The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who's got a sinus infection right now, so don't expect any miracles today, okay? When he's not hacking up globs of stuff that look like they could be used as monster blood in an Alien versus Predator movie, he can be found dying a slow, painful death at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
• I love you, but I must break you. Before tipoff, Steve Nash presented friend and former
lover teammate Dirk Nowitzki with the following Valentine's Day poem: "Roses are red, violets are blue, Kobe's a douche, and Dirk I still love you!" It was a touching moment, to be sure, and the the spooning that followed was sweaty and more than a little awkward. But all that love in the air didn't keep Steve from trying to beat Dirk's team like a cheap whore at a bitchslap convention. Nash had 24 points and 13 assists - all of which were shaped like little candy hearts - and the Suns blistered the Mavericks with 57 percent shooting on their way to a 109-97 win. The game was a perfect demonstration of why the Suns need Shaq (they got pounded 20-8 on the offensive glass) and why the Mavs really need Jason Kidd (only 8 assists to 13 turnovers). Amare Stoudemire knocked in 26 points but had only 3 rebounds (meaning he was outrebounded by both Eddie Jones and Devean George), and Leandro Barbosa added another 26. Nowitzki, whose heart was all aflutter, had 36 points and 12 rebounds for Dallas, who also got 29 points from Jason Terry.
• Heat find no love in Chicago. Or anywhere else, for that matter. A 9-win team doesn't go into many games thinking, "We have a decent chance of winning this one!" In this case, however, the Heat really did have a good shot at beating the Bulls in Chicago. But of course they didn't. Captain Kirk Hinrich set his phaser to "kill" and scored nine of his team-high 24 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Bulls to a 99-92 victory. Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion, both of whom are recovering from failed relationships, had 30 and 23 points, respectively, as well as a little postgame optimism. Said Wade: "This is just a totally different feeling. I'm not even looking at the record." Added Marion: "There's a lot of life out there for us." And that, my friends, is what we call denial. But a broken heart will do that to you.
• Kobe's such a tease. I got a special Valentine's Day surprise last night when a friend in L.A. texted me that Black Mamba has a torn ligament in his right pinkie finger and was expected to have surgery and miss up to six weeks. But Kobe gave Lakers haters the finger by opting to pass on surgery until after the season. Bryant's handlers issued the following carefully scripted statement: "My current thinking is to give my finger some treatment and rest for a few days, and hope I can still continue to compete at a high level after that rest. I would prefer to delay any surgical procedures until after our Lakers season, and this summer's Olympic Games. But this is an injury that myself and the Lakers' medical staff will just have to continue to monitor on a day-to-day basis. Bitches." The finger was originally injured in a game against New Jersey when Bryant was trying to steal a pass from Jason Kidd - that's what you get for stealing, kids! - and the injury was aggravated in Minnesota when Rashad McCants hit Bryant in a battle for a rebound. We can only hope that Kobe's finger either heals or just whithers and falls off..