By Holly MacKenzie
My game of the night between Golden State and Indiana did not go the way that I would have liked. I thought SJax would have a big night but it didn’t happen. It is funny how Indiana seems to play just as well without Jermaine O’neal though. Danny Granger played well as did Dunleavy and as a Golden State fan it was frustrating to see how they just let up in the second half to let the Pacers come back. They need to step up their killer instinct.
Chicago and Miami was…tough to watch and I am not even a Heat fan in the slightest. 11 in a row and this one must have felt like a big slap in the face. Tough times in Miami.
Sucked that Boston came out on top against Portland and I agree with Brandon Roy’s assessment that Portland got caught up in the hype and wanted to be competition for Boston rather than coming in believing that they could beat them.
Great win against Orlando for the Bobcats. Gerald Wallace is continuing to do his thing and Charlotte has become a team that is dangerous to play against because they’ve proven they can come back regardless of how many points they are trailing by.
New Orleans continues their strong play and I’m with Byron Scott on wishing Paul, West and Chandler could all go to the all-star game. I would really like to see West there and the thought of Tracy McGrady making it over Paul, Brandon Roy or various other guards makes me angry with the way things have gone.
It is ridiculous how good the Western Conference is this season, with the top 8 spots being decided by 4.5 games. While the Lakers are looking good in that number one spot right now, these next few weeks without Bynum are going to be scary where they could just as easily be staring up from the 9th or 10th place with only a few losses. Ugh.
Speaking of the Lakers, tonight is their match up against the Suns. Always interesting, especially so since the Lakers hold a half-game lead over Phoenix. I would be pumped for this game normally, but without the kid I am a little (or a lot), nervous.
Chicago 126 Miami 96
The Bulls handed Miami their 11th straight loss in a 30-point drubbing on Miami’s homecourt, spoiling the return of Shaquille O’Neal last night. While Miami’s offense wasn’t a problem as they shot 47% for the game, it was their defense that was non-existent, giving up 126 points as the Bulls shot 57% in the game. Even without starter Kirk Hinrich, the Bulls led by 11 after the first quarter. Thanks to 24 points and 10 rebounds from O’Neal in his first game back from a hip injury, the Heat came back and cut the lead to two points in the third quarter before Chicago went on a 10-2 run and rolled to the victory from there. Going into the fourth up 14 points, the Bulls outscored Miami 33-17 in the final period. Ben Gordon scored 24 points to lead the Bulls, Luol Deng had 21 points and 8 rebounds and Joe Smith added 23. Andres Nocioni had 20 and Thabo Sefolosha added 17. In addition to O’Neal’s 24 points, Dwyane Wade finished with 24 points as well while Jason Williams scored 17 and Udonis Haslem had 15 points to go along with 12 boards in the loss.
Indiana 125 Golden State 117
Playing in front of the Indiana crowd where he has had some shaky history, Stephen Jackson was unable to help the Warriors to their second win in as many nights as Golden State fell to the Pacers 125-117 last night. After Golden State led by as many as 17 in the second half the Pacers stunned them with an almost-perfect 46-point fourth quarter as they committed only 2 of their 22 turnovers in the period and went 17-17 from the free throw line while out-rebounding the Warriors by 20 on their way to stealing the victory. While Indiana was without Jermaine O’neal and Jamaal Tinsley, Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy led the charge as Kareem Rush had 14 points in the final quarter. After Golden State cut the lead to one with under a minute left in the game it was Rush who stepped up and hit a jumper to extend the lead to three and give the Pacers enough breathing room to hold on. Granger led Indiana with 29 points and 9 rebounds while Dunleavy scored 24 points to go with his own 9 boards. Rush finished with 19 and Troy Murphy added 16. Baron Davis scored 24 points and had 6 boards, 7 assists and 7 steals for Golden State, Al Harrington scored 22 and Jackson finished with 17 points, 8 assists and 4 steals as Matt Barnes added 18.
Boston 100 Portland 90
After dropping two straight the Celtics had to face the surging Trailblazers as they tried to snap their first losing streak of the season. It wasn’t an easy victory, but thanks to a season-high 35 points from Ray Allen, the Celtics pulled away in the second half of the game to take the 100-90 victory against Portland. Thanks to Allen scoring 12 of his 35 in the third quarter the Celtics took a five-point lead into the fourth. In the final period, Allen’s hot shooting continued as he dropped in another 14 points in the period. While Portland got as close as five in the fourth, they were unable to get any closer and Allen closed the game with four free throws in the final 30 seconds. Besides Allen’s big night Kevin Garnett had 26 and Paul Pierce added 12 points and 8 rebounds. Brandon Roy’s 22 points were tops for Portland while Jarrett Jack and Travis Outlaw each scored 17 points off of the bench. LaMarcus Aldridge added 16 points.
