NBA Wrap-up for April 15
Breaking down the day’s top NBA stories. Kobe, Kobe, and more Kobe. Bryant once again drops 50 points, securing a playoff spot for the Lakers. The Warriors close in on the 8th seed out West. And out east, the Magic lockup 8th, but it was ugly…..
Top 3 Stories
1) Kobe drops 50, Lakers officially in playoffs
2) Warriors move into eighth place over Clippers
3) Orlando lock up 8th, but it’s not pretty
1) Bryant seals post season birth with another 50 pointer
What Happened: It’s a fitting way for the Lakers to clinch a playoff spot. once again scored 50 points, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 109-98 victory over Seattle Supersonics.
This was the tenth time this season Bryant has scored 50 or more points in a game. Wilt Chamberlain is the only player with more 50 point games in a single season.
Bryant started the season as a facilitator, looking to get his teammates involved. But Luke Walton and Lamar Odom missed long stretches of the season with injuries. So Bryant had to increase his scoring for the Lakers to make the playoffs.
Reaction of L.A. Times reporter Andrew Kamenetzky on the Lakers qualifying:
"Which is why the Lakers will take this 109-98 win over a team as crappy as the Seattle Not-so-Supersonics. Yeah, the Lakers squandered an 18 point lead. Yeah, they should have widened that gap against a team missing Ray Allen, Luke Ridnour, and Earl Watson, as opposed to battling a tightly contested second half where Seattle actually came within a point of knotting things." (LATimes.com)
Reaction of NBA TV Host Rick Kamla on Bryant’s play:
"It’s none other than Mr. 50. Kobe is Mr. 50. His tenth 50 point game of the season. There’s that shot right there, vertical to the ground, falling away baseline style and he hits it. And Kobe’s shooting was absolutely remarkable on Sunday.”
“You kind of knew a 50 was coming Sunday against Seattle with the playoffs on the line.” (NBA TV)
My Take: I think Kobe Bryant has had a truly remarkable season. This is his tenth game scoring 50 or more points. What an amazing feat. I marvel at how many different ways he can score. He must be included in any MVP discussion.
Right now, I think the Lakers are a little too discombobulated to upset a team in the first round. They’re still finding their way after so many injuries. But with Bryant playing at such a high level, they won’t be a pushover, either.
It looks like the Lakers will draw the Suns. A rematch of last season’s first round series. I look forward to watching Bryant and Raja Bell go at.
2) Warriors win, close to ending 12 playoff drought
What Happened: The are three days away from breaking a 12 year playoff drought-thanks in part to the Sacramento Kings.
After beating the by a score of 121-108, the Warriors turned their attention to the out-of-town scoreboard.
They got help from an unlikely source. The lowly defeated the , moving the Warriors into sole possession of eighth place in the Western Conference playoffs with two games left.
Reaction of Golden State guard Baron Davis on qualifying for the playoffs:
“We’re in the driver’s seat, and what better position do you want, going into the last two games? We’re playing good basketball right now. We’ve got great chemistry, and we’re still learning and improving. But we know we’re not there yet. Dallas is the best team in the league. We’ve still got to keep our eye on what we want to do.” (NBA.com)
Reaction of Golden State Coach Don Nelson on qualifying for the playoffs:
“If we can win out we go to the playoffs. But we have the best team in basketball coming into our place on Tuesday who put San Antonio in their place today. We haven’t had the luxury of controlling our own destiny in a while and that’s why we fought so hard and have the record that we do down the stretch. I am still worried about our last two games because we have to play the best team in basketball and then go on the road on a back-to-back and we haven’t done well in those situations.” (Warriors.com)
Reaction of Golden State guard Monta Ellis on the team’s success:
"It’s very nice. We deserve it. We’ve worked hard, and we’ve come together since the trade and everybody is getting to know each other, and we’re playing good basketball right now. And it was either us or them, and we continue to play and they lost. But we have to continue to do what we do." (Warriors.com)
My Take: I think the Warriors could be a dangerous team. They’ve won 14 of their last 19 games. And things are rolling. These guys have that swagger; they’re feeling good about things.
They also give problems. The Warriors are at their best playing an up-and-down style like Phoenix. This type of tempo gives the Mavericks problems. And, remember, Golden State has beaten Dallas twice this year. If they get in, the Warriors could be a tough match-up for the Mavs.
3) Magic look inconsistent, but qualify for playoff
What Happened: They did it. The secured the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by beating the 88-86. However, the win didn’t exactly build confidence.
The Magic struggled against an inexperienced Celtic team that was missing Paul Pierce.
Reaction of Orlando center Dwight Howard on his team’s struggles:
“I think we kind of started thinking about the playoffs a little too early. We went through a long stretch where we couldn’t catch the ball, make a basket or do anything.” (NBA.com)
Reaction of Orlando Coach Brian Hill on his team’s struggles:
"Obviously it wasn’t the ending we would liked to have scripted. We got incredibly tentative with the ball and it was like everybody was looking for everybody else to do something. I imagine there is a sense of relief on everybody’s part and we can certainly play a lot looser the last two games knowing we don’t have to win to play in the postseason.” (NBA.com)
Reaction of Orlando guard Jameer Nelson on the reaction of the home crowd:
“They booed us, they cheered us, they booed us, they cheered us.” (Orlando Sentinel)
My Take: This game wasn’t pretty. At times, the Magic looked pretty good. And at times, the Magic looked awful. But I think this is typical of Orlando’s season.They need to get some playoff experience. They can address their problem areas in the summer. They’re in. For now, that’s the only thing worth worrying about.
Come back tomorrow morning for another edition of the NBA Wrap-up, featuring Oly Sandor’s cutting-edge analysis. Got a comment or question? Use the comment box or email Oly at olysand[email protected]