By: Holly MacKenzie
Another day, another victory for New Orleans. I was excited to watch CP3 and while he was fantastic, so was David West. The two all-stars combined for 66 points, 19 rebounds, 15 assists, 6 steals and 2 blocked shots. Not bad. What are you saying now, Rafer?
Looking through some stats last night I noticed that Paul and Nash are tied for first place in the league for assists, each averaging 11.2 per game. The difference for Paul is that he is averaging only 2.5 turnovers per game as compared to Nash who gives the ball away 3.8 times a night. Paul is also averaging 21.7 points per game while shooting 49.7% from the floor. Deron Williams is right behind these two, with averages of 19.3 points per game and 10.4 assists per game. The point guard game is looking good.
The match up between Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan was fun to watch last night. With Howard dropping 24 points and 21 rebounds on the night, the Magic still lost the game as they lost Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu early on. Jameer was done on the night after messing up his jaw by crashing into Howard and his brick wall frame.
Ginobili continues to shine for the Spurs, coming up big in the fourth quarter.
Elton Brand is looking to return to action before the end of the season for the Clippers. While I can’t remember the last time I watched a full Clippers game it’s good to hear he is ready to return after that horrible Achilles injury.
Chris Webber is set to retire after attempting his comeback with the Warriors and has a press conference scheduled for today to make his announcement. I didn’t understand the signing when it happened, but it always sucks to hear that a player has to hang up his shoes forever. Thanks for the great Lakers/Kings rivalry, Chris.
Drew Gooden came up big for the Bulls last night in their win against Atlanta. 31 points and 16 rebounds for the guy with the monster beard. That was one loss and one ugly third quarter that may come back to haunt the Hawks.
After hearing Josh Howard get a lot of criticism for his play since the Kidd trade, it was great to see him break out of his slump and score 32 as he helped the Mavericks get the win over the Clippers last night. I hope the Mavs are enjoying that win while they can because tomorrow they have that huge match up against Denver and it doesn’t get any easier from there.
Tonight there are 12 games on the schedule and some good match ups on the go, so get ready. Phoenix and Boston should be a great game with Boston coming off of that loss against the Sixers. I’m hoping the Suns aren’t complaining about officiating the whole night. New Orleans and Cleveland gives us LeBron and Chris Paul, always a good thing. I’m also looking forward to the Philly/Chicago game because those Sixers are playing that inspired ball that is so fun to watch.
As good as these game should be, I’m just waiting on tomorrow and that Denver/Dallas contest. The fight to the end of the season for these two teams is going to be one to watch. Let’s see how valuable Kidd winds up being for the Mavericks as they try to stay in the playoff race without Dirk.
New Orleans 114 Indiana 106
With the way that David West has played in his last two games the Hornets should send a thank you note to Rafer Alston for the ridiculous comments he made regarding West last week. Since his return from an ankle injury he has been on a tear and has more than proven his all-star status on a nightly basis. Last night, the Hornets were in Indiana to meet with the Pacers and the combo of West and Chris Paul were out looking for a win. After a close first half that ended with the Hornets leading 59-56, they opened the third quarter by putting together a 13-2 run to extend their lead to 72-58. At the start of the fourth, the Pacers had cut the lead to seven and with Chris Paul starting the period on the bench they were able to get within four points. As Paul returned to the floor, the Hornets stopped the Pacers initially, going back up by nine, but Indiana quickly came back and cut the lead to two points midway through the quarter. After a timeout by New Orleans, they clamped down defensively and the Pacers went cold from the floor, connecting on only two field goals the rest of the way through giving New Orleans the space they needed to go on to the victory. West finished with 35 points and 16 rebounds for the Hornets and Paul scored 31 points to go with 14 assists and 3 steals. Peja Stojakovic had 16 points and Tyson Chandler added 15 points and 7 rebounds. The Pacers were led by Danny Granger’s 26 points to go with 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Mike Dunleavy and Shawne Williams each scored 17 points apiece in the loss.
San Antonio 107 Orlando 97
After the Magic lost starters Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson early on they were unable to stay with the Spurs, even with a 20/20 night from Dwight Howard. For the first two quarters they were able to keep up the pace and trailed only 58-56 at the break. In the second half, the Magic were able to take the lead and go ahead by as many as eight points before San Antonio got down to business. With the Spurs taking their methodical approach to trimming down the lead, they pressured the Magic and forced them to take the ball inside to beat them rather than allowing them to put up three-pointers. With Turkoglu and Nelson out Orlando had a tough time trying to get their offense running and as a result went scoreless for six minutes. The stretch ended with the Spurs going into the fourth up by seven, 80-73. While the Magic were able to get within two points, they suffered another scoring drought and with that the Spurs took advantage and went on to the victory. Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 28 points and 5 assists off of the bench. Michael Finley scored 24 points, Tim Duncan had 19 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks and Tony Parker added 11 points and 9 assists. Howard finished with 24 points and 21 rebounds before fouling out of the game while Rashard Lewis scored 24 points as well. Keyon Dooling had 19 points and Carlos Arroyo added 17.