Toronto 116 Sacramento 91
The Raptors spoiled the return of Mike Bibby and Ron Artest last night as they dropped the Kings 116-91 in Toronto to bounce back from a loss to Detroit the night before. Thanks to a strong second quarter that saw Toronto go up 58-50 at the half the Raptors were starting to click on all cylinders and they continued to roll in the third quarter as they quickly turned the game into a rout, going up by as many as 29 points as they outscored Sacramento 32-20 in the period to go into the fourth up 90-70. The Raptors beat the Kings on the boards, out-rebounding them 42-29 in the contest. Chris Bosh had 31 points and 9 rebounds for the Raptors, Carlos Delfino had 26 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals off of the bench and Jose Calderon scored 17 points and 14 rebounds. Kevin Martin had 22 to lead the Kings while Bibby finished with 19 points in his return and Brad Miller added 16 points in the loss.
Charlotte 99 Orlando 93
The Bobcats have been steadily improving as of late and last night that growth continued as they knocked off the Magic 99-93 thanks to another strong performance from Gerald Wallace. The most impressive characteristic of these Bobcats has been their grit and determination to finish games out, and come back from big deficits in the process. Last night was no different as they overcame a 19-point deficit in the third quarter by outscoring the Magic 34-19 in the period to tie the game at 75 all going into the fourth, putting themselves in a position to win the game. After the Cats took a five-point lead with 31.2 seconds off of a three-pointer by Jason Richardson they finished out the game by hitting six foul shots to prevent the Magic from coming back to take the win. Wallace scored 36 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and dished 5 assists in the victory while Richardson had 26 points and Matt Carroll added 13. Dwight Howard scored 24 points and grabbed 21 rebounds for Orlando while Carlos Arroyo had 17, Hedo Turkoglu scored 16 and Rashard Lewis added 14.
New Orleans 123 Seattle 92
It was another easy win for the Hornets last night as they jumped on the Sonics early and routed them 123-92 and won their third straight. Thanks to big nights from the Hornets big three of Chris Paul, David West and Tyson Chandler, Seattle led by only one point early in the game as the Hornets shot 51% for the game while holding Seattle to 43% and out-rebounding them by 11. After leading by 12 at the end of the first quarter the Hornets never let up and the game was a blowout by the half with New Orleans up 65-46. The Hornets hit 12 three’s in the game and finished shooting 55% from beyond the arc. While Peja Stojakovic led with 23 points, David West had 19 points and 11 rebounds, Chandler had 14 points to go with 21 rebounds and Paul had 12 points and 11 assists. Jannero Pargo had 18 points off of the bench and Bobby Jackson added 13. Kevin Durant had 20 points to lead Seattle while Earl Watson had another strong performance in a losing cause with 17 points and 11 assists. Wally Szczerbiak added 14 from the bench and Kurt Thomas had 12.
Milwaukee 87 Atlanta 80
It was a close game in Milwaukee last night, but the Bucks were able to contain Atlanta and get the 87-80 victory even without point guard Mo Williams who missed the game with flu-like symptoms. While things were pretty much even throughout three quarters, the Hawks got themselves in trouble when they lost their shooting touch midway through the third. They had a scoring drought that lasted 12 minutes and spanned the third and fourth quarters and then once they finally broke that drought, the Bucks had stepped it up defensively and Atlanta finished with only two made field goals in the fourth quarter, shooting 2-17 from the floor. While Milwaukee went ahead, the Hawks managed to tie the game at 74 on free throws by Marvin Williams with just over four minutes remaining in the game but the Bucks responded by scoring seven straight. While Atlanta would get within three points they would not get any closer as Andrew Bogut and the Bucks were solid in the final minutes. Bogut finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots for the Bucks, Michael Redd had 17 points, Yi Jianlian scored 16 points to go with 9 rebounds and Royal Ivey had 9 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in the start for Mo Williams. Marvin Williams had 22 points for Atlanta, Josh Smith scored 19 and grabbed 9 boards and leading-scorer Joe Johnson was held to only 12 points in the game on 4-16 shooting.