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NBA General

Which NBA superstars could make great knockout artists?

We were as shocked as the next guy to see Kendall Gill provide a little guest commentary during ESPN Friday Night Fights In Your Corner, but there he was. But, hey, the former NBA journeyman does own a 3-0 record as a cruiserweight, making him a shoe-in for best pro baller turned brawler. Gill’s appearance got The Caveman Network to thinking about what other NBA stars could make it in the fight game. Here’s their top five:

5. Richard Hamilton : Yeah, he’s skinny, but so is Paul Williams. Hamilton’s fluidity and conditioning are something to behold, and he’s stronger than he looks. Just like he punishes would-be defenders by running them through screens, Hamilton would torture opponents in the ring with his great conditioning and work rate, just like Williams, aka “The Punisher”.

4. Kobe Bryant : His competitive ability means he will technically master whatever combat sport he dedicates himself to. He will also carry the killer instinct from the court to the ring or cage. Just like he plays basketball like a game of chess, he will be a chessboxer in the ring.

3. Ron Artest : He was the main villain in the Malice in the Palace. He boxes. He broke Michael Jordan’s ribs. He’s a little crazy. He’s jacked (6-7, 240 lbs). Imagine Rampage Jackson with a loose screw in his head.

2. Allen Iverson : If one of them were his main sport, he could be great in either boxing or MMA. He’s a born athlete with great ability and instincts. He’s wiry strong, lightning quick and super-coordinated. He tops it all with long arms and unbelievable creativity.

1. Latrell Sprewell : He’s not in the NBA anymore, but nevertheless, Spree has and lean and mean body to dominate almost any sport he puts his mind to. He’s got a compact torso, long limbs, and not a wasted bone or muscle for peak athletic performance. He’s explosive, both in terms of quickness and temperament. He’s the type of guy you just don’t mess with. Whenever he enters the ring or cage, he will be looking for the kill, and his body will help him get it.

Of course, we can’t forget about Stephon Marbury. He already acts punch-drunk and with his new tat, he’s working on his Iron Mike mentality. But if we’re talking about a kung-fu street fight, it’s Bruce Bowen all the way.

Links:

[The Caveman Network]: Cool Out!: Top 5 NBA Players Likely to Make Great Fighters

Categories
LA Lakers

Around the Rim: Gasol-ine Pau-ered


1. Pau, right in the kisser!
With so much talk about the “Big Three” from the Eastern Conference’s top seed, it would be easy to forget about the trio of superstars on the West’s No. 1 team, but they won’t let you. Even without their big man Andrew Bynum, the Lakers took a 1-0 lead in their series against the Nuggets on the slender shoulders of Paul Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom. Gasol was stellar in his playoff debut with Los Angeles, scoring 36 points on 14-of-20 shooting to go with 16 rebounds and eight assists, leading his squad to a 128-114 victory. Bryant finished with 32 points, including a span down the stretch when he scored 13 consecutive for his team, while Odom posted a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds. The Nuggets day started with a bus breakdown on their way to the arena and ended with an Allen Iverson meltdown that got him ejected with 2:10 remaining in the game. Before being tossed, A.I. scored 30 points to match Carmelo Anthony for team-high honors. Unfortunately, Denver was spelled with no `D’ on Sunday, especially in the third quarter when the Lakers posted 39 points. Guess the pregame slam dance didn’t do the trick for George Karl. As far as Bynum goes, his return continues to be delayed with the only certainty being that he will not play in this series.

2. Detroit’s detour

The road to the Eastern Conference finals got a bit bumpy for the Bad Boys in Game 1 as Philadelphia managed to pull off a shocker, winning 90-86 in Detroit. Philadelphia trailed 62-47 in the third, but then ripped off 10 unanswered points and limited the Pistons to only 35 points in the second half, allowing for the upset. Andre Miller put up a team-high 20 points while Willie Green set a personal playoff-high with 17. Rasheed Wallace led Detroit with 24 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks, but even his eavesdropping on the 76ers huddle late in the game couldn’t help his team’s cause. Everyone expected the Pistons and the Celtics to basically cruise to a showdown in the conference finals, but it is now obvious that Detroit has a ways to go before they are on Boston’s level. The Celtics took no mercy on their lower seeded foes, destroying the Hawks 104-81 in a contest where Atlanta never held a lead greater than two points.

