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Timberwolves Fan

Wolves drop game to Boston Celtics late run. posted by Timberwolves Fan

Nothing seems to be going right for the Timberwolves as they lose to the Celtics Friday night. They tried for younger blood by taking out veteran Corey Brewer and bringing in youngster Shabazz Muhammad and still the Timberwolves lose 114-98.

Friday’s trade that sent Brewer to Houston clears playing time and for at least now a starting spot for the hard-working Muhammad, who turned opportunity into a 26-point, five-rebound, five-assist game on a night his team was outdone by Boston’s game-deciding, 8-0 fourth quarter run.

On Friday, Muhammad made shots — 11 of 15 from the field — while teammate Andrew Wiggins went 2-for-10 and Thaddeus Young went 6-for-19, against a Celtics team that had just traded star Rajon Rondo to Dallas on Thursday night.

“I really thought we were going to pull that one out, I was really disappointed,” Muhammad said. “I wanted to come in and win the game, most importantly. But I was very comfortable out there. I’m starting to get really comfortable, and that’s one thing that’s really good for me.”

Toughing it out

Veteran guard Mo Williams traveled to Dallas on Thursday to get a second opinion on his back and celebrate early his 32nd birthday with his wife and children. He said he is relieved to learn his back spasms are only muscular and not something that requires surgery. He played 25 minutes Friday even though Saunders only intended to play him 15 minutes at most. Williams said he’ll play through the pain.

“However many minutes, it doesn’t bother me at all, I’ll fight through it,” Williams said. “To be honest with you, I want to stop talking about it and just play. I didn’t get treatment today because I just want mentally to learn how to tolerate the pain.”

Continue reading "Wolves drop game to Boston Celtics late run."

Houston Rockets

Corey Brewer to Rockets. posted by Houston Rockets

The Minnesota Timberwolves' wing is a little less crowded after Friday, as they've agreed to trade swingman Corey Brewer to the Houston Rockets.

Brewer, 28, is averaging 10.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game on 41.8 percent shooting. One of Minnesota's first players off the bench in most contests, a Brewer trade nonetheless became inevitable.

The former Florida star isn't a superstar by any stretch, but he's a smart player who knows what he is at this point in his career. Most of Brewer's best shots come in transition and semi-transition, where he's an expert at using the open floor to get to the rim. A subpar shooter from beyond the arc in his career, Brewer has almost abandoned the three-point shot entirely this season.

Minnesota's willingness to move him despite a fine start is an indicator head coach and team president Flip Saunders has come around to a full-scale rebuild. The Wolves' trade of Kevin Love to Cleveland this offseason started the project, but it seemed like Saunders was taking half-measures by signing veterans in free agency and trading for Thaddeus Young.

But a 5-19 start leaves the Timberwolves with little excuse not to see what they have in their young talent.

Getting Brewer is about the best Houston could hope to do given its salary situation. Brewer is by no means a lockdown defender, but he's a high-energy guy who consistently fights his way to a couple turnovers per game.

Offensively, he is more of a noticeable minus, where his penchant for leaking out for transition buckets can sometimes lead to some questionable decision-making. That, of course, is also an issue defensively when the opposing team gets the offensive board.

Continue reading "Corey Brewer to Rockets."

Nuggets Fan

Kenneth Faried grabs 25 rebounds, saves Nuggets from sloppy loss posted by Nuggets Fan

It's the little things Brian Shaw hates. The times when his players don't box out. The times when the ball bounces in front of them and they still don't go for the ball. The missed free throws. The shoddy defense.

He must have had a hard time sitting through Friday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Pepsi Center.

Coming off a blowout loss at Charlotte and a sloppy defeat at Brooklyn, the Nuggets returned home to host the Timberwolves, the worst team in the West, in a game that, on paper, should have been Denver's for the taking.

And until the fourth quarter, Kenneth Faried appeared to be the only Nuggets player who wanted it.

Faried, who turned in one of his finest showings of the season against Brooklyn three nights earlier, came back with an even better one Friday with 26 points and a career-high 25 rebounds while leading the Nuggets to a 106-102 victory over the Timberwolves.

"After 26 points," Shaw said, "I want him to understand that we didn't call plays for him. He got those 26 points going after offensive rebounds every single time.”

