By Sam Rubenstein

Scorsese. It’s about time. Martin and The Departed kept me in the running in a heated Oscar pool last night. I think I ate more junk food during the Oscars than I did during the Super Bowl. Unprecedented. We are 12 hours away from my live viewing of a performance by John Brown and Ghetto Revival. I’m caught up on The White Rapper show. $hamrock has no business being in this competition. Then again, the show really isn’t that good. It peaked after the first few episodes. I’m still excited for tonight. Hallelujah hollaback. Bask in the hate.
DETROIT 95 CHICAGO 93
Ben Wallace returned to the palace to face the team he left behind for more money. The Bulls built up a 16 point lead, but couldn’t hold on because the best free agent signing of the past year is… Chris Webber! Big Ben was supposed to take the Bulls to another level of devensive ferociousness, but it was Webber tipping in the game winner to cap off a 21 and 9 game. Big Ben had 8 boards in 40 minutes and after hearing the love from the fans pregame, he had to listen to the boos every time he touched the ball. Ben Gordon led the Bulls with 21, while Rip Hamilton had 22 for the Pistons.

HOUSTON 93 ORLANDO 87
T-Mac got to the line 18 times, found teammates for wide open threes, and scored 34 of his own, carrying the Rockets again. Dwight Howard put up 18 and 16 and Grant Hill had 21 in the loss, while it was a late jumper from Tracy that sealed the win. The Rockets hit 14 of 27 threes. Orlando spent some time earlier this season as the one seed with the best record in the East. Now on a four game losing streak, the Magic are out of the playoffs.

MIAMI 86 CLEVELAND 81
The Heat finally won a game without Wade, as Shaq now has to use his playoff energy reserve earlier than he would have liked. It was a defensive struggle as the score indicates, and that struggle followed both teams to the free throw line, where they were under 50%. LeBron’s 29 led the Cavs, but he didn’t have much help. Shaq put together a double double and so did Jason Kapono, the best three point shooter in the league this year, who celebrated his double double by going 1 of 7 from three.

NEW JERSEY 101 NEW YORK 92
Steph was hot in the first quarter scoring 13, and then there was a halftime break, and Vince Carter came back to the court and felt like winning the game by himself. 40, 9, and 8. Goodbye Knicks, drive safely cause it’s snowing. Jamal Crawford somehow had 10 assists with only 2 turnovers. Jason Kidd piled up 14 assists, and I guess the Nets are enjoying the game again now that the trade speculation is over.
MINNESOTA 98 WASHINGTON 94
Gilbert shot 4 of 22, including 1 of 11 from three. Mr. 50 shot 75% on his way to a 21 point game. Caron Butler didn’t play, and the Wizards shot themselves out of the game. KG led the TWolves with 26 and 17, Ricky Davis had 27, and Randy Foye added 13 and 8. The four point margin does not tell the story of the game.

PHOENIX 114 ATLANTA 106
Amare and Josh Smith blessed the fans with a mini dunk-off, which was entertaining, but at the end of the day Amare had a line of 43, 16, and 6. Nobody on the Hawks could match that, and as a team they picked up about 20 fouls trying to slow him down. Marvin Williams had 23 and 10 including a buzzer beater from behind the basket, and newly re-acquired Anthony Johnson made his latest Hawk debut with 17 and 5 off the bench, playing 34 minutes. Steve Nash had 14 and 13, while Joe Johnson led Atlanta with 28 points on 25 shots.

LA LAKERS 102 GOLDEN STATE 85
The Lakers are getting back on track, and just so happened to play teams like Boston and Golden State to get there. Kobe and Maurice Evans scored 26 each, and maybe the Lakers are like the Nets, relaxed because they know that nobody is being traded. Monta Ellis led the Warriors with 22, and let’s not talk about the Warriors right now. Let’s just say that on a day when many teams could not hit a three or free throw, they were the worst.

SACRAMENTO 110 INDIANA 93
Ron Ron, back in Indiana. Missed the game for “personal reasons.” Of course. Nice job NBA schedulers sending the two player most responsible for the Malice to go back and face their ex-teams from that time on their floor. Turns out the Kings didn’t need Ron with Kevin Martin earning 23 free throw attempts. The Pacers shot 26 free throws as a team. Sacramento trailed at the half, but Martin exploded (from the line) in the second half to turn it into an easy blowout win. Jermaine O’Neal, who if you pick up the latest issue of SLAM, has a new nickname, led the Pacers with 19 and 9. Martin scored 35 coming off a 2 point night against Jersey. Ron Artest’s NBA future is very cloudy. The timebomb is ticking again.