by Holly MacKenzie / @stackmack
Twenty-six points. The Raptors set a new franchise record last night. They lost two consecutive home games by 26 points. The Thunder on Friday and then the Jazz last night. I always feel like blowout wins are the easier game stories, but last night, it was painful all around. With the Raptors trailing by 18 at the half and then losing by 26, the game was over before it began.
While the Jazz locker room was filled with happy faces and guys joking about the win and laughing when asked about the ridiculously drunk woman sitting baseline –seriously, she was a trip and she’s probably not feeling too hot today– the Raptors locker room was silent. As silent as a locker room filled with players, media and a birthday superstar can be. Last year the Raptors got the W on Chris Bosh’s birthday when they faced the Clippers, this year they were blown out, the team is fighting for playoff positioning and have been a disappointment for the past month.
The game story was easy, but I left the arena feeling a weight on my shoulders and I’m not the one with a playoff spot to lose. I don’t know how the Nets writers do it. It’s damn draining.
So, yes. Jazz won 113-87 and Deron Williams led the way with 18 points, 16 assists and eight rebounds. He was awesome. There are certain players that are mindblowingly good to watch live. Deron is one of them. Dwyane Wade’s another. Guys who just blow you away every time you get to watch them up close, see the decision-making, the cuts, moving without the ball, etc.
Saddest moment of the night was the young Raptors fan who stood up every chance he got with a “Happy Birthday Bosh” sign, while everyone else in his section remained sitting and miserable. Somehow seemed fitting.
In an Eastern Conference battle between Atlanta and Orlando, the Hawks came out on top, thanks to a dunk at the buzzer by Josh Smith who flew to the basket, crashing the offensive glass and slaming home a Joe Johnson miss to help Atlanta clinch a spot in the playoffs. Johnson finished with 17 points, six rebounds and eight assists as Al Horford put in 12 points and 11 rebounds. Dwight Howard had 19 points and 24 rebounds in the loss.
If we were wondering the influence Tyreke Evans has on the Kings, they lost to the Nets, 93-79 without him last night. Yikes. New Jersey picked up their eighth win of the season and Brook Lopez had a 26/13/4/4 line and Devin Harris added 24 points and nine assists.
In Boston, the Celtics pulled out the 113-99 victory over the Nuggets meaning Denver has lost two straight and will face Toronto on Friday. That should be lovely, right? Melo had 32 in the loss while Paul Pierce scored 27, Rondo finished with 11 points and 15 assists and Kevin Garnett added 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
LeBron watch: 38/6/9/1
The Cavs won their eighth straight game by taking down the Hornets, 105-92. Cleveland shot 57 percent from the floor compared to 44 percent for New Orleans. JJ Hickson added 20 points and nine rebounds while Marcus Thornton had 20 for the Hornets as Chris Paul played 31 minutes and continues to try and work his way back into playing shape after the score on his knee.
KD with 25 points, Jeff Green with 19 and rookie James Harden with 23 off of the bench as the Thunder race to a 122-104 win against the Rockets. Glad to see them get back on track after a couple of tough losses.
I think I’m all basketball’d out. Wow. Don’t say that often, but my head is spinning a little from reading all of these franchise records and 2009-2010 highs and lows for the Raptors. I think those were the most important pieces of the evening. I may be missing something crucial. If I am, help me help you by letting me know in the comments. Much appreciated.
Woah. Almost missed this: Stephen Jackson’s sore hand be damned, Jax scored 37 points in a Bobcats victory over the poor T-Wolves. Also Steph Curry had 30 points and 11 assists in the Warriors 128-110 victory over the Grizz.