The WBF 2012-2013 NBA Season Thread


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1. Miami (58-16) - Last Week: 1

The Heat has only three road games left, including one at Charlotte on Friday. Don't be surprised if LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh miss some of those games, if not all of them.

2. San Antonio (56-20) - LW: 2

This isn't the way the Spurs want to finish the season, with Manu Ginobili sidelined with a hamstring injury and Tony Parker ineffective in a loss Thursday to the Thunder due to soreness in his shins.

3. Oklahoma City (55-20) - LW: 4

The Thunder's resounding home win over the Spurs means that if Kevin Durant and Co. win its remaining games, it'll get the top seed in the West for the playoffs.

4. Denver (52-24) - LW: 3

They've won 19 straight home games, their longest such streak since April 1989, but everyone out in the Mile High City is holding his breath and waiting for the news on Gallinari's injury.

5. Memphis (51-24) - LW: 6

The Grizzlies set a franchise mark for wins by getting its 51st in Portland the other night. Their previous high was 50 in 2003-04.

6. L.A. Clippers (50-26) - LW: 5

The Clippers can clinch their first Pacific Division title with a win Sunday afternoon against the visiting Lakers, or if the Warriors lose on Friday night against the visiting Suns.

7. Knicks (48-26) - LW: 9

Looks like it's November again, as the Knicks have reeled off a season-high 10 straight wins entering Friday's home game vs. the Bucks. They've got a big measuring stick contest Sunday down in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder is next to unbeatable.

8. Indiana (48-27) - LW: 8

Roy Hibbert is getting more touches and the Pacers' big man is doing something with the ball. During their recent 4-0 road trip, including a win in Los Angeles against the Clippers, he averaged 22.2 points on 59% shooting.

9. Nets (43-32) - LW: 7

With their win in Cleveland the other night, the Nets clinched their first winning season on the road since joining the NBA in 1976-1977. They've got 21 road wins.

10. Chicago (41-33) - LW: 10

The NBA's streak busters looked a little shaky since breaking Miami's 27-game winning streak. But they righted their ship by getting a big win in Brooklyn on Thursday night, outplaying the Nets in crunch time.

11. Golden State (43-32) - LW: 11

With David Lee notching his 50th double-double of the season - his first since arriving from New York - the Warriors have posted their highest win total since 2007-08, when they won 48 games.

12. Lakers (39-36) - LW: 12

They retired Shaquille O'Neal's 34, but when Kobe Bryant hangs it up, he's getting a statue outside Staples Center, in addition to having his number go up to the rafters.

13. Houston (42-33) - LW: 14

We don't see Jeremy Lin's team going far in the playoffs, but at least the Rockets have clinched their 18th winning season since 1992-93. Only the Spurs, with 20, have more in that span.

14. Atlanta (42-34) - LW: 13

As the Hawks are trying to nail down a top-five finish in the East, it sure would be nice if Josh Smith gave them the kind of play that will merit getting a maximum-salary contract.

15. Boston (39-36) - LW: 15

The Celtics could have Kevin Garnett back on Sunday vs. Washington. That would be huge, since they've struggled without him as he's missed the last seven games due to ankle problems.

16. Dallas (36-39) - LW: 16

If you're a Mavs fan, there are days when you wish that Mark Cuban would just stop talking. One of those came this past week when Cuban said he's looking into drafting Baylor women's basketball star Brittney Griner. With Cuban, sometimes it's all about making headlines.

17. Milwaukee (36-38) - LW: 17

They're moving toward a playoff berth, more because of the Sixers' struggles than their own success.

18. Utah (39-37) - LW: 18

The Jazz is going right to the wire to see if they can finish ahead of the Lakers for eighth place.

19. Portland (33-42) - LW: 19

What's Greg Oden doing these days? The former No. 1 overall pick was seen sitting courtside in Portland when the Blazers lost to Memphis, with Oden's best pal Mike Conley Jr. playing for the Grizzlies. Oden is a free agent and is rehabbing his latest knee injury.

20. Philadelphia (30-44) - LW: 23

You think Doug Collins has a tough job? How about his son Chris taking over at Northwestern University, where the Wildcats have never made the NCAA Tournament. Not even once.

21. Washington (28-47) - LW: 20

Rookie Bradley Beal's season is over with what they're calling a "stress injury" in his right leg. Sounds like a break to us.

22. Minnesota (28-46) - LW: 27

The Timberwolves have won two straight games for the first time since Dec. 15.

23. Sacramento (27-48) - LW: 21

Somehow, Sacramento is still in the hunt to keep the Kings, after its latest last-ditch effort to stop the team from moving to Seattle has the NBA considering having the franchise stay right

where it is. But even if they don't move, can we get some new owners, while we're at it?

