The Post Up: Portland With Five Straight.

By: Holly Mackenzie

It is so nice to see Jamario Moon during the announcements for the starters. He has the biggest smile on his face and it clicks how amazing this all must be for him. From Globetrotters to D-League and not only into the NBA but, into the starting line-up, life is good for Mr. Moon.

Dalembert was huge for Philly tonight. 9 blocks? Thats fun. Marion and Amare had a ton of blocks between them in the Phx.Utah game as well. Nothing gets me hyped up like a great block. Sure, dunks are exciting, but a good block? Nothing can compare, I bet it is the most insane rush.

I’m watching the Phoenix/Utah game as I write this and it looks like it will be a hard-fought game. Just the way I like it. It is pretty crazy to hear the announcers say that Grant Hill is averaging the second most minutes on the Suns. I know it is working out well for them so far, and I know D’Antoni feels a few extra minutes is worth it in the end, but personally, I think they need to start to get more use out of their bench now, so they will be ready if/when they need them later on in the season.

Halftime interview for the Suns/Jazz: Nash smiles. He has a chipped front tooth. I love this guy. He pretends to talk with the lisp, sounding more like a cross between a creepy guy in a horror movie and a hockey player. It’s great to see the funny side of him.

It was great to see TJ Ford’s interview post-game last night. He talked about Al and how he spent a few hours with him in the hospital. He said they talked about bball and were laughing with each other. He told Al not to worry too much about what happened or let this incident change the way he plays basketball and it was so refreshing to see this incident all turn out okay.

Paul Milsap is a fun guy to watch. He is the perfect player for Jerry Sloan, so strong and tough. You have to respect the energy and hustle he brings every night.

I am totally impressed with what Portland has done as of late. Winning five straight, they dropped the Warriors last night as both teams were on the second night of back-to-backs. They won without Aldridge and Webster and they are just finding ways to get it done. It is exciting to see such a young team grow and develop.

Caught Ray Allen on BDSSP last night. He was rocking the “Say No to Fakes” shirt that everyone loved when Konate modeled it a few weeks ago. It was fun to see him talk about He Got Game and I always love when they do the “Getting to Know _____” segment. I know Boston almost let the ball drop against Sac-town last night, but, after the seasons that both KG and Ray have had this has got to feel pretty amazing. Same for Pierce, what a difference 2 all-stars can make.

On a personal note, I am convinced I am getting sick. I’ve been tired and have had that annoying, sore, scratchy throat for the past few days. I feel asleep for almost the entire Raptors game and when I woke up I could barely swallow. I was also so confused, thinking it was the next night and I had slept through the Post Up and an entire day, but that is besides the point. I know it is that time of the year, but I hate being sick and almost never get sick so when I do, I don’t deal well.

Alright, enough commentary and whining on my end. On with what really matters, the recaps!
Philadelphia 98 Minnesota 94

Samuel Dalembert almost had a triple-double in the 76er’s 98-94 victory over the Timberwolves last night. He didn’t have the regular line of points, rebound and assists, but rather an 18-point, 11-rebound 9-blocked shots performance. The 9 blocks tied his career-high in 2004. With the performance by Dalembert, Philadelphia went into the fourth quarter leading by five points before weathering a scoring drought that saw Minnesota take an 89-86 lead with a three-pointer by Antoine Walker. The lead was short-lived as Andre Iguodala came up big in the final minutes, hitting shots and knocking down his free throws to ensure Philly got the win. Iguodala finished with 25 points to lead Philadelphia, Wille Green added 18 points and Andre Miller scored 10 points and dished 8 assists. Al Jefferson continued to rack up the double-doubles, with 22 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota. Marko Jaric added 14 points as Antoine Walker (14 points) and Rashad McCants (15 points), gave strong performances off of the bench. Sebastian Telfair scored only four points, but dished 11 assists in the loss.

Indiana 117 Chicago 102

Indiana got the victory against the Chicago Bulls last night, but, it took some technicals and ejections to get them fired up for the win. Trailing in the first half, the Pacers used a technical on their coach as well as the double-ejection of Tyrus Thomas and Troy Murphy to fuel them as they went on an 11-1 run and then a 17-11 run to nab a 53-52 halftime lead. In the absence of Murphy, reserve Kareem Rush used his opportunity to step up and he scored a season-high 22 points to lead Indiana in the win. Indiana used a third quarter where they outscored Chicago 40-25 to build on their lead and go up by as many as 21 points after trailing by 16 in the first half. Marquis Daniels, Jermaine O’neal and Jamaal Tinsley scored 18 points apiece for the Pacers, while Mike Dunleavy added 17 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. Ben Gordon led the Bulls with 18 points but, shot only 7-21 for the game. Joe Smith scored 16 points and Luol Deng added 15 as Andres Nocioni and Kirk Hinrich each scored 11 for Chicago.

