THE END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT: Injured Pacers center Andrew Bynum apparently got a haircut during halftime of Friday’s home game vs. Chicago.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Miami Heat big man Chris Bosh, after the team’s seventh loss in 11 games Saturday at New Orleans:
“We suck. We need to turn it around. There’s no passion. There’s nothing.”
TANKAPALOOZA!: In the NCAA Tournament, all the projected top-five picks are done except Julius Randle of Kentucky, who averaged 16 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 blocks in two wins. Andrew Wiggins of Kansas, Jabari Parker of Duke and Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State combined to shoot 17-of-47 with 16 turnovers in four games.
LINE OF THE WEEK: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City at Toronto, March 21: 52 minutes, 15-32 FGs, 7-12 3-pointers, 14-19 FTs, 12 rebounds, seven assists, one block, one steal, five turnovers, 51 points in a 119-118 double-overtime win. Durant has had better shooting games but took on the scoring burden when Russell Westbrook went down in the third quarter. He scored 27 points in the fourth quarter and overtimes, including a game-winning 3-pointer from 30 feet with 1.7 seconds left. The MVP race is over.
LINE OF THE WEAK: John Salmons, Toronto vs. Oklahoma City, March 21: 18 minutes, 0-4 FGs, 0-4 3-pointers, 0-2 FTs, four rebounds, zero assists, one block, zero steals, three fouls, two turnovers, zero points in a 119-118 double-overtime loss. Yep, same game. Pressed back into action after Greivis Vasquez fouled out in the second OT, Salmons looked like the hero when he blocked Kevin Durant’s potential tying shot, corraled the loose ball and was fouled with nine second to go. But he missed both free throws, leaving the door open.
TRILLION WATCH: Before we get into the top inactivity of the week, a warm welcome to Kings forward Royce White, who made his NBA debut Friday night vs. San Antonio and promptly registered a 1 trillion in which he did not touch the ball. (And yes, you can avoid a trillion without touching the ball. You can foul.) Among better non-efforts, Mavericks guard Wayne Ellington had a 3 trillion Wednesday vs. Minnesota. The week’s top honors were shared by Hawks forward Cartier Martin, who had a 5 trillion Monday at Charlotte, and Thunder center Hasheem Thabeet, who also had a 5 trillion Friday at Toronto. (Boy, that game was chocked full of goodies, wasn’t it?) It should be noted that Thabeet ruined a 10 trillion by committing two fouls Monday at Chicago.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Miami at Indiana, March 26. The third meeting between everyone’s projected Eastern Conference finalists and a huge potential swing game in the standings. The Heat have lost seven of 11 with LeBron James averaging “only” 22.8 points with no double-doubles. The Pacers have lost lost six of 11 with Paul George averaging “only” 17.6 points on 36.5 percent shooting.
GAME OF THE WEAK: Detroit at Philadelphia, March 29. The Pistons have not won on the road since Jan. 18 and will be coming off Friday’s home meeting with Miami. The Sixers have not won anywhere since Jan. 29 and likely will be looking to avoid a 27th straight setback, which would be an NBA record.
TWO MINUTES: We’re still pretty sure the Eastern Conference finals will be a Heat-Pacers matchup, but the road there might not be as smooth as it once appeared. Since Jan. 1, the top five teams in the East are separated by just 2 1/2 games. Miami is 23-14 and Indiana is 26-14. By comparison, Toronto is 25-15, Chicago is 27-13 and Brooklyn is 27-10, the best mark of any East squad in 2014. The Nets have gotten a lift lately from Deron Williams, who may be past his chronic ankle woes. March has been the best month of the season for Williams, who is averaging a season-high 16.1 points, 5.8 assists and has four 20-point games, his most of any month. He even had his first dunk of the season in Monday’s win over Phoenix. “My confidence is getting back. That’s a good thing for me,” Williams said. “I tend to play well when my confidence is high. I just have to keep it there.” It probably should be noted that Brooklyn has played only one set of back-to-back games thus far in March. … Let the Kevin Love speculation begin. On Sunday, Love had 36 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists, but the Timberwolves blew a 22-point lead at home and lost to the Suns. Minnesota trails Phoenix and Dallas (29 losses each) by five games in the loss column with 14 to play. “That was our playoffs right there, and we lost,” Love admitted afterward. The All-Star power forward has yet to make the playoffs in six seasons in Minnesota and can opt out of his contract next summer. … Has any team ever had three players sidelined at the same time with torn ACLs? Because the Nuggets do – J.J. Hickson, Nate Robinson and Danilo Gallinari. … In Houston’s win at Cleveland on Saturday without Dwight Howard, the Rockets scored 101 points through three quarters. Despite taking just 15 shots, James Harden was responsible for 65 of them via baskets, free throws and assists. “A monster game,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. … The Spurs are an astounding 21-0 on the road when leading after three quarters. … Although Portland’s overall play has clearly taken a step back over the last month, don’t blame it on the absence of LaMarcus Aldridge. Since the All-Star break, the Blazers are 2-5 with their All-Star forward and 7-3 without him. In the 10 games Aldridge has missed, Nic Batum is averaging 14.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists with four double-doubles while playing out of position at power forward. He is shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 16-of-33 from the arc. … In all likelihood, the Sixers are going to clear the decks this summer and create nearly $40 million of cap room. But among the detritus at the end of their roster that might be worth keeping for a longer look is big man Henry Sims, who arrived in the deal that sent Spencer Hawes to Cleveland and is averaging 9.6 points and 7.0 rebounds with three double-doubles in 14 games. … Pistons forward Josh Smith has missed 20 of his last 26 free throws, including a glistening 0-of-8 at Phoenix on Friday. … The Celtics went 0-15 on the road vs. the Western Conference. So did the Magic. The Bucks are 1-13. The Pistons are 1-12. That’s a combined 2-55 – or two wins less than the Sixers, who somehow are 4-8.
Trivia Answer: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Bill Russell. … Happy 54th Birthday, Larry Micheaux. … I’m trying to figure out whether Dante Exum or Joel Embiid helped their draft stock more with their performance in the NCAA Tournament.
Chris Bernucca is the managing editor of SheridanHoops.com. His columns appear Monday during the season. You can follow him on Twitter.