3. Raptors forgot to pack their kryptonite
Dwight Howard dressed up like Superman during the All-Star break then he went out and played a Man of Steel against the Raptors, leading Orlando to its first playoff victory since 2003. Howard was heroic with 25 points, 22 rebounds and five blocks in a 114-100 victory in front of a blue and white clad home crowd. It was just the 12th time in postseason history someone posted at least 25 points, 20 board and five swats. Orlando harpooned the Raptors early, scoring 43 points in the first quarter, including a playoff record-tying nine 3-pointers, to take a 20-point lead after 12 minutes. All five Orlando starters scored in double-digits with Jameer Nelson’s 24 and Hedo Turkoglu’s 21 taking a backseat to Howard’s quarter. Anthony Parker tallied a team-high 24 points in a losing effort while Chris Bosh struggled to connect on 4-of-11 attempts en route to 21 points.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Pau Gasol vs. Denver 45 min, 36 pts (FG: 14-20, FT: 8-8), 16 reb, 8 ast, 3 blk

Buzzer Beater: Sunday’s action was great, but we all know the Spurs and Suns stole show during the postseason’s opening weekend. It took ten extra minutes for San Antonio to fight its way out of an early deficit, trailing for nearly all of regulation, but after an amazing series of shots from both squads, round one went to the home team by the slimmest of margins. Tim Duncan scored a game-high 40, including a double-overtime-forcing trey, and Manu Ginobili bounced around like a pinball for 24 points with the last two coming on the 117-115 game-winner. Many are calling this the greatest first round series ever and you won’t get any argument from us after watching Game 1. The blood isn’t flowing yet like it was from the nose of Steve Nash during the opening game of last year’s battle, but it’s defiantly boiling as both sides nearly went hoarse from complaining to the refs in a physical matchup tallying 57 total fouls. Expect another bruiser in Game 2 on Tuesday.

Categories
LA Lakers

Around the Rim: Lakers show off their vertical leap


1. Leaping up the standings
If the Lakers end up with the top seed in the West, nobody can say they don’t deserve it. With just days left in the most highly contested conference race in history, Los Angeles took care of business in a big way by knocking off the Hornets and the Spurs in back-to-back games over the weekend. Kobe Bryant’s boys defeated New Orleans by three points, 107-104, on Friday and then throttled the defending champs 106-85 on Sunday. The Lakers jumped from third to first in the conference with the wins, giving them a half-game lead over New Orleans with their season finale coming on Tuesday against the Kings. Bryant finished with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in just three quarters of work against the Spurs while Lamar Odom (17 pts, 14 reb) and Pau Gasol (14 pts, 11 reb) each recorded a double-double. San Antonio could have used some of Manu Ginobili’s point production late in the game, but for the second consecutive game, a strained groin kept him on the sideline watching as the Spurs scored just 32 points in the second half.

2. Nuggets get closer

The Nuggets took one step closer to making the playoffs on Sunday when they romped the Rockets 111-94 behind 33 points from Allen Iverson. Denver also got a stellar performance out of sixth man J.R. Smith who scored 23 points. The Rockets dream of grabbing the conference’s top record is still attainable, but it’s defiantly fading fast. In order to grab the top record in the West, Houston must win both of its remaining games and have Los Angeles and New Orleans to lose on Tuesday.

3. Sonics sendoff
If the Sonics played their final game in Seattle last night, then they went out with a bang. With just 12 home victories to their name this season, the Sonics added a 13th on Sunday when they knocked off the Mavericks 99-95, overcoming a six-point deficit in the final three minutes. Led by Earl Watson’s 21 points and Kevin Durant’s 19, four of Seattle’s starters finished in double-figures to outpace the Mavericks who got 32 points and seven rebounds out of Dirk Nowitzki. Jason Terry chipped in 25 for Dallas. The Sonics appear to be heading for Oklahoma after heading out to Golden State for the franchise’s final game.

