The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who freaking slept through the Mavs/Spurs game but then woke up for the Heat/Lakers game and therefore wants you to please, please kill him. When he isn't begging for death, he can be found seeking it out at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
• Tim Duncan + Doing Everything = Success. Gregg Popovich stunned the basketball world last night by revealing his complex and intricate formula for winning games: Tim Duncan. "Offense, the ball goes through him. On defense, he's our defender, our rebounder. At home he's our wife. On the road, he's a classy and well-paid prostitute. He's just really special. We don't get anything done without him." Speaking of stunning, Dallas coach Avery Johnson benched Jason Kidd — the point guard and playmaker for whom the team traded away its very future — for the final 30 seconds, then watched Dirk Nowitzki choke down a couple jumpers and Jason Terry get his shot blocked by Bruce Bowen in the closing seconds. Game over: San Antonio 97, Dallas 94. After the game, Kidd tried to pretend he was all okay with it. "They've been together down the stretch. I understand what play they're looking for, so I'm over here cheering for my guys to knock down a two or three." Yeah, we'll see how long he keeps cheering if Avery continues to leave him on the bench during crunch time. The Mavs actually had a 10-point lead with 3:44 to go in the third quarter, then watched it disappear thanks to a 13-1 Spurs run that included two technical fouls called on Avery and Terry. Dallas needs to patent the fourth quarter collapse, they really do. Tim Duncan backboned the Spurs with 31 and 15. Dallas got 28 points from Dirk and 10 assists from Kidd.
• It seemed like a good idea at the time. Last night's Heat/Lakers game should be considered Exhibits A through Z in the case against TNT scheduling its national broadcasts six months or whatever in advance. Ever since the Big Trade Bait got sent from L.A. to Miami, the Kobe versus Shaq duels have been a staple of our yearly NBA diet. But with Shaq gone and the Heat on a one-way trip to Lotteryville, this contest turned into a 48-minute bitchslap by the Lakers. Sure, Dwyane Wade pulled the Heat to within nine points in the fourth quarter, but the way Mamba was staring D-Wade down like a Cheshire Cat pretty much sums up what kind of chance Miami had of winning this game. Jordan Farmar poured a career-high 24 points on Miami's grave, and Kobe fertilized it with 21 points and 8 assists. The Heat got 18 from Wade and 13 points and 11 boards from Shawn Marion who should start missing his days with the Phoenix Suns right about...now.
• Well, that didn't take long. According to the Associated Press recap: "It took Devin Harris only nine minutes to turn around the New Jersey Nets and make Jason Kidd seem like a distant memory." Maybe I'm a cynic, but a 120-106 win over the Milwaukee Bucks - a team the Nets had already beaten twice this season - doesn't exactly qualify as a "turnaround" in my book. Still, Harris played pretty well: He scored 16 of his 21 points in a 28-13 Nets run between the second and third quarters that turned a 22-22 tie into a 50-35 New Jersey lead. Harris also added 5 assists and a comical posterization of Bucks center Andrew Bogut that had the crowd cheering and chanting his name. This is what we call "The Honeymoon Phase," Devin. Enjoy it. Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson provided Harris with some support by scoring 19 a piece, and Michael Redd led the Bucks with 33.