It was a nice relaxing weekend. For a while, I thought my fever was going to hit quadruple digits and I was going to turn into the human torch, but I made it through with only a few mind-altering hallucinations. The most amazing thing that happened all weekend, trumping even Ron Artest’s new hairstyle or Steve Francis’s return from the grave, was that the sun came out and it was 50 degrees on Saturday. The winter has been so long, I forgot about how much I love the sun. You’re not supposed to think this way about Vegas, but one of my favorite parts of the trip was simply walking around in the sun with a t-shirt on during the day. And now that I’m babbling about the Sun, it’s a good time for an awkward transition. The Kobe return to the valley of the Suns was supposed to be the game of the day, possibly the year. It gets 4th billing of the D.A.Y. here.
CHICAGO 126 MILWAUKEE 121 OT
Ben Gordon and Michael Redd combined for 100 points, which is only the 8th time that’s happened in the past 30 years. They say that kind of showdown is as rare as a perfect game in baseball. Standing ovation for both of them. There are no losers when we are able to watch performances like that. Except for the Bucks and their 52 point man Michael Redd, cause they lost. Redd got off early and kept making it rain from three (I think “make it rain” is going to be the slang phrase that won’t go away in 2007. This year’s ballin’, if you will). The Bulls were down 18 in the fourth, but a blazing hot Ben Gordon took over. Redd had his chance to win the game in regulation but couldn’t hit, and the Bulls closed it out in OT. The final numbers for the two shooting stars were gigantic. Each one shot 18 of 32, Gordon hitting 6 of 12 threes and Redd hitting 8 of 13. 52 for Michael, 48 for Ben. Other players like Luol Deng and Ruben Patterson contributed to this game, but who cares. This is the day of Ben Gordon and Michael Redd. Quick trigger scorers, two of the most explosive players in a conference that is in desperate need of these kind of nights to keep it somewhat relevant.
BOSTON 124 MINNESOTA 117 2OT
Paul Pierce for president. Not only are the Celtics an NBA team with him back in action, but they’ve got a 4 game winning streak. Delonte West was the star with 31 and 10, Al Jefferson and Ryan Gomes combined for more rebounds than the entire T-Wolves team, but a lot of credit goes to Paul’s presence. As for Minny, how does a team grab a total of 27 boards in 58 minutes of basketball? Someone needs to show the T-Wolves that Red Auerbach defensive rebounding commercial. KG put up a 33-13-10 triple double and Ricky Davis scored 35. It was double OT, which is always exciting, and the Celtics got their revenge for the Ricky Davis buzzer beater and showboating that gave them their 18th straight loss, but there is a bigger issue at play with the T-Wolves. Forbes Magazine has declared Kevin McHale the best GM in all of sports. Hmmmm… this explains why the Dow Jones hit suicide levels last week. The people giving financial advice have an obvious mental deficiency. Maybe they really are taking this “bait the readers into hating you” style way too far. Kevin McHale, the best GM in all of sports. Wow. Is there an actual Forbes magazine reader out there that can explain this? I assume KG or his business manager peruse the magazine to find which gasoline they should use on their private jet. This can’t make them happy. What an amazing proclamation by Forbes. The sad thing is that people who don’t watch or care for basketball but read Forbes will see it and just take their word for it and could possibly spread the word to their friends and business contacts, and a world where Kevin McHale is the best GM in sports will continue to exist at cocktail party conversations. Nothing will ever top this . Nothing. Oh by the way Billy King is third on the list.
WASHINGTON 107 GOLDEN STATE 106
Gilbert overcame his demons and hit some meaningful free throws with 0.1 on the clock. The game winning assist came from Don Nelson, who picked up a technical that gave Gilbert the opportunity to win the game at the free throw line. This was after a fairly horrific call against the Warriors that would have put Gilbert on the line with a chance to tie, even though the foul happened after time expired. The refs reviewed it and thought otherwise, and during this time Nellie chose to lose the game for his team. Doesn’t he know that superstars are given every unfair advantage to win NBA games? The Wizards have their holy trinity of Gil, Caron, and Antawn back in place. Jason Richardson is getting healthy again, and threw together a line of 28, 10, and 8. He’s back just in time to play at a high level when it’s too little too late for his team. Just like last year. Gilbert led everyone with 32 points in what you could call a revenge game between the Warriors minor and major league teams.
PHOENIX 99 LA LAKERS 94
Lamar Odom is possibly out for the year now? The Lakers have survived many an injury this season, but this is the last straw. Honestly, Scottie Pippen could help them. That’s how real it is. Kobe kept drawing attention for open shooters like Brian Cook and Sasha Vujacic. He scored 31 on 28 shots, and really that was all he could do. This game was a mismatch beyond Kobe Bryant’s ability. If Nash wasn’t struggling with his shot in the first half, it wouldn’t have been close. Nash took over in crunch time though, hitting all the big shots, finding the right guy, doing Steve Nash things. By the way, he’s shooting 53% from the field and 48% from three. He never shoots unless he’s wide open, and that is exactly what you are supposed to do. Brian Cook had 22 and 14 for the Lakers, which looks great, but when you’re dependent on that kind of a game from Cook, it’s over for your team. Other than him and Kobe, nobody scored more than 8 points. The Lakers still have a little bit of breathing room in the standings over the Clippers, Denver, and New Orleans, but for how long? They’re Kobe Bryant and a D-League team right now.
PHILLY 99 NEW JERSEY 86
The Nets really don’t want to make the playoffs, do they? After the trade deadline, they knew this was the unit they would go with for the rest of the season and they seemed to rally around that. Vince announced that it was on him to carry the load on offense with all of their injuries. In this game, Vince shot 4 of 20, missing on his last 14 shots from the field and did not get to the free throw line. Jersey wasted Jason Kidd’s 85th career triple double. Meanwhile, the Sixers have matched Boston’s 4 game winning streak. If you look at active winning streaks, Dallas is at 15, the Spurs are at 8, and then the two headed monster of Philly and Boston are at 4.
UTAH 108 NEW ORLEANS 94
The Jazz took over and cruised in the second half for an easy win. Chris Paul had 14 and 13 for the Hornets, and Tyson Chandler had a huge 20 and 19 game, but the Jazz were never really threatened as Memo led the way with 28 and 9 and Boozer had 17 and 12. Chandler has been a monster lately, putting up his 12th straight double-double in this game. New Orleans is on the outside of the playoffs looking in, and I believe they will take the spot of one of the L.A. teams soon enough.
SEATTLE 96 CHARLOTTE 89
There is no way you care about this game. Ray scored 34, Rashard scored 28, the Sonics won.