I almost cried, to be honest with you. People kept saying it might be the last game in Seattle,” Durant said. “It was phenomenal.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Allen Iverson vs. Houston 41 min, 33 pts (FG: 13-20, 3FG: 1-4, FT: 6-11), 7 reb, 7 ast, 4 stl, 1 blk

Monday’s Game to Watch: Golden State (48-32) @ Phoenix (53-27)
After falling to the Nuggets on Thursday, the Warriors basically sealed their fate. However, nothing is over until it’s officially over in the wild, wild West. But Golden State is in a must-win situation against the Suns tonight, needing a victory to even think about grabbing the conference’s last spot and go on to shock the world once again. Phoenix lost a heartbreaker to Houston on Friday to drop its record to 6-4 over the last games. Their will be no homecourt advantage for the Suns in the opening round of the postseason, so they will be looking to improve their 28-11 record in Phoenix before being forced to hit the road in the second season.

Buzzer Beater: Sitting comfortably in the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race, the Pistons have absolutely nothing to play for as the regular season draws to a close. But that isn’t keeping them from winning. No starter played more than 25 minutes against the Raptors on Sunday and the Pistons till took a 91-84 victory, shoving Toronto into sixth place in the East – a horrible place for a team with a 16-24 road record. As it stands, the Raptors would be looking at a first round matchup against these Pistons. Well, not exactly these exact Pistons; they’d be a much, much better Pistons squad.

We’ve been struggling for a while now — that’s no secret — and tonight we had to go up against one of the best teams in the league,” Rasho Nesterovic said after Toronto dropped to 8-16 in its last 24 games. “Whoever we play in the first round, we’re going to have to change our mentality if we want to have a chance.

Categories
Dallas Mavericks

Around the Rim: Dallas is dancing


1. Dirk saves the best for last
Thanks to a last-second dagger from Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs are in the playoffs. With the scored tied at 94 apiece, Nowitzki got a trey to fall with 0.9 seconds on the clock and Dallas secured a seed in the second season. Nowitzki scored a game-high 32 points in the 97-94 home floor victory to go along with 21 points – all in the second half – from Jason Terry. The twosome was basically impossible to stop down the stretch as they combined for 25 points in the fourth quarter. After picking up a big time road win in New Orleans on Tuesday, the Jazz returned to their disappointing ways away from home. Utah is now 17-23 on the road, but thanks to its division title, it will have homecourt advantage in the opening round regardless of how their regular season ends.

2. Warriors dealt a brutal blow

For the Nuggets and the Warriors, last night’s battle was perhaps the most important game to date for either team. In the end, Allen Iverson and the Nuggets proved too difficult a challenge and laid claim to a one game lead in the home stretch of an intense playoff race. A.I. posted 33 points in the 114-105 win at Golden State and the Nuggets finally have a measure of breathing room. Carmelo Anthony added 25 points, nine rebounds and five steals while J.R. Smith came off the bench to score 24. Led by Baron Davis’ third triple-double of the season (20 pts, 10 reb, 11 ast), all five starters for the Warriors finished in double-figures. But the numbers mean nothing at this point because the loss was devastating for Golden State. The Warriors almost have to win their final three games while praying the Nuggets drop at least two.

3. LA beats LA in LA
The Lakers only got 16 points out of Kobe Bryant last night against the Clippers and that was 16 more than they needed. Los Angeles grabbed a road victory by pounding the Clippers 106-78. What was briefly a rivalry between the two L.A. clubs has again turned into a manhandling. On Thursday, Luke Walton had the honors of personally dismantling the Clips by scoring 18 points while Lamar Odom went off for a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. The Lakers are still trying to catch New Orleans for the top seed in the playoffs, but need to move up another 1 ½ games to do so. Coincidentally, the two just so happen to be playing each other tonight.

