|ESPN.com: NBA Playoffs 2003||[Print without images]|
On Friday night, Billups became the second player in these playoffs (along with Bonzi Wells) to score 40 points in a playoff game without a single 40-point game in the regular season. Billups then scored 37 points in Detroit's Game 7 clincher over Orlando on Sunday. Safe to say Darrell Armstrong's defense wasn't troubling Chauncey any more; Billups managed just 81 points in the first five games of the series, compared to 77 in the last two.
Texas or California, presumably
(Didn't list his hometown, but we liked the question)
STEIN: Timely query, Joseph, with two teams from Texas and two teams from California filling out the NBA's Final Four bracket -- this being the Final Four since we know whoever survives it is going to dominate the NBA Finals. Anyway, as for your All-Star concept, depends if you're including non-playoff teams. Assuming that we're only using playoff teams and excluding Houston, Golden State and the L.A. Clippers -- to keep the numbers even -- you'd have to go with California. Check out Cali's starting lineup: Kobe Bryant and Mike Bibby at guard, Chris Webber and Peja Stojakovic at forward, and Shaquille O'Neal at center. Which doesn't even account for all the Kings (Vlade Divac, Doug Christie, Bobby Jackson, Keon Clark, Jim Jackson, etc.) available off the bench. Team Texas couldn't match that depth, although a frontline of Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki ain't bad.
— Utah's typically understated John Stockton, responding to a reporter who asked him to clarify his stunningly swift disclosure that he had just told Jazz management that he was planning to retire.
Dallas got 17 rebounds from its guards Sunday: Michael Finley (eight), Steve Nash (six) and Nick Van Exel (three). In the Mavericks' other three wins in the Portland series, those three combined to average nine rebounds. The rebounds they grabbed Sunday enabled Dallas to match Portland on the boards (42-42) and point to a key in the forthcoming Sacramento series. With Kings just as fond of perimeter shots as the Mavericks, there should be considerable opportunities for long rebounds in the teams' second-round matchup. Bonus boards from Finley, Nash and Van Exel will be crucial.
Orlando's Tracy McGrady has the highest playoff scoring average among players who have never won a playoff series. At 0-4 lifetime in the postseason, matching Grant Hill's playoff record, McGrady's scoring average is 29.4 points. Minnesota's Kevin Garnett, at 0-7, is fourth with a scoring average of 21.1 points.
|“||It's a big step, but what have we really accomplished? We still haven't accomplished anything. We take it as a positive that we're still playing ... but one series doesn't really mean anything. It gets tougher. ”|
|— Nick Van Exel|
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, send Stein a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.