The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who thinks he could probably score five points in a quarter if he was in the NBA. Or...not. When he isn't suffering from delusions of grandeur, he can be found keeping it real at Basketbawful. Enjoy!
• Five points. Five points! There was a five-point first quarter in the NBA last night. Yes, you read that correctly. And you might be tempted to assume that the culprits behind a crapapolooza of that magnitude were the Memphis Grizzlies, or maybe the Minnesota Timberwolves. If so, you'd be wrong. No, it was your defending champion San Antonio Spurs, folks! The fact that this poop party was organized and thrown by the current league title holders makes it a little extra embarrassing. It's like finding out the President of the United States choked and fainted while eating a pretzel. Or fell off his bike. Or fell off a Segway scooter. Or got caught picking his nose at a professional baseball game. Or couldn't even display a basic working knowledge of the English language. You know, for example. The Spurs set new franchise lows for points, field goals made (1-for-17), and shooting percentage (6 percent) in a quarter. And they won the game! Because fortunately for them, they were playing the Hawks. Tim Duncan was the Spurs' Rock of Gibraltar, scoring 23 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, while Tony Parker added 15 points and 9 assists in his third game back from a fake injury. Joe Johnson scored 17 for the Hawks, who can now add "Couldn't win a game after holding our opponent to five points in the first quarter" to their resume of woe.
• Police say Pacers' Marquis Daniels not a suspect in rape. Yes, that's a real headline. And the very fact that I was surprised it read "not a suspect" probably tells you everything you need to know about the way things have gone for the Indiana Pacers the last few years. Crowd-clearing brawls, bar fights, assault and battery by the team's mascot, random car shootings, and a strip-club incident in which a player kicked a man with a deformed arm and got run over by a car before randomly firing his pistol into the air. So, yeah, it's just another day in the life of the Pacers franchise. Speaking of which, they lost again, this time a 102-98 setback to the Toronto Raptors. Carlos Delfino felt a fiery passion for kicking Pacer butt and scored 23 points on 7-for-9 shooting, including 6-for-7 from three-point range. Chris Bosh added 24 points and 10 rebounds for the fighting dinos. Indiana's Danny Granger had 20 points and 10 rebounds, cementing his place as the most talented Jehovah's Witness in the league.
• Big trouble in the Big Easy. DeShawn Stevenson hit the very first game-winning shot of his six-year NBA career last night, helping the Washington Wizards capture a 95-92 win and sending the New Orleans Hornets to their third straight loss. Stevenson's heroics are even more amazing since he was apparently dying before the game. According to Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, anyway. "DeShawn is playing through some ailments. He was on the training table after the Cleveland game with doctors all around him...." Holy crap! Those "ailments" must be pretty serious if he needs to be treated by an entire team of doctors after a game. What's the hell's wrong with him?! Apparently nothing that scoring 33 points and crushing your enemies can't fix. Chris Paul, meanwhile, was noble in defeat (22 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists).
• Larry Hughes: Still not the answer. Game 3 of the Larry Hughes Experiment ended with - surprise! - another loss for the Bulls, who fell 102-94 to the Dallas Mavericks. In the first home game of his second stint with the Mavs, Jason Kidd barely missed a triple-double by racking up 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists. "I was happy to be back home," Kidd said. Of course, that can be loosely translated to "I am happy to be the hell out of New Jersey." Ben Gordon led the Bulls with 25 points, and Larry Hughes shot like Larry Hughes by going 4-for-11 for his 14 points.
• Okay. Maybe they can hold off on the rebuilding process. Remember how, just a few games ago, the Detroit Pistons were "reeling" after back-to-back losses to the Magic and Bucks? Yeah, well, I wouldn't start writing their team eulogy just yet. One day removed from destroying the Suns in Phoenix, the Pistons pulled out a 98-93 win over the Nuggets in Denver. Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, and Tayshaun Prince each scored 20 points, but Detroit's real hero was the Nuggets' J.R. Smith, who boned a couple of freethrows that would have tied the game with 6.5 seconds left. "I feel awful," said Smith. And he should. He really, really should.
• Prepare to be shocked. Prepare to be astounded. Because the Celtics beat the Clippers! Yeah, that was a real mind-bender, wasn't it? Paul Pierce led five Bostonites in double-figures with 17 points as the Celtics finished up their five-game Western Conference road trip with a 104-76 victory. "The last game of a road trip is always the toughest game because you have a tendency of wanting to be back home," said Ray Allen. "But fortunately for us, we were playing the Clippers." Meanwhile, Los Angeles fell to 1-6 without Chris Kaman.