But with every one of his baskets, as well as those of his teammates, the Timberwolves seemed to have a response on the other end, ones that were often handed to them by the Nuggets' miscues.

Eighteen turnovers. Too many wide-open shots to count for Minnesota. Many poor decisions.

The Timberwolves (5-23) arrived in Denver sporting the worst defensive rating in the NBA, allowing 113 points per 100 possessions and letting opponents shoot a league-worst 49.8 percent from the field and 65.3 percent from within 5 feet of the rim.

Continue reading "Kenneth Faried grabs 25 rebounds, ..."


Timberwolves Fan

Minnesota Timberwolves Preseason Report 2014 posted by Timberwolves Fan

Just like in the past nine seasons, the Minn. Timberwolves did not manage to enter the playoffs in 2013-14 as well. The team had put together good players such as Corey Brewer for energetic defense, and Kevin Martin for shooting, but still failed to make it even to the playoffs. Chase Budinger was also brought in for fixing the outside shooting issues that the team was experiencing since the last season. The talent was evident in many games, but ultimately they won only 40 and were short of nine games to the playoffs.

The future of Minnesota Timberwolves might become brighter in 2014-15. They have finally got rid of Kevin Love, who was becoming a liability with his selfish attitude, and lack of leadership skills. Love was traded for Andre Wiggins, who was the draft's first pick. Whether the team will be able to retain Wiggins for a long period is doubtful, especially if he improves and becomes a star. Expectations are high for Wiggins, and that might put undue pressure on this player. On the other hand, PG Ricky Rubio is one of the young players that require pressure, as he scores below 10 points per game, which is terrible. After nearly three years in the league, he has excellent assist numbers, and is good in leading the team in steals.

In place of Love, the Timberwolves acquired Thaddeus Young, who averages 18 points per game. Young cannot be expected to replace Love fully in offense, but he has shown excellent performance last year with Philadelphia 76ers. Another important development is bringing back Flip Saunders to coach the team instead of Rick Adelman. Saunders has good experience, and can effectively build the team. The draft has brought in Zach LeVine, a popular UCLA shooter; however, experts still predict less wins this season compared to the previous one.

Continue reading "Minnesota Timberwolves Preseason Report 2014"


KB

Whats up Dumars, Get rid of the old baggage!!!!! Trade Rip posted by KB

     What is taking Dumars so long to move Rip Hamilton.  Al Jefferson was out there from the Timberwolves.  David Lee is about to get traded for two reserves on the same level as Maxiell and Wilcox.  I'm starting to wonder why Joe D is moving so slow, with a team that barely has trade value as it is.  Dumars You need to wake up and smell the free agency...if we end up spending our MLE on somebody like Sheldon Williams, Dumars will officially be on the Hot Seat in my book.

Continue reading "Whats up Dumars, Get rid of the old ..."


Chase Hughes

How Can the Washington Wizards Improve to Contender Status? posted by Chase Hughes

Last night I was listening to an interview with former NBA head coach P.J. Carlesimo on 106.7 The Fan.  He was commenting on the opening days of the NBA regular season, specifically about the Eastern Conference and his thoughts on who were the better teams.  Not surprisingly he named the top three teams as the “factors,” those being Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando.  He said that there are not any teams even close to those three but on the outside looking in is the Washington Wizards.  The Wizards were the only team he mentioned as the fourth best team and he said this about three times.  These comments got me thinking about what the Wizards need to do this regular season to take the next step and breach that label, in what areas can they improve to develop into the fourth Eastern Conference power? 
First of all, this piece is not in discussion of anything to do with the playoffs, I am not assuming that the Wizards are clearly the fourth best team or that they will even make the playoffs at all.  What I am saying is that the Wiz are in that second tier bunch that follows the top three, which in my opinion also includes the Toronto Raptors, Atlanta Hawks, and the Philadelphia 76’ers (3rd tier: MIA, CHI, NJ, DET).  Carlesimo added that this is the way the East is presently, that come December we could be talking about another team that has emerged or perhaps a top team will regress and make way for one that is on the brink.  We know that this is Gilbert Arenas’ team but what pieces need to fall into place for Washington to make that jump?  I offer several possibilities, some more plausible than others for how the Wizards can materialize into a contender:

Continue reading "How Can the Washington Wizards Improve ..."


