By Holly MacKenzie

Since there were a ton of games on the schedule this weekend, I picked a few that I enjoyed watching/reading about to recap in full. Of course there are other great games that I didn’t get to cover, but if I recapped them all, this thing would be about 10,000 words! In short, I am pleasantly shocked with how well the Lakers have played without Lamar Odom thus far, I wanted the Hawks to get the W against Detroit so badly but I’m still proud of them for the way they have come out to start this season and I can’t believe some of these high-scoring games.

Now, to talk about Phoenix. At the Seattle game on Thursday, everything looked helter skelter on offense and like mass confusion on defense, but in the end the Suns stepped up and pulled it out when it mattered. Amare looked great, Nash got things to go at the end of the 4th and they got the W. The game against the Lakers was the 2nd of a back to back, but wow, they did not look good. I was really alarmed when I watched Amare in that game. He looked winded, struggled, and was not the superstar I had seen the night before. Last night came the news that he would be sitting out the game against Cleveland because of that bothersome knee. Lets all hope that a little time off is all my favorite big man needs to heal up before going out there and returning to the one-man wrecking crew we have all grown to love. It’s only early and I’m not worried about Phoenix at all, as long as Amare gets healthy.

My absolute favorite story of the weekend was that of Jose Juan Barea. I love this guy. I wrote the following paragraph during the preseason, but cut it out because my recaps had gotten way too long. After this weekends 25-point explosion on 9-11 field goals, I have got to give my boy Barea some love. It feels good.

The first time I saw Jose Juan Barea play it was the under 21 championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia four summers ago. Two of my friends were on the Canadian team and I wanted to see team USA and Charlie V so I ended up taking in all of the games. As I watched the other teams play (some good, some really bad), I fell in love with Barea and his triple double. He had an amazing tournament and I started cheering for him even though I didn’t have the slightest clue who he was. After the game he came up to where we were sitting and his family were in the seats directly in front of me. They were super nice and I felt justified in cheering for him. The next day a friend and I saw him and his teammate (can’t remember who), eating a pre-game meal at Subway. He was really cool, appreciative of the love and I wanted so badly for him to go on to the NBA. I wrote a scouting report on him for fun and I remember saying to everyone who would listen that one day, if given the chance he would surprise people. Eventually he made his way onto the Mavs roster. While he is not a superstar, doesn’t play many minutes and has a shot selection that sometimes makes me cringe, I will always have mad love for Barea. Seeing that he scored 9 and dished 9 tonight makes me happy. Just a random story about a random guy in the NBA, but if I could choose a bench player to interview, Barea would be my guy.

It is safe to say, I was thrilled when I saw the boxscores and highlights of the Mavs game. I am sure he will be back to the bench when Harris returns, but it was great to see him go out there and do his thing.

The Raptors had a great start to the season. The win against NJ was incredible, and even in the OT loss to the Celtics, it was an overtime loss that Boston barely came away with. I was really happy to see them come out strong to start the season. Indiana has impressed me, Miami is an interesting team to watch if only to see how the relationship between Smush and Riles turns out and it looks like Rashard Lewis is fitting in nicely down in Orlando. I’m hoping Gil’s knee gets right soon, it wasn’t nice seeing him limping off the court after Washington’s loss to the Magic. Crazy how the Nuggets have lost three point guards and we are not even officially one week into the season. Michael Wilks was the latest to go down after straining his hamstring in the Nugg’s loss to New Orleans. Iverson will be switching from SG back to point guard for the time being. Jason Kidd had his 50th career triple-double in NJ’s win over Philadelphia on Saturday, Kevin Durant is continuing to score as Seattle continues to lose and the Knicks came out and started off their season with a win. It’s a wild world in the NBA and I haven’t even gotten to mention half of what went down this weekend. What were the biggest surprises for you guys so far?

