfully clinch the 6th place in the Eastern Conference and get a really good chance of getting into the Playoffs. Anthony scored 31 points, 11 rebounds while the other referent, Amare Stoudemire scored 18 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Stoudemire suffered a left ankle sprain during the game, and he is going to miss tonight’s game against the New Jersey Nets and it seems that he is going to be out Sunday when they hit the road and face the Indiana Pacers.
But we have to give it up for the 76ers for putting one heck of a battle. Had it not been for Toney Douglas, who hit the go ahead triple with 1:47 to go, we would be writing the story of how the 76ers won the game despite a 19-point deficit in one heck of a comeback. To seal the deal, it was Douglas who completed two free throws with 42 seconds to go to give the Knicks their 5th consecutive win.
Elton Brand was the leader for Philadelphia scoring 24 points, recording 9 rebounds and 4 blocks. As for the comeback, Thaddeus Young was vital for the 76ers aspirations. Not only did he scored 15 of his 25 points in the second half alone, but he was basically responsible for rallying the 76ers back into the game alone. it was Andre Iguodala gave the last touches to the rally, pulling the Sixers within one point with his first 3-pointer of the game. But it wasn’t enough. Truth is that Carmelo Anthony had been on fire all night long and he was going to connect a triple in clutch time to give the Knicks a 95-91 lead.
So was Melo on fire? Oh yeah: he scored 28 point from behind the 3-point line and once again proved that he is ready for much bigger things. How big, well, truth is that this two team put on one heck of a show, playing with aggressiveness and an atmosphere so tense that one could have imagined they were playing for the top-seed in the Eastern Conference and not for the 6th. But hey, everybody wants to be invited to the big dance, and neither team can really afford to lose a chance to make it into the NBA Playoffs.
The Knicks lost guard Chauncey Billups (another great addition in the deal that landed Melo in New York) towards the end of the third quarter, and he didn’t comeback. He had a bruised right tight, but the big problem came for Stoudemire, not for Billups who is expected to see action tonight.
This isn’t the first nor it will be the last time that Gloria James, the mother of the Miami Heat’s all-star player LeBron James makes the cover of the sporting world news. Nor is it the first time Just like it had happened back in 2006 in Akron Ohio, when she was arrested on charges of drunken driving, this time it was the Miami Beach police who took here into custody.
According to the police report, Gloria James assaulted Sorel Rockfeller, a valet worker at the Fountainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. It seems as if Mrs. James first lost her patience and then her temper when she assaulted Mr. Rockfeller because he was taking too long to have her car delivered.
Once police arrived to the scene, they filled in the report and said that Mrs. James smelled like alcohol and that her eyes were bloodshot. Various witnesses supported the valet-worker’s story and consequently Mrs. James was taken to the police station.
Back in 2006, Gloria James’ case was taken to court and she pleaded no contest to reckless operation, speeding, disorderly conduct and physical control of a motor vehicle under the influence. She was given a suspended sentence, fined and ordered to complete a drug and alcohol class after.
LeBron James took a couple of questions about this specific story, but didn’t go into much detail. He simply stated that he was a bit worried but that Mrs. James was fine and that this episode was a personal matter, something that shouldn’t distract him from his job-at-hand.
Perhaps a bigger issue for LeBron James and the Miami Heat is whether Dwayne Wade is going to be able to play today against the Charlotte Bobcats. Wade has been suffering lately with a deep-tissue bruise that has kept him off the courts. He is undergoing extensive physical therapy hoping that he’ll be ready to play tonight, if not, on Sunday when they play the Boston Celtics. Let’s not forget that the Heat is 0-3 against the Celtics this season.