1. Pistons pack pop for trip to Boston
The Celtics took their first real test of the season on Wednesday, falling a few points shy of a passing grade and a win. The Pistons escaped Boston with a two-point victory, 87-85, thanks to a pair of last-second Chauncey Billups free throws. Mr. Big Shot finished with game-highs of 28 points and eight assists as Detroit’s starting five scored all but 14 of the team’s points. Still, that’s nine more points than Boston got from their bench that shot two-for-nine in a combined 52 minutes of work. Kevin Garnett (26 pts, 12 reb) and Ray Allen (24 pts) took care of business, but the third piece of the triforce, Paul Pierce, shot a pathetic five-of-16 for 11 points. Boston proved they aren’t where they need to be yet and despite their 20-3 overall record, the Bad Boys are still the elite out East.
2. Too little, too late
Things didn’t look good for the Suns after the first quarter of their game against Dallas. With 12 minutes in the books, Phoenix was staring up from a 17-point hole. By the middle of the fourth quarter it wasn’t much better as the Mavericks held a 14-point advantage, but that’s when the Suns turned on the burners, using a 23-12 run over the final 6:56 to get within one Steve Nash 3-point air-ball from forcing overtime. Dirk Nowitzki led all scorers with 31 in the 108-105 shootout, giving the Mavericks their fourth consecutive win. The Suns still hold a half-game advantage over Dallas in the standings and Nash further padded his assists per game lead by handing out 18 dimes to go with his 21 points.
3. End of an era
Miami lost again on Wednesday, this time to Atlanta, but that’s nothing new. The real story of the game was the torn patellar tendon in Alonzo Mourning’s right knee; an injury that will most likely end the career of the 15-year vet. Mourning is a seven-time All-Star, a two-time defensive player of the year and ranks 10th all-time in career blocks. You never want to see a career end on an injury and you really never want to see a career end on a stretcher, which was the original means of transportation to get the big fella and his bum wheel off the court following the injury. But like the rest of his life, Zo was going to do things his way.
That’s not the way I envisioned myself walking off the court for the last time in my career,” he said. “I’ve been through so much in my life. If I had to crawl off the court I would have. Nobody was going to push me off on a stretcher off the court. That wasn’t going to happen.
Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Steve Nash @ Dallas 37 min, 21 pts (FG: 9-15, 3FG: 2-3, FT: 1-2), 3 reb, 18 ast, 1 stl
Thursday’s Game to Watch: Los Angeles Lakers (15-9) @ Cleveland (11-15)
We could sit here and cram records down your throats or talk about bench depth, but we all know why this game gets top billing for the night, it’s LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. The two are sitting at No. 1 and No. 2 in the league in scoring with LBJ scoring 29.6 a night and the Mamba dumping in 26.8 per contest. And for a little more parody, both are also leading their crews in assists and steals. We know that these teams have a ton of work to do if they want to sniff the NBA Finals this year, but, in late December, we don’t really care about teamwork. Until summer rolls around, we’ll take a showdown between a pair of one-man-bands any day of the week.
Buzzer Beater: Even a little blurry, this is one of the sickest moves you’ll ever see by someone not named Skip To My Lou.