By Holly MacKenzie
I loved watching the Raptors last night. Jose Calderon is just playing out of his mind. Another 10 assist, 0 turnover performance. That means for the past four games he has dished a crazy 45 assists with only 3 turnovers. As much as I like watching him play, I love his passion and intensity on the bench. He reminds me of Steve Nash in that respect, constantly cheering his teammates on and willing them to get up and stay intense for the duration of the game. Even when they are up by 20.
Did anyone else find it weird that LeBron changed into his street clothes at halftime? Maybe it’s just that I don’t usually notice players when they don’t return to play and with LeBron I couldn’t help but notice him as we had constant close-ups of his injured hand which also happened to be full on crotch-shots. Come on cameramen, did we really need 18 close-ups on the same wrapped hand? I think not. It was absolutely insane to see the Cavs breakdown without LeBron. We all know he is their MVP but, damn.
The Warriors comeback was great to watch. I can’t believe Sacramento went scoreless in the final 3:43 of the game. That is just horrible. Stephen Jackson is always fun to watch but he really has been the difference for Golden State since he has returned. His energy is infectious and his impact immeasurable on the team. They look like the confident guys from the playoffs last year and that downcast, defeated team from the first few games of the season has all but disappeared.
Dwight was untouchable last night. Seattle didn’t have a hope in hell of stopping him and they tried throwing everything they had at him. Collison ended up having his nose broken by the Kobe swat the night before and he missed that game and will miss at least two more before being evaluated by doctors. Dwight’s nine dunks were beautiful. His whole game was beautiful and even his free throws looked better. I had been toying with the idea of going to Seattle to catch the game and again, I am kicking myself this morning as I should have gone! Oh well, it was great to see even if it was via television rather than live. I feel so badly for the Seattle fans. They will be losing their team soon enough and the Sonics are still winless at home? Brutal. Get a home win, and soon.
Yao was huge against Phoenix last night and that is enough about that. Tony Parker had a great game for San Antonio and I was happy to see Atlanta win. With so many games on the schedule and hockey being all over the place here in Canada, I haven’t even been able to catch the highlights from all of the games yet, so I look forward to seeing those from the Dallas/Minnesota game as well as the Indiana/Portland contest. Tonight it is Golden State/Houston, Denver/Lakers and Boston/NY. Should be interesting.
Utah 106 Philadelphia 95
After stopping the Bucks in Milwaukee on Tuesday night, the 76er’s returned home to Philadelphia and Utah made sure it was not a nice homecoming. While the game was a close one in the 1st quarter, Utah outscored Philly in both the 2nd and 3rd quarters to build a 77-68 lead at the start of the 4th. In the final period, Carlos Boozer went to work, scoring 12 of his 26 points in the quarter to ensure Utah did not surrender their lead. It worked, as Philadelphia did not get any closer than five points for the rest of the game. Utah shot 54.9% for the game while Philadelphia trailed, knocking down only 42.9% of their shots. In addition to Boozer’s 26 points, Ronnie Brewer had 19 and Deron Williams scored 15 points and dished 15 assists while Mehmet Okur added 16 points of his own. Andre Iguodala led Philly with 20 points, Andre Miller had 16 and Louis Williams added 13.
Toronto 103 Memphis 91
While the Raptors were without TJ Ford again and lost both Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani in the contest against the Grizzlies last night, they still had Jose Calderon and that was all they needed. While Memphis outscored Toronto by two in the 1st quarter, they faded fast in the 2nd quarter and the Raptors outscored them by 20 as they held them to only 10 points in the quarter to blow the game wide open and take an 18-point halftime lead. Memphis shot only 3-19 in the quarter. The rest of the way, was more of the same and it wasn’t until the 4th quarter that Memphis seemed to find its footing again, in the garbage minutes of the game. The Raptors led by as many as 28 points in the game with seven players reaching double-figures. Anthony Parker had 19 points while Carlos Delfino and Jason Kapano each had 14 points and Jose Calderon added 13 points and 10 assists. Juan Carlos Navarro had 15 points to lead the Grizzlies while Pau Gasol added 13. Stromile Swift and Kyle Lowry each had 12 points in the loss.
