The NBA is getting a longer All-Star break this year, and it couldn’t come at a better time. All of a sudden, we have another rash of injuries. Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis and Steven Adams all went down last week, joining Mike Dunleavy, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Kemba Walker, who had already been out for teams in a playoff spot or in the hunt for one.
Getting injured around the break means that you miss fewer games, and the hope is that all of the guys above will be healthy and making an impact on the playoff race come March and April.
There are some healthy teams (see Wizards, Washington) that could probably use some time off too. And with the trade deadline just 10 days away, everybody could afford to step back and figure out where they stand in the title contention picture.
The Atlanta Hawks currently stand No. 1 in the Power Rankings, having defeated the Golden State Warriors in the first matchup of the league’s two best teams on Friday. The Memphis Grizzlies continued to make noise by knocking off the Hawks on Sunday, but still don’t have the resume that the teams above them do. source: nba.com
On the other hand, The Phoenix Suns can’t catch a break. They’re fighting with the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder, teams that feature two of the best players in the world, for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. And they keep getting their hearts broken.
DeMarcus Cousins did the damage on Sunday, beating Phoenix at the buzzer with a shot that bounced off the rim five times before dropping through the net, another painful way to lose for a team that lost on a Blake Griffin jumper that somehow bounced in off the bottom of the rim and a Khris Middleton shot that hit off the glass first.
Throw in a James Harden step-back and the Suns have lost on four buzzer-beaters this season. They’re 2-10 in games determined by three points or less or in overtime, a brutal mark when that playoff spot could come down to a game or two.
Cousins’ shot was a leaning, contested jumper from 19 feet out. But with 2.5 seconds on the clock after the Suns had missed their own opportunity to go ahead, he had time to get Markieff Morris in the air and get himself a clear look at the basket.
The Suns had come back from 14 down to start the fourth quarter and, behind Isaiah Thomas, had taken the lead with just over a minute to go. But Cousins tied it back up quickly and Phoenix went away from Thomas on their final two possessions, both of which came up empty.
The score was still tied and Cousins, for once, wasn’t in foul trouble. So they still had a good chance to win in overtime had he not made the shot.
Anthony Davis has done it all for the Pelicans in this very impressive breakout season … well, almost everything, until Friday night. Scoring, rebounds, blocked shots, steals, assists? The only thing missing from his resume in 2014-15 was a buzzer-beater, and that was signed, sealed and delivered in the nick of time to bail out the Pelicans and, more importantly, keep the Thunder at bay in the race for one of the final playoff spots in the West.
Yes, it was only fitting that his first buzzer-beater happened in a big moment and a big game. The Pelicans came to OKC with a one-game lead over the Thunder for ninth place, and this was designated, at least by folks in OKC, as the game in which the Thunder would make their move in the standings. They used much of the last two months digging out of a tough start this season caused mainly by injuries to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. With the season nearly two-thirds over, time is of the essence, not only for OKC but New Orleans, since both are sitting on the playoff bubble.
Something had to give … and did with no time left on the clock. Check out this video on how Anthony Davis shocks the Thunder with a buzzer-beating 3: http://allball.blogs.nba.com/category/the-horry-scale/
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