By: Holly MacKenzie
What a night in the NBA. The biggest and most unfortunate story is TJ Ford being carted off the court in a stretcher after a flagrant-2 foul by Al Horford. After watching the replay many times, and hearing both the Raptor players as well as Horford, I am confident that the foul was not intentional and now I want to focus my thoughts on TJ and hopes for a speedy recovery and healthy body. I can only hope it looked far worse than it actually felt.

There was a reporter who asked a very remorseful Al Horford “is it the worst feeling in the world to know you could potentially injure someone like that?”. Come on, man, the rookie looked shook enough after TJ went down. Some of these people are just unreal. I felt so badly for Sam Mitchell who looked choked up in his post game interview where he answered only one question and then returned to the locker room. I have to say, it occurred to me how badly this could have turned out if the Raptor players did not react as cool and calm as they did. It could have been an awful fracas like the disaster at MSG last year or even worse, the Palace before that. I am so thankful as an NBA fan, that this unfortunate incident seems to be received with understanding and remorse, rather than a feeling of needing to “get back” at anyone.

In a Hawk’s blog there is some great info about Al, Dominique and Josh Smith’s father all going to the hospital and waiting to see how TJ was. Definitely a nice gesture when all of his teammates had to fly back to Toronto for their game this evening. It mentions in the blog that TJ welcomed the visit and it seems he recognizes that it was not intentional. Best wishes to TJ, for the speediest of recoveries.

Watching the Golden State/San Antonio game, I loved seeing Popp take out Ginobili and go over, kneel by him and animatedly explain something. This reminds me of why he is such a great coach. He cares about each and every play in the game. As much as I love Phil, sometimes the “zen” thing makes me crazy. With Popp there is no hierarchy where the players seem to be coddled because of the money they make. I like that. Azubuike with a dunk, and the Warriors are up 30-27. Jax just forced Ginobili into a travel. It’s nice to see him step up on D against the Spurs. As if on cue, he knocks down the three. 5:06 in the second quarter and the Spurs have only one field goal? 11 turnovers already. I cannot believe my ears or the Warriors announcers and I have to check the stats myself. Azubuike finishes with 16 points, 9 boards and 43 minutes after not starting. This is why I am on the Azubuike-train.
One of my friends and I were talking about Sebastian Telfair last night and then we were talking about the violence issue with regards to the Jamaal Tinsley incident and he busts out the fact that, “Bassy is a good guy. I’ll probably never hang with him again, but he is a good guy”. Wait, back it up and hold on. Where does Bassy fit into this picture? You were born in Ghana, moved to Ottawa and have been there ever since, right? Turns out no. In four years of knowing me he neglected to let me know he lived on Coney Island for a year and his cousin was one of Sebastian’s teammates in high school. Not a big deal to many of you guys I am sure, but, I was shocked I did not know this! Needless to say, for the rest of the evening, I picked his brain for stories and play-by-plays of his favorite bball moments by Bassy. I think he regrets telling me now, but it was worth it.

It was kind of crazy seeing LeBron return and not start the game. It was nce to hear that Bron suggested coming into the game with Varejao to offset any negative reaction from the fans towards the comments that were made by Varejao during the contract holdout/tantrum. Good to see Bron doesn’t care about the start, which reminds me of our boy AI and the game he came off of the bench in Philly, which of course brings me back to “Prac, we talking bout practice, practice man, not a game, not, not, not not a game, practice”. I swear, I watch that clip more than a sane person should and it makes me crack up every single time. Everyone need more AI in their lives.

