The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who generally shows up to work about 15 minutes late (he uses the side door so his boss doesn't see him). After that, he just sort of spaces out for an hour. Yeah, he just stares at his desk, but it looks like he's working. He does that for probably another hour after lunch too. In a given week, he probably only does about 15 minutes of real, actual work...and that's on Basketbawful. Enjoy!
• He even turns in his TPS reports on time. Manu Ginobili did everything for the Spurs in last night's 93-88 win over the Raptors. Literally everything. He scored a season-high 34 points. He grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds. He dished 6 assists. He handed out Gatorade during timeouts. He gave Tim Duncan a foot rub at halftime (no happy ending, though). He referred Gregg Popovich to a really good dermatologist. He even advanced his paladin to level 60 in World of Warcraft. "He can do everything," Toronto's Carlos Delfino said. "He can split atoms, turn pure evil into delicious buttermilk pancakes...did you know he actually traveled back in time to help me pass Geometry? True story." Duncan added 22 points and 13 rebounds, but only because Manu let him. The mighty dinos got a career-high 27 points out of Jose Calderon and 12 out of Andrea Bargnani. New player watch: Damon Stoudemire had 2 points (1-for-5), 4 rebounds and zero assists.
• So that means that every single day that you see me, that's the worst day of my life. And that certainly describes the last two days of the Mavs' collective life. One night after getting blasted by the Nets (22-29), the Mavericks scored 23 points in the second half - and only 10 in the fourth quarter! - and lost 84-76 to the Sixers (22-30). To summarize: That's two consecutive embarrassing losses to sub-.500 Eastern Conference teams. Yeah, we're gonna need to go ahead and move the Mavs downstairs to storage B, mmmkay? Andre Miller, your reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, was Philly's player of the night with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists. Meanwhile, Dallas got 17 points from Josh Howard (before leaving in fourth quarter with a back injury), 15 from Dirk Diggler (who was also in and out of the game with a sore back), and DNP-CDs from Jerry Stackhouse (hamstring) and Erick Dampier (sucks). Devin Harris also missed his eigth straight game (bruised left ankle).
• If things go well, he might be showing us his O-face. Oh. Oh. Wow. Larry Hughes totally bukaked all over the Orlando Magic, scoring a season-high 40 points on 12-for-19 shooting in the Cleveland's 118-111 win. Yes, that Larry Hughes. Lebron James, having recovered from the previous day's temper tantrum, made his own kingly contribution with 29 points and 10 assists. Hedo "The Turkish Assassin" Turkoglu put in 25 points for the Magic, and Dwight Howard had 16 and 9, but spent most of the night totally spaced out on defense and on the boards. Hey, he's young, and he's looking ahead to the All-Star Game. Admit it, you are too.
• Oh, and next Friday is Hawaiian shirt day. So, you know, if you want to you can go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans. The Lakers lived a casual Friday last night, beating the Bobcats 106-97 behind The Black Mamba's 31 points. Raymond Felton scored 29 and Nazr Mohammed added 22 for the 'Cats, who - at 18-34 - are miraculously only four and a half games out of the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot. New player watch: Pau Gasol had 26 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
• Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays. After dropping a 96-89 stinkbomb to the Clippers, the Bucks fell to 0-6 on Mondays this season. Look boys, nobody wants to work on Monday, but let's try to be professionals, huh? Meanwhile, the Clippers finished a successful - for them anyway - 3-4 road trip behind Al Thorton's 25 points and Sam Cassell's 21 points and 8 assists. Mo Williams had 31 pieces of flair - that's 16 more than the minimum! - but that couldn't prevent a third straight loss for the Bucks who are, as it turns out, also 0-8 on Fridays.
• I'll tell you what I'd do, man. Two chicks at the same time. I mean, as long as everything else is going their way, you know? After a 95-93 smackdown of the Trailblazers, the Rockets have won seven straight games - their longest streak in three years - and 11 of their last 12, and 16 of 20. The Great Wall of Yao put up 25 points and 7 rebounds, Rafer Alston had 17 points and 7 assists, and Tracy McGrady added 12 points. LeMarcus Aldridge led the losers with 22 points, Joel Przybilla had 9 rebounds, and Brandon Roy - who missed the last two games because of a death in the family - returned to score 15 and dish 8 assists.
• I could set the building on fire. And that's exactly what Stephen Jackson did at Oracle Arena, netting 41 points, hitting the go-ahead three-pointer, and scoring 10 of the Warriors' 12 straight points in the closing minutes of their 120-117 firefight with the Wizards. I guess that'll teach them to take his stapler. Baron Davis added 19 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists to help the Golden Staters overcome a 17-point halftime deficit. Roger Mason (who??) scored a career-high 32 points and Antawn Jamison tossed in 25 for the Wiz, who have lost eight straight and are still without Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antonio Daniels. New player watch: Chris Webber sucked.