Suns force Game 7 back in Phoenix …And the Lakers will be kicking themselves. Up 3 with 10 seconds to go, it was only one more stop to get to the next round. Now, they may not get a second chance. And Kobe had 50 last night, but if you can believe it, it was a quiet 50…
The Suns' locker room was euphoric through the exhaustion as they relived Tim Thomas' three-pointer that put Game 6 in overtime and the deluge of seven straight made Suns shots in overtime that gave the Suns a 126-118 victory over the Lakers.
Then, Steve Nash walked it and told everybody, "Guys, calm down. We're only up 4-2 and we've got another game to go," referencing how they felt Game 4 was stolen from them to set up the scenario of needing to win three straight games.
Now, the Lakers will find out what it is like to play a game under the diress of win or go home. With the series tied at 3, the Suns are a Saturday home win away from what seemed darn near impossible quest at the start of week - become the eighth team in NBA history to win a series after being down 3-1.
Phoenix now has a date with destiny: Game 7, 5:30 p.m., US Airways Center. And Raja Bell, suspended for Thursday's game and watching at a L.A. restaurant full of Lakers fans, can come along this time because Shawn Marion got a piece of Kobe Bryant's game-winning try at the end of regulation.
"It was amazing," Bell said. "It was kind of surreal. I don't have kids so this is the proudest I've ever been. I'm struggling for words. That was bigtime. I'm more emotionally drained than if I had played the game."
Spurs give the Kings their undivided attention …
Worrying about the Mavericks can wait until next week, if not next season. With the Sacramento Kings hoping to extend the Spurs to a seventh game, and another Arco Arena crowd eager to help, they have more pressing business to attend to tonight.
"It doesn't matter whether Dallas is waiting or not," Manu Ginobili said. "We just want to go to the next round."
The Spurs also would prefer to go as quickly as possible. If they finish their first-round series tonight, they would host Dallas at noon Sunday. Despite the lack of preparation time, they favor that choice over the alternative: an anything-can-happen Game7 against Sacramento, also Sunday at the AT&T Center.
"Sac is too good of a team to just say we're going to go on to Dallas," Nick Van Exel said. "We're going to go into Sac with the mindset of trying to get this thing over with."
In the previous three seasons, the Spurs had the chance to close out six series on the road. Each time, they won.
The Spurs hope that counts for something. But they also admit few teams in recent years have taxed them as much as the Kings have the past two weeks. On Tuesday, the Spurs shot 57 percent, outrebounded Sacramento (40-30) for the first time since Game1, led by 14 points early in the fourth quarter and still were tied with three minutes left.
Though the Spurs made five consecutive layups to win, Ron Artest didn't see anything to make him back off his guarantee that the Kings would advance.
Ever Wonder what if the NBA Playoff teams were actually 1980’s sitcoms? Me, Neither. But this blog did …
The tall white man was the head of the household, but don’t be fooled. It’s the little black man who’s making things go. Dirk Nowitzki/Mr. Drummond , great as they may be, aren’t the reason that the Mavericks have put themselves in the NBA title conversation. It’s because of Avery Johnson/Arnold.
The bad news here for the Mavericks is that Dana Plato was on Diff’rent Strokes… which means that some current member of the Mavs will be starring in softcore pornography and OD’ing very soon. My money’s on Marquis Daniels. Sorry Marquis.
Millwood dominant as Ace ….
Thursday's 8-2 win over Baltimore started and ended with Kevin Millwood on the mound.
It meant two things for the Rangers: Their ace proved he can pitch just as effectively at Ameriquest Field as he can on the road. And his nine-inning performance gave a bullpen that has seen plenty of work the last two games a breather before a big weekend series with the New York Yankees.
The Rangers have won 15 of their last 20 games, rebounding from a 2-7 start to jump to the top of the American League West. Only the Chicago White Sox have been better in that span.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the turnaround is starting pitching. In the 20-game stretch, Rangers starters are 9-1 with a 3.27 ERA. A starter hasn't lost in 17 games.
Millwood is cooking, now. After a very weak first week, when he got beat on Monday by Curt Schilling on Opening Day and then beaten badly by Justin Verlander on Saturday night, he has bounced back nicely.
April 14 Start #3 at Oakland: 7 innings, 7 K’s, 2ER, Win
April 19 Start #4 at Seattle: 7 innings, 4 K’s, 3 ER, Had the Win until Cordero blew the save.
April 24 Start #5 Oakland: 5 innings, 4 K’s (6 BB), 0 ER, No decision
April 29 Start #6 at Cleveland: 7 innings, 7 K’s, 2 ER, Win
May 4 Start #7 Baltimore: 9 innings, Complete Game, 1K, 2 ER, Win
Current Season: 7 Starts, 3-2, 3.52 ERA
Grizzly Man Voice: “That’s what I’m talking about, That’s what I’m talking about, That’s what I’m talking about.”
Mike Hindman sent me this disturbing development which must not surprise many:
From the Sacramento Bee.... here...
"Dominguez arrived with enough potential that he appeared in 22 games with the Texa Rangers and started 10, but also with a bad enough reputation off the field that they traded a 25-year-old prospect in March for a pitcher stuck at Triple A, John Rheinecker. Quickly getting a chance to live the turbulence themselves, the River Cats scratched Dominguez from a scheduled turn April 23 in Las Vegas because he was somewhere in the city besides the team bus and showed late to the stadium.
