Remember when Jannero Pargo missed the big 3-pointer from the left corner that would have tied it? The key word there may be "left." According to NBA.com's Hot Spots, over the last five games, Pargo was 7-15 from all areas on the right of the floor, and 0-13 from the left. Both numbers exclude shots at the rim (4-11), and straight away (3-9).
Chris Paul had 14 assists last night. That's huge. Unless you actually look at those assists, which David Friedman did on 20 Second Timeout. He examined each and every one, and says five of them were the product of generous scorekeeping. He describes every single assist, including this one, with 4:33 left in the first quarter: "West received the ball from Paul at the right free throw line extended at the 4:40 mark. West pump faked Oberto off of his feet, took four dribbles, made a spin move into the paint, came to a jump stop, did an up and under move and then shot a jump hook. Seven seconds, four dribbles and multiple fakes happened between Paul's pass and West's shot! If Paul deserves an assist, then I think that West's point guard at Xavier should get one, too -- he had about as much to do with West making this shot as Paul did."
Yahoo's Johnny Ludden -- a former Spurs beat writer -- has a must-read article about Gregg Popovich. There's some talk about San Antonio's anti-Chris Paul strategy from last night. But there's also talk of Popovich's status as a pariah: "Somewhere in New York David Stern is likely cursing to himself. A few years ago, the NBA's commissioner was asked for his dream championship matchup, and he answered without pause: 'Lakers versus Lakers.' With the Lakers and Boston Celtics both enjoying a renaissance this season, Stern is two series victories away from seeing his two most famed franchises return to the league's biggest stage, and yet Popovich and the Spurs are again standing in the way. Under Popovich, the Spurs have operated as one of the NBA's model franchises for more than a decade now, but that counts for only so much with Stern. Larry Brown has told friends that Popovich didn't get the Olympic coaching job because Stern didn't like him, and while that's a stretch this much is true: Few teams rankle the commissioner the way these Spurs do, and it's not just because they kill TV ratings. Popovich has long valued his team over his standing in the league. If Tim Duncan doesn't like the dress code, then Popovich has a problem with it. If the NBA's czar of discipline, Stu Jackson, warns Bruce Bowen about his feet without first notifying Spurs officials, then Popovich will criticize the league. If the Spurs have too short of a turnaround between playoff series then Popovich won't hesitate to blow off the mandated media session and eat the fine so his players don't have to come to the gym on their day off. Stern realizes the Spurs' value to the league, but they exhaust him just the same. When two of Popovich's understudies, Danny Ferry and Sam Presti, left San Antonio to head their own franchises in Cleveland and Seattle, Stern delivered the same message to both: Pop has been doing this too long for me to change him, but I can change you. The Spurs can live with Popovich the way he is. Few coaches are more empathetic to their players and few have built a stronger sense of community within their team."
Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold examines the regular season meetings between the Spurs and the Lakers. He also adds: "There is something mentioned in several comments and stories – that Pau Gasol has played Tim Duncan tough through the years. Some say that dates all the way back to the 2004 Olympics when Gasol dominated Duncan. We'll see if it is true, but I tried to look back at the Spurs games against Memphis from this season where the two played and measured the +/-. I should note I don't know how much of the time Gasol was directly matched up with Duncan, so consider these numbers very crude. On Oct. 31, Gasol was +10, Duncan had 17 points on 46% shooting. On November 23, Gasol was -6, Duncan had 28 points on 82% shooting. December 30, Gasol -19, Duncan had 24 points of 50% shooting. I'm not sure we take anything from that, just throwing the numbers out there."
The Boston Celtics' kick off the conference finals with a nice little love letter to scalpers: "The Boston Celtics announced today that the organization has received numerous reports of counterfeit Playoff tickets being sold to consumers in the Boston area. Fans are urged to be aware of such illegal activity and avoid purchasing tickets through any unauthorized seller of Boston Celtics tickets. The only tickets whose authenticity can be guaranteed are those purchased through Celtics.com, Ticketmaster.com, over the phone at 800-4-NBA-TIX, in person at the TD Banknorth Box Office, any Ticketmaster outlet or on Ticketmaster's 'TicketExchange' online. Tickets purchased or acquired through other means or locations cannot be validated and may be counterfeit. Patrons attempting to use fraudulent tickets to enter the building will be evicted and may be subject to arrest. Any reports of suspicious ticket activity should be reported to the Boston Police by calling 911."
Does it still count as news that the Spurs don't get great TV ratings?
Ryan Schwan of Hornets247: "Two things did us in tonight. Rebounding and a three point barrage. The rebounding, though a pronounced problem earlier in the game, got better in the second half. The Spur's three point shooting, however, never cooled. At several points this season I pointed out the Hornets lost when their three point shooting was poor, and the opponents was great. Tonight, the Spurs hit 12-28, a mark of 42.9%. The Hornets shot 4-17, for 23.5%. ... Oberto, Thomas, Udoka and Duncan were simply brutal on the glass. As soon as a shot went up, they'd form a little wall around the rim, and Tyson could only get to the ball by jumping over it and back-tapping it. On offense, multiple times Duncan or Thomas would just sneak in and take the ball away from the Hornets. Painful. Okay, I'm done. I'll be back sometime soon to talk about the future. For now, I'll go mourn the present."
Joey from StraightBangin: "Have you seen Ray Allen's game? Good-looking jump shot, lots of 3's, quick release, ability to pull up, comfortable going to the rim, can finish on either side of the basket? It was last seen about a month ago. Yesterday, its absence was especially notable, and he'd like it back. We are also looking for Ray's crunch-time minutes; those have gone missing, too. If either found, please return to: Ray Allen, Wellesley, MA; or, Boston Celtics, 226 Causeway Street, Boston, MA 02114. Please help if you can. It will be sad if Ray has to retire."
J.R. Giddens is this year's "he'll be an awesome draft pick if he can hold it together" guy.
Where the Jazz go from here. If I were them, I'd do a lot of nothing, and figure everything gets better with maturity.
Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer, saying what a lot of people were thinking: "You can't argue with Pargo's production, points count, and he did bring them back. But he also made it so Peja, West, and even Chris Paul were a little cold down the stretch, mainly because they barely touched the ball with Pargo dominating it so much. I'm not going to blame the guy that brought New Orleans back for the loss; but had New Orleans made its run based on team ball with Paul handling things, that four-point deficit with three minutes to go would have probably turned into a Hornet victory, rather than a nine-point loss." I'd add one wrinkle, though: Quite probably Chris Paul was tired down the stretch, and not feeling as aggressive as normal.