24. New Orleans (26-49) - LW: 22

As they play out the string, the Hornets have not won a road game since Feb. 11.

25. Toronto (28-47) - LW: 25

After the Raptors play in Minnesota Friday, they'll end the season with six games against Eastern Conference teams headed to the playoffs.

26. Detroit (25-51) - LW: 28

Mark it down: Pistons coach Lawrence Frank isn't leaving the Pistons to come home to New Jersey to coach Rutgers.

27. Phoenix (23-52) - LW: 26

With 11 losses in their last 12 games, the Suns are on a mission to finish in last place in the West and they're succeeding.

28. Cleveland (22-52) - LW: 24

The Cavs' 10-game skid is its longest since losing an NBA-record 26 consecutive games from Dec. 20, 2010 to Feb. 9, 2011.

29. Orlando (19-57) - LW: 29

How do you think they felt down in Orlando when they saw the Lakers retire Shaq's number? He'll never get that honor from the Magic.

30. Charlotte (18-57) - LW: 30

After sitting for two months when he wasn't hurt but did not see any action, Tyrus Thomas has finally started playing again. One question: Why now?

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NY Knicks win over Thunder proves they are ready for NBA playoffs



OKLAHOMA CITY — Somebody scrawled a big 50 in blue marker on the greaseboard in the visiting locker room on Sunday, signifying the landmark victory the Knicks recorded when they outgunned the Oklahoma City Thunder.

As impressive as that might be for a franchise that had been racking up 50-loss seasons with alarming regularity not so long ago, it’s the way the Knicks won this game that might serve them well in the long run.

Obviously, we’re not talking about the way Mike Woodson’s team went about outshooting one of the top clubs in the Western Conference. It’s not every day that anyone can just walk into Kevin Durant’s house and outgun Durant and Russell Westbrook. But let’s face it, you’re not going to win many playoff games allowing 120 points on 58% shooting, which is just what the Knicks did as they notched their 12th straight win

What we are talking about is the way this team finally showed it can win a game when facing major adversity. These weren’t the Knicks who imploded in losses this season to Memphis, Chicago and Boston. Granted, in those games, the Knicks couldn’t contend with their opponents’ physical tactics, or what they perceived as bad officiating. Their meltdowns showed a real lack of mental toughness, starting with Carmelo Anthony.

On Sunday, there wasn’t a chance that Anthony was going to run down Durant after the game for his intimidating defense or trash talk. Because, frankly, Durant and the rest of the Thunder put up very little resistance as Anthony dominated on the offensive glass in the fourth quarter and J.R. Smith outshot every member of the Thunder when it counted.

But at least here, the Knicks showed they can deal with a hostile crowd and a top-notch opponent, and not crumble in the face of all of that adversity. “We didn’t get rattled when they made their runs at us," said Tyson Chandler, speaking with a broken tooth, courtesy of an Anthony elbow when he was playing volleyball off the glass. “This is a loud place and it’s easy to lose your cool in this building. But one thing we didn’t do is complain to the refs."

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Streaking Knicks spank Wizards for first Atlantic crown since ’94


The Knicks hadn’t won a division title in almost two decades, hadn’t finished atop the Atlantic since Carmelo Anthony was 10 years old. The wait seemed interminable — and thanks to Anthony’s dominance and last night’s 120-99 thrashing of the Wizards, it’s finally over.

Anthony poured in a game-high 36 points and the Knicks tied a club-record with 20 3-pointers to run their winning streak to 13 games and claim their first division crown since 1994 — and the right to wear the T-shirts that hung in their lockers afterwards: “Can’t Stop NY Knicks. 2013 Division Champions.â€


“It means a lot. It means we’re headed in the right direction,’’ coach Mike Woodson said. “When you set goals and you accomplish them, it means a lot to your franchise and your fans.’’

It’s not the ultimate goal — that would be the shiny gold trophies plastered above those lockers, like championship carrots dangling in front of them. But don’t try to tell them it’s meaningless — not after this long a wait. Just call it the latest and biggest step on a journey they hope ends in June with a parade.

“It was our No. 1 goal,†said J.R. Smith, one of six Knicks in double figures with 17 points. “Coming into camp, we kept talking about it, and the coaching staff put it in our minds we can do it and we will. Fortunately we did. It’s a great thing to achieve one of our main goals; now we just have to go get that gold ball. We still have so much to prove not only to everybody else but to ourselves. We want to be a great team.’’

The Knicks (51-26) took a step toward that with their fifth outright division crown — they tied the Celtics in 1991-92 but lost the tiebreaker for playoff seeding — and first since 1994. Their winning streak is the third-best in club history, and they did it despite losing yet another big man.

