By Holly MacKenzie
Things that make me uncontrollably happy: LeBron James…LeBron James…LeBron James. Watching this guy play basketball just puts a smile on my face. To think that he is my age and was drafted the same year that I graduated from high school just blows my mind. The season is only early, but what a month it has been for King James. Back-to-back games this weekend? No problem. James will just ring up back-to-back triple-doubles to ensure Cleveland gets back-to-back victories. Unbelievable. The best part is, he is making those damn free throws at the end of each game. Between him and Dwight Howard, I think I enjoy watching these East teams more than I have in years.
Kenyon Martin went down on Saturday night, with what is being called a strained knee. Knowing Kenyon and those knees that have each been microfractured, we can only hope that the knee thing was more of a scare than anything and that he will only need some rest and nothing more serious. He is scheduled for an MRI today, and more information will be available soon.
When I watched Milwaukee kill Toronto a few weeks ago, I thought Toronto just had a really horrible game. Turns out they did, but, Milwaukee has impressed as of late knocking back their last five opponents after dropping the Mavs on Saturday night. Another thing that makes me smile is how quietly Phoenix has moved up in the standings and are now only one game behind San Antonio for the best record in the We They are also on a seven game winning streak and the pieces seem to be falling in place, even if they are still giving up big leads on a nightly basis. I love how Grant Hill is fitting into the offense for them.
Golden State 123 Washington 115
After learning they will be without Gilbert Arenas for at least three months, the guys from Washington have stepped their games up in his absence and Friday night was no exception. While they ultimately came up short in a battle against Golden State, Caron Butler recorded his first career-triple double, going head to head with Baron Davis as Davis recorded his own. Behind Davis and his 33 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds, the Warriors pulled away late to take down the Wizards and rebound from a loss in Boston on Wednesday night. While Butler hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 108 with three and a half minutes remaining, Golden State went on to outscore the Wizards 12-5 in the next three minutes to go up 120-113 after Davis’ three-point play with 38 seconds on the clock. Golden State outscored Washington 33-26 in the final period and they topped 30 points in each of the four quarters. Behind Davis, Stephen Jackson scored 28 points for the Warriors and Kelenna Azuibuke added 11 as Golden State had 7 players reach double-figures. In addition to Butler, Antawn Jamison scored 30 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead Washington, while Nick Young added 18.
Miami 98 Houston 91
Miami Heat fans were happy when Dwyane Wade returned, thinking he would turn their unfortunate start to the season around. A few games in and a win against the Houston Rockets is a good start. With Wade back into the groove, things come easier for Shaquille O’Neal and Friday night this was evident by O’Neal’s line of 26 points and 14 boards, his best performance of the season so far. Wade finished with 31 points and did the majority of his damage in the 4th, where he propelled the Heat above the Rockets to lead them to victory. Scoring 14 points in the final period, Wade completed two three-point plays with the second serving to extend the Heat’s lead to 93-87 late in the game. Houston struggled defensively, giving up 55.4% shooting to Miami, while shooting only 43.9% themselves. Luis Scola led Houston with 20 points and 9 boards while Yao Ming added 20 points and Tracy McGrady scored 19, but shot only 7-20 for the game.
Phoenix 113 LA Clippers 94
After a rocky start to the first few games, the Phoenix Suns are shaking off the rust game by game and have quietly built up a seven game winning streak and are only one game behind San Antonio for the best record in the West. Friday night it took them awhile, but in the third quarter they built up their lead against the Clippers and pulled away for a 113-94 victory. The game was close in the first half, with LA up one at the half, 52-51. Phoenix went on a 9-0 run to start the 3rd as they went on to outscore LA 35-22 in the quarter. It was their defense, especially the effort given by Shawn Marion on the defensive end that really sparked the team and allowed them to go on the run and then continue to pour it on offensively. After going down 63-54, the Clippers could not come back, getting no closer than eight points for the rest of the game. Amare Stoudemire continued to dominate with 29 points and 11 rebounds while Shawn Marion was a catalyst in that decisive 3rd quarter run, finishing with 21 points, 17 boards, 5 steals and 2 blocked shots. Grant Hill continued to show his value to the Suns, scoring 19 points, while Steve Nash finished with 20 points and 10 assists. Sam Cassell led LA with 26 points despite playing only 26 minutes. Ruben Patterson had a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, as did Chris Kaman with 17 points and 14 boards. The Suns out-rebounded the Clippers 52-41, as the Clippers dropped to 6-5.
Houston 109 Denver 81
With both teams coming off of games the night before, it was Houston who was hungry for a win after dropping six games straight with their loss to Miami on Friday night. Saturday against the Nuggets they came out firing, moving the ball, and getting teammates involved. Playing the basketball that coach Rick Adleman wanted from the beginning, it worked, as Houston jumped out to an early lead and their offensive momentum caught on defensively and they held Denver to only 35.4% shooting for the game. The story of the game could be summed up by the 1st quarter. After one, Houston led 34-13 and had created a lead that Denver could not come back from. McGrady had a great game showing no ill effects from the sprained elbow that kept him sidelined only a week ago, scoring 35 points on 13-23 shooting. Yao Ming had 22 points and 13 rebounds while Shane Battier had 8 points and pulled down 12 boards himself. For the depleted Nuggets, Allen Iverson finished with 18, Carmelo Anthony scored 17 and JR Smith added 13. Besides the loss, Denver suffered an even bigger blow when they lost Kenyon Martin shortly before halftime to a strained knee. He did not return and would undergo tests on Sunday.