Toronto 92 Dallas 76

The Raptors knew they would be without TJ Ford, the Mavericks ended up losing their point guard too, as Devin Harris sat the contest out due to a stomach ailment. In a game without two starting point guards, Jose Calderon helped the Raptors come out on top and in addition to a great game by Kris Humphries, ensuring that they did not give up a 24-point lead to the Mavs this time around. Toronto led by four after the first quarter, and extended their lead to 54-36 at the half, playing smart in the second half and protecting their lead as their defensive effort held Dallas to their lowest-scoring output of the season. Kris Humphries has been great for Toronto in their last 3 games, and last night he had a 16-point, 12-rebound performance off of the bench as he simply out-hustled the Mavericks for five offensive rebounds. Chris Bosh had 17 points, Calderon scored 10 and dished 7 assists and Jason Kapano added 10 points in the win. Jason Terry led Dallas with 21 points, Josh Howard added 19 and Dirk Nowitzki was held to 13 points, in addition to pulling down 9 rebounds.

Charlotte 108 LA Clippers 103

In getting their win against the Clippers, the Bobcats tried some new lineups and it paid off as a two point-guard, two-center, one-forward line-up worked together to outscore the Clippers 36-17 in the third quarter to allow Charlotte to come back from a 14-point deficit, take the lead and put them in position to win the game. The Clippers came surging back in the fourth and took the lead briefly in the final minutes of the game before Raymond Felton keyed an 8-0 run by Charlotte to take back the lead and go on to the victory. Emeka Okafor was great for Charlotte, finishing with 25 points and 16 rebounds to go along with 3 blocked shots. Felton finished with 26 points and Gerald Wallace added 25 points as well. Corey Maggette scored 23 points in the loss, while Chris Kaman scored 17 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. Dan Dickau added 16 points off of the bench as the Clippers were held to 44% shooting as compared to 50% from the Bobcats.

Boston 90 Sacramento 78

Boston came out on top against the Kings last night, but it took a fourth quarter where they outscored Sacramento 22-14 to seal it. After starting out strong and leading 25-17 after the first quarter, the Celtics gave up 28 second quarter points while scoring only 19 points of their own. At the end of the third quarter, Boston led by only four, 68-64. They used a 9-2 run to start the fourth to stretch their lead and take control of the game. It was the strong play of rookie Glen Davis in his first start of his career that was the story for Boston. Davis had 16 points, 9 rebounds and connected on all 10 of his free throws to help the Celtics to their 18-2 start. Paul Pierce scored 26 points for Boston, Ray Allen had 15 and Kevin Garnett added 11. Ron Artest and Beno Udrih led the undermanned Kings with 16 points apiece. Brad Miller scored 14 points and John Salmons and Francisco Garcia each added 10 points in the loss. The Kings committed 20 turnovers as compared to only 8 by the Celtics.

Seattle 117 New York 110

After a first half that saw the New York Knicks leading by three at the break, it was a pair of rookies and an ex-knick who snatched that lead away from the Knicks and gave them another loss on their dismal season. Behind a 30-point performance from Kevin Durant and 17 more added by Jeff Green, the rookies put Seattle in a position to win the game. In the crucial final minutes, it was veteran and ex-knick Kurt Thomas who came up huge for the Sonics, scoring five points to keep Seattle on top. The Sonics shot 585 from the field while holding New York to 47%. Thomas finished with 9 points and 8 rebounds and the Sonics got 12 points apiece from Wally Szczerbiak and Luke Ridnour off of the bench. New York was led by Jamal Crawford’s 29 points, a 27-point, 16-rebound effort from Zach Randolph and 16 points off of the bench from David Lee. Stephon Marbury did not play for New York.

