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.
NBA Playoffs 2003 | Friday TV: Nets-Celtics (8 ET, TNT); Spurs-Lakers (10:30 ET, TNT)
Sign O' The Times
They were down 3-1 to Orlando in their first round series and were destined for the car crusher. When they were in motion, they seemed unsafe at any speed: they couldn't play fast and when you slowed them down, they were Edsel-ugly. Some even whispered the Pistons were the worst No. 1 seed in NBA Playoffs history.
Since then, everyone has been choking on the Pistons' dust. They have made like a slick roadster and cruised to five straight playoff wins, including Thursday night's 104-97 OT triumph over the Sixers in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series.
And while most parents would shudder at the thought of giving the keys to the little red Corvette to their little prince, that's what Pistons coach Rick Carlisle has done with rookie Tayshaun Prince. The Pistons only need to worry if he changes his name to an unpronouncable symbol. (Detroit News)
Strangely enough, it was two missed free throws by one of the more clutch veteran players, Allen Iverson, that allowed for Prince's late game heroics. Put this one on me, A.I. said. (Detroit News)
Game 2 of the Kings-Mavs series just goes to show the mercurial nature of the NBA Playoffs. You can be a goat one game, a hero the next. (Houston Chronicle)
Still, some are skeptical. Wow, sportswriters are cynical! (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
For the Kings, the night was painful in more ways than one as Chris Webber injured his knee and Bobby Jackson broke his orbital bone. Will they be ready for back-to-back games in Sacramento this weekend? The Kings are waiting to find out and what they don't know, could hurt them. (Sacramento Bee)
Although the pain in Sacramento is great, you still won't find any empathy for the Lakers, who face a must-win situation in Game 3 at home against the Spurs on Friday (10:30 ET, TNT). (L.A. Daily News)
In order for the Lakers to win, they must find a new resolve. (Orange County Register)
The Spurs, meanwhile, are feeling stronger every day, but they won't say so. (San Antonio Express-News)
Still, one columnist is hoping the Lakers put up more of a fight. Be careful what you wish for, smart guy. (San Antonio Express-News)
Speaking of smart, is this? (New York Post)
There has been plenty of off-the-court by-play in the Nets-Celtics semifinals series, which continues tonight in Boston (8 ET, TNT). On the court so far, it's been all Nets as they lead 2-0. Part of the reason New Jersey has sprinted to the series lead is the Nets have put the clamps on Antoine Walker (but not his mouth). (Newark Star-Ledger)
In other news, congrats to Penny Hardaway, college graduate. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)
Finally, Alonzo Mourning has been cleared to return to the NBA. Best of luck, 'Zo. (Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel)
Rob Peterson, NBA.com
Are the Lakers Well Done?
The final margin, 114-95, didn't do justice to the Spurs' domination as the San Antonio News-Express described the Lakers as "hapless." (San Antonio Express-News )
As for Bowen, the guy who could defend, but couldn't shoot straight, hit 7-of-8 three pointers and poured in 27 points and was in Kobe Bryant's face all night. This reporter wished the Lakers had put someone, anyone in the Spurs face. (Orange County Register)
Some consider Bowen's near-single handed dismantling of the champs as an instant classic. (Los Angeles Times)
As for the Lakers, the Shaq and Kobe edition haven't been down 2-0 since the Spurs swept them in the 1999 Western Conference Finals. That was the last time the Lakers have lost a playoffs series.
So, with the Game 2 loss you knew what was coming from the press: the Lakers are finished.
Here's one from San Antonio. (San Antonio Express-News)
One from L.A. (L.A. Times)
We have another one from L.A. (L.A. Daily News)
And even the folks in Houston are getting into the act. I guess you don't mess with Texas. (Houston Chronicle)
Jason Kidd played in Texas at one time. You shouldn't mess with him, either. (New York Post)
Kidd, the oxygen for the Nets' backdraft-quick fast break, has led New Jersey to a 2-0 lead over the Celtics in the their semifinals series.
As for the Celtics, Paul Pierce held up his end of the bargain with a triple-double. (Boston Herald)
Where is everyone else, including Antoine Walker? (Boston Globe)
But enough about Wednesday, we have some scary propositions for Thursday, as the Kings take on the Mavs in Game 2 (9:30 ET, ESPN).