Thursday’s Player of the Day: Allen Iverson @ Golden State 48 min, 33 pts (FG: 12-21, 3FG: 1-2, FT: 8-12), 3 reb, 9 ast, 3 stl

Friday’s Game to Watch: New Orleans (55-23) @ Los Angeles Lakers (54-25)
This game has a whole slew of storylines. First off, the clubs are battling it out for conference supremacy with Nawlins currently holding a slight (1 ½ game) lead over the Lakers. To date, the Hornets own a 2-1 advantage in head-to-head battles this season, including a 118-104 victory in Los Angeles back in November. But, perhaps, the most compelling reason to watch this game has to do with the matchup between the two most popular candidates for league MVP. Kobe Bryant is the most explosive scorer in the league and he’s become one of the best team players in the league, averaging 28.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. Meanwhile, Chris Paul is playing out of his mind this season, averaging 21.2 points and posting league-best numbers in assists (11.5) and steals (2.7) per game.

Buzzer Beater: Good news for Miami Heat fans, if there are any left. The team is desperate to get people back into the arena after an embarrassing 14-64 season, which means cheap seats!

The team with the NBA’s worst record is offering $10-per-game season tickets for 2008-09.

The Miami Heat announced the “Ten Gets You In!” promotion on Wednesday. The seats selling for $10 are in the upper deck behind the baselines.

Get ’em while they’re hot!

Categories
New Orleans Hornets

Around the Rim: Still the best in the West, but just barely


1. Hornets almost get stung
New Orleans needed a win on Tuesday night to keep pace with the streaking Spurs. Thanks to a sharpshooting Peja Stojakovic, they got it. OK, maybe “sharpshooting” is an overstatement considering he only connected on 2-of-11 field goals against the Magic, but Stojakovic came through in the clutch, connecting on a trey and hitting three big free throws in the final minute to help the Hornets sneak out of Orlando with a 98-97 victory. MVP candidate Chris Paul finished with 19 points and 12 assists and fellow All-Star David West double-doubled with 18 and 11 rebounds in Nawlins’ franchise-best 24th road win. Paul almost choked the game away by missing a pair of shots from the charity stripe with less than 10 seconds remaining. But when Keyon Dooling’s jumper fell short, the Hornets were able to breathe a sigh of relief. New Orleans holds a slight edge over SA which means they are still sitting atop the West with a game against Miami scheduled for tonight.

2. Nuggets get revenge against Suns

The home team continues to reign supreme in the battle between Phoenix and Denver. Just one day after losing by 15 points in Phoenix, the Nuggets returned to Denver and grabbed a 126-120 victory over the Suns thanks to stellar performances from Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony. A.I. finished with a game-high 31 points while Melo scored 25, including a pair of big free throws in the final 30 seconds to give Denver its seventh win in 10 games. More importantly, the Nuggets took a half-game lead over the Warriors for the West’s final playoff spot. The Suns did all they could, connecting on 53 percent of their shots, but homecourt advantage proved to be critical once again as the home team grabbed the win in every game between the two this season. Leandro Barbosa led the losers with 27 points while Shaquille O’Neal (14 pts, 13 reb), Amare Stoudemire (25 pts, 10 reb) and Steve Nash (17 pts, 18 ast) all recorded double-doubles.

3. Kings keep Rockets reeling
The Rockets are in free fall after reeling off 22 consecutive wins and Sacramento took full advantage on Tuesday night. Tracy McGrady scored a game-high 32 points, but it wasn’t enough to keep Houston from losing its fifth game, 99-98, in eight tries since going on the second-longest win steak in league history. Ron Artest finished with 30 points and Kevin Martin posted 27 as the Kings won their 34th game of the season which surpasses last year’s win total, marking the first improvement from one season to the next since 2001-02. For the Rockets, the loss sent them into sixth place out West. Houston took a one-point lead with time running out, but Martin knocked down a couple free throws with 48.9 seconds left on the clock, giving the Kings their final points of the night. Artest almost blew the victory by turning the ball over in the final moments, but McGrady’s shot was off the mark and Artest was saved by the buzzer.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Michael Redd vs. New York 46 min, 36 pts (FG: 12-22, 3FG: 4-9, FT: 8-11), 6 reb, 9 ast, 2 stl

