At this point, Denver and Portland are every bit deserving of making the playoffs. I incorrectly assumed that Denver would head south as the new guys were brought in. I also thought the same would happen to Portland after Roy went down. You can throw Memphis in that mix as well when Rudy Gay was lost for a month.
They've all been resilient though much to the detriment of the playoff hopes for the Jazz. Just two games last night affected our playoff hopes and neither were good.
Portland Trail Blazers 105 @ Miami Heat 96
The Heat got 38 from Dwyane Wade and 31 from LeBron James and that was it. I know that doesn't appear to add up to 96, but trust me, it does. The Blazers on the other hand had six players in double-figures lead by LaMarcus Aldridge with 26. New Blazer Gerald Wallace added 22.
It was the 5th straight loss for Miami who appear to be in disarray right now. They started out the season 9-8 after a lot of people had tagged them to finish with 60+ wins. Then they settled down and found a groove and started dominating like they were expected to. However, they're just 2-6 after the break.
All credit goes to Portland in this one though. They had a steady lead in the third before Miami came back within 2 heading into the fourth quarter. A 12-3 run by the Blazers gave them a 9-point lead. The Heat were able to once again come back to within 2. A big three from Roy though highlighted a 7-0 run that pushed the lead back to 9. Miami was only able to score 5 points over the last 3 1/2 minutes of the game.
If Portland can get play from Roy off the bench like they did tonight, they could make some noise. BlazersEdge is loving Wallace,
Gerald Wallace, if loving you is wrong I don't want to be right. Aided and abetted by Miami's lack of centers, allowing him to play big minutes against like-sized people, Wallace showed exactly why the Blazers acquired him. He scored at the rim. He rebounded. He blocked shots. He was the spark that lit the fire for Portland tonight. His utter lack of intimidation in the face of the Heat is something all of the younger Blazers can learn from. He didn't play like he wanted these guys' autographs, he played like he wanted to carve their tombstone. Every minute Wallace was off the court you wished he would hurry and get back in. 8-14 shooting, 22 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block.
Peninsula is Mightier didn't have anything up as of last night, but be sure to check them this morning.
Houston Rockets 110 @ Phoenix 113
The fountain of youth in not off the coast of Florida somewhere, it's in Phoenix. Either that or they're housing a Delorean down there because all of their older players have dialed it back 10 years. Vince Carter led the way with 32 points as the Suns came back to beat the Rockets. Carter had 15 points in the fourth to lead the way including two three-pointers. He was matched by Hakim Warrick who had 32 points as well. Grant Hill continues his Button run as he added in 19.
Remember how this team was supposed to be hurt when Channing Frye went out? Well, it looks like they have a plug and play system in the desert with Warrick's play. Of course, both of those players have killed the Jazz.
The Rockets still had a shot to tie it in regulation, but Brad Miller's attempt was off.
It was Vince who hit timely three after timely three to keep the Suns in the game and the pressure on the Rockets. It was his energy, passion and aggressiveness that brought the Suns back into the game after being down by 11 in the 2nd Quarter. Surprised? After the OKC game, perhaps not, but the fact that he was the one to put this team on his back, lead them out of a double digit deficit and take control in the clutch was at least surprising to me. He showed a lot of heart tonight and deserves much props for his amazing play. Thank you Carter and thank you Warrick!
Not a good night in the association for the Jazz. You can perhaps take a little bit of satisfaction in seeing Houston go down given that they were right behind the Jazz, but the goal for now is to jump the guys ahead of us.
Portland and Denver are going to make the playoffs. Certainly it's been frustrating to not only be on the outside looking in, but also to see other teams get injuries and not slip. I'm not wishing anyone gets hurt, but if it happens, you hope that it benefits our team. It has not.
Click on through to the other side for the most recent standings.
5 - Denver Nuggets
37 - 27
6 - Portland Trail Blazers
37 - 27
37 - 29
37 - 29
9 - Phoenix Suns
33 - 29
10 - Utah Jazz
33 - 31
11 - Houston Rockets
33 - 33