|Kevin Garnett and the Celtics embarrassed the Magic Monday night in Boston. (Getty Images)|
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I'm not trying to dog the Celtics by saying that the execution wasn't there. But they didn't magically get younger. They were still slower than the Magic, still weaker than the Magic. But they showed the effort and intensity that made this team a title contender for four years. And that's going to carry them a long way, especially on nights when the opponent rolls over and dies like the Magic did. Celtics are on a win streak. Are they finally back?
Gameplan. Effort. Focus. Effort. Intensity. Effort. Cohesion. Effort. Everything went wrong for the Magic Monday night, but their effort was atrocious. Jameer Nelson let second-year man Avery Bradley get into his skull and turn him over constantly. Dwight Howard was failing to keep position or even jump against Kevin Garnett's half-centimeter hook shot. Brandon Bass stole Glen Davis' lunch money and pretty much ended any conversation about who got the better end of that sign-and-trade. This was one of the most pathetic performances I've seen by an NBA team this season and I've seen the Wizards and Nets play six times each.
Emeka Okafor's game-saving block
Down two against the Hornets, San Antonio ran a picture-perfect play which resulted in Tony Parker dishing to a wide open Tiago Splitter racing down the lane for what would have been a clinching dunk. Emeka Okafor recovered weak side and blocked him. No, I'm sorry, block is too weak a word. He obliterated him. He erased him. He undid Tiago Splitter and all seven feet of him to spark the possession that would tie the game. The Hornets lost the game, but it was honestly one of the best plays of the season.
Tim Duncan's game-winning hook:
Running, across the lane, from fifteen feet, for the win, simply net. Old man can still do work. Game, folks. Drive safe.
The Washington Wizards
If this were actual school we would have told the parents the Wizards need to pursue repeating the D-League grade. They had as many assists as a team as Andre Iguodala in the first half. They lost by double-digits. They were down 30 after the first 24 minutes of play. They are bad. Still.
The Rockets' balance
The Rockets only had a four-man bench, but they provided 36 points. Kyle Lowry had a triple-double. Kevin Martin was all kinds of special. And after a Kevin Love three took the lead for the Wolves, the Rockets responded by hammering the Wolves into nothingness. Very impressive win over a game Wolves team.
The two are concocting something special. Rubio dished four behind the back passes that I saw Monday night to Love on the perimeter. You can't defend Love's shot on the perimeter for the entire possession. With a point guard that can find him at any point, it makes it nearly impossible to defend.
Philadelphia, Chicago and Oklahoma City versus garbage teams
They should have won by twenty. They won by twenty. The end.
You just... cannot kill this team. The Grizzlies stormed back from down 16 in the fourth quarter to edge the Warriors, crushing the Dubs with yet another fourth quarter loss. They needed to create steals, they created steals. They needed to hit big shots, the hit big shots (including a Rudy Gay ice-cold turnaround). They needed to make free throws to ice it, they iced it. They needed to stop Monta Ellis, Marc Gasol hedged him all the way to the corner and avoided the foul. The Grizzlies' wild ride of the past two seasons continues.
Golden State Warrirors
The 2012 Golden State Warriors. Motto? No lead is too big to lose! The irony of their biggest win being against the Heat because the Heat collasped down the stretch is just stunning.