Sidenote: Lebron also said he has never not started a game and this was a one-time deal for him.
Toronto 100 Atlanta 88

While the Toronto Raptors got a good win over the Atlanta Hawks last night, they would have traded the win for the health of TJ Ford in an instant. Late in the game, after having a great performance for the Raps, TJ Ford went in for a layup and was fouled by Al Horford. The foul caused Ford to crash to the ground and hit his head off of the court. It is an especially scary situation for Ford because of his history with neck problems in 2004. Hopefully, he will be all right and it will be more of a scare than anything else. In the game, Toronto used the second quarter to outscore Atlanta 35-22 to take a 54-43 lead into the break. They all but gave up this lead in the third and were up by only one at the start of the fourth, 69-68. To start the fourth, the Raptors went on a 13-3 run to stretch their lead and hang on for the victory. Ford had 26 points and 8 assists in the game before leaving due to the aforementioned injury. Chris Bosh had 20 points and 13 rebounds and Jose Calderon added 15 off of the bench for the Raptors. Marvin Williams and Joe Johnson scored 23 points apiece for the Hawks, while Al Horford had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds before getting ejected for the flagrant foul on Ford.

Cleveland 118 Indiana 105

While the Cavaliers had both LeBron James and Anderson Varejao back in the lineup, it was Larry Hughes that was the star in the Cavs 118-105 victory against Indiana. Coming off of the bench, Hughes exploded for 36 points, shooting 13-17 in his second game back from a leg injury. For the game, things were decided early, as the Cavaliers jumped onto the Pacers in the opening minutes and were up by 21 points after the first 12 minutes of action, leading 37-16. While the Pacers managed to cut the lead to 10 midway through the second quarter, Cleveland stretched the lead back to 16 at the half and from there rolled to the victory. A 14-0 run in the third quarter helped, as Cleveland went up by as many as 25 points in the game. As a team, Cleveland shot 54.7% for the game, while holding Indiana to only 46.3%. In addition to Hughes, James added 17 points in his 22 minutes of action. Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 17 points as well and Sasha Pavlovic added 12 points in the victory. Mike Dunleavy led the Pacers with 23 points in the loss, while Jermaine O’neal added 18 and Troy Murphy had a double-double with 14 points and 12 boards.

Washington 102 Minnesota 88

Craig Smith had a career-high 36 points for Minnesota last night, but he could not rival the Wizards seven players in double-figures and Washington picked up the 102-88 victory at home. After being tied at 26 at the end of the first quarter, Washington outscored Minnesota by 10 in the second, to take a 10-point lead into the half. They stretched their lead out in the third and went into the fourth quarter up 83-69. In the fourth, the TWolves managed to cut the lead to six points with 8:30 remaining in the game, but, the Wizards were not going to give the game up and responded with a 7-0 run to close the game out. Washington out-rebounded the Wolves 57-35, as they had 20 offensive boards, leading to 11 more shot attempts. In addition to Smith’s big night, Sebastian Telfair had 11 points and 10 assists, and Al Jefferson scored 14. Washington was led by Antawn Jamison with 22 points and 13 rebounds while Caron Butler had 20 and 10 and Roger Mason added 17 points off of the bench as Brendan Haywood scored 11 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.

LA Clippers 91 New Jersey 82

The Los Angeles Clippers should not have won a game in which they had 20 turnovers as compared to only 13 from the Nets. Holding New Jersey to only 32% shooting for the game allowed the Clippers overcome their sloppy play to get the 91-82 victory. While the game was close in the first half, the two teams were tied at 46 during the break. In the third, the Clippers started to pull away as New Jersey’s shooting went cold and they gave up a 14-3 run giving them a 67-63 lead going into the fourth. The final quarter was a disaster for New Jersey as they had only 5 made field goals, shooting 5-25 in the period as the Clippers went on to take the victory. Chris Kaman and his 18-point, 14-rebound performance was tops for LA, while Tim Thomas added 18 points of his own and Corey Maggette scored 13 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Richard Jefferson had a game-high 21 points in the loss, as Jason Kidd had a triple-double with 11 points, 10 boards and 11 assists and Vince Carter added 16 points for New Jersey.

