The NBA Closer is written by our own Canadian weekend maestro J.E. Skeets. When he's not busy scouring the box scores or eating slow-smoked ribs and beef briskets, he can be heard on The Basketball Jones daily podcast. Enjoy!
• Miami Vagines Hang Like Sleeve Of Wizard. With all due offense to Chris Quinn and the Heat organization, when the Medicine Man is your best player on the court, you're in for a long night. DeShawn Stevenson's beard scored a season-high 26 points, Caron Butler added 19 and Antawn Jamison had a sick little 16-16 package as the Wizards beat the Heat 104-91. Darius Songalia like! Quinn finished with a career-high 22 for Miami, which lost for the seventh time in nine home games this season. Their mothers must be horrible cooks.
• The Bryant Report. I won't lie. On a day when The Mitchell Report was getting all the boring news — Worst. Deadspin Day. Ever. — I really expected Kobe Bryant to come out last night and score like 105 points or drop a cool quintuple-double to steal the Friday PTI headlines. Instead, Kobe scored a pretty quiet 30 points, and the Lakers bench used an 18-5 fourth-quarter spurt to break open a close game and beat the Spurs 102-97. Oh well. The defending NBA champs, now 17-5, did play without Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, so perhaps Kobe figured it wasn't even worth it. Manu Ginobili scored just 14 in the loss.
• Garbage Points. Hawks' forward Al Horford has been suspended one game without pay for super spiking — KABOOM! — T.J. Ford's head earlier this week. He'll serve his suspension tonight. ... Your starters after the first batch of All-Star voting returns: KG, LeBron, Dwight, Wade and Kidd in the East; Kobe, T-Mac, Melo, Dirk and Yao out West. C'mon, people, Vote 'Toine! ... Despite having only four healthy guys, the Clippers waived forward Ruben Patterson yesterday. The Kobe Stopper appeared in 20 games for the Clips, averaging 5.1 points, 3.2 assists and 0.0 babysitter-boners this season. ... Wes Unseld, American badass.