Chase Hughes

5 Predictions for the 2009-10 Washington Wizards posted by Chase Hughes

  1. Gilbert Arenas will average over 8 assists per game –            It is quite obvious that with all the new offensive weapons and a healthy roster, Gilbert Arenas’ scoring average is going to go down.  He isn’t going to be able to keep up a 29.3 ppg season like he did in 2005-06.  My guess is that his numbers will drop down to around his career average of 22 ppg.  Maybe even a little bit lower as there are going to be plenty of guys begging for the rock.  Scoring averages aside, with Gilbert Arenas back in the line-up everyone will benefit.  Gil still gets respect for his scoring capabilities, as evidenced in the two games last year in which he tallied 20 assists and no turnovers.  He has the ability to draw the double team and help defense, much like Kobe, Dwyane, and Lebron, giving him opportunities to pass the ball off to the open man.  In the two games he played last year, you could see that Gilbert still has a quick first step but is more cautious with it.  That hesitancy makes opponents play on their heels which allows Gilbert to blow by them on a drive and get the basket or draw the foul.             What is going to happen is Gilbert will come out this season as a type of player we aren’t used to seeing wear number “0.”  His essentially two years away from the game have undoubtedly changed his perspective as a floor general.  What will emerge is a Gilbert Arenas that involves his teammates while still showcasing the killer instinct that makes him the great scorer he is.             Gilbert’s career assist average is 5.5 apg, a great figure for a small forward but not up to par with the best point guards in the league.  Here are his assist averages over a few seasons:
Continue reading "5 Predictions for the 2009-10 Washington Wizards"


john howard

Thunder continue to make small moves in the right direction. posted by john howard

The Thunder traded away Damien Wilkins and Chucky Atkins for Etan Thomas and two second round picks.  The move was an even swap money wise.  Wilkins and Atkins make nearly 7mil together and that is what Thomas will make this year.  The Thunder are well under the cap and Thomas' contract expires this year.  So, not only will they have freed up money next year, they will also have 5 draft picks.  2 in the first round and 3 in the second round. 

So, financially and on paper it makes a lot of sense.  Also, the Thunder were heavily loaded with guards.  Sefaloosha and newly drafted James Harden have the 2 guard covered.  And Russell Westbrook is the starting point guard.  Shaun Livingston has played well enough this summer to be the back up.  Second year player Kyle Weaver can play both and is ever improving.  So, there just wasn't any room for those other 2 guys. 

Etan Thomas will likely take the role that Malik Rose played last year.  A veteran with leadership and tough inside defensive play.  This was yet another brilliant move by the front office.

For Minnesota, Atkins gives them some insurance at point should Ricky Rubio not show.  Also, Wilkins is in his last year and this is a make or break  year.  He has shown sings of being a contributor in this league.  If he breaks through this year, then the management looks like a genius.  If he flops, they clear up 3mil in cap space and it's no big loss.  It's a risk worthy of a second round pick.  And, Atkins is worth the insurance of a late second round pick.  So, this was a good move for them as well.

Continue reading "Thunder continue to make small moves ..."


john howard

Richardson traded again. This time to Minnesota posted by john howard

Quentin Richardson has traveled from New York to Memphis to Los Angelos, and now to Minnesota.  He takes with him $9mil for one year.  Last season he earned 3 wins for the New York Knicks (a Howard Sports statistic).  In return, the Clippers get Sebastian Telfair (3 wins), Craig Smith (2 wins), and Mark Madsen (0 wins). So, it was a good trade for the Clippers.  They gained a backup to Baron Davis.  Minnesota meanwhile gets to unload a huge salary after this season.  Richardson also fills a void that was created when Foye was traded to Washington.  Also, Ricky Rubio doesn't appear to coming soon.  After the terrific play of Flynn this summer in Las Vegas, Telfair became expendable.

Continue reading "Richardson traded again. This time to Minnesota"

john howard

Minnesota summer league a success posted by john howard

Minnesota has a long way to go, but they made progress this summer in Vegas.

Johnny Flynn is the real deal and should be the starting point guard from day one.  He averaged 15 points and 7 assists.  And, shot lights out!  Over 50% from 3-point and 91% from the line. He had over 5 turnovers, but that is to be expected.  Scoring and dishing at that level in summer league shows that he is going to be a good player.

