We just had one of the greatest All-Star games in NBA history two weeks ago. It was the only game to ever hit a second overtime, and I can only assume it was the only game to send it in to a second overtime on a lame three-point foul.
The league has been back in action for a week now. The race is on for playoff spots, MVP candidates and scoring titles. Looks like T-Mac might have some competition for his scoring title this year, with Kobes launching around 30 plus to 40 shots a night in the last 10 games.
Tuesday night, the Lakes and Rockets went to round two of their newly found rivalry. Only this one would have an asterisks next to it because “the Diesel” had to sit it out with an ailing big toe. It gave Kobe an even brighter green light to take over on the offensive end. Last time these two teams played, it was all about Franchise and his 44 points, including a three-pointer to send it into OT for the eventual victory by the Rockets. This time Kobe went 19-38, exploding for 52 in a double-overtime thriller, 106-99 victory without Shaq. The stats do show that the Lakers are a sub-par team with the Daddy, but last night they found a way to beat the Rockets and Yao, who had 24 and 14.
In the West, the battle right now is between the two teams that played last night. The Rockets and Lakers are battling it out for the eighth spot in the playoffs right now. However, by the time the playoffs roll around, many things could have changed with teams farther in front. The Spurs seem to be playing the best basketball right now, with an impressive 37-16 record, including an NBA-record eight straight road victories just this month. Dallas remains 41-12, presenting the best record in the NBA. After beginning the season 16-1, the Mavericks have cooled off a bit, going 25-11 in the their last 36 outings. The T-Wolves look sharp in fifth place, neck and neck with Utah at 33-21, 32-21 respectively. With the new addition of a seven-game series in the first round, the teams with depth and experience might have the advantage in the early round against teams that have a higher seed.
In the East, Detroit is in first place at 36-16. Detroit shows all the tools for a deep playoff team at this point. New Jersey is in second place at 36-18, but in some ways this is the best team in the Eastern Conference. Indiana suffered a tough loss to the 16-36 Grizzlies on Tuesday night to put its record at 37-17. The Wizards are holding on to the eighth spot in the East right now at 25-27. Orlando, at 26-29, will attempt to catch the Wizards in their last 27 games.
Injuries become an overwhelming factor for teams in the seventh, eighth and ninth positions in the playoff race. If these teams have an injury to a key player, their hopes could go right down the drain. To finish, no matter what anybody says, MJ is the man, and let’s hope we see his team in the playoffs this year, where he can work his magic.