Kenyon Martin, who started at center despite being questionable with a knee injury, sprained his left ankle with 10:28 left in the blowout. They had already rested Tyson Chandler (neck), and have been without Amar’e Stoudemire, Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby. But they had Anthony and a rain of 3s; it was enough.

Anthony had his fifth straight game with at least 35 points to match Bernard King’s Knicks record. He had 21 points in the third quarter alone, when the Knicks outscored the woebegone Wizards 37-28.

“Coming out of halftime we huddled and I said, ‘Let’s go get this game over with. Let’s go get our division title, let’s not play around with it,’ ’’ said Anthony, who added eight boards and six assists.

“There’s no reason not to have a smile on our face. We accomplished one of our goals [from training] camp. It’s a stepping stone for us. We took care of the division. Now it’s about finishing out strong and trying to make a push in the playoffs.’’

The Knicks (51-26) lead Indiana for the No. 2 seed in the East by 2 ½ games, with five games left. The Knicks lost the season series and the tiebreaker to the Pacers, but they and Anthony are in their best form of the season.

“I know what he was thinking; he was thinking about winning the division tonight. That’s how he played in the third quarter,’’ Woodson said. “He’s been beautiful to watch all season, because he’s been doing it on both ends of the floor. Your best player has to make guys better, and the way he’s playing he’s doing that.’’

Iman Shumert scored 18, Chris Copeland had 17 and Raymond Felton added 10 points and eight assists. The Knicks shot 9-of-12 from 3-point range in the first quarter and 20-of-36 for the night, leading by as much as 71-49 in the third before coasting.

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Kobe Bryant scores 47 points as Lakers stay in playoff position



PORTLAND, Ore. -- It didn't matter that it was the Rose Garden. The "M-V-P!" chant for Kobe Bryant was loud and clear.

Bryant scored a season-high 47 points and carried the Los Angeles Lakers closer to a playoff berth with a 113-106 victory over the short-handed but tenacious Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

The Lakers moved a full game up on the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.


"We've got no breathing room at all," Bryant said. "I'm still on edge. We've got to win three more games and we're in."

Portland, missing the playoffs for the second straight season, has lost nine straight, the most since an 11-game skid in the 2005-06 season. Rookie Damian Lillard led the Blazers with a career-high 38 points.

Pau Gasol had 23 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, while Dwight Howard added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers. Bryant was 18 of 18 from the free throw line and played the entire game, determined to pull out a win after trailing early.

"What he (Bryant) is doing is phenomenal. He's determined to get us in the playoffs," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "That's what happens when you open your mouth and guarantee that we'll get in the playoffs."

Bryant vowed in late February that his team would make it to the postseason. The Lakers wrap up the regular season at home with games against playoff-bound Golden State, San Antonio and Houston.

Gasol knotted the game at 96 with a layup and a jumper with 7:09 left. After Lillard's 15-footer, Gasol added another jumper to tie it again. His layup gave the Lakers a 102-100 edge before Bryant hit a pair of free throws and added a 23-foot jump shot with 4:09 left to make it 106-100.

Howard's alley-oop dunk from Gasol with 53 seconds left made it 110-104 and all but sealed it.

For much of the game, it seemed like Bryant the veteran against Lillard the upstart rookie.

"He's spectacular ... really fantastic," Bryant said of the Blazers' five-time rookie of the month. "A lot of players get hot, but he's got the moves, patience, intelligence, the balance on his jumpers. He's the real deal."

Lillard has grown up admiring Bryant.

"I got to guard him and he got to guard me," Lillard said. "I enjoyed the challenge."

The deck was stacked from the start against the Blazers, who started four rookies for the first time in the team's history.

Portland was without starters Wesley Matthews (ankle), J.J. Hickson (back) and Nicolas Batum (right shoulder). As a result, two-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge was the only veteran starting with rookie forward Victor Claver, guards Lillard and Will Barton, and center Meyers Leonard.

Matthews injured his right ankle in Portland's 96-91 loss to Dallas on Sunday, while Batum was missing his fourth straight game with a sore shoulder. Hickson says he's been dealing with a painful lower back for the past several games.

But the rookies got off to an astonishingly fast start, going up 17-8 on Lillard's fadeaway jumper. Lillard banked in a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 22-12 and the Blazers made eight of their first nine shots from the field.

He hit another 3 to make it 35-25 and the Blazers went on to lead 41-33 at the end of the first, their most points in the opening quarter this season.

The Lakers chipped away at the lead and Bryant's long jumper on the baseline closed Los Angeles to 50-48.

The Blazers led 69-61 at the break, but the Lakers opened the second half with a 10-0 run capped by Howard's hook shot to pull ahead 71-69, their first lead of the game. Howard's layup extended the lead to 78-71.

