By: Holly MacKenzie
Finally! After a four day hiatus for the All-Star break we are back. A big night on the schedule to jump right into with 10 different games to go through. The big day for me obviously, is today. Lakers @ Suns. Shaq’s debut. Kobe’s pinkie. Raja vs. Kobe. Shaq vs. the Suns offense. Amare and Shaq on the same team. It should be fun. Or nerve-racking. Most likely both.
After his ridiculous triple-double was wasted in the Cavs loss to Houston, LeBron joked that his dunk on Dirk in the All-Star game was because he was angry that Dirk “took his point guard”. Besides this, Bron was fantastic in the second half of the game against the Rockets last night, starting out 0-7 in the first half and finishing with a big triple-double. Another loss by Cleveland. It’s got to be frustrating.
The Celtics received their first loss against a Western Conference team last night, thanks to the Nuggets. While Iverson and Anthony will get the credit, Camby was one block away from a triple-double. No all-star status for him though.
I am not really going to say much about my team because I don’t want to jinx anything. I will simply say that if I could be anyone in the next 45 years it would be Dyan Cannon with her front row seats under the basket, by the Lakers bench. The Woman is hardcore and I can respect that. As for the pinkie? Holding by breath and living on a prayer, especially after the rumors that Andrew Bynum will be out longer than previously thought. Tonight is going to be something. Countdown has been on since the final buzzer sounded last night.
Stephen Jax left the game against the Jazz with an ankle sprain last night. Not sure how bad it is, but I was pretty disappointed to hear this. Wishing you the speediest of recoveries, Jax. Heard after the game that Baron had some trouble with his knee, but I have not heard anything else on this. Hopefully there is nothing there to report.
Mike Bibby had to leave the nightmare that was his first game as a Hawk because of a heel problem in the third quarter. He did not return to the game but didn’t seem worried when asked about it.
As I’m sure you all know there was a nice little altercation on the Knicks bench between players last night near the end of the game when the focus should have been on the actual game and not on who was splashing their water around. Of course, after this little issue the Knicks would go on to score 23 points in the overtime period as they defeated a depleted Wizards team, 113-100. I give up on New York, they defy all sense of logic and they bring out a new levels of frustration.
“I ain’t never before been so nervous in my life”
–CP3 in the locker room with David Aldridge before the ASG.
I love this guy. We are lucky, lucky people with the privilege of being able to look forward to all of the match ups between Paul and Deron that are in the future. Two wonderful point guards and wonderful people.
Houston 93 Cleveland 85
Picking up where they left off before the all-star break, the Houston Rockets won their ninth-straight game last night after dropping the Cavaliers, 93-85. While LeBron James turned a rough start (shooting 0-7 in the first half), into a fantastic game and another triple-double, it was not enough to get the Cavs over the hump as Houston turned a one-point lead after the first quarter into a seven point advantage at the start of the fourth. In the final period the Cavs would make a push and cut the lead to four early into the fourth. The Rockets did not give up any more of their lead the rest of the way as they countered the Cleveland push with three consecutive three-point plays to extend their lead back into double figures and from there they were able to thwart every James-led rally. The Rockets were led by Rafer Alston’s 22 points, Tracy McGrady’s 17 points and 8 assists and Yao Ming’s 16-point, 14-rebound performance. James finished with the 26-point, 13-rebound, 11-assist triple-double as Larry Hughes and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 16 points apiece in the loss.
Orlando 103 Detroit 85
After trailing 25-20 at the end of the first quarter, the Magic decided to beat the Pistons at their own game last night, using big second and third quarters to take control of the game on their way to a 103-85 thrashing of Detroit at the palace. Outscoring the Pistons 63-37 over those two periods, the Magic went into the fourth up big, 83-62. The Orlando lead was due in large part to their hot shooting beyond the arc, finishing the game shooting over 65% from the three-point line as they knocked down 13-20 as a team. In the final period, the benches got to play as the Pistons finished the game shooting only 38% while Orlando came in at 48%. The most frustrating part of the night for Detroit was that they were not beat by all-star Dwight Howard as he finished with only 8 points and 8 rebounds, content to watch his teammates lead the way. Rashard Lewis scored 20 points, Keith Bogans had 19 points and Maurice Evans added 16. Hedo Turkoglu added 12 points and 6 assists and Jameer Nelson scored 11. The Pistons were led by rookie Rodney Stuckey with 16 points while Richard Hamilton scored 12 points, Rasheed Wallace had 10 points and Antonio McDyess added 8 points to go with his 14 rebounds.