"The outward punishment was minimal despite the blatant infraction - he still threw that day, albeit in relief, with Sacramento short on arms and manager Tony DeFrancesco deciding that completely benching him would punish the entire team more than Dominguez . . .
[news about last night's bad start] "but he also was apparently in no immediate danger of being pulled from the rotation, a nod to the calendar and a pitching staff thinned by major-league promotion and injury as much as his potential."
OK, Scribes. You demanded it: Parcells speaks to the media today at 4 …I can’t wait to hear those great questions the media has saved up for 4 months.
While Jones is the general manager, Parcells has more say in personnel and the players on this team than any Cowboys coach since Jimmy Johnson.
So it will be interesting to hear Parcells' thoughts on why the Cowboys opted to release Keyshawn Johnson, one of his favorite players, to sign Owens. It will be intriguing to hear Parcells' thought process on releasing 10-time Pro Bowl guard Larry Allen and replacing him with left guard Kyle Kosier, who's with his third team in four seasons.
Then there are questions about how hard the Cowboys tried to deal running back Julius Jones on draft day and what that says about his future, in addition to whether he's more suited to run in a one-back offense that features two tight ends.
Interesting reading about the 2 TE offense in Dallas …
Gregg Easterbrook looks at Mel Kiper’s work …
These things said, part of the fun of Kiper is watching him be all over the map. This year he issued five mock drafts, each contradicting the one before. Mel had the Dolphins going first for Winston Justice, or Ashton Youboty, or Donte Whitner, or Antonio Cromartie; they actually used their first selection on Jason Allen. "If Justice is available, he has got to be the call for Miami," Mel foresaw; Justice was available and was not the call.
Kiper had the Bucs going first for Cromartie, or Marcus McNeill, or Chad Greenway; they actually used their first-rounder on Davin Joseph. Kiper had Dallas investing its first choice on Jason Allen, or Chad Jackson, or Manny Lawson; the Cowboys chose Bobby Carpenter. Kiper had DeAngelo Williams going as high as 10th or as low as 22nd, being picked by Arizona or New England or Denver; Williams went 27th to Carolina. Kiper had Tamba Hali going as high as 12th to Cleveland or as low as the second round; he went 20th to Kansas City. On March 6, Kiper predicted Oakland would use the seventh overall choice on quarterback Jay Cutler; on March 27, Kiper said "it would be odd" if Oakland used its first pick on a quarterback. (Oakland passed on Cutler.) With its first pick, Jacksonville "could go one of two ways, Thomas Howard or Deuce Lutui." Both were available when Jax picked, and the team went a third way. At various points, Mel had the Chargers taking Tye Hill or Justice or Jonathan Joseph or Santonio Holmes; San Diego took Cromartie. At various points Kiper predicted the Eagles would take Justice or Holmes or Jackson or Ernie Sims or Greenway; they took Brodrick Bunkley. Surely if any one of his multiple forecasts for any of these teams had been correct, Mel would have claimed to have predicted it!
Finally, after all these years, Zubov gets a nomination for a Norris Trophy …
The Stars' Jere Lehtinen is once again a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, for the NHL's best defensive forward, while Sergei Zubov is a finalist for the James Norris Trophy given to the league's best defensemen, the NHL announced Thursday.
This is Zubov's first time to be a finalist for the Norris in his 14-year career. The other finalists are Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom, a three-time winner, and Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer, the 2004 winner.
Lehtinen has won the Selke three times and is a finalist for the sixth time. Only former Stars coach and general manager Bob Gainey, with four wins, has won the Selke more times than Lehtinen. Ottawa's Mike Fisher and Carolina's Rob Brind'Amour are the other finalists.
Speaking of Hockey, I need to give you some Round 2 picks (since I tanked so badly in Round 1) as 2 Series crank up tonight:
#2 Carolina vs #3 New Jersey – New Jersey in 7 Games
#1 Ottawa vs #4 Buffalo – Ottawa in 7 Games
#5 San Jose vs #8 Edmonton – San Jose in 6 Games
#6 Anaheim vs #7 Colorado – Colorado in 6 Games
But, really, what do I know?
1 game to go in the Premiership, and Liverpool can still catch Man U for 2nd place …
if Rafael Benitez's side win it they will set a new club record of 11 successive victories in all competitions, eclipsing a 10-match winning streak set in 1990, their last title-winning year.
Also, the 79 points already amassed by Liverpool is exactly the same as the total that lifted that title, with a last-day 6-1 win at Coventry sealing the crown. The bar has been raised since and 90 points is the minimum needed to win the title now.
Benitez will no doubt be thinking in those terms for any genuine success next term. Meanwhile, two more goals will make it 100 for the season in all competitions and a 34th clean sheet will equal the club record.
It would also mean 23 league clean sheets, which would equal the second highest in the club history. The record is 28 in 1978-79, so Jose Reina has a bit to go before topping that total.
And another victory will ensure Liverpool's highest points tally in a 38-game season, and if you convert every season previously to three points for a win, it will be their highest haul without winning the title since 1969.
All this, though, is an interesting aside to the day's one last target. If Liverpool win and Manchester United fail to beat Charlton, then runners-up spot will be claimed.
Sopranos, the video game …
In that amazing Lost episode on Wednesday, ABC snuck in a fake commercial ….
You wouldn’t want to be this injured player …