Boston Celtics

Around the Rim: Blaze extinguished

1. Beantown bounces back
The Blazers were scorching hot coming into their contest against the Celtics in Beantown, but they weren’t hot enough to knock off the league’s top dogs. Ray Allen was on fire, hitting 12-of-20 shots for a game-high 35 points while Kevin Garnett scored 26, helping Boston grab a 100-90 win. After dropping three of their previous four games, this could be the beginning of another big run for the Leprechauns with Philadelphia, New York, Minnesota and Miami coming up on the schedule. Despite their winning ways of late, Portland has struggled away from home this season, losing 12 of their 18 road games. Against the Celtics, the Blaze committed 17 turnovers, including four apiece from Brandon Roy (22 pts) and LaMarcus Aldridge (16 pts).

2. Welcome back, here’s a trouncing

Sacramento and Miami were thrilled before tipoff of their respective games on Wednesday thanks to the return of Shaquille O’Neal and Mike Bibby to the active roster. But that was before the game; afterwards was a whole different story. The Diesel had a great game in his return, scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds against the Bulls, but as Charles Barkley would say “The operation was a success, but the patient died” because Miami lost by 30 points at home, 126-96. Up in Canada, it wasn’t much better for the Kings who had Mike Bibby (19 pts, 6 reb) in uniform for the first time this season but lost by 25, 116-91.

3. Heart attack Cats
Well, we’ll be darned if they ain’t done done it again. The Bobcats went into halftime against the Magic down by 15 points and fell down by 19 early in third quarter before making another furious rally to victory. Gerald Wallace netted 36 and grabbed 14 points while teammate Jason Richardson scored 26 points, including a bevy of clutch shots in the final moments, giving the Cats a 99-93 win. Charlotte (15-23) has now won four of their last six games against some pretty decent competition, knocking off the Nets, Celtics, Nuggets and, now, the Magic. Dwight Howard was ginormous in defeat, going for 24 points and 21 rebounds.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Dwight Howard @ Charlotte 42 min, 24 pts (FG: 8-15, FT: 8-13), 21 reb, 1 ast, 4 stl, 1 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Phoenix (26-12) @ Los Angeles Lakers (26-11)
The race for the postseason in the West is tighter than it has been in years and when a team slips-up, they can go sliding all the way down the ladder. Phoenix just learned this lesson the hard way by losing to the Clippers and dropping like a stone from first to fifth in the conference standings. And thanks to the Hornets defeating the Sonics on Wednesday, Phoenix now has the sixth seed behind New Orleans. The lucky beneficiaries of the Suns setting was the Lakers who jumped all the way to the top of the West, a place they hadn’t been since the Diesel was rolling in L.A. This should be a brawl between a pair Pacific Division rivals that hate each other with a passion.

Buzzer Beater: Oddball Joakim Noah and Ben Wallace had a bit of tiff during the Bulls loss to Orlando on Tuesday, just don’t tell Joakim that.

You know what makes me mad, that somebody actually said and told you guys that there was a situation,” Noah told WSCR radio station in Chicago. “That’s what makes me mad. That’s the only reason why I’m doing this right now. Otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it.

“For people to say we’ve had a clash … this is the kind of stuff that divides a team. You guys write these stories and hype things up. It’s crazy.

College Basketball

Joakim Noah doesn’t like being called "good"

We all know that Joakim Noah looks funny. And we all know that Joakim Noah dances funny. But did you know that Joakim Noah could be funny behind the mic. Well, it’s not exactly Eddie Murphy or George Carlin funny but we still think that you’ll get a chuckle out of Noah’s reaction to being called “good” by Ohio State guard Ron Lewis. Apparently, Noah has been attending the Alicia Silverstone school of comedy.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Ron Arrest

1. The NBA’s Equivalent of Iron Mike
Apparently it’s thug life or no life for Ron Artest. No matter how many chances this guy gets, he will always blow it. Artest’s latest episode got him thrown in the slammer for suspicion of domestic violence and suspicion of using force or violence to prevent the incident from being reported after he allegedly shoved a woman to the floor of his suburban Sacramento home. The Kings president of basketball operations, Geoff Petrie, also said that Artest has been excused from the team indefinitely. If it’s not animal abuse, it’s spousal abuse and if it’s not spousal abuse it’s auditory abuse. The question is what’s worse? Ron-Ron throwing his old lady to the floor, leaving his dog’s in the city pound for 77 days or subjecting an audience to a live performance of “Workin the Pole.” They’re all despicable offenses worthy of imprisonment in my book.

2. Hey, Yao, Break a… Nevermind
After missing 32 games, Yao Ming made his much anticipated return to the Rockets lineup last night but by the end of the game it was LeBron James who was basking in the spotlight. Yao was struggling to find his timing from the very beginning of the game and ended with just 16 points on five of 15 shooting, but he did manage to grab 11 rebounds. But there’s no reason to rush Yao back for his defensive effort when the 40-something year old Dikembe Mutombo is gobbling up rebounds like his vocal clone Cookie Monster devours a pack of Double Stuf Oreos. Nevertheless, no player, man or Muppet, was going to stop LBJ last night as he put together a near triple-double effort in the Cavs 91-85 victory. Cleveland is now only three games behind Detroit for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

3. Oh No-ah!
Boy, one year and one boneheaded Dick Vitale conversation sure can make a big difference in a kid’s life. Just ask Joakim Noah. After leading Florida to the national championship last year, Noah could have decided to go pro and possibly be selected first in the draft. Chicago has admitted to being enamored with the 6-11 forward/center before last years draft and would have selected him with the second pick, should he have fallen to them. But that was when Noah was hot, now he’s not. In fact, some scouts are saying that he isn’t even worth being picked in the top ten. Even Noah has admitted that he hasn’t been fully contributing to his team of late. Throw in the fact that two of the biggest prospects in recent history are probably coming out this year and Noah’s decision that school is cool will probably end up costing him some serious cash.

Monday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James vs. Houston 42 min, 32 pts (FG: 12-24, 3FG: 3-6, FT: 5-9), 12 reb, 8 ast

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: New Jersey (28-32) @ Dallas (50-9) If the Mavericks aren’t must watch basketball then what is? Every single night it seems that Cuban’s kids are breaking records and extending streaks. At this point, every victory is setting a new franchise-high for consecutive wins, currently at 15, as they are now the sixth fastest team in NBA history to reach 50 wins. New Jersey is beginning the dreaded Texas road trip that includes stops at all three of the gyms in just five days. While the task is daunting, the duo of Vince Carter and Jason Kidd have been combining for some serious efforts of late. Jersey is fighting for their playoff lives as they are currently sitting just outside of the top eight in the conference. Presently, the last spot is up for grabs between Orlando, New York and New Jersey so every game is critical for the Nets.

Buzzer Beater: As if there aren’t enough reality shows on the tube already, now Shaquille O’Neal is getting into the act after agreeing to a six-episode series which has yet to be titled or scheduled for release. However, unlike reality gurus such as Flavor Flav, Johnny Knoxville and Dog the Bounty Hunter, Shaq’s show will be beneficial to society. That’s because the Diesel is going to be tackling a topic that he is quite familiar with, childhood obesity. Listed at 325 pounds (uh-huh, right), O’Neal will follow the lives of select kids as they participate in the ABC program and also lobby politicians on health related causes including school nutrition. You have to appreciate Shaq for using his fame to promote a worthy cause, but is the Big (fill in the blank) the right guy to show our nation’s future how to properly eat? Were Charles Barkley, Oliver Miller and Shawn Kemp busy or something?