Atlanta 96 Milwaukee 80
The Atlanta Hawks got a big win over the Bucks last night and it came as a result of their strong play in the final quarter to take control of the game and run away with the victory. Usually, it is in close situations where the youth of the Hawks show, last night it was their poise as they used a 13-2 run to shock Milwaukee. It was a game of runs as the Hawks held a 16 point lead in the 1st half before all but surrendering it on the 2nd, with Milwaukee getting as close as three before Josh Smith keyed the 13-2 run in the final period to stretch the lead and protect their victory. The Hawks can thank their reserves for the win as they outscored the Bucks bench 43-7 in the game. Atlanta had six players in double-figures with Joe Johnson leading the way, scoring 21 points. Al Horford and Josh Childress each had 12 points and Josh Smith added 10 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 blocked shots. Michael Redd had 24 points for the Bucks, while Mo Williams added 23 points and 9 assists but, also had 6 turnovers in the contest. Andrew Bogut was strong in the loss with 18 points 11 rebounds and 4 blocks in the game.
Detroit 109 Cleveland 74
After being on quite the roll this season, LeBron was stopped last night. It wasn’t the Piston’s defense that stopped him, it was an injured index finger that kept him on the bench in street clothes for the 2nd half of the game. The view from the bench wasn’t a nice one, as the Pistons turned a 48-43 halftime lead into a 109-74 thrashing without LeBron in the lineup. Detroit outscored Cleveland 61-31 in the second half as everything for Cleveland stood at a standstill without their superstar. Although he played only 20 minutes, all in the 1st half, LeBron was the Cavs leading scorer and finished with 15 points while Sasha Pavlovic had 13 points and Drew Gooden had 9 points and 9 rebounds in the loss. Richard Hamilton led the Pistons with 18 points while Tayshaun Prince had 16 and Antonio McDyess scored 14 points and pulled down 8 boards. While Detroit held Cleveland to 40% shooting in the game they shot 58.4% as a team.
San Antonio 109 Washington 94
While the Washington Wizards have performed well without Gilbert Arenas they were no match for San Antonio last night as the Spurs ran away with a 109-94 victory on their home court. While San Antonio was up 49-46 at the half, they took control in the 3rd behind Tony Parker’s five baskets in the quarter. While they extended their lead to as many as 18 points in the game, Washington showed some grit as they fought back in the 4th, cutting the lead down to six in the opening minutes of the quarter before Parker responded, scoring 10 points down the stretch to keep the Spurs on top. Parker finished with 29 points, 20 of them coming in the second half. He also had 11 assists and 8 rebounds in the game while Manu Ginobili had 19 points off of the bench and Tim Duncan finished with 16 points. Bruce Bowen held Caron Butler to 16 points for the Wizards while Antawn Jamison scored only 12 and Brendan Haywood led the team with 19 points.
Dallas 109 Minnesota 103
After dropping three straight, the Mavericks had a new-look starting lineup in their game against the Timberwolves. It ended up working as the Mavs held on for the 109-103 victory. Jason Terry and Erick Dampier slid into the starting lineup as Terry finished with 12 points and Dampier added 8 points and 10 rebounds. It was Dirk Nowitzki that came up big in the final minutes for Dallas, hitting six consecutive free throws to keep the Mavs on top. He was perfect from the line on the night, knocking down all 13 of his attempts and finishing with 27 points and 11 rebounds in the victory. Devin Harris had a role in the victory adding 22 points of his own on 9-10 shooting. Al Jefferson was huge for Minnesota, scoring 31 points and hauling down 14 boards while Rashad McCants finished with 21 points, none bigger than his three-point play that cut the Dallas lead to 108-103 with 29 seconds left in the game. Minnesota wouldn’t get any closer as Terry hit a free throw and Jefferson misfired in the final seconds, leaving Dallas free to claim the victory.
