By Sam Rubenstein

There were only two games last night, and they were both on national TV, so odds are you saw them. Excuse me, I was just given my first technical. I have to watch my language for the rest of this post or else… oh well, I was just given my second tech. I’ll be writing this one from wherever it is I have to go to write once I’ve been ejected.

LA CLIPPERS 96 DENVER 95

After just a horrible turnover bringing the ball upcourt that could have blown the game for the Clippers, Sam Cassell came back and hit two free throws to put them ahead for the win. Earl Boykins took the last shot for the Nuggets and it was short like… Earl Boykins. Carmelo, who hit game winners night after night last season, wasn’t available to take the last shot cause of some BS. I believe the Melo situation is going to receive some coverage in blogs and the mainstream media today. He threw a headband sort of in the vicinity of a ref for his second technical of the game. THAT is extreme. It completly overshadowed a competitive rematch of a playoff series, which came down to the last shot. For those that have been predicting Carmelo will come out guns blazing and lead the league in scoring, he was around long enough to score 15. The Nuggets dominated the glass with old Mr. Marcus Camby grabbing 18 on opening night and Kenyon Martin with 10 of his own. That is a healthy frontcourt. Sam I Am had a huge night on the big stage with 35-6-6. Elton Brand struggled, so everybody’s favorite player Tim Thomas had to step up, and he hit a big late three amongst his 5 of 11 from behind the arc.

SAN ANTONIO 97 DALLAS 91

Tim Duncan struggled for most of the night, but had the game winning shot on a putback off a miss from new center Francisco Elson, the guy taht called Kevin Garnett gay. This is pretty much what you’d expect from these teams in the regular season. Playoff atmosphere, some hatred, the Spurs making the key plays down the stretch, we’ve seen this before. Last year a lot of people made a big deal about how these games would be the showdown for all-important homecourt in the playoff series between them, but the Mavs won game 7 in San Antonio. Mark Cuban showed some class by delaying the Western Conference banner unveilng for a game so that they wouldn’t be rubbing it in the Spurs faces, giving them extra motivation. Most interesting fact of the game is that the Mavs unbeaten regular season streak when Josh Howard scores 20 was snapped. He’ll be scoring 20+ a lot more this year though. Dirk led Dallas with 21 and 11. My favorite moment of the game was when #44 on the Mavs made a semi-explosive move down the lane and I thought to myself wow, Keith Van Horn is like a new man. I thought he was on sabbatical? Turns out that it was Austin Croshere. They all look alike. Tony Parker led the Spurs with 19, getting to the free thro line 12 times. Let’s just put the Spurs down for 60 wins again.

REFS 1 PLAYERS 0

I get what the league is trying to do with the refs. The league (stern) hopes that once it is understood that the refs will be making RIDICULOUS tech calls, the players will learn not to say anything and the gane will flow more smoothly. The NFL tried a version of this with the pass interference penalty, calling DBs for any slight contact on a receiver, hoping that they would learn from the penalty and stop beating up their man at the line. It’s been succesful, sort of. The first year with the new rules, Peyton Manning broke Marino’s TD record, Daunte Culpepper threw for like 4,800 yards, and Donovan McNabb was lighting up the scoreboard without tossing his cookies every five minutes. The bad news is that one of those shady pass interference calls went against the Patriots when they were back to back champs and arguably led to them getting knocked out. I won a Super Bowl pool because a ref decided that it wasn’t defensive pass interference the one time when they should have made the call. See, it’s always better to let the players play. The refs ahould never have the power to decide who wins or loses. (Boy did they try in that Steelers-Colts game!) They should just be there to keep things legal. All that being said, there’s nothing worse than playing basketball or any sport with someone that bitches to the refs every single play. Middle ground, let’s find it.

And since I started talking about football in that paragraph, here is my football picks preview for this weekend. Get ready for some more of that.

BALLLLLIIIINNNNNNGGGGG!!!!!