Tuesday , Apr , 17 , 2007 Oly Sandor

NBA Wrap-up for April 16

Breaking down the day’s top NBA stories …. Read about T-Mac’s triple-double lifting the Rockets to fourth place in the West … Golden State or the LA Clippers? Who do you want to see in the playoffs … Let’s get ready to rumble, Tim Duncan versus Joey Crawford. Click here for exclusive analysis on Timmy D’s ejection….

Top 3 Stories

1) T-Mac, T-Mac, and more T-Mac. Rockets clinch home-court for Rd 1
2) The Warriors and Clippers battle for the last playoff spot
3) Joey Crawford gets Timmy Duncan animated

1) The Rockets will launch their playoff run from Houston

 What Happened: Next Saturday, the will start the playoffs at home.

The Rockets sealed up the fourth spot in the Western Conference playoffs with a 120-117 victory on Monday night against the .

The West is extremely close. With the win, Houston will enjoy home-court advantage in their series against the . An extra home game could be the difference between these two evenly matched teams.

is finding his form for the playoffs. T-Mac had 39 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists in the win.

Reaction of Houston guard Tracy McGrady on finishing fourth in the Western Conference:
“Yao going down for 2 1/2 months put us in a situation to either move forward or really do something special in terms of keeping our head above water. I didn’t want that to happen. I took my game to another level, the guys stepped up and played extremely well.” (CNNSI.com)

Reaction of Houston center Yao Ming
on finishing fourth in the Western Conference:
 "It is huge. We were so excited when the clock was running to zero. It feels like winning a playoff series." (CNNSI.com)

My Take: I like Houston. They play defense. They have two talented stars in McGrady and . And Jeff Van Gundy is an excellent coach.

I think the Rockets could be on the verge of a playoff breakthrough. Unlike past years, they finally have some nice role players in Shane Battier, Chucky Hayes, Luther Head, and Dikembe Mutombo. I see Houston as a dangerous team. Home-court has to help.

2) Golden State and ‘L.A.’s other team’ battle for the final playoff birth out West

 What Happened: And then there were two. The final playoff spot comes down to two teams: the and the .

Right now, the Warriors enjoy a one game lead over the Clippers. Los Angeles dropped an important game to the lowly on Sunday night.

Both teams have two games left to play.

Reaction of Golden State guard Jason Richardson on the potential match-up with Dallas:
“It’s going to be a battle; that’s what we want to let them know.Even though we’re the eight seed, we’re going to battle and play hard." (Dallasnews.com)

Reaction of Los Angeles forward Tim Thomas on his team’s disappointing loss to Sacramento:
"I was shocked by our play in the first half. "We didn’t have the focus. In the second half, we got it back, but we needed that for 48 minutes. We’re still in the race, but now we need Golden State to lose." (KTLK radio)

Reaction of ESPN reporter Jon Barry
on the potential for a Warriors and Mavericks first round series:
"His (Don Nelson’s) departure from Dallas probably wasn’t as smooth as it might appear. And you have the prospect of the Warriors sweeping the regular-season series from the best team in the league. If they do meet, the play of Baron Davis will be a key. Even though he’s not 100 percent, he can still control a game completely."  (ESPN.com)

My Take: There are two reasons why I would love to see Golden State in the playoffs. First, they would snap a 12 year playoff drought. The last time the Warriors qualified for the post season, they rolled deep with a trio called RUN T-M-C. Yes, that’s right-Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin.

Second, Golden State plays an entertaining brand of basketball. They run. They push the ball. They go small. They take all sorts of bad shots. Hey, like WWE, it’s entertainment.

The Warriors are coached by Don Nelson, basketball’s mad-scientist coach. So this style of play is to be expected.

3) Let’s get ready to rumble: Crawford versus Duncan

What Happened: , the person, finally made headlines. During the third quarter of yesterday’s game between San Antonio and Dallas, referee Joey Crawford dropped two quick technical fouls on the low-key star.

The second technical foul came when Duncan was on the bench, joking with teammates. Without Duncan, the Spurs lost the game and any chance of securing home court advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs.

The drama continued after the game. Duncan and Crawford both had plenty to say.

Reaction of San Antonio center Tim Duncan on his on-going beef with ref Joey Crawford:
“I don’t know what else they want me to do? If he wants camera time, then he can call the techs and get all the camera time he wants. I don’t know what the deal is. Joey knew exactly what he was doing. He came into this game with a personal vendetta.”

 “He looked at me and said, ‘Do you want to fight? Do you want to fight?”‘ Duncan said. “If he wants to fight, we can fight. I don’t have any problem with him, but we can do it if he wants to. I have no reason why in the middle of a game he would yell at me, ‘Do you want to fight? ” (ESPN)

Reaction of referee Joey Crawford
on his confrontation with Spurs star Tim Duncan:
“And then he went over to the bench and he was over there doing the same stuff behind our back I hit him with one (technical) and he kept going over there, and I look over there and he’s still complaining. So I threw him out.

“That’s his opinion. He said nothing when he was walking off the court and he called me a piece of (expletive). Is that nothing?” (Slam Magazine)

Reaction of ESPN reporter Stephen A. Smith on the confrontation between Duncan and Crawford:
“At the end of the day we all know Joey Crawford is an elephant is in this business. What I mean by that is that he does have a very long memory. And you best believe that if you say anything to him, he’s going to remember it.” (ESPN)

 My Take: I think this is disappointing. Nobody cares about Joey Crawford. And there’s merit to Duncan’s accusation of the ref holding a personal vendetta against him. Watch the replay of the second technical foul. Duncan does nothing wrong. In the NBA, where players yell and swear at refs, Duncan’s simply laughing. Crawford’s looking to the Spurs’ bench, seeking a confrontation with the star center. Duncan is a league MVP and should be afforded a basic level of respect.

With Duncan ejected, San Antonio lost a close game to the Mavericks, killing any chance at securing second place in the Western Conference. And Dallas’ fans didn’t get a chance to watch Duncan down the stretch.

All of this because of one ref’s ego. I think the NBA should take action against Crawford.

Click here for more analysis on Duncan’s ejection.

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 olysandor@hoopsvibe.com.