San Antonio 85 Charlotte 65
In their first game back from a nine-game road trip the Spurs started out slow against the Bobcats. Managing only 13 points in the first quarter, they took their time to find their footing and begin their methodical dissection of the Bobcats going on to defeat them, 85-65. While the Spurs finished the game strong to end up with a 43% shooting percentage, they held the Bobcats to a dismal 28% from the floor. They also out-rebounded them 54-38 and hit nine three’s as compared to the four that Charlotte connected on. San Antonio held a 54-49 lead at the start of the fourth and would outscore the Bobcats 31-16 in the period as they would stretch their lead to as many as 23 points in the final minutes. Manu Ginobli led the Spurs with 18 points, Michael Finley had 14 and Ime Udoka scored 12 points while grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing 5 assists off of the bench as Tim Duncan struggled from the field, grabbing 15 rebounds but shooting only 2-12 as he scored 7 points on the night. As much as Duncan struggled for San Antonio, Gerald Wallace was even worse for the Bobcats as he finished the game scoreless, going 0-9 from the floor. Raymond Felton led Charlotte offensively, scoring 19 points while Jason Richardson scored 13 points and Nazr Mohammed added 12. Emeka Okafor scored only 2 points but pulled down 10 rebounds in the loss.
Denver 124 Boston 118
The Celtics had Kevin Garnett back on the floor in uniform, but the Nuggets won the battle of the all-stars as Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony led the Nuggets over the Celtics, 124-118 in Denver last night. While it was the first game back from the all-star break, neither team appeared rusty as the offense was flowing all around and the two teams were tied at the break, 61 all. In the second half, the Nuggets managed to take a four point lead into the final quarter where they were able to extend their lead to as many as 10 points before Ray Allen would lead the Celtics back, cutting the Denver lead down to three, 121-118 with 13 seconds on the clock. The Nuggets would remain calm as Anthony knocked down two free throws before Eddie House and Kevin Garnett each missed three-pointers to finish the game out. Denver shot 51% for the game as compared to 44% shooting for Boston and the Nuggets attempted 49 free throws, making 34 of them while Boston attempted and made 19-28 free throws. Anthony scored 29 points in the contest while Iverson had 28 points 7 rebounds and 9 assists. Kenyon Martin scored 19 points and Marcus Camby fell just short of a triple-double with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 9 blocked shots. Paul Pierce scored 24 points and dished 7 assists for the Celtics as Rajon Rondo scored 22 points, Ray Allen had 20 points and Leon Powe added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Sacramento 105 Portland 94
With each team in the middle of a losing streak the match up between Sacramento and Portland was a grind it out win for the Kings as they were led by Ron Artest in their first game of the post-Bibby era to grab the 105-94 victory against the Trailblazers. While Portland led by as many as six early in the third, they gave up a 17-4 run to the Kings who led 68-61 at the end of it and took a 70-65 lead into the fourth. The Kings led the rest of the way, but Travis Outlaw would score consecutive baskets to cut the lead to four with 1:51 remaining before they were outscored 9-2 to finish out the game. Artest led the way with 24 points, Francisco Garcia scored 23 points and Kevin Martin finished with 21 points as Brad Miller added 15 points and 9 rebounds. The Blazers were led by Travis Outlaw and his 23 points off of the bench as Martell Webster scored 18 and Jarrett Jack added 9 points and 11 assists.
