By: Holly MacKenzie
So the news is out. At least 8 weeks until Laker fans will have Bynum back. This means 8 weeks of wondering how long Kobe will play team ball, 8 weeks of wondering if the Lakers can survive if he does and 8 weeks of trepidation at the thought of Chris Mihm being our saving grace. If things go the way I would like them too by the time Bynum is back there will be no doubt in the league as to who is the best player in the game because Kobe will have proven himself ten times over, even to the haters. He may not always make the right decisions or be the easiest to coach, but he is the best.
I had the opportunity to catch the Gonzaga/Pepperdine game last night and that meant I got to watch Vancouver’s Rob Sacre play for the first time since he made the jump to the NCAA. I’m pretty excited to see how his game developa and to see how his body develops as well because he is one big kid. Besides it being a 40-point advantage for the Zags, it was fun watching Sacre even in garbage time.
It was another great night in the NBA. Washington dropping Boston for the second straight game and it was in Boston this time. We talked about Caron Butler briefly last week but I’ve got to comment on his focus at the end of that game to get the Wizards the victory. He was at a different level of intensity than everyone on the floor, KG included and that is saying something. He wanted the ball, he wanted the win and he got them both.
Charlotte continues to grow and improve and they dropped Denver down a notch last night in a great game that saw Gerald Wallace score 40 points. He could not and would not be stopped in the game. Some shaky possessions from Denver to end the game and the Bobcats were awarded with the win.
Charlotte 119 Denver 116
After dropping their last two games in overtime, the Charlotte Bobcats didn’t want to settle for a great effort or a moral victory, they wanted another W in their win column. Behind a fantastic performance from Gerald Wallace and thanks to some costly mistakes committed by Denver in the final minutes of the game the Bobcats got their victory, outscoring the Nuggets 119-116 last night. In the high-scoring affair things were close in the first half as Denver led 68-67 at the break. The Nuggets led by three points at the start of the fourth and then were up by six, 108-102 midway through the fourth but Jason Richardson helped to fuel a 12-2 Charlotte run with back-to-back three-pointers to give the Bobcats the lead. In the final seconds of the game Carmelo Anthony was sent to the line to shoot two with the Nuggets down by two points. He made only one shot before coming up with the offensive rebound. Rather than being the hero, he was called for a travel and on the ensuing Bobcats possession, Matt Carroll hit two free throws with 4.6 seconds on the clock to extend the lead back to three. The Nuggets final possession was a bust as they did not get a shot off before the final buzzer sounded. Wallace finished with 40 points, Emeka Okafor had 19 points and 13 rebounds, Matt Carroll also scored 19 and Raymond Felton had 7 points and 15 assists. Anthony scored 35 points for Denver who got another 20-20 night from Marcus Camby with 20 points, 23 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. Allen Iverson scored 23 points while Kenyon Martin and JR Smith each added 12 in the loss.
Washington 88 Boston 83
A rematch of Saturday night’s game and the result was the same, another loss for Boston at the hands of the Wizards. While Boston wanted to avenge their loss on Saturday night, Washington stayed with them the entire game and the Celtics were unable to shake them despite going up by 14 points midway through the fourth quarter. Down 14 points, the Wizards reeled off a 19-4 run to take a one-point lead with 40 seconds left in the game. Paul Pierce hit two free throws to put Boston back up 83-82 but, Caron Butler went to work and scored on back-to-back baskets, getting fouled on the second and then hitting the free throw. After Kevin Garnett missed his second straight shot in the final seconds, Butler was sent to the line with 8 seconds on the clock and he hit both free throws to extend the Washington lead to 86-83. After a three-point miss by the Celtics, DeShawn Stevenson hit two free throws and the Wizards walked off of the court victorious as the Celtics lost two straight for the first time this season. Butler finished with 21 points, Antawn Jamison scored 20 and pulled down 10 rebounds, Stevenson added 16 and Brendan Haywood scored 14. Garnett scored 23 points in the loss while Pierce had 18 and Ray Allen scored 16.
Portland 99 New Jersey 73
Coming off of a loss in Toronto on Sunday the Trailblazers were ready to get back to their winning ways. In New Jersey they did more than get back on track as they routed the Nets 99-73 in one of their easiest wins of the season. After jumping out to a 25-12 lead at the end of the first quarter Portland rolled to their 18th win in their last 20 games as New Jersey never led in the contest and shot 4-19 from the floor in the opening period. With the big lead the Blazers were able to rest their starters and they got contributions from all around, with none of their starters logging more than 33 minutes. While the Nets were held to 34% shooting, they were unable to stop Portland who finished at 54% for the game. LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Blazers, Brandon Roy scored 16 and Jarett Jack had 15 off of the bench. Joel Przybilla had 9 points and a game-high 12 rebounds and Travis Outlaw added 13 points. Malik Allen led the Nets with 17 points off of the bench as Vince Carter and Jason Kidd scored 10 points apiece in the loss.
