Only three games were on the schedule last night, but as is the case every night in the NBA, storylines were abundant.
1. The Wizards won’t make the playoffs, but two things are for sure. They’ll play seed spoilers. And John Wall continues his one man campaign for not only max-player relevancy – my thoughts about that here – but to prove he deserves to stand beside RG3, Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Alex Ovechkin as legit franchise cornerstones in Chocolate City. He’s also become a one-man wrecking crew. Just days after trash-talking President Obama for an awful shooting performance at the White House, Wall went out and hung a near triple-double on Barry’s political hometown Bulls (27-8-9-3). We’ll blame the Prez’s 2-22 shooting performance during a recent children’s basketball clinic on North Korea. Just know, Barack, you’ve now let John Starks off the hook for his Game 7 performance in the ’94 Finals. I hope you’re happy about this.
2. Sans LeBron and D-Wade, Carmelo hung half a century on the Heat last night for the third 50-point performance of his career, his first as a Knick. To his credit, despite not doing much else in terms of rebounds, assists, etc., Melo’s 18-26 FG including 7-10 from three and 7-8 from the line has officially made the scoring title race with Kevin Durant an interesting one (Durant leads 28.3 to Melo’s 27.9). This also signifies the Knicks take the season series from Miami 3-1, including twice on Miami’s home floor.
Does it gives Knicks faithful confidence heading into the playoffs? Of course it does. However, winning a season series over the Heat and beating them four out of seven times when it really counts is something totally different. Ask Boston and Chicago.
3. Shaq’s jersey retirement at halftime was pretty damn awesome and managed to make me feel old at the same time. I still remember being 15 watching Shaq average 38-16 versus the Pacers in the 2000 Finals only to comeback the next Finals and perform reconstructive surgery on Dikembe Mutumbo’s face. Following a video montage and words from Jeanie Buss (who is a cougar if I’ve ever seen one), Phil Jackson (and the overwhelming chant of “We Want Phil!” ringing throughout Staples) and Kobe Bryant, The Diesel seized the moment like only he could thanking fans, celebrities and his family for a journey we won’t see replicated for quite sometime.
Despite not mentioning his teammates in the actual on-court ceremony, Shaq did so with an official YouTube video soon following. One interesting thing to see was how lovey-dovey he and Kobe are now. Granted, both are older and wiser and their breakup was nearly 10 years ago; it’s just amazing to witness both recognize and realize how much they benefited playing alongside each other and ultimately their legacy.
4. In a game they needed to have, the Lakers trounced the Mavericks 101-81. Dwight Howard – despite 10-20 from the line – still managed to provide a much needed 24 and 12, much of it coming with his biggest critic (Shaq) sitting near courtside. Yet, as it always is with the Lakers, the game revolved around Kobe Bryant who picked up facilitating duties with Steve Nash sidelined.
Kobe’s triple-double of 23-11-11 (including four steals and two blocks) is enough to gush at. What sticks out the most is the time spent on the court. The last two games Bean’s averaging around 47.5 minutes. Amazing all things considered, but also cringe-worthy at the same time. Then again, it’s not like they can afford to sit the guy either.