HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We were hoping we’d have to wait another 11 games or so do this, but it’s become painfully clear that it’s time to put an end to the playoff dreams of a few teams, including (dabbing napkin to BluBlockers) Hang Time’s Grizzlies.
Our boys are not alone. The Bulls and Rockets are in need of last rites as well.
It’s a sad day here at the hideout, where the Prime Minister was the first to notice that the end, however painful it might be, was already here for these teams.
At least our Grizzlies are still fighting until the very end. The Rockets are, too.
We can’t say the same about the Bulls, who flashed a little playoff potential earlier in the season before injuries (and a head-scratching trade — John Salmons anyone?) led to their current slide. They’ve lost 11 of their last 13 games, with those two wins coming over the Rockets and the mighty 76ers, another team that could have set out on summer break a month or so ago.
The Bulls saved Vinny Del Negro‘s job with a run that began the day after Christmas and ended late last month. The Bulls were 18-11 in January and February. And that’s usually a good indication that a team is surging at just the right time. But starting with a Feb. 27 road loss in Indiana, the Bulls went on a 10-game slide that cost them any chance of keeping the pace for a playoff spot.
In defense of our Grizzlies, and you had to know this was coming, they are simply the victims of having to play in a power conference. They’re 18-9 against the Eastern Conference. If they just swapped conferences with the Bulls, they’d be battling the Bucks and Heat for the fifth spot in the playoff race.
Still, it’s time for us to end the playoff campaign honorably. There’s no need dragging our guys through the drama over the next couple weeks without any realistic chance that they’ll be rewarded for an admirable season.
We will rest this summer, see what the summer (the draft and free agency) brings us and then be back next year ready to fight for the right to party into the postseason.
But make no mistake, Hang Time’s Grizzlies will rise again!
REMEMBER THE WARRIORS?
There’s only an outside shot they’d meet in the postseason, but the Mavericks should be worried about their inability to do anything with the Trail Blazers this season.
They struggled during the regular season like this a couple years back with a Warriors team that ended up dumping them in the playoffs.
Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News talks about the team that currently holds the power over the Mavericks:
“Maybe it’s true that everybody has their personal kryptonite.
For the Mavericks, it’s got to be the Portland Trail Blazers.
Heading toward the playoffs, the Mavericks should avoid the Blazers at all costs in the first round. Portland made it 3-0 against the Mavericks this season with a 101-89 victory early this morning at the Rose Garden. The Blazers remain the only team in the NBA the Mavericks have yet to beat this season.
But as for a team having another team’s number, coach Rick Carlisle wasn’t buying it.
“They’re no bargain,’’ he said. “But we’re no bargain. You want to play us?’’
At the moment, the Mavericks’ fear-factor is somewhat diminished. They now have lost four of their last six games since the 13-game winning streak that seems like eons ago.
Some disturbing numbers Thursday were their zero — yes, zero — fast-break points and the fact that they only got to the free-throw line nine times.
And allowing 50-percent shooting was a bit problematic, too.
“They played a really good game,’’ said Shawn Marion. “It was a playoff game out there. There was a little testosterone going on.’’
The Mavericks simply came up short in this one.
“Look, we had zero fast break points and that to me means you just got to get more stops and give yourself more chances to got out and run,’’ Carlisle said. “They beat us 16-0 and that’s hard to overcome.”
We’re not suggesting that we could be in store for another such series this postseason (for starters, we don’t believe the Blazers possess that same sort of schizophrenic brilliance that Warriors team did). And Carlisel clearly isn’t buying it.
But it’s worth paying attention to if you are the Mavericks.
DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY FOR HORFORD
We’re not sure Al Horford meant for this to come out the way it did (English is his second language), but we’d like to commend the Hawks’ All-Star center for saying it.
When Ken Sugiura of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked him why the Hawks can’t seem to hold on to late-game leads Horford pointed the finger in the right direction.
“That really falls on the guys that are running our team,” he said. “The guards have the ball in their hands. They control the game, and that’s something they have to kind of realize.”
There’s no telling if this comment will make it back to the people it needs to, the guys Horford identified. But it would be nice if it did, for the Hawks’ sake. Maybe then they’d stop blowing those late leads.