Wayne Ellington also showed that he can play.  He averaged 14 points and 3 rebounds while also shooting lights out. 

Corey Brewer was the 3rd leading scorer at 12 ppg and played solid. He isn't the player that I thought he was going to be, but he can still contribute.

Oleksiy Pecherov was acquired this summer from Washintong.  He 9pts and 7 rebounds and shot well below 40%.  He will be a bench player at best, but is still developing.

Bobby Brown and Gerald Henderson are two other notables that played, but not much.

Overall, Minnesota did very well in Las Vegas and they have 2 new players they are going to really like.

Continue reading "Minnesota summer league a success"

Minnesota Timberwolves News

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NBA Playoff Picture Update: Oklahoma City comes back to ruin the Suns' season (Ball Don't Li

With just a few weeks remaining until the NBA postseason, every night can impact the standings. NBA Playoff Picture keeps you up to date on all the most important news for all 16 berths and seeds. [DraftKings: FREE entry to huge cash Fantasy Basketball Contest with first deposit ] Oklahoma City Downs a Dream: The Phoenix Suns aren’t entirely out of the playoff picture at this point, but it will be hard to recover from what the Thunder managed to do to them in 24 swift minutes on Sunday evening. Down 20 early in the offering, the Thunder utilized small lineups and desperate chances on its way to a borderline stunning 109-97 win . The team outscored Phoenix by 20 over the game’s final 24 minutes, with Russell Westbrook nearing yet another triple-double (33 points on 27 shots, nine rebounds, seven assists), Dion Waiters offering his bi-weekly “this is why we still take chances on him”contribution of 18 points on 20 shots, and bench performers D.J. Augustin and Anthony Morrow combined for 30 points on only 15 attempts from the field. Phoenix never seemed to find a defensive rhythm after the lay-up line that was the first half, and as a result the team is now four games back in the race for the final postseason berth in the West. OKC also moved to 2.5 games up over the New Orleans Pelicans, keeping pace in spite of NOLA’s 22-point win over the hapless (and clearly tanking, as the team’s coaching staff went away from productive lineups in the second half) Minnesota Timberwolves. Rockets Ascend: Afforded the national TV showing and a frustrated opponent to tee off upon, the Houston Rockets elbowed their way into the Western Conference’s second-best record on Sunday afternoon. Despite injuries to three former starters, the Rox rode James Harden’s 9-10 touch from the free throw line to a 99-91 win that was more lopsided than the final score would indicate. Dwight Howard managed a double-double despite playing just 18 minutes, as the Wizards solidified their slot as The Fifth Seed That Can’t Wait for 2014-15 To Be Over . Memphis Blues Again: The Grizzlies have lost 11 of 20 since Feb. 25. This is a bit of a problem, a problem that can’t be solved by sliding Vince Carter into the starting lineup or making snarky remarks about Jeff Green. Working on the road, in the home of the San Antonio franchise that the Grizzlies famously downed in the first-round of the 2011 playoffs, Memphis had no answer for Kawhi Leonard’s length and touch on Sunday evening . In a 103-89 loss that allowed Houston to vault past Memphis and into the West’s second seed, the Grizz were continually kept at arm’s length by a Spurs squad that seemed to have a rotation answer for every Memphis run. Working small by design, the Grizzlies could not keep Leonard (25 points, 10 rebounds) away from his preferred spots close to the basket. San Antonio dominated the glass, kept the ball moving (25 assists; hardly home cooking from the local scorers’crew), and barely broke a sweat in winning its sixth game in seven tries. Quietly, per the team’s custom, the Spurs moved into second place in terms of defensive efficiency on the season over the weekend. Nets Appeal: Smirking in the face of the whole of NBA fandom, the Brooklyn Nets managed to ride