As a mostly successful ’05-’06 campaign comes to a close for the New Jersey Nets, the Newark Star Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro pays homage to Cliff Robinson… by saying he’s only the 3rd best choice for NBA Sixth Man Of The Year.

Mike Miller had to win it, because he™s a game-breaker on most nights; and Mo Williams was the Milwaukee barometer all season “ witness how the Bucks fell apart when he started breaking down. But Robinson gets the No. 3 slot, and we make no apologies for slipping in a guy who averages seven points and 3.3 boards “ he was just too damn valuable. Just remember what they had expected to have this year: Shareef was turned away in the 11th hour, and Tim Thomas slipped through their fingers.

After both were lost, you sensed that they™d never have enough length to bolster the second unit. But Robinson made that an afterthought: He™s defending better than ever, playing with more enthusiasm than we™ve ever seen from a 39-year-old guy since Jordan, and he literally saved them from crashing from a lack of depth.

Without Cliffy, they™re just a nice team with a size deficit. With him, they have a legit three-man power rotation again “ not to mention an extra 3-point threat, one of the best post defenders in the business, and a locker room sage.

On the matter of Memphis’ Mike Miller, the Boston Globe’s Peter May concurs with D’Alessandro.

Miller won the Rookie of the Year Award in a down year (2000-01) and he wins the Sixth Man five years later amid a similarly underwhelming group of candidates. There just wasn’t anyone this season who made an opposing coach break into hives when he came into the game. But Miller can be explosive (he went for 41 against Denver on St. Patrick’s Day) and does have that Instant Offense capability.

Seattle’s Rashard Lewis dodged a bullet Friday night. At least three of ’em.