by Holly MacKenzie

Well, well, well. What have we here? Another week beginning in the NBA and I’m almost fully recovered from the holiday hangover. Hope you all are doing the same, even if you are a step slow on this Monday morning.

I’m happy, and I’m sure you can all guess why. Thanks goes out to the Raptors (!), Wizards and Knicks for taking down the guys at the top and opening some space for my Lakers to claim the top spot.

Got a little nervous after that first quarter that saw them trail by six against the Blazers, but it was all good as they rolled to their 15th straight victory at home.

Yes, yes, yes, Lakeshow.

How sweet it is.

You know what else is sweet? At the last minute deciding to make some fantasy switches and going with Vlad-Rad and Marc Gasol and watching them each score 19. Oh yes, I was a happy girl.

Being able to witness the Raps stun Stan Van Gundy and the Magic only made the day better. It sure was a lovely Sunday in Toronto.

I’ve got game notes over on my Court Surfing blog going up around noon, be sure to check them out as Mickael Pietrus used his French on me and Patrick Ewing took my breath away.

I know this is not the place to talk Raptors, but I’ve got to say, it’s been fun watching them follow up a 21-point win against the Rockets with the victory against the Magic.

Will Soloman. My guy. Finally playing with some confidence and it’s so good to see.

Also: Ron Artest is one nice guy. Really. We’ve heard the same from other guys who’ve gotten to interview him one-on-one, and I got to experience the same this weekend. I’ll have that interview up on Court Surfing this week as well.

Thoughts on the LeBron traveling call yesterday afternoon?

Thoughts on Bargnani stringing together some solid performances?

Who else noticed the moment between Iverson and Curry postgame? That was a welcome sight with all they’ve been going through over there in Detroit.

Okay. Time to get to the recaps. Whoooooooo. Can you believe only a month and a bit until All-Star break? Unreal.

Toronto 108 Orlando 102

When news came out that the Raptors would be without both Jermaine O’Neal (knee) and Jose Calderon (strained hamstring), the media room groaned as we thought we were in for another painful Raptors loss. The Raptors ended up having the last laugh as they put together an impressive 48-minutes of basketball against the Orlando Magic, two days after a 21-point victory against the Houston Rockets. While Dwight Howard was Dwight, tying a career-high with 39 points, the starting five of the Raptors were huge in the absence of Jose and JO, with four starters finishing in double figures (led by Anthony Parker’s 26 points on 13-16 fgs), and back up point guard Roko Ukic providing a spark off of the bench with 12 points and 7 assists as the Raptors outscored Orlando 31-24 in the fourth quarter after trailing by one (78-77) at the end of three. This was a game that was won at the free throw line, with the Raptors connecting on 23-24 free throws, Howard was 11-18 from the line and postgame, Coach Van Gundy said that is not good enough. Chris Bosh finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds and Andrea Bargnani added 18 points on his way to another strong performance. Rashard Lewis kept the Magic close with 20 points, while shooting 6-13 from the three-point line and Jameer Nelson added 15.

The worst finally wins Washington 80 Cleveland 77

Without Gilbert Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson, it seems easy enough to believe the Cavs when they say there is no rivalry with the Washington. When the ball goes up and the game begins, it’s easy to see that this is just not true. Last night the Wizards fought and clawed their way to a victory over the Cavaliers and got just a little bit of help at the end of the game, with a traveling call on LeBron James, waving off his game-tying lay up with 2.3 seconds remaining in the game. After holding the Cavs to only 11 points in the third quarter (while scoring 21 of their own), the Wiz were on the verge of falling apart as the tables were turned in the fourth, with Cleveland outscoring Washington 23-11 and the Wizards needing that call from the refs. Antawn Jamison finished with 26 and 13 for the Wizards as Caron Butler added 19 points and Dominic McGuire had a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double. Bron finished with 30 and 10 as Mo Williams scored 13 points and Anderson Varejao had 10 points to go with 10 boards.

Detroit 88 LA Clippers 87

Who would have thought this would be the game of the day? With Detroit forgetting how to play basketball on Sundays and the Clippers without Baron Davis and Zach Randolph this one looked like it might be a battle of who could lose first, rather than who would bring it to win. Instead, it went down to the wire with a goal-tending call on an Iverson layup with 4.9 seconds left in the game to win it. With the Pistons shooting only 39% for the game and the Clippers coming in at 41%, the game was not a pretty one, but it was close, with neither team leading by more than 8 points throughout. For the Pistons, they were able to win on Sunday and stretch their winning streak to seven games. Iverson finished with 18 points and 10 assists while Rodney Stuckey scored 24 points and Tayshaun Prince added 20. Rookie Eric Gordon led LA with a career high 31 points, just missing on a layup to win the game at the buzzer. Marcus Camby had another 20-rebound game, adding 14 points as well and Mardy Collins had 12 dimes off of the bench.

Memphis 102 Dallas 82

A slow start did Dallas in for this game. With Memphis jumping out to a 10-point lead at the end of the first quarter, the Mavs whittled it down to five at the break, but were unable to stop the Grizzlies from blowing open the game in the second half, thanks in large part to OJ Mayo scoring 18 of his 21 in the final 24 minutes as Memphis finally defeated Dallas and put an end to a 13-game losing streak to the Mavs. Memphis outrebounded the Mavs 43-34 and were solid at the line, shooting 17-18 on their free throws. Besides Mayo’s 21, Rudy Gay had 18 points and Marc Gasol scored 19 for the Grizz with Hakim Warrick dropping in 18 off of the bench. Dirk led Dallas with 28 points while Jason Terry scored 18 off of the bench and Josh Howard was held to only 12 on the night.

LA Lakers 100 Portland 86

With the Magic, Celtics and Cavs losing earlier yesterday, the Lakers had a chance to take the top spot in the league if they could grab a win against the Brandon Roy-less Blazers. It was a little tougher than expected in the opening minutes as the Blazers jumped out to an early lead and led by six at the end of the first quarter. With the Lakers starting to get their offense rolling, they took a one-point lead at the half, 51-50 and used a strong third to blow the game open, overwhelming Portland by outscoring them 30-16 as they rolled to their 15th straight victory at home. Kobe finished with 26 points, Pau Gasol scored 19 and Vladamir Radmanovic added 16 off of the bench. LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland with 22 points and 11 rebounds while Nicolas Batum scored 17 and Rudy Fernandez added 14 in the loss.