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ALMOST DOESN'T COUNT
Posted by By Brad Friedman on March 17, 2006 9:43 a.m. ET

PENTHOUSE TO THE OUTHOUSE FOR SIXERS, JAZZ?

Remember when second place in a division virtually guaranteed you a playoff spot?

Times, and the divisions, have changed. The Jazz and Sixers both hold the second-place spots in their respective divisions, but they may not make the playoffs. Allow us to explain.

Most compelling is the situation in Philadelphia, where Allen Iverson and Co. have been breathing down New Jersey's neck all season in the Atlantic Division. The Atlantic winner would land a three seed if the postseason were to begin today.
-- [NBA.com]

Philadelphia's recent two-game skid with Iverson out of the lineup has widened the Nets' advantage to 4.5 games, but the Sixers could still catch New Jersey with 18 games left in their season and grab that No. 3 seed. However, Philadelphia's chances of missing the playoffs altogether are nearly as good. Its 31-33 record at the moment leaves it only 2.5 games ahead of the Bulls in the race for the East's final playoff spot. The Sixers have lost five of six, and Iverson will miss Friday's contest versus the Clippers.
-- [FoxSports.com]

Crucial, then, will be the Sixers' road contest Sunday with Golden State (4 p.m. ET, LP), who beat Minnesota at home last night. The Warriors are 17-16 at home, and Philadelphia suffered a disappointing West Coast loss to a 26-win Sonics team last night. With it looking unlikely Iverson will play in that game as well, this contest is looking like a tougher game than it should be for the Sixers. -- [Philadelphia Inquirer, NBA.com]

The Bulls face the daunting task of facing Miami 2 p.m. ET Saturday on NBA TV their only solace being that the contest is in Chicago. They will look to bounce back following a Wednesday loss to Milwaukee -- Scott Skiles says his club is not easily deflated.
-- [Chicago Tribune]

While the Sixers could jump swing from division title to the lottery, Utah's three-game slide that included a 41-14 first quarter disaster in Tuesday's loss to Miami. The Jazz have probably relinquished any chance they had of taking first place in the Northwest Division. Denver's now up six games, and it's now more of a matter of just fighting for a playoff berth for Utah.
-- [Salt Lake City Tribune]

The Jazz are three games behind the Lakers for the eighth seed in the West Playoffs. But Utah also has to worry about the Hornets, who are only 1.5 games back for that same spot.

The Jazz visit Memphis Sunday 4 p.m. ET on League Pass. The Hornets host the Nuggets 8 p.m. ET Saturday on League Pass.

MAY THE BEST MAN WIN

Finally, a can't miss game this weekend is Sunday's showdown between Kobe and LeBron in Cleveland (1 p.m. ET, ABC regional). Last week, we talked about what a magical game the LeBron-Wade matchup would be, and it surpassed expectations, with LBJ going for 47 points but Wade coming out with bragging rights.
-- [NBA.com]

The Lakers-Cavaliers contest not only has playoff implications with regard to the No. 8 seed in the West, but it's going to be an awesome individual battle of perhaps two of the most talented basketball players in the world.

The first matchup of the two-game season series went the Lakers' way, 99-98, Jan. 12 in L.A. Kobe nailed jumpers on three consecutive possessions late in the fourth quarter with his final jumper ending up the game winner -- LeBron missed a potential game-winner as the clock expired.
-- [NBA.com]

GARDEN FEUD
Posted by By John Schuhmann on March 16, 2006 10:00 a.m. ET

BIG PROBLEMS IN THE BIG APPLE

The Knicks won Wednesday night in a pretty thrilling double-overtime contest with the Hawks. But in the New York papers, the game result was of little consequence. You see, there has been this thing going on between Larry Brown and Stephon Marbury that has the media a bit distracted.

Over the last few days, Marbury has vented his frustration about how he has been used with the Knicks and how Brown would rather criticize Marbury in the media than work out their issues in private. Brown has stated that maybe the two couldn't coexist and asked people to compare his career with Marbury's in order to conclude who was in the right.

At Wednesday morning's shootaround, Brown kept firing. He took blame for the Knicks' record, but brought up Marbury's old claim that he's the best point guard in the league to demenstrate that it's not all his fault.

Before the game Wednesday, Marbury responded, saying that Brown's call for a career comparison was a sign of insecurity and saying that Brown has crossed the line by handling their problems through the media.
[New York Daily News]

Steph doesn't have his own candy bar, but you can now put him in the same sentence as Reggie Jackson.
[New York Post]

So who's really to blame here, anyway?
[New York Newsday]

A resolution is looking less and less possible, so Marbury believes he'll be somewhere else next season.
[New York Daily News]

Can the Knicks find a taker for the disgruntled point guard or will they just have to cut their losses and buy him out? Either way, they did just fine without him last night.
[New York Daily News]

Some suggest that they do without him for the whole game next time.
[New York Post]

Publicly, Marbury has stated that he wants to remain a Knick and that he and his coach can indeed coexist.
[The Record]

Jamal Crawford seems to agree, saying that Marbury and Brown "have a genuine respect for one another."
[New York Times (reg. req'd)]

Stay tuned.

TIP-INS

Tracy McGrady is barred from any physical activity and could possibly be done for the season.
[Houston Chronicle]

Interim Sonics coach Bob Hill's status for next season is still not 100 percent certain, but he does have a contract.
[Tacoma News Tribune]

Carmelo Anthony and Gene Simmons is an odd couple no matter what they're doing, but IndyCar racing takes it to another level.
[Denver Post]

It's a tight squeeze in the East
(Tom Pidgeon/Getty/NBAE)
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
IndyCar driver P.J. Chesson on words of encouragement from new team co-owner, Carmelo Anthony:

"He's 100 percent supportive. He's like, 'I want you to talk smack and get in there every weekend. Don't be scared.'"
-- [Denver Post]

2005-06 ARCHIVE
Mar. 10 -- A Magical Game
Mar. 3 -- Revenge of the Herds
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