Cuse Country

Home Away From Dome for Syracuse Orange Fans

Crunch Time (Pro Update 4-18)

Posted by Josh on April 18, 2007

I wish I could dunk!No, this is not a post about Syracuse’s minor league hockey team. It’s going down to the wire in the NBA for Jason Hart and the Clippers. Last night they toppled the Suns who admittedly did not have much to play for, but still played their usual starting lineup and player rotation. Hart had 16 points, 4 assists, and 5 rebounds, with only one turnover. He also made two game-clinching free throws with under 8 seconds remaining to put LA up by four. But LA still trails Golden State by one game going into tonight’s final game of the season. This is because GS has won their last three games, while LA has only gone 2-1. The loss was a bad one, Monday vs. the bottom-dwelling Sacramento Hart-Benchers, a game in which Jason had 6 points and 6 assists. Last Saturday they beat Portland, with Hart tallying 4 points, 5 rebs, and 5 dimes. The tough luck for LA was that last night while they beat the Suns’ regulars, the Warriors trounced the Mavericks in a game where Dallas did not play Nowitzki, Stackhouse, or Howard, and Jason Terry played only 17 minutes. Dallas has already clinched everything so you can’t blame them for resting their guys, but it does dent LA’s hopes. The Clippers can still get in, but they have to win tonight vs. the Hornets (no sure thing) and hope Golden State falls to the Trailblazers.

No such drama for the Denver Nuggets, who are entering the playoffs on a sizzling hot streak. They are 9-1 in April, with their only loss coming to Hakim Warrick’s Grizzlies they day after the Nugs clinched the 6 seed by beating the Hornets, a game in which Carmelo had 31 & 7. Monday they beat the Timberwolves; Anthony had 21 points in 25 minutes. In that Grizzlies game, the Nugs came out with no energy and allowed Memphis to score 133 points. Forgivable, though, because they didn’t have much to play for (besides “momentum”) and it was the second night of back-to-back games. You can imagine it was tough for them to get up. Melo had 28 points, 4 rebs, and 5 assists in that game. Warrick had a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds. Denver plays at San Antonio tonight in a meaningless game — then they open the playoffs at San Antonio over the weekend.

Speaking of Warrick, other than his double-double vs Denver, the only game he’s played since last week was a 6-point, 3-rebound effort vs. the Spurs on Monday. However, he did make it onto ESPN’s NBA Fastbreak highlight reel for the night with a strong Twizzler-armed dunk in that game. The Grizzlies close their dismal season in Minnesota tonight, and with a lame-duck GM who is quitting the team after the draft.

The Wizards will be in the playoffs starting this weekend but without their two star players nobody is giving them much of a chance to win a game, let alone an entire series vs. one of the top two teams in the East. They are 1-8 in their last nine games. Etan Thomas has retained his starting job and has had three solid games since we last checked in. He had 8 points and 5 rebs in 20 minutes in their only recent win (over Atlanta). He followed that with a double-doubls of 11 points and 11 rebounds vs Chicago, and had 5 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 blocks vs Orlando on Monday.

After the Bulls game on Sunday, Etan hosted a poetry contest at the Verizon Center. Local students submitted poems, and ten winners were chosen; those winners received tickets to the Bulls game and other prizes.

Finally, if you watch enough basketball on TV you will see a commercial featuring the late Red Auerbach talking about blocked shots. I’ve seen it a couple times though I can’t for the life of me remember what it is advertising. It might just be the NBA, Anyway, there is a compilation of blocks shown, and Etan is in there swatting the crap out of some poor shlub. I haven’t been able to find this clip online but will post it if I can.D-League

The NBADL regular season is over. The Bakersfield Jam wrapped up their season with a win. Gerry had 8 points and 7 assists. Overall for the year, he averaged 10.8ppg, 5.2apg, and 2.0rpg. His game-highs were 29 points & 15 assists. We’ll track his movements over the summer.

Meanwhile, you may remember that Damone Brown’s Skyforce needed a split in their final weekend vs. Fort Worth to clinch the 2 seed in the playoffs. Damone made sure it happened, with a 31 point, 13 rebound effort Saturday, which they won handily. They lost Sunday’s meaningless rematch (Damone had 15 & 7) but the split meant that they would host the first-round game of the playoffs, also against Fort Worth. (The NBDL playoff system is single-game elimination. The #2 & #3 seeds from each division play first, and the winner of that game goes on to face the #1 seed in their division.) The Skyforce won that game too, with Damone dropping 28 points. They will face the Dakota Wizards on Saturday with a chance to go to the championship game. This game will be on NBATV Sunday at 1pm (tape delayed).

Europe

More playoff action! Otis Hill’s Anwil squad has advanced to the 2nd round of the playoffs. After dropping the opening game, they won three in a row. Otis had just 6 points and 2 boards in the first win, playing only 13 minutes because he was saddled with foul trouble. He picked up the pace a bit with 13 points and 5 boards in game 3, then dropped 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the series clincher Monday. Anwil will face the #1 seeded Prokom Trefl Sopot beginning on Sunday.

Boot to the head!

Other notes from Europe:

  • Elvir Ovcina dropped the donut over the weekend. He had three rebounds and 0 points (shooting 0-6 overall, 0-5 from three). His team did win though.
  • Ethan Cole had two good games: 12 points and 12 rebounds vs Jena, and 13 & 12 vs. Chemnitz.
  • Preston Shumpert dropped 24 points on Armani Jeans Milano over the weekend. However, his team is now in 15th place out of 18 teams, despite having the third-best record in the league. This is because of a rules violation regarding their roster, which incurred them a point-based penalty in the standings. (Each win is worth 2 points.) They will have a lot of work to do now, just to make it into the playoffs.

New Zealand

Josh Pace had 27 points and 6 rebounds in a win Saturday. His Giants are now 5-2, tied for 2nd place. Unfortunately, I was too slow in discovering the New Zealand Basketball Fantasy League.

USBL

Well, it turns out Mookie Watkins is not playing for the New Jersey Meteors. In fact, nobody is — the team folded already. I was taken in by USBL propaganda — apparently, a lot of guys get drafted who have no intention of playing in the league, and the competition is at a lower level than “guys with an outside shot at the NBA”. What kind of player does suit up in the USBL, you may ask? Guys like Craig Forth! As first reported by Mike Waters on the Syracuse.com hoops blog, Craiggers has signed on to play this spring for his hometown Albany Patroons (who also play in the CBA during the winter). It appears from his comments in this story (from his tryout last week) that he plans to continue teaching first grade while on the team. He had 9 points in their first game (a win over the Mookie-less and now-defunct Meteors). The Patroons won their next game too, by two points over Brooklyn on Sunday. No word on Forth’s contributions in that one. To all Brooklyn blog readers: Albany visits Brooklyn (at the LIU-Brooklyn campus) on Sunday April 28. Make your travel plans now. I’ll let you know if Craig quits the team or gets cut before then.

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