I’ve also got to say, watching the Lakers at the Suns was such a crazy experience for me. It is my all time favorite versus my new favorite. It is Kobe versus Amare. Two of my favorite players in the game. The favorite from junior high versus the favorite who went into the league as I was graduating high school. New school, versus old school. The basketball gods were smiling on me Friday night, airing my Lakers/Suns game on TV and what a sweet evening that was. What crazy ball movement from the….Lakers!? The back-to-back killed Phoenix and their defense was killing me. Also, D’Antoni getting at Phil, it is only game 2 of the season, but that got me hyped up.

Toronto 106 New Jersey 69

After being embarrassed in New Jersey during the playoffs last season, the Raptors came out in East Rutherford on Friday night and made a statement. They absolutely pummeled the Nets 106-69, setting a franchise record for most lopsided victory on the road. After going on a 17-2 run to start the 2nd quarter, the Raptors were up 38-23 and they did not look back. They extended their lead to 56-41 at the half and then went on another run, this time 18-2 to start the 3rd. The Nets were unable to stop the Raptors for the entire game and at the end of the half, Chris Bosh threw up a 55 footer that of course, swished straight through the net. Richard Jefferson was the only Net who could get anything going, but his 27 points did little to combat the Raptors shooting 50.6% from the floor for the game. In comparison, the Nets finished only 36.8% on their field goals. Toronto was led by Andrea Bargnani and his 21 points, Chris Bosh and his 15 points and Jose Caulderon with 10 points and 8 assists. The Raptors hit 13-22 from beyond the arc, with Bargnani going 4-6, while both Anthony Parker and Juan Dixon were 2-2 from downtown.

Boston 103 Washington 83

Kevin Garnett proved two things in his Boston debut; He will be providing entertainment for Celtics fans and he looks good in green. No one was happier than Paul Pierce to watch Garnett explode with a 20/20 game as the Celtics rolled to a 103-83 win over the Washington Wizards on Friday night. On a night where the Celtics were led by Paul Pierce and his 28 points and Ray Allen and his 17 in his first game as a Celtic, there was no doubt who the player of the game was. Garnett finished with a monster line of 22 points, 20 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocked shots and 3 steals. Just over 2 minutes into the 3rd, the Celtics were up by a score of 63-36 and continued to plow through the Wizards for the victory. Gilbert Arenas had 21 for Washington, but shot only 5-20 from the floor while Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood each had double-doubles with Jamison finishing with 10 and 10 and Haywood with a line of 10 and 12.

Atlanta Hawks 101 Dallas 94

The Atlanta Hawks went 7-1 in the preseason and had to listen to naysayers say things would go back to “normal” once regular season tipped off. This type of normal hasn’t occurred for the Hawks in the past 8 years. On opening night, the Hawks came away with the win against the Mavericks, 101-94 to start the season 1-0. From the get-go Atlanta jumped on to Mavs and jumped out to a 10 point lead after the 1st quarter. The Mavs fought back and went into the 4th leading by one, 69-68. It was in the fourth that the young Hawks would usually collapse but Saturday night, behind the play of Joe Johnson they hung in there and held on to get the W against the Mavs. It was Johnson who clinched the game, knocking down a jumper that made it 97-92 with only 11 seconds remaining in the game. After the final buzzer, Johnson had 28 points, as did Dirk Nowitzki for Dallas. Josh Smith had 18 points for the Hawks and Marvin Williams added 16. Rookie Al Horford had 9 points and 9 boards in the game for Atlanta. In addition to Nowitzki’s 28, guard Jason Terry had 20 points for Dallas and back up point guard Jose Juan Barea had 14. Dallas was without Josh Howard who was serving the 2nd game of a 2 game suspension. Atlanta was without Zaza Pachuila (knee) and Lorenzen Wright (foot).

