The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who is eagerly awaiting the Hawks-Celtics game. When he's not stenciling a green shamrock on his butt cheeks, he can be found holding Damon Wayans hostage at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
The Pistons have officially "Hulked out." No, I'm not talking about Bill Bixby or even Jenny McCarthy. I'm referring to the old Hulk Hogan riff where he'd get beaten up badly enough to kill a full-grown moose but — right before losing his last hit point — immediately return to full health, shaking and flexing like somebody just stuffed his junk into an electrical outlet. Then he'd take two punches to the face without being fazed, block the third, deliver three punches of his own, fling his opponent to the ropes, kick them in the head, give them the atomic leg drop, and pin them. Worked every time...for 20 years.
Tell me that doesn't remind you of the Pistons. They always seem to get beaten up now and again during the regular season and playoffs but then start whoopin' on people again. Last night's whoopees were the Orlando Magic, who got choke-slammed into a 0-1 series hole thanks to a 91-73 decision.
Not much went right for Orlando. Dwight Howard had a "meh" game (12 points, 8 rebounds), Hedo Turkoglu fouled out, they couldn't find the range from beyond the arc (2-for-15) or the freethrow line (10-for-20), and Jameer Nelson (7 points, 3-for-8, 5 assists) and Maurice Evans (4 points, 2-for-3, 3 turnovers) got pwned by Chauncey Billups (19 points, 7 assists) and Rip Hamilton (17 points, 7-for-14).
Howard, who injured his thumb while going for a rebound in the third quarter, got pretty bummed out as the Pistons pulled away in the fourth quarter. "I don't think I even looked up at the scoreboard for a while. It's disappointing." Buck up, Dwight. It's still only one loss. Even if it feels like three.
Quote of the night: Referring to the physical and emotional elements of the game, Rasheed Wallace said, "You can't rattle us. We ain't no punks." (I'm not going to say anything about what a double negative means...)
Tyson Chandler > Shaq. Who knew? The Suns traded for The Big Cactus in order to shut down Tim Duncan, but Timmah still destroyed them. Then Tyson Chandler — yes, that Tyson Chandler — destroyed Timmah, for one game at least.
Chandler finished with 10 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocked shots, and his defense — with a little help from his teammates — held Duncan to 5 points (1-for-9) and 3 rebounds. Ouchie. It should be no surprise, then, that the Hornets delivered a 101-82 piledriver to the Spurs.
Chandler, David West (30 points, 13-for-23, 9 rebounds), Chris Paul (17 points, 13 assists, 4 steals), and Peja Stojakovic (22 points, 9-for-15) were all inspired by a little pregame eye-candy from coach Byron Scott: The three championship rings he won with the Lakers during the 80s. Said Paul: "It sort of gives you goose bumps. We understand right now we're on that same journey and we feel like we can get there."
The Spurs are probably feeling some goose bumps, too, thanks to the bitterly cold shooting of Duncan and Kurt Thomas (1-for-4). Tony Parker scored 23 on 9-for-17 shooting, but he also committed a game-high 5 turnovers and smelled vaguely of French pastries. Manu Ginobili came off the San Antonio bench to contribute 19 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists, but he and his team still came up several flops and Duncan faces short.