Can't get enough hoops? Take a lighthearted look at the latest from around the league and the hoops world at large with our very own basket-blog, "'s Click and Roll."
E-mail this story | Archive
Contact Click and Roll

Click and Roll has returned to duty every weekday for the playoffs. Stick with us throughout the postseason as Click and Roll will cover the NBA Playoffs 2003 as only we can.

TV: Magic-Pistons (7 ET, ESPN); Sixers-Hornets (9:30 ET, ESPN); Mavs-Blazers (10:30 ET, ESPN2)

Friday, May 2

So Long

What does Gary Payton see when he looks into his future?
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty/NBAE Images)
Well, that ended abruptly, didn't it?

Faced with four series possibly reaching Game 7, all of them ended in Game 6 on Thursday. If you look at the final scores, it appeared only one team had fight in them.

The eighth-seeded Suns gave the top-seeded Spurs all San Antonio could handle for six games, including in Game 6. The Suns led by as many as 10 points and led by two as last as 6:12 remaining before falling 87-85. (Arizona Republic)

Thanks to Stephon Marbury's toughness and a gaggle of talented youngsters, the Suns should not set for quite some time. (Arizona Republic)

As for the other three teams eliminated on Thursday, neither the Pacers nor the Bucks led in their games and the Timberwolves' biggest lead was six early in the second quarter. While the Pacers and Wolves were getting beat on the road, the Bucks took their not-as-close-as-it-seemed 113-101 beating at home.

That's no way to recruit free agent-to-be Gary Payton, who had 24 points and eight assists, wondered what the heck was going on. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

"We just didn't play," Payton told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We should have been ready to play better than we did. But we didn't and we got eliminated."

And quickly too. Before you knew it the Bucks were down 12 at the end of one quarter, exposing many flaws. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Maybe the Bucks can chalk it up to Chronic Wasting Disease, which is like mad cow disease for deer. Whatever the ailment, the Bucks have a summer to figure it out.

The Pacers also have the whole summer to wonder what went wrong after starting the season 37-15. (Indianapolis Star)

The Pacers also have three prominent free agents: Reggie and Brad Miller (no relation) and most important, Jermaine O'Neal, who went all Jimmy Chitwood from "Hoosiers" on the front office. . (Boston Globe)

Kevin Garnett, who despite his considerable powers, was also force-fed a heaping helping of bitter defeat as the Timberwolves exited the playoffs after the first round for the seventh consecutive year. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press)

This elimination was especially maddening considering the Wolves had the homecourt advantage and their opportunities. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

So what did Thursday night's results leave us to view? In the East, we get a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference Finals between the Celtics and the Nets. The Celtics are looking forward to rematch. (Newsday)

In the West, the Spurs get another crack at the Lakers, a team that has taken only nine games to dump them from the playoffs the last two seasons. (L.A. Times)

As for Friday night, three teams face elimination. The East's No. 1 seed, the Pistons, is on the ropes and history is on the side of the Magic (7 ET, ESPN) (Detroit Free Press)

The Hornets, who host the Sixers on Friday night (9:30 ET, ESPN), feel they can steal the final two games. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

And although they won the first three, the Mavs have lost the last two heading into tonight's Game 6 with the Blazers in Portland (10:30 ET, ESPN2). Losing a third straight would put the Mavs in tight collar territory. (Dallas Morning News)

Rob Peterson,

Thursday, May 1

Win or Go Home, Part II (or Stay Awhile)

Paul Pierce would love to point the way to a Game 6 win.
(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
So this is how it's going to be. No one wants to leave.

You know how tense the situation becomes when guests overstay their welcome. The host will yawn, maybe stretch and emphasize it with a grunt. There may be some uncomfortable silence and someone will examine their shoes. Soon, the host will clear his throat and then look at his watch and say: "My! Look at the time! It is late."

It is late, but as three teams showed on Wednesday, it wasn't too late to save their season. Yes, thank you, they don't mind if they do have another game.

In Philadelphia, Jamal Mashburn returned to the lineup for Game 5 against the Sixers after suffering a broken finger. His presence and his team-high 21 points lifted the Hornets to a 93-91 win and sent the series back to New Orleans.

