by Holly MacKenzie

Yeah. So, about that Sam Mitchell thing. I pretty much knew that he was done when I saw the press conferences Tuesday night. After speaking to some people in Denver I really knew that it was only a matter of waiting for the announcement to be made, yet when the emails came trickling in to verify that it was official, I still felt ill inside.

I worked another night shift last night and this time I started work as the news about Sam came out. Let me tell you, working in a newsroom of a sports network when something like this goes down is absolute mayhem. It is also amazing and exhilarating and fantastic. I loved every second.

Yesterday was the day I learned and felt the sting of the business side of the NBA. While I don’t want to talk about Sam the coach, I do want to talk about Sam the person. At least, the man I got glimpses of over the past month of this NBA season. He was funny, witty and clever, but it was the stuff that only us writers covering the Raptors on a daily basis would see that I will miss most about Coach Mitchell.

Those rare days when he’d be in a talkative mood and you would end up going through the post shootaround question session and then end up in the hallway for 30 minutes as he held court, telling stories about his playing days. Stories that cannot ever be shared in print and stories that only Sam could tell. He was a brilliant storyteller and I’m happy I got to hear some of his greatest.

At one of our games recently, Sam was in an office off to the side of the media room, ironing his white dress shirt while media members heckled him for it. He took it all in stride, as always.

Most of all, his press conferences will be missed. Never knowing who was going to ask the question that was going to set Sam off. When it came, it was always fun to watch him handle it calmly, coolly, and then watch the poor media member stumble all over themselves trying to smooth the situation over. While I never had that moment myself, I can  promise that it will come when Sam gets his next gig and I can’t wait for it.

The point is, I will miss Sam as a person. We’ve seen him be classy about the situation and this does not surprise me. While I did not know him personally and didn’t really get to know him as well as I would have liked, I have tremendous respect for Sam Mitchell both on and off court and I wish him all of the best in the future although I already know he will be great.

As for Jay Triano, here is hoping he can take this challenge on and do well. I want the Raptors to turn their season around and I’d like to see Jay at the helm succeeding.

And on to the games from last night:

The Cavs throwback jerseys are disgustingly ugly. My fantasy team really loves Rondo tonight.

Boston got revenge over the Pacers for that loss a few weeks back and they had the line of the night from Rondo with his first career triple-double. Not just any puny trip-dub either, 16 points, 13 rebounds and 17 assists. Oh yeah, throw 3 steals in there too. We’ve all been Rondo’d, indeed. Besides Rondo, Ray Allen had 31 points and KG added 26 points and 13 assists. The Celtics are tough to beat on a regular night, when they’ve got Rondo dishing 17 assists and grabbing 13 rebounds, that is just stupid.

Kobe in Philly. Tillery was there. He’s got the goods for us soon. Thank goodness too, because I want to hear from my Lakers. Lakers righted the ship after that loss in Indy and won 114-102. Kob had 32 while Pau scored 22 and grabbed 13 rebounds. Dre Miller had 26 points to lead Philly in the loss.

While the Wizards dropped a 98-92 decision to the Blazers, the effort was there. Brandon Roy had 22 points for the Blazers while Gred Oden scored 13 points while grabbing 10 rebounds as LaMarcus Aldridge added 16. Antawn Jamison led Washington with 22 points while Caron Butler scored 16 points but it wasn’t enough as they could not stop the Blazers and cut their fourth quarter deficit.

While at work, I received an email from Russ that said:

“The Knicks are getting murdered. Quentin Richardson got ejected in the second quarter, and Tim Thomas hyperextended his elbow or something. He’s still plying, though. What a trooper.”

That pretty much sums up that game, by the looks of the box score. It looks as though it was over by the end of the first quarter, and definitely was over at the half with Cleveland leading 61-35. With Bron playing 28 minutes and finishing with 21 points While Ilgauskas scored 14 points to go with 10 rebounds and Mo Williams scored 16, the Cavs continued to roll. Al Harrington had 20 for the Knicks while David Lee had 16 points and 16 rebounds in the loss.

Thanks to 21 points and 10 rebounds from Charlie V, the Bucks took down the Bulls 97-90 last night. While Derrick Rose had 18 points and 9 assists and Luol Deng scored 21, it wasn’t enough for the Bulls who gave up a 35-point second quarter while scoring 22 points of their own in the period.  Luke Ridnour had 12 points and 10 assists for the Bucks as the team had 27 assists on the night.

Houston got another win without Tracy McGrady as they faced the Clippers last night, dropping them to 3-15 on the season. Although Houston jumped out to a double-digit lead after the first quarter, the Clippers rallied back in the third but ran out of gas in the final quarter as Yao Ming’s 24 points and 10 rebounds propelled the Rockets to their 12th victory. Rafer Alston scored 21 points and Ron Artest added 19. Al Thornton scored 24 points for the Clippers while Zach Randolph added 23 points and 11 rebounds and Baron Davis had 13 points and 9 assists. The Rockets attempted 39 free throws as compared to 16 for the Clippers.

MVPOn the second night of a back-to-back the Jazz were unable to find their legs and dropped a 93-89 decision to the Miami Heat. Led by Dwyane Wade’s 23 points, the Heat outrebounded Utah 45-38 and shot 44 percent from the floor while holding the Jazz to only 39% shooting. With Udonis Haslem adding 11 points and 13 rebounds and Shawn Marion scoring 15 points, the Jazz fell just short despite a 20-point, 13-rebound performance from Paul Milsap. Deron Williams had a sub par night, scoring 13 points but having only 5 assists and 6 turnovers.

Bobcats over the Thunder. When will the rain stop in Oklahoma City. Yuck. 25 points and 13 rebounds from Emeka Okafor, 18 points from Jason Richardson and another 12 assist night for Raymond Felton and the Bobcats were too much for the Thunder to handle, defeating them 103-97. Kevin Durant had 24 points for the Thunder, who lost despite shooting 54 percent from the floor.