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Playoff Ball In December

The NBA Closer is written by our own Canadian weekend maestro J.E. Skeets. When he's not busy scouring the box scores or stretching, he can be heard on The Basketball Jones daily podcast. Enjoy!

Tiny Revenge. After last season's heartbreaking (and Stern tainted) playoff loss to the Spurs, it was pretty obvious that the Suns could use some extra leadership. Enter Grant Hill. G-Money netted 22 points in his rivalry debut, including four big ones in the final minute, to push the Suns past the Spurs 100-95. The loss was San Antonio's first by the river walk this season. After being held Bowen-less scoreless in the first half, STEVEN J. NASH finished with 10 points, 10 assists and eight boards, to ruin Duncan's monster 36-point, 17-rebound night. Sean Marks finished with a DNP-CD in the win.


Don't Stop. The last time the Blazers managed a winning month, Colin Powell was still serving under Bush, World of Warcraft was brand new and Ron Artest was running wild. (OK, so it was just November 2004. I tried my best to make it dramatic.) Brandon Roy led Portland to its eighth straight win with 24 points and eight assists as the Blazers swatted the visiting Hornets, 88-76. Martell Webster added 13, Steve Blake 12. "When you've won seven in a row you start to believe you can win every game," said Roy post-game. "That, and that The Hills is real."

Be Like Mike Redux. The following takes place between 11:35 and 0:51 in the third quarter: Dunleavy running jump shot. Dunleavy running bank shot. Dunleavy layup. Dunleavy driving layup. Dunleavy free throws. Dunleavy reverse layup, plus one. Dunleavy driving layup. Dunleavy three. Dunleavy layup. And finally, two more Dunleavy free throws. Okay, now try and guess which team 'lil Dun hung a career-high 36 points on to beat 119-92. Here's a hint. Any guesses?

A Picture's Worth About Thirty Words. The Armadillo Cowboy (Joe Johnson) scored 26 points, including 20 in the second half, as the Hawks — CAW! — ended a five-year, nine-game losing streak to the Jazz, 116-111. Put another, simpler way: the "umpires" controlled the game (92 attempted free throws); it was "raining" buckets (Hawks shot 57%); and Carlos Boozer was "ugly" good (season-high 39 points with 12 rebounds).

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