into the East’s playoff bracket by taking advantage of a miserable Los Angeles Lakers team, ticking off those of whom that want nothing to do with watching BKN past the third week of April. Joe Johnson, still a guy that plays basketball for a lot of money, helped helm his team’s fourth quarter stand after the Lakers threatened. Brooklyn center Brook Lopez continued to add to what has been a fabulous March turn by adding 30 points in the face of a Laker frontcourt that seemed to have no idea what to do with a big man that can walk and chew gum at the same time. The team’s 107-99 win put the trillion-dollar squad a half game up over the same Boston Celtics team that …Boston Blows It : The Celtics shouldn’t have been favored against a Los Angeles Clippers team that had no business losing to a C’s group working eight games below .500 in late March, and yet the Celtics still managed to make it worse with lethargic and uninspired play from the outset. Brad Stevens’crew managed to make an interesting game in spite of the slow start, returning to force former Celtics coach Doc Rivers to put his Clipper starters in late in the fourth quarter following a Boston run, but the same spark that inspired the Marcus Smart-driven run in recent weeks just wasn’t there for the Celtics. Smart, in particular, appears to have hit the rookie wall. Celtic wing Jae Crowder had his moments, and the application of a Hack-a-DeAndre Jordan acted as an intelligent move as the Celtics came back, but Boston dug itself too deep a hole in the opening moments. As a result, following the 119-106 dive , the team now stands a half-game behind Brooklyn for the East’s final postseason seed. Miami Acts its Age : Officially listed as “questionable”heading into an anonymous Sunday afternoon game in Detroit, Dwyane Wade managed to turn back the clock on his way to a 40-point outing in the Heat’s win over the Pistons. That total ranks as the second-highest output of Wade’s season thus far, made all the more impressive in the face of the fact that helper Luol Deng had to leave the game after just 18 unproductive minutes due to a painful knee contusion. With 21-year old (!) Andre Drummond adding a season-high 32 points, the Heat needed everything they could get from their franchise player in the 109-102 win . (There’s also the whole part about Dwyane Wade having to drain fluid out of his troublesome left knee just a day before keeping his Heat a game and a half up on the Nets for the seventh spot in the East.) Quickly : The Pacers badly needed Rodney Stuckey to return in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, which somehow isn’t the saddest thing to happen in Indiana this month …Cleveland and Philadelphia paid tribute to the NCAA Tournament by missing a ton of shots and taking far too long to finish their game on Sunday afternoon, the Cavs eventually held on despite Kevin Love’s back injury …Pesto goes with anything. Monday's Most Important Games Boston at Charlotte , 7:00 p.m. ET: It’s to the discredit of all involved that a 32-41 team and a 31-41 outfit are battling in late March for the chance to make the playoffs in the East, but this is what happens when Danny Ainge intelligently decides to rebuild on the fly and Michael Jordan decides that he wants to prove himself to Jerry Krause. The C’s have lost two of three to Charlotte on the year, but the Hornets will be likely working with a hobbled Al Jefferson and Mo Williams. Houston at Toronto , 7:30 p.m. ET: This could act as the trappiest of all trap games, as the Rockets are coming off of a solid road win over the Wizards and the Raptors could be looking to turn things around after not bothering to guard anyone in the 2015 calendar year. Toronto has it in them to down the West’s current second seed at full strength, but with Kyle Lowry likely out the Raps will be up against it. Milwaukee at Atlanta , 7:30 p.m. ET: The Hawks might sit all of their starters again, and Milwaukee might still struggle to score 78 points. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Raptors-Timberwolves Preview (The Associated Press)

