The past week in the NBA was once again highlighted by the frantic annual tradition: trades, rumours, discussions, possibilities, and potentials. The 15th of March, 2012, was the NBA’s trade deadline day, and as usual, several teams waited until the ‘buzzer’ to beat the clock and make trades to improve themselves, either for the present or for the future.
My co-writer Akshay Manwani provided an excellent summary of all the deadline day action on this website a few days ago. Looking back at the NBA action from the past week now, we can see teams which said goodbye to players who have served them for many years – such as Derek Fisher with the Lakers or Monta Ellis with the Warriors – as the same teams welcomed new faces to replace the old ones, like Ramon Sessions in LA and Gerald Wallace in New Jersey. One team welcomed back an old face they had won with several years ago, as Stephen Jackson once again donned the Spurs jersey.
Here’s a summary of some of the games this past week – a week of hellos and goodbyes!
Wednesday: Lakers @ Grizzlies
An instant classic! The Lakers, who have so far been lions at home and lambs on the road, were looking for an away victory against the tenacious Grizzlies. This game pitted the Gasol brothers – Pau and Marc – against each other. Memphis took a big 17-point lead in the third quarter, but the Lakers fought back with Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant. In a see-sawing game that saw momentums shift back-and-forth, the two teams were insperable until the second overtime, where a massive effort by Bynum (37 pts 16 rebs) and help from Kobe (34 pts 9 rebs) saw the Lakers overcome the Grizzlies 116-111. Marreese Speights scored 25 points for Memphis.
Thursday: Hawks @ Clippers
The Clippers were trying to officially acquire Nick Young from the Wizards in a three-way deal, but they didn’t really need him against the Hawks in this game. Instead, they were helped by two guards off the bench who will by fighting for playing time with Young when he arrives – Mo Williams (25) and Eric Bledsoe (14). A good overall defensive effort helped the Clips win 96-82 at home.
Friday: Thunder @ Nuggets
Short-handed after announcing the trade where they would lose Nene and welcome JaVale McGee from the Wizards, the Nuggets had a tough time keeping up with the best squad in the Western Conference. While the game remained close in the first half, the Thunder played exceptional defense in the third quarter, holding Denver to just 14 points, and they cruised to an eventual 103-90 win. Thunder were led by their usual suspects – Kevin Durant (24) and Russell Westbrook (23).
Saturday: Timberwolves @ Lakers
A lot changed in the short span of time between the last time these two teams played each other. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota’s inspirational point guard, hurt himself in the last game and was ruled out for the entire season, putting an abrupt speed bump in the way of this young squad's ascension. The Lakers, on the other hand, played without their own great point guard Derek Fisher, the team’s former co-captain. And one player forever mixed in trade talks – Pau Gasol – temporarily felt some security with his own future with the Lakers as he was appointed as the Lakers’ new co-captain. New point guard Ramon Sessions made his debut for the Lakers. In the end though, the result was dependent on some familiar faces: Kobe Bryant had 28 points, overcoming Kevin Love’s 27 points and 15 rebounds, as the Lakers beat the Timberwolves for the 19th consecutive game, 97-92.
Sunday: Spurs @ Mavericks
These two Texan giants share a lot in common with each other: both are filled with experienced, wily veterans, both play unselfish basketball, and both will be now gathering steam for a big run in the post-season. Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki had a big game against legendary power forward Tim Duncan, scoring 27 points to lead all scorers. And when the game came to its crucial moments in the fourth quarter, it was the reliable hot-shooting of the Jason Terry that helped see the Mavs through to an impressive 106-99 victory.
… And the rest of the weekend
A couple of teams had surprising success this weekend, including the Phoenix Suns, who despite their poor roster, won their 11th game of the last 14 after beating the Timberwolves. Meanwhile, with their head coach Mike D’Antoni resigning, the New York Knicks finally found much-needed urgency to their season and won three in a row under interim head coach Mike Woodson. Fresh after his trade from the Warriors to the Bucks, Monta Ellis returned to play his former team and dropped 18 points to celebrate a victory with his new side.
On your TV sets this week: Wed – Clippers @ Pacers, Thu – Clippers @ Thunder, Fri – Celtics @ Bucks, Sat – Mavericks @ Spurs, Sun – Grizzlies @ Clippers.