Fisher, Johnson and Brewer Represent Arkansas in NBA Playoffs

by Tre Baker  on Friday, Apr. 22, 2011 10:00 am  

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You won't have to look hard in the NBA this weekend to find a player who can call the Hogs or correctly pronounce the names of Cantrell and Rodney Parham Roads. Former Arkansas Razorbacks Joe Johnson and Ronnie Brewer Jr – playing for Atlanta and Chicago respectively – will attempt to get closer to the Eastern Conference Championship. Former UALR Trojan and five-time NBA champion Derek Fisher may have the most experience in postseason play of the three, but his and the L.A. Lakers quest for the West and beyond has been complicated by New Orleans. We'll start with Fish first.

Lake of Fire

Two-time defending champions aren't supposed to lose their first game of the postseason to No. 7 seeds. Someone neglected to tell this to the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday when they beat the Lakers 109-100. The Lakers were able to even the best-of-seven series on Wednesday with an ugly win that featured Fisher, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol combining for a whopping 28 points. Bryant routinely scores double that amount by himself.

Why are the Lakers stumbling so much against a team that could be described as the Montreal Expos of the NBA? Fisher talked with ESPN's Dan Patrick about that first loss against the Hornets:

"We really do rack our brains and get frustrated with each other, and get angry with each other for not putting the performance that we need to at certain times. But if it was easy to do what we’re trying to do right now, a lot more teams would have won multiple championships. But it’s not easy and it takes a lot out of you. We’re still up for the challenge, but it’s not going to be easy in any way.” (Audio)

The Lakers are at New Orleans tonight for Game 3. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 and will be shown on ESPN.

Strange Magic

Former Razorback Joe Johnson has recovered from a sprained thumb that kept him from playing as the regular season came to a close. The Atlanta Hawks also enjoy a split series so far against the Orlando Magic. Johnson put in 14 points in the Hawks' Game 2 win, but his and his team's performances so far may be overshadowed by the performance of the officials. Hawks forward Josh Smith hasn't been shy about complaining about bad calls, but adds that Atlanta's going to try to come through:

"Some were fouls that wasn’t called,” Smith said. “It is what it is. I think we handled the physicality well. I think we cranked up our defense, as well. We have just got to make sure we box out next time because we played pretty good defense in the half court.”

Atlanta plays host to Orlando tonight at 7 pm. Viewers can watch Johnson & Co. on ESPN2.

Horns of Plenty

The bad news for Ronnie Brewer is that he's still recovering from a sprained thumb, though he's made good on his vow to join his Chicago Bulls in the playoffs. He missed out on getting a Defensive Player of the Year award as the voters were swooned by Dwight Howard.

The good news? Chicago is one game away from proceeding to the next round of playoffs. Thursday night, Brewer was a pivotal player in the final seconds of Game 3 between Chicago and the Indiana Pacers. After Danny Granger missed a 3-point shot that would have put the Pacers in the lead, Brewer took the rebound, was fouled and promptly made both free throws to help seal the deal on an 88-84 win

Chicago will meet the Pacers for a fourth and possibly final time on Saturday afternoon at 1:30. Watch it on TNT.



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