Around the Rim: The streak snappers


1. It’s over!
Despite reeling off a 22-game win streak, questions regarding the Rocket’s legitimacy amongst the league’s elite are still floating around. There are no such questions surrounding Boston. The Celtics put an end to Houston’s record-chasing run in remarkable fashion on Tuesday night, pounding the Rockets in their own gym by 20 points, 94-74. Kevin Garnett finished with a 22-point, 11-rebound double-double while Paul Pierce tallied 20 points as Boston ripped the heart out of its second Texas team in two days. There’s no doubt the Rockets are a lot better off now than they were two months ago, but all it takes now is a little slipup and their two-month tear becomes meaningless as eighth place Golden States sits a mere four games behind. This is indeed the wild, wild West.

2. Detroit outfoxes the fox

We knew the Nuggets were capable of scoring 120 points, but we had no clue Detroit could post 136 in a regulation game! We would say the Pistons had a horrible defensive outing by giving up so many points at home, but, frankly, we can’t get over the fact they blew past the century mark, recording 73 points in the opening half. Richard Hamilton was responsible for 24 while Rasheed Wallace added 21. In all, seven players reached double-digits in the highest four quarter outburst since 1990 when Detroit spanked Orlando 140-109. Of course, Flip Saunders wasn’t surprised by his club’s strange change of pace. He knows first hand how good the Pistons really are.

That’s the thing — we don’t have to play one style,” said Saunders. “We went out and played San Antonio in a grind-it-out game, and this was a little different. We’re not afraid to get out and run. We had 42 assists tonight. That’s a lot of assists.

You’re flipping right it is, Flip! In fact, Denver recorded just two more assists in its 168-116 pounding of Seattle just one game ago.

3. Lakers hold on by their fingernails
The Lakers almost let a 25-point third quarter lead disappear into a puff of smoke, but they held on for a 102-100 victory in Big D. Kobe Bryant finished with 29 points, but only posted nine in the entire second half, allowing the Mavericks to make their dramatic comeback. Dirk Nowitzki recorded 35 points,11 rebounds and five blocks and was crucial down the stretch while Jason Kidd laid an egg with one point on 0-of-3 shooting and seven assists. Los Angeles tied Houston for the conference’s best record by snapping Dallas five-game win streak. Next up for the Mavs is a contest against the Celtics on Thursday night.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Los Angeles Lakers 43 min, 35 pts (FG: 11-23, 3FG: 3-6, FT: 10-12), 11 reb, 1 ast, 5 blk

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Denver (40-27) @ Philadelphia (33-34)
Normally we reserve this space for the day’s best matchup, but not today. Today we’re talking about practice, uh, we mean Allen Iverson’s return to the city where he became a superstar. For the first time since being traded back in December of 2006, the Answer is heading into Philadelphia wearing a different jersey. Simply seeing Iverson in a Nuggets jersey is still rather shocking, even after all this time, but to see him wear it on the court where he used to electrify the world is going to be odd to say the least. Hopefully you have your earplugs ready because A.I.’s ovation should shake the rafters.

Buzzer Beater: You’d think after all his loyal years of service in Detroit the franchise could at least remember how to spell Rip Hamilton’s name correctly.

Hamilton started the game wearing a jersey that had his last name spelled “Hamiltion,” but changed it during the first quarter.

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