The Post Up: From Ten to One

by March 17, 2008
10

By: Holly MacKenzie

Eastern Conference

1. Boston 52-13

2. Detroit 48-18

3. Orlando 44-24

4. Cleveland 38-29

5. Toronto 34-32

6. Washington 33-32

7. Philadelphia 30-33

8. New Jersey 28-38

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9. Atlanta 28-38

10. Chicago 26-39

Western Conference

1. Houston 46-20

2. LA Lakers 45-21

3. New Orleans 44-21

4. Utah 44-24

5.Phoenix 44-22

6. San Antonio 44-22

7. Dallas 44-23

8. Golden State 41-24
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9.Denver 40-26

10. Portland 35-32

One week closer to the playoffs and one more weekend behind us. The NBA is just crazy this year. Where to start? Houston getting 22 in a row, Nuggets dropping 168(!), Utah wins on the road against Boston, excitement all around.

Of course the biggest story of this Monday is HOUSTON! 22 straight wins and they don’t appear to be slowing down. They have had blowouts and close games and they have managed to find a way to win while every opponent has given their all to stop this streak. We were all moaning about another disappointing Houston season while they were in the 10TH spot only 22 games ago, they have now taken their place at the top of the Western Conference with their victory over the Lakers yesterday.

Who could have thought that the Rockets would win in a game where McGrady did not score his first points until the third quarter? That Rafer Alston would be the guy to kill, dropping in eight three-pointers, scoring a career-high 31 points and almost murdering Sasha Vujacic in the final minutes? 10 straight victories since Yao went down? They simply find a way to win.

Seriously though, what the Rockets have done is remarkable. While I felt like my heart had been ripped out, wrung out and then set on fire, seeing Dikembe on the bench celebrating like he had been given the best gift in the world was pretty sweet. Not the first time, not even the second, but after some time had settled even I had to admit that was great. Now, they have to face Boston on Tuesday. Will they be able to push past the number one team in the league to continue this streak or will it stop at 22?

I agree with JVG who commented on Shane Battier’s defense on Kobe. I don’t remember the last time I saw someone get a hand up and literally get a hand UP and in their man’s face like that. He was on Kobe like glue.

About Rafer… I hype the guy up all season and how does he pay me back? By murdering my team. Brilliant.

I’m just going to congratulate all Rockets fans. I know how pumped I would be so, while I wanted my team to take your streak away, those guys in red are killing it and have been for damn near two months now! Enjoy it.

As for the Lakers, life is tough without a bigman. Ronny and Mbenga will not cut it. Enough on that.

Now to talk about what happened last night in Denver. I could not believe my eyes. 48 points in the first quarter. 84 points in not one but both halves, 168 points in a game. In regulation. Insanity. I’ve got to give it to Seattle, dropping 116 points and losing by…..FIFTY-TWO points. Disgusting. Or disgustingly fantastic if you are a Nuggets fan. In case you were wondering, it was the fourth highest point total for regulation in NBA history.

While the game was on, I started thinking about Delonte and Wally and how they will be thanking their lucky stars extra hard before they go to sleep after watching that loss for Seattle. I don’t even want to imagine how frustrated PJ Carlesimo must have been.

While blowouts are usually boring this one was anything but as I had to continuously revise my predicted point-total for the Nuggets. Marcus Camby had the triple-double with 13 points 15 rebounds and 10 assists. While I don’t want them to take Golden State’s spot, if they can continue to outscore everyone they will make the playoffs. So, the question is, who is going to slip in the West?

Jason Maxiell’s block on Tyson Chandler was pretty damn nice yesterday. JR Smith’s dunk against the Sonics was fierce, too.

Jarvis Hayes ? Nice game. Those three’s were looking pretty. It pained me to see CP3 with his gimpy ankle. Not as much as it hurt to see Pau crutching his way in to the arena with that damn walking boot on.

Toronto needs Bosh back asap. They are pretty tough to watch without him in the line up.

