By: Holly MacKenzie
I woke up this morning excited. Overslept a little (damn cold), but was happy from the get go and Chris Paul is the reason for the smile on my face. I’m already looking forward to the Hornets game against Indiana tonight. INDIANA! What has CP3 done to me? It’s been awhile since one single player has made basketball this rewarding to watch. I love the game and I love watching Paul play, but he plays so effortlessly and so right, that I find myself looking forward to each Hornets game with crazy anticipation.
With two of the big match ups going into overtime and then Philly dropping the Celtics at home, it was a good evening for basketball fans last night. Almost made up for the wait in between NCAA games. I focused all of my attention on the Phoenix/Detroit game, Philly/Boston contest and of course Lakers/Warriors match up. Each of the games had me really focused and by the end of the Laker/Golden State game I felt drained, like after a Sunday of watching playoff basketball. This only means one thing, we are getting closer to the playoffs with each passing day.
Philly over Boston… Interesting. The Sixers are looking great. We’ve known this, but taking down Boston was impressive. Iggy was on it in the fourth and he simply wouldn’t be stopped. I’m looking forward to seeing which top seed will grab Philadelphia in the playoffs, because they have a good thing going as this season winds down.
Rasheed and Amare was fantastic to watch. Sheed is just too good when he wants to be. Of course, Amare got his (and continued to kill it at the free throw line), but Sheed came away with the victory. Also huge overtime from Billups, scoring nine of the Pistons 14 in the extra session. It was a great game for Detroit, winning without Rip and getting big performances from their rookies.
The Suns had their seven game winning streak stopped, but have definitely improved since their last game against Detroit where they were blown out by 30. Still, there is something not fitting with their game to me. Maybe it is just as Raja and Nash have said and they are continuing to work out the kinks and are in a “training camp” type phase right now, gearing up for the playoffs.
With Amare knocking down those free throws like he has been, he is going to be a terror to face in the playoffs. That I do know for sure.
The Lakers/Warriors game was a great one. Down to the wire with each team coming up big in the final moments. Record crowd of 20,713 on hand, cheering on their Warriors. Huge props to Lamar Odom for his second straight 20/20 game. 23 points, 21 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 blocked shots. Yes, keep it up LO. The game definitely had that playoff intensity to it, with the stars on both teams playing huge minutes. Baron and Jax played the entire game for the Warriors while LO did for the Lakers and Kobe sat only 65 seconds after he accidentally got popped in the face by Baron’s elbow.
Monta Ellis is really freaking good. The guy looks like he is having an off night, you look at the boxscore and he’s got 18 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists.
The best way to sum up why the Warriors are not a team I’d want to face in the first round: With 9.9 seconds left and the Warriors trailing by two, they give a close up of Jax who is rubbing his hands together and smiling furiously. He lives for this, lives for it. While doing some Jax-research yesterday I rediscovered this quote and thought I’d share it:
“I’m definitely a risk taker. Like I always say, when pressure comes I make love to it”
Yup, he and Baron make one dangerous duo that I happen to love. Baron’s behind the back move before the reverse layup was fantastic. It may have been my play of the night, but Rudy Gay’s big dunk was pretty great, too.
With the news of Dirk being out indefinitely, it looks like the Nuggets may have a chance to control their own destiny in their hopes of making the playoffs this season. After their victory against the Grizzlies last night (JR was just ridiculous in the fourth Q, dropping 25), they moved within a game of the Warriors and a game and a half of the Mavs. Denver faces Dallas on Thursday and Golden State on Saturday, both games in Denver.Those are going to be two must watch games because they will be battles.