Houston 80 Detroit 77

59.1% shooting from the free throw line for the Pistons and that was the better percentage of the two teams. It was an ugly victory for the Houston Rockets last night, but they will take it. Shooting only 27.3% from the free throw line, they managed to fare better from the field as they shot 45%, holding Detroit to 36.1% shooting to help their cause. Regardless of their shooting percentages, the game was a close one down to the wire. After going up by 14 points, the Rockets were helpless as Detroit went on a 16-6 run to cut the Houston lead to three points in the third. Houston got lucky in the final minutes of the game as they made just enough free throws to withstand a barrage of three-point misses by Detroit to escape with the ugly win. Tracy McGrady had 29 points for the Rockets while Yao Ming had 21 points,13 rebounds and 4 blocks as Rafer Alston scored 10. Rasheed Wallace had 21 points for the Pistons, as Chauncey Billups was held to 15 points on 6-17 shooting and Richard Hamilton added 14 points. As a team, the Pistons had only 15 assists in the game.

Milwaukee 100 Orlando 86

Milwaukee used a big first quarter to jump out to a 12 point lead on the Orlando Magic and while the Magic were even with the Bucks in the final three quarters, it was that first quarter that they could not escape from as Milwaukee grabbed the 100-86 victory last night. Up 32-20 after one quarter, the Bucks controlled the game into the fourth, where the Magic fought back and managed to cut the lead to three points behind hot-shooting from Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu. After seeing most of their lead evaporate, the Bucks stayed calm behind scores from Andrew Bogut and Mo Williams to stay in control. Michael Redd had a fantastic game with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists, Yi Jianlian scored 18 points and Mo Williams added 17. Orlando got a 20-point, 13-rebound effort from Dwight Howard in the loss, but even 20 more points from Lewis and 18 from Turkoglu was not enough to get the victory. This is the fourth loss in six games for Orlando after a hot start.

Denver 105 New Orleans 99

After starting out the game shooting 3-17, Carmelo Anthony made the shots when it mattered. He went 7-11 down the stretch, and he had the three most important points of the game when he completed a three-point play to give Denver the lead with 38.4 seconds in the game, as the Nuggets came back from 14 down. Despite 30 points and 12 assists from Chris Paul, the night belonged to Anthony, who scored 12 of Denver’s final 14 points in the game. Outscoring the Hornets 28-18 in the final quarter, the Nuggets held New Orleans to only 33% shooting in the quarter as they tightened up their defense and held on to get the win. Anthony finished with 32 points and 10 rebounds as Allen Iverson had 22 points and 11 assists and Marcus Camby added 14 points and 15 rebounds for Denver. In addition to Paul’s big night, David West was huge for New Orleans, scoring 25 points and grabbing 16 rebounds in the loss. Rasual Butler added 18 points and Jannero Pargo had 10 for the Hornets.

Portland 105 Golden State 95

Portland has been on a roll as of late. The same can be said for Golden State. When the Warriors rolled into town, the Blazers shocked them, garnering their fifth straight victory and shutting them down offensively to get it. Even without LaMarcus Aldridge who was out with a foot ailement, and Martell Webster who left the game because of the flu, the Blazers came out on top against the Warriors, thanks to a 20-6 run at the start of the second quarter. Things were tied 22-22 at the end of the first, but thanks to their run, the Blazers went up 42-28, before Stephen Jackson and Baron Davis helped to lead the Warriors back, where they went up by one, before Portland responded with a 12-2 run to go up my 10 and stay there for the rest of the game. Travis Outlaw led Portland with 22 points off of the bench, Brandon Roy and James Jones each added 21 points and Joel Pryzbilla had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Davis had 23 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists for Golden State, Matt Barnes had 15 points and 12 rebounds and Kelenna Azubuike had 12 points in a starting role.

Phoenix 103 Utah 98

Many thought this game would be a high-scoring affair, since it featured the two top scoring teams in the league. Instead, it was a game that was characterized by Phoenix’s 13 blocked shots and success at holding Utah to only 43.8% shooting for the game. It was a close game throughout, wither neither team leading by more than eight points, but, it was Nash’s 10-12 field goals, finishing with 29 points and knocking down five straight free throws in the final seconds of the game that sealed it for the Suns. As Phoenix was up by one miidway through the fourth quarter, they used a 9-2 push to go up by eight points before the Jazz cut the lead to one with 2:21 remaining in the game, but Grant Hill got a spectacular layup to go in traffic, to dash the Jazz’s hope of a comeback as they dropped their fifth straight. In addition to his 29 points, Nash added 11 assists for Phoenix while Shawn Marion had 26 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocked shots as he guarded both Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams over the course of the game. Amare Stoudemire finished with 18 points, 9 boards and 6 blocked shots as Grant Hill added 11 points