The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who is in no way related to Kevin McHale and who has taken the necessary legal steps to ensure that it stays that way. When he's not memorizing Gheorghe Muresan's Wikipedia entry, he can be found curing cancer at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
• "They've got nothing to lose." That's what Hedo Turkoglu had to say about the Miami Heat after the Magic mocked their ugliness with a 107-91 smackdown. But you know what? He's wrong. The Heat still have 38 more games to play, which means there's plenty of losing ahead of them! That, my friends, is what I call a glass half full. Of poop. Anyway, the Turkish Terror led Orlando with 27 points (8-for-13), 12 rebounds, and 5 assists, while Dwight Howard chipped in with 16 boards, 13 boards, and 4 smother chickens. The Heat were missing Dwyane Wade (painful embarrassment), Shaq (fell and still cannot get up), and Udonis Haslem (hair appointment), so only Ricky Davis was left to lead them (25, 5, and 4).
• Your hate makes you powerful. The Raptors were pissed about the previous night's overtime loss to the Wizards, but a rare quirk in the schedule gave them an immediate shot at a revenge game. Said Jose Calderon: "We were mad about (Tuesday) night's game so we just came out and played our basketball game by being more aggressive." (You could almost make out Emperor Palpatine standing behind Jose, urging him on, "Good, use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you!") In the end, Toronto transformed their hate into a mighty 122-83 beating. Voodoo priests were brought in to resurrect Andrea Bargnani's game, and the Italian Stallion rose from the grave to score a game-high 19 points. Chris Bosh was content to coast his way to 16 points and 4 rebounds. On the other side, DeShawn Stevenson was the only Wizard who remembered to bring his wand to the game (I swear that's not a double-entendre); he scored 16, grabbed 5, dished 4.
• You know a team sucks when...they let an 18-28 team beat them by 43. That's what happened to the Milwaukee Bucks last night when they lost 112-69 to the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite leading by lots and lots throughout the game, the Sixers just kept pouring it on; they entered the fourth quarter already leading by 30, then dumped another 35 points on the hapless, hopeless Bucks. I know the enemy deserves no mercy and all, but jeez. Said Andre Iguodala: "You can't have any sympathy for them." It wasn't quite an Ivan Drago "If he dies, he dies" moment, but it was damn close.
• My eyes...they burn! I recently stumbled across the personal Web page of a man who spent three months building a life-size replica of Han Solo frozen in carbonite. Out of LEGOs*. At the time, I honestly thought that it was the saddest thing I'd ever seen. Then I watched the Bulls play the Timberwolves in Minnesota. Now I realize that I never knew what true saddness was. The teams opened the game shooting a combined 0-for-18 and the score was only 3-2 after almost seven minutes. Yes, you read that right: 3-2. The T-Wolves scored 8 points in the first quarter and shot 36 percent for the game...and they won by 16! Al Jefferson bitchslapped the Bulls with 26 points, 20 boards, and the back of his big, black hand. Ryan Gomes played the "Mini-Me" to Jefferson's "Dr. Evil" by dumping in 25 points and 10 boards. Captain Kirk Hinrich beamed down 14 points and 9 assists for the Bulls, who also got 14 points from Thabo Sefolosha.
*I know that yesterday I claimed to be building a life-size replica of Dirk Nowitzki out of LEGOs. But I was only kidding. As far as you know.
• Not so fast, young fella. Chris Paul might just be the best point guard in the NBA right now - and he certainly played like it last night - but Baron Davis isn't some smelly bum carrying around his urine in a jar and begging for spare change. Despite a chorus of boos from the thirty or so New Orleanites in attendence, B-Diddy drilled five three-pointers on his way to 23 points and 9 assists. Paul countered with 28 and 12, but Davis got more help from the hot-shooting Warriors (52 percent shooting as a team) who won going away 116-103. Stephen Jackson gave the Golden Staters 26 points and his usual spoonful of crazy, while Peja Stojakovic had a double-double (20 points, 10 rebounds) for New Orleans.
• There's a new fourth quarter assassin in town. And his name is LeBron James. Not only did he have a typically kingly stat line - 37 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists - LeBron put in a reverse layup with less than a second left to beat the Trailblazers 84-83 in Portland. No other Cavalier scored in double figures, but Lebron doesn't need teammates. He doesn't even need water or food. The man runs on pure awesome. Brandon Roy (16 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists) and LaMarcus Aldridge (16 points, 9 boards) did what they could, but the Blazers couldn't avoid a royal execution.