NBA Monday Morning Shootaround: The 'World Peace' Edition
Welcome to the latest edition of "The Monday Morning Shootaround," Bleacher Report's recap of the weekend that was in the NBA. BIG things are coming in the Association, and in this week's MMS, we'll get you caught up on the latest playoff news, tell you the inside scoop on the league's best-kept secret, and give you an exclusive look at a young star's infatuation with the King of Pop.
The Opening Tip
* In case you were busy watching UFC 145, this weekend was all about playoff positioning in the NBA. Behind 29 points and 10 dimes from Ty Lawson, the Denver Nuggets officially earned a berth in the postseason with Saturday's 118-107 win over the Phoenix Suns. The Suns' hopes for the second season are still alive, however. On Tuesday, they square off against the team one game ahead of them in the standings—the Utah Jazz—in a contest that will all but decide the eighth and final playoff spot out West.
* The Milwaukee Bucks are officially on life support after the Philadelphia 76ers' dramatic 109-106 overtime win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. The Sixers' magic number to clinch a playoff berth is now at one, and with three games left—including a Wednesday night tilt against the Bucks—Philadelphia is virtually assured a second consecutive postseason appearance.
* In a Sunday afternoon matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown put on his mad scientist hat and went with an unorthodox crunch-time lineup that included Steve Blake, Devin Ebanks and Jordan Hill. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the Lakers also have Kobe Bryant, who scored 17 of his 26 points after the third quarter, and led his team to a 114-106 double-overtime win.
For obvious reasons, the game will mostly be remembered for the elbow Metta World Peace gave James Harden late in the second quarter. Harden suffered a concussion as a result of the blow, and World Peace will soon be hearing from the league office. The Lakers have only one regular-season game remaining, so any suspension handed down will likely carry over into the playoffs.
* We don't know if Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley faked a loose shoestring to make this play, but if he did, that makes this 137 percent better:
* And in the latest installment is the "NBA Players Are Regular Guys, Too" series, when Indiana Pacers forward Paul George isn’t busy shooting in the gym, he’s dancing to Michael Jackson:
The Full-Court Press
* The executive committee of the National Basketball Players Association voted unanimously in favor of the resignation of union president Derek Fisher. The move comes in the wake of Fisher requesting an independent audit of the NBPA's business dealings under executive director Billy Hunter. Fisher has many of his former Lakers teammates in his corner, but this dance is far from over.
* In more Magic news, Orlando officially hit rock bottom on Saturday night in Utah. It sounds more and more like their stay in the playoffs will be brief.
* Shaun Powell of NBA.com gives you his All-Stars of the second half of the NBA season.
* James Harden (who was unfortunately the recipient of the World Peace elbow) has one year left on his deal, but Thunder GM Sam Presti will attempt to re-sign him this offseason long before Harden is eligible for free agency.
* Golden State's Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry are both scheduled to undergo ankle surgery this week in the hopes that both will be ready in time for training camp. The surgery means Bogut won't be able to represent Australia in this summer's Olympic Games.
* According to the old adage, numbers never lie. And according to the numbers, the Charlotte Bobcats stink.
* Submitted without comment: The Minnesota Timberwolves won a game in April for the first time in three years.
The Four-Point Play
* His name may not be known to many under the age of 30, but Sports Illustrated's Frank Deford is one of the greatest sportswriters of all time. In this excerpt from his upcoming memoir, Deford takes us back to the time when the NBA played doubleheaders and when the beat writers took players out to the bar after the game.
* The New York Knicks defense is really, really good. We're not sure how it happened either, but the always fantastic Sebastian Pruiti of Grantland gives us undeniable proof that Mike Woodson actually got Carmelo Anthony to buy into his defensive principles.
* File this under the 'long listen' category: Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert says his team is the best-kept secret in the NBA.
* And until the MMS crew is fortunate enough to score a press pass, we'll have to settle for great pieces like this from The Classical's Michael Katz, who takes you on a spin around a few NBA locker rooms.
The Tweet of The Week (That’s So JaVale edition):
Hours before his Denver Nuggets clinched a playoff spot on Saturday, Javale McGee was focused on the immediate task at hand:
As best as we can tell, McGee's Twitter account was not hacked by a 13-year-old girl. But, to be fair, Entenmann's cookies are pretty darn good.
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