The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who thinks most people are bastards. Bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling. When he's not busy hating the whole goddamn world, he can be found discussing the best of the worst of professional basketball at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
• Sweetheart, I find it amusing that you think you're so much as a blip on my radar. The Celtics traveled to Conseco Field House to put their three-game winning streak up against the Pacers' back-to-back wins. A battle of two hot teams, right? No, not really. The Pacers hung around - they're pesky like that - but eventually succumbed to the inevitable 104-97 loss. Mr. The Truth went off for 28 points and 12 boards, and Rajon "People Better Stop Comparing Me To Matt Maloney" Rondo had 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. The Pacers got 18 points out of Danny Granger and a smattering of points and stuff from a bunch of other losers I couldn't care less about. Crappy "Franchise Player" update: Jermaine "The Drain" O'Neal missed his 12th straight game with a bad case of not wanting to play.
• Did you feel that you weren't quite annoying enough without adding a delusional sense of grandeur? Because I promise you, you were annoying enough. In fact, you're the number one contender for the Middle Weight Annoyance crown. After going 0-for-8 through three quarters, Chauncy Billups scored 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting in the fourth, and the Pistons rallied for a 94-90 win over the Atlanta Hawks. And now he's "Mr. Big Shot" again. "You know me man, you know me," Billups said. "Late in games, if I have an opportunity, I'm going to take advantage of that, whether I'm hot or not. I always feel like that fourth quarter is a different game." Yeah. I think this is as good a time as any to remind everybody that Billups came up several big shots short in consecutive playoff flops against the Heat and Cavaliers. I'm not sure "Meaningless Regular Season Game Against Sub-.500 Team" really belongs on anybody's Big Shot resume. But maybe that's just me. Anyway, Rasheed Wallace carried Detroit for most of the game, scoring 21 points and nabbing 5 steals before fouling out. Josh Smith had 30 points for the dirty birds, while Al Horford grabbed 16 rebounds.
• Oh my God. I care so little I almost passed out! A mid-winter night's game between the Nets and Timberwolves in which the Player of the Game was Bostjan Nachbar...well, what can I say? Other than I'm about to set a new distance record for projectile vomiting. Vince Cater barely cared his way to 17 points and 10 assists, and Jason "There's still time to trade me!" Kidd just missed his 100th career triple double with 9 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists. Sebastian Telfair was the Timberwolves' top performer with 27 points and 7 assists.
• It smells like that odd combo of flopsweat, hopelessness, and feet. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2007-08 Miami Heat! The firestarters got 29 points and 10 assists - both game highs - from Dwyane Wade, 23 points and 18 rebounds from Shawn Marion, 19 points from Dorell Wright, and 18 points and 13 boards from Mark Blount. And they still didn't win. That's eight straight losses, and 23 defeats in 24 sad tries. You know, if you're still counting. The star of Denver's 114-113 win was J.R. Smith, who hit a career-best eight threes and netted 28 points. He also had a little help from his friends: Kenyon Martin scored 24, Carmelo Anthony added 22, and Marcus Camby did a little heavylifting with 16 rebounds and 7 blocked shots. Before the game, Wade told the Miami crowd, "I know it's been a tough year, but it won't last forever." But then Pookie missed a shot at the end of overtime that would have won the game. "Okay, then," said Wade. "Maybe it really will last forever."
• Oh sweet Jesus. I'm gagging and vomiting at the same time. I'm...I'm gavomiting! So much for Sacramento's big playoff push, huh? The Kings suffered a 107-94 setback to the Paul Gasol-less Grizzlies. Yes, the same team that has to play Jason Collins, Brian Cardinal, and Kwame Brown all in the same game. What's more, they got blitzkrieged by a career night from Hakim Warrick, who freaking exploded for 24 points and 13 rebounds. The Kings got 33 points out of Kevin Martin, 10 points and 13 rebounds out of Brad Miller, and I'm pretty sure Ron Artest actually skinned and ate a man during halftime, but none of that could prevent a loss to the league's new worst team.
• If someone had asked me this morning "Is there any way that I could have less respect for you geniuses?" I would have said, "No! No, that's not possible!" But, lo and behold, you went and pulled it off. Congratulations. The only problem is I'm...I'm fresh out of blue ribbons, so instead you're gonna have to settle for a lifetime supply of my foot up your ass! Now go home. You're not fit to work tonight. Ben Gordon and Luol Deng still aren't playing. John Paxson missed out on trading for Kevin Garnett and (possibly) Kobe Bryant, fed Scott Skiles to the sharks, and then watched the Lakers land Pau Gasol for practically nothing. And now Ben "Giant Crippling Contract" Wallace shows up late to pregame warmups. I'd say the Bulls were rapidly approaching "blow it the hell up" mode, but none of the players that could have helped them, and whom they possibly could have gotten, are available anymore. With that as the backdrop, the Bulls fell on their faces at home - again - and lost 100-86 to the Hornets. Chris Paul returned to his first-half-of-the-season MVP form by going for 25 points and 15 assists. David West and Peja Stojakovic gave the buzzing bee-like things 27 a piece, and former Bull Tyson Chandler had 16 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. Andres Nocioni led the Bulls with 28 points and a handful of floor burns.