Orlando jumps Boston for No. 2, and Al Harrington’s latest antics

By: 03.26.09  •  62 Comments

Dwight Howard

The numbers and the impact are MVP-like, but Dwight Howard will most likely have to settle for this year’s Defensive Player of the Year trophy. And, maybe, a two-seed in the playoffs. Dwight posted 24 points, 21 boards and four blocks in last night’s win over the Celtics, which put the Magic ahead of Boston for 2nd-place in the East. But as Jeff Van Gundy pointed out during the game, maybe Orlando would secretly rather take that third spot — right now their first-round matchup would be against the Pistons, who still have Dwight’s number. The Centaur would never admit it, but he’d 100% rather destroy Sam Dalembert for a series than battle McDyess, Maxiell and Rasheed … Boston was getting blown out late in the third quarter before rallying to cut the lead to one with 1:30 left in the fourth when Ray Allen hit a three and Paul Pierce wetted a jumper over Hedo. Orlando tried to stop the bleeding a couple times during that stretch by feeding Dwight in the post, but his Shaq-in-5th-Grade post game got in the way. When the Magic needed their superstar to either produce a bucket or get to the line, all he could muster was off-balance hook shots without an identifiable basketball move to set it up. Switch Dwight with Tim Duncan, and he gets something worthwhile out of those possessions … And without Dwight as a realistic option, the Magic had no one else besides Hedo who could create his own offense. But Hedo (3-18 FG) was having a terrible game and Boston’s defense definitely knew it … Down one in the final seconds, Pierce (26 pts, 7 rebs) drove the lane and got blocked by Howard. There was some contact at the rim, but only three people in the world would say it was a completely bad call: Pierce, Doc Rivers and Tommy Heinsohn. It really could have gone either way … Kevin Garnett played 16 minutes — Doc said he’s bumping the PT up to the 20’s next week — and four points with eight rebounds … Did Van Gundy really call Stu Scott a “superior broadcaster”? Does JVG know what “superior” means? … The Orlando win also helped them clinch the Southeast Division, along with the Hawks’ loss (at home, where they’ve been invincible lately) to the Spurs. In a game where where Manu Ginobili made his return (14 mins, 2 pts) and Duncan was given a night off, Tony Parker stole the show with 42 points (18-25 FG) and 10 dimes. Whether it was Mike Bibby, Flip Murray or Joe Johnson, nobody could keep TP in front of them, and the bigs provided zero shot-blocking presence to make him think twice about getting up shots in the paint. Mike Woodson in his old Hawks gear and Kevin Willis in his “Pros vs. Joes” uni would have been just as effective … Bibby had a gash opened up on his head thanks to an accidental Matt Bonner elbow, or as Sean Elliott would have called it, “Where’s the foul? Bibby maliciously tried to break Matt’s elbow with a head-butt.” …

UConn goes in the Sweet 16 tonight

UConn goes in the Sweet 16 tonight

Did you see Al Harrington‘s antics last night? No one’s gonna remember that he beasted the Clippers, giving them 38 points and generally shooting Al Thornton‘s face off. They will remember that after Harrington spun off Thornton and crammed on him to put NY up three with 27 seconds left, he hung on the rim and got whistled for a tech, leaving the door open for the Clips to eventually force overtime and win the game … But that’s not all. You might remember the last time the Knicks and Clips played, when Harrington pretty much did THE EXACT SAME THING and his team ended up losing by one point. Last night Mike D’Antoni looked like he was ready to kill Harrington, who was stomping around and pouting like Cuttino after Stevie got traded … And apparently the Knicks are to fast guards what the Warriors are to halfway-decent big men; everyone has a career day against them. Mike Taylor dropped 35 off the bench for the Clips … Other big stat lines from Wednesday: LeBron had 22 points, eight boards and 11 dimes in a win over New Jersey; Carmelo dropped 29 points in a win at New Orleans; Jose Calderon put up 19 points and 11 assists in a win over Milwaukee; Jason Terry and Dirk scored 26 apiece in a win over Golden State; Grant Hill scored 26 in a win over Utah, plus hitting his second game-winner this week; and Thad Young went for 29 points in a win over Minnesota … With the Wolves’ starters playing like crap as of late, Kevin McHale took “sending a message” to another level by benching all of his starters and sending Kevin Ollie, Bobby Brown, Rodney Carney, Brian Cardinal and Craig Smith out there to start the game against Philly. You hope he got the point across, because we don’t ever need to see Brian Cardinal trying to guard Thad Young again … If there’s one thing the Pacers do better than any team in the League, it’s blowing winnable games. Last night was almost the worst, though. Indy was up 10 on Miami with like 3-4 minutes left, then next thing you know, D-Wade (of course) sparks an 8-0 run. Miami had a chance to win on the last possession; being guarded by Brandon Rush, Wade shook the rookie in the corner and got a good look at a three, but it hit the rim about four times before going out … Half of the NCAA Sweet 16 field is in action tonight: UConn/Purdue, Memphis/Missouri, Pitt/Xavier and Duke/Villanova. In the name of Worst Timing Imaginable, the UConn game could turn into a two-hour “Outside the Lines” rehash of the Nate Miles recruiting scandal; not that the players will be distracted by this, but what about Jim Calhoun‘s focus? … We’re out like Harrington …

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