By: Holly MacKenzie
Whew!! We had a great weekend of basketball and in particular, a great Friday night to recap. Of course the big story is that Orlando took down Boston, giving them their first loss and breaking the hearts of those Boston diehards who were crossing off the “W”s in hopes of going 82-0.
Going back to Friday however, there were some crazy numbers being put up in the busy night on the schedule. First I’ve got to talk about the Atlanta/Seattle game. Not only did Durant hit a buzzer-beating, game-winning three in 2OT, Damien Wilkins went off for a career-high 41 points. The coolest part is he got to do it in front of his uncle, the great Dominique Wilkins who was sitting courtside taking it all in.
Wilkins wasn’t the only one putting up 40 on Friday. LeBron did it as well, along with being only one assist shy of yet another triple double.Fun fact: He scored or assisted on 15 of the Cavs 19 second half baskets. Kevin Martin went off for a career-high 43 in the Kings victory against the head case New York Knicks in 2OT. David West had 40 points in the Hornets overtime win against Memphis and Jason Kidd did not score 40 but he grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds on his way to his 89th career triple-double as the Nets went down to Orlando big.
Orlando just looks good. A huge win over NJ and then taking down Boston. Of course they gave up that huge lead and almost let it slip away, but when Dwight is on, he is a monster to deal with. Friday he became the youngest person in the NBA to reach 3000 rebounds and the combo of Rashard and Howard continues to flourish for the Magic.
On a personal note, I am thrilled with the Lakers and most specifically the Lakers bench and the brand of team play the team has been showing. Who knows how long it can last, the win against Houston came without McGrady, etc, but they have quietly been improving consistently and I love what I am seeing. I know Chicago was without Luol Deng and also on the second night of a back to back, but I wonder how appealing they are looking right now to Mr. Bryant?
Seattle 126 Atlanta 123 2OT
After picking up their first win of the season two nights before in Miami, the Seattle Supersonics came out and put on a show in Atlanta. Taking advantage of the undermanned Hawks (without Josh Smith, Acie Law, Speedy Claxton and Anthony Johnson), Seattle won the battle and went away with a 126-123 win that came in double overtime. While Seattle went up by as many as 14 points in the 3rd, the Hawks stormed back and had a chance to win the game in the final seconds with Josh Childress at the foul line. Childress had been perfect from the line on the season leading up to those two free throws but, nerves set in and he made only one of the two shots, tying the game and forcing overtime. In the overtime, Atlanta continued to play catch up with Seattle, having only one lead, 116-114. The Hawks were haunted at the line a second time, this time in the first overtime period when rookie Al Horford bricked the first of two free throw attempts, making the second which put the Hawks up two, leaving room for Damien Wilkins to swoop in and tie the game, sending it into double OT. In the second overtime, things stayed close, with both teams tied at 123 as the clock ran down. Luckily for Seattle, rookie Kevin Durant made his first game-winning three, rising up and knocking down a buzzer-beater to give Seattle the victory. It was Damien Wilkins who put on a show, finishing with a career-high 41 points for Seattle, to go along with Durant’s 21 points. Nick Collison had 10 points and 14 rebounds and Earl Watson added 15 points and 9 assists. In the loss, Atlanta was led by Joe Johnson’s 39 points while Childress had 22 points and 10 boards, Marvin Williams added 18 and Horford snagged 14 rebounds.
New Orleans 120 Memphis 118 OT
The Hornets were looking for a victory against the Memphis Grizzlies. They got it, they just needed an extra period to get it. While they trailed by as many as 15 points early on, the resilient Hornets rallied back and tied the game then went ahead by as many as 5 in the final minutes. Despite the lead, the Grizzlies hit a three-pointer in response for every pair of made New Orleans free throws in the final 19 seconds to come back and force overtime with both teams tied at 114. In the overtime period it was Memphis who struck first, but the game was tied at 118 as both teams went scoreless for 2:20 stretch before David West capped off his career-night with the game winning jumper to give the Hornets the win. In the game West exploded for 40 points, Chris Paul added 28 points and 13 assists, while Tyson Chandler had 12 points and 17 huge rebounds. Peja Stojakovic had 17 points and Bobby Jackson added 14. Memphis was led by Juan Carlos Navarro with 28 points off of the bench while they got 20 points apiece from Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol.
Sacramento 123 New York 118 2OT
The Marbury drama has fizzled and so have the Knicks. While Steph is back the Knicks continued their downward spiral Friday night versus the Kings, coming up short in a 2OT defeat, 123-118. Kevin Martin led the way for Sacramento with a career-high 43 points to help the Kings save their victory after giving up a 10 point 4th quarter lead and almost giving up the win as well. In the first overtime, the King’s had a lead for most of the period and the Knicks played catch up, led by Jamal Crawford and his 24 points, most coming in the 4th and the two overtime periods. New York missed a shot at the end of the first overtime to win the game and in the second overtime the Kings took control, going on a 9-2 run to put an end to the extended game. The Kings sealed their victory by hitting 6 free throws in the final 12 seconds of the game while New York had their only field goal in the period with 2 seconds on the clock as the rest of their points came at the line. Besides Martin’s 43 points and 10 boards, Ron Artest had 28 points Brad Miller had 12 points and 11 rebounds and John Salmons had 16 points off of the bench for Sacramento. For New York, Eddy Curry had 27 points and 9 rebounds, while David Lee had 24 points and 16 boards and Nate Robinson added 17 points off of the bench.
