The D.A.Y. of buzzer beaters and circus shots

By Sam Rubenstein

Exciting night. Buzzer beaters (in the weakest matchups of the night)! All kinds of excitement with the big boys out West. And of course, Jamal Crawford’s Jamal Crawfordness.

A Raja Bell desperation three and Tim Duncan misses from the free throw line gave Phoenix a chance down 1 with 5.9 remaining in the fourth. Raja got around Fabricio Oberto (Kurt Thomas set a pick on Manu and the Spurs got caught switching) all the way to the hole and was fouled. Hits one, misses the second which would have won the game for Phoenix. Overtime. All of this took place after Phoenix blew a lead they worked to keep for most of the game. This was a high profile game on ESPN, so most of you were watching. Amare showed some explosiveness in the first half, and he’s still got great hands as evidenced on at least two of his dunks. He fouled out in 16 minutes of action, but delivered a 16 and 6 on 8 of 11 shooting in that time. Oberto is doing exactly what a Spurs center should do, which is get cheap points (11-11 from the field!) by playing opposite Duncan. In OT, after some back and forth the Suns non-defense reared its ugly head and the San Antonio front line put the game away. The Suns might want to work on holding a lead, just some friendly advice. Manu Ginobili is not picking up technical fouls like the rest of the world, but he sure does complain about calls alot. Boris Diaw got a fat contract and now he has the body to match. I don’t think there’s really anything wrong with the Suns like you’re about to hear over and over again. I think it was crazy how they were able to be such a good team the past few years, playing free and easy. This is more typical of a fun-n-gun team.

The Clippers came out sluggish early, but started picking it up in the second quarter when Cat Mobley started hitting shots, and by the third they were… BALLIIINNNGGGG. Mavs Moneyball co-signed my thoughts about the Mavericks the other day, and now things could get a little tight in the big D. Josh Howard is out for two weeks, which is not good. Logic says this is supposed to be a better team than the one that went to the Finals last year. The Mavericks still have not won a game this season. During the game the announcers interviewed Michael Clarke Duncan, the “Green Mile” man said that the Mavs were having trouble when the Clips went small. Did you know he played college ball at Alcorn State? Now you do.

Figure this out: the Magic shot 54% and they scored 88 points. Oh, 25 turnovers. Some of those turnovers helped Orlando give up their 86-77 lead over the final three minuted, until Hedo Turkoglu bailed them out with what he himself called a lucky shot, “We should have won that game easily but we were trying to do some fancy stuff and blew the lead. We were lucky.” Hedo hit a turnaround 20 footer at the buzzer after Rashad’s layup put Seattle ahead completing an Orlando collapse. Jameer Nelson scored 18, playing well enough to keep Arroyo on the bench. Ray Allen hit 4 of 8 threes for the Sonics. He’s about 800 behind Reggie Miller for the most threes made in NBA history. He’s going to catch him in three years if this keeps up, and Ray is only 31 years old.

Paul Pierce and Wally Sczebrwrbk had matching 35s, and it was Pierce’s pass to a wide open Delonte West for the buzzer beater. Paul had one the cooler triple doubles you’ll ever see. 35 points, 13 boards, 12 turnovers. Ryan Gomes had a triple double too, but it wasn’t as fun. 10-12-10, no turnovers. Emeka Okafor went for 28 and 18 in the loss.

Only Jamal Crawford would decide to dribble a ball behind his back for no reason when taking time off the clock for a final shot, leading to a disasterous turnover that could have cost his team the game, then steal the ball back with a play that reminded me of Jason Taylor’s interception TD last Sunday, and then hit a miraculous three. That one play was everything that is great and horrible about Jamal in one snapshot. The Knicks were getting outplayed most of the night, but Crawford heated up and carried the offense to get them back in the game, and NY tied it up when Steph hit a three form the corner. It was on a perfect decision and pass from Eddy Curry out of the double team. I’m not making this stuff up. After the Crawford three, Melo hit a free throw, missed the second one on purpose, and JR Smith flew in with a chance to put it back in for the tie, but it didn’t go. Steve Francis sat out with a sprained ankle (courtesy of Bruce Bowen) and Kenyon Martin missed it with an injured knee (courtesy of the same ‘ol same ‘ol). Other than some hustle from David Lee, there was nothing that said “Knicks win” about this game until Jamal heated up and carried the offense. Carmelo had 37 to go with 8 assists and 6 boards for the winless Nuggets.

Chris Bosh hit a lucky rainbow three with the clock winding down and then made some tough guys faces like he knew it was going in. Who does he think he is, Chris Webber? Maybe Bosh did know it was going in, cause it was the second one he hit in the game after literally going a few years without hitting a three. All jokes aside, it was a great shot and Bosh finished with 29 and 14. There was clutch shot after clutch shot at the end, with Iverson getting in on the action with a big one of his own on his way to 35 and 10. Philly shot the ball better and killed the Raptors on the boards thanks to 18 from Sam Dalembert to go along with his 5 blocks. The difference was free throws. The Raptors shot 9 more, which isn’t the craziest margin you’ve ever seen, but other than A.I., the Sixers shot 8 free throws.

Antoine Wright had his best game as a pro, hitting a big three in the fourth to hold off a Utah comeback. Vince led the way for Jersey with 30 and 8 and he combined with RJ to shoot 26 free throws, one less than Utah’s entire team. Yes, I’m counting free throws tonight for some reason. A spirited comeback from the Jazz, as they say, but not spirited enough. Balanced scoring from Utah, but Andrei had a bad night. The big news from the game was the return of Uncle Cliffy. His suspension for turning into uncle spliffy last year offically ended and he logged 12 minutes. Yesterday I presented you with the amazing fact that Andrew Bynum was born in 1987. Cliff Robinson was born in 1966. Bynum was a fetus when Cliff was a freshman at UCONN. Clifford turns 40 on December 16th. That party is going to be incredible.

The Pistons miss Ben Wallace, so Rasheed did his best Big Ben impression, grabbing 15 boards and not scoring a single point. Rip and Chauncey both played well, but the much discussed balance of the Pistons when they are going good, was not there. Kevin Martin keeps racking up the points, tying his recent career high of 30. Oh, and ESPN kept hyping this game up as some kind of emotional reunion between Ron Artest and the Pistons, even though it took place in the house that Maloof built. That got kind of annoying.

SLAMonline diary keeper David Harrison cracked the starting lineup. Yes Rick Carlisle! Your coach of the year trophy is on the way. David played 18 minutes, 5 boards, 3 blocks, no turnovers. Gilbert Arenas scored 40 in 32 minutes and they way he was going he could have scored 60 if he played more than 40. Does that add up if you do the math? That’s not the point. He was unstoppable.

Well, Kobe got back into the 30+ groove, and the Lakers lost to Portland. Zach Randolph continued to beast out with 36 and 10. This has to be the first time in NBA history that two players scored 30 points in the same game who have both had the smoking gun air out their business regarding sexual assault cases that they would eventually “beat.” Kobe had a pretty up and under layup, one of his signature moves as part of the mini-show he put on. Zach took a weird three at the end of the first quarter from half court with 5 seconds on the clock. Don’t know why. Bynum had a disappointing follow-up to his Player of the D.A.Y. award, with 2 points, 5 boards, and he fouled out.

Not as close as the score says it was. The Rockets got comfortable and nearly blew this one. T-Mac returned to the land of 30 point scorers just like Kob, with 32 on 11 of 19. Michael Redd scored 34 without attempting a single three. Milwaukee made it interesting, hustling and flying around while Mac and Yao both cooled off. But Houston made enough plays to hold on getting some big baskets from Rafer Alston.