By: Holly MacKenzie
Last night, I was being greedy and wanting that 20th assist for Chris Paul. Of course CP3 gets it and he gets it on the final play of the game, for the game, on a dish to David West. West drains the jumper with .6 seconds left on the clock and the Hornets walk off of the floor victorious. 15 points, 20 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and only 1 turnover for Paul. This is really getting ridiculous. I think my MVP vote has changed for good this time.
And, Kobe getting thrown out of the game last night really wasn’t pretty. Neither was that loss to the Bobcats, but I have to admit I didn’t see much of it. Yes, I know. I fell asleep sometime in the first quarter, not really sure. I woke up after 4am with the light still on, TV still on and I was in one of those annoying states of confusion where you don’t really understand what is going on.
The game of the night was definitely Cleveland and New Orleans. It’s too bad more people couldn’t have watched it because it was really nice. While Bron was relatively quiet (except for the Cavs final possession of the game where he gives them the lead with 7 seconds left on a layup where you just know it is going in, because really, who is going to deny LeBron James), Z came up big for them and it is always fun to watch that guy go off.
It’s Thursday which means two things…. NBA on TNT and… NCAA tourney returns. Perfect day before the weekend. And, you know what TNT’s got for us all tonight. Dallas @ Denver. Cannot wait for this one. Portland and Golden State lost a little bit of its excitement with Roy sitting it out, but any chance to watch those Warriors in action is alright with me. I’m also really thankful they are not subjecting us to the horror that would be Detroit and Miami facing off.
While I mention the NCAA Tournament, I want to give some love to Canadian sports station The Score for their extensive coverage of the tourney. The person responsible for making those highlight videos is killing it.
It was refreshing to see Jose Calderon give up his starting spot to TJ Ford because he knows Ford plays better as a starter. I’m still not sure how I feel about the distribution of minutes between these two (although, both were on the floor together at the end of their victory over Detroit last night), but Calderon’s team-first attitude is admirable. The guy just wants to win and he will go to the general manger and coach to sacrifice his spot if need be.
Speaking of Ford, those two dishes to Jamario on the break were crazy.
Shaq was showing some serious class yesterday when he decided to call out Ricky Davis and Chris Quinn of the Heat. I just don’t get it. They traded him so he could get out of a losing situation, he is with a supposed contender so why can’t he just be quiet. Miami has got enough trouble to worry about without him running his mouth. I’m on Ricky’s side here and I never thought I would wind up defending him before. At least Davis suits up every night, even in Miami.
New Orleans 100 Cleveland 99
With two MVP candidates going head to head, the game between the Hornets and Cavaliers went down to the final possession with each team’s star producing in the final seconds. After three close quarters of basketball with neither team leading by more than 9 points, the Hornets led 73-71 at the start of the fourth.The final period saw the two teams trading baskets and leads with neither team being able to shake the other. In the final minute, Zydrunas Ilgauskas tipped in a miss by LeBron James to get the Cavs within one. A missed three-pointer by Jannero Pargo turned into a layup for James with seven seconds left in the game, giving the Cavaliers a 99-98 lead and the Hornets a timeout. On their final possession of the game, Chris Paul got the ball and calmly drove into the lane, drawing three Cleveland defenders before turning and kicking the ball out to David West who was waiting near the foul line. West drained a jumper with .6 seconds remaining in the game and the Hornets held onto the best record in the Western Conference. Peja Stojakovic led New Orleans with 25 points, David West scored 20 and Paul finished with 15 points, 20 assists and only 1 turnover. Tyson Chandler added 13 points and 1 1 rebounds and Pargo scored 13 off of the bench. Ilgauskas had 29 points and 15 boards for Cleveland. James finished with 21 points and 8 assists, Anderson Varajao scored 11 points to go with 15 rebounds and Sasha Pavlovic added 10 points in the loss.
Boston 117 Phoenix 97
With their seven game winning streak snapped in Detroit the other night the Phoenix Suns came to Boston looking to start another one. The Celtics were trying to do the same and thanks to a strong second half they were victorious in blowing the game open and dropping the Suns 117-97. With the game tied up at 57 at the break, the Suns came out flat to start the third while the Celtics managed to find their rhythm. At the end of the period, the Celtics had outscored Phoenix 27-16 and held an 11 point lead. The fourth quarter was more of the same with the Suns unraveling as Boston found their stride. The Celtics outscored Phoenix 33-24 in the final quarter and the end result was a twenty-point blow out. Kevin Garnett led the way for Boston with 30 points and 6 assists, Paul Pierce scored 27 points, Kendrick Perkins had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen added 10 points apiece. Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 32 points. Shaquille O’Neal had 16 points, Boris Diaw scored 15 points and Steve Nash added 12 points and 9 assists.
