Lakers dominate Spurs on their home floor to win seven straight

Heading into the All-Star break a few weeks ago, the Los Angeles Lakers had hit a bit of rough patch as they had lost three games in a row before hosting the All-Star game in Los Angeles. Not only had they lost to the Orlando Magic and the Charlotte Bobcats in consecutive games on the road, but it was the loss to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers that was the icing on the cake.

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With these three straight losses hanging over their heads and the fact that everyone was starting to question this team’s chances of competing for a three-peat, the Lakers had hit a low point in

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Fortunately, despite seemingly being down and out heading into the All-Star break, Kobe Bryant and company were able to turn it on to start the second half of the season as they were red hot with six straight wins before going to San Antonio to take on the Spurs for the third time this season. Even though the Lakers were the underdogs on Sunday night, they definitely didn’t play like it as they dominated their rivals from start to finish.

With only Tony Parker scoring in double-figures for the Spurs starters, San Antonio just couldn’t get anything going offensively and really struggled to defend the Lakers as they were firing on all cylinders all night long. Kobe Bryant finished with a game-high 26 points, but it was without a doubt a team effort for the defending champs as they were able to get out to leads as much as 32 points against arguably the best team in the league.

Ultimately, the Lakers went on to win 99-83, but the challenges don’t stop in San Antonio as they have their work cut out for them over the next week with games against the Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks.

Even though there are still about 18 regular season games left before the playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers have a legitimate shot of getting as high as the second seed in the Western Conference. With the San Antonio Spurs still being six and half games ahead of the defending champs, the number one overall seed in the West is high unlikely for the Lakers, but they can definitely challenge the Dallas Mavericks for the second spot.

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The Christmas Day rematch against the Miami Heat this Thursday night will be a big game for both teams as the Lakers will look to stay hot and LeBron James and company will try to break out of their funk. Even though the Heat may be in

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somewhat of a desperation mode right now, I believe the Lakers should come out on top in this one as long as they can continue to play well against the Hawks this Tuesday.

The most important game this week for the two-time defending NBA champions will be against the second seeded Dallas Mavericks. If they can play as well as they did against the Spurs, the Mavs shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the Lakers, but they will definitely need to come out with the win in order to make another big statement in the Western Conference.

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NBA Buyouts: Mike Bibby lands with the Miami Heat

Troy Murphy and Sasha Pavlovic, Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics may have made one of the most unexpected moves before the NBA trade deadline on February 24, but even though they traded away arguably one of their best defenders in center Kendrick Perkins they tried to make up for it by signing to veterans off the waiver wire.

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The first player the Celtics signed was sharp shooting forward Troy Murphy. Even though Murphy hasn’t p

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layed a lot over the last couple years, he still could have some worth off the bench for the Celtics who usually embrace veterans of his caliber. In terms of playing time it’s uncertain how many minutes Murphy will get on the floor, but I’m sure the Celtics get him out there enough to make an impact.

Another player the Celtics went after was veteran small forward Sasha Pavlovic. This is another player that hasn’t played much over the past couple of seasons due to the fact that his only had 10-day contracts, but he may have a bigger impact than Troy Murphy for Boston as he can be a solid six man.

Corey Brewer, Dallas Mavericks

It’s no secret that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban loves to make deals when he can. With almost limitless funds, Cuban doesn’t mind signing players when he has the opportunity and this season has been no different as he hasn’t been shy about making moves for signing players for short-term.

The one player he went after this time was the recently bought out Corey Brewer. This pickup may have been one of the biggest after the trade deadline has Brewer can have a big impact for the Dallas Mavericks in the final stretch of the NBA regular season. With almost 10 points per game and a defensive mindset, the shooting guard will almost certainly get plenty of playing time as the Mavs make the final push to the playoffs.

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Mike Bibby, Miami Heat

Mike Bibby

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Arguably the biggest move made after the NBA trade deadline was made by the one team that made the biggest moves during the NBA off-season. Much like the Dallas Mavericks, the Miami Heat are not shy about throwing money around and bringing veteran players.

Obviously, this team is pretty set at the forward position, but they have had some trouble in the backcourt as they haven’t been able to find point guard they can run the show.

Fortunately, they haven’t looked down as veteran point guard Mike Bibby was bought out by the Washington Wizards just after being traded by the Atlanta Hawks. This is a pretty big gift to say the least as Bibby is still playing at a pretty high level averaging about nine points per game and draining from 3-point range.

Whether or not this Bibby turns out to be the x-factor for the Heat remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, a great team just got better!

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NBA Matchup: Chicago Bulls @ Orlando Magic

Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic Fri. March 4, 2011 7 p.m. EST

The Chicago Bulls came into this NBA regular season with high hopes of turning around their storied franchise after adding former All-Star forward Carlos Boozer into the mix. With Boozers and Joakim Noah in the paint and Derrick Rose in the backcourt, this Bulls team was thought to be good, but not great, at least not for awhile.

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Fortunately for Chicago, the Bulls have exceeded expectations up to this point in the NBA regular season and have legitimate shot of overtaking the Miami Heat for the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Along with the team being completely rejuvenated and a potential NBA title contender, All-Star point guard Derrick Rose has quickly become the frontrunner for NBA M

Joakim Noah

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With D-Rose leading the way, this team has great potential to do big things this season, but in the meantime they will be concentrating on getting past the Orlando Magic and another NBA MVP candidate in center Dwight Howard.

Although many people have already written off the Orlando Magic as they seem to have gotten worse rather than better after the blockbuster trade around mid-season, D-Howard and company are coming off an impressive win over the Miami Heat on Thursday night. Not only were they able to pull off the slight upset over LeBron James and company, but they were able to overcome a 24-point deficit in order to get the win at home in Orlando.