The frightening scene? The Kings think they can play better than they did in Game 1. Yikes, indeed! (Dallas Morning News)
Meanwhile, the Mavs need to shore up the Big D with some "D." (Fort Worth Star Telegram)
In the East, the Pistons host the Sixers in Game 2 of their conference semifinals series (7 ET, ESPN). Both teams could be without their starting point guards. Philly's Eric Snow has an injured right foot, while the Pistons' Chauncey Billups is, according to the Pistons trainer, "walking like Fred Sanford" after spraining his ankle in Game 1. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Meanwhile, it was not a good day to be in an NBA front office, unless you were Danny Ainge. (Boston Globe)
The Washington Post has covered Michael Jordan's departure with slightly less industriousness than it covered Watergate. (Washington Post)
Of course, when it comes to MJ, people from around the country weigh in from Philly to Los Angeles to those in Chicago on their knees begging MJ to return. (Philly Inquirer, L.A. Times, Chicago Sun-Times)
In Portland, Bob Whitsitt says goodbye on June 30, while in New Orleans, the Hornets' GM of two seasons, Jeff Bower, is taking an assistant coaching position with Penn State. (The Oregonian, New Orleans Times-Picayune)
Finally, the New York Times headline for MJ and the Wizards parting under auspicious circmstances: "Jordan Surprised and Inflamed as Wizards Show Him the Door." Inflamed? There's a joke there, I just can't make it.
Rob Peterson, NBA.com
A Thing of Beauty
Well, the Kings more than the Mavs, whom you could tell were tired in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals series. (Dallas Morning News)
As for their fatigue, the Mavs have no one but themselves to blame as they allowed their first-round series with the Blazers go to seven games after taking a 3-0 lead. The Kings, who dispatched the Jazz in the first round in five games, looked sharp and well-rested. (Sacramento Bee)
And if the Mavs want to win, let alone advance, this columnist says Steve Nash and Michael Finley better step up. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Peja Stojakovic led the Kings with 26 points, but it was his all-around game that opened people's eyes and dropped their jaws. (Sacramento Bee)
It was, one columnist said, a beautiful thing to watch. (Houston Chronicle)
While the Kings were shooting the lights out in Dallas, the lights did go out at the Palace of Auburn Hills, site of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Pistons and the Sixers.
Maybe it was Pistons rookie Mehmet Okur who caused the outage. Okur was 7-for-7 from the field and grabbed six boards as the Pistons claimed a 1-0 series lead. (Detroit Free Press)
The news is not all good for the Pistons, however, as Chanucey Billups sprained his ankle. (Detroit News)
As for the two other semifinals series, the teams are extremely familiar with each other. In San Antonio, the Spurs and Lakers meet in Game 2 tonight (9:30 ET, TNT).
The Lakers, down a game, have a big problem at small forward. The problem? They don't have any healthy ones. (L.A. Times)
The Celts also need to stop the Nets from running. Easier said than done. (New York Post)
The new Charlotte NBA team has narrowed the search for its nickname to three: Dragons, Flight or Bobcats, the latter reportedly in honor of owner Robert Johnson. (Charlotte Observer)
Of the three, I like Flight, but you can make your choice here. (Official NBA Charlotte Site)
Because I'm a selfish writer (the possibilities for one-liners are endless -- like airport lines. Hey-o!), I'll take the Flight. And, question. If it does end up being the Flight, will the dancers be known as the Flight Attendants? (OK, I'll stop. For now.)
Remember yesterday, when I received the e-mail about international players? Well, I have another one today. The Timberwolves' Felipe Lopez, a native of the Dominican Republic, will be a presenter at the Billboard Latin Music Awards tonight in Miami.
Finally, I guess turnabout is fair play. I just received this from the "I Don't Know Whether to Laugh or Cry" department: Is this Justified? (Salon.com)
Rob Peterson, NBA.com
International House of ...
Here's one I received yesterday:
The NBA Western Conference Semifinal series between the Dallas Mavericks and the Sacramento Kings (9 ET, ESPN2) will feature the most international players in NBA Playoff history with a record eight players.
I prefer to refer to these two teams full of multi-dimensional, multi-national scoring talent as IHOOP, or the International House of Offensive Production.
Convoluted? Possibly. True? Undeniably. These teams will score. And like Chicago voters, they will do so often. In their four regular season games against each other, the Kings averaged 120.5 points per game while the Mavs averaged 114 points per game.
