by Anton Kudriavtsev/@TheDiesel
Road trip! This weekend, man this is very tough, this weekend I’m gonna take my talents to Portland and see the Miami Heat on Sunday night. To add to Lang’s recent links, you might be obsessed with the NBA if you drive 12 hours to see a single game.
The Spurs being the best team in the world (at least by record), kept their place atop the standings with a win over the Pacers. Manu Ginobili scored 25 points and led his team back from a 15-point deficit to snap San Antonio’s two-game losing streak and restore Popovich’s blood pressure to normal levels. Tyler Hansbrough (!) led the Pacers with an impressive 23 points and 12 boards.
The Blazers got some momentum going into their much-hyped (mostly by myself) game against Miami with a win over the Wolves. Wes Matthews scored a career-high 36 points while LaMarcus Aldridge added 28 points and 10 rebounds. Kevin Love had 30 points and 19 rebounds (do his stat lines look impressing anymore?) but his team committed 19 turnovers leading to 25 points as the Wolves have now lost 4 of their previous 5 games. How does that Matthews signing look now? The initial $34 million deal was seen as over-paying for a spark off the bench behind Brandon Roy but now is looking more like a solid move (even in unfortunate circumstances). Also, credit has to go to Aldridge for showing that Portland can run the offense through him without Roy which will now be an extended period of time. Lastly, outside the Rose Garden is a giant billboard with Roy, Aldridge, and Oden with the words “Rise With Us”. Any chance they can plaster Wes’ face over Roy’s and Camby‘s over Oden? Not sure if I’ve said this enough, but the Blazers play the Heat on Sunday night, and I’d like to think my presence will make a huge difference in the game.
With a loss to the Sixers, the Bulls have admitted the obvious: they miss Joakim Noah. Despite Derrick Rose scoring 27 points and dishing 9 assists and Boozer holding it down with 31 points and 12 rebounds, the Sixers got production from up and down Doug Collins’ dept chart as five players finished in double figures. I scored as much points as Chicago got from the center position (zero) which coincidentally ties my NBA career-high record. Jodie Meeks led Philly with 24 points while human double-figure scoring machine Lou Williams added 20 off the bench. The Sixers decided to try to win the game with a sizzling third quarter as Meeks and Holiday (19 points, 6 assists) shot 7 of 7 for 18 points in the quarter to turn a 4-point deficit into a 12-point lead. Chicago got within 5 in the 4th quarter but the Sixers held on and converted at the free-throw line for the win.
Rashard Lewis is back, baby! And just 3 or 4 years overdue! Lewis led the Wizards with 16 points and 13 rebounds in a blowout over the Nets. Has ‘Shard grabbed 13 boards during his entire Orlando tenure? Washington got out to a fast start and never looked back, starting with a 21-3 run in the first quarter. The Nets shot so poorly (34%) that any comparable highlight is not worth mentioning, as they await the possible drive-by trade for Carmelo.
More blowouts with surprising stat lines as Boston cruised over the Raptors. In a twist of fate, Luke Harangody (yes, that Luke!) put up career-highs with 17 points and 11 rebounds to help Pierce (20 pts) and company reach 3,000 wins for the Celtics franchise overall. DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 20 points in a tough loss, as the team shot well from the floor (40 of 79 shots) and got production from a variety of international one-trick ponies known as the Raptors. The key was being outrebounded 31-44 and outscored in the paint by Boston.
Another blowout?! Yes sir! Jason Richardson showed off his new “Don’t trade me, bro!” tattoo by leading the Magic with 18 points in a win over the Rockets. Orlando blew the game open in the 3rd quarter with a 19-5 run thanks to Richardson and Bass (18 pts) and overcame a 27-point night by Kevin Martin. With players starting to score up in the 40’s this season, who do you think will be the first to hit 50?
The Grizzlies made it three wins in a row with a victory over the Jazz, led by Rudy Gay’s 28 points. Surprisingly productive and always human random search target Zach Randolph added 26 points and 11 rebounds as Memphis extended their lead to as much as 14, forcing Utah into mistakes and turnovers and robbing them of any momentum late in the game. Deron Williams had 19 points and 6 assists but shot just 4 of 13 from the field. Utah being the comeback kings in the 4th quarter this season, shot themselves directly in the foot by committing 23 turnovers to lose their chance at a comeback. The Jazz haven’t lost two in a row since their 0-2 start to the season which can only mean one thing: Jerry Sloan is holding an early practice. By early, he means 4:14am at the latest.
Among the blowouts tonight, the basketball gods delivered a close game in the form of an overtime victory by the Heat over the Bucks. Chris Bosh (16 points, 12 rebounds) decided it was his time to have the ball in crunch time as he made key plays down the stretch, scoring 10 of his 16 points in the final quarter as well as overtime. After looking like a rout early, Bought (12 points, 27 rebounds) and company led their team back in the game as living mini-me Earl Boykins hit a layup to send it to overtime. Chris Douglas-Roberts (30 points off the bench) had himself a CDR game which made you rewind your VCR as you stare out the car and the bar. LeBron Lennon finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and a clutch block as Miami never trailed in overtime, grinding out a playoff-type win. Bogut did get some revenge, though. The Heat travel to Portland to face me and my boo’s on Sunday night.
Blowout numero 4 featured the Knicks hitting shots from Jersey in a rout over the Suns. New York hit 17 three-pointers (including scoring 38 points in the 3rd quarter alone) and Raymond Felton earned his first tripe-double with 23 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. Amar’e finally felt wanted as he scored 23 against his former team while all Nash (14 points, 9 assists) could do was watch and hope that Stoudemire has a flashback and finishes a pick and roll dunk for old time’s sake. Another notable is the possibility of re-entering a cold war as Timofey Mozgov elbowed Robin Lopez with just over 3 minutes to play, screaming out obscenities which roughly translate to: “You better have a warm coat, because da cold war is coming…vodka tears”. If the Knicks can somehow manage to stay hot for a few games in a series, they might be a threat (assuming their opponent doesn’t play defense).
The Cavs dropped their 9th straight overall in a loss to the Warriors. Monta Ellis continued his All-Star campaign by putting up 32 points and 10 assists while David Lee contributed 22 points and 14 rebounds. Antawn Jamison slightly raised his trade value by scoring 21 points but the Cavs are suffering a lot more injuries to go with their insults. Leon Powe will be out at least 6 weeks after surgery on a torn meniscus in his right knee which brings Cleveland’s inactive players list to 5 players. Powe’s story is touching in every way and he’s a great person as well as player, best wishes to his recovery.
The Lakers are keeping pace in the west with a win over the Hornets. Kobe “all bone” Bryant had 25 points and moved into 9th place on the all-time scoring list while Pau Gasol added 21 points and 13 rebounds. David West led New Orleans with 23 points and 12 rebounds but the Hornets had trouble scoring in the paint against the twin towers while LA limited Chris Paul to just 12 points and 10 assists. Of course the big story here is DJ Mdenga finally getting his championship ring from the Lakers. What do Lakers fans think about Kobe’s knee? Can he play though it long enough to be effective in the playoffs? I mean we sittin’ here, I supposed to be a franchise Laker, and we talkin’ bout practice, man.
“Check My $tats” of the night: Raymond Felton – 23 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds.
Enjoy wild card weekend, everyone. I got the Saints, Jets, Ravens, and Packers winning this week.
Talk to you guys from Portland.