Then there was the former Sixer, current Hornet, George Lynch, who made a MacArthur-like return to Philadelphia to hand his old teammates a loss. (New Orleans Times Picayune)

And no city takes losing quite as hard as Philadelphia. One Philly columnist took the lost quite hard, calling it a night of shame. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Another said the Sixers can't stand success. (Philadelphia Daily News)

As for the Blazers rallying to beat the Mavericks103-99 in Game 5 in Dallas, one Metroplex writer claimed the Mavs couldn't stand the Blazers' playoffs heat. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

For the Blazers, Wednesday's win means there is still hope for them to become the first team in NBA history to rally from a 3-0 deficit. (The Oregonian)

Speaking of history, the Jazz are after losing their series with the Kings, 4-1. Also possibly fading into history is the greatest duo in NBA annals, John Stockton and Karl Malone. Their partnership has left many an opponent and opposing coach in awe. (Sacramento Bee)

Just plain leaving was Jazz center Greg Ostertag, who was booted with two techs five minutes into the game. The ejection had his teammates rolling their eyes, while it had this columnist bursting at the seams. (Salt Lake Tribune)

The only thing that burst for the Magic was their hopes of closing out their series with the Pistons in Detroit. No one was more impressive than Ben Wallace, who grabbed 21 rebounds and scored 14 points, many of them dunks (one of which an ESPNews anchor called "feathery." Don't ask me, I'm just telling you.) (Detroit News)

But enough about misspoken sports anchors, four teams tonight cannot take a misstep. For Milwaukee and Phoenix staying alive at home will be less daunting than for Indiana and the poor Timberwolves, who play their respective Game 6s on the road.

Still, one Milwaukee columnist says even if the Bucks defeat the Nets in Milwaukee tonight (8 ET, TNT), the Bucks won't win Game 7. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Meanwhile, the Suns, who are down 3-2 in their series, host the Spurs tonight (9:30 ET, TBS). The Suns are hoping their dreams won't intrude on reality. (Arizona Republic)

The reality for the Pacers and the Timberwolves is stark -- they must win tonight on the road to stay alive. Then again, it has been done (see also, Hornets, Blazers).

For the Pacers, who are in Boston for Game 6 (7 ET, TBS), they need more of the same from Tim Hardaway (Indy Star)

The Timberwolves just need to recapture their swagger tonight (10:30 ET, TNT). (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

It will be tough considering the Wolves will need to take that swagger away from Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on the road in Game 6. (L.A. Times)

Rob Peterson,

Wednesday, April 30

Win or Go Home

Ben Wallace is shocked the Pistons are down 3-1 in their first round series with the Magic.
(Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images)
Everyone, please, gather 'round. I just want all of you, Utah, Portland, Detroit and New Orleans, to get a good look at each other. Wednesday night may be the last time you hit the hardwood this season before heading home for the summer.

You know the situation. You are all down 3-1 heading into your respective contests tonight. You have the nearly impossible task of coming back from a 3-1 deficit. In NBA history, only six teams have done it. Best of luck to you.

Of the four teams facing elimination tonight, only the Pistons escape the daunting task of playing on the road as they host the Magic (8 ET, NBA TV).

"It's all about pride," one Detroit paper quoted Ben Wallace. (Detroit News)

Pride is a powerful thing, but then so is self-doubt. Here's another statement regarding the Pistons' mindset.

"We have to make a decision," Jon Barry told the Detroit News. "Do we want to fight back and see if we can do something that is very difficult. Or do we lay it down. That's the two choices. Hopefully, we don't choose the latter. Hopefully we come out and play."

Then again, the Pistons with their collective backs against the proverbial wall is a dangerous thing. (Orlando Sentinel)

This Orlando columnist lives for danger. He throws caution into the wind and suggests the Magic are headed to the Finals. (Hey, don't shoot me an e-mail, I'm just the messenger!) (Orlando Sentinel)

As for the other three teams that have dug their own, deep playoff holes, the Hornets, the Blazers and the Jazz hit the road tonight, where each are 0-for-the-playoffs.

The Hornets, who are in Philly for Game 5 (6 ET, TNT), are clinging to the hope that Jamal Mashburn can play. (New Orleans Times Picayune)

The Sixers, meanwhile, don't want a return trip to New Orleans. They're looking to their dynamic backcourt to prevent that. (Philly Inquirer)

In Dallas, the Mavs are looking to Dirk Nowitzki to help close out their series with the Blazers (8:30 ET, TNT).

