"The Stack" is back today with a slightly shorter version though we do have plenty of NBA playoff action to talk about. What else is in "the stack" today? Let's find out for today, Wednesday, May 9:
1. Nuggets, Hawks, Bulls, force game sixes, Pacers close out series with Magic
What a game at the Staples Center last night where the Denver Nuggets got a couple of huge performances from bench players Andre Miller (24 points) and JaVale McGee (21 points) as the Nuggets stunned the Los Angeles Lakers 102-99 to force game six in Denver. The Lakers looked really bad for three and a half quarters. They looked as though they didn't care. It was not a championship performance. But then Kobe Bryant played like well Kobe Bryant catching on fire, knocking down three threes in a matter of minutes to get the Lakers back in the game. Kobe was by far the best player on the court for either team, scoring 43 points, including five for eleven from distance. He took over the game for the Lakers when it was clear that his teammates were not going to. The Lakers should be a little nervous though. Denver is very fast and they were able to get up and down the court last night. But it is very difficult to stop Kobe when he is locked in like he was last night. The Nuggets got lucky. They have a shot to win this series, not doubt about it, but I think Kobe will have something to say about that.
The Atlanta Hawks are still alive in the postseason following a narrow 87-86 victory over the Boston Celtics. The Celtics lead the series 3-2. The Celtics had a chance at the end after Rajon Rondo stole the inbounds pass with less than ten seconds and ran down the court, but could never shake the Hawks defense, eventually throwing a pass in Kevin Garnett's direction with almost no time remaining. This game was back and forth, back and forth, with the Hawks getting a lead and then the Celtics battling back much of the second half. The Hawks were able to outlast the Celtics this game, but unless they can put that kind of effort up in Boston, this series will be over in six games.
The Chicago Bulls are alive as well following their 77-69 victory of the Philadelphia 76ers. Like the Celtics, the 76ers lost game five on the road, but hold a 3-2 lead in the series. With Derrick Rose obviously out for the playoffs and Joakim Noah missing another game due to his injured ankle, the Bulls needed someone to step up and someone did. That someone was Loul Deng who scored 24 points to lead the Bulls. This was a pretty ugly game. There were some elbows thrown in the second quarter invloving Philadelphia's Elton Brand and Chicago's Taj Gibson and the game was just overall unpleasant on the eyes. Look for the 76ers to regain their composure and close out this series back in Philadelphia. Chicago just has too many injuries to deal with.
The Indiana Pacers are on to the second round following their 105-87 victory over the Orlando Magic. They outscored the Magic 36-16 in the fourth quarter to put them away. Really, without Dwight Howard, how many people expected the Magic to win? I would guess not many. The Pacers have a good team even if few people can name more than three players on their team. They probably don't have enough though to beat a team like the Miami Heat though in the second round.
2. New Jersey Devils move on to the eastern conference finals
The New Jersey Devils carried the momentum from their double overtime road win over the Florida Panthers into their series with the Philadelphia Flyers and never slowed down. The Devils finished off the Flyers last night with a 3-1 victory to advance to the NHL eastern conference finals where they will face the winner of the Washington Capitals/New York Rangers series. Despite scoring the first goal, the Flyers could not add to the lead or even hold on to the lead as the Devils scored two first period goals to grab a 2-1 lead at intermission. The score would remain that way into the third when Ilya Kovalchuk gave the Devils some breathing room with a power play goal, his fifth of the playoffs. Martin Brodeur was sensational once again, stopping 27 shots for the Devils. He's 40 years old and still playing at such a high level. The Flyers were missing Claude Giroux who was suspended for this game, but it wouldn't have mattered. They put so much energy and focus into beating the Pittsburgh Penguins that they didn't have anything left for this series, at least not nearly enough.
3. Josh Hamilton has one hell of a game
What a night on the diamond for Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton. The Rangers feared hitter belted out four homeruns and went a perfect five for five from the plate as the Rangers defeated the Baltimore Orioles 10-3. All of Hamilton's homeruns were two run shots. And Elvis Andrus was on base for all four homeruns. Here are some more facts about what Hamilton accomplished courtesy of ESPN:
- Hamilton's four home run night was the 16th in MLB history (first since Toronto's Carlos Delgado did it against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2003).
- Hamilton is the sixth AL player to accomplish the feat.
- Two of the sixteen players who hit four homeruns came before 1900.
Hamilton's performance was nothing short of amazing. He is an amazing player. We may not see another performance like that from Hamilton or anyone else in baseball for that matter for a long time.
4. Dallas Cowboys 2012-13 NFL schedule highlights
America's team is looking to make it back to the playoffs, but it's going to be tough with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants and the explosive Philadelphia Eagles. This is likely a make or break year for quarterback Tony Romo. The full Cowboys schedule can be found here. Now here are some interesting notes on the Cowboys upcoming schedule:
- Talk about tough. The Cowboys open up on the road and six of the first nine games. No games are against the Redskins though.
- If the Cowboys can make it through that awfully tough first half stretch, they should be in good shape. Five of the next six games are at home.
- The Cowboys open up the season at the defending Super Bowl champion Giants on NBC on Wednesday September 5th, the first Wednesday night game since the 1940s.
- The NFL obviously loves the Cowboys in primetime. The Cowboys have four nationally televised primetime games not including their Thanksgiving Day game against the Washington Redskins (Week 1 @ NY Giants 8:30 ET NBC, Week 4 vs. Chicago 8:30 ET ESPN, Week 9 @ Atlanta 8:20 PM ET NBC and Week 13 vs. Philadelphia 8:20 PM ET NBC).
- No NFL Network game on the schedule.
Thursday's team preview: Detroit Lions
5. Vikings stadium bill passes the Senate
The Minnesota Vikings and their stadium supporters scored another major victory early Tuesday morning as the Senate passed the stadium bill 38-28. The debate in the Senate lasted over eleven hours and over thirty ammendments were administered. This is a huge hurdle the stadium bill has cleared as now the bill goes before a joint committee of both the House and the Senate where it will be ratified before going for final approval in the House and the Senate. At this point, it would be terrible if it didn't pass. The Vikings and their fans are so close and have been through so much. But knowing Minnesota politics, anything can happen. Let's hope that the postive momentum can continue and the Vikings get that new stadium of theirs passed.
Coming up Thursday: NBA and NHL playoff reaction plus other top stories from Wednesday.
Comments and suggestions on what to write about are always welcomed and appreciated.