You can cut the Nuggets some slack if they weren’t really into it last night. They had a major trade during the afternoon – their prized offseason signing gone – and have the front office angling to bring Wilson Chandler back to Denver. So for them to give the best team in the West a game for at least a few quarters, they’ll probably take it. Eventually, the Thunder lit the spark with a 26-8 run between the end of the first half and the middle of the third, capping it with a huge Kevin Durant (24 points) dunk, another slam from James Harden (18 points) and a back-breaking triple from Russell Westbrook (23 points). … Hilarious moment in the fourth quarter as the game was slipping away from the Nuggets. Russell Westbrook stole the ball, stepped out and then with the whistle blown kept going down to the other end and put down a double-pump reverse. Of course, the fans booed as if they were watching The Matrix Reloaded for the first time. So the Denver announcers go back and forth and say this: “Westbrook is one of those guys that… nobody likes.” Yeah, no one outside of OKC, which we guess is all that matters … After nearly being traded earlier in the day, Luke Ridnour came out and gave the T’Wolves 18 points and 13 rebounds before they fell in Utah in an extra session, 111-105. Minnesota couldn’t get the W because the Jazz had four players score at least 15, including 26 coming off the bench from Gordon Hayward … Without Grant Hill or Steve Nash, the Suns pulled off one of their best wins of the year, beating the Clippers down the stretch 91-87 after being down 17 to pull to within one game of .500. Shannon Brown had 21 points … After the Wizards deadline dealing, John Wall did everything short of pick up a mic and start singing “I’m Free.” He was a monster in the Wizards’ 10-point win against New Orleans, scoring 26 with 12 dimes. He had one move where he wrapped the ball around his waist, made a layup with his left hand, and then ran away handing out the Ric Flair woooooo. Yeah, he was feeling good … The game turned on a 13-0 Wiz run in the fourth quarter after the Hornets had erased a 16-point deficit. Roger Mason hit three consecutive triples and it was a wrap from there … Charlotte played their most entertaining game of the year. D.J. Augustin hit a running, off-the-glass three at a quarter buzzer and Derrick Brown caught a lob and double-pumped it. But of course they still lost, 101-96 to Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki had 27 points and put the game away in the second half with a couple of rainbow-drawing triples on the break … Keep reading to hear about the winners and losers from the NBA trade deadline …
Up until about noon yesterday, nothing was really happening with the trade deadline. We figured it would come and go with too many teams nervous about the new CBA and all of the harsher luxury tax penalties that come with it. But then the switch flipped and all kinds of hell broke loose. Besides Orlando (who were obviously the biggest winners), the Nets were BY FAR the biggest losers, going from Dwight Howard (who would’ve been traded quickly to New Jersey if he had opted out) to a fading Gerald Wallace. Crash isn’t what he used to be, and his presence won’t be enough to convince Deron Williams to stay. But the worst part about the deal is they gave up this summer’s lottery pick which is only top three protected. Portland – with all that talent they have – will also likely have two lottery picks as well … The Lakers shipped Derek Fisher off in a coffin after finally nabbing a starting point guard (Ramon Sessions), Washington gave away two graduates of Clown University to place their bets on Nene on his knees and the Warriors went in circles… first looking like they were ready to tank with the Monta Ellis deal, and then trading away all types of future cap space with Stephen Jackson‘s contract for Richard Jefferson … Finally, it’s unbelievable what has happened to Portland this year. It wasn’t long ago that we were calling them one of the two or three best teams in the entire Western Conference. Now they’ve fired their coach and given away two of their starters … The NBA trade deadline was such a mess that we nearly forgot yesterday was the opening day of March Madness. We knew what we’d get from teams like Kentucky (a blowout win), Wisconsin (a blowout) and even Baylor (mess around for most of the game, but have enough talent to survive). But Syracuse had us nervous for a few minutes. They trailed by as many as seven and with the combination of taking on a no. 16 seed and not having their best interior player, it looked like they were feeling the heat. The officials were feeling it two. They hooked ‘Cuse up with two controversial calls – one a lane violation and the second an out-of-bounds call – in the final minute with the game very much in the balance … But the best game of the day was, of course, a No. 12 seed beating a No. 5. VCU looked on the cusp of blowing a lead against Wichita State before Bradford Burgess (16 points) hit a key corner three to push them back in front. When Garrett Stutz‘s triple at the buzzer was off, VCU had the tournament’s first major upset, 62-59 … As far as the draft is concerned, Andre Drummond had two points and three rebounds today while Perry Jones had only two himself. Still want to call this one of the best draft classes in years? … We’re out like Nate McMillan.
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