My guy Gil is getting closer and closer to his comeback. I’ve got my fingers crossed and I’m hoping that all goes well this week and he is back sooner rather than later. I’m a little nervous though, because I think this past year of surgeries has taken its toll on him mentally. I’m going to miss checking those outfits on the bench, but I’m hyped to have him and Caron back. The win over Cleveland last week got me fired up. Hopefully once he gets back out there on the floor his swagger will return and he will be the one and only Agent Zero.

Not sure if I mentioned it on Friday, but Smush is back in LA and he is back to balling at Staples. Why Clips, why?

The Mavericks blowing out the Heat by 25 seems like a close game in comparison to the Nuggets offensive explosion. How many teams have finished with less than the 84 point halves that Denver strung together tonight?

Amare has been looking really, really good lately. I’m not ready to comment on the state of the Suns as a whole, but I’m having fun watching Mr. Stoudemire attack the rim with a ferocity that few can match.

Tonight we have a bunch of games but the two match ups that I am looking forward to are the Cleveland/Orlando game and the San Antonio/Boston game. I really can’t wait to see what happens when Boston heads to Houston on the second night of this back-to-back.I know, we’ve got lots of college stuff to discuss as well. Feel free to start discussing it in here and don’t worry, we will have you covered later on this week when things start happening with this March Madness deal. Now, I’ve got to go figure out my bracket.

New Jersey 117 Utah 115

The Utah Jazz’s road woes continued Saturday night as they dropped a close 117-115 decision to the Nets in New Jersey. After leading by as many as 10 points in the second quarter, outscoring the Nets 28-18, the Jazz defense collapsed in the fourth quarter as they gave up a 36-point final period to New Jersey and were helpless in trying to stop the Nets as they came back to tie the game at 98 midway through the quarter. The rest of the way through the two teams would battle back and forth trading leads until the final minute where the game was tied at 115. While both teams would miss on their next two possessions, the Nets got the ball back for a final shot and with 1.5 seconds remaining in the half, Richard Jefferson hit a jumper to give the Nets the two-point victory. Jefferson finished with 27 points for the Nets while Vince Carter scored 25 points and Devin Harris added 19 points and 12 assists. Bostjan Nachbar added 16 points off of the bench. Carlos Boozer had 41 points in the loss for the Jazz. Deron Williams scored 11 points to go with 16 assists, Kyle Korver scored 18 off of the bench and Mehmet Okur added 17.

Philadelphia 103 San Antonio 96

With their home crowd energized and fully behind them, the Philadelphia 76er’s continued their winning ways as they dropped the Spurs 103-96 in an impressive victory Saturday night. After going ahead by as many as 13 points in the first half, the 76er’s were able to weather the Spurs attempt at a comeback late in the third quarter as they cut the deficit to six points. By the start of the fourth, Philly was up by 10 again. The Spurs would not get any closer than six in the fourth quarter as Andre Miller responded every time that San Antonio threatened. Miller finished with 32 points and 7 assists for Philly, Andre Iguodala scored 25 points, Samuel Dalembert had a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double and Louis Williams added 12 off of the bench. The Spurs were led by Tony Parker’s 27 points, while Manu Ginobili scored 22 points to go with 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Tim Duncan had 16 points and Bruce Bowen added 10 in the loss.

Houston 104 LA Lakers 92

Facing the LA Lakers withoutPau Gasoldid not ensure an easy path to victory for the Rockets. It didn’t matter though, because this Houston team couldn’t have cared less who was or was not playing for the Lakers. They were concerned with one thing only and that was protecting and extending their winning streak. It reached 22 straight games with their 104-92 victory over the Lakers yesterday afternoon. After being outscored 35-21 in the second quarter, LA found themselves trailing 59-44 at the break. In the third, the Lakers came out the aggressors and shut down Houston for half of the period, holding them to only 12 points in the quarter as they scored 22 points and cut their deficit to 71-66, going into the fourth. The final period was all Houston as the Lakers could not stop them from hitting outside the arc. While the Lakers would get within two on different occasions, the Rockets would step up to extend their lead and LA cracked under the pressure in the final minutes of the game as the Rockets extended their lead into double-digits thanks to a career-high 31 points from Rafer Alston, including eight three-pointers. The Rockets also got a 19-point performance form Bobby Jackson off of the bench while Shane Battier scored 14 points, Luis Scola had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Tracy McGrady added 11 points. Kobe Bryant led LA with 24 points, Lamar Odom had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Ronny Turiaf scored 13 points as the Lakers shot only 41% for the game.

