by Anton Kudriavtsev /@TheDiesel
Stuck in your preferred place of worship with nothing but a smartphone and a wish to be elsewhere? Read up on last night’s games and be well on your way to salvation.
Dwight Howard (22 points, 8 boards) and the Magic held on to their lead despite a late rally by the Bobcats. Part-time bodybuilder and under-achiever Rashard Lewis scored 22 points and Orlando acted like he used his length to save various distraught cats in trees. Stan Van Gundy: “”Rashard hit big shots for us tonight. It was nice to see him get out there and have a break out night for us. That’s what we needed tonight.” Yes, when you pay a man $118M, that’s the kind of thing that’s expected every night. Gerald Wallace is solidifying his All-Star status every game, with 25 points and 14 boards in this game to lead his team. Nonetheless, a 1-5 start is disappointing to a Playoff team and here’s hoping the ‘Cats turn it around in time for May. Stephen Jackson’s lay-up made it a one-point game but Charlotte missed a pair of threes for the knockout punch. Jason Williams contributed while shooting 50 percent from distance (1-of-2, but still…). Is it me or did Vince Carter have the weirdest looking injury in sports? That almost looked self-inflicted, VC.
Fuelled by a hot-shooting Mo Williams (28 points), the Cavs won back-to-back road games as they beat the Wizards. Mo scored 10 of his 28 in the last 4 minutes of the game and Daniel Gibson (19 points) wrapped up the win with a clutch 3 pointer. Now that he has more playing time, Gibs is out to show the world that he isn’t afraid to take clutch shots. Al Thorton had 23 points for the Wizards and John Wall struggled once again, finishing with 13 points, 10 assists, but also 6 turnovers. It was a close game down the stretch, a Kirk Hinrich 3-pointer gave the Wizards a 2-point lead before succumbing to a 10-0 run by the Cavs. Gilbert Arenas overcame his real and imaginary injuries to score 13 off the bench. If you want to point fingers, I’d say Flip taking out Thorton for Arenas was a mistake considering Al had some serious momentum in the game. The highlight of the night was definitely Wall sprinting down the court for a dunk, all in 2.1 seconds before the halftime buzzer. Antawn Jamison missed his third straight game with a sore knee, and unfortunately could not get either team to trade him during the course of the game. Note to David Stern: if the playoffs started today, the Cavs would play the Heat in the first round. Make it happen.
The much-anticipated Nets/Heat re-match had so much hype going into this game that the American Airlines Arena was nearly filled up to ¼ capacity. The Heataliers tried to make fans forget about their loss to the Hornets last night by providing highlight play after highlight play in an easy win over the Nets. Wade led his team in scoring again with 29 points and 10 boards, while LeBron (23 points, 9 assists) scored 14 of his 23 in the 3rd quarter. Terrance Williams decided to send LeBron’s talents to South Beach with a hard flagrant foul that sent James in the photographers and stands. Post-game, LeBron’s swag levels were checked to be above-average, as usual: “It didn’t send much of a message,” James said, “because we went on an 8-0 run after that.” Got to love Big Z being the first player to run over to LeBron, always has his back. Anthony Morrow led the Nets with 25 points but a victory is hard to come by when the Heat are locked in defensively and have a chip on their shoulder. Slightly relevant stat of the night: last night was Jerry Stackhouse’s 900th game. I present to you the coveted Tony Hawk award – congrats Stack!
Chris Paul is the best…okay, I’ll drop it. A night after running circles around the Heat, CP3/MVP led his Hornets with a franchise-best 6-0 start after a well-earned win over the Bucks. David West took his talents to 17 feet and shot 83%(10-of-12) en route to 25 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Andrew Bogut had 19 points and 14 boards but the Bucks couldn’t get anything going, shooting 38% on the night. You know you’re in for a long night when Drew Gooden has a better shooting percentage than your shooting guard.
The winless Rockets are now off to the worst franchise start(0-5) since 1999 after a tough overtime loss to the Spurs. In fact, I think even some Nets are laughing at their fortunes. Tony Parker took down his “For Sale” sign in front of his house just in time as he had 21 points and 14 assists, with 7 of those points in overtime. Aaron Brooks did not play the 2nd half after landing on Ginobili’s floppy foot and the Rockets could not recuperate. Manu led the Spurs with 28 points while Duncan was pre-programmed for 19 points and 11 rebounds. The Rockets had a few chances to win in regulation but Courtney Lee missed a pair of free throws and Ishmael Smith missed a runner with 2.8 seconds left. Ginobili had such a smooth step-back jumper to send it to overtime that I “ooh”-ed the entire commercial break. This is a tough situation in Houston, on one hand you’d like to keep Yao as healthy as possible over the course of the season. On the other, your team can’t find ways to win games without running the offense through him so far. Let’s hope the Rockets figure it out soon because they’re much, much better than this.
