By Holly MacKenzie
Before I go any further with the recaps this morning I’d like to address something that is very close to my heart and something that I am sure will touch anyone involved in the sporting world. This past Friday night in Bathurst, New Brunswick a van of high school basketball players was involved in a horrific accident less than 10 minutes away from their meeting spot with the parents of their players. Seven of the players ages 15-17 and the wife of the team’s coach were killed in this tragic collison. I can only imagine the pain, grief and sorrow that is being felt and experienced by all of the families, friends and community as a whole. I wanted to extend my thoughts, prayers and condolences to the entire community of Bathurst in this immensely trying time.
I wrote the rest of this column before the Laker/Memphis game and of course, before Andrew Bynum went down with a knee injury. Too see the Lakers latest golden boy go down like that was disconcerting. In a post-game interview Bynum himself has said there was no popping noise and he can put weight on the knee. In the meantime Laker fans everywhere will be awaiting results from the MRI tomorrow, myself included.
It’s Monday and we are coming off of a jam-packed basketball weekend. It was a blessing in disguise to see the feature on NCAA hoops front and center on the site Friday afternoon. I have been slacking big-time on college ball this year and I know I’ve gotta pick it up before March hits or bracket time won’t go well. After reading Alan (Izzo) Ryan’s piece I promised myself I would actually read the season preview magazine I have had sitting in my nightstand for months and that I would also watch some games over the weekend. I did watch some games on Saturday and I was not disappointed. Both games (Maryland/Virginia Tech and Kentucky/Vanderbilt) went down to the wire and it was fun to watch some college ball. As much as I love the NBA, nothing compares to March Madness and a bunch of shining moments.
What an AMAZING Friday night in the NBA. Holy cow, some amazing performances were posted. Baron Davis with 20 points and 19 assists. LeBron with 31 points, 19 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks, I thought it was a typo. 8 turnovers but with a line like that who cares? Kobe with the respiratory infection and then drops 37, 5 and 7. Andrew Bynum with 27 and 17. Chris Bosh drops 40 on the knicks. Monta Ellis hits his first 11 shots. Pau Gasol with 43 points. Chris Paul with 16 and 16. Dwyane with frustration, Dwight with a baby and Glen Rice in jail. That LeBron dunk was INSANE. Sam Dalembert with 21 points and 20 rebounds. Chris Paul 7-7 fg and Bobby Jackson 9-9 fg. Nazr Mohammed 21 points and 15 rebounds. Anderson Varajao with 16 and 18. Craziness.
LA Lakers 110 Milwaukee 105
Kobe Bryant may have had a hard time with his respiratory infection, but he made sure the Bucks were the ones grasping for air in the final quarter of the Lakers 110-105 victory over Milwaukee Friday night. Bryant dropped in 16 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers survived every potential Milwaukee run to hold on for their fifth-straight victory. Between Bryant and the ever-improving Andrew Bynum the Bucks had their hands full and were unable to close the gap in the fourth after cutting the lead to 78-74 at the end of the third. Bryant finished with 37 points and 7 assists, Bynum scored 25 points and pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds while blocking 3 shots and Jordan Farmar added 10 points off of the bench. Mo Williams led Milwaukee with 28 points and 6 assists. Michael Redd had 22 points coming off of the bench in his first game back from a thigh bruise and Andrew Bogut scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Cleveland 113 Charlotte 106 2OT
Everyone in the building knew that as soon as the fourth quarter hit, it was LeBron-time. In the contest Friday night Bron’s time to shine extended into two extra sessions as the Bobcats took the Cavaliers into double-overtime before falling 113-106. Raymond Felton forced the first overtime after knocking down a three with .03 seconds left in regulation. In the first extra session the Bobcats were up by three with 1:25 left in the game but Damon Jones tied the game on a three-pointer and each of the two teams were unable to close the game out. It was all James in the second overtime, as he scored eight points in the extra period to give the Cavaliers separation from Charlotte. The Bobcats struggled after Felton left the game because of a sprained ankle and Cleveland took advantage going on to the win. The Cavs out-rebounded Charlotte 63-50, with James pulling down a career-high 19 to go along with his 31 points, 8 assists 4 steals and 3 blocks. Anderson Varajao scored 16 points to go with his 18 rebounds and Larry Hughes had 16 as well. Both Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Daniel Gibson each added 14. Gerald Wallace scored 27 points and had 12 rebounds for the Bobcats while Jason Richardson added 19. Felton scored 12 points to go along with 11 rebounds while Nazr Mohammed continued his strong play with 21 points and 15 boards.