For the Mavs, a series-clinching win at home would be sweet, and it finally may give Don Nelson and the Mavericks the respect they deserve in the Metroplex area. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Still, the Mavs are on the defensive, or are at least trying to be anyway. (The Oregonian)

As for the Jazz, they're in Sacramento and they will try to keep their season alive in the arena where opponents have won only six games in 43 chances this season (11 ET, TNT).

And if that's not daunting enough, history does not favor Utah. (Salt Lake Tribune)

The Kings, however, don't expect anything to come easy against the Jazz. (Sacramento Bee)

While we're on the subject of easy, the Lakers made it look ridiculously easy in Game 5 on Tuesday, by pasting the Wolves by 30.

The Wolves now have the daunting task of trying to win Game 6 in L.A. and then returning to Minnesota for Game 7. (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

By the looks of Kobe's vicious reverse slam, his right shoulder is OK (I don't want to see any more stories about how much it hurts) and the Lakers were back with more energy. (L.A. Times)

Which brings me to this: How can any team not have energy for the playoffs?

As one eminent hip-hop philosopher once waxed: "Look/If you had one shot/one opportunity/ to seize everything you've ever wanted/in one moment/would you capture it/ or just let it slip?"

He's right, you know. If there's no urgency now, then when?

One Arizona paper claimed the Suns were "lifeless" in their Game 5 loss to the Spurs in San Antonio. (Arizona Republic)

In the East, one writer thinks the Bucks look "spent" after losing Game 5 to the Nets in New Jersey on Tuesday. (New York Daily News)

The good thing for both the Suns and the Bucks is that they will each host their respective Game 6 on Thursday. Maybe that'll give them some life.

Showing no life at all in the overtime period were the Celtics, who DIDN'T SCORE in the extra stanza in their Game 5 loss to the Pacers in Indiana. The Celtics now have the ignominious distinction of being the first team to ever go scoreless in an overtime playoff game. (Boston Globe)

Still, one day after having an Indianapolis Star columnist say there was no way the Pacers could win, another columnist from the same paper said that the Pacers have a large amount of heart. (Indy Star)

And thanks to that win, the Pacers' playoff heart still beats.

Rob Peterson,

Tuesday, April 29

Win Game 5, You Have a Good Chance to Stay Alive

Wally Szczerbiak won't have Rick Fox following him everywhere any longer.
(David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images)
Now that you've slogged through the first day of the work week, the NBA presents you with four reasons to be excited on Tuesday: four Game 5s.

In the history of the NBA, winning Game 5 of a seven-game series is of paramount importance. In the case of the Pacers, they must beat the Celtics on Tuesday or Indiana's season is done (9:30 ET, NBA TV).

Some say a certain coach and Hall of Fame player may be done as well if the Pacers lose Game 5, thanks to the dreaded "vote of confidence," which is often neither a vote nor does it inspire any measure of confidence. (Indy Star)

Meanwhile, the sixth-seeded Celtics are licking their chops at the prospects of punting the third-seeded Pacers from the playoffs. (Boston Herald)

The three-time defending champs became a little less defensive on Monday as it was discovered that Rick Fox will miss the rest of the playoffs with a -- yeeeeouch! -- torn tendon in his foot. (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Still, the Timberwolves must win Game 5 in Minnesota on Tuesday (9:30 ET, TNT). Going back to L.A. down 3-2 against the defending champs is not a healthy way to live, even though some writers are starting to say this is the end of the Lakers. We'll believe that when we see it. (Chicago Tribune)

The Nets are another team facing an important Game 5 (7 ET, NBA TV). Tied at 2-2 with the Bucks in their first-round series, the Nets don't want to head back to Milwaukee down 3-2.

New Jersey has proven it can win in Milwaukee, but the Bucks have proven that they can push back. (Newark Star-Ledger)

As for Nets center Dikembe Mutombo, he wants to play and he won't stop talking to the press until he does play. (New York Post)

While Mutombo talks about getting on the floor, reporters keep asking Jason Kidd if he's getting out of town and headed to San Antonio. (New York Daily News)

Speaking of the Spurs, they've found the going rough with No. 8 seed Phoenix. The series returns to San Antonio for Game 5 tied at 2-2 (7 ET, NBA TV). The top-seeded Spurs are feeling the heat. (San Antonio Express-News)

The player applying that heat? Stephon Marbury, who will need that heat just to loosen his injured shoulder and neck to get ready for Game 5. (Arizona Republic)

Wednesday features four more Game 5s, and thanks to Sacramento's 99-82 win over Utah and Philly's 96-87 drubbing of New Orleans on Monday, all four games on Wednesday will be elimination games.