Indiana 121 Memphis 111

The Indiana Pacers have started the season 3-0 after getting a big 121-111 victory over the Grizzlies on Saturday night. While Indiana lead from the opening tip, Memphis made many runs over the course of the game and closed the gap to 105-101 midway through the 4th quarter. The Pacers were led by Mike Dunleavy who finished with 27 and when Memphis started closing in on their lead, it was a basket by Dunleavy that started an 11-0 Pacers run to break open the lead. Memphis was sloppy from the start and gave up 36 points off of their 27 turnovers for the game. Danny Granger had 23 points for Indiana, Jermaine Oneal had 13 and Kareem Rush and Ike Diogu scored 12 points apiece. For Memphis, Kyle Lowry sored 19, Pau Gasol had 18 and 10 boards and Mike Miller finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists.

L.A. Lakers 119 Phoenix 98

After getting into Phoenix around 4am after their season opening win against Seattle the night before, the Suns looked as though they had set and did not rise in time for their meeting with the Lakers. After LA hopped out to a 13 point lead in the 1st quarter Phoenix was unable to recover and went down 17 in the 2nd, 29 in the 3rd and an incredulous 33 in the 4th. The Lakers were without Lamar Odom who is expected to be back as early as next week as he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery. This was a game that displayed many of Phoenix’s flaws on the defensive end, which led to LA getting inside time and time again. The Lakers shot 56.5% for the game and spread out the scoring evenly with Vladamir Radmanovic scoring 19 points and hitting 4-4 from beyond the arc. Kobe Bryant had 16 points and 11 boards, Andrew Bynum had a double-double as well with 14 points and 13 rebounds and Sasha Vujacic had 12 points off the bench for the Lakers. The Suns were led by Leandro Barbosa and his 23 points while Steve Nash had 19 points but only 3 assists to go along with 5 turnovers for the game as the Suns had little to no ball movement and looked very stagnant from the opening tip. Shawn Marion had 14 points and 10 boards in the loss and Amare Stoudemire had a dismal 2-10 effort, finishing with only 7 points and 1 rebound in a contest which saw the Lakers outrebound the Suns by 20, 54-34 for the game.

Dallas 123 Sacramento 102

In another high scoring game, the Dallas Mavericks had an unlikely hero as they broke the game wide open in the 2nd quarter to go on to defeat the Kings 123-102. After point guard Devin Harris sustained a thigh bruise in their season opener, the Mavs turned to reserve Jose Juan Barea to slide into the starting spot and he did more than serve as a stand-in. Barea went off for 25 points on 9-11 field goals, including knocking down all 4 of his three-point attempts. Josh Howard led his team with 27 points in his first game back since serving a 2 game suspension for a preseason altercation with Kings player Brad Miller. In the game Dallas was up 73-56 at the half. The Mavs were blistering hot from the floor and Sacramento just could not contain them as Dallas finished shooting a ridiculous 65.2% for the game. The Kings were without Mike Bibby who has a torn ligament in his thumb, and also Ron Artest who is in the middle of a four game suspension. In the loss Kevin Martin had 28 points for the Kings, John Salmons was right behind him with 27 and Francisco Garcia added 23 points on 8-10 shooting.

Utah 133 Golden State 110

The Utah Jazz hit the ground running in their game against Golden State on Saturday night. Putting up 133 points, the Jazz defeated the Warriors by 23 points for a final score of 133-110. In the game, the Jazz were up by as many as 23 in the third quarter but then did little on the defensive end as they watched Golden State cut that lead to 6 in the beginning minutes of the final quarter. When Deron Williams saw the scoreboard read 99-93 in favor of his Jazz he was not about to let the Warriors get any closer and he hit his next 7-8 shots to finish the game and scored 16 of his team high 30 in that 4th quarter to ensure the Warriors were handed the loss. Williams finished with 30 and 11 assists, shooting 13-17 from the floor. Mehmet Okur added 28 points and Carlos Boozer had a solid 12 points, 11 boards and 6 assists for the Jazz. Ronnie Brewer had the touch, scoring 19 points for Utah. On the losing side of things, Al Harrington poured in 38 points for the Warriors including 6-8 from downtown but it was not enough, once Williams took over in the 4th. Kelenna Azubuike had 17 and Baron Davis finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds for the Warriors who were just unable to complete the comeback.