By Rob Peterson, NBA.com
THERE'S HOT, AND THEN THERE'S HOT
Sunday morning, I came to praise the New Orleans Hornets, who had reeled off eight consecutive without Baron Davis as the hottest team in the NBA and then ... they lose to New Jersey on Sunday night.
Oh well. Just because the Hornets stumbled, doesn't mean they're not hot. They've won eight of their last 10 and they're 10-4 with George Lynch starting at shooting guard. And soon, the Hornets will need to squeeze Baron Davis back into the lineup now that he has returned from knee surgery. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
Every team should have such pleasant problems. But that still doesn't solve our problem of which team is the NBA's hottest as of late.
At one point it was Minnesota, which stumbled on the road this week. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
Maybe we should go back to the week before that, when it was the Lakers. L.A. is still hot, going 9-1 in its last 10 and has won three in a row, including Sunday's impressive 106-92 win over the Sixers, who were last week's hot number. (Philly Inquirer)
And now that Shaq has -- ahem -- rounded himself into shape, the rest of the league is worried. (L.A. Times)
Or, could we look at the Kings, who are also 9-1, but have won four straight, which included a 107-88 thumping of the slumping Indiana Pacers, who are 1-9 in their last 10? (Indianapolis Star)
And the Kings have been doing this by shuffling the lineup like a croupier does cards. (Salt Lake Tribune)
Then, we could go with the Spurs, who have handed the Kings their only two losses since the All-Star break, and who have gone 23-5 since the calendar flipped to 2003.
And we haven't even mentioned the Mavericks, who have the league's best record at 48-14 and are four games ahead of the Kings for the top seed in the wild, wild West.
What does all this mean? It means we're going to have a rousing finish to the regular season and quite a playoffs in the Western Conference. (ESPN.com)
AU REVOIR, MJ?
Sunday marked Michael Jordan's final game at Madison Square Garden, the 19,000-plus seat lecture hall where he schooled the Knicks for nearly two decades. Here, Jordan created some of his more memorable moments, like his double-nickel when he returned after his first retirement. (New York Times, ibid, Newsday)
Jordan was often a one-man show at the Garden, and it was no different for his final class, as Jordan played 42 minutes and scored 39 points with the Knicks eking out a 97-96 win. (Washington Post)
After the game, Professor Jordan lectured the young Wizards about the values of playing hard all the time, no matter your age. (Washington Post)
"You have to have some growth," Jordan told the Post. "You have to have some persistence and understanding for the game to make a change. We have too many players making the same mistakes in March that they made in October. That's going to make it very difficult for the team to make the playoffs."
And don't forget, it could be Oak's last game in the Garden as well. (N.Y. Daily News)
Whether he's throwing his body around at a championship rally or whether it's on the court, Mark Madsen is always interesting to watch. (Los Angeles Times)
Fans in the Bay Area aren't clamoring for a new arena. They like their old Arenas just fine, thank you. (CNNSI.com)
Who would have thought Stacey Augmon would have had a longer career than Larry Johnson? (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
And it didn't take long for teams to figure out what's what in Seattle. (Tacoma News-Tribune)
Remember Tom Chambers, perpetrator of one of the sickest dunks in NBA history when Mark Jackson, then with the Knicks, tried to take a charge, but only served as a lunching pad for Chambers, who had to slam it down just to avoid hitting his chest on the rim? Remember the 1987 All-Star MVP? Here's what Chambers is doing now. (Seattle Times)
When you're going for the gold, some coin would be nice. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Uh, oh. The dreaded vote of confidence. (New York Post)
Jay Williams' rookie season hasn't been easy. (Detroit News)
Are you yellow? Not the Pacers. (Indianapolis Star)
Gooden and Giricek have become factors in the got milk? Rookie of the Year race. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)
But then, we knew that already and we knew it on Tuesday! (NBA.com)
We could always use Alvin Gentry on the bench to coach the NBA.com basketball team. (Boston Globe)
Is Donyell Marshall the next Oscar Robertson? (Chicago Sun-Times)
The Spurs don't have this problem. (San Antonio Express-News)
Could the Bucks be tough in the playoffs, as Doc Rivers thinks they could? First, they need to make the playoffs. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Longer basketball courts? Wouldn't wider courts be better? Just asking. (Chicago Tribune)