Stack Attack's Blog

It's Tuesday and "The Stack" is here with plenty of playoff reaction from last night as well as a couple of other things so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Tuesday, May 22:

1. Magic bid farewell to Stan Van and GM

Poof.  Just like that the Orlando Magic have made two prominent members of their organization disappear.  After a season of much chaos and with Dwight Howard's status to resign with the team continuing to be up in the air, ownership decided to make some sweeping changes.  Gone are head coach Stan Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith.  Will this make Howard want to stay in Orlando any more than had Van Gundy stayed, who knows.  At this point, the Magic have to do everything in their power to keep the face of their franchise in Orlando.  Stan Van is a really good coach, but he handled the situation with Howard poorly at times this season.  The boiling point was when Van Gundy came out and said that someone in upper management said that Howard wanted him fired.  This of course put Howard into a spotlight he didn't want to step into.  Then Howard had a bad back and ended up needing surgery to repair a bulging disc, knockinig him out for the rest of the year and for the Olympics.

Smith leaving is a bit of a surprise, but given what he given that he couldn't pull off a trade to send Howard away for several prospects and draft picks, and not assembling a good enough team around Howard to win a championship.  Now with the future of the Magic not looking quite so bright, Smith is gone.  The Magic have a lot of work ahead of them, and number one on that list is getting Howard under contract.

2. Celtics take series lead over 76ers, Thunder finish off Lakers

The Boston Celtics had to sweat it out for a little over a half against the Philadelphia 76ers, but the Celtics had too much fire power as they steamrolled the 76ers 101-85 to take a 3-2 series lead.  Brandon Bass scored a career high 27 points in the win for the Celtics.  Assuming the Celtics win the series, they likely will have to face the Miami Heat and because the Celtics big three is a lot older than the Heat's big three, they'll need players like Bass to step up each and every night.  Philly has fought hard in this series.  They are a gritty team, but the Celtics just have too much firepower and should win this series.

A loud and energetic crowd helped propel the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 106-90 win over the Los Angeles Lakers to knock the Lakers out of the playoffs.  The arena was packed and there were at least six thousand people outside of the arena making noise while watching the game on a couple of big TVs.  The Thunder played really well, but the Lakers were right in it for two and a half quarters.  Pau Gasol came out with some tenacity in the early going.  He finished with a double-double.  Of course Kobe Bryant brought his lunch pail and did his best to keep the Lakers in it.  He finished with 42 points and five moster dunks.  But this game had several defining moments in it:

  • Metta World Peace's flagarent foul on Russell Westbrook with under a minute to go in the first half that sent the Thunder to the line for four free throws.  Both World Peace and Bryant got technical fouls.  The play certainly did not look to be a flagarent foul, but sometimes your past comes back to haunt you and that's what happened to World Peace here.  That helped give the Thunder a lead going into half.
  • Russell Westbrook's circus shot in the third quarter.  Being wrapped up by the Lakers Ramon Sessions, Westbrook threw the ball up off the glass and the shot fell.  Westbrook was pumped, yelling and screaming and celebrating the shot.  It was sensational and really seemed to be a turning point in the game.
  • Kevin Durant hit back-to-back threes early in the fourth.  With Bryant on the bench, the Thunder smelled blood and took advantage of it.

Let's stick with that point for a second.  Bryant was on the bench to start the four quarter for his usual break, but the Lakers season was on the line.  They were trailing by six.  Yet head coach Mike Brown kept Bryant on the bench until he called a timeout with the game getting out of hand.  I know you want to rest Bryant, but with one more loss sending you home for the season, why wouldn't you want your best player on the floor?  It is a decision that Brown will be criticized for and rightfully so.  The Thunder have such a good young team.  They're deep and they'll be tough for the San Antonio Spurs who by the way have not lost yet this season.  Then again, perhaps the Thunder will be difficult for the Spurs.  The Lakers have many questions facing them, too much to talk about today.  Perhaps another day.

Tuesday's NBA Playoff game:

Indiana Pacers @ Miami Heat 8:00 PM ET TNT (series tied 2-2) 

3. Devils even series with Rangers

The New Jersey Devils apparently feel that only the even games are worthy of scoring goals.  Bryce Salvador and Travis Zajac each scored in the first period, giving the Devils enough of a cushion in their 4-1 win over the New York Rangers to tie the series 2-2.  The Rangers were playing on their heels a lot as the Devils had six power plays compared to just one for the Rangers.  Martin Brodeur played very well in net for the Devils, stopping 28 of 29 shots.  This was not a good game by the Rangers.  They still should be able to beat the Devils, especially if the Devils choose to score every other game.  The Rangers are just better, but they have to go out and play consistent.  This series seems destined for seven games.

Tuesday's NHL Playoff game:

Los Angeles Kings @ Phoenix Coyotes 9:00 PM ET NBCSN (Kings lead series 3-1)

4. Houston Texans 2012-13 NFL schedule highlights

The Houston Texans finally broke through last year and made it to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.  They even won a playoff game...with their third string rookie quarterback.  Injuries crippled this team and yet they were able to give the Baltimore Ravens all they could handle in the divisional playoffs.  Andre Johnson, Mario Williams and Matt Schaub all suffered injuries during the season.  Williams is gone in Buffalo and linebacker DeMeco Ryans was traded to Philadelphia.  Will the Texans repeat?  They have a great chance.  Their full schedule can be found here.  Let's take a look at some of their upcoming season highlights:

  • The NFL is expecting big things from the Texans this year.  The league gave Houston four nationally televised games this year.  (Week 5 @ NY Jets 8:30 PM ET ESPN, Week 6 vs. Green Bay 8:20 PM ET NBC, Week 10 @ Chicago 8:20 PM ET NBC, Week 14 @ New England 8:30 PM ET ESPN).
  • The Texans have a stretch of three straight home games weeks 6-9 (bye week 8), but also have three straight road games weeks 12-14.
  • The Texans will be playing on Thanksgiving for the first time in franchise history week 12 @ Detroit, 12:30 PM ET CBS.
  • Mario Williams will come back home to face his former team week 9 when the Texans host the Buffalo Bills.
  • The NFL may have given the Texans a favor with their final three games.  Two of the three are against the Indianapolis Colts and the other is against the Minnesota Vikings.  Their combined record last year: 5-27.

Wednesday's team: Indianapolis Colts

Coming up Wednesday: NBA and NHL playoff reaction plus other top stories in sports

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