Houston 100 Phoenix 94
In a game that was close in the first half, Houston held on in the 2nd as Phoenix struggled to keep up, and ultimately came up short. While Amare Stoudemire had a nice game, he was no match for Yao Ming who finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds, shooting 12-19 from the floor. While Houston led 56-52 at the half, the two teams were even in the 3rd, each scoring 21 points, leaving Houston up 77-73 at the start of the 4th. In the final period the Suns got within two points as they cut the lead to 96-94, but Yao and the Rockets stayed calm and they got a boost from Steve Francis off of the bench to help secure the victory. Francis finished with 9 points and 7 assists off of the bench, but his play of the game was a block on Stoudemire with 16.9 left on the clock and Houston up 4. While Steve Nash had a big night offensively as he led the Suns with 29 points, he dished only 6 assists as the Suns only had 18 team assists in the game. In addition to Yao’s big night, Tracy McGrady added 18 points and Rafer Alston had 15. Stoudemire finished with 25 points and 9 rebounds in the loss and Shawn Marion added 18 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 blocked shots. Houston out-rebounded Phoenix 47-34 and shot 51.9% in the game while holding the Suns to only 41.5% field goals.
Golden State 103 Sacramento 96
It took until the final minutes, but Golden State found a way to win against the Kings, going on an 11-0 run to take the lead as Sacramento went scoreless over the final 3:43 of the game. Stephen Jackson was instrumental in the run, hitting two big threes within 20 seconds of each other to put Golden State up 98-96 with just over a minute left in the game. Monta Ellis hit two free throws with under a minute left, extending the lead to 100-96, and then Matt Barnes and Al Harrington added to the lead with free throws and the final score was 103-96. Besides Stephen Jackson’s 21 points, Monta Ellis had 22 points for Golden State and Baron Davis added 19. Kevin Martin was the high-scorer for Sacramento with 28 points in the loss while Ron Artest had 21 points and 9 rebounds and Brad Miller scored 10 points to go along with his 18 rebounds. The Kings out-rebounded Golden State by 10, but it was their inability to score when it mattered that did them in as they shot only 34.5% for the game.
Indiana 95 Portland 89
While Indiana played the night before, it was Portland who looked like they didn’t have their legs under them in their loss to the Pacers last night. In a first half that was close throughout, Portland led 46-42 at the break, but were helpless as Indiana broke out a 17-0 run in the 3rd to take a 67-55 lead going into the 4th. While the Pacers were again without Jermaine O’neal, their team came up big as Danny Granger led the way with 23 points and Mike Dunleavy added 20 points and 11 rebounds. Jeff Foster had 11 points and 17 rebounds, including 8 offensive giving the Pacers extra opportunities to score and hold off the Trailblazers. Jamaal Tinsley added 15 points, 10 assists and 5 steals. While Portland cut the Pacer lead to 89-86 on a jumper by Travis Outlaw with under a minute in the game, the Pacers responded with a jumper by Tinsley to seal the win. Outlaw led Portland with 26 points while Brandon Roy had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 22 points to go along with 9 rebounds.
Orlando 110 Seattle 94
While Rashard Lewis had his worst game of the season against his old team, his teammate Dwight Howard took care of business as he had a career-night to lead his team to a 110-94 victory over Seattle last night. On their way to the victory Orlando outscored Seattle in each of the four quarters in the game and as soon as there was a Seattle threat Keith Bogans stood strong, knocking down three three-pointers in the final four minutes of the game to keep the Magic on top. While Lewis finished only 3-19 from the floor for 9 points to go along with 10 rebounds, Howard scored a career-high 39 points to go along with 16 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. Seattle had no answer for him and he threw down nine dunks in the game. Carlos Arroyo had 14 assists for the Magic while Hedo Turkoglu added 15 points and 10 rebounds. In the loss Kevin Durant was the high-scorer for the Sonics with 22 points, but he shot only 6-21 from the floor.Wally Szczerbiak added 20 off of the bench and Damien Wilkins scored 14 as the Sonics were without Nick Collison for the first of three games after he sustained a broken nose in the Sonics loss to LA Tuesday evening.