Around the Rim: Beantown letdown


1. 30 X 9 = A place in history
We’re pretty sure it’s safe to say it now: “They’re baaaaaacckk.” With a 114-113 victory over Boston on Tuesday night, Cleveland improved to 27-20 on the season which might not sound too spiffy, but don’t forget these guys were 10-14 in mid December. Not surprisingly, the Cavaliers won because of another outstanding effort from LeBron James. Something about lining up across from the fellas in green brings out the best in LBJ as he became the only player besides the “ultimate playa” Wilt Chamberlain to score at 30 points on Boston in nine consecutive games, finishing with 33. Oh, and he also threw in 12 assists, nine rebounds and five steals. Even without Kevin Garnett in the lineup for the fourth game in a row, Boston had a chance late thanks to 24 points from Ray Allen and Paul Pierce’s 19.

2. Giant trade talks in Phoenix. Literally giant

So, the big rumor floating around the NBA is that Shaq will most likely be heading to Phoenix for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. Now, we understand why Miami wants to move the Diesel; we just don’t know why the Suns want to take on him and his enormous contract. Shaq is a shell of his former self and at this point he’s just hanging on for another ring anyway he can get one. Phoenix might have added another All-Star to their lineup, but this deal favors the Heat in a big way. Marion is one of the most underrated players in recent history, averaging 18.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.88 steals and 1.36 blocks over nine years. Along side a healthy Dwyane Wade, box scores won’t have enough space to hold all their stats! And one more thing Marion provides that should really please his potential coach-to-be is his durability. The Matrix has only missed five games in his entire career!

3. 76ers 1-8-7 the Wiz
Things went from bad to worse to holy $#!+ for the Wizards last night. Everything was lined up for an easy road victory against the 76ers but, suddenly it all went haywire as Caron Butler left the game with a strained hip flexor in the third quarter. Once he was out of the way, Philly proceeded to rip off a 17-0 run to erase a 12-point lead, snatching a 101-96 victory from the jaws of defeat. The other A.I. – Andre Iguodala – led the Sixers with 20 points while Thaddeus Young scored 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Andre Miller was smoking right along with 11 points and a season-high 14 assists, but Maurice Cheeks mysteriously benched him during the big run. It might have been a strange move, but at 19-30, nobody in Philly is going to argue with a winning strategy. Well, nobody except Miller.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James vs. Boston 42 min, 33 pts (FG: 11-21, 3FG: 4-8, FT: 7-10), 9 reb, 12 ast, 5 stl, 2 blk

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Utah (31-18) @ Denver (29-18)
You knew that the Jazz wouldn’t remain on the outside looking in at the playoff picture for long and, sure enough, here they are rolling over opponents and resembling the team that went to the West Finals last season. This is definitely not the same Jazz squad that lost to Denver three weeks ago. Utah is riding a nine-game winning streak into the Mile High City where the Nuggets own a 20-5 record. Overall, Denver has won seven of their last 10 games, including their current three-game streak. The wild card in this game will be Mehmet Okur’s long range ability that can draw Marcus Camby out of the paint and away from the basket on defense.

Buzzer Beater: Who needs Tony Parker when you’ve got Damon Stoudamire? Okay, not really, but Stoudamire did pretty decent in his first action of 2008, scoring 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including a pair of treys, helping the Spurs roll over Indiana 116-89. San Antonio clamped down their patented defense in the third quarter, limiting the Pacers to just nine points, and the route was on. Tim Duncan led six Spurs in double-figures, scoring 19 points to go along with 15 rebounds and six assists in just 32 minutes of action.

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