Around the Rim: Back to where it all began


1. A.I. got his sundae, but no cherry on top
Allen Iverson was welcomed back to Philadelphia with open arms on Wednesday night. The Answer returned for the first time since being traded to Denver back in December of 2006 and it was almost like he never left. Iverson scored a game-high 32 points, dished out eight assists and had the ball in his hands for the game’s most dramatic shot. But that’s where the warm and fuzzy feelings ended. Iverson’s jumper didn’t connect and neither did Marcus Camby’s put-back, giving the 76ers a 115-113 victory. Still, A.I. had the time of his life coming back to where he used to practice. Yup, we’re still talking about practice.

I dreamed it up a certain way, and it was better than that,” Iverson said. “Everything was perfect but one thing, and that was not winning the game.”

“I almost had a perfect trip at my home away from home,” Iverson said.

2. Ice cold Heat

In the same week the Denver Nuggets dropped 168 points on the sorry Sonics, the Heat and the Raptors combined for a pathetic 150 points last night. Luckily for Toronto, they posted 96 of them, pounding Miami by a franchise best 42 points, 96-54. At this point, nothing is shocking with the Heat anymore, but this is a startling occurrence nevertheless. Miami’s 54 points fell just five points shy of tying the worst performance of the shot clock era set by Chicago in 1998-99 versus the Heat. It was the franchise’s worst performance for points in a game and a half (26) while also setting a new low by connecting on 20-of-78 shots (.256). Just keep thinking Michael Beasley fellas.

3. Failure to launch
After winning 22 consecutive games, there is nowhere to go but down and the Rockets are currently plummeting back to earth. After getting creamed by Boston on Tuesday, Houston traveled to New Orleans and got flattened once again as the Hornets cruised to a 90-69 victory. Tracy McGrady is no longer playing like a superstar and his team is suffering because of it. T-Mac followed up his embarrassing eight-point outing against the Celtics by netting just 15 on Nawlins while his Rockets struggled to post 10 points for the entire fourth quarter. Chris Paul continues to light up opponents, finishing with 21 points, 10 assists while taking another leap towards a possible MVP trophy.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Vince Carter vs. Atlanta 43 min, 39 pts (FG: 17-26, 3FG: 2-3, FT: 3-4), 10 reb, 8 ast, 1 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Boston (54-13) @ Dallas (44-24)
The Celtics have already rallied from 22 points down to win in San Antonio and snapped the second-longest win streak in league history in Houston. Now, they’ll look to do something very few teams have accomplished over the past few years: successfully navigate their way through the Texas triangle. Boston could be without Ray Allen once again when they head into Dallas, but that hasn’t slowed them down yet. The Mavericks would love for a little bit of that Irish luck to rub off on them considering they are 0-6 against teams with records above .500 since Jason Kidd’s arrival.

Buzzer Beater: Tiger Woods and LeBron James had never met prior to this week. Word??

Earlier this week in Orlando, James and fellow megastar Tiger Woods met for the first time. They share more than a Dec. 30 birthday. “Every time he goes out he expects to win,” James said when asked what he admires about Woods, “He’s an unbelievable talent. I’ve always looked at Michael Jordan as being one of the greatest athletes of my lifetime, and Tiger is right there now.

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