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Golden State (45-29) @ Dallas (46-28)
Playoff implications are abundant in this matchup as either team could still conceivably fall out of the conference’s elite eight with a poor showing down the final stretch of the season. Luckily for Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki could be making an early return to the lineup after suffering a lower leg injury against the Spurs on March 23. At the moment, the Mavs are sitting in seventh place, just one game ahead of Golden State who is in ninth. Dallas would clinch the tiebreaker with a win which would be huge in a jam-packed race, but these are the Warriors we’re talking about and when it comes to ruining Dallas’ fun, nobody does it better than Don Nelson. And let’s not forget about the stat that just won’t go away for Dallas. The Mavericks are currently 0-10 against teams with winning records since acquiring Jason Kidd at the All-Star break.

Buzzer Beater: ESPN released its list of the top players under the age of 23 and we really can’t argue with the rankings. Can you?

1. LeBron James

2. Dwight Howard

3. Chris Paul

4. Deron Williams

5. Carmelo Anthony

6. Kevin Durant

7. Greg Oden

8. Andrew Bynum

9. Brandon Roy

10. Monta Ellis

Categories
Detroit Pistons

Around the Rim: Not in our house!


1. Detroit outshines Phoenix
In what very well could be a preview of this year’s NBA Finals, the Pistons proved they still got it when it comes to breaking Shaq’s heart. The Suns were on a seven-game winning streak going into Detroit on Monday, but Detroit posted 14 points in overtime to take a 110-105 victory. Since joining Phoenix, the Bad Boys have twice defeated Shaquille O’Neal and the last time the Diesel was sporting a Western Conference uniform, the Pistons sent his Lakers home brokenhearted from the game’s ultimate stage. O’Neal managed to have a solid outing, posting 12 points and 10 rebounds to compliment Amare Stoudemire’s 33 points and Steve Nash’s 23, but Chauncey Billups was too much to handle down the stretch, scoring nine of his 32 points in the extra frame.

2. Beantown letdown

Philadelphia’s shock-n-awe tour continued on Monday night when the Sixers stopped in Boston and knocked off the league’s top dawgs 95-90. Andre Iguodala finished with 28 points and went bonkers in the fourth quarter, going on a personal 10-0 run as part of a 19-0 run to claw out of an 11-point hole. Boston’s “Big 3” combined for 44 points, but only posted five in the final quarter and the Celtics lost their second straight. Philadelphia improved to 8-2 over its last 10 games and now sits in sole possession of sixth place in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.

3. The Nuggets keep rolling
On Sunday, Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony combined for 69 points in a victory over Toronto. On Monday, the dynamic duo posted 49 points, but the results were the same – a win. The Answer finished with 26 points and Carmelo Anthony tallied 23, however neither could hold a candle to J.R. Smith in Denver’s 120-106 win. Smith went nuclear in the final period, ripping off 25 of his 27 points, including seven bombs from downtown. The W was the Nuggets third consecutive as they try to work themselves back into the playoff picture in a stacked West. The Grizzlies got big games out of a pair of blossoming youngsters as Rudy put up a game-high 30 points and Hakim Warrick finished with 29. But don’t let the inexperienced talent fool you, this team stinks. In fact, if it weren’t for Seattle’s current 1-11 streak, Memphis might very well own the conference’s worst mark.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Lamar Odom @ Golden State 53 min, 23 pts (FG: 10-15, FT: 3-5), 21 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl, 5 blk

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: San Antonio (47-23) @ Orlando (46-26)
The last time the Spurs visited Orlando Dwight Howard slam dunked his Magic to a victory with less than one second remaining in the game. Until he went Superman at All-Star Weekend, it was the defining moment of his short career. The Spurs have now won three in a row after dropping six of seven and just added Brent Barry back to the roster to give them some solid perimeter shooting for the playoff push. It’s a strategy the Magic are quite familiar with. Orlando averages the second-most treys in the league (25.1 3FG per game) and Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu and Keith Bogans are amongst the top 12 in the league for 3-point attempts.

