News and Notes for Saturday

Friday, March 31, 2006

Darn, only three games left in college basketball. We hit
our only hoop Wise Guy play last night on the ‘Cocks in a rout.  At this point it looks like at least one Wise
Guy side for tomorrow’s Final Four and a Major on the other.  We still have some research on the
totals.  But tonight we have three NBA
Major plays. 

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New Orleans Times Picayune

New Orleans is
after a 4-14 showing since the All-Star break outside the playoff teams. Yes,
the swooning, slapdash Hornets (33-37) remain in the hunt for the eighth and
final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Entering tonight’s game against
the Memphis Grizzlies (41-31) at Ford
, the Hornets are two games
out—with 12 to go. In the conference, six teams are established in playoff
position, while four others vie for the final two spots. The Los Angeles Lakers
(38-34) played the late game Thursday, but entered that day in the seventh spot
and two games ahead of the Sacramento Kings (36-36). They returned to Oklahoma
from a 1-3 road trip after stealing an 86-85
victory from Golden State
late Wednesday night, despite missing four key players in the final minutes.
Entering tonight’s game, forward Desmond Mason (knee) is doubtful, and center P.J. Brown (ankle), guard Speedy Claxton (toe) and forward
David West (ankle) are questionable.


Dallas Morning News

The Mavericks put up a good fight. But it’s clear now that
they can’t get it done in the NBA’s high-rent district without Josh Howard.
Their record since he went out with a strained left hamstring is 8-6. He came
back for 13 minutes in one game. But since that false
start nine games ago, they’re 5-4. Avery Johnson hasn’t lost three games in a
row in his coaching career, and he doesn’t want to change that now. The Orlando
Magic may be headed to the lottery. But at this point, with the Mavericks on a
downturn, nothing can be taken for granted. None of the Mavericks believe their
recent mediocrity is reason to fret.

Howard will be back, presumably
healthy and rested. Adrian Griffin isn’t far behind. Devin Harris is due back
next week, perhaps. Each absence cannot be overstated. Harris has missed 10
consecutive games and the Mavericks are 5-5. Harris, Griffin
and Howard are the Mavericks’ three best perimeter
defenders. Getting them all back soon ensures the future isn’t bleak.


Daily Camera

Despite being third in the Northwest Division, Minnesota
is dangerously close to being eliminated from playoff contention.  The T-wolves got their second win in a row on
Wednesday, beating Orlando
103-91.  Kevin Garnett scored 27 points
and grabbed 19 rebounds.  Minnesota
is 0-8 on the road this month and 8-27 for the season, including 0-1 in Denver.
With 10 games to go, Denver’s magic
number for clinching the Northwest Division is 61/2.  The Nuggets fell at home to second-place Utah
115-104 on Wednesday.


Washington Times

The Wizards had
put the finishing touches on preparations for tonight’s game against the
Houston Rockets, and the light mood was understandable considering what the
Wizards have endured on this six-game road trip, which has thus far produced
three wins in four games.     Most recently, the Wizards
beat the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night without the league’s fourth-leading
scorer, Gilbert Arenas, who had flu-like symptoms, and reserve center Brendan
Haywood (back).     It was a remarkable win, considering
the Wizards have relied on Arenas (fifth in the league in minutes a game)
perhaps as much as any team in the league has relied on one player. And the
Wizards hadn’t won in Sacramento since 1996. The Wizards (37-33) have won three
games in six days, a showing that belies their struggles on the road: It took
them four months just to win 10 road games before this Western Conference road
trip began.

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