Wondering why Denver — even with Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson in the same lineup — would suit the Suns just fine as a first-round playoff foe? Monday’s Nuggets-Pistons game in Detroit serves as the perfect Exhibit A.
The Nuggets needed the game badly. Chris Webber and Rip Hamilton sat out for the Pistons. But with a three-point lead and the ball with 1.3 seconds left, Denver showed the kind of basketball I.Q. that will have you home by May every time.
After moving the ball to midcourt with a timeout, all George Karl’s team had to do was throw the ball high toward its own basket and watch the clock run out. But Marcus Camby’s brain-dead pass wound up in the hands of Rasheed Wallace with just enough time to have a 60-foot prayer answered.
Denver lost to Chicago on a buzzer-beater during the same road trip. For all their talent, the Nuggets will keep opponents around with bad game management and decision-making. They will be dangerous in years to come, but are ripe to be a quick postseason knockout now.
Arizona State’s women had a great run in the NCAA tournament, getting as far as their talent and frenetic style could take them before falling to Rutgers in the Elite Eight.
Charli Turner Thorne has taken the Devils up the national ladder. Thanks to departing stars Aubree Johnson and Emily Westerberg, they are a factor in the conversation, and more recruiting doors will open. Now she needs that one superstar.
• After the Suns were slapped with back-to-back illegal defense violations Monday against Memphis, coach Mike D’Antoni called a timeout — presumably to tell whichever Phoenix player that was suddenly attempting to play defense to please cut it out.
• Kobe Bryant’s run of 50-point games has put him in the MVP conversation. But Bryant is doing this to keep his team in the playoff race, while Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash got their work done early and are the driving forces behind 60-win teams. They shouldn’t be penalized for that.
• The Knicks are 1-6 and fading right out of the playoff race since Isaiah Thomas was given a contract extension by James Dolan. And that is why everyone else in sports waits until after the job is done before handing out rewards.
• Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy is absolutely right when he says the current NBA draft lottery still rewards teams for losing. But his proposal that would give every team an equal chance at the No. 1 pick will never happen: Tanking is as much a part of basketball as flopping.
• Is it me, or did the Suns wander away from championship-level basketball about the time “Trophy Guy” showed up at US Airways Center with a tape measure?