It took 73 games, but the Miami Heat are officially in first place in the Eastern Conference after beating the Toronto Raptors in Miami last night 93-83. It was just last Wednesday when the Heat dropped a nail-biter to the Pacers and seemingly gave control to the Pacers in the East.
Since that loss the Heat have three straight double digit wins, and now have the comfort of a five game home stand to pad their lead in the East. The remaining schedule for the two clearly favors the Heat who have dates with the Sixers and Bucks, while the Pacers have the Thunder and a trip to Miami remaining on their docket. With all the pandering by the Pacers about the necessity of the one seed in the East, and their hot start to the season, watching Miami still grab it in the end would be especially dejecting for Indy. But maybe they set themselves up for that disappointment, as Chris Bosh put it, “When the Pacers were talking, No. 1 seed… We were like, it’s August. Calm down.”
As for the Pacers, well, it was all good just a week ago. Last night’s 103-77 loss to the owners of the quietest 18 game win streak ever, the Spurs, was just another in a awful stretch by the November champions. The Pacers received blaring boos throughout the fourth quarter from their home crowd have now shot less than 40% in six straight games, and their frustration has showed on the court and in the locker room this week. Just days after Roy Hibbert threw his teammates under the bus by calling nameless Pacers out for being “selfish,” starting guards George Hill and Lance Stephenson reportedly had to be separated after tempers flared during a timeout late in the game.
All this to go with the NBA sending out a memo about the much debated “verticality” rule earlier in the day just makes for one sh*tty Pacers day.
With the Pacers loss and the Bulls 94-80 victory of a Rajon Rondo-less Boston Celtics, the Raptors and Bulls now sport identical records in the fight for the East’s third seed. They split their four meetings this season, but the Bulls hold the edge in the next tiebreaker, conference record. This race may be even more important than the Heat-Pacers battle for the one seed, as neither team really wants to face Chicago and their physically imposing style in the weeks proceeding their potential battle in the Eastern Conference finals.
— The Washington Wizards fumbled away a chance to clinch their first playoff berth since 2008 when they collapsed in the fourth quarter and lost to the Bobcats 100-94 in Charlotte
— The Wizards could have still clinched their spot if the Knicks had cooperated and lost to the Jazz in Utah. Unfortunately for them and the eight seed Atlanta Hawks, the Carmelo Anthony dropped 34 points and topped the Jazz 92-83. With the victory the Knicks are improbably within one game of the final playoff spot in the East.
— The Timberwolves halftime performer on Monday night was none other than
Old Young MC. No, this is not an April Fool’s joke; it actually happened. There’s not a lot of video to prove it, but there’s some and we’re telling you it happened. Just believe us and know it took place.
— Even without Blake Griffin the Clippers tightened their grip on the three seed in the West with a 114-104 win over the Timberwolves in Minny.
— While Boogie Cousins may not be blessing me, Tins, and the rest of the Demarcus Cousins fan club with his now nixed album Misunderstood, he did give us a monster performance last night against fellow big man wunderkind Anthony Davis. Boogie’s 34 points and 14 rebound were enough to propel the Kings over the Pelicans 102-97.
— The Bucks remain the proud owners of the worst record in basketball and the most ping pong balls in the draft lottery after they lost to the Pistons 116-111. The Bucks improbably have a two game “lead” over the Sixers, even after Philly lost 26 straight games.
— Sixers ended their win streak at one after losing to the Hawks 103-95, who ended their own six game losing streak with the win.
— And finally, we have the best GIF of the night, thanks to none other than Timofey Mozgov. Timofey, who is a GIF god for all the wrong reasons, had what amounts to a great game against reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol, 23 points and 10 rebounds on 9-15 shooting in the Nuggets 94-92 loss to the Grizzlies. But it was Mozgov’s final two points that give us today’s lol GIF:
Down three with just seven seconds to go Mozgov had no choice to shoot a three, which predictable bricked, but when he improbably got his own rebound everything that followed was so hilarious that I have no choice but to rank them, power rankings style:
1. Aaron Brooks just plain losing his sh*t as Mozgov dunked home two points that did absolutely nothing to help the Nuggets cause.
2. Ty Lawson standing wide open, hands suspended in disbelief as Mozgov took all his “Mozgov’d” frustration out on the rim.
3. Marc Gasol calmly sliding out of the way to let Mozgov dunk the Grizzlies back into the eight seed.