Five Fast Facts From NBA Games 3.7.13.

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Kevin DurantWith only two games on the NBA schedule Thursday night we were all able to hone in on a showdown between the Thunder and Knicks at the Garden (without Carmelo Anthony) and a shootout in Denver that wasn’t quite the dunk-fest that the Clippers were hoping for.

Here are the facts: 

SH Blog: Warriors And Nuggets Surge: Josh Smith Available? Gasol In Toronto?

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Warriors and Nuggets continue to surge: Any which way you want to put it, the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets are playing like legitimate threats that no top team would like to see in the playoffs.

Do the Warriors have the postseason experience to really make some noise? Probably not. But if you’re the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers or Grizzlies do you really want to find out?

Probably not.

The Warriors have found the last piece of the puzzle, and it’s one that they had on the table the whole time:

Andrew Bogut. 

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SH Blog: Ten Christmas Day Observations

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There wasn’t a 50-point showing – heck, there wasn’t even a 40-point outing! – on Christmas this year, but the NBA provided a quintuplet of matchups that helped to put things in perspective through nearly two months of the season.

SheridanHoops had an eye on the tube at all times. Below is an observation regarding the 10 teams who participated in the holiday’s hoops festivities:

Boston Celtics: They might be hovering around the .500 mark through the first quarter of the season, but this is a team that, as we pointed out weeks after the season began, is fighting to find its identity while keeping its veteran star power healthy and integrating newer pieces into the equation. Paul Pierce (34.5 mpg) and Kevin Garnett (29.5 mpg) need to be monitored for the long haul, regardless of what the team’s situation is in the current moment. On Christmas, the Celtics unwrapped their gifts from under the tree in the form of rookie Jared Sullinger’s efficient 16 points (6-7 FG) and 7 rebounds and Jeff Green’s 15 points (5-8 FG), 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Brandon Bass has been in a funk lately, struggling to get into a rhythm of any kind. But the Celtics will continue to make a concerted effort to get their role players in rhythm, especially at the offensive end.

Brooklyn Nets: They seem to be confused and it’s showing at the offensive end. They appear to be transitioning their lineup to be able to play more small ball to space the floor and run more of a motion type of offense, and whether it’s to appease star guard Deron Williams or not, it’s tough to implement a new offense over time, let alone seemingly overnight. That’s part of the reason the Nets shot just 40.6 percent to go along with 14 assists and 20 turnovers. Surely, Brooklyn’s Christmas wasn’t as pleasant as some imagined it could have been about a month ago, when they were in rhythm and there were folks out there who thought they would be able to keep up pound-for-pound with that other New York team in the Atlantic Division. The Nets obviously have a talented group, but whether they can put it together again and make something of their talents as a collective unit on both ends of the floor appears to be an uphill battle right now.

New York Knicks: Speaking of that other New York team … When Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton don’t

Tyson Chandler

have it working in the pick-and-roll, the team struggles a little bit more to get in sync on the offensive end. On Tuesday afternoon, Chandler had trouble catching Felton’s passes in what are normally routine dunks or lay-ins near the hoop. Compounding this deficiency was Felton’s inability to knock down jumpers from the perimeter. More pressure was put on Jason Kidd, Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith to operate offensively, and down the stretch it took its toll on the team overall. For all those people wondering about whether the Knicks will be better off with Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert, I can tell you one thing: They would’ve had even more options down the stretch against the Lakers if they had the power forward and combo guard, and I think that’s what every team strives for.

Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers didn’t freshly unwrap Steve Nash on December 25th, but he performed as if he were planted under the tree for the Lakers against New York. Nash had 11 assists and scored 16 points, but the most important thing he did was take ball handling duties away from Kobe Bryant and Co. Bryant was free to gun for 34 points (ninth straight 30-point game) and didn’t have to worry as much about creating offense for his teammates thanks to Nash’s presence. Nash also helped get Metta World Peace (20 points) open shots through his screening off the ball. The MVP caliber point guard showed more than his fair share of flash from the past and was crucial to Los Angeles’ success against New York. Even with Nash’s arrival, the Lakers still have work to do defensively, where they are allowing 50.1 points and 13.2 assists for opponents’ top three wings and guards (to be discussed in a later piece).

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Post Game Notes and other news from around the NBA: May 9, 2012.

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MAGIC/PACERS

  • Danny Granger scored 25 points to help the Pacers defeat the Orlando Magic 105-87 on Tuesday night and clinch their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series 4-1.
  • Darren Collison scored 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and George Hilladded 15 points for the Pacers.
  • Nelson led Orlando with 27 points and made 5 of 8 3-pointers. Glen Davis, a thorn in Indiana’s side throughout the series, scored 15 but made just 6 of 17 shots.

CELTICS/HAWKS

  • Al Horford scored 19 points, hit Atlanta’s final two baskets and came up with a huge defensive play helping the the Hawks keep their season alive with a 87-86 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference playoffs Tuesday night.
  • Boston had a chance to clinch the series when Rajon Rondo stole Josh Smith‘s inbounds pass with 10 seconds remaining and raced down the court, looking for the winner.
  • Rondo got into a jam along the sideline as Horford  jumped out to protect him which caused Rondo to lose control and chuck a desperation pass, which was tipped by Josh Smith out of bounds as the buzzers sounded.
  • Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett led the Celtics with 16 points apiece. Rondo had 13 points and 12 assists.
  • Smith clearly looked hobbled by a sore knee that kept him out of Game 3 but still managed 13 points and 16 rebounds. Jeff Teague had 16 points, while Johnson and Marvin Williams had 15 apiece.

76ers/Bulls

NUGGETS/LAKERS

  • Andre Miller scored 24 points, including two free throws with 12.8 seconds left, and Denver survived Bryant’s late scoring barrage in a 43-point performance, avoiding playoff elimination with a 102-99 victory over Los Angeles in Game 5.
  • JaVale McGee had 21 points and 14 rebounds for the Nuggets.
  • Denver had a 15-point lead midway through the fourth quarter against the Lakers, but Bryant led a stunning comeback before his final three shots missed.
  • Bryant scored 12 points over the final 4:45, hitting four 3-pointers that trimmed the Nuggets’ lead to 98-96 with 59 seconds left.
  • Arron Afflalo scored a career playoff-high 19 points and Danilo Gallinari added 14 for the Nuggets, while rookie Kenneth Faried had 10 points and nine rebounds.
  • Andrew Bynum had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, after he suggested the Nuggets were going to fold to them in this “closeout game.”