Dallas 95 LA Clippers 94
In their first game shooting above 50% this season it appeared the Clippers were going to steal a win from the Mavericks. Appearances can be deceiving as the Clip’s gave up a 14-4 run by Dallas in the final minutes of the game that cost them the win. In the first half of the fourth quarter it was a 13-2 surge by LA that saw the Clippers hold a 90-81 lead, but the Mavs erased it in a hurry and Tim Thomas missed a shot that would have made it a two possession game before the last possession for the Mavs. With 8.1 seconds remaining Jason Terry found Jerry Stackhouse in the corner where he drained a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to put Dallas up one and give them the victory. Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 22 points, Stackhouse added 13 off of the bench and Jason Terry scored 20 as the Mavericks were playing without Josh Howard who missed the game due to personal reasons. Brandon Bass added 14 off of the bench as well. Tim Thomas scored 21 points to lead LA as Corey Maggette and Cuttino Mobley each added 20 points. Chris Kaman scored 13 points and pulled down 9 rebounds in the loss.
Washington 85 Boston 78
After a month of dropping games to teams with winning games the Wizards ended the streak with an exclamation point by dropping the Boston Celtics and their league-best record, 85-78 on Saturday night. In a gritty, grind-it-out game Washington outscored the Celtics 15-4 to close the game out and take the seven-point victory. It was not an attractive win as the two teams combined for 41 turnovers and Boston’s 41% shooting was tops in the contest, but it was a win the Wizards would gladly take especially considering they will face Boston again on Monday night. Washington was solid down the stretch, hitting their free throws and getting stops when they needed them. Boston struggled without Rajon Rondo as they dropped what was only their fifth game this season. Washington out-rebounded Boston 49-30, making up for their 37% field goal percentage. DeShawn Stevenson had 19 points to lead the Wizards as Caron Butler scored 16 to go along with 10 rebounds and Antawn Jamison had 10 points and 16 boards. Kevin Garnett had 19 points for the Celtics, Paul Pierce scored 15 and Eddie House had 11. Ray Allen had only 8 points in the game on 3-13 shooting.
Toronto 113 Portland 109 2OT
After winning 18 of their last 19 games the Portland Trailblazers knew they would have to drop a game at some point. That game was yesterday but the Blazers did not go down easy, taking Toronto into double-overtime before their weary legs could not keep up with Chris Bosh and the Raptors and they dropped a 113-109 decision on the road. While the Raptors led by four with 23 seconds left in the game Travis Outlaw was fouled on a three-point attempt and he made the basket, setting himself up for a four-point play opportunity and the chance to tie the game. With the made free throw the game was tied at 93 but Bosh missed a game-winner and it was on to overtime. In the first extra session Jose Calderon put Toronto up by three with nine seconds on the clock but somehow Brandon Roy grabbed an offensive board and managed to knock down a huge three-pointer to force a second overtime. It was here that the Blazer’s fatigue appeared to set in as they had no answer for Bosh who scored six points in the final extra period. The Raptors were also solid at the line in the final minutes as they pulled away from the Blazers and squeaked out the victory despite being out-rebounded 52-44 and attempting 13 fewer shot attempts. Bosh finished with 38 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocked shots while Anthony Parker scored 25, Jose Calderon had 22 points and 10 assists and Carlos Delfino added 16 off of the bench. Brandon Roy scored 33 and dished 10 assists in the loss as Travis Outlaw had 18 and Channing Frye added 16 as LaMarcus Aldridge had 11 points and 9 rebounds in the loss.
