The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who secretly wishes that the NBA regular season was even longer. When he's not formally requesting that David Stern institute a 300-game season, you can find him engaged in thrilling intellectual debates regarding fart jokes at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
Agent Zero is back! Unfortunately, he must have left his swag at home. Hibachi scored 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting in his return, but the Wizards choked up a nine-point lead in the final 7:23 and lost 110-109 to the Bucks on a buzzer-beating jumper by...Ramon Sessions?! Yes, Ramon Sessions, whoever that it. (Oh...he's a rookie out of Nevada who's played in only nine games this season. Hope that clears things up.) Washington was leading by a point with 1.1 seconds left but failed to get a defensive stop when Royal Ivey inbounded the ball to Andrew Bogut who tossed it to Sessions who iced the game like an Eastern Conference assassin.
The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away: Not only did the Wiz drop the game, DeShawn Stevenson rolled his ankle and Antawn Jamison hurt his shoulder diving into the crowd trying to save a loose ball. Ouch. Also, the Bucks may have won the game, but Atlanta's win over Toronto mathematically eliminated them from the playoffs. But good effort, guys.
LeBron fouls out, Cavs still win. Who'd a thunk it? I don't know what's more surprising: That Wally Szczerbiak, Devin Brown and Zydrunas Ilgauskas went all clutchtastic after LeBron fouled out, or the fact that NBA officials are still calling fouls on LeBron. All I can say is somebody's getting a talking to from David Stern tomorrow morning. King James compiled 29 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists before getting the boot, then watched from the bench as his teammates bailed him out for a change. Wally World hit a jump shot, Brown drained a couple 'throws, and the Z-Man dropped in two buckets to give Cleveland a 113-106 lead. Jason Richardson (31 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists) drilled a couple threes to pull the Bobcats to within two, but Brown sealed the 118-114 victory with another pair from the line.
After the game, Bron Bron was still fuming about the foul out. "There were a couple questionable [calls]. I know how to keep myself out of foul trouble for the most part. In my career I've done a great job of that." (Note: Telling the refs "I'm LeBron James, bitches!" doesn't count as "knowing how to stay out of foul trouble." I'm just sayin'.)
Holy home cooking, Batman! Science hasn't cured cancer or even explained why we yawn, but it has proven that last night's game between Toronto and Atlanta should have ended on T.J. Ford's buzzer-beating floater at the end of regulation. However, cunning Phillips Arena officials started the clock early with 0.5 seconds remaining so the bucket didn't count. And it was on to overtime, where the homecourt Hawks prevailed over the roadscrewed Raptors 127-120. The only thing missing was the Atlanta mascot hitting Chris Bosh from behind with a steel chair. Mike Bibby (26 points, 12 assists) hit a three-pointer at what turned out to be the end of the fourth to force the overtime session.
Conan would be so proud. (If, you know, he was a real person.) The Boston Celtics continue to crush their enemies, then drive them forward to the lamentations of the women. Last night's crushees were the Indiana Pacers, who gave it their all in a 92-77 loss. (Yes, that really was their all.) Kevin Garnett put on his MVP pants, scoring 20 points to go along with 12 rebounds and 4 assists. KG also patrolled the paint like a crouching tiger (or was that a hidden dragon?), forcing the Pacers to bomb away from the outside...which didn't work out so well for them (35 percent from the field and 6-for-29 from beyond the arc).
Sweet, sweet history: Boston not only reached the 60-win plateau for the first time since 1985-86, they also matched the record for the best single-season turnaround in NBA history. (FYI: The record is 36 games, originally set by the Spurs in 1996-97, which just so happened to be Tim Duncan's first year in the league.)
The NBA really needs to institute a slaughter rule. Would you just stand by and watch while some poor dude was getting the holy crap beaten out of him? I mean other than when you're watching the Ultimate Fighting Championships. Of course you wouldn't. So why is David Stern forcing the Heat to finish out their horrific season? This team can only take so many 30-point beatings before Chris Quinn tries to kill himself. And since Quinn attended college at Notre Dame, I'm guessing he's Catholic, which means suicide is a mortal sin and he'll never get into heaven. Do you really want that on your conscience, David Stern? Put an end to this madness.
Postscript: Tyson Chandler scored 20 points on perfect 10-for-10 shooting to lead the Hornets to comfy-cozy 106-77 victory. The win allowed New Orleans to hold onto the number one seed in the West. Not bad, huh?
NBA Action is so freakin' FAN-tastic! Knicks versus Grizzlies! Yeah baby...yeah! See, this is part of what's so cool about the end of the NBA regular season: There are games you can just totally ignore the hell out of. (Memphis won 130-114, by the way.)
Revenge game! Hey, Minnesota. Remember that homecourt win you had over Utah a few days ago? Well, the Jazz did too. And they weren't happy about it. But don't feel bad. The 117-100 setback was hardly your worst loss of the season. Utah shot 60 percent from the field and had seven players in double figures, with Deron Williams (19 points, 14 assists, 3 steals) leading the way. Despite the one-sided loss, Marko Jaric had himself a game with 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists. And damn, man, have you seen his girlfriend? Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go figure out how to become a Yugoslavian beefcake. Hmm, maybe I'll go roll around in toxic waste. That should do it.
Memo to Don Nelson: Your team is so screwed. Dirk Nowitzki made a surprise return and the Dallas Mavericks went off on the Golden State Warriors en route to a 111-86 rout. Josh Howard scored 28, Herr Dirk added 18, and Jason Kidd had one of "those games" (5 points, 11 rebounds, 17 assists, 4 steals). Hey, maybe the Mavs will reach the postseason after all! Thank goodness. It just wouldn't feel like the NBA playoffs without Dallas suffering their inevitable crushing defeat.
What the hell are you doing, dude?! Elton Brand inexplicably returned to action after missing the first 74 games of the regular season to score 13 fourth-quarter points and lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 102-84 win over the Seattle To Be Named Laters. Nobody really knows why Brand would screw up his team's grand tanking plans this way, but I'm sure it's completely unrelated to the fact that he can opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer. I can't believe you'd even suggest such a thing! The Sonics have now dropped 19 of their last 21 games and would have to win their last seven games - against Houston (twice), Denver, Dallas (twice), San Antonio, and Golden State - to avoid having the worst season in franchise history. But on the bright side, Kevin Durant scored 30. R-O-Y! R-O-Y! R-O...aw, forget it.
No surprises here. I really didn't think the Trail Blazers could put up much of a fight against the Lakers without Brandon Roy, but they did. And lost anyway. L.A. 104, Portland 91. Kobe had 36 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, and that goddamn arrogant smile I hate so much. Oh, and Pau Gasol was back with 10 points and 6 boards. Yay.