Buzzer Beater: Fans in Seattle chanted “Save Our Sonics!” at any chance they could get last night and apparently the players just aren’t used to hearing anything other than boos when they play in front of the home crowd after dropping 11 in a row before beating Portland 97-84 on Monday.

Messed me up a little bit,” [Kevin] Durant said. “But I heard them and that’s something I love. The crowd was into it tonight and that shows they’re going to stick behind us.

Categories
Dallas Mavericks

Around the Rim: Down goes Dirk! Down goes Dirk!


1. The M.V.P. is O.U.T.
The Mavericks lost a whole lot more than just the game when they played San Antonio on Sunday, they also lost Dirk Nowitzki. In the third quarter Nowitzki took a nasty fall and his left leg got caught up underneath him, leaving him in pain and the Mavs in misery. The “lower left leg injury” is expected to keep Dirk out of action for at least two weeks which could spell disaster for Dallas’ playoff chances because after falling 88-81 to the Spurs, the Mavericks are now just two games from falling out of the chase as they currently sit in seventh place. The defeat dropped Dallas to 0-8 versus teams with winning records since acquiring Jason Kidd. The Spurs on the other hand are starting to improve, winning their third consecutive game after going through a horrible 1-6 slump.

2. Denver’s playoff push continues

Denver is a tough team to beat when Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony get hot. Just ask Toronto. The duo combined for 69 points in a 109-100 defeat of the Raptors up in Canada. A.I. exploded for 36 points while Anthony posted 33 to help Denver win its second consecutive game. The Nuggets are racing the clock and the competition as they try to claw their way back into the postseason’s elite eight out West. Toronto is slipping and sliding its way to the bottom of its conference with a 2-8 record over the last 10 games. Not even having their superstar back is helping. The Raptors are 1-2 since Chris Bosh returned to the lineup. Against Denver, Bosh was doing it all in the loss, finishing with 17 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.

3. Lakers rally in vain
The Lakers trailed by 26 points at one point against the Warriors on Sunday and damn near rallied all the way back, but Stephen Jackson thwarted the comeback. Jackson made a pair of big treys in the final minute, giving him 31 points on the day and his team a 115-111 road victory. Monta Ellis matched Jackson’s 31 point output and Baron Davis added 18 to help Golden State avoid a total choke job. Kobe Bryant had 36 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in the loss. Los Angeles is now sitting in second place in the Western Conference, trailing New Orleans via tiebreaker, but has considerably cooled off, going 6-4 in their last 10 contests. However, LA can avenge the loss tonight as it turns around and heads to Golden State for the tail end of the home-and-home.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Kobe Bryant vs. Golden State 46 min, 36 pts (FG: 13-30, 3FG: 3-9, FT: 7-7), 14 reb, 8 ast, 1 stl,

Monday’s Game to Watch: Phoenix (47-22) @ Detroit (49-20)
Talk about a contrast in styles! The Suns are the second best offensive team in the league, averaging 110.2 points per game while Detroit is the second best defensive unit in the Association, giving up a meager 90.8 points a contest. Tonight, something has to give. The Pistons are riding a two game losing streak after falling to Cleveland and Washington on the road, but they will have the advantage of playing at home against Phoenix where they are 27-6. But home court advantage might not be enough as the Suns are finally clicking with Shaquille O’Neal, winning seven straight. In the last five games, Phoenix has been able to keep O’Neal’s minutes to a minimum (27.6 per game) while getting nearly a double-double (14. ppg, 19.6) out of him.

Buzzer Beater: For the first time in the history of the NBA it appears that we are going to see a 50+ win team miss the playoffs. And, of course, we are talking about the unlucky souls who get the shaft out West. Currently, that team is the Denver Nuggets with a 42-28 record.

I’ve never seen anything like it. I call it the Halley’s Comet year of the NBA,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “Once every 99 years something like this happens. Why I have to be a part of it, I want to know why.

Categories
Denver Nuggets

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.

