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Posted by Rob Peterson on March 15, 2005 1:40 p.m. ET
HEAT RUN LOOKS FAMILIAR
On April 1, 2001, Allan Houston and the New York Knicks came into the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles and handed the Lakers an agonizing 79-78 loss. The defeat dropped the Lakers to 48-26, which was good, but for the then-defending NBA champs, hardly dominating and far below lofty expectations.
And then something happened. The Lakers flipped the switch. They didn't lose again in April, scoring more than 100 points in seven out of eight April victories, while allowing opponents to average a measly 93.0 points per game in that same span. Then, the Lakers nearly swept through the playoffs going 15-1, their only blemish being a Game 1 loss in the NBA Finals to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Now, let's take a look at what the Miami Heat are doing right now (after, of course, I get through Heat Dancer gallery 12). The current Heat run has the same feel as that Lakers streak.
-- [Palm Beach Post]
After dropping two straight overtime games On Feb. 22 and 23, the Heat have reeled off nine wins in a row, including a 39-point pasting of the Bucks on Monday. Also the win put Miami 8½ games ahead of Detroit for the top seed in the East and into a virtual tie with San Antonio and Phoenix for the best record in the NBA and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
During their win streak, the Heat have scored more than 100 points in eight games while holding their opponents to a paltry 86.8 points per game average.
And all the while, there is a constant between the two. Sure, it's a different city, different colors, different unis, but the axis around which the searing success pivots is the same: Shaquille O'Neal. Or as one writer says: "Sorry Steve, but Shaq's MVP."
-- [Contra Costa Times Reg. req'd]
And if the Heat can get past the Knicks in New York for win No. 10 on Tuesday, they'll return home to find the Lakers waiting for them. That shouldn't get Shaq's dander up, should it? Nah.
-- [L.A. Times Reg. req'd]
Meanwhile, it's up to Heat coach Stan Van Gundy to keep Shaq and his Heat-ians sharp and focused.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Something tells us that Shaq may have a hand in it as well.
Speaking of hot, check out the Rockets. They've won five in a row, including four straight on a four-game trip. In that streak, they've defeated the four teams ahead of them in the standings: Phoenix, Seattle, Dallas and Sacramento
-- [Houston Chronicle
In fact, the Rockets have a good chance of passing the Kings, whom they defeated on Monday, for the No. 5 seed in the West. Why? Well, the Rockets are playing well and the Kings are short in the post right now with Brad Miller suffering a broken leg.
-- [Sacramento Bee]
Meanwhile, T-Mac's been playing lights out, Yao's become a force on the boards and point guard Mike James has added some steady spice to the backcourt. James, who won a title with Detroit last season, likes the look in the Rockets' collective eye right now.
-- [San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle]
That being said, it's also good to see the Rockets having a little fun. Read this Sports Illustrated Players piece about Yao Ming hosting teammate Dikembe Mutombo and Rockets assistant Patrick Ewing at Yao's parents' restaurant in Houston.
Then, imagine the voices of the guys talking. Good stuff.
Also in last week's SI, the world's finest basketball writer, Alexander Wolff, penned a great feature about the NBA's uber-scout, Marty Blake. You should read that, too. And yes, Marty's told me the $28 story as well.
C'S YOU LATER
In the Atlantic, Boston has a 4½ game lead over the sinking Sixers. That lead is tantamount to running away with the division
The Celtics are 8-1 since employee No. 8 (Antoine Walker) returned to Boston. They have shown that they can win despite 'Toine going down the tubes every once in awhile.
-- [Boston Herald]
Heck, even Ricky Davis has been consistently excellent, instead of occasionally so, as of late.
-- [Boston Globe]
That, and Paul Pierce seems to have regained his confidence now that his old pal is back. Pierce was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. One Hub scribe noted that the award shows how well the team is playing.
-- [Boston Globe]
To all those people who say the shooting in the NBA isn't up to snuff. Stick THIS
in your trophy case.
-- [Indy Star
JUMPIN' INTO THE POOL
We don't talk much 'round Click and Roll about university hoops, but since that time of year is upon us, I have one thing to say: Stop talkin' 'bout my boys.
You see, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (the Harvard of the East Side of Milwaukee) and covered the Panthers for the UWM Post back when we had to chisel stories into stone tablets. (We called the delivery guy Moses just for kicks.) This year, the mighty, mighty Panthers, seeded 12th, seem to be the trendy choice for a first-round upset over No. 5 'Bama.
To which I say, "Shut up about the Horizon League champions." Like The Beatles at the Cavern or the Ramones at CBGBs or DJ Clue selling mix tapes out of his trunk, I'd like them to remain on the DL before they blow up. So, please, please pick another 12-5 upset. I suggest New Mexico over Villanova or Old Dominion over Michigan State.
All right, back to the big boys.
Having Tim Duncan back makes everything better, but it still hurts
to have Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili nursing nagging injuries.
-- [San Antonio Express-News
All hail the Big O, progenitor of the modern triple-double.
-- [Detroit Free Press]
After 12 3-pointers in one game, you'd think they'd want to keep this guy around.
-- [Toronto Star]
How can you not love Mark Pope? Plus, he's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.
-- [Rocky Mountain News]
By the way, George Karl has been giving Melo the business as of late.
-- [Denver Post]
Gotta make a move for the playoffs now, gents.
Remember when Cavs fans had March 15 circled on their calendars for Carlos Boozer's return to Cleveland? You can scratch that.
-- [Akron Beacon-Journal Reg. req'd]
In Manhattan, they're drooling of the thought of Ray-Ray playin' home games in front of Spike.
-- [Newark Star-Ledger]
It is with melancholy that we bid a fond farewell to Randy Kim (Aka "Nails, the Editor"), my editor here at NBA.com.
When we were kicking around names for NBA.com's first blog three years ago, he's the one who offered up the name Click and Roll. Since then, he's edited every single one of these suckers (and written a couple when I was out) for the past three years. I want to thank him for his guidance, direction and, most important, friendship.