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New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (L) is embraced by Miami Heat's LeBron James prior to their NBA basketball game in Miami, Florida February 27, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (HANS DERYK)
New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (L) is embraced by Miami Heat's LeBron James prior to their NBA basketball game in Miami, Florida February 27, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (HANS DERYK)

Seven in the morning

Winnipeg ready for its close up, tearful Heat, Cuban for tanking and more Add to ...

Van Gundy estimated McGrady at "probably 1,000 hours of practice," just one-tenth of Gladwell's rule, a figure that elicited laughter from the crowd. Noting that McGrady was as close to he's ever seen as a basketball natural, Van Gundy went on to say that T-Mac "should be a Hall of Fame player."

"His talent was otherworldly," Van Gundy said.

5. The CSA may owe Maple Leaf Sports a thank-you note:

In England to cover the Toronto Raptors games agains the New Jersey Nets over the weekend, the first regular season NBA tilts played in the UK, Dave Feschuk also visited with Junior Hoilett of Brampton, a 20-year-old with Blackburn who has now scored two EPL goals in his brief career. Hoilett is still non-commital about whether to play internationally for Canada, but maybe he'll be a little more inclined after getting some hometown press and just a bit more: Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo also invited four last-minute guests to Saturday night's game. Hoilett and his Brampton pals - not to mention Jamie Clarke, Hoilett's old friend from Blackburn's youth academy - made their way by taxi from the soccer match to the arena. They sat a few rows behind the Toronto bench, all of them watching their first NBA game in the flesh. And soon enough, Hoilett was being glad-handed by executives from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the Raptors and, among many things, Toronto FC. It never hurts to build a relationship.

6. Canucks head to California, rediscover their third line:

All it takes is two straight wins and the Charlie Sheen references start flying: You'd have to be at Charlie Sheen's house to find a threesome who had more fun in Los Angeles on the weekend than Manny Malhotra, Jannik Hansen and Raffi Torres.The Canucks' third line - invisible in January, indispensable now - produced a pair of goals by Malhotra in Sunday's 3-0 win that gave Vancouver its first sweep of Los Angeles in 2 ½ years.

Hansen scored in Saturday's 3-1 win up the interstate against the Los Angeles Kings.

It was a terrific 27 hours for the third line and their team. The Canucks were the best team in the National Hockey League before the weekend and they've got the best record now, so let's not pretend two good road wins in March translate to a defining moment.

But after nearly a month of win-one-lose-one hockey in which the Canucks' intensity lagged at times against opponents who were already in playoff mode, Vancouver looked like an elite team again in winning a pair of difficult, physical games.

"It doesn't make the season or playoffs, but people were starting to wonder where our playoff intensity was," rookie goalie Cory Schneider said after a 26-save shutout that was his first in NHL. "To play gritty games like this on the road is huge."

7. On the merits of tanking:

The Dallas Mavericks are one of the most successful franchises in sports, at least according to regular season measures: They are well on their way to their 11th straight 50-win season. But don't expect Mark Cuban to be trying to prop his team up to scrape into the playoffs with the 8th seed when the good times come to an end; this also from the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: Cuban confessed that once Dirk Nowitzki retires he expects the Mavericks to lose, and, if he gets his way, they'll lose badly ...There is no championship future for a middling team that is stuck in the embattled space between those who struggle to make the playoffs and those that struggle and miss. Cuban has no desire for the Mavericks to be such a team.











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