Around the Rim: Celtics streak snapped


1. Orlando really is “The Most Magical Place On Earth”
It must be an early Christmas miracle because we were certain the Celtics had 82-0 all wrapped up. Guess they’re looking at 81-1 now because the Magic just ripped the bow off that idea. Sorry ESPN.

Boston made a valiant effort to keep their pursuit of perfection intact but Paul Pierce’s miss at the end of regulation left the Cs two points short of forcing overtime. Pierce had 28 in the game, Ray Allen put up 19 and KG went for 14 and nine rebounds. The Magic were anemic in the fourth, going four minutes without a basket as the Celtics made their run to come back from 20 down. Still, all five Orlando starters finished with double-digit points, led by Dwight Howard’s 24 and Rashard Lewis’ 22. But the Magic failed to crash the boards in this game, getting outrebounded by 13, 41-28. Howard inexplicably finished with six despite ranking second in the league with 14.2 per game.

2. S-Jack is back

Golden State finally got off the schneid on Friday when they picked up their first win of the season by thumping the Clippers 122-105. On Sunday, Stephen Jackson returned to the floor after serving a seven-game suspension and helped his boyz grab their second consecutive victory. Jackson led the team in scoring with 17 points and collected a couple of blocks in the 106-100 win over the Raptors. The return of the team’s bad boy couldn’t have come at a better time. The Warriors start an east coast road trip on Tuesday, playing games at New York, Boston, Washington and Philadelphia before hosting Phoenix next Monday.

3. Stars struck
The All-Star 2008 ballots are out and thanks to some realignment of positions, Tim Duncan and Amare Stoudemire are getting screwed. Arguably the West’s two most dominant power forwards got plopped into the “Centers” classification on the ballot. So, obviously we can remove their names from the West’s starting five for the February 17 superstar showdown because the Chinese population will ensure Yao Ming gets the nod. We know that they will both find their way onto the team barring any major injuries, but it is a shame that they won’t get the honor of being voted in because the league is unfairly categorizing them. Sure, both play some center, but we all know they are 4s at heart. And the league listed them as such in years past. This is like throwing Kevin Garnett into the “Guards” because he brings the ball up the court a handful of times each game.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: TJ Ford vs. Golden State 33 min, 29 pts (FG: 12-22, 3FG: 0-1, FT: 5-5), 6 reb, 9 ast, 2 stl

Monday’s Game to Watch: Orlando (9-2) @ New Orleans (9-2)
The Magic are coming off the biggest win of their young season after taking out the Celtics in Orlando. Now the Magic must take their unblemished road record (6-0) into N’awlins against the cream of the Southwest Division. Chris Paul leads the Hornets’ attack, averaging 19.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 10.8 assists per game while Tyson Chandler is pulling down a double-double of his own every night with 11.4 points and 11.5 boards. But you can’t mention the phrase “double-double” without bringing up Orlando’s Dwight Howard. The 21-year-old accomplished the feat in nine of 11 games this year. Howard is really starting to develop some chemistry with point guard Jameer Nelson and the off-season addition of Rashard Lewis has paid dividends immediately.

Buzzer Beater: The NBA is truly losing one its legends with the imminent retirement of Gary Payton. The Glove had a great career and even though Michael Jordan kept him from putting on an ornate, diamond-clad band in the 90s, D-Wade gave him the title of champion that he earned over his 17 years in the Association. Payton’s all-time rankings are as follows: 21st in points, 8th in game played, 6th in assists and 3rd in steals. Needless to say, we all have our favorite memories of the guy. Unfortunately, as much as it pains us to admit this, ours is the same as J.A. Adande’s. Lord help us.

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