By: Holly MacKenzie
1. Boston 58-15
2. Detroit 52-21
3. Orlando 47-27
4. Cleveland 41-33
5. Washington 38-35
6. Toronto 37-36
7. Philadelphia 37-37
8. Atlanta 33-40
9. New Jersey 31-43
10. Indiana 30-43
1. New Orleans 50-22
2. San Antonio 51-23
3. LA Lakers 50-24
4. Utah 48-26
5. Phoenix 49-24
6. Houston 49-24
7. Dallas 45-28
8. Denver 45-28
9.Golden State 45-28
10. Portland 38-36
Big games this past weekend for Golden State, Dallas and Denver and it only continues this week and onward. Those three are stuck in a three-way tie for the final two playoff spots in the West and after the Warriors found a way to win against Dallas last night, the two are facing off again Wednesday night on ESPN. Mark it down, this is a must see.
One of my favorite guys came up big last night for the Warriors. Not Jax, but Kelenna Azubuike. Buike played a team-high 44 minutes and finished with 15 points, answering the Mavericks every time they cut into the lead in the fourth. From Kentucky to the D-League to Golden State, it looks like he has found where he belongs.
Crazy game between the two teams. Jason Kidd and his horrible shot somehow manages to knock down three after three when it matters and finished one rebound short of a triple-double. Josh Howard has been on a tear since Dirk went down and he finished with 36 last night and Brandon Bass looked great for the Mavs as well, scoring 21 points in his 25 minutes off of the bench.
After the Nuggets grabbed the victory against Golden State on Saturday night, they move into the final playoff spot and the remaining schedules for each team come into play. The Warriors have a tough stretch coming up, facing San Antonio, Dallas, Memphis and New Orleans all on the road. Al Harrington said in his postgame interview that they feel the need to go 4-0 on the trip, but those are some hefty expectations. We shall see. I’m definitely pulling for them because the most exciting team in the league needs to be there for playoffs.
Kobe Bryant and his 53 against Memphis was pretty but the loss was so very ugly. They managed to escape with the victory last night against the Wizards but it took an overtime before they could close them out.
And, what is with Nick Young going all Stephen Curry on my team last night? I have been talking this kid up all season and this is my reward, pouring 27 on the Lakers and almost stealing the show in the fourth quarter and overtime. The kid was looking nice last night. Must have been fun for him to put on a show in front of his friends and family.
Caron is back and looking like he is in fine form, grabbing the triple-double against the Lakers. That has got to feel good against his former team. DeShawn Stevenson was feeling fine as well, knocking down 8-12 three-pointers as the Lakers could not cool him down one bit.
After stumbling against the Celtics on Friday night, Paul and crew were back to business as usual against the Raptors yesterday. David West surprises me with every great game he has, even though he has been having them all season. He’s just so efficient and quietly kills you. Looking down at the statsheet and he’s got 30, 35 without you even realizing it.
I wasn’t so hot on Morris Peterson hopping down to kiss the Toronto court. I know, I know, Ivy may have saw MJ do it in Chicago, but he and MJ are on a different page than Peterson. I still like him though and I’m happy he has fit in well in New Orleans. Seeing him toss his jersey to a kid wearing his Toronto one was sweet, the kid was so fired up he looked like he had just hit the game-winning shot for the championship.
Has everyone realized that the Celtics have 58 victories already? I’ve been so focused in on the Western Conference race that I definitely did not notice that one.
Amare is continuing to dominate offensively for the Suns. Seems Phoenix has died down in the media these past few weeks, but Amare is making sure his opponents feel his presence.
And, Kenyon Martin? 30 points from him in the Denver victory over Golden State Saturday night. His jumper was looking really nice and I was surprised with each shot that dropped. Always nice to see him play well.
Speaking of big games, after the Grizzlies won against the Lakers, they were looking to drop the Clippers and may have, had it not been for rookie Al Thornton. Thornton got to work and dropped in 39 points against Memphis Saturday night, including 20 in the fourth quarter alone.
Who wasn’t rooting for Davidson to win again yesterday? Brackets aside, their run through the tourney has been so much fun to watch. It was cool seeing Bron at the game and all of the Davidson people in their Witness T-shirts. I am such a sucker for all things NCAA. I really wanted Texas to pull out the victory against Memphis but it wasn’t to be.
All weekend I was flipping between NBA and NCAA games. It doesn’t get any better than that. I love this game.
Denver 119 Golden State 112
For Denver, the road to the playoffs is through Golden State or Dallas. Knowing if they want to make it to the post season they will have to take out one of these two teams, and their match up between the Warriors on Saturday night was a must win for them. The Nuggets were able to take care of business and use a strong third quarter to drop Golden State 119-112. With the score close throughout and Allen Iverson struggling from the floor, the difference maker for Denver was Kenyon Martin. He finished with a season-high 30 points and had an answer every time the Warriors closed in on them. After Denver had led by as many as 12 points, the Warriors used a strong effort early in the third quarter to come back and take the lead before Denver’s bench got involved and shut down the Golden State offense for over six minutes. By the time the Warriors had ended their scoring drought, the Nuggets had scored 15 straight to take the lead into the fourth quarter where they hung on despite Golden State cutting the lead down to three with three minutes remaining. Martin finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets while Carmelo Anthony had 25 points. JR Smith scored 20 points off of the bench to go with 7 assists, Iverson finished with 14 points and 8 assists and Marcus Camby added 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 blocked shots. Baron Davis led Golden Sate with 28 points and 7 assists while Stephen Jackson had 25 points, Monta Ellis scored 22 points and Andris Biedrins added 17 points and 17 rebounds.