Philadelphia 95 Boston 90
The Sixers have been rolling as of late and all eyes were on them as they rolled into Boston to try and take down the best team in the league. With the Celtics dropping their last game to the New Orleans Hornets, they were focused and ready to grab the home win against Philadelphia. Starting out strong and leading by five at the start of the fourth, the wheels began to fall off for the Celtics while the Sixers got down to business and put together a 19-point run, holding Boston scoreless for almost seven minutes of the final period. Trailing by five at the start of the fourth, the Sixers fell behind by as many as 11 points before the run. At the end of their surge, they were up by eight points with 1:38 remaining and it was too late for the Celtics to come back. Andre Iguodala had 14 of his game-high 28 points in the decisive fourth quarter for the Sixers. Andre Miller had 20 points and 6 assists, Thaddeus Young scored 16 points and Samuel Dalembert with 12 rebounds to go with 6 points. The Celtics were led by Kevin Garnett’s 18 points while Leon Powe had 16 points, Ray Allen scored 14 points and Paul Pierce added 12.
Detroit 110 Phoenix 105 OT
After blowing out the Suns on their homecourt, the Pistons were looking to do it again at home. With Richard Hamilton sitting the game out because of a sore hip and the Suns coming into the contest on a roll, having won their last seven straight, Detroit knew it wouldn’t be as easy this time around. While Detroit led by one after the first quarter, the two teams would be even in the second, and the Pistons held the 51-50 lead at the break. Things stayed close in the third, with Detroit holding on to a three-point advantage going into the fourth up, 76-73. In the final period the teams battled back and forth after Detroit took a seven point lead early on in the fourth quarter. With the game tied at 87, Shaquille O’Neal got the basket and the free throw to give Phoenix a three-point lead with 3:59 remaining. With the game tied again at 94, Rasheed Wallace hit a shot to put Detroit up by two with one minute remaining. Amare Stoudemire would knock down two free throws to tie the game up again and force the overtime as both teams failed to break the tie in regulation. In the extra session it was all Chauncey Billups as he scored nine of the Pistons 14 points in the period, matching the Suns overtime point total. While free throws by Steve Nash gave the Suns a one-point lead with one minute remaining, the Suns would not score again, missing their final four shots of the game as Detroit closed the game on a 6-0 run. The Pistons were led by Billups and his 32-point performance. Wallace added 23 points and 9 rebounds, Rodney Stuckey had 9 points off of the bench and Tayshaun Prince scored 11. Stoudemire had 33 points to lead Phoenix while Nash had 23 points and 9 assists. O’Neal had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Grant Hill added 15 points and 9 boards.
Houston 108 Sacramento 100
With the Rockets trying to get another winning streak going and their coach trying to pick up his 800th win, their game against the Kings was a big one last night. After Tracy McGrady suffered an ankle injury early and a shoulder injury late, the Rockets still managed to hang on for the 108-100 victory over the Kings. Rafer Alston’s 28 points played a large part in the win as he knocked down clutch free throws and hit a shot down the stretch to keep Houston in control as they held off Sacramento. In the close contest, it was clutch free throw shooting by the team that kept their lead in tact, as they shot 9-12 in the final minutes of the game. While Sacramento got within four points in the fourth, they were unable to stop the Rockets from scoring, even with McGrady on the bench tending to that shoulder. Houston out-rebounded the Kings by 10 (39-29) and attempted 42 free throws (connecting on 33 of them), as compared to only 16 attempts (and 11 makes), for Sacramento. In addition to Alston’s 28 points, Shane Battier scored 15 points, McGrady finished with 17 points and 6 assists and Luis Scola added 11 points. Ron Artest and Francisco Garcia each scored 17 points for the Kings while Kevin Martin had 18 points before fouling out in 31 minutes of play. John Salmons scored 15 off of the bench.