Cleveland 99 Utah 94
Another huge night from LeBron, another victory for Cleveland. It sounds like a broken record, but the perscription is pretty simple. LeBron finished with 40 and the Cavs got to snap a five-game winning streak by the Jazz. The Cavaliers held a seven point lead in the final minutes of the game, thanks in large part to the 34 second half points scored by LeBron. Utah came back and trailed by only two 94-92 before LeBron took over on both ends of the court. With 12.8 seconds remaining, James had the biggest block of the game as he stripped Carlos Boozer, preventing the Jazz from tying and then on the opposite end Devin Brown hit 1 of 2 free throws for Cleveland extending their lead to 3. Memhet Okur missed the game-tying free throw and with 2 seconds left in the game, James was at the line where he hit both free thows, final score 99-94, Cleveland. LeBron’s final line was 40 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 blocks. Zydrunas Ilgauksas had 17 points and 12 rebounds, Sasha Pavlovic added 12 and Drew Gooden had 11 and 8 boards. For Utah, Boozer finished with 26 points and 11 boards while Andrei Kirilenko had 12 points and Memhet Okur and Deron Williams each scored 11 apiece.
Phoenix 115 Houston 105
The Suns got big performances from all of their starters and had each of them score at least 18 points as they defeated the undermanned Houston who was without Tracy McGrady on Saturday night. While Phoenix went up by as many as 18 they gave up most of that lead in the 4th quarter and Coach D’Antoni was forced to put his starters back into the game to protect their lead and ward off the late-surging Rockets. The Phoenix double-teaming of Yao Ming frazzled Houston’s star player and he finished with 12 points on only 4-17 field goals in the game. The Suns were on fire for the game, shooting 73.5% for the first half of the game and finishing the game going 62.3% from the floor as compared to only 39.3% for Houston and the only reason that Houston was able to stay within the game was Phoenix’s careless play and the 25 turnovers they committed. Amare Stoudemire had 21 points and 11 rebounds for Phoenix while Leandro Barbosa had 21 points, starting in place of Raja Bell (ankle). Steve Nash had 19 points and 15 assists while Grant Hill and Shawn Marion each scored 18 points for the Suns. Luis Scola was tops for Houston with 20 points off of the bench and Mike James had 17 points while Luther Head added 16.
Miami 91 New Jersey 87
Miami finally got Dwyane Wade back and game by game this team is looking a little more familiar. Saturday night they defeated New Jersey 91-87 for their second win of the season, led by Wade and his 23 points in his third game of the season. The game was close throughout, but in addition to Wade’s play, Miami got some surprising offense from Penny Hardaway at opportune times to keep them ahead in the game and come away with the win. In the 4th Miami was up by as many as 10 before New Jersey put the push on, led by rookie Sean Wlliams who had his first career start. The Nets closed the gap to two points but were unable to take the lead and after Richard Jefferson missed a game-tying lay up with five seconds on the clock, Wade hit a jumper as time expired to put the Heat up by four and give them the victory. In addition to Wade, Hardaway finished with 16, connecting on three three-pointers in the 4th quarter and going 6-6 from the floor for the game, Shaquille O’Neal had 18 points and the Heat won despite being out-rebounded by 10 for the game. For New Jeresey, Williams finished with 22 points, Jason Kidd had 16 points, 8 rebounds and 15 assists, Richard Jefferson had 18 and Antoine Wright added 14 points. The Nets had 26 turnovers as compared to only 14 for the Heat.
Orlando 104 Boston 102
Two nights after getting a scare in Miami and having to come up big in the 4th to maintain their perfect record, Boston’s perfect record is no more. Orlando proved they are one of the elite teams of the East so far in this season as they handed the Celtics their first loss of the season, 104-102. The win was an ugly one that was filled with a lot of grit and will, showcasing Orlando giving up a 20-point lead and a 19-point lead at the half to have to grind it out in the 4th and hang on for the win only after Paul Pierce missed a jumper at the buzzer. While it was a loss for Boston, it also showed how dangerous they can be as they stormed back from that 19-point halftime deficit and managed to take a 88-87 lead briefly in the 4th after outscoring the Magic by 10 in the 3rd quarter. The Celtic’s also dominated on the boards, out-rebounding Orlando 41-28 for the game. When things got close in the final period, Orlando took it to Boston and were rewarded by attempting 17 free throws in the quarter. Rashard Lewis was 6-8 from line in the final minutes of the game and despite Ray Allen knocking down a big three with seven seconds in the game to bring Boston within one, 103-102 Pierce missed the three-pointer at the buzzer and Orlando escaped with the win. Dwight Howard finished with 24 points, Rashard Lewis had 22 and Jameer Nelson added 18. For Boston, Pierce had 28 points while Kevin Garnett had 14 points and 11 boards and Ray Allen scored 19. Rajon Rondo chipped in 18 points of his own.
Lakers 106 Chicago 78
With Kobe Bryant still in a Lakers uniform he got to spend a lot of time on the Lakers bench watching his teammates beat up the Chicago Bulls last night. Without Luol Deng, the Bulls were helpless against the Lakers. While Chicago went up by 7 early and led by one at halftime, the Lakers went on an 18-0 run in the 3rd and 4th quarters to go up by 21 at the end of it. Those 18 points were all scored by reserves while the starters got to look on from the bench and watch as their bench outscored Chicago’s 73-31 for the game. In the second half the Lakers outscored the Bulls 61-32 and they out-rebounded them 51-38 for the game as well. The Bulls managed only 14 points in the 3rd quarter and in addition to giving up that 18-0 run between the 3rd and 4th quarters, the Lakers started the 3rd with a 15-2 run before really busting the game open. Kobe Bryant was the only Laker starter in double figures with 18 while there were five players off of the bench to hit double-digits. Andrew Bynum had 14 points and 10 boards, Jordan Farmar was a catalyst in the run, finishing with 14 points and 8 assists, Vladimir Radmanovic and Chris Mihm each scored 11 and Luke Walton added 10. For Chicago, Ben Gordon led the way with 20 points and Andres Nocioni scored 14.