Seattle 108 Memphis 101
The Grizzlies continued to struggle in the early days without Pau Gasol and last night they were unable to grab a win against the Sonics despite Kevin Durant sitting out with the flu. Without their star rookie, Seattle had Earl Watson step up as they held on to stomp out the Grizzlies 108-101 last night. It was a game that Memphis should have been able to win, especially so after going up by as many as 19 points early in the third quarter. Seattle slowly put themselves together as they chipped away at the lead in the third, outscoring the Grizz 32-16 to take a two-point advantage into the fourth. In the final period, the Sonics came dangerously close to giving the game away in the final minutes as they turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions, but were able to hold on thanks to clutch shooting from Wally Szczerbiak and some errors and missed free throws on behalf of Memphis. Szczerbiak finished with 24 points off of the bench as Watson had 26 points and 9 assists. Nick Collison scored 12 points to go with 9 rebounds and Jeff Green added 11 points and 9 rebounds. Rudy Gay led Memphis with 23 points while Hakim Warrick had 22 and Juan Carlos Navarro scored 16. Mike Conley Jr. added 8 points and 9 assists in the loss.
Utah 119 Golden State 109
While Golden State is the team that gets the press for its offense, last night Utah showed they had no problem keeping up. After downing the Warriors 119-109, the Jazz got their 13th consecutive home win while continuing to keep themselves in the playoff race out west. With the two teams tied at 36 points after the first quarter, Utah held Golden State to 28 points in the second while exploding for 41 points of their own to take a 77-64 lead at the half. The Warriors were unable to cut the lead in the third as Utah took a 102-85 lead into the fourth where Don Nelson benched his starters. Golden State simply could not manage to stop Utah. The game was over before the final period began, but not before Stephen Jackson could injure an ankle in the third. Deron Williams scored 29 points to go with 12 assists while Andrei Kirilenko scored 18 points and Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur scored 16 points apiece with Boozer grabbing 12 boards and Okur adding 10. Monta Ellis had 18 points for the Warriors who also got a 17-point night from Baron Davis and 21 points from Al Harrington as Kelenna Azubuike scored 14 points and grabbed 4 steals.
Minnesota 104 Philadelphia 88
While the Timberwolves had struggled before the break the 76er’s had been on a roll. Last night, both of those streaks came to an end as the Timberwolves jumped on Philadelphia from the opening tip to get the 104-88 victory on their home floor. Leading 53-44 at the break, things really started to roll for Minnesota in the second half as they turned a 12-point lead at the start of the fourth into a 22-point advantage midway through. With their starters watching from the sidelines, the bench finished the game out strong as the TWolves had seven players finish in double-figures as opposed to only three for Philadelphia. Al Jefferson had 19 points and 14 rebounds to lead Minny while Rashad McCants scored 20 off of the bench, Marko Jaric had 15, and Randy Foye scored 13. Andre Iguodala had 17 points for the 76er’s as Andre Miller had 15 points and Thaddeus Young had 12 to be the only other players to reach double-figures.
LA Lakers 117 Atlanta 93
After nine games on the road the Lakers brought a nice surprise back home to STAPLES. Besides their record-setting 7-2 finish on the trip, the crowd got their first glimpse at the newest Laker, Pau Gasol. He did not disappoint as the Lakers tore into the Hawks from the get-go, spoiling Mike Bibby’s first game with his new team. The Laker offense continued to flourish as it has since the addition of Gasol seven games ago. After leading 32-14 at the end of the first, the Laker offense erupted for 41 points in the second quarter, giving them a 73-37 lead at the break after leading by as many as 41 points in the first half. Thing didn’t get any better for Atlanta in the second as they lost Bibby in the third quarter to a heel injury and he would not return. The Hawks would trim the lead, but even with the Lakers bench playing the fourth quarter, the game was too far out of reach. The Lakers were led by Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant who scored 23 points apiece with Bryant adding 5 steals. Lamar Odom had 17 points and 15 rebounds and Vladamir Radmanovic added 14 points. Joe Johnson had 18 points to lead the Hawks, while Josh Childress and Acie Law added 16 points apiece and Zaza Pachulia added 12 points and 12 boards in the blowout.