For the Jazz, Monday's game in Salt Lake City may have been the last game John Stockton and Karl Malone played for the Jazz, which would end a remarkable, and certainly never to be duplicated, era in any sport. (Salt Lake Tribune)

In New Orleans, the Hornets have lost their sting, thanks to the chronic state the Hornets often find themselves in during the playoffs: bruised, battered and banged up. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

And finally, the kudos continue to roll in for Maurice Cheeks and his impromptu duet, and rightfully so. And we're going to link to every story we can find about it. Why? Because you should read them. (San Jose Mercury News, Washington Post)

Rob Peterson,

Monday, April 28

We Sing the Praises of the NBA Playoffs

Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks lends a hand to Natalie Gilbert before Game 3 of the Blazers-Mavs series on Friday.
(Jonathan Ferry/Getty Images/NBAE)

How can you not love Mo Cheeks?

Cheeks, who has dropped dimes to players as varying as Julius Erving to Marc Ivaroni, made one of his more impressive assists on Friday before Game 3 of the Blazers-Mavs series.

Natalie Gilbert, a 13-year-old who won a contest to sing the national anthem, caught not only the flu but also a bit of stage fright that night. With the words stuck in her throat, Cheeks walked over and began singing the anthem with Gilbert. (The Oregonian)

Rightfully, many have been singing Cheeks' praises all weekend. (USA Today)

While his team lost Game 3 to fall in a 3-0 hole, Cheeks could finally sing his team's praises as the Blazers staved off elimination by winning Game 4 on Sunday. (The Oregonian)

If this were last year when first-round playoff series were five games instead of seven, three first-round playoff series would already be over.

Dallas would have swept Portland, and on Sunday, Boston would have dumped Indiana and the Magic would have booted the Pistons, becoming only the third eighth seed to topple a top seed.

Alas, this year's first round was expanded to seven games, and these respective series require teams to win four, not three. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit (sorry, Portland), but six teams (Boston, 1968; Los Angeles, 1970; Washington, 1979; Boston, 1981; Houston, 1995; Miami, 1997) have rallied from 3-1 deficits.

Still, if you listen to some people, these series are "over." Done, finished, kaput, toast.

This Indianapolis columnist doesn't mince words, as his first line about the Pacers, who fell to the Celtics on Sunday and are down 3-1 in their series, is: "They cannot win." (Indy Star)

Harsh. Just as sharp is the criticism coming from Detroit columnists, who have seen their local professional basketball club, the No. 1 team in the East, fall into a 3-1 hole after losing to the Magic on Sunday. Some have already begun pointing fingers about the Pistons' passionless plummet. (Detroit Free Press)

But, if you think the playoffs have been devoid of passion, please let me direct your attention around the first round. The Nets and Bucks have been pointing fingers -- in each others' faces.

And how can you not see passion, when after the Suns tied their series with San Antonio at 2-2 on Sunday, Suns guard Stephon Marbury gets in a primal pose and blows out a larynx screaming with joy? The Suns have resolve, claims this writer. (Arizona Republic)

The Suns' win on Sunday gave the two eighth seeds an amazing 5-3 record in the first-round.

The Hornets, down 2-0 and without their leading scorer, could have folded, but blew out the Sixers on Saturday with a energetic performance, leaving the Crescent City contingent feeling content. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

The Hornets may need to win their first round series if they want to see Jamal Mashburn suit up again. But then again, maybe you just need to insert a guy with the same initials, say like, Jerome Moiso.

(Mars Blackmon saying, "Money, it's gotta be the initials," just doesn't have the same ring to it.)

One positive emerged for Sixers coach Larry Brown after Saturday's loss: His team is listening to him now. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

And then there is the Lakers-Timberwolves series, where Shaquille O'Neal finally heeded the call to his massive arms into which he cradled a five-point Game 4 win to even the series at 2-2. (L.A. Daily News)

All is not right with the Lakers, though and that included Kobe Bryant's ailing right shoulder. (L.A. Daily News)

The Wolves will take it. Despite splitting in L.A., the Timberwolves have bared their teeth on defense and feel confident heading back to Minnesota on Tuesday for Game 5. (L.A. Daily News)

Rob Peterson,