In pursuit of one of the top seeds in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors would seem to catch a break with no teams above .500 remaining on their schedule. The Raptors, though, will also have to play most of those games on the road, where they've struggled mightily. Toronto goes for a rare road victory Wednesday night by continuing its dominance over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Raptors (44-30) moved one game behind Chicago for third in the East and three ahead of fifth-place Washington with Monday's 99-96 win over Houston. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

St. John's confirms Chris Mullin will be new coach (Yahoo Sports)

[read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


NBA Playoff Picture Update: Oklahoma City comes back to ruin the Suns' season (Ball Don't Li

With just a few weeks remaining until the NBA postseason, every night can impact the standings. NBA Playoff Picture keeps you up to date on all the most important news for all 16 berths and seeds. [DraftKings: FREE entry to huge cash Fantasy Basketball Contest with first deposit ] Oklahoma City Downs a Dream: The Phoenix Suns aren’t entirely out of the playoff picture at this point, but it will be hard to recover from what the Thunder managed to do to them in 24 swift minutes on Sunday evening. Down 20 early in the offering, the Thunder utilized small lineups and desperate chances on its way to a borderline stunning 109-97 win . The team outscored Phoenix by 20 over the game’s final 24 minutes, with Russell Westbrook nearing yet another triple-double (33 points on 27 shots, nine rebounds, seven assists), Dion Waiters offering his bi-weekly “this is why we still take chances on him”contribution of 18 points on 20 shots, and bench performers D.J. Augustin and Anthony Morrow combined for 30 points on only 15 attempts from the field. Phoenix never seemed to find a defensive rhythm after the lay-up line that was the first half, and as a result the team is now four games back in the race for the final postseason berth in the West. OKC also moved to 2.5 games up over the New Orleans Pelicans, keeping pace in spite of NOLA’s 22-point win over the hapless (and clearly tanking, as the team’s coaching staff went away from productive lineups in the second half) Minnesota Timberwolves. Rockets Ascend: Afforded the national TV showing and a frustrated opponent to tee off upon, the Houston Rockets elbowed their way into the Western Conference’s second-best record on Sunday afternoon. Despite injuries to three former starters, the Rox rode James Harden’s 9-10 touch from the free throw line to a 99-91 win that was more lopsided than the final score would indicate. Dwight Howard managed a double-double despite playing just 18 minutes, as the Wizards solidified their slot as The Fifth Seed That Can’t Wait for 2014-15 To Be Over . Memphis Blues Again: The Grizzlies have lost 11 of 20 since Feb. 25. This is a bit of a problem, a problem that can’t be solved by sliding Vince Carter into the starting lineup or making snarky remarks about Jeff Green. Working on the road, in the home of the San Antonio franchise that the Grizzlies famously downed in the first-round of the 2011 playoffs, Memphis had no answer for Kawhi Leonard’s length and touch on Sunday evening . In a 103-89 loss that allowed Houston to vault past Memphis and into the West’s second seed, the Grizz were continually kept at arm’s length by a Spurs squad that seemed to have a rotation answer for every Memphis run. Working small by design, the Grizzlies could not keep Leonard (25 points, 10 rebounds) away from his preferred spots close to the basket. San Antonio dominated the glass, kept the ball moving (25 assists; hardly home cooking from the local scorers’crew), and barely broke a sweat in winning its sixth game in seven tries. Quietly, per the team’s custom, the Spurs moved into second place in terms of defensive efficiency on the season over the weekend. Nets Appeal: Smirking in the face of the whole of NBA fandom, the Brooklyn Nets