Five NBA playoff observations from a night that featured a pair of unexpected blowouts and an escape act in Salt Lake City:
And Boozer (23 points, 22 rebounds) may have made the decision even harder after his performance in Utah's 88-86 victory against the Lakers on Thursday in Game 3 of the first-round series. Maybe he knew what he was talking about when he hinted earlier this season that he might leave $12.6 million on the table next year and become a free agent this summer.
Who wouldn't want a beast of a low-post talent who carried the Jazz to a four-point first-half lead with 13 points and 16 rebounds while the rest of his teammates were busy shooting 3-for-23 from outside the paint? Who wouldn't want a power forward savvy enough to recognize a double team approaching him in the final minute of a tie game and, in response, dish it to point guard
When the reigning MVP shoots 1-for-10 in the first half, you might think it is just an off night. But when
"It was a combination of me not shooting the ball well, and they did a good job of mixing up their defenses," Bryant told reporters after the game.
Give Dampier (three blocks, nine rebounds in 23 minutes) a little credit. After mouthing off about the Mavericks' need to keep Parker out of the paint by knocking him down, the Dallas center backed up his words without raising the NBA's ire. The Mavs didn't need to flatten Parker in a 88-67 home victory that gave them a 2-1 series lead; they just needed to keep him and the rest of the Spurs away from the rim. With Dampier leading the way, coach
Considering they also shot 1-for-9 from beyond the the arc in the first half, the Spurs didn't have many options left.
Lost amid the strong start by
Combined with the nervous energy the Bulls played with early, Rondo led a Celtics defense that forced 22 Chicago turnovers, accounting for 24 Boston points. Considering Rondo is averaging almost a triple-double in the first round (22.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 9.7 assists), perhaps we all should take a deep breath before we declare
• Cavaliers at Pistons: If Detroit coach
• Trail Blazers at Rockets: If not for
• Magic at 76ers: Philadelphia (42.9 percent) is the team hitting from three-point range while Orlando (26.8 percent) is struggling from beyond the arc through two games, a reversal from the regular season when the Sixers made a league-low 31.8 percent and the Magic ranked seventh at 38.1 percent. Orlando salvaged a home split with its Game 2 victory, and the good news for the Magic as the series shifts to Philadelphia is that they tied for the second-best road record in the NBA this season (27-14).