The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who would use the power of Mighty Science to clone the pet turtle who died when he was 12, and probably Lynda Carter. When he's not fantasizing about a harem of Wonder Woman clones, he can be found manipulating DNA at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
• You know, it's amazing what we can do with a little blood sample these days. The Phoenix Suns - unsure whether Shaq can stay healthy for the remainder of the season and facing questions about their team depth - have decided to violate the very laws of nature and create several Shaq clones to fill out their roster. Unfortunately, the first attempts went...less well than they'd hoped. The first two clones basically look like white teenagers in Shaq masks. And they each have five asses. But the Suns medical staff has vowed to perfect the process, right after they finish a castle seige with their World of Warcraft guild. In the meantime, the real Shaq made his Phoenix debut with 15 points (6-for-9), 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocked shots, and 1 dive for a loose ball that wiped out referee David Guthrie. Oh, and he almost killed teammate Raja Bell with an inadvertent elbow. Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant cockblocked the win by scoring 41 points despite his fake pinkie injury and the Lakers won 130-124. But regardless of the final score, Shaq proved he can keep up with the Suns' helter-skelter pace. and showed that he can add a whole new dimension to an already great team. To be continued ...
• He's simply the best...better than all the rest. It was a hell of a lot harder than it probably should have been, but the Mavericks finally got their man, and now they can go to war with one of the best point guards in the game. The bad news for them, last night anyway, was that they had to face the team with the best point guard in the game. Chris Paul totally disrespected his elder with 31 points, 11 assists, and a career-high 9 steals. Kidd, on the other hand, ended up with 8 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 turnovers, and a concession that Paul totally kicked his ass. "I caused a couple of breakdowns. I have some bad habits. I just have to make some adjustments and look at the game." Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 31 points and 8 rebounds, but poor ball movement continued to plague Dallas despite the addition of Kidd; they had only 13 assists and committed 17 turnovers. Things should get better after Kidd gets a few practices under his belt. And, of course, when he doesn't have to go head-to-head with Chris Paul.
• The "Fire Isiah" campaign hits the road. Isiah Thomas can't escape that chant. He hears it at Madison Square Garden, he hears it on the streets of New York, and he probably even hears it in his dreams. And last night, near the end of the Knicks' 40-point road loss to the 76ers, he heard it in Philadelphia. Isiah, how did this make you feel? "We've had our good moments and we've had our share of bad moments." Okay, then. Well, how are you going to turn things around? "We've got to keep working. All we can do is keep working." But coach, you've been "working" for years. Why hasn't anything changed? "My guy's minds were elsewhere." Right. You know what? I can't even make fun of Isiah anymore. He's reached Dead Man Walking status. So on the flipside, Philly shot 57 percent from the field, 50 percent from the Land of Three, and forced 23 turnovers in their 124-84 win. Willie Green led six Sixers in double figures with 21 points.
• Superman: Pwned! If Dwight Howard is the league's new Superman, then Chris Bosh must be Lex Luthor, and he smacked his nemesis upside the head with a roll of Kryptonite quarters last night. Bosh scored 40 points on 14-for-16 shooting - most of which were up in Howard's face - and Jose Calderon added 19 points and 13 assists as the Raptors hit 58 percent of their shots to blast the Magic 127-11o. Howard had 37 points and 15 rebounds, but Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said Bosh "destroyed" him. "Chris Bosh, we could not guard," said Van Gundy. "We're going to have to think about double-teaming him next time." Hey, that's not a bad idea. There's a reason he's the head coach!
• Psssst...somebody's glad that J-Kidd is gone. Being Jason Kidd's backup is kind of like being a poisonous midget trainer in a circus that doesn't have any poisonous midgets. In other words, it would take a series of cosmic coincidences for you to be able to do your job. But as soon as Kidd redeemed his "Get Out Of Jersey Free" card, Marcus Williams was ready to take on the world, starting with the Chicago Bulls. Williams scored a season-high 25 points and made a key steal in overtime to help the Nets improve to 1-0 in the Post-Jason Kidd Era with a 110-102 win over the Bulls. "If felt good to go out there and not have to look over your shoulder after every mistake you make," Williams said. "With Jason there, you make a mistake and you probably come out. You know now that the coaches and your teammates have confidence in you...basically because they have no other choice." Richard Jefferson finished with 24 points, and Vince Carter showed what he can do when he actually gives a crap by scoring a season-high 33 before leaving with 6.6 seconds left in overtime due to a
vagina hamstring cramp. Joe Smith led the Bulls with 17 points and 9 rebounds.
• This just in: The MVP race is officially over. According to Cleveland coach Mike Brown anyway. "LeBron...what can I say? He's the MVP. He's the MVP this year. I don't care how many games are left or what not. This guy is terrific. He just does everything on the floor." Brown this submitted photographic evidence of James scoring, rebounding, passing, balancing Donyell Marshall's checkbook, advising Barack Obama on his presidential campaign and composing a Shakespearean sonnet in perfect iambic pentameter. "Why, he even makes a mean quiche," said Brown, rubbing his belly. "I know it sounds gay, but seriously, you have to try it." King James left the quiche at home, but he served up a steaming plate of whupass in the form of his second consecutive triple double - 31 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists - as the Cavaliers beat the Pacers 106-97. Larry Hughes added 19 points, and the knobby-headed Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 14 points and 17 rebounds. Danny Granger led the Pacers with 30 points, 8 rebounds, and a big bushel of sour grapes. "This was another game we should have won," Granger said. "We choked and made bad plays at the end. They hit shots when they needed to. We didn't." Well, sounds like Danny finally figured out what it means to be a Pacer.
• Okay. It's time to clean house. Getting blown out by the Magic at home was bad enough, but their 103-98 loss to the Bucks just proves that the Pistons need to blow things up and rebuild. Can you cut an entire starting five? And if so, would they be able to sign with a contender before the end of the season? Tell Chauncy Billups that Cleveland needs a point guard, and let 'Sheed know that Phoenix could use a defensive-minded big man.
• The Celtics must have caught Nuggetitis in Denver. Because they got into a defenseless shootout for the second straight night, and - surprise! - lost 119-117 to the Golden State Warriors. Baron Davis scored 29 points and hit a 20-foot jumper with 0.3 seconds left to secure the win. Jesus Shuttlesworth showed he got game by leading the C's with 32 points, and Kevin Garnett added 17 points and 15 rebounds in his second game back from a pulled tummy muscle. But the Golden Staters got 26 points from Monta Ellis and another 21 points and 13 rebounds out of Andris Biedrins to outduel the league's best team (record-wise, anyway).