Despite being short-handed and having a Kate Moss-thin frontcourt, the Nuggets were able to get the win with Melo scoring 27 points. Denver shot 62% (13-of-21) from 3, out-duelling the Mavs’ shooters (4-of-15) as Dallas had 21 turnovers to seal their fate. The Dirkster was shut out of the 4th quarter as he turned it over 5 times, finishing with 23 halftime points. Jason Terry had 26 points for the Mavs but Denver’s bench stepped up, out-scoring Dallas 40-19 in the win.
Sigh. Don’t give up hope yet, Clippers. Soon enough Baron Davis will be traded and Bledsoe/Griffin will become the best 1-2 punch in the league. Leading early, the Clippers blew a 16-point halftime lead and took the Jazz to double overtime before having their hopes crushed yet again. Deron Williams had a season-sigh 30 points to go with 8 boards and 7 assists while Millsap and Jefferson had strong games with 25 points, 13 rebounds and 18 points and 10 boards, respectively. Rasul Butler tied the game at 107 with a three before Williams went coast-to-coast for the game-winning lay-up. Eric Gordon led the Clips with 27 points and Blake Griffin added 16 points and 17 rebounds. If he’s not in the dunk contest this year, heads will roll. Well, mostly eyes will roll considering how lame it was last year.
Seriously, basketball gods? Is it just me or is it too early for the Blazers to be short-handed? After several reports saying that Marcus Camby would not play due to migraines, I was ready to e-mail out an open casting call to anyone above 6’8” to play C for Portland. Marcus ended up playing as the Blazers comfortably beat the Raptors, led by Roy’s 26 points. Toronto were visibly tired from playing the Lakers last night, as evident by their 1-for-17 shooting from distance. Jarrett Jack has 16 for the Raps but the team looked about as active as Hedo Turkoglu after a late-night pizza binge. Batum is coming into his own as an elite defender and offensive player, with 20 points and 50% shooting and LaMarcus Aldridge is showing more consistency with 22 and 10, and showed off his left-handed jump hook which he worked all summer on. Marcus Camby on his migraines: “I just tried to get a lot of rest. Be in a dark room with an ice pack on my head. I didn’t want to leave LA on the court by himself tonight, so I gave the team what I had.” Pure class.
The Grizzlies used their length to force twenty turnovers on their way to a win over the Kings. Sacramento could not stop Rudy Gay (32 points, 9 boards) and their zone defense actually helped Memphis’ solid shooting and penetration. Tyreke Evans had 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists but his backcourt mate couldn’t offer enough firepower to keep the Grizz honest on close-outs. DeMarcus Cousins came off the bench for the first time and was ineffective as a reserve, finishing the night with 4 points, 3 rebounds, 4 turnovers and 5 fouls. I know it will be the steepest of hills to climb, but coming into this game, Mike Conley is the only other player besides Chris Paul to average at least 15 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. He finished the night with 14 points, 5 assists, and 3 boards. Oh, who am I kidding? We talkin ’bout Mike Conley, man!
“Check My $tats” of the night: Deron Williams – 30 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 1 game-winning lay-up.
Runner-up: Tyreke Evans – 30 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals.
By the way, if you’re ever wondering why Gregg Popovich has Manu Ginobili in the game during crunch time – wonder no more. Because he’s Manu Ginobili.
So does Amar’e deny stashing the Asbestos? Or was he holding it for someone else? By the way, does anyone know what will happen to the Magic/Knicks game that was cancelled this week? If I were the Commissioner, I’d put up 3 minutes on the game clock, give the Magic a 25-point lead and see what happens from there. That sounds realistic enough anyway.
Staged or not, this might be the greatest fan celebration of all time. Couldn’t help but think this was our very own Moose at the game.
Oh and one more thing – James the Balla is leaving Monday morning for his tour of duty. I’m not sure if he’ll have time to step by The Post Up tomorrow, but just in case I wish for your safe and swift return. Also, I heard if you wear a Gilbert Arenas jersey over the body armour you become invincible. Don’t take my word for it though, maybe you should Google it before you go.
I’m out like the Rockets’ playoff odds.