The Lakers convincing win over the Celtics to end Boston’s 19 game winning streak was the highlight of the Christmas basketball action, but there was more to take note of as well. San Antonio’s last second win over the Suns was further proof that San Antonio’s bad start was just a blip on their path to the same predictability dull dependability that they have become known for. Cleveland won yet again, but they had to work way too hard to get past the lousy Wizards. Dallas looked very convincing against the Blazers. The Mavs are another Texas team that has turned things around after a forgettable start. Most surprising, though, was Orlando’s win over New Orleans. Orlando didn’t look like they were working very hard, yet they crushed the Hornets and totally shut down Chris Paul.
The Panthers need a win on Sunday to clinch the number two seed. A loss and an Atlanta win would rop them down to fifth and send them to Arizona to start the playoffs. The public is likely to react to the news that two key defensive starters for Carolina are likely to be out quite strongly, but t isn’t as key as it could be. Both players – Lewis and Kemoeatu – are best against the run. New Orleans isn’t a team that relies on the run at the best of times, but with Reggie Bush out and Drew Brees going for the all-time single season passing record, the absences aren’t likely to be as significant as people might think that they will be.
Interesting note coming out of Cal. Despite being a beat-up afterthought this year, Nate Longshore has played well enough in practice the last couple of weeks to earn the start in the Emerald Bowl. That smells like a strange decision. Too bad that Miami seems to be self-destructing before the game, or this would give us something to really think about.
The most striking thing about Notre Dame’s big win over Hawaii, which featured explosive offense, was the location of Charlie Weis. Weis, because of his wrecked knees, was up in the box for the game, and didn’t see the team at the half. Is it just me, or does it seem to be particularly telling that the team played their best offensive game in years when Weis wasn’t face-to-face with his charges. Too bad the school’s administration hasn’t figured that out yet. If the team was that good with him a few hundred feet above the team, imagine what they could do if he was a few hundred miles away from them.