Cleveland 98 Charlotte 91With the return of Zydruas Ilgauskas, the usual superb play of LeBron James and a key play from their newest addition, the Cavaliers were able to drop the Bobcats, 98-90 last night. While leading by 13 early and 11 in the fourth quarter, Cleveland found themselves fall victim to a late run by Jason Richardson who scored nine straight points to cut the Cavalier lead to only one, 92-91 in the final minute of the contest. With the game on the line it was new Cavalier Delonte West, who stepped up to hit a jumper and extend the Cleveland lead to three before the combo of James and Ben Wallace forced Richardson to miss on his next attempt. The Bobcats would not score again and the Cavaliers would clinch the game at the foul line. James finished with 33 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists for Cleveland. Ilgauskas had 16 points and 9 rebounds in his return, Sasha Pavlovic scored 11 points and Devin Brown added 10 off of the bench. The Bobcats were led by Richardson’s 33 points, Raymond Felton scored 14 to go with 9 assists and Emeka Okafor had 10 points and 12 rebounds. Nazr Mohammed added 9 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.

Detroit 105 New Orleans 84

While Chris Paul sprained his ankle in the Hornets victory against the Lakers on Friday night, at least he was available for the game against Detroit. David West missed the contest with an ankle sprain and the Hornets missed his presence as they suffered a blowout loss to the Pistons Sunday afternoon. After trailing by five points at the end of the first quarter (26-21), the Pistons changed things in the second, scoring 34 points while holding New Orleans to only 18 as they took a 55-44 halftime lead. In the third the Hornets tried to trim the deficit but they were unable to cut into the Piston lead at all and went into the fourth still trailing by 11 points. In the fourth, things only got worse for New Orleans as they fell behind by as many as 24 points in the quarter before losing by a final score of 105-84. The star of the day was Detroit reserve Jarvis Hayes, who scored 19 points in the second quarter alone and finished with 29 points while shooting 7-9 on three-pointers. Chauncey Billups scored 17 points, Tayshaun Prince had 13 points and Jason Maxiell had 9 points and 9 rebounds. Chris Paul had 14 points and 14 assists despite the ankle, Peja Stojakovic scored 21 points on the night and Melvin Ely added 15 in the loss.

Utah 110 Boston 92

While the Utah Jazz have struggled on the road this year, they grabbed what might be their biggest road victory of the season on Friday night. Defeating the league-leading Boston Celtics 110-92, the Jazz recorded their 44th win on the season. Thanks to a strong opening quarter that saw the Jazz outscore Boston by 10, Utah went up by as many as 18 points in the first half before they went cold in the third quarter. In the third, they struggled to score, managing only 17 points while Boston scored 25 points as they trimmed their deficit down to five, trailing 79-74 at the start of the fourth. Midway through the fourth quarter the Celtics got within three points but would not get any closer as Utah went on a 10-0 run, led by Deron Williams who scored seven of his 32 points during the run to protect the lead and help lead Utah to the win. Williams had 8 assists to go with his 32 points as he shot 17-18 from the free throw line for the Jazz. Carlos Boozer scored 17 points to go with 12 rebounds and Mehmet Okur had 12 points while Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver scored 10 points apiece. Boston had 15 points from Kevin Garnett, 13 from Kendrick Perkins and 12 from Rajon Rondo. They were without Ray Allen for the final three quarters of the loss after he slipped and suffered a bruised heel in the first quarter.