By Holly MacKenzie
ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Just as I was in the middle of typing a sentence saying I hoped Josh Howard’s wrist was okay because we have had enough injuries already this preseason I get word that Kevin Durant sprained his ankle and will NOT be traveling to Vancouver this Friday for the preseason contest against the Suns. I have been looking forward to seeing his debut since oh, the middle of July. Now, I read that Amare will be playing in limited minutes on Friday (I didn’t expect to see him suit up at all), but Leandro Barbosa will be sitting out with bruised ribs. That Brazilian Blur is my favorite Sun not named Nash and the SLAM interview last year moved him into the top of my all-nba faves. If Nash decides to sit out, I think Canada will revolt. Seriously though, come on basketball Gods enough with the injuries already. NBA players, stay healthy. It kinda makes Boston look smart for sitting their big three on the 2nd night of a back to back. It definitely makes me look like an idiot for the paragraph following this one, which was written much earlier.
I just want to start this out by saying that everyone in Southern California is in my thoughts and prayers to stay safe and healthy. It is easy to get caught up in this sports world, but I just wanted to extend those well wishes before I get underway here. So, I know it is preseason and all but I can’t wait until the regular season when players play if they are not injured and play to the best of their abilities when they are on the floor, regardless of what jersey they have on. Yeah, sometimes it is safer to rest your stars, especially after the way this off-season has gone. There has been someone going down each week, but as a fan it is so hard to get a feel for some of these new look teams when line-ups are constantly changing and players are on and off of the active list, ugh. Oh well, not much longer to wait. And our little “100,000”contest helped to heat things up yesterday. The commenting was high all day and I liked it. Keep it up everyone; you all keep me highly entertained.
Memphis 109 Houston 107 2OT
In what was the game of the night, Memphis came out on top in a double overtime victory against the Houston Rockets. The Grizzlies owe that double-overtime win to Kyle Lowry’s big triple-double. After being down as many as 12 points in the first half, the Grizzlies rallied back and went into the 4th quarter down only 1. After tying the game 70-70 with just under 8 minutes to play, things went back and fourth until Lowry got a tip-in to go at the buzzer of the 2nd over time. He finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in 44 minutes of action after coming into the game off of the bench. Lowry played the entire 4th quarter as well as both overtimes and took the ball into the lane repeatedly against Houston guard Steve Francis. After Francis scored 6 points in the first extra period, Lowry made sure to keep him busy on the defensive end and Francis fouled out with just under 8 seconds to go in the 2nd overtime. Most impressive was the fact that Lowry only committed one turnover in those 44 minutes. Rudy Gay had 18 points for Memphis while Stromile Swift had 16 and was instrumental in the Grizzlies 2nd half run. Casey Jacobsen added 17 and Juan Carlos Navarro had 11 points, 7 of them coming in the 4th period to tie things up. For Houston, Mike James had a team high 19 while Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming each had 10. Steve Francis had 13 while rookie Carl Landry finished with 12 points and 7 boards.
Golden State 126 Seattle 122 OT
In a game of runs that saw both teams go up and then come down, when it came down to it, a seldom-used rookie made all the difference for Golden State in their 126-122 win over Seattle. Brandan Wright was put into the game midway through the 4th quarter. Golden State was leading 121-120 with just under a minute left in the extra period. Wright got into position and his hard word paid off. After a missed shot by teammate Monta Ellis, he was in the right place at the right time, got up for the rebound and got the put-back to go, giving the Warriors a 3-point lead. Wally Szczerbiak hit a shot with under 21 on the clock to bring the Supersonics to within 2 points but Golden State got to the line and their free throws took care of things from there and they escaped with the win. Unfortunately, I regret to report that rookie Kevin Durant of Seattle left the game with just over 2 minutes left in regulation after suffering a left-ankle sprain. He left the arena on crutches and he will not be joining his team for their final two preseason games. Golden State had 8 players score in double figures. Matt Barnes led the way with his 16 points. Monta Ellis had 15 points in his first game back after recovering from a nasty neck sprain and Baron Davis added 14. In the loss, Damien Wilkins had a great game for Seattle, scoring a game-high 27 points while Chris Wilcox had 22 points and 12 boards and Wally Szczerbiak finished with 24. Kevin Durant had 21 points in his 17 minutes before he had to leave the game due to injury.
New Jersey Nets 82 Boston Celtics 71
The Boston Celtics played the New Jersey Nets and were defeated by a score of 82-71. The game featured the majority of New Jersey’s regular roster (minus Kidd, still out with the sore back), while Boston sat their big three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Since back-up point guard Darrell Armstrong was out along with Kidd, Vince Carter took over most of the point guard duties and ended up finishing with 7 assists to go along with his 12 points. The game was close, with the Celtic’s rookie Glen Davis keeping them in it and tying the game up in the 4th. Davis led all scorers with 21 points but the Celtics were unable to take control of the game and did not get closer than 4 points at the halfway mark of the 4th. Bostjan Nachbar and Antoine Wright each had 14 points to lead the Nets while Richard Jefferson added 11. For the Celtics Tony Allen filled up the stat sheet with 10 points, 9 assists and 6 steals.