This was impressive to say the least as it was 2nd-largest comeback in franchise history. This win may have been just what the Orlando Magic needed to get back on track and become a force to be reckoned with once again in the Eastern Conference.

At this point in time, I believe no one in the East will catch up to the Boston Celtics for the number one seed, but the Magic do have a chance to continue to make waves in the conference with a win over Derrick Rose and company on Friday night. If they can continue to stay hot and get wins over the high seeds in the East, the Magic will be able to gain ground.

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Despite this being a home game for the Orlando Magic, the Chicago Bulls are the better all around team coming into this matchup in my opinion. Derrick Rose will be serious matchup problem for the Magic in the backcourt and Dwight Howard might have some trouble against Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah in the paint.

This should be a hard fought battle from start to finish, but in the end I see the Chicago Bulls getting another win and making a final push for the second seed in the Eastern Conference ahead of the Miami Heat.

As of right now, the Orlando Magic are the favorites with a -2.5 point spread. The Chicago Bulls should get the win, so taking the Bulls at +2.5 is the best bet in my opinion.

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Could Mike Bibby be headed to the Miami Heat?

The Miami Heat made a huge splash in the NBA free-agent market this past summer signing three superstars all at the same time. Not only did Heat GM Pat Riley get his hands on arguably one of the best players in the league today in LeBron James, but he was also able to re-sign Dwyane Wade and get his hands on All-Star forward Chris Bosh.

If this was an amazing feat to say the least is no team in recent memory has been able to land free of legitimate superstars at the same time. The Boston Celtics with the one team that were able to get three big names on the roster a couple of years ago in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, but that was pale in comparison to what the Miami Heat were able to accomplish.

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Obviously, the Boston Celtics have an NBA title that the one back in 2009 to show for their efforts, but some people believe the Miami Heat could be in for multiple championships over the next 10 years as a result of what they have done.

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 25:  Mike Bibby #00  of t...

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Ironically enough, Miami Heat haven’t stopped looking for big names to add to their roster as they might sign one more this season in the form of point guard Mike Bibby. Recently Mike Bibby was playing for the Atlanta Hawks and do a pretty good job of it, but he ended up being traded to the Washington Wizards before the NBA trade deadline and now has reportedly been bought out by the team.

In the beginning, this looked like it could be the beginning of the end for Mike Bibby’s career in the NBA as landing with the Washington Wizards is about as bad as it gets these days. Fortunately, the team was willing to buy him out and one of the few teams interested in his services is the Miami Heat.

With Bibby in the backcourt, the Heat might get considerably better as they will add that veteran point guard that they have been looking for. Whether or not the Heat do sign Bibby remains to be seen, but they are definitely the frontrunner for the veteran point guard.

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Along with the Miami Heat, Mike Bibby might have a few other suitors that will be looking to add him to their roster. Most of the teams are just looking for the right veteran player to help them either make a push for the playoffs or be the final piece to the championship puzzle.

The Boston Celtics might also be in the running for Bibby’s services as they are in dire need of a veteran point guard as well after trading Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder recently. Bibby probably won’t get as much playing time with the Celtics as he would the Heat considering that Rajon Rondo might be their best all around player, but the chances of a championship this season are pretty high to say the least if he ends up in Boston.

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NBA Matchup: New York Knicks @ Orlando Magic

New York Knicks at Orlando Magic Tues. March 1, 2011 7 p.m. EST

There is no question that after the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 24 the Eastern Conference became considerably better than the Western Conference from top to bottom. Not only was the East already extremely tough with the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat leading the way, but they got even tougher after the Denver Nuggets traded Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks.

With this trade, the Nuggets will be a bottom feeder in the West once again and the Knicks will be a serious force to be reckoned with in the East. Some people may argue that New York gave up way too much to get Carmelo Anthony, but the fact that veteran point guard Chauncey “Mr. Big Shot” Billups was included might have made this trade a steal for the Knicks.

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So from here on out the New York Knicks might be without Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallanari, but so far there doesn’t seem to be affecting them all that much as Melo is quickly adapting to his new surroundings and Billups is hitting the big shots once again. The New York Knicks may have lost to the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers in their second game after the Carmelo Anthony trade, but they got a big win when they were able to beat the Miami Heat on their home floor this past Sunday.

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The one thing that was most memorable about the win over the Miami Heat recently was the fact that the New York Knicks actually showed some promise on the defensive end of the basketball floor. With Melo seemingly motivated and Amare Stoudemire excited about the potential of this team, the Knicks could be starting to finally turn things around as they look more and more like a very dangerous team in the Eastern Conference.

Even though the win over the Miami Heat was huge and showed to many people that the trade could end up being the one thing that turns around the New York Knicks franchise, Carmelo Anthony and company will have their work cut out for them once again as they go up against another elite team in the Eastern Conference in the Orlando Magic.

Despite Dwight Howard and company not being the team that many people thought they would be after their big blockbuster trade earlier in the season, they are still a force to be reckoned with and could at any moment flip the switch to get into playoff mode.

Whether or not the Orlando Magic have that ability to flip the switch like the Boston Celtics or the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers remains to be seen, but with how much talent is on the team they could be dangerous at any moment.

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Coming into this game, the New York Knicks will be the underdogs once again with a -7 point spread in favor of the home team in the Orlando Magic. Even though I believe the Magic will be tough to beat on Tuesday night in Orlando, the Knicks are starting to get hot with their new additions and will be looking to make a statement that the win over the Miami Heat was no fluke.

This should be a tight game from start to finish, but in the end it will come down to defense in which team is willing to step up on the defensive end of the floor.

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