by Holly MacKenzie

Mr. O’Neal, I’m sorry I doubted you last season.

I apologize for thinking you were done and the Heat were lucky to have gotten rid of you. I will trust when you say that you are still a dominant force and as much as I love Dwight, you will be the original Superman.

How crazy has Shaq been this weekend? 45 points on 20-25 fg’s Friday night, then another 33 against the Lakers yesterday. Most importantly, the Suns won both of these games, against the Raptors and Lakers. Each without Steve Nash.

I can’t help but really, really pull for the Suns to take the eighth spot in the West. Especially after the game yesterday, I’d love a Lakers/Suns first round series.

LeBron James might be the most amazing player in this league in terms of size, speed and skill, but I think Josh Smith is the most amazing in terms of athleticism. He is just so ridiculous sometimes.

Who else would like to see a race between Barbosa, Harris, Parker and JJ Barea? Only me?

Secret time: I watched The Apprentice last night. Yup, I did. You can thank Matthew Cornelius from HP for that because he twittered about how amazing it was. Turns out.. da-da-da-da, DENNIS RODMAN was on the show. Definitely got suckered into watching that one. Dennis Rodman baking cupcakes was fun.

You know what else was fun? Watching Jason Terry return for the Mavs. Speaking of injuries, Luol Deng with a broken fibia. Yuck. Thoughts and well wishes are being sent his way.

Nellie sitting Stephen Jackson didn’t do my fantasy team any favors. The StackJaxx with Mr. Jackson sitting on the bench just didn’t feel right. I’m still sitting pretty in first place, though.

Speaking about Jax, he’s got 15 technicals on the season. I definitely didn’t realize this. It doesn’t really shock me because I do see him get a lot of calls, protesting fouls on himself and also on behalf of his teammates, but 15. Gah. Sheed picked up another tech yesterday in the Bosto game and then he tried to protest the tech call. Sometimes that guy just makes me shake my head. Love him though, even though he’s got to be beyod frustrating sometimes.

Without Jax, the Warriors fell to the Jazz, 112-104 as Deron Williams scored only 6 points, but dished 20 assists. Mehmet Okur scored 23 points and Ronnie Brewer added 21. The Warriors received 20 points apiece from Jamal Crawford and Anthony Randolph while Corey Maggette added 27 points off of the bench in a losing effort.

Also: The Kings bought out Drew Gooden. Hmm. Reports say the Spurs or the Cavs are front runners to get him. With Ben Wallace sidelined indefinitely, I could definitely see the Cavs bringing him in.

I didn’t get to see any of the Houston/Timberwolves game, but ever since the TWolves were here last week, I’ve been wanting to see them play. Randy Foye is such a fun player to watch and I like Ryan Gomes as well, particularly after hearing from Myles how cool he is offcourt as well. The Wolves have a fun, young group. I often think of Corey Brewer and wonder how he will be when he returns next season from that ACL surgery. The Rockets took down the Wolves 100-94. Aaron Brooks scored 22 points and dished 10 assists in the W, while Yao Ming had 17 points and 11 boards and Luis Scola added 15 points and 11 rebounds. In the loss Foye finished with 24 points while Craig Smith scored 20 and Ryan Gomes added 11.

Without Manu Ginobili the Spurs fell to Portland, 102-84. Scoring only 37 points in the first half, the Surs were done before half time as the Blazers led 64-37. Portland easily rolled to the victory from there and there was nothing Tony Parker or Tim Duncan could do to stop it. LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy each scored 26 points for the Blazers as Steve Blake added 15. Parker had 15 points on the night, Duncan scored 14 and Roger Mason added 13 in the loss.