Detroit 113 Memphis 103

Led by Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, the Detroit Pistons went up early against the Memphis Grizzlies and they cruised the rest of the way to a 113-103 victory last night. Going up by double-figures in the first quarter, the Pistons shot better than 59% in the first half of the game and rolled from there. It wasn’t until the final minutes of the game that the Grizzlies managed to get anything going and cut the lead below 10, but the experience of Detroit won out. Detroit were up by as many as 24 points in the contest and they committed only 7 turnovers as compared to 13 from Memphis. Billups had 28 points and 14 assists for Detroit, Hamilton added 27 points and Prince, 19. Rudy Gay finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds for Memphis, Pau Gasol and Kyle Lowry scored 18 points each as Hakim Warrick added 17 off of the bench in the loss.

Chicago 123 Seattle 96

After a close first quarter, the Chicago Bulls used the second period to outscore Seattle by 14 and take a 67-49 halftime lead in their game last night, before rolling to an easy 123-96 victory against the Supersonics. Led by Ben Gordon and his 27 points, the Bulls hot shooting helped pace their victory and they shot 53.7% for the game as a team. The Sonics were again without Delonte West, who missed is third straight game with plantar fasciitis and Kevin Durant could not do it all himself, as he scored 16 points but attempted only 10 shots in the game. Wally Sczcerbiak and Mickael Gelabale each added 12 points for the Sonics, but it was not enough as they attempted only 77 shots as compared to the 95 shot attempts that Chicago had. Besides Godon’s 27, Luol Deng scored 20 points and Joe Smith added 19 as Kirk Hinrich had 16 points and 8 assists.

Portland 97 Utah 89

The young Portland Trailblazers have now built up an impressive four game winning streak, with their latest victims being the Utah Jazz. Portland came in to Utah and shocked the Jazz, both with their poise down the stretch to protect their lead and with the lead itself in the absence of their leading scorer, LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge did not make the trip, because he was mending a foot injury in Portland. Despite being out-worked in every statistical category, (out-rebounded 50-37, giving up 22 offensive boards, being out-scored 48-20 in the paint, committing 19 turnovers to Utah’s 15), the Blazers led in the most important category, and they took advantage of Utah’s 38% field goal percentage, while connecting on 48% of their own shot attempts. Portland shot 58% in the first half as they led 55-46 at the half and went up by as many as 18 points before Utah went on a run to start the fourth to cut the lead down to four points with just over six minutes in the game, but they did not get any closer as Portland calmly defended their lead and pulled away in the final minutes. Martell Webster led the Blazers with 25 points while Brandon Roy and Jarret Jack each scored 16 points and Travis Outlaw added 11. Carlos Boozer finished strong with 29 points and 12 rebounds for Utah but, did not get much help from his teammates as Paul Milsap added 14 points off of the bench and Deron Williams added 11 points and 9 rebounds for Utah.

Golden State 96 San Antonio 84

The Spurs were without Tim Duncan. The Warriors didn’t care whom they were or weren’t playing against. They wanted a win after their loss against the Lakers on Sunday night and they were determined to get it. Having a Duncan-less Spurs team helped, but the big story was Golden State’s defensive effort, including a second quarter that saw them outscore San Antonio 30-12 as they held the Spurs to only four field goals as they went up by as many as 22 points in the game. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Spurs were able to get their game going, cutting the lead to nine twice, both times behind a big shot by San Antonio’s Matt Bonner. Golden State responded each time and they went on to get the victory, due in large part to Stephen Jackson’s defense on Manu Ginobili, holding him to only 13 points, The bright spot in the game for San Antonio was Bonner who finished with 25 points and 17 rebounds in the game, but, his performance did not make up for Duncan and the Spurs committed 21 turnovers compared to only 9 by Golden State. In addition to his defensive effort on Ginobili, Jackson led the Warriors in scoring with 20 points, 5 assists and 4 steals, Baron Davis had 18 points and 6 assists, Matt Barnes scored 16 points and pulled down 8 rebounds and Kelenna Azubuike added 16 points and 6 rebounds off of the bench. Tony Parker added 11 points to Ginobili’s 13 and Bonner’s 25 in the loss for San Antonio.