What's On Tap Tonight
New Orleans Hornets at Miami Heat (TNT, 7 p.m. ET)
Sacramento Kings at Minnesota Timberwolves (TNT, 9:30 p.m.)
What to Watch
The character of Miami Heat guard Eddie Jones will be scrutinized tonight when the two teams play a series-deciding seventh game.
On Sunday, the Hornets very publicly questioned whether Jones possessed the guts and grit to excel in do-or-die situation. The Hornets' seldom used reserve, Steve Smith, pointed at Jones, and then tapped the area over his heart and then shook his head, during the waning moments of New Orleans's 89-83 victory over Miami.
Smith's message was clear, implying that Jones lacked courage.
Jones has played in 49 playoff games and has averaged 14.3 points and 2.5 assists over 10 seasons in the NBA. He is a former all star who scored 20.1 points a game for a season with the Hornets, when they still resided in Charlotte, during the 1999-2000 season.
Nonetheless, he has a reputation with some in the league for poor play in pressure situations, something that Jones denies. He has done little to dispel the reputation in the series with the Hornets.
After winning the first two games, the Heat lost Game 3 by a score of 77-71. Jones scored 5 points, missing all five of his three-point attempts. Over the first four games, he scored 49 points and shot 36.9 percent (17 of 46). He's made only 7 of his 27 three-point shots (25 percent).
Jones has begun to heat up recently, scoring 25 points in Game 5 and 23 points in Game 6. But numbers alone is not enough to change people's thinking. He has to seize control of an important game, make a big defensive stop or hit a big shot with the contest on the line to shed his image.
Jones might get his chance tonight.
In Minnesota, Kevin Garnett, the league's newly crowned Most Valuable Player, will have his hands full as the Kings will send Chris Webber, Brad Miller and Peja Stojakovic into the post to stop him. Look for Garnett to sweep past Webber, who is still slowed by a knee injury, and Miller, who is also banged up. Latrell Sprewell will try to interfere with Stojakovic's three-point shots and Sam Cassell will try to cool a streaking Mike Bibby.
Last Night's Big Winner (Team)
Detroit Pistons. They hold Nets to the second-lowest point total in playoff history and rout the two-time defending Eastern Conference champs, 78-56. The Pistons' inside game, anchored by Ben Wallace, out rebound New Jersey 48-29. Detroit shot 47.6 percent while holding Nets to a dismal 27.1 percent.
Last Night's Big Winner (Player)
Ben Wallace. Scores 13 points, snatches 11 rebounds, and blocks 3 shots. He also registers a game-high 4 steals.
Last Night's Big Loser (Team)
New Jersey Nets. Team sets franchise lows for shooting percentage and lowest points in a half (25).
Last Night's Big Loser (Player)
Richard Jefferson. He gets few chances to wow crowd with monster dunks in this one. He scores 8 points on 1-of-12 shooting.