By: Holly MacKenzie
Portland, Phoenix and Golden State with wins? I was a happy, happy girl last night. I can’t say enough about Portland and Brandon Roy, so I will stop talking right now except to say, I am enjoying this immensely.
Phoenix got a good win on the road as they handed the Spurs their first loss at home since last year’s playoffs bu, it was a win that they needed much more than the Spurs. San Antonio was without Tony Parker and adding him to the mix could have been the difference for SA. Duncan had a monster game, but he couldn’t get the win alone as Phoenix held on down the stretch and weathered the storm. Diaw was huge for the Suns off of the bench and Grant Hill continued to flourish for Phoenix. It was a great game and the fourth quarter was good basketball, watching the two teams going back and fourth at each other.
Alando Tucker is back on the Phoenix bench after a small stint in the D-League. He was named the D-League performer of the week, averaging 36 points and 6.5 rebounds on 51.9% shooting. He set a season-high of 40 points in a game last week before being called back up by the Suns.
It was so nice to see Golden State bounce back from that awful showing in Detroit on Sunday and have a great, high-scoring game against Memphis last night. SJax had a great game and it is always fun to see him play when he is on a roll. Funny how Azubuike was announced in the starting lineup and then Nellie went to the scorer’s table to inform them that Monta Ellis was starting and not Azubuike.
LeBron, the youngest player to hit 9,000 points. He is a special one, even if he has looked like every other “normal” superstar in his first few games back from the finger injury. I’m still waiting on the human triple-double to return. I didn’t see much of their game last night and when I saw it went into 2OT, I was pretty annoyed that my channel surfing skills were lacking.
Not sure if I really agree with all of the calls that saw DWade getting to the foul line the 20 times last night, but, it was exciting to see him being able to drive to the basket and get closer and closer to his old self, punishing people by getting to the line when his jumper is off.
Atlanta 116 Utah 111
In the past five years, the Atlanta Hawks have been losers to the Utah Jazz. They changed that last night with a 116-111 victory over the Jazz that saw each of their starters score at least 17 points. While Utah held a 53-51 lead at the half, the game was tied at 86 going into the fourth quarter. In the final period the Hawks steadily built a lead and they did not give it up. Despite 39 points from Carlos Boozer, the Jazz could not keep up with Atlanta and they went down by as many as 10 in the final minutes of the game. They would come back to cut the lead to three, but it was too late as the Hawks dodged a bullet when the Jazz could not convert on a forced turnover with 14 seconds left in the game and Atlanta went on to hit free throws to seal the win. Atlanta shot 57.6% from the floor for the game. Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 26 points while Marvin Williams had 21 points and Josh Smith added 18 points 12 rebounds and 5 steals. Al Horford and Anthony Johnson each scored 17 points and Johnson added 14 assists as well. In addition to Boozer’s big night for the Jazz, Ronnie Brewer had 19 points and Deron Williams added 14 points and 10 assists.
Cleveland 104 Milwaukee 99 2OT
Last night LeBron James became the youngest player in NBA history to score 9000 points. What was most important in his mind however, was getting a win for the struggling Cavs. Thanks to a 31-point effort from James and 24 points from Zydrunas Ilgauskas (including the Cav’s first six points in the second overtime), the Cavaliers were victorious against the Bucks and came away with a 104-99 win in double-overtime. The game was first sent into overtime on made free throws by Milwaukee’s Mo Williams as James missed a layup at the buzzer. In the first overtime the Bucks led by two with 40 seconds remaining, but Devin Brown hit a shot with 16 seconds on the clock to force a second overtime with the score tied at 93. In the second extra period the Bucks keyed in on James and Ilgauskas took advantage, scoring six quick points for Cleveland and gave them a three-point lead with 1:24 remaining. From there, Michael Redd missed one of two free throws and James made both of his and Cleveland went on to the win. Redd was the high-scorer for Milwaukee with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists. Desmond Mason had 15 points and 11 assists and Yi Jianlian and Charlie Villanueva had 13 points apiece.
Miami 91 Minnesota 87
In a game that was close throughout, the Heat were solid in the final minutes to hang on for the much-needed win in a battle with the lowly Timberwolves. When Dwyane Wade was struggling and Shaquille O’Neal had fouled out, the Heat showed some grit and got key contributions from Alonzo Mourning and Udonis Haslem to offset a 22-point, 20-rebound performance from Al Jefferson and avoid the embarrassing loss at home. Midway through the fourth the Heat started to get things going and went on a 9-1 run to take the lead with three and a half minutes to go but Rashad McCants knocked down a three-pointer with 1:17 on the clock to bring Minnesota within one. The Heat responded, as Mourning tipped in a miss by Udonis Haslem to stretch the lead to three and a Wade steal on the next possession ensured the Miami victory. It was an ugly game with neither team shooting over 40% from the floor. While Wade was only 6-22 from the floor, he hit 18-20 free throws to finish with a game-high 30 points. Haslem was huge for the Heat, scoring 18 points and pulling down 16 rebounds, while Mourning gave a 10-point, 10-rebound performance off of the bench. O’Neal had 15 points before fouling out. Besides Jefferson, Sebastian Telfair scored 17 points for Minnesota, and Rashad McCants added 19 points off of the bench in the loss.
