Despite the convenience to call the post-All Star period the NBA’s second half, the playoffs are right around the corner. This is a sprint in the final two months with the Heat having to play the most games before the playoffs with 32 (the Lakers: 26). For Joe Johnson, what a better way to start it off than hitting the two biggest shots of the game. The Nets’ 113-111 win looked to be elementary for Milwaukee instead when Deron Williams wiped an elbow across Monta Ellis‘ face with 7 seconds left in regulation and got called for an offensive. Down three, Johnson hit a cold triple to tie, a shot he one-upped with an Iso-Joe for the books to win it in OT. With Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on him like a second skin, Johnson cocked back a sweet 18-footer for the dub. After shots like that Brandon Jennings‘ monster 34 points, six boards and seven dimes were swept away for naught. The Bucks are everyone’s pick to move somebody before the trade deadline. … All the good times and good copy we spent writing about the Warriors this year is looking like ancient history now that they’re in the middle of a six-game losing streak after a 115-101 loss to Utah. Afterward the team was coming clean like it was a confessional room on “The Real World.” Mark Jackson said everyone would have to earn minutes and that he was tired of the “my bad” attitude from players for their defense. Golden State got just five steals, forced just 11 Utah turnovers and let it shoot 50 percent. The Dubs’ numbers were very good on offense but Al Jefferson‘s 24 were some variation of constantly feeling his man with his back, zipping to the opening and facing little resistance from the help side. Stephen Curry had 29 points. … Denver wanted this win badly. After a triple-OT loss in Boston weeks ago, Danilo Gallinari hit the Celtics with the body blows in the final quarter. He had 26, five assists, five boards in the 97-90 win that had the Italian worked up for. He told Celtics fans in the arena literally to get out when he was interviewed on the court afterward. Meanwhile it was way too easy to forget about Dre, with Iggy getting one point. … Hit the jump to read about rapper-broadcaster beef. …
In a bizarre night at the Verizon Center, one of the Raptors’ TV guys professed to not know who Wale was after he was put on camera joking with Rudy Gay. The coup de gras, however, was when he said Wale “wasn’t Drake.” Pretty sick burn, except Wale was checking his tweets and went up to the TV row to give the Raps’ Matt Devlin a face-to-face meeting. On the court the game went through some miscommunication, too, when the scoreboard and shot clock went out because of “technical difficulties.” (Hmm, we kind of wish the NBA could have stuck the Ne-Yo show with some of those difficulties on Sunday instead.) Once Gay was done hanging with Wale â€” there’s a D.C.-Baltimore connection between the two â€” he had 24 points, and DeMar DeRozan had 24 too in a 96-88 win. John Wall‘s 1-of-12 shooting night turned this game into a reminder of how bad the Wiz are when he’s a) absent or b) not cooking. Before you laugh, they’d won 8 of 9 at home before this. … Portland was great for three quarters but a bad, bad first one (down 36-23) put the Blazers off the trail the rest of the night in a 102-98 loss. When you enter the night three games back of the West’s eighth seed, these are the games you have to have. No excuse for losing at home to Phoenix, which has Super Cool Beasley and Jermaine O’Neal as legitimate pillars of its offense off the bench. Goran Dragic‘s 16 points and 18 dimes were obviously huge, just as J.J. Hickson’s 25 and 16 were for Portland in its comeback. … Also, the Blazers are looking into tweets by J.J. Hickson on Valentine’s Day to see if they violated any league code. Here’s the short story: He said he respected strippers’ hustle and possibly misinterpreted his own comedic ability using hashtags. … In other games, Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson scored 24 points each in Charlotte’s 105-92 win over Orlando; the Grizzlies beat Detroit, 105-91, because the Pistons couldn’t stay within 10 points in any of the final three quarters; Chicago All-Stars Luol Deng had 20 points, Joakim Noah had 17 boards and da Bulls beat New Orleans 96-87; and Tony Parker looked nothing like the guy who tanked the skills competition with 30 points and 11 dimes to beat Sac-town, 108-102. … The Big Ten had a 1-seed on the line in East Lansing and Indiana stormed in and took it. The Hoosiers beat No. 4 Michigan State, 72-68. Victor Oladipo is a fascinating player to watch â€” saying he’s a Russell Westbrook clone seems right because of his athleticism and scoring, though he doesn’t handle the ball … Cool news for gamers, with NBA 2K13 getting packaged together with MLB 2K13 in a combo pack out together March 5. … We’re out like the Wizards’ scoreboard.
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