San Antonio 89 Philadelphia 82
It was an ugly game that the Spurs would like to forget. Had Manu Ginobili not found his shooting touch in the fourth quarter the Spurs might have came away on the losing end against Philadelphia rather than escaping with the 89-82 victory. After shooting 0-6 from the game Ginobili kept the faith and kept on shooting into the fourth quarter where he ended up knocking down four three-pointers in the final period to put San Antonio on top after they trailed 65-64 going into the fourth. While San Antonio led by six at the half, the 76er’s took control in the third as the Spurs managed only 12 points in the period on 3-22 shooting. Ginobili’s second pair of consecutive three’s extended the Spurs lead to nine with less than two minutes to play and the Spurs held on for the win. Ginobili finished with 20 points despite connecting on only 4 shots from the floor. Tim Duncan had 18 points, 16 rebounds and 6 assists as Michael Finley and Tony Parker added 14 points apiece. Willie Green had 21 to lead Philadelphia, Andre Iguodala scored 19 and Samuel Dalembert scored 12 points to go along with 20 rebounds.
Utah 98 Milwaukee 87
The Utah Jazz waited until the fourth quarter last night to really start playing defense. When they decided to pressure Milwaukee the game was over as they held the Bucks to only two field goals in the fourth quarter, outscoring them 27-15 in the period and putting on a defensive show by holding the Bucks scoreless over the first 7:25 seconds of the fourth. While the Bucks struggled, Deron Williams came up big for the Jazz in the final quarter, scoring 14 of his 33 points and knocking down 8 free throws in the period. Utah opened the fourth in the middle of a 10-0 run as they took advantage of the game and didn’t look back. While the two teams combined for 39 turnovers and were even at 35 rebounds apiece, Utah shot 25 more free throws than the Bucks connecting on 30 of their 43 attempts while Milwaukee made 14 of their 18 attempts. While Williams led Utah with his 33 points and 10 assists, Carlos Boozer had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Paul Millsap added 11 off of the bench. Andrew Bogut finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Bucks as Mo Williams scored 21, Michael Redd added 16 and Charlie Bell contributed 11.
Sacramento 122 Dallas 120
The Kings still might not have Mike Bibby or Ron Artest in their lineup but they do have Kevin Martin. Last night against the Mavericks, Martin coming off of the bench was just what the Kings needed as he dropped in 39 points to help the Kings squeak out the 122-120 victory. While Dallas went up by as many as 11 early, the Kings fought back and the fourth quarter was a good one as things went back and fourth with each team somehow answering the other. With 22 seconds on the clock Jason Terry got a three-point play to go to put the Mavs up 118-117. Martin answered with a three-point play of his own to put the Kings up by two with 11 seconds remaining. Terry came back and tied the game on a two-point basket with seven seconds on the clock and on their final possession of the game the Kings put the ball in John Salmons hands and he drove in and scored. Terry missed a three-pointer at the buzzer and the win was a joyous one for the Kings. In addition to Martin’s 39 point-effort, Salmons and Francisco Garcia scored 22 points apiece for the Kings as Brad Miller had 11 points to go with 9 rebounds and Beno Udrih added 12. Jason Terry and Devin Harris each scored 25 points for the Mavericks with Harris also adding 9 assists. Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points, Josh Howard and Brandon Bass each added 11 and Erick Dampier scored 8 points and grabbed 10 boards.
LA Lakers 123 Seattle 121 OT
In their first game without Andrew Bynum the Lakers got the victory. It took overtime, 44 shot attempts and 48 points from Kobe Bryant, but they were able to extend their winning streak to seven games. One game into the 8-weeks without Bynum and the Lakers can already see how much they will miss him. Playing against the Sonics who had dropped six straight going into the contest, the Lakers were pushed around inside as Nick Collison and Kurt Thomas outscored Kwame Brown and Ronny Turiaf 40-24. With the game tied at 115 in the final seconds of regulation, Kevin Durant missed a game-winning three with six seconds on the clock and Bryant was stripped by Earl Watson as the buzzer sounded and the game went into the extra session. In overtime, it was all Bryant as he willed the Lakers to the victory when it appeared the Sonics were in control. After Seattle went up by four points, Thomas missed two big free throws and Bryant hit back-to-back buckets to tie the game at 121. This time, with the clock winding down and 4.6 seconds left in the game, Bryant rose and nailed his final jumper of the game, putting LA up 123-121 and giving them their 17th win in their last 20 games. Bryant finished with 48 points, Ronny Turiaf added 14 and Kwame Brown scored 10 points and grabbed 10 boards. Jordan Farmar and Derek Fisher each added 12 points and Lamar Odom had 14 rebounds and 6 points. Nick Collison had 24 points and 18 rebounds for the Sonics, as they out-rebounded LA by 10. Durant finished with 19 points, Thomas added 16 points and 9 boards, Wally Szczerbiak had 18 and Luke Ridnour had 10 points and 11 assists in the loss.