Golden State 125 Memphis 117
It was a high-scoring affair in Memphis last night and the Golden State Warriors bounced back from an awful showing Sunday morning in Detroit to run away with the 125-117 victory over the Grizzlies. With both teams shooting over 50% for the game, Memphis started out strong hitting 9 of their first 10 shots and Golden State withstood a 40-point fourth quarter from the Grizzlies to get the win. While Golden State went up by as many as 20 points in the game, they held a double-digit lead in the final period before a Memphis run that included them shooting 8-13 from beyond the arc in the quarter to get within five points. Memphis was without Pau Gasol and lost Darko Milicic after nine minutes of playing time to an ankle injury. The lack of size was evident as Golden State pounded Memphis on the boards, out-rebounding them 52 to 35 in the game. Stephen Jackson led the Warriors with a 28-point, 12 rebound performance, Monta Ellis added 23 points and Baron Davis scored 22 points and dished 8 assists. Al Harrington scored 17 points off of the bench and Kelenna Azubuike added 15 from the bench as well. Rudy Gay was big in the loss, with 32 points on 11-18 shooting, as Mike Miller added 20 points and Kyle Lowry had 18 points off of the bench. Juan Carlos Navarro scored 17 points and Stromile Swift added 13 points.
Dallas 111 Orlando 108
Superstars come up big for their teams when the game gets down to the wire, and that is what Dirk Nowitzki did last night for Dallas scoring 11 of his 31 points in the final quarter to help the Mavericks hang on for a 111-108 win against Orlando. While Dwight Howard had 16 points at the end of the first quarter, the Mavericks held him to only 22 at the end of the game, to go along with 13 rebounds and 5 assists as Nowitzki won the battle of the two superstars. While Dallas went up by as many as 11 points in the game, Jameer Nelson cut the lead to 107-106 by hitting a pair of free throws with 7.4 seconds remaining in the game before Nowitzki hit two of his own to keep the lead at three. It was a strange ending to the game, as Keith Bogans hit what was originally thought to be a three to tie the game at 109 but officials reviewed the shot and it was determined that it was actually a two-point jumper, so the Dallas lead was 109-108 with 3.5 seconds on the clock. The Mavs hung on for the win from there as Jerry Stackhouse scored 21 points off of the bench for Dallas, Josh Howard had 19 points and Devin Harris had 15 points and 9 assists. Hedo Turkoglu was the leading scorer for the Magic with 26 points on 10-14 shooting while Rashard Lewis added 15 points and Jameer Nelson had 13.
Portland 88 New Orleans 76
While the Blazers started out slow, they finished up hot as they defeated the New Orleans Hornets 88-76 for their eighth straight victory. In the first half, things went back and fourth, as there were 11 ties in the game. Portland made their move in the final quarter where the Hornets went ice cold and had a scoring drought last over a period of several minutes, allowing Portland to seize control and take the 71-66 lead. The young Portland team was able to extend the lead from there and stretched it to a 10-point advantage with 4:28 remaining, before Tyson Chandler would cut the lead to 78-71 on an offensive rebound and put-back dunk. It was not enough for the Hornets, as Brandon Roy hit a shot and then Morris Peterson lost his head and got ejected from the game after picking up two quick technicals, which resulted in Portland receiving and hitting those two technical free throws. Roy finished with 24 points and 8 assists for the Blazers who also got 13 points form Martell Webster and 10 from Steve Blake. Chandler was a monster for New Orleans in the loss, finishing with 16 points and 19 rebounds, including 12 offensive. David West scored 21 points, Rasual Butler added 10 and Chris Paul was held to only 11 points to go along with his 8 assists in the loss.
Phoenix 100 San Antonio 95
In the five games this season that they have been held to under 100 points, the Phoenix Suns have lost all five. Going into the game last night, the San Antonio Spurs had held seven of their last eight opponents to under 100. While it took them until the final seconds, the Suns managed to just reach 100 points and escape with the victory against the Spurs, overcoming a season-high 36-point, 17-rebound performance from Tim Duncan. While Phoenix led by six (26-20), after one quarter, by one (51-40), after two quarters and then by seven (74-67), going into the fourth, the Spurs opened the final period with a 10-2 run to take the lead to go up 77-76. For the rest of the game, the two teams went back and fourth, changing leads, battling each other inch by inch for the victory. With 1:55 left in the game, things were tied at 90 but Amare Stoudemire hit some free throws, Michael Finley responded with a three-pointer and then Grant Hill sank a jump shot to keep Phoenix up 94-93. Coming out of a timeout Ginobili was Ginobili and got the driving layup to go and put San Antonio back up top by one, with 28 seconds left in the game. The Suns executed better than the Spurs down the stretch and a turnover by Ginobili in the final seconds led to free throws that sealed the deal for Phoenix. Grant Hill led the Suns with 22 points and 7 rebounds, Leandro Barbosa had 18 points off of the bench, Stoudemire had 17 points and Nash finished with 10 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds, narrowly missing the triple-double. After Duncan’s 36 points for San Antonio, Ginobili had 18 off of the bench, Michael Finley scored 15 points and Jaque Vaughn added 14 points.