managed to ride into the East’s playoff bracket by taking advantage of a miserable Los Angeles Lakers team, ticking off those of whom that want nothing to do with watching BKN past the third week of April. Joe Johnson, still a guy that plays basketball for a lot of money, helped helm his team’s fourth quarter stand after the Lakers threatened. Brooklyn center Brook Lopez continued to add to what has been a fabulous March turn by adding 30 points in the face of a Laker frontcourt that seemed to have no idea what to do with a big man that can walk and chew gum at the same time. The team’s 107-99 win put the trillion-dollar squad a half game up over the same Boston Celtics team that …Boston Blows It : The Celtics shouldn’t have been favored against a Los Angeles Clippers team that had no business losing to a C’sgroup working eight games below .500 in late March, and yet the Celtics still managed to make it worse with lethargic and uninspired play from the outset. Brad Stevens’crew managed to make an interesting game in spite of the slow start, returning to force former Celtics coach Doc Rivers to put his Clipper starters in late in the fourth quarter following a Boston run, but the same spark that inspired the Marcus Smart-driven run in recent weeks just wasn’t there for the Celtics. Smart, in particular, appears to have hit the rookie wall. Celtic wing Jae Crowder had his moments, and the application of a Hack-a-DeAndre Jordan acted as an intelligent move as the Celtics came back, but Boston dug itself too deep a hole in the opening moments. As a result, following the 119-106 dive , the team now stands a half-game behind Brooklyn for the East’s final postseason seed. Miami Acts its Age : Officially listed as “questionable”heading into an anonymous Sunday afternoon game in Detroit, Dwyane Wade managed to turn back the clock on his way to a 40-point outing in the Heat’s win over the Pistons. That total ranks as the second-highest output of Wade’s season thus far, made all the more impressive in the face of the fact that helper Luol Deng had to leave the game after just 18 unproductive minutes due to a painful knee contusion. With 21-year old (!) Andre Drummond adding a season-high 32 points, the Heat needed everything they could get from their franchise player in the 109-102 win . (There’s also the whole part about Dwyane Wade having to drain fluid out of his troublesome left knee just a day before keeping his Heat a game and a half up on the Nets for the seventh spot in the East.) Quickly : The Pacers badly needed Rodney Stuckey to return in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, which somehow isn’t the saddest thing to happen in Indiana this month …Cleveland and Philadelphia paid tribute to the NCAA Tournament by missing a ton of shots and taking far too long to finish their game on Sunday afternoon, the Cavs eventually held on despite Kevin Love’s back injury …Pesto goes with anything. Monday's Most Important Games Boston at Charlotte , 7:00 p.m. ET: It’s to the discredit of all involved that a 32-41 team and a 31-41 outfit are battling in late March for the chance to make the playoffs in the East, but this is what happens when Danny Ainge intelligently decides to rebuild on the fly and Michael Jordan decides that he wants to prove himself to Jerry Krause. The C’s have lost two of three to Charlotte on the year, but the Hornets will be likely working with a hobbled Al Jefferson and Mo Williams. Houston at Toronto , 7:30 p.m. ET: This could act as the trappiest of all trap games, as the Rockets are coming off of a solid road win over the Wizards and the Raptors could be looking to turn things around after not bothering to guard anyone in the 2015 calendar year. Toronto has it in them to down the West’s current second seed at full strength, but with Kyle Lowry likely out the Raps will be up against it. Milwaukee at Atlanta , 7:30 p.m. ET: The Hawks might sit all of their starters again, and Milwaukee might still struggle to score 78 points. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