Cleveland 111 Toronto 108
Chris Bosh had his best game of the season and tied his career-high with 41 points, but LeBron James was LeBron, tallying another triple-double and spoiling Bosh’s game by snatching away the 111-108 victory for Cleveland. Going into the 4th the game was tied 81 all, but the Cavs took control early and led most of the way, until Jason Kapano hit a three with 57 seconds on the clock to cut the Cleveland lead to 104-103. James responded by driving into the lane and scoring, putting the Cavs up three. Kapano hits again, this time scoring a layup, cutting the lead back to one, 106-105, but James struck again, knocking down a fadeaway with 16.7 seconds left. Down by three, Toronto went for the three-point basket but, Anthony Parker was unable to connect. Kapano hit another three, but in the end it was James who clinched the game with two final foul shots, finishing off his line of 37 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. It’s hard to win a game when being out-rebounded by 19 (47-28), but Toronto almost managed to pull it off and they would have, had it not been for James. Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 16 points and 15 boards while Daniel Gibson and Damon Jones each added 17. Behind Bosh’s 41 points, Kapano added 17 points off the bench and Jose Calderon added 13 assists.
Milwaukee 97 Dallas 95
The Milwaukee Bucks shocked Dallas on Saturday night as they kept the game close throughout and then exploded in the 4th, outscoring the Mavs 35-29 to take the 97-95 victory. The largest lead in the game was six points and there were 10 ties, 15 lead changes and 5 in the final three minutes before Milwaukee sealed the win on free throws. Jason Terry attempted a three-pointer for the Mavs with 10 seconds remaining but he came up short and it was Michael Redd who grabbed the rebound and was sent to the line where he knocked down both free throws for the win. Besides the free throws in the final minutes it was a game that was won by free throws as Milwaukee hit 29-41 (70.7%) in the game as compared to only 10-17 (58.8%) for the Mavericks as the Bucks aggressiveness paid off. Redd led the way with 27 points, Mo Williams scored 19 points and dished 10 assists as Andrew Bogut added another double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Josh Howard had 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Mavericks in the loss, while Jason Terry added 21 points and Dirk Nowitzki scored 20.
Utah 103 Detroit 93
While Detroit was playing without Rasheed Wallace for the second straight game, Utah was playing with a rejuvenated Deron Williams who was feeling healthy after dealing with a nagging sore toe. Toe issues aside, Williams joined forces with Carlos Boozer and the two helped dismantle the Pistons in the 3rd quarter. After a close start, Utah went on a 20-7 run to finish the 2nd and go into halftime with a 57-50 edge. In the 3rd period, Flip Saunders was ejected and the Jazz again took advantage extending their lead to 10 points going into the 4th, 79-69 where the Pistons were unable to close the gap. Detroit shot only 39.5% in the game while Utah was much more effective, finishing at 52%. Boozer finished with 36 points and 11 rebounds while Williams added 21 points and 14 assists and Andrei Kirilenko had 11 points and 10 rebounds. For Detroit, Antonio McDyess scored 19 points ad pulled down 12 boards, Richard Hamilton had 17 points and 7 assists and Chauncey Billups added 15.
Atlanta 94 Minnesota 87
After going 0-17 on the road since last season, the Atlanta Hawks are now hoping they can stretch out their current two game road-winning streak. Saturday night, the Hawks were able to come from behind and rally back in the 4th to come away with the 94-87 victory over Minnesota. 21 was the magic number for the Hawks as it represented both the amount they were down in the game, and also the number of points they limited Minnesota to in the 2nd half as they came back for the win. At halftime the Timberwolves led by 18 and even after their dismal 3rd quarter they still led by 11 going into the 4th. It didn’t matter because Josh Smith scored 10 in the final period, with the majority coming after the Hawks opened a 7-0 run to start the quarter, cutting the Minnesota lead to only four. With the gap narrowed, Smith scored eight of his 10 4th quarter points in another Hawks run, this time a 14-0 spurt that put Atlanta on top where they remained for the rest of the game. Smith finished with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 5 blocked shots while Joe Johnson had a game-high 25 points and Josh Childress added 14. Al Jefferson was the leading scorer for Minnesota with 23 points and 16 rebounds while Marko Jaric added 16 and Antoine Walker scored 11.
Toronto 93 Chicago 78
The Toronto Raptors bounced back from their loss to Cleveland the night before by knocking the hapless Bulls down yet another notch on Sunday. While Bosh had been big on Saturday going for 41 points, yesterday it was a rookie and a reserve that led the way. Jose Calderon the backup point guard who was starting in place of the injured TJ Ford (arm stinger), controlled the tempo of the game and threw the Bulls out of sync with his precision passes, finishing with 19 points and 14 assists while recent rookie standout Jamario Moon continued his success in his starting spot, scoring 15 points, pulling down 9 boards and blocking 6 shots. Controlling the paint and changing Chicago’s shots, Moon made an even bigger presence than Ben Wallace did for the Bulls. While Chicago started out strong, leading 33-26 after one, they faltered from there, managing only 11 and 14 points in the 2nd and 4th quarters. While the Raptors led going into the 4th, they missed their first six shots of the quarter, but, came out on top as Chicago suffered a scoring drought for almost 6 minutes of the period and managed only 14 in the 12 minute period. Their lack of offense affected their defense as the Bulls were outscored by 9 in the final quarter. After the scoring drought was over, the game was out of reach for Chicago, who dropped to 2-10 on the season. Beyond Moon and Calderon, Bosh finished with 16 points and 13 boards while Carlos Delfino added 13 off of the bench for the Raptors. Luol Deng led the Bulls with 21 points and 9 rebounds while Ben Gordon added 17 and Kirk Hinrich scored 15.