Philadelphia 121 Chicago 99
While the Sixers have not strung together 22 straight victories like the Houston Rockets did this season, they have done something similar in going from out of the playoff race to firmly in the middle all within the span of a month. Going 11-2 in March and winning 19 of their last 24 games has helped them move up the rankings. Last night they faced a Bulls team trying to do the same and they continued their winning as they defeated them 121-99. With the Bulls trailing by 13 at the end of the first quarter, they were playing catch up the rest of the way through and the Sixers were not interested. Using an 11-0 run in the second quarter to take a 65-49 advantage at the break, Philadelphia held off Chicago in the third and went ahead by as many as 26 points in the final quarter of a game where the Bulls never lead. They shot 54% in the contest while holding Chicago to only 39% and outscored them on fasttbreak points 30-2. Louis Williams led Philadelphia with 23 points while Andre Iguodala scored 21 points to go with 9 assists. Thaddeus Young had 20 points and Andre Miller scored 9 points to go with 18 assists and only 1 turnover. Thabo Sefolosha had 20 points off of the bench to lead the Bulls while Kirk Hinrich added 18 points and 6 assists. Andres Nocioni scored 16 points, Ben Gordon had 12 and Joakim Noah added 10.
Toronto 89 Detroit 82
With a change at the point guard spot that was suggested by starting point Jose Calderon to go along with another tweak in the lineup by starting Rasho Nesterovic rather than Andrea Bargnani, things worked out for the Raptors against the Pistons in Toronto last night. After a close first half that had Detroit leading 35-33, the Raptors outscored Detroit 28-16 in the third to take a 10 point advantage into the final quarter. Toronto opened the fourth on a 7-0 run but the Pistons would cut the lead down to five before the Raptors pushed the lead back to eight points and went on to the victory. Chris Bosh had 21 points for Toronto while Nesterovic scored 15 points to go with 9 rebounds and 4 blocks. Jose Calderon and TJ Ford each scored 13 points with Ford also dishing 9 assists. Chauncey Billups scored 24 points and had 9 assists to lead the Pistons as rookie Rodney Stuckey scored 16 off of the bench, Rasheed Wallace had 15 points and Tayshaun Prince added 10.
Houston 97 Minnesota 86
After finding themselves in a battle that was too close for comfort against the Timberwolves, the Rockets looked to Tracy McGrady to get them the victory last night. He responded, scoring 10 of his 23 points in the final period of the game where the Rockets were able to hold the TWolves at bay, after holding a nine-point advantage going into the period. After the TWolves started the fourth on a 12-5 run, McGrady stepped up and drained three straight baskets to keep the Rockets ahead by double-figures and go on to the victory. They only led by as many as 12 points in the contest despite out-rebounding Minnesota by 20 in the game (58-38). In addition to his 23 points, McGrady also finished with 11 rebounds and 9 assists. Luis Scola was huge for the Rockets, coming up with 18 points and 18 rebounds. Rafer Alston scored 12 points and Carl Landry added 11. Al Jefferson’s 21 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocked shots led the Timberwolves. Ryan Gomes had 17 points and 9 rebounds, Rashad McCants scored 16 off of the bench and Kirk Snyder added 12.
Washington 104 Seattle 99
With the Philadelphia 76er’s on their heels for that fifth spot in the East, each and every game is going to be important for the Wizards as the season comes to a close. Trailing Seattle 56-50 at the half last night, the Wizards were unable to cut the deficit in the third quarter where they went down by as many as 17 points before using a 10-0 run to go into the fourth trailing by seven. In the final period, they had an unlikely hero as Roger Mason stepped into the game off of the bench and knocked down five three-pointers in the quarter to help Washington drop in 36 points while holding Seattle to only 24, enough for them to hang on for the victory. Roger Mason had 22 points for the Wizards, Caron Butler scored 21 points to go with 9 assists, Antawn Jamison had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Brendan Haywood added 13. The Sonics were led by Kevin Durant’s 32 points while Nick Collison had 9 points and 21 rebounds. Damien Wilkins and Jeff Green scored 13 points apiece in the loss.