Dallas 103 LA Clippers 90
In their first full game without Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks were able to get the 103-90 victory against the Clippers, thanks in large part to the play of Josh Howard. After struggling to find his place in the offense since the Mavs traded for Jason Kidd, he was able to carve out his place in the absence of Nowitzki and lead Dallas to the win. With the two teams trading leads throughout the first three quarters, the Clippers trailed by only two when Howard took over. Spanning the third and fourth quarters Howard went on a tear, scoring 20 of 26 Maverick points and at the end of his spurt his team was leading by 16 in the opening minutes of the fourth and the Clippers were unable to recover. Dallas out-rebounded LA 50-36 in the game. Howard finished with 32 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals while Erick Dampier had 19 points and 17 rebounds and Jerry Stackhouse scored 20 points. Corey Maggette led the Clippers with 21 points, Tim Thomas had 13 points and Cuttino Mobley added 11.
Utah 128 Charlotte 108
With the Bobcats finding ways to survive scoring droughts, missed free throws and being killed on the boards, the Utah Jazz watched as their 20-point lead got whittled down to three early in the fourth quarter before they sprang into action and took control. With the lead down to 101-98, midway through the period the Jazz started their push and finished the game on a 27-8 run, holding the Bobcats to only three made field goals over the final 6:15 in the game. Utah connected on five three-pointers in the run, with three of them coming from Kyle Korver. Charlotte managed to stay in the game despite being out-rebounded 49-28 and having 19 turnovers in the contest. Utah was led by Carlos Boozer who had 28 points and 13 rebounds in the game. Andrei Kirilenko and Ronnie Brewer scored 16 points apiece, Mehmet Okur had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Deron Williams scored 15 points to go with 14 rebounds. Matt Harpring had 18 points off of the bench. Jason Richardson had 26 points for the Bobcats, Gerald Wallace scored 21 points, Earl Boykins had 14 off of the bench and Raymond Felton scored 13 points to go with 6 assists in the loss.
Chicago 103 Atlanta 94
While Atlanta started out strong in their game against the Bulls and led 30-26 at the end of the first quarter an awful third quarter was too much for them to overcome and they dropped a 103-94 decision to the Bulls in Chicago last night. With the Hawks owning that last playoff spot in the East, the Bulls are on their heels and used a strong third quarter to take over the game as they outscored Atlanta 28-14 and built up a 12 point lead going into the fourth. The Hawks kept things interesting in the final period as they fought back and cut the lead to two points midway through the quarter, but they would not get any closer as the Bulls stepped up their defense, sparked by Luol Deng’s three blocked shots in the quarter. Drew Gooden was great for the Bulls, finishing with 31 points and 16 rebounds, while Kirk Hinrich scored 14 points and dished 10 assists. Ben Gordon had 16 points off of the bench, Deng finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks and Joakim Noah scored 13 points and grabbed 9 boards. The Hawks were led by Josh Childress and his 22 points off of the bench. Mike Bibby scored 18 points to go with 7 assists, Josh Smith scored 16 points, Joe Johnson had 15 points and Al Horford added 13 rebounds in the loss.
Portland 102 Washington 82
Facing a Portland team without LaMarcus Aldridge, the Wizards were unable to keep up and a slow start did them in as Portland rolled over them, 102-82 despite also losing Brandon Roy during the first quarter of the game. After the end of the opening period the Blazers led 31-22 and by the half they had pushed that lead to 59-43. While the Wizards would try to cut into the lead in the third they were unable and headed into the fourth still trailing by 16. They did not seriously threaten in the final quarter with the Blazer lead reaching as many as 24 before the final buzzer sounded. While Portland shot 49% for the game the Wizards connected on only 35% of their shots and were out-rebounded 55-36 by the Blazers. Martell Webster led Portland with 23 points, Travis Outlaw had 20, Jarrett Jack scored 17 points off of the bench Channing Frye had 10 points and Joel Przybilla added 17 rebounds. Caron Butler scored 19 points for the Wizards in the loss as Antonio Daniels had 14 points and Roger Mason scored 11. Antawn Jamison was held to only 9 points on 3-13 shooting.