LA Lakers 123 Golden State 121 OT
Coming off of a victory in Los Angeles that was won in the final seconds, the Warriors looked to grab another game from the Lakers as they hosted them on their homecourt last night. While it took them an overtime period, the Lakers managed to return the favor to the Warriors and walk off of the floor victorious, dropping them 123-121. It was a come from behind victory for LA, as the Warriors, who led by eight after one, extended their advantage to 11 at the break, leading 63-52. In the third it was all LA, just as it was in the game on Sunday night, and the Lakers outscored Golden State 35-23 in the period, to take a one-point lead into the fourth. The final period was one of runs as the Lakers extended their lead to nine with 2:36 remaining in regulation but then were helpless as the Warriors closed the game out on a 10-1 run, capped off by two made free throws by Baron Davis with three seconds on the clock. A missed jumper by Derek Fisher and the game was going into overtime. In the extra period, the Warriors struck first and went ahead by four, 117-113 with 1:39 left. The Lakers responded with back to back three-pointers from Fisher and Sasha Vujacic to take the 119-117 lead with 43 seconds remaining. While Kelenna Azubuike tied the game on an offensive putback, Lamar Odom got to the basket for a layup and then Kobe Bryant iced the game at the foul line, putting the Lakers ahead 123-119 with three seconds remaining after a controversial offensive foul was called on Monta Ellis. Bryant finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists, but shot only 11-30 on the evening. Odom finished with 23 points, 21 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 blocked shots, playing all 53 minutes in the game. Vujacic scored 19 points off of the bench. Fisher had 18 and Ronny Turiaf scored 11 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Baron Davis led the Warriors with 30 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists while Stephen Jackson scored 29 points, Al Harrington had 19 points and 12 boards and Monta Ellis added 18 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists. Azubuike had 18 off of the bench in the loss.
Denver 120 Memphis 106
While it was the final game of a five-game road trip, the Nuggets were not happy when they found themselves trailing by six at the half against the Memphis Grizzlies. Still very much in the playoff hunt, Denver realizes how important each and every game is and they came out in the second half determined to get the victory. Outscoring Memphis 37-22 in the third quarter, the Nuggets took an 88-79 lead into the fourth quarter. In the final session, the Grizzlies were no match for Denver as JR Smith decided to take over. After shooting only 1-5 in the first half, Smith drilled seven three-pointers in the period on his way to dropping 25 points in the quarter, to finish with 27 on the night. As Smith continued to shoot, the Nuggets continued to extend their lead, going up by as many as 22 points while the Grizzlies watched helplessly and dropped to 18-52 on the season. Besides Smith’s 27 points, Allen Iverson scored 26 points and dished 7 assists. Carmelo Anthony had 23 points and 9 rebounds, Kenyon Martin scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Marcus Camby added 15 boards and 7 blocked shots on the evening. Rudy Gay led Memphis with 30 points while Hakim Warrick added 29. Mike Miller put in 19 points and 14 rebounds and Javaris Crittenton added 14 points off of the bench in the loss.
Seattle held on to drop Portland 97-84 last night as they held the Blazers to only 10 points in the third quarter while putting in 22 of their own. Kevin Durant scored 23 points and grabbed 9 rebounds for the Sonics while Damien Wilkins had 20 off of the bench, Nick Collison scored 13 points to go with 11 rebounds and Jeff Green added 16 points. Martell Webster had 22 for Portland while Travis Outlaw scored 13 and Brandon Roy was held to only 11 on 5-17 shooting. The Nets defeated the Knicks 106-91, thanks to strong first and third quarters. With the victory New Jersey is only one game out of the playoff race. Vince Carter had 27 points and 7 assists for the Nets while Richard Jefferson scored 26 points. Nenad Krstic scored 22 points and Josh Boone had 8 points to go with 11 rebounds. Jamal Crawford had 26 points and 8 assists for the Knicks , Zach Randolph had 17 points, David Lee added 12 points and 13 rebounds and Wilson Chandler added 13 points. The Miami Heat managed to defeat the Bucks 78-73 as they put together a third quarter where they outscored Milwaukee 22-13. Chris Quinn had 24 points for Miami while Earl Barron and Joel Anthony each added 11. Michael Redd had 24 points to lead the Bucks as Andrew Bogut scored 16 points to go with 17 rebounds and Mo Williams added 15 points in the loss.