Categories
Boston Celtics

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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Cleveland Cavaliers

Around the Rim: LeBron lights up the Garden


1. Battling it out
Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are running neck-and-neck down the final stretch as they both try to grab their first regular season MVP trophy. Currently, James has a slight advantage, but that is only because he was the last one to play. The King almost racked up a wicked triple-double against the Knicks on Wednesday by scoring 50 points, dishing out 10 assists and grabbing eight rebounds in a 119-105 victory in the Garden. It was James’ second 50-point outburst this season as he shot a blistering 16-of-30 from the field, including 7-of-13 from behind the 3-point arc. In fact, LBJ was so hot that the New York natives were chanting “MVP! MVP!” for him during the final moments. And why not? After all, James became just the third player ever to get 50 points and 10 assists in the historic building. The other two: Stephon Marbury and Michael Jordan. While Bryant takes a couple of days off before taking on the Clippers on Friday, James will be busy putting in more groundwork for his award ceremony by playing the Bulls tonight.

2. Boston mails in its R.S.V.P.

The Celtics are in. It seems like an eternity has passed since the last time Boston was involved in postseason play, but on Wednesday they became the first team to secure a spot in the playoffs by defeating the Pistons 90-78 in Beantown. Kevin Garnett set a season-high by scoring 31 points, helping to mask the horrible shooting performance by teammate Ray Allen who was just 1-of-9 from the floor for three points. Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups finished with 23 points apiece, but Detroit could only must 11 points in the fourth quarter which proved to be its downfall. While the win put Boston into the second season, perhaps more importantly it gave them a 2-1 advantage in the series, meaning should the two reunite in the playoffs, the home-court advantage goes to the Celtics.

3. Shaq’s Suns slip and slide down the standings
The Shaquille O’Neal experiment continues to go sour in Phoenix. Down the stretch, the move could prove invaluable, but, as of now, the Suns are just 3-5 with O’Neal in the lineup and they are losing ground quickly in the Western Conference race. Last night, Denver ran over the normally fast-paced Suns 126-113 behind Allen Iverson’s 31 points and Carmelo Anthony’s 30-point, 13-rebound performance. As a result, Phoenix woke up this morning sitting in sixth place in the standings. Sure, with just a couple of wins, they could hop right back up to the top of the list, but with a couple more losses, they could easily slide to eighth place or possibly find themselves in a dog fight if they drop out of the top eight altogether. It would seem that eventually the Suns will mesh all of their talent into a cohesive unit, but it might not be anytime soon as they have games against Utah and San Antonio looming on the upcoming schedule.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James @ New York 44 min, 50 pts (FG: 16-30, 3FG: 7-13, FT: 11-16), 8 reb, 10 ast, 4 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Houston (40-20) @ Dallas (39-22)
The Rockets are rolling right along, not even missing a beat without their starting center. Thanks to Tracy McGrady and the rest of the supporting cast, Houston currently has a franchise-record 16-game winning streak under its belt with four of the victories coming after Yao Ming’s season-ending injury. In fact, their current tear is tied for the 12th longest streak in NBA history. The odds of reaching 17 straight improved dramatically with the news that the Mavericks MVP Dirk Nowitzki is suspended for the contest following his WWEesque clothesline on Utah’s Andrei Kirilenko. Still, Dallas is 25-3 at home and they are currently fighting for their playoff lives, sitting just 2 ½ games ahead of ninth place Denver. A streak snapping victory without their main man could be exactly what the Mavs need to get rolling toward the postseason.

Buzzer Beater: Pat Riley is pissed off…again.

After watching the Heat lose for the 29th time in 32 games, Riley said he should personally write refund checks to season-ticket holders, plus — once again — questioned Miami’s effort, saying it was “so unprofessional, it’s ridiculous.”

He’s seen enough. Problem is, there’s 24 games left.

“I’ve got to ferret out the guys who really don’t care,” Riley said. “I’ve got to ferret them out of here and just put them on the bench and bring in a bunch of young guys. … The season’s over for them. That’s how they’re playing, some of them, anyhow.