Josh Smith crams Atlanta into a playoff spot; the Nets win a game

03.25.10 9 years ago 34 Comments

Talk about a hell of a way to clinch a playoff spot. The Hawks have been in a stretch where their last 4-5 games have all gone down to the wire, winning some and losing some. Hosting Orlando last night, it was the same ol’ story but with a surprise ending … With 12 seconds to go in the fourth, the Magic were down three with the ball. Making a strong case that we might have low-balled him on this list, Vince Carter casually drilled a triple to tie, and with no timeouts, Atlanta had to improv something. Joe Johnson got a good-looking baseline fadeaway going left, but it bounced high off the rim. Then out of nowhere, Josh Smith (15 pts, 7 rebs, 4 blks) came flying in with a Dr. J-like paw and smashed home the game-winning dunk just before the buzzer … It wasn’t even J-Smoove’s first buzzer-beating follow dunk to win a game this year — but unlike the one against Houston, this was a clean throwdown that would’ve made the highlight reel had he done it in the second quarter … Earlier in the fourth, Dwight Howard (19 pts, 24 rebs, 4 blks) came down with an offensive rebound and Jamal Crawford of all people tied him up before Dwight could get the putback dunk. Props to Crawford for risking his skinny arm like that; he looked like somebody trying to take a fish from a grizzly bear … And you thought the Cavs had something to worry about. Literally one minute into their game at New Orleans, David West baited Antawn Jamison into his second foul and Jamison had to sit down. Then a couple seconds before halftime, LeBron came down on somebody’s foot and appeared to hurt his ankle before limping into the locker room. No problem. ‘Bron came out for the second half like nothing had happened and finished with 38 points (15-22 FG) and 9 assists while Cleveland ran N.O. out of the gym. And for those who say LeBron only scores on reckless drives and easy dunks and relies too much on the refs, he only had eight free throws in this game and had maybe one dunk … Defensively, the Spurs did what you ideally want to do against Kobe Bryant: Keep him off the foul line, and make him take a lot of tough-angle contested jumpers. Kobe had “only” 24 points on 16 shots, he never made it to the stripe, and he had a defender in his face all night — except for that dagger three late in the fourth when Richard Jefferson somehow left Mamba wide open. But then San Antonio didn’t count on Lamar Odom (19 pts, 13 rebs) having a monster game or Tim Duncan (6 pts, 2-11 FG) not being able to buy a bucket. Frustrating loss for a Spurs team that just cannot seem to find a consistent rhythm … At the end of the third quarter, DeJuan Blair got an offensive rebound and instead of kicking it out to re-start the offense and get the final shot, he went solo and missed a pointless shot. Gregg Popovich was so pissed, not only did he not look at Blair, he didn’t even talk to him; Pop sent Manu into the game to yell at Blair for him … Make it EIGHT wins now for the Nets. But there’s a dilemma: Do you throw a party after beating a bad Sacramento team that doesn’t have Tyreke Evans, or do you hang your head because your season has come to this in the first place? It’s kind of sad that despite a double-digit lead the entire fourth quarter, the fans couldn’t allow themselves to safely celebrate until Jersey was up by about 15 in the final minute and a half. Brook Lopez put up 26 points and 13 boards in the win … Other stat lines from Wednesday: Rajon Rondo had a triple-double with 11 points, 11 boards and 15 dimes to go with 4 steals as Boston beat Denver decisively; Stephen Jackson dropped 37 points in Charlotte’s win over Minnesota; Stephen Curry went for 30 points, 11 dimes and 4 steals as G-State beat Memphis; Deron Williams posted 18 points, 16 assists and 4 steals as Utah routed Toronto; Jrue Holiday had 15 points, 7 dimes and 2 steals to lead Philly over Milwaukee; Kevin Durant‘s 25 points led OKC past Houston; and Danny Granger scored 31 in the Pacers’ win over Washington … Hilarious moment in the first quarter of that game when James Singleton (19 pts, 21 rebs) threw up a disgustingly ugly jumper that didn’t hit anything, and after an awkward pause, Indiana’s play-by-play guy mentioned that Singleton has been playing on a sore ankle. That sent announce partner Quinn Buckner into a laughing fit. After like two minutes of being unable to talk, all QB could manage was, “Bad ankle? That was a bad shot! He almost broke the glass!” … Oh, and Andray Blatche was in the starting lineup for Washington, and the sideline reports indicated he and Flip Saunders hadn’t really resolved anything from their Tuesday spat. Way to crack the whip, Flip … We’re out like teaching points …

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