The Blazers were hurt when Claver rolled his ankle late in the third quarter and retreated to the locker room, but they stayed on the Lakers' heels, coming within 86-85 on Eric Maynor's running jumper and pulling in front on Luke Babbitt's 3 pointer.

Maynor's fadeaway put Portland up 95-90.

"It was a very good effort by our team, but unfortunately we couldn't pull it out," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "A couple of plays down the stretch could have gone either way, a couple of shots could have gone either way. For the most part, I thought it was a well-played game against a team that's pretty hungry to make the playoffs."











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Heat clinch NBA's best record without Big Three



WASHINGTON -- While LeBron James and Dwyane Wade chilled at the end of the bench -- and with Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem also out of the lineup -- the Miami Heat's B-squad set a franchise record for 3-point attempts, broke the franchise record for victories in a season and clinched home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

So, here's the matter for debate. If they can beat the Washington Wizards -- a lottery team trying to finish ninth -- how would the what-was-left-over of the Heat rank among all NBA teams?

"Most definitely we would be a playoff team," said Rashard Lewis, who scored 17 points in Wednesday's 103-98 win. "Probably not a top-three team, but I think anywhere from there we'd be fighting for a playoff spot, just because we've got a lot of veterans on the team, a lot of smart guys on the team that know how to play the game."


Lewis must have been dreaming when he said that. At least that's how Washington's Martell Webster felt.

"Then he woke up, right?" Webster said. "Honestly, no. We should have blown that team out, to tell you the truth."

The Heat committed a season-high 25 turnovers and chucked up the ball AAU-style, shooting 41 3-pointers and making 17. Still, that was enough to get the win that assures they'll finish better than the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs.

The Heat, who have won four straight, also reached 62 wins for the first time, moving one ahead of the 1996-97 team.

"It does mean something to us in that locker room," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We haven't been here before as a franchise. It's a minor thing. We want to keep the main thing, the main thing. But at the same time it is a nice accomplishment.

"The home court, we have it. But we don't want to be afraid of it."


"You can't be afraid of success," Spoelstra said. "We've had a target on our back all year, and in the playoffs, that's the way it should be. ... They had to earn that home court, and so they'll have to prove it when they get there."

Ray Allen scored 23 points, leading five Heat players in double figures. A.J. Price tied a career high with 23 points, and John Wall had 17 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds for the Wizards, who had won nine straight at home.

James (right hamstring) and Wade (sprained ankle and bruised knee) watched the game looking like two guys sitting at a bus stop, Bosh stayed home and missed a third straight game with flu-like symptoms, and Haslem got the night off because of a sore right ankle.

James played in Tuesday night's 94-83 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, but the Heat are playing it safe with the reigning league MVP.

"Not a setback," Spoelstra said. "Want to make sure he feels right. He was a little bit tight yesterday after the game."

Wade missed his sixth consecutive game. Haslem sat out after recording his first double-double of the season on Tuesday. He said he felt a pain when he planted while chasing a rebound, but he doesn't expect to be sidelined for long.

"I don't want it to be a situation where I go into the playoffs with something nagging," Haslem said.

The absence of the big names gave the game a low-key, exhibition feel. The Heat committed 11 turnovers in the first quarter, yet still had a three-point lead. Miami finished with more 3-pointers (17) than 2-pointers (16).

Neither team led by double digits until the Heat went ahead 98-88 with 2:53 remaining, with a three-point play and a 3-pointer by Allen keying the decisive run.

The game fit a recent Wizards pattern of playing to the level of their competition.

"I don't know if we've beat a team this year that's had their main guys out," coach Randy Wittman said. "That's got to be remedied somehow."

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T-Mac back: McGrady signs deal with Spurs


Tracy McGrady is joining the San Antonio Spurs.

"It's official," McGrady told in a text message Tuesday afternoon.

The 33-year-old McGrady will be eligible to play for the Spurs during the playoffs because he was not on an NBA roster as of March 1. He said he will not play in San Antonio's regular-season finale on Wednesday night against Minnesota.


McGrady last played in the NBA during the 2011-12 season, averaging 5.3 points and 16.1 minutes per game for Atlanta.

He played in the Chinese Basketball Association this year, averaging 25 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists.

Asked how much he can contribute to the Spurs, who recently released Stephen Jackson, McGrady was humble.

"I guess that's the unknown," he said.

Despite his terrific individual career, McGrady, who led the NBA in scoring in 2003 and 2004, is widely known for never having won an NBA playoff series.

With the second-seeded Spurs set to face either the Houston Rockets or Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, this may be his best chance.

"Whatever happens, I'm just glad to be a part of this environment," McGrady said via text. "[it's] something I never experienced while being my best!"

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