Detroit 85 Cleveland 71
One game after the Pistons had clinched the Central division title, they came out and sent a message to LeBron James and the Cavaliers. If the two teams meet in the playoffs again this year, it will be an uphill battle for James and every game between the two will not be like the blowout the Cav’s put on Detroit earlier this month. After the Pistons led 29-18 at the end of the first quarter the Cavaliers found themselves playing catch up the rest of the way as they would never lead in the contest while Detroit ended up taking away the 85-71 victory. While Daniel Gibson returned for Cleveland, they were without Ben Wallace and Delonte West and they could not overcome the Pistons who held them to only 36% shooting. Richard Hamilton returned to the Detroit lineup and led the way defensively on James. By halftime the Detroit lead had swelled to 49-33 and it only got worse from there as they went ahead by as many as 25 points in the second half where the Cavaliers did not appear to put up much of a fight. Hamilton led Detroit with 14 points as Chauncey Bullups and Jason Maxiell scored 13 points apiece and Antonio McDyess added 12 points and 10 rebounds. James was held to only 13 points on 4-17 field goals for the Cavaliers. Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Devin Brown each scored 11 points and Joe Smith added 10 in the loss.
Boston 112 New Orleans 92
In a match up between the top teams in each conference things remained close until the third quarter where the Celtics showed they not only lead the Eastern Conference, they lead the NBA. After a loss to the Hornets only a week ago, they wanted this victory badly and Kevin Garnett led the way through defensive intensity, setting the tone for his team and leading them to the win. After New Orleans led 60-56 at the break, the Celtics came out focused in the third and outscored the Hornets 32-15, piecing together a 19-5 run to keep them ahead by double-digits at the start of the fourth. The Celtics shot 69% in the third quarter and finished 59% from the game while the Hornets came in at 43%. At the start of the fourth the Celtics led 88-75, and went on to outscore the Hornets 24-17 in the period going ahead by as many as 22 points before New Orleans would cut the deficit. Boston was led by Paul Pierce who had 27 points and 9 assists on the evening. Kevin Garnett had 21 points and 13 rebounds and Rajon Rondo showed up big playing opposite Chris Paul, added 17 points. Ray Allen and Leon Powe each scored 12 points for the Celtics. Paul finished with 22 points and 10 assists for New Orleans while Peja Stojakovic scored 17 and David West had 14 in the loss.
San Antonio 109 Houston 88
After the Rockets had won two games in a row they came to San Antonio looking to extend that streak but were quickly turned away. When the Rockets had taken an early three point lead in the opening minutes of the first quarter the Spurs took over and did not let up, routing Houston 109-88 Sunday afternoon. Trailing by 11 at the end of the first quarter, things only went downhill for Houston as the Spurs outscored them 31-24 in the second period and set a season-high for points in a half, leading 66-48. The second half was more of the same as San Antonio continued to pour it on offensively, while holding Houston to only 40% shooting in the game as they connected on 53% of their own shots. The Houston offense was stagnant, as evidenced by their 12 team assists for the game. In comparison, San Antonio had 21 team assists as they went ahead by as many as 25 points in the game. With the victory, the Spurs became the top seed in the Western Conference and the first team in the Conference to reach 51 victories. Both the LA Lakers and New Orleans Hornets are on their heels, each with 50 victories in the crowed Western Conference playoff race. Michael Finley and Tony Parker each scored 22 points for San Antonio while Manu Ginobili scored 14 and Tim Duncan added 13. Luis Scola led the Rockets with 24 points. Tracy McGrady and Rafer Alston scored 13 points apiece for Houston and Luther Head added 10.
LA Lakers 126 Washington 120 OT
After dropping their last two games to clubs with losing records, the Lakers knew they needed the victory against the Wizards. Problem was, Washington needed the win against LA and the two teams battled it out with the game going into overtime before the Lakers could stomp out Washington, 126-120. One game after Kobe Bryant scored 53 points in a loss against the Grizzlies he was content to set his teammates up early and then score late, adding six points in the overtime period where he was needed most. While the Lakers led 58-47 at the break, the Wizards came storming into the third quarter and dropped 39 points on LA in the period, tying the game at 86 going into the fourth. In the fourth it was the Nick Young show, as the rookie from USC came up time and time again for the Wizards. Young finished with a career-high 27 points and propelled the Wizards late in the fourth, helping to force overtime on a three-pointer by Caron Butler. In the extra session however, his youth showed as he turned the ball over late, leading to Bryant being sent to the line where he made three consecutive free throws to give LA a one point lead. A Young miss followed up by free throws from Sasha Vujacic was enough to keep LA ahead. Bryant finished with 26 points and 13 assists for the Lakers. Vladamir Radmanovic scored 18 points, Vujacic had 20 points and Luke Walton added 19. Lamar Odom had 10 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists and Derek Fisher scored 17. Young and DeShawn Stevenson each had 27 for the Wizards. Stevenson shot 9-15 from the floor, including 8-12 from beyond the arc. Butler finished with a triple-double, scoring 17 points, dishing 12 assists and grabbing 12 boards. Antawn Jamison also scored 17 points, to go with 9 rebounds and Brendan Haywood added 10 points.