By Craig Kwasniewski
Okay this is not some long-winded gloat-fest about the Lakers win over the Suns. I'll save that for the playoffs. Instead, tonight was a night for all the hardcore NBA fans out there. You had major debuts, a sick game winning jumper, a triple double, a very smart trade and even a Clippers win... simply fantastic!
So let's just run with another edition of Write What You See:
Boom Dizzle hits a SWEET game winner against the C's: I gotta give Baron Davis and GSW Hoops credit for beating the Celtics without Captain Jack. Normally I'd try to find something negative in the W just to get under the very sensitive skin of the Oaktown fans, but you guys deserved this one. I thought the Celtics would come out on fire after their loss last night at Denver and I thought Golden State would drop a second loss in a row, but instead they rode the wave of their incredible fans and once again rallied in the 4th quarter for a huge win. That has to be something like 12 fourth quarter rallies by GSW this year. It's a damn shame that they currently sit 9th in the west. The NBA *NEEDS* this team to make the playoffs!
Spurs get Kurt Thomas: Once again, while other teams are making panic deals in trying to keep up in the wild west (read: Dallas and Golden State), the Spurs go under the radar and acquire exactly what they need: a defensive big. This is why the Spurs have been contenders since 1999 and will still remain in the title race for the balance of Tim Duncan's career. Tim Thomas offers veteran experience, a tough/east coast style of defense and he's a great teammate. What makes the deal even better is that the Suns have been reeling defensively since they let Thomas go in a money-saving deal. So as the Lakers and Suns are scary-big, the Spurs counter with additional front court help and gave up nothing in return. They match up perfectly with what the Suns offer and can probably hang with the Lakers.... simply a smart deal.
LeBron with a Triple-Double: With all the debuts and game winners is LeBron's triple-double against the Pacers. The ESPN guys were praising Kobe tonight as a top MVP contender, but I'm still giving it to LeBron. The guy is simply carrying a broken and not-that-talented team to W after W. They may run out of gas in the playoffs against the C's and Pistons, but what LeBron is doing is straight out of the 80's (Bird, Magic, Mj, Isiah) with that will to win.
CP3 to Kidd: Debut This! Chris Paul drops a major schooling on Dallas in Jason Kidd's debut. I'm guessing that the Western Conference leading New Orleans Hornets are getting tired of all the talk about everyone else out west the past week and were primed to send a message to the Mavs. I know Kidd only had one practice with his new team and I know they'll get better, but expect a lot of the top point guards to have great nights against Kidd. The guy's simply not the same defender he was a few seasons ago. And I can't state this enough (especially after the Kurt Thomas trade), the Mavs are not big enough to hang with Phoenix, San Antonio or Los Angeles.
Shaq's debut in Phoenix: No gloating here... just a few facts: Fact, Shaq played his ass off and clearly knows his role with Phoenix (defense, rebounding and size). Fact, Nash and the Suns will learn to play with Shaq. Fact, Shaq is no longer explosive, but is smart enough to make a difference. Fact, with Shaq eating space, Amare will get some seriously monster numbers.
Fact, the Suns defense is not that good (especially with Nash, Shaq and Amare all poor on pick and rolls). Fact, the Suns will miss Marion's help defense (he was a great rotational shot blocker). Fact, the Suns will miss Marion's defense against Kobe (he split defense on Kobe with Raja Bell, who looked tired at the end). That being said, despite the loss at home to a Lakers team missing Andrew Bynum and playing the second of a back-to-back and despite blowing the season tiebreaker in a very emotional game, the Suns are still one of the teams to beat out West (three team race with the Lakers, Suns and Spurs).
That was a fun game to watch and I'll pay close attention to Shaq's "college basketball season" over the next few weeks just to see how it plays out.
Whatever happens, tonight was one of those "I love the NBA!!!!" nights.