NBA Playoff Picture Update: Oklahoma City comes back to ruin the Suns' season (Ball Don't Li

With just a few weeks remaining until the NBA postseason, every night can impact the standings. NBA Playoff Picture keeps you up to date on all the most important news for all 16 berths and seeds. [DraftKings: FREE entry to huge cash Fantasy Basketball Contest with first deposit ] Oklahoma City Downs a Dream: The Phoenix Suns aren’t entirely out of the playoff picture at this point, but it will be hard to recover from what the Thunder managed to do to them in 24 swift minutes on Sunday evening. Down 20 early in the offering, the Thunder utilized small lineups and desperate chances on its way to a borderline stunning 109-97 win . The team outscored Phoenix by 20 over the game’s final 24 minutes, with Russell Westbrook nearing yet another triple-double (33 points on 27 shots, nine rebounds, seven assists), Dion Waiters offering his bi-weekly “this is why we still take chances on him”contribution of 18 points on 20 shots, and bench performers D.J. Augustin and Anthony Morrow combined for 30 points on only 15 attempts from the field. Phoenix never seemed to find a defensive rhythm after the lay-up line that was the first half, and as a result the team is now four games back in the race for the final postseason berth in the West. OKC also moved to 2.5 games up over the New Orleans Pelicans, keeping pace in spite of NOLA’s 22-point win over the hapless (and clearly tanking, as the team’s coaching staff went away from productive lineups in the second half) Minnesota Timberwolves. Rockets Ascend: Afforded the national TV showing and a frustrated opponent to tee off upon, the Houston Rockets elbowed their way into the Western Conference’s second-best record on Sunday afternoon. Despite injuries to three former starters, the Rox rode James Harden’s 9-10 touch from the free throw line to a 99-91 win that was more lopsided than the final score would indicate. Dwight Howard managed a double-double despite playing just 18 minutes, as the Wizards solidified their slot as The Fifth Seed That Can’t Wait for 2014-15 To Be Over . Memphis Blues Again: The Grizzlies have lost 11 of 20 since Feb. 25. This is a bit of a problem, a problem that can’t be solved by sliding Vince Carter into the starting lineup or making snarky remarks about Jeff Green. Working on the road, in the home of the San Antonio franchise that the Grizzlies famously downed in the first-round of the 2011 playoffs, Memphis had no answer for Kawhi Leonard’s length and touch on Sunday evening . In a 103-89 loss that allowed Houston to vault past Memphis and into the West’s second seed, the Grizz were continually kept at arm’s length by a Spurs squad that seemed to have a rotation answer for every Memphis run. Working small by design, the Grizzlies could not keep Leonard (25 points, 10 rebounds) away from his preferred spots close to the basket. San Antonio dominated the glass, kept the ball moving (25 assists; hardly home cooking from the local scorers’crew), and barely broke a sweat in winning its sixth game in seven tries. Quietly, per the team’s custom, the Spurs moved into second place in terms of defensive efficiency on the season over the weekend. Nets Appeal: Smirking in the face of the whole of NBA fandom, the Brooklyn Nets managed to ride into the East’s playoff bracket by taking advantage of a miserable Los Angeles Lakers team, ticking off those of whom that want nothing to do with watching BKN past the third week of April. Joe Johnson, still a guy that plays basketball for a lot of money, helped helm his team’s fourth quarter stand after the Lakers threatened. Brooklyn center Brook Lopez continued to add to what has been a fabulous March turn by adding 30 points in the face of a Laker frontcourt that seemed to have no idea what to do with a big man that can walk and chew gum at the same time. The team’s 107-99 win put the trillion-dollar squad a half game up over the same Boston Celtics team that …Boston Blows It : The Celtics shouldn’t have been favored against a Los Angeles Clippers team that had no business losing to a C’s group working eight games below .500 in late March, and yet the Celtics still managed to make it worse with lethargic and uninspired play from the outset. Brad Stevens’crew managed to make an interesting game in spite of the slow start, returning to force former Celtics coach Doc Rivers to put his Clipper starters in late in the fourth quarter following a Boston run, but the same spark that inspired the Marcus Smart-driven run in recent weeks just wasn’t there for the Celtics. Smart, in particular, appears to have hit the rookie wall. Celtic wing Jae Crowder had his moments, and the application of a Hack-a-DeAndre Jordan acted as an intelligent move as the Celtics came back, but Boston dug itself too deep a hole in the opening moments. As a result, following the 119-106 dive , the team now stands a half-game behind Brooklyn for the East’s final postseason seed. Miami Acts its Age : Officially listed as “questionable”heading into an anonymous Sunday afternoon game in Detroit, Dwyane Wade managed to turn back the clock on his way to a 40-point outing in the Heat’s win over the Pistons. That total ranks as the second-highest output of Wade’s season thus far, made all the more impressive in the face of the fact that helper Luol Deng had to leave the game after just 18 unproductive minutes due to a painful knee contusion. With 21-year old (!) Andre Drummond adding a season-high 32 points, the Heat needed everything they could get from their franchise player in the 109-102 win . (There’s also the whole part about Dwyane Wade having to drain fluid out of his troublesome left knee just a day before keeping his Heat a game and a half up on the Nets for the seventh spot in the East.) Quickly : The Pacers badly needed Rodney Stuckey to return in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, which somehow isn’t the saddest thing to happen in Indiana this month …Cleveland and Philadelphia paid tribute to the NCAA Tournament by missing a ton of shots and taking far too long to finish their game on Sunday afternoon, the Cavs eventually held on despite Kevin Love’s back injury …Pesto goes with anything. Monday's Most Important Games Boston at Charlotte , 7:00 p.m. ET: It’s to the discredit of all involved that a 32-41 team and a 31-41 outfit are battling in late March for the chance to make the playoffs in the East, but this is what happens when Danny Ainge intelligently decides to rebuild on the fly and Michael Jordan decides that he wants to prove himself to Jerry Krause. The C’s have lost two of three to Charlotte on the year, but the Hornets will be likely working with a hobbled Al Jefferson and Mo Williams. Houston at Toronto , 7:30 p.m. ET: This could act as the trappiest of all trap games, as the Rockets are coming off of a solid road win over the Wizards and the Raptors could be looking to turn things around after not bothering to guard anyone in the 2015 calendar year. Toronto has it in them to down the West’s current second seed at full strength, but with Kyle Lowry likely out the Raps will be up against it. Milwaukee at Atlanta , 7:30 p.m. ET: The Hawks might sit all of their starters again, and Milwaukee might still struggle to score 78 points. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops [read full article]

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