The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who thinks Isiah has been trying to get fired for years - I mean, would you want to coach the Knicks? Didn't think so. When he's not trying to make sense of Isiah's substitution patterns, he can be found scrapbooking at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
• Okay, seriously, now he's just trying to get fired. Let's take a look at Isiah's "Fire me, please God, let them fire me" checklist: Start Malik Rose? Check. Inexplicably alter rotation against one of the league's best teams by playing guys like Wilson Chandler, Randolph Morris and Mardy Collins? Check. Freak out the Madison Square Garden crowd by yanking Nate Robinson in favor of Chandler with 1:33 left and my team in possession in the frontcourt and trailing by four? Check. Refuse to comment on the apparent banishment of Stephon Marbury? Check. Guide my team to a season-low 24 games under .500 - thus clinching our seventh straight losing season - while standing around with a vacant and borderline suicidal look on my face? Check, check, and check!
While Isiah was busy trying to escape from Hell, Chris Paul was busy creating new and better realities by scoring 27 points, dishing out 8 assists, and leading to three clutch scores - two shots and an alley-oop pass to Tyson Chandler - in the Hornets' 100-88 win over the Knicks. Chandler got into the act with 15 points and 18 rebounds. Jamal Crawford led the Knicks with 20 points on 20 shots, and Eddy Curry made the most of Zach Randolph's absence by scoring 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting. Fun fact: Randolph had a magnetic resonance imaging test on his right foot Monday afternoon to confirm a bruise. This of course differs from the standard method of bruise confirmation, which typically consists of looking at it.
• Beware the rage of Dirk Nowitzki. I guess that Sunday's four-point overtime loss to the Lakers upset him more than anybody knew, because Dirk pulled a Kevin McHale on Andre Kirilenko during the first quarter of the Mavericks' 116-110 loss to the Jazz. Seriously, this was a bad one. Bad enough that I very nearly couldn't laugh at the comical image of Kirilenko getting wheeled off the court in some kind of bizarre wheelchair thingie. Amazingly, in this age of Guys Can't Even Stand Up Off The Bench Without Getting Suspended For One Game, Herr Nowitzki was called for a flagrant foul but wasn't ejected from the game ... despite the fact that the Utah crowd nearly rose from their seats en masse to strangle him. The Mavs came back from a 21-point deficit to take a late-game lead before going into their trademark Fourth Quarter Collapse mode as the Jazz scored 16 straight points to clinch the victory. Deron Williams had 17 points and 20 dimes for Utah, Mehmet Okur added 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Carlos Boozer carried the scoring load with 28. Josh Howard led the Mavs with 25, Dirk added 23, and Jason Kidd contributed 19 points and 9 assists. Update: The Russian Rifle bruised his right hip and was taken to the hospital for X-rays, which showed no break.
• I know you don't care about this game...but you should. Really. The Philadelphia 76ers notched a 106-80 victory over the Clippers. It was the seventh win in the their last 10 games. They've now moved into the seventh playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. And Andre Miller is the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week. They're a legitimate playoff threat now. Seriously. Okay, you're not buying any of this, are you? Yeah, I didn't think so. Fine. I'll cut to the chase: Philly's decent, Clippers suck, Andre Iguodala led six Sixers in double-figures with 18, Al Thornton was manly with 20 points and butterfingery with 10 turnovers. Oh, and it was Maurice Cheeks' 100th win as the coach of the Sixers (versus 124 losses). Yeah, I think that about sums it up.