Expect offensive fireworks, even though Mavs assistant Rolando Blackman is calling for his team to be tougher in the paint. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
With all due respect, Mr. Blackman, please don't. I like it when teams score. I like it when guys fly up and down the floor and render the shot clock irrelevant. It's not a hold-the-ball-for-24-second clock.
That brand of physical hoops (tackle basketball?) is for the Pistons and the Sixers, where the Pistons will ask Corliss Williamson to "mix it up" in the paint with the Sixers (8 ET, ESPN). (Detroit Free Press)
But the Pistons will need to score (duh!) to win. In their two victories over the Sixers in the regular season, Detroit averaged 108 points. In their two losses, the Pistons averaged nearly 30 points FEWER (78.5) than in their wins. Egads! Expect both teams to be the aggressor in this series, as this helpful article from a Philly paper indicates. (Philadelphia Daily News)
(And if you want to know why Games 3 and 4 of this series in Philadelphia will be back-to-back Saturday and Sunday this weekend, here's why. Sense a physical theme?) (Philly Inquirer)
Some of the praise went to the Spurs' Bruce Bowen, who was in Kobe Bryant's grille all night, forcing Kobe into a 16-for-38 shooting night. (San Antonio News-Express)
The Lakers, in the meantime, are running out of small forwards. Devean George, who had started in place of the injured Rick Fox, severely sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter. This won't help the Lakers, who couldn't slow down Argentine rookie Manu Ginobili. (L.A. Daily News, L.A. Times)
Then, one Boston Globe columnist asked Walker to clam up and play. (Boston Globe)
Finally, the Michael Jordan saga in D.C. continues. I won't link to every story regarding Jordan, but you can just go here if you want to find out more. (Washington Post)
No matter the resolution, MJ will still get a nice reward. Serves me right for being short ... and slow. (ESPN.com)
Rob Peterson, NBA.com
Waiting to Exhale and for the Semifinals to Begin
Facing the daunting prospect of becoming the first NBA team ever to blow a three-game lead, the Mavs dug in their heels and doused the Blazers 107-95 in Game 7 of their first round series. That huge gust of air wasn't the legendary Texas wind, but a collective exhalation from the Mavericks and their fans. And who wants to be the answer to an embarrassing trivia question? (Chicago Tribune)
Fear not NBA historians. Just because the Blazers failed to become the first team in NBA history to rally from a 3-0 deficit does not mean history wasn't made on Sunday.
Detroit became just the seventh team, and the first since the Knicks defeated the Heat in 1997, to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win a series. Moments after the defeat, Magic coach Doc Rivers made one of the most pointedly true statements in all of sports history.
"When you lose, you're never right," Rivers said. (Orlando Sentinel)
For the final three games, it seemed as if the Pistons could do no wrong and they get to laugh last. (Detroit News)
(And an interesting piece of trivia from the same notes column: The Pistons are 4-0 when Anita Baker sings the national anthem at Pistons games. You Bring Me Joy, indeed.)
One week ago, this writer was calling for Rick Carlisle's head. After all was said and done, the writer found his hero. (Detroit Free Press) Now, the Pistons get the Sixers in the conference semifinals. All I can say is expect some defense, including a couple of open-field tackles. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Oh, and by the way, the Pistons want to give props to those who suggested expanding the first round series to seven games. (New York Times)
But the first round is behind us. The conference semifinals begin tonight with the Celtics visiting the Nets (7 ET, TNT).
The teams have spent time since last Thursday sharpening their nails for this series. (New York Times)
Not that there's anything wrong with that, according to Nets coach Byron Scott. (Newsday)
And while this series should be intriguing, I don't know if I can get fired up about the subplot of Rodney Rogers wanting revenge on the Celtics. (North Jersey.com)
Following Nets-Celtics, the Western Conference semifinals series between the Lakers and the Spurs tips off.
And for the second consecutive year, the Spurs have the league MVP on their side. Duncan was spectacular in last year's conference semifinals against L.A. (including a monster 34-point, 25-rebound performance in Game 5), but he received little help from his fellow Spurs.
Duncan could use some help from the Admiral, who, according to the headline, could ride off into the sunset or go down with the ship (I don't get it). (L.A. Times)
And for a team that has won the last three NBA titles, they sure do become jealous about other people's things. (San Antonio Express-News)
Rob Peterson, NBA.com