THE WHAT IF GAME WITH BEASLEY
Michael Beasley‘s a lot of things, but shy about expressing his true feelings is not one of them.
He says what is on his mind whenever he is approached. And that’s a great thing for us and probably a horrible thing for the Miami Heat’s PR machine.
My main man Michael Wallace of the Miami Herald dishes up some timely scoop from Beasley:
“There are times when Michael Beasley wonders how things might have turned out had he switched places with Derrick Rose in the 2008 draft.
The Bulls selected Rose No. 1 overall, and Beasley was drafted second by Miami.
Since then, Rose has become a cornerstone of the franchise and an All-Star. Beasley has become a starter, but the only constants with him have been inconsistencies in his performance and fluctuating playing time.
Conventional wisdom would suggest Rose has delivered as an impact player while Beasley is still developing.
“I think, ‘what if’ on a lot of things. I’m a ‘what-if’ thinker,” Beasley said before Thursday’s game against the Bulls. “I think things would have been different [for me] here. They don’t have Dwyane Wade. No disrespect to D-Wade or anything. But it’s a fact. A lot of things would happen different.”
Beasley insists he isn’t envious of Rose’s status in Chicago. But Beasley believes his development in Miami has been slower because he is on a veteran team, which requires more patience.
“I feel like I haven’t shown nothing yet,” Beasley said. “I’m kind of disgusted with the way I’ve played these two years. I averaged 14 points last year, 15 this year. Those are disgusting numbers — based on my expectations. I just don’t like them.”
Beasley said he is still a bit surprised he wasn’t the No. 1 pick, based on the workout he had in Chicago and his talks with the Bulls front office.
But he knows there is no looking back. Instead, Beasley searches for the impact he had in college, when he averaged 26 points and 12 rebounds his lone and All-American season at Kansas State.
“I haven’t played in two years, freely,” Beasley said. “I don’t know who Mike Beasley, the NBA player, is. I look back to K-State. But we haven’t seen him in two years. I’m waiting on him to call. I guess it isn’t my time yet. Hopefully, I’ll find him.”
Keep it real Michael Beasley, keep it real!
ANOTHER SMITH DELIVERS THE GOODS
Just so we are clear, the Smith name is safe in the NAB so long as guys like my cousin Craig (of the LA Smiths and Clippers) is getting the job done:
Get ‘em big fella!
CANZANO STAYS AFTER BLAZERS
HT favorite John Canzano of the Oregonian continues to poke holes in the Blazers’ off-court operation and what he sees as their dysfunction, despite statements to the contrary.
We’re not picking sides here. You can do that for yourself.
“The statement was released a couple of hours before tip on Thursday. It consisted of three paragraphs. And the only thing anyone can reasonably gather after reading it is that Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen
must have realized that he’d better issue the statement lest he be forced into an uncomfortable position of having to support his general manager.
A few hours later, Allen would be courtside at the Rose Garden Arena, wearing a suit and tie while watching the team he’s owned for 21 seasons. His general manager, Kevin Pritchard, would be on the road, scouting prospects, preparing for the NBA Draft and running off résumés.
Without those flimsy three paragraphs Allen would have to answer questions. He’d have to give Pritchard a guaranteed future or acknowledge what we all already know — that the Blazers general manager is a dead-man walking.
“Painful to see a friend in that spot,” one Blazers front-office executive said. A second offered that Pritchard should stop moping, channel the theories of “The Secret” and start projecting confidence, “You know, I believe what you put out comes back around to you.” And before Allen arrived at the arena a Blazers spokesperson was dispatched to inform reporters that the Blazers owner would have no further statement.
That’s all he has to say on the matter.
Given that he could have ended the speculation on Thursday, I’m not sure we need to hear anything more from Allen. But I asked him at the end of the first half, as he headed into the room he uses as an office, if he’d mind going stronger with the comments on Pritchard.
The Blazers owner waved me off and shook his head. I asked him if there was anything more he wanted to say to Blazers fans. He hurried off, waving his hands and shaking his head. He finally nudged one of his private security guards and pointed at me before disappearing into a room with a small group that included Vulcan executive Bert Kolde, who was puffing his chest out at me.
After the door closed, a second security guard turned to me and said, “Keep writing what you write.”