Daily Lies & Statistics: The NBA is all better now

Doc Rivers, take a bow. You’ve saved the NBA.

You know, the league of gun-toting thugs making too much money playing games rigged by referees in front of half-empty buildings featuring bumbling owners, shrieking PA announcers and $9.00 urine masquerading as beer. That league. It’s all better now.

Mere hours after Gilbert Arenas received a pistol-whip on the wrist of an indefinite suspension for brandishing guns in the Wizards’ locker room, Rivers, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo snuck into the graveyard and dug up the NBA’s coffin with a spectacular alley-oop inbounds play with 0.6 seconds left to send the C’s-Miami game into overtime. A reminder of the lesson here: great basketball trumps off-the-court shenanigans any day of the week.

David Stern drew up a great play for Doc Rivers to tell his players to run Wednesday night at Miami.

The people know it. Even the ones who are dying to twist the knife in a league that supposedly isn’t as pure as baseball (steroids, competitive imbalance) or isn’t as exciting as football (way too many timeouts, games decided by kickers). Basketball at its best is better than either, and all other sports except football on the RedZone Channel. That kind of football kicks ass.

I’m off point. Oh yeah. I was being hyperbolic about the NBA’s awesomeness. It’s not just fantastic because the off-court drama (which is never not fascinating), but the athletes on the court do some pretty fantastic things most of the time, and work pretty damn hard to be consistently great at doing them.

The NBA has had some dark days. Wednesday could have been one of them, but it turned out not to be. Unless video replays show a ref setting a clean pick on Mario Chalmers to free up Rondo. Then we might be in trouble.

Arenas gets suspended, but we move on quick. There were 10 games last night, and I would like to talk about some of them now.

Boston 112, Miami 106 (OT): Caught in the hoopla was Dwyane Wade shooting 11-16 from the line and Rondo shooting 7-8. It’s not supposed to go down like that. Wade had 44, becoming the first Celtic opponent in the Kevin Garnett era to drop 40 on Boston. Garnett didn’t play in this one, but Pierce did, finishing with a 17-6-5 in 43 minutes. The Heat were without new acquisition Rafer Alston, who bears watching once he joins the team and should be added in deep leagues if he’s the new starter at point.

Golden State 107, Minnesota 101: Behold Corey Maggette, who had 28 points and is averaging 27.5 in his last four. He probably got hurt while I was typing that. Sell high on him. Kevin Love (23-16-6, 11-12 FT) had the line of the game, though. He’s had a lot of those lately. Don’t look now, but Al Jefferson (26-14) is also starting to get things going. Make a move for him quickly if you can.

New Orleans 97, Oklahoma City 92: Ooh, four in a row for the Hornets, and a nice win at the Thunder. Not much of fantasy note in this game, but we are sensing a David West revitalization now that Chris Paul is back. A prolonged stretch where they are both putting up monster numbers is coming.

Toronto 108, Orlando 103: Ooh, three losses in a row for the Magic, who were playing without… actually, they had all of their core players, yet couldn’t beat Toronto at home. Vince Carter came to play, technically, showing up in the box score for seven points on 2-of-7 shooting. It’s becoming a matter of when, not if, he costs the Magic a playoff series prior to the Finals.

Phoenix 118, Houston 110: Love these high-scoring games. The Suns had four players score 20 or more, and the Rockets had two (Aaron Brooks and Carl Landry) top the 30-point plateau. Landry is playing better than even I expected this season, and I was so in love I almost bought an engagement ring and flew to Houston in the preseason. He’s shooting 57.2 percent from the field and 86.5 from the line, by the way.

Cleveland 121, Washington 98: A tough matchup to gauge just what the new-look Wizards will, well, look like. Nick Young and Earl Boykins got starts, but Randy Foye played 29 minutes to Boykins’ 19 and Young shot 5-for-18 from the field, reminding me of my luck with women in high school. I lean towards the value of Foye and Mike Miller going forward over Boykins or Young.

Atlanta 119, New Jersey 89: Does John Wall get the feeling he’s being watched?

San Antonio 112, Detroit 92: An efficient ass-whuppin’ from the Spurs over a discombobulated Pistons team. Bo-ring. Maybe I take it all back about the NBA being saved.

Utah 117, Memphis 94: Another blowout? I’m almost ready to take it all back. Memphis has to go to Utah the night after busting their asses at Portland? With no Deron Williams, the Jazz still wipe the floor with them. The NBA can really suck sometimes.

Clippers 102, Lakers 91: The Lakers had played four straight home games, including a home win over Houston Tuesday, but their “back-to-back” is to basically play another home game? But get this: the Clippers won! The NBA is really great sometimes.

Hey haters: deal with it.

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