The Blazers’ fourth-quarter run was all heart. No gimmicks, it was all heart and grit. But you can’t spot Dirk Nowitzki a 17-point lead and expect to come back. Despite 32 points and 12 rebounds from a gimpy Gerald Wallace, Dallas ended Portland’s season, 103-96. In the fourth quarter, it was all Dirk (33 points, 11 rebounds). As Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said: “There wasn’t going to be a miracle tonight.” … Shawn Marion (16 points) talked earlier this week about stopping Wallace’s straight-line drives, but then went out and allowed Wallace to score Portland’s first nine points of the game as the hosts jumped all over Dallas to go up 12 early. The Blazers’ energy was off the charts. We know their fans are some of the most psychotic, and delusional, in sports, but we were still surprised how rattled the Mavs looked early. In the second and third quarters though, Portland showed their largest weakness: no shot-makers. On the other side, the Mavs were methodically breaking their spirits. Jason Terry (22 points, eight assists) beat the halftime buzzer with a three, and Dallas went into the break up by nine after a 30-10 run over the final nine minutes … Finally, we will get to see Kobe vs. Dirk: the playoff edition … The Lakers, the league’s best Repo Men, came for blood again last night. Since they stole Pau Gasol, they’re a ridiculous 8-1 in playoff close-out games on the road. The Hornets felt that wrath in a one-sided 98-80 L.A. win. Andrew Bynum (18 points, 12 rebounds) has suddenly become the Lakers’ best big man in these playoffs. Amazingly, if it wasn’t for Bynum in the first half, L.A. would’ve been in a hole. The big fella was scoring on tip-ins, drop steps and he even hit a step-back jumper. It wasn’t until the final five minutes of the half did the Lakers get it going. For L.A., it’s always about points in the paint, and during one stretch Lamar Odom (14 points) had two straight layups, then Ron Artest got inside for another flat-footed push shot and then Bryant (24 points) got out front for a layup … Chris Paul (10 points, 11 assists) didn’t hit his first shot until the final minute of the first half (he only attempted two shots through 24 minutes). He didn’t fare any better in the second half, and by the midway point in the fourth, CP had just four points and New Orleans was down 20. He was awesome this series, but still deserving of some criticism: where the Hell were you last night? … As we speak, the Dwight-to-New-Jersey and Dwight-to-L.A. stories have already picked up steam. Orlando’s season ended in Atlanta last night, losing Game 6 to the Hawks, 84-81. Down three with less than 10 seconds remaining, Orlando got long-distance looks for both J.J. Redick and Jason Richardson, but neither one dropped. Jameer Nelson must feel bad. He’s not going to keep up his scheduled appointment with Derrick Rose in the second round. It’s going to be a LONG summer in Disney World … The Hawks came out ready last night, jumping to a 23-18 lead at the end of the first. If anyone was questioning how Atlanta would respond to their no-show in Game 5, they had the right ammunition but the wrong target. It’s Orlando who’s been up-and-down. It’s Orlando that’s too often relied on Howard (25 points and 15 of the team’s 31 total rebounds), who’s probably sick of having white and red draped all over him. It’s Orlando that we all needed to be worried about. They have some really weird issues going on over there … Marvin Williams hit two enormous corner shots in the third quarter to help hold down the Magic while Joe Johnson (23 points, 10 rebounds) was huge all game. Then it was Jamal Crawford‘s (19 points) turn, hitting a pair of deep threes to start the fourth quarter. While he had a pretty disappointing regular season, Crawford was the difference all series long, hitting all of the shots that Orlando’s sharpshooters were supposed to be making. He’s like the new Nick Van Exel … Even though he did eventually hit some shots in the third quarter, Hedo Turkoglu (15 points) was so awful in the first half, he had Rick Kamla yelling “Hedo Turkoglu…WHERE ARE YOU?” He’s definitely not the Turkish Jordan anymore. He wouldn’t even be the Monaco Jordan. If he was on the Lakers instead of in Florida, how many “ship his a$$ out” videos would Kobe make this summer? Five? Six? A new one every day until something finally happened? … Atlanta now moves on to play the Bulls, a team that blew them out two out of three times this year … College basketball players will have less time to make their decisions on the NBA after the NCAA announced that potential pros now only have until the first day of the spring signing period, which is normally mid-April, to pull out of the Draft. Normally, players had until May 8 to decide … We’re out like Julio Jones’ stylist.
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