By: Holly MacKenzie
Only three games on the schedule last night, but they were some good ones. While there was some messy basketball being played the games were still pretty entertaining. The double-overtime marathon between Portland and Chicago was fun, even when I thought it was never going to end. Joe Smith was huge for Chicago as was Ben Gordon down the stretch, but the story is these Trailblazers who are continuing to grow and inspire game by game. I loved having Jack and Roy in the lineup together and after the game was over you can see how close all of the guys are. Their chemistry looks great and they don’t need to mess with anything. Brandon Roy and the rest of this young team can teach the rest of the league a few things about teamwork.
The Denver/SA game was a low-scoring one but I enjoyed watching the defensive efforts of Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin. Camby has been great for the Nuggets this season. I didn’t expect for them to defeat the Spurs, but they did and it was the defense that was the story. Camby had that triple-double with 10 blocks a few weeks back and this was his 10th game with at least 18 boards.
I was in a little bit of shock when I noticed that the Sonics were up by 20 against the Suns. After scoring only 13 points in a pathetic first quarter they turned things on in the second and were down only two at the half. Phoenix was up for most of the second half, but Seattle was persistent and hung around until the end. Steve Nash in a headband was fun. The Suns with the headbands played almost as badly as the Lakers did in the short-shorts. It is funny to me how everyone is talking about how badly the Suns are playing and with the win last night, they are in first place in the West and only Boston and Detroit have more wins than they do.
It’s been mentioned before, but I will say it again. Tomorrow night is Boston vs. Detroit, round 2. Can’t wait to catch that. The late game tonight should be a good match-up between New Orleans and Golden State. Lets see how the Warriors bounce back from that horrible fourth quarter in Dallas.
Portland 115 Chicago 109 2OT
Second night of a back-to-back for both teams and at the end of this one they were tired. In a grind it out game the Trailblazers had just enough in the tank to overcome the Bulls and defeat them 115-109 in Chicago last night. While Chicago led for most of the first half and went up by as many as 14 points in the third Portland charged back and took the lead in the final minutes before Gordon hit a jumper to tie the game with 1:05 left in regulation. Both teams would miss their next shots and the game went into an overtime period that saw the two teams battle back and forth and the combination of Ben Gordon and Joe Smith tied things for Chicago every time Portland would take the lead forcing a second overtime. In the second extra session, Jarrett Jack came up huge for Portland as he got the layup to go and the foul to complete the three-point play to put Portland up 111-108 with 19 seconds on the clock. In the final seconds James Jones hit all four of his free throws and Portland got to take away their 15th victory in 16 games. Roy finished with 25 points and 11 assists, Travis Outlaw had 21 points off of the bench, LaMarcus Aldridge added a 14-point, 13-rebound double-double and Jarrett Jack was instrumental off of the bench with 17 points. Gordon led the Bulls with 32 points off of the bench and Joe Smith had a season-high 31 points to go along with 11 rebounds. Ben Wallace had 12 points and 14 rebounds and Kirk Hinrich added 12 points and 9 assists.
Denver 80 San Antonio 77
It was their defensive effort that gave the Denver Nuggets the 80-77 victory over the Spurs last night. While the game was close early, Denver used a 13-2 run to start the second quarter to go up by as many as 16 points in the first half. In the second, the game was close throughout and the fourth quarter was a battle that was won by defensive will. Denver forced Tim Duncan into shooting only 7-20 for the game and having two costly turnovers in the final minutes with the game on the line. While San Antonio led 75-73 with under three minutes left in the game Anthony Carter hit a three-pointer and then stripped Duncan on the following play which lead to a basket by Kenyon Martin to give the Nuggets a one point lead with 45 seconds on the clock. On the Spurs next possession Martin blocked Tony Parker and then Allen Iverson was sent to the line with 6.6 seconds left and he hit both free throws to give Denver a three point lead. On the final possession for the Spurs, Martin switched to Michael Finley and altered the three-point attempt at the buzzer to give Denver the game. Allen Iverson led the way offensively, scoring 29 points while Carmelo Anthony added 17 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists and Marcus Camby pulled down 18 rebounds and blocked 4 shots. Martin finished with a career-high 7 blocked shots as the Nuggets had 14 blocked shots as a team. Tony Parker had 20 points and 9 assists for the Spurs despite having seven of his shots blocked by the Nuggets and shooting only 8-19 from the floor. Duncan finished with 20 and 14 but it took him 20 shots to get there. Michael Finley added 18 points for the Spurs that seem lost without Manu Ginobili who missed his fourth straight game.
Phoenix 104 Seattle 96
Midway through the first quarter and the Suns were down 20 points to Seattle. It was retro night in Phoenix and the Suns high-octane offense was nowhere to be found. Luckily for them, Amare Stoudemire got hot quickly and the Suns turned what could have been an embarrassing loss into a come from behind victory. At the end of the first quarter the Suns were down 33-13 to the Sonics. It was their lowest scoring quarter of the season and they did not want the rest of the game to go as that period had. In the second, they bounced back and out-rebounded, out-hustled and out-shot Seattle, stunning them when their lead was cut to only two points at the half. In the third quarter it was a whole new game and the Suns turned a 58-57 advantage into a 9-point lead at the start of the fourth. In the final period, Stoudemire was too much for the Sonics. He had 14 points in the quarter and when the game got close in the final minutes, he was solid, scoring and then coming up with a big steal on the final play of the game before knocking down free throws when it mattered. Raja Bell hit two big free throws with under a minute in the game to provide Phoenix with some breathing room. Stoudemire led Phoenix with 34 points and 11 rebounds, Steve Nash scored 17 points to go with 10 assists and Leandro Barbosa added 16 points off of the bench. Shawn Marion had 11 points and 14 rebounds and Bell added 11 points and 3 blocked shots for the Suns. Kevin Durant led Seattle in the loss, scoring 28 points while Kurt Thomas had 14 points and 12 rebounds against his former team. Earl Watson had 20 points and 8 assists and Jeff Green added 14.