To your left is a photograph of the Denver Nuggets' mascot, Rocky, hurtling through the air over a mass of frightened young people. There are six people visible in the photo, but I'm thinking in real life it was probably like sixty or seventy: Rocky's like that. I'm not entirely sure why the Nuggets' mascot is a mountain lion--last I checked, mountain lions have little to no interest in the gold market--but I suppose a salty old syphilis-ridden prospector wouldn't have quite the same cuteness quotient.
But my mind wanders. Last night the Celtics lost to the Nuggets in Denver by a score of 124-118. It was quite an exciting contest, replete with the return of Kevin Garnett, excruciatingly terrible officiating and little to no defense to speak of. The Celts were in this one until the end, and considering that a) KG only played 21 minutes, b) Denver was probably still sore over the blowout they suffered at the Garden back in November, and c) there was simply no way in hell the Celtics were going to run the table against the Western Conference this year, well, they should probably just shrug this one off.
Paul Pierce played yet another great game for the C's, finishing with 24 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists. Rajon Rondo came up big as well (22 points) and probably would have been bigger if he hadn't gotten in foul trouble. KG had 4 points, 8 rebounds and an uncharacteristic 4 turnovers in limited action: he looked rusty and at times awfully tentative, but it was still nice to see him out there. The Nuggets put together a well-balanced attack, with all five starters in double-figures and Carmelo Anthony leading the way with 29 (Iverson added 28 for good measure). The officiating, as mentioned before, was roundly execrable, although in the end the incompetence seemed to favor the Nuggets, who shot 49 free throws to Boston's 28.
Tonight the C's play the Warriors, who are 32-21 and would miss the playoffs if the season started today. In my last post I made casual reference to the stunning greatness of the Western Conference this season, but it bears more thorough celebration. This season we may well see a 50-win team forced to stay home from the NBA playoffs, and if that happens, it may end up being the straw that breaks the camel's back in the ongoing quest for playoff reform. As it stands now, the Eastern Conference would have three representatives with records under .500 invited to the postseason: the Warriors are over .600. This problem has existed for years now, and while we keep hoping it'll right itself, with top-flight organizations like Phoenix, Dallas, San Antonio and (gasp) the Lakers in West, there's little reason to think the balance of power is shifting anytime soon (by the looks of things, Portland will be in this conversation soon enough as well). I realize there are fears about television markets and start times, but for Christ's sake, inviting depressing mediocrities like the Nets and the Sixers to the postseason tournament while exciting teams like the Warriors and Blazers potentially stay home simply cannot be good for David Stern's league.
But hey, first things first. Warriors tonight at 10:30... bring your motherf@!king PJs.