Phoenix 118 LA Lakers 111

With Nash missing another game as a result of that sprained ankle, the Suns started Leandro Barbosa and one again relied on Shaquille O’Neal. One game after dropping 45 points against the Toronto Raptors, O’Neal finished with 33 points as the Suns ran out to an early lead against the Lakers, led by 10 at the half and then survived a third quarter scare from Kobe Bryant To open the third, the Lakers outscored Phoenix, 19-4, 17 of those points coming from Bryant. After seeing their lead disappear and the Lakers go ahead, the Suns sprang into action and the play of Barbosa, Barnes and O’Neal led the Suns on an 18-4 run of their own, to go into the fourth quarter with the lead still at 10. In the fourth, the Lakers kept it close, but were simply unable to close the gap. Barnes was fantastic for the Suns, finishing with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. Barbosa added 22 points and Grant Hill added 17. Bryant finished with 49 points to go with 11 rebounds and Pau Gasol scored 30 points in the loss.

Detroit 105 Boston 95

After a win against Orlando with Rip Hamilton in the starting lineup, the Pistons headed to Boston to face a still-KG-less Celtics team. Whether it was the lack of KG or the play of Rip (or, a combination of them both), the Pistons were able to come away with the 105-95 victory. While the two teams kept things close in the first quarter, Detroit was able to pull away in the second, taking an eight-point lead into the half, 55-47. In the second half, the Celtics came back in the fourth and led by as many as four, but Detroit quickly went on a 13-4 run to take control of the game and then Rip and Tayshaun Prince each hit a three in the final two minutes to protect the victory. Hamilton finished with 25 points and 9 assists, while Prince and Rasheed Wallace each scored 15 points apiece. The Celtics were led by Paul Pierce’s 26 points, Kendrick Perkins scored 12 points and Glen Davis scored 18 points in the loss.

New Orleas 99 New Jersey 96

The Hornets escaped with a close one on the road last night, taking down the Nets, 99-96. While the Nets trailed by 13 in the first half, they quickly came back and the game remained close until the final play, which ended with Devin Harris trying for another miracle shot, heaving a three-point attempt that wasn’t close. David West was solid for the Hornets, finising with 32 points to go with 11 rebounds, but it was Chris Paul who made the crucial plays in the final minute. With the Nets holding a one-point lead, CP3 stole the ball and scored to give his team the one-point lead. On the Nets next possession, he picked off a pass and got the ball to Rasual Butler who was fouled. After he made the free throws, Harris had to attempt the three and the game was New Orleans. Paul finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists and Butler added 22 points. Vince Carter and Devin Harris scored 26 points apiece with Harris adding 14 assists in the loss.

Indiana 100 Denver 94

The Pacers are learning how to win without their All-Star. With Danny Granger still missing time, they are getting contributions from different guys to make up for his absence. Two players in particular who has raised their game have been Jarrett Jack and Troy Murphy. Last night Jack finished with 28 points and 8 assists as he led the Pacers to a 100-94 victory over the Denver Nuggets. After taking down the Lakers Friday night, Denver simply ran out of gas late. While they led 75-68 at the start of the fourth, the Pacers, led by Troy Murphy, charged back and retook the lead. Down the stretch, Jack was solid for Indiana, knocking down a three and then icing the game with free throws. Murphy finished with 22 points and 18 rebounds. Marquis Daniels added 19 for Indiana. Carmelo Anthony scored 20 points but shot only 8-24 for the game. Chauncey Billups had 27 points and 7 assists and Nene ended up with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.

Cleveland 88 Atlanta 87

After hanging with the Cavs, trailing and then fighting back to take a lead in the final minutes of the fourth, the Hawks became victim to LeBron James. The Hawks came back from 13 down to lead by five with less than two minutes in the game, but then the Cavs came to life. First, Delonte West hit a jumper and the Mo Williams hit a three to tie the game and on the Cavs final possession it was all James as he waved off his teammates and took the ball to the hoop, drawing a foul on Al Horford with 1.6 seconds remaining. He hit one of two free throws and while Joe Johnson got a great look at the basket, he couldn’t hit at the buzzer and the Cavs were victorious. James finished with 26 points and 11 assists, Williams scored 20, Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 17 points and 11 boards and Delonte West scored 12. The Hawks were led by Johnson’s 21 points while Horford scored 10 points to go with 10 rebounds and Marvin Williams added 14 points and 10 boards as well.