The NBA playoff race is coming down to the wire, as is often the case. And, as we have often done during their roller-coaster season, our attention shifts to the City of Angels, where the Lakers – fresh off of losing Kobe for the season – had a make-or-break game against the Spurs. A much better team in every conceivable way, San Antonio had its own set of priorities to worry about, still jockeying for the number one seed in the West.
Thanks to Dwight Howard (haven’t typed that sentence in a while), Los Angeles is still alive in the playoff race. Superman dropped 26 and 17 on a Spurs squad that seemingly had no answer on the defensive end. Howard was aided by Steve Blake, who chipped in 23 points, and Antawn Jamison, who had 15 off the bench. Los Angeles now controls its own destiny: defeat Houston on Wednesday at home, and the playoffs are theirs, no matter what Utah does.
On the other side of the dial, the Knickerbockers bested the Pacers in a game between the East’s 2a. and 2b. If you’re Indiana, you have to be pretty worried: New York played small ball by necessity (both Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin were hurt), but the style proved the perfect remedy for the Pacers’ slow, intentional pace. Considering the Heat also employ such a style of play, Indiana is going to hope that the playoffs are still about half-court sets and slow paces.
And, finally, even though Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavericks won’t be making the playoffs, it was an eventful day for the German and his club nonetheless. Dallas won over New Orleans, 107-89, reaching the .500 mark – 40-40 – in hopes of ending the season with some dignity intact. Dirk dropped 19 points, becoming the 17th player in NBA history to surpass 25,000 points. Considering the high note he seems to be ending his season on, a few more seasons seems possible – which could see Dirk surpassing 30,000 points, a milestone only reached by five other players.
Immediately after the game, Dirk also made the dumb decision to shave his incredible Nordic beard, which he vowed not to shave in February until the team hit .500. Glad to see the team reach a goal; not glad to see the beard go.