Golden State 106 Indiana 101
Golden State managed to get the victory against the Indiana Pacers last night but it wasn’t easy. Trailing by as many as 17 points in the contest the Warriors earned the come from behind win thanks to a strong fourth quarter that saw them outscore the Pacers 33-25. Monta Ellis scored nine of his 29 points in that final period as the Warriors took the 100-98 point lead on a three-point play by Ellis. With the game on the line Mike Dunleavy missed a potential game-tying free throw for Indiana and Andris Biedrins tipped in an Ellis shot with 18 seconds left in the game to clinch the win for Golden State. The Warriors attempted 21 more shots than Indiana as they overcame poor shooting (42%) from the floor to take the win. Indiana turned the ball over 23 times in game and were out-rebounded 50-43. Ellis finished with 29 points and 8 rebounds, Baron Davis scored 27 points, grabbed 7 rebounds and dished 6 assists, Al Harrington added 14 points and Kelenna Azubuike had 11 off of the bench. The Warriors overcame a rough night from Stephen Jackson who was trying to shake a flu bug as he managed only 9 points on 4-15 shooting. Jermaine O’neal had 27 points and 9 rebounds to lead the Pacers as Dunleavy added 18 points and 10 rebounds and Danny Granger scored 20 to go along with 8 boards and Jamaal Tinsley added 8 points and 11 assists.
New Orleans 87 Houston 82
The contest between the Hornets and the Rockets was a close one yesterday as neither team led by more than eight points and in the end it came down to free throws. Luckily for New Orleans, Chris Paul was on their side as he drained four free throws in the final seconds of the game to clinch their 25th victory of the season. Leading 46-39 at the break, the Hornets quickly saw their lead vanish as Houston put together an 18-2 run in the second half and led 63-58 at the start of the fourth. New Orleans trailed until the final minutes of the game and took the 81-78 lead on a three-point play converted by Rasual Butler with 1:35 on the clock. Yao Ming did his best to give Houston the victory, scoring four quick points in the final minute of the game to give the Rockets the lead but Paul would not be denied as he slashed in for a layup and then went 4-4 from the line to clinch the game. David West had 26 points and 12 rebounds for New Orleans as Chris Paul finished with 19 points and 11 assists and Tyson Chandler pulled down 14 rebounds to go with 7 points. Yao finished with 30 points, 16 rebounds and 4 blocked shots as Luther Head and Aaron Brooks each finished with 11 points and Rafer Alston scored 12 points and dished 7 assists.
Detroit 103 Charlotte 101 OT
Coming off of a double-overtime loss to Cleveland on Friday night, the Bobcats were worn down and severely undermanned. Playing without any of their three point guards, including leader Raymond Felton, the eight available players in uniform trailed by 31-18 to Detroit at the end of the first quarter. Somehow, someway they were determined to come back and they not only made a game of it they almost stole the victory from the Pistons, falling just short in the final seconds after forcing an overtime period. After their horrendous first quarter the Bobcats stormed back, using different line-ups and a zone defense to startle the Pistons and chip away at the lead. Charlotte took the lead in the third quarter and led by five points with under four minutes remaining but Detroit came back to tie the game on a three-pointer by Chauncey Billups to force overtime. In the extra period the lead changed back and forth before it appeared as though things were about to go Charlotte’s way after Nazr Mohammed got a tip-in off of a Jason Richardson miss to go but, the basket was waved off after Emeka Okafor was called for basket interference and the Pistons got to escape with the victory. Billups led the way for Detroit with 27 points as Richard Hamilton was right behind him scoring 26 points and dishing 8 assists. Tayshaun Prince added 22 points and Rasheed Wallace added 10. Gerald Wallace had 26 points for Charlotte and Emeka Okafor scored 19 points to go along with 15 rebounds as the heavy minutes wore down on the eight Charlotte players. Richardson added 20 points and 8 assists and Mohammed scored 19 points to go along with 13 rebounds off of the bench in the loss.