By Sam Rubenstein

For the second straight Thursday night, TNT aired 2 of the 3 games played in the league, and it was the third game that brought the drama, and was by far the best of the night. Instead of airing a Baron vs. Yao battle, they had Charles Barkley visiting the 9th Ward with the Hornets playing their second home game in New Orleans this season. That was the late game. The early game was Orlando at Charlotte. TNT, unlucky with their selections recently.

GOLDEN STATE 109 HOUSTON 107
Let me quickly mention every other player in this game. T-Mac missed another one so Luther Head stepped up with 26 points, Rafer had 19, 8, and 6, and for Golden State Monta Ellis had 17, L’il Dun had 14 and 8 including a suprisingly aggressive three point play to make the ending possible. Okay, now for the main event. Baron vs. Yao. Coming into this season, the consensus was that Yao is an improving player about to hit his prime, and Baron is injured too often to trust, and he shoots too many threes. They’ve both been MVP candidates so far. In this game, there was one play where Baron flashed the slick handle in traffic and finished off with a vintage Boom Dizzle dunk, and I am not one to call another man Boom Dizzle. Yao took 32 shots. BALL HOG!!! Just playing. The Rockets obilterated the Warriors on the glass, 53-33. They had 18 offensive boards compared the Warriors’ 6, and Yao had 7 of those 18 himself. Many of them let to putbacks after missed shots, hence the 32 attempt night. Yao for the game had 38 points and 18 boards. With Golden State down by one late, Baron got the ball, flew up court, got a screen from Adonal Foyle to get Yao’s hand out of his face, and cooly drained the game winning three. Houston responded by having Yao take a three that was 3 feet short. Strategic advantage: Nellie. Baron finished with 34 and 8. He’s having a really good season. He leads the NBA with 3 Player of the D.A.Y. awards. Heading into this afternoon…

SAN ANTONIO 103 NEW ORLEANS 77
An emotional atmosphere in New Orleans. The fans had their beloved Hornets back, here to lift the spirits of the region. Chris Paul came out to center court and got on the mic pregame. He thanked the fans, talked about trying to give them some entertainment and enjoyment in their lives, how they are working to restore the community to some semblance of normalcy, and then he started making excuses about how they were short-handed with Tyson Chandler out with the flu. Tim Duncan has no feelings cause he’s a robot. Gregg Popovich is a bad bad maaaaaan. No sympathy for you, Hornets. Duncan only played 20 minutes, scoring 11. They didn’t even need him, it was that easy. Big easy, you could say? Chris Paul had 12 assists, and I’ll leave it at that so as not to dwell on the negative.

CHARLOTTE 99 ORLANDO 89
The Sportscenter highlight made this game out to be the long-awaited JJ vs. Adam showdown. Have I mentioned that Sportscenter is the worst show on television? I’ve been forced against my will to watch Sex and the City recently, a show that I once understood to be the unholiest creation in recorded history. That show is a lot better than Sportscenter these days. JJ had the best night of his NBA career, this being his fourth game and the first time he played more than 20 minutes. 5 points, 1 of 2 from three. Adam came off the bench with 22. So there’s your forced “head to head” match-up of the two white guys who were the best two scorers in college last year. You know who else was dominant in college and is now becoming a good pro? Sean May. I went to the Nets-Bobcats game a few weeks ago, and it was Sean’s career night. He’s bested that game 3 or 4 times since then. In this game he went off for 32, getting to the line 17 times. Dwight Howard had 10 and 12, and the Magic are officially slipping. Keyon Dooling led them in scoring with 20. Cleveland and Detroit are now tied for the best record in the East, as the Magic have lost their stranglehold on the #1 seed. They really miss Jameer Nelson. Maybe they should trade him and Grant Hill for a guy that can help them out with scoring and leadership.