D-Rose is back, D-Wade is hurt, and T-Pain puts Phoenix on the brink

Saturday morning, things looked pretty good for the Heat: All they had to do was beat the craptastic Wizards at home, and if the Bulls lost to the Mavs in a game that injury-racked Derrick Rose (head, shoulders, knees, toes) probably wouldn’t play in, Miami would be in prime position to snatch the No. 1 playoff seed in the East before the regular season wraps up next week … Saturday evening, it was a different story: D-Rose was cleared to play, and Miami’s plan to give LeBron and Chris Bosh the night off suddenly looked stupid when Dwyane Wade hurt his finger in the opening minutes and never returned. By the end of the night, Chicago had stretched its lead over Miami to 2.5 games, and shrunk the Heat’s margin for error down to zero … Rose had a modest 11 points and 8 assists in Chicago’s 93-83 win over Dallas. He hit some tough hanging one-handers, but the best thing Rose did was to not do anything spectacular. We all know Rose can get his whenever he wants, but he played within the system and didn’t disrupt the chemistry his teammates have established in his absence. Rose only took nine shots (no free throws), while Luol Deng had 22 points and Rip Hamilton added 19 … Rodrigue Beaubois (16 pts, 6 rebs, 5 asts) was playing D in the first half when he stopped dead in his tracks and sunk to the ground in slow-mo. At first it looked like he’d been jabbed below the belt, but it turns out he’d dislocated his ring finger. Would you rather dislocate your finger or get kicked in the sack? Sounds like a question for Steve-O … How has Kyle Korver survived on the Bulls, having to watch Joakim Noah and Ronnie Brewer shoot jumpers every day? It must be like Prince having to endure jam sessions with one guy who plays pots and pans with a wooden spoon, and another dude who plays a kazoo … You can’t really blame Heat coach Erik Spoelstra for resting LeBron and Bosh, because D-Wade is normally good enough to beat the Wizards alone. But after Wade jacked up his finger and left Spoelstra with a team that wouldn’t necessarily be a lock to win a D-League championship, wouldn’t it have made sense to call an audible and let LeBron play? After all, LeBron was in uniform and on the active roster. (Here is where the anti-Bron crowd says, “Michael Jordan never would have sat out a game his team needed to win!”) … How bad was it? When the Heat needed to score on a criticial possession late in the fourth quarter, they called a clear-out for Mike Miller (16 pts, 10 rebs). Miller hasn’t been the focal point of an offense since he played high school ball in South Dakota … Washington won the game when John Wall (13 pts, 13 asts, 4 stls) and Nene ran a simple pick-and-roll that got Nene a layup with 0.5 seconds remaining. So much was made about Miami needing LeBron, Wade and Bosh to score, but that play showed why Miami really missed their stars. No way Wall sets up the game-winner that easily with Wade and LeBron swarming the passing lanes … Keep reading to hear about the West playoff race…

While the battle to watch in the East is over the top playoff seed, the most compelling drama in the West is at the bottom. (Spurs/Thunder for No. 1 is close, but you tell us the last time Tim Duncan and “compelling” belonged in the same neighborhood.) The Suns, Jazz and Rockets are battling for the eighth seed, while the Nuggets needed a win yesterday in Phoenix to clinch their playoff spot … We don’t know all of the nicknames they have for Ty Lawson in Denver, but in Phoenix they should start calling him T-Pain. Lawson put a hurting on whoever tried to guard him, dropping 29 points and 10 dimes in a Denver rout. When Steve Nash was in, Lawson sped right past him. When Sebastian Telfair was in, Lawson outmuscled him to the rim. And that’s when he wasn’t getting his Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf stroke on, hitting 5-of-5 from beyond the arc. Lawson’s fifth triple came on a play where Arron Afflalo used a “spin move” under the basket that looked more like he’d been sucked into a tornado, somehow kicking the rock out to Lawson as he was falling on his face. Afflalo is gonna be one of those guys who always contributes to good teams, but he’s stiff enough that we could see him moving around like Metta World Peace as he gets older … At the beginning of the second half, the Phoenix arena DJ played the Kurt Angle WWE theme song. The Suns were down two at the time. A few minutes later they were down 21 and tapping out … Bruce Bowen‘s “manimal” scream for Kenneth Faried (18 pts, 14 rebs, 3 blks) sounded more like the kitten on the wrong end of the manimal’s lunch break. Bruce might want to work on that before he calls another Nuggets game … So the Suns are in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight year, which would be the third Lottery trip in Steve Nash’s eight years with the team. Throw in one first-round exit, no trips to the Finals, and — tell us again why Nash isn’t pegged as a loser/choker in the same way that guys like Carmelo, Vince Carter and LeBron are pegged? … The Suns needed the Jazz to lose to Orlando, but Devin Harris wasn’t letting that happen. You’d think that Utah and their stable of bigs going against a Dwight Howard-less Magic team would be like fighting Manny Pacquiao when he only has one arm: He’s still a pro and could knock you out, but he’s also missing a glaring piece of his arsenal … Orlando hung tough into overtime, when Harris assisted Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward on buckets, then scored himself on a driving layup and a dagger three in the final minute. Harris (21 pts, 7 asts) also blocked a three attempt by Jameer Nelson at the end of regulation that kept Orlando from stealing the W … In the battle of Kentucky letdowns, Enes Kanter kind of destroyed Daniel Orton. Kanter was giving the anti-Dwight a clinic in up-and-unders and low-post footwork, generally making Orton look silly. Orton racked up five fouls in 11 minutes, while Kanter had 9 points in just 13 minutes of work … Pacers/Sixers was the most heated game of the night, and the most heated man on the court was Doug Collins, the 60-year-old guy wearing a suit. With about one minute to go in overtime of a physical contest, Lou Williams drained a three to put Philly up by one. Dave West (32 pts, 12 rebs) answered with a fadeaway for Indiana, then Jrue Holiday came right back with a pull-up J to regain the lead. Holiday later got a breakaway dunk, and Philly won by three after Danny Granger bricked at the buzzer … When it was over, Doug Collins lost it. Before the League Pass feed cut off, Collins was being dragged off the court by his assistants, screaming “You f***ing a**hole!” at somebody … Other stat lines from Saturday: Courtney Lee‘s 20 points helped Houston clip Golden State and keep their playoff hopes alive; Brandon Jennings scored 30 to lead Milwaukee past New Jersey; and Rudy Gay had 21 points as Memphis beat Portland … We’re out like Rashad Evans

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