In April, the Mavs might look back and admit this was the night their season died. Up 21, they blew the lead and then lost after a flurry of insanity doomed them. First, Nic Batum made a completely ridiculous three-pointer to tie it up (dude hadn’t made anything all night). Then after a Dirk (26 points) triple with 11.4 seconds left, LaMarcus Aldridge tied it with his first triple of the season. A horrible offensive foul call on O.J. Mayo (we’ll get to that) set the stage for Aldridge (29 points, 13 rebounds) to hit a turnaround jumper at the buzzer, winning it for the Blazers, 106-104. The Blazers had fallen behind in the first half because not one of their perimeter players could make a shot. Whereas Aldridge and J.J. Hickson (26 points, 15 rebounds) were taking names and bodies in the paint, Lillard, Matthews and Batum combined to shoot 4-for-24 in the first half. Eventually, Dallas cooled and the Blazers inevitably started making a few shots. It became just a six-point Dallas lead by the end of the third …. But back to that Mayo charge at the end. By the book, it was a charge, but Ronnie Price undercut him, jumping in after Mayo was already off the ground, and got the call. No foul call in basketball pisses us off more. Just stupid that they condone that play … Why isn’t Hickson getting any love for the Most Improved Player award? Since coming to Portland, he’s been a beast, a guy the coaches just wind up and let loose so he can cause havoc. He does everything fast, and yes, sometimes that gets him in trouble. But we’d rather him do that than have a zombie playing for us … Coming out of a timeout at the end of the first half, the Mavs got caught with six players on the court: Darren Collison, Mayo, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Dirk and Brandan Wright. We know Wright is skinny and maybe it’s easy to miss him in the huddle, but that’s just unacceptable. The refs figured it out before Dallas was able to take advantage … In the Warriors 108-95 takeover in Cleveland, the hometown announcers spent the whole game trying to downplay Golden State’s night by saying Cleveland wasn’t ready to play, that they overlooked the Warriors because Golden State didn’t have a lot of their main guys (Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, Carl Landry). They must’ve missed David Lee. And Jarrett Jack. And most importantly, Klay Thompson, who worked the Cavs over for 32 points and six three-pointers. At one point, the broadcast guys started crying, “For some reason, we don’t wanna defend them.” It wasn’t that. It’s hard to beat anyone when they’re shooting damn near 60 percent for most of the game. The Warriors broke it open in the third quarter, hitting bombs from all over the court. Without Kyrie Irving there to come back at him (Irving wasn’t himself, dealing with an illness and scoring only 14), Thompson picked a perfect night to get revenge on the team that cut his brother last year … Cleveland did have one highlight: at the beginning of the third, Dion Waiters (18 points, seven assists) chased down Richard Jefferson and spiked his layup back to Oakland on the break. We felt sorry watching RJ on that one. He probably can’t even out-jump his own coach anymore … Speaking of Mark Jackson, here’s an email from the Dime crew: “Why does Byron Scott still look like he could give a few of these young cats the business, while Mark Jackson has the body of a McDonald’s manager? Didn’t Jackson play ’til like 2004?” … On one of the game’s first possessions, Tyler Zeller (16 points) airballed a 18-footer by about three feet. If he had gone to college for four years, he’d have the fundamentals down! Wait… Never mind … Keep reading to hear about the Lakers new look …
The Pistons hit a new low last night in front of a riveting crowd of like 243 people. Not only did they lose an early 15-point lead, they let Milwaukee jump them for a 44-point turnaround as the visitors rode a fire-breathing Brandon Jennings to a huge win. Detroit played defense like a bunch of lawn gnomes. They couldn’t rebound, couldn’t move very fast, and gave virtually no effort. They stood there looking pretty. The third quarter started off with a Lawrence Frank timeout less than two minutes in, and before long it was a 17-point Milwaukee lead. After a brief burst from Detroit, Jennings (30 points) closed the door. He had 19 in the third, and it felt like all of them came from 20 feet out or farther. It sucks that virtually no one saw it, either … Detroit’s lone bright spot was Andre Drummond. It took the rook like 10 minutes of floor time in the first half to notch a double-double, and he ended up with 18 and 18 in just 27 minutes for the game. Drummond was all over the offensive glass, and had two more dunks to add to his season-long highlight reel. Have we mentioned he should play more? … The Pistons honored reigning NASCAR champ Brad Keselowski, presenting him with a checkered flag autographed by the team. What has more mileage at this point: Keselowski’s car or Tayshaun Prince‘s body? … Would Kobe keep passing? He answered the question early in the Lakers five-point win against the Hornets/Pelicans, ringing up five assists to just two shots in the first quarter. Outside of a bad spell during the middle of the second quarter, Bryant (14 points, eight boards, 11 dimes) and the Lakers put on an offensive clinic in the first half. New Orleans did make a big run in the fourth quarter, but had dug themselves too deep of a hole … Eric Gordon has looked every bit like a player coming off a bad injury this season, but he was flowing last night (25 points). It obviously helped having Kobe guarding him since Bryant hasn’t played defense in about two years, and Earl Clark (20 points, 12 boards), who probably should never guard Eric Gordon. Ever … In an upset last night, No. 19 N.C. State blew a nice first half cushion against Virginia, losing by three despite 20 points and 14 boards from C.J. Leslie. This up-n-down tendency is quietly becoming a trend. We’re already taking bets on which cinderella team surprises the Wolfpack in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It feels like a lock to happen … And in another upset, unranked Kentucky knocked off No. 16 Ole Miss. (That still doesn’t sound right.) Archie Goodwin probably secured his invitation to the NBA Draft green room with 24 points and several clutch free throws down the stretch, but he wasn’t even the most impressive UK freshman on the floor. That would be Nerlens Noel, who blocked 12 shots and grabbed seven boards despite scoring just two points. Noel was so good that Ole Miss senior star Murphy Holloway said afterward that Noel is better than Anthony Davis … We’re out like Mark Jackson at the YMCA.
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