Bobcats in good position despite Jackson's struggles in crunch time
At first glance, Charlotte looks like a solid bet to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The Bobcats are seventh in the Eastern Conference, a half-game ahead of Toronto, three games clear of ninth-place Chicago and a half-game behind Miami with 12 to play. Eight of those games are at home, where Charlotte is 25-8. And four of them are against teams in the bottom six of the NBA -- Washington, New Jersey, Minnesota and Philadelphia.
But there's no sense in trying to predict Charlotte's performance in what has been a screwy season, best exemplified by its beating the Cavs (56-15) three out of four while losing to the Nets (7-62) two out of three. With such maniacally competitive figures as new majority owner
Because the Bobcats' grind-it-out style already approximates the dominant tendency of playoff hoops, they could be a dangerous foe in the postseason -- especially if they fall to the eighth seed and draw a first-round matchup with a Cavs team under extraordinary pressure to reach at least the NBA Finals. Jackson, of course, was part of a Warriors team that toppled the Mavs in 2007, the only time an eighth seed has upset a No. 1 in a seven-game series. Given the media's love of a recurring narrative and Jackson's thirst for the spotlight, we'll see a lot of "Captain Jack" if Cavs-'Cats comes to pass.
But having Jackson's ego expanded is probably not a good thing for Charlotte. While he has brought rugged, versatile defense, a much-needed ability to get his own shot and an undeniable swagger since his arrival in November, he has to stop regarding himself as the go-to guy in crunch time.
In an overtime loss at Atlanta last Friday, Jackson missed two free throws in the final minute that would have helped win the game in regulation, then stubbornly tossed up three straight bricks from three-point territory in a 57-second span in OT while the Hawks forged a 91-88 lead. Contrast that to point guard
Unlike his previous playoff experiences in San Antonio, Indiana and Golden State, Jackson doesn't have gifted scorers for teammates. But as a career 42 percent shooter himself, he needs to remember that his rough defense on Nowitzki was his chief claim to fame in the Warriors' victory against the Mavs. He's a mucker on a team that wins ugly.
• Anyone who has watched the Spurs recently knows they are not going to win a fifth ring for
There is no other way to put this: Duncan is wearing out. On the tail end of a back-to-back last Wednesday, he ran into
But Duncan and the Spurs gutted out the win. The night before, San Antonio had lost in large part because Hawks center
When I caught up with the Spurs in Minnesota earlier this month, coach
That's because Ginobili has been magnificent -- as good as his vintage performances of three and four years ago, according to Popovich. At Oklahoma City, Ginobili was responsible for all of the Spurs' five points in the game's final five minutes -- two on a steal and dish for a layup, the other three on pressure-packed free throws. And when the Thunder came down with a chance to tie it with a three-pointer, it was Ginobili's hard double team that forced Durant to pass to
• Using a handy tool known as StatsCube, numbers crunchers have come up with field-goal percentages from various distances. For example, through Monday, among players with at least 100 attempts from between 15 and 19 feet -- the classic "mid-range" shot -- the most accurate marksman was Milwaukee's
But one of Evans' chief ROY rivals had an even more embarrassing stat. In the "at-the-rim" category of shots from 5 feet and in (minimum of 200 attempts), Milwaukee's
And from "short range" -- 5 to 14 feet, minimum 100 attempts -- take a bow,
• Speaking of clanging, how many assists has