San Antonio 104 Miami 87
Without their big two of Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal on the court together, the Miami Heat have not had much to cheer about this preseason. While they had O’Neal back on the floor Tuesday night they still did not find any answers. With the 104-87 loss to San Antonio, they ended their 2007 preseason campaign without a win. Miami fans were reminded again of the impact their stars have on the game. When O’Neal was on the court Tuesday night, the Heat were up against the defending champions 23-18. After he left, the Spurs took advantage and went on a 20-8 run and did not look back. O’Neal was said to have tweaked his bruised left thigh, so fans will be anxiously waiting for more news on the injury front. Manu Ginobili and his 22 points on 6-7 field goals led the Spurs. He hit 3-4 from beyond the arc and the Spurs as a team were 11-24. Another disparity in the game was evident at the free throw line. While the Spurs lined up for 34 free throws (connecting on 29 of them), the Heat attempted only 15 (making 11). The Spurs outrebounded the Heat 40-29 and Tim Duncan led the way with a game high 11. Darius Washington has slowly been coming back down to Earth after his monster game against Golden State last week, but still played 18 minutes for the Spurs. Even in the loss, there were some positives for Miami. One of those being how active O’Neal was in the opening quarter of the game, scoring 14 quick points in the first 8 ½ minutes. Rookie Daequan Cook had a great game scoring 16 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. In his 17 minutes of action O’Neal finished with 17 points to lead the Heat. Summer acquisition Smush Parker did not play in the game for Miami.
Dallas suffered a blow in their 96-88 victory over the Chicago Bulls Tuesday night when Josh Howard injured his wrist and left the arena wearing a splint. While immediate X-Rays were negative Howard will undergo an MRI sometime today. Maybe those 2 games he will miss due to suspension will end up working to his advantage, giving him some extra time to heal. Lets hope its nothing serious, this off/pre season has had more than enough drama and injury. On the bright side for Dallas, Howard scored 19 points before leaving the game in the 3rd while Jason Terry had 16 on a perfect 6-6 from the floor. The Bulls distributed the scoring load and had Joakim Noah, Thabo Sefolosha and Thomas Gardner all finish with 12. Some more good news, this time for the Bulls; After practicing on Monday for the first time in 2 weeks, Ben Gordon played 15 minutes in the game.
Nene had his first game back for the Denver Nuggets after being out with a calf strain. He played 13 minutes in Denver’s 114-102 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Bucks guard Mo Williams received 2 technicals in the 3rd quarter and was ejected from the game. Charlie Villanueva had 21 points and 11 boards for the Bucks and Michael Redd finished with 19. Andrew Bogut sprained his wrist and was listed as day-to-day after the game. Allen Iverson led Denver with 21 points while Carmelo Anthony was right behind him with 18 and Chucky Atkins added 15, including 2 huge back to back three-pointers in the 4th to help Denver pull away.
Indiana got a great game from Danny Granger in their 106-95 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Granger had 25 points while Ike Diogu added 20 points and 9 rebounds and Mike Dunleavy scored 20 to help make up for the absence of Jermaine Oneal in his 3rd straight game with a knee injury. Minnesota missed their point guards Randy Foye and Sebastian Telfair who have both been injured this preseason. The bare-bones crowd of a few thousand got to see Al Jefferson continue to flourish even amid mental breakdowns of offensive positioning. Nonetheless, he finished with a monster line of 27 points and 17 boards (including 9 offensive), doing his best to give the hometown fans a show. Rookie Corey Brewer had 11 while Ricky Davis scored 15 and Ryan Gomes had 14.
The Jazz smoked the Lakers 102-81 with Utah having 6 players score in double-figures as compared to only 3 for the Lakers. After going 3-19 in the first quarter, the Lakers night was over before it began. Ronnie Brewer led all scorers with 18 points and Mehmet Okur had 15. They had 3 other scorers with 10. Carlos Boozer, Paul Millsap and Mehmet Okur all pulled down 10 boards and the Jazz outrebounded the Lakers by 9. For Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant led the way with 15 points on an ugly 4-16 from the floor. One of the few bright sports for the Lakers was rookie point guard Jarvais Crittendon who had 10 points on a perfect 5-5 from the floor. Andrew Bynum had 8 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in his 24 minutes of play. It was reported today that Lakers forward Lamar Odom will miss an undetermined amount of games to start the season out as a result of off-season shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Dare I question Kobe’s play? With the exception of the 3rd quarter outburst in the game against Seattle, Bryant’s play has been erratic at best this preseason. Of course it is only preseason, of course there is this mysterious knee injury, but it just doesn’t add up. To a longtime Laker fan it is frustrating, because regardless of trade request/demand/whatever, when Kobe Bryant says he will compete to win, I believe him. Or, I did believe him. Now, I don’t know anymore. And I don’t like that doubt. So, Phil wants him in a distributing role. What the heck are some of these passes he is swinging? As a distributor, and as an 11-year vet, you need to understand the personnel you are working with, and a lot of those passes did not have a hope in hell of being caught. Maybe Kobe is just working his way into regular season form, all I know is I do not like the glimpse this preseason has given me of my favorite player.