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REVENGE OF THE HERDS
Posted by By Brad Friedman on March 3, 2006 9:44 a.m. ET

CAVS REDEEM THEMSELVES, BULLS WANT PAYBACK

Last night in Chicago, the Cavaliers snapped a five-game losing streak by edging the Bulls 92-91 before a nationally televised audience. The squeaker featured Ronald Murray scoring nine of his 13 points in the final three minutes, including a three-pointer with 3.9 seconds remaining.
-- [NBA.com]

The Bulls surely will be seeking redemption when the two squads match-up again Sunday (7:30 PM ET, ESPN). Thursday night's contest was the beginning of a string of seven games in 10 days for Chicago. As coach Scott Skiles says about his team on the outside of the playoff picture, "this is probably our season right here."
-- [Chicago Sun-Times]

Another team looking to take out their anger this Sunday is Dallas, which fell 98-89 in San Antonio in the second game of the TNT's Thursday night doubleheader. The Mavericks had won 19 of their last 20, and the loss allowed the Spurs to tie Dallas for the first-place position in the Southwest Division.
-- [Dallas Morning News]

Only Phoenix (eight games) had a longer current winning streak in the West than Dallas (six games), and the Mavericks will now try to snap the run of the Suns in Texas this Sunday at 3:30 P.M. ET on ABC. As always, it will be interesting to watch Steve Nash return to Dallas.

On Saturday, the Miami Heat, owners of an impressive seven-game winning streak themselves, host a promising Atlanta Hawks team. While the Hawks aren't even close to the .500 mark, they've had some big wins this year, including victories over San Antonio and Detroit. Over the month of February, the youngest team in the league went 6-6, and this team is starting to grow.
[Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

A couple of the most successful franchises of this decade also get together Saturday, as the Pistons visit the L.A. Lakers (10:30 P.M. ET, NBA TV). The Lakers have fallen on hard times since Detroit beat them in the 2004 NBA Finals, while the Pistons made a return trip last season and have the best record in the league this year (47-10).

Detroit's done it with defense, and the Lakers should take note. Los Angeles would have won 12 more games this season if they held their opponents' to their season scoring averages.
[NBA.com, L.A. Daily News]

Which, of course, leads us to our favorite stat of all time: the Lakers are 29-0 this season when they score more points than their opponents.

SOUTHWEST SHOWDOWN
Posted by By John Schuhmann on March 2, 2006 12:00 p.m. ET

TIME TO MAKE A STATEMENT

There are still 26 games left in the season for both the Mavs and the Spurs, but none may be bigger than tonight's matchup at the AT&T Center in San Antonio (9:30 ET, TNT). The two teams have been neck-and-neck all season, with the winner of the Southwest gaining a No. 1 seed and a more favorable matchup in the first round (Eight seed vs. Five seed) and homecourt advantage in a possible second round matchup.

Dallas currenly holds a one-game lead on the champs, but if San Antonio wins tonight, they would have the upper hand, despite the fact that the teams were tied. A Spurs win would guarantee at least a tie for them in the head-to-head series (they have split so far and the meet again on April 7, again in S.A.), which is the first playoff tie-breaker if the teams finish with the same record. The second tie-breaker is conference record, and the Spurs would have a five-game advantage in the loss column there if they prevail tonight.

If the Mavs win, they would hold a two-game advantage in the standings and guarantee themselves at least a tie in the head-to-head matchup. With the way they have been playing (winners of 19 of 20), a two-game lead is pretty significant.

The Mavs understand the significance of tonight. It's a statement game, according to Jerry Stackhouse.
-- [Dallas Morning News (Reg Req'd)]

If you read the quotes coming out of Dallas though, it seems like they're really searching for a little of that R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
-- [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

Some people will downplay the significance of the game, because home court isn't that important in the playoffs, especially when it comes to these two teams.
-- [San Antonio Express-News]

Greg Popovich disagrees, but he's not assuming anything when it comes to the playoffs.
-- [San Antonio Express-News]

One reason not to assume anything in San Antonio may be the concern over Tim Duncan.
-- [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

THE INVITATIONS ARE LEAKING

The official announcement of the 22 players selected to train for Team USA will come Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET on ABC, but the names on the list are already out there.

Toronto's Chris Bosh doesn't mind that he has to try out for the team.
-- [Toronto Star]

Dallas' Josh Howard was surprised to get his invitation.
-- [Dallas Morning News (Reg Req'd)]

Miami's Dwyane Wade wanted to make sure his buddy LeBron was going before he made the committment.
-- [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Memphis' Shane Battier is still waiting on the official word.
-- [Memphis Commercial Appeal]

So is the Hornets' Chris Paul.
-- [New Orleans Times-Picayune]

Many are surprised that Allen Iverson is not on the list.
-- [Philadelphia Daily News]

Three young players will be added for training camp, which will take place from July 18-25. The team will take 15 players to the World Championships start on August 19 in Japan.
-- [USA Basketball]

If they win the World Championships this summer, they automatically qualify for the 2008 Olympics in China and they can take 2007 off. If not, they must play in an Olympic quailfying tournament (among other North and South American teams) in 2007 and earn their trip to China that way.

These clubs know how to scrap
(Randy Belice/NBAE/Getty Images)
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Gilbert Arenas on what Team USA training camp will be like:

"You're going to be fighting for your country, so everyone is going to be that much more focused. Everyone's going to push each other. It's going to be a high level of basketball."
-- [Washington Post]

2005-06 ARCHIVE
Feb. 13 -- The Heat is On
Feb. 10 -- Left Out in the Cold
Feb. 3 -- We're Going Streaking!
Jan. 27 -- Trade Winds Blow
Jan. 23 -- Points a Plenty
Jan. 20 -- Give the King a Break
Jan. 13 -- Who's the Man?
Dec. 1 -- Welcome Back, Larry
Nov. 17 -- League Pass Surfing
Nov. 10 -- Setting OWGs Straight
Nov. 4 -- Season Underway
Oct. 27 -- The Central Is Stacked
Oct. 19 -- All Dressed Up
Oct. 14 -- LeBron Out Of Hospital
2004-05 -- Archive
2003-04 -- Archive