Boston Celtics

Around the Rim: Celtics blast past Phoenix

1. Celtics cruise to victory
The Suns were tied with the Celtics at halftime of Wednesday night’s game, but then Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce got nasty. K.G. ripped off 30 points in the contest and Pierce racked up 12 of his 27 points in the final period to give Boston a 117-97 victory. The Cs snapped a two-game losing streak with the win and simultaneously ended Phoenix’s seven-game win streak. Amare Stoudemire finished with a game-high 32 points and Shaquille O’Neal tallied 16 points and seven rebounds, but afterwards reporters only seemed to care about who the big fella favored in the MVP race.

O’Neal won the award in 2000 with Los Angeles before a well-publicized rift with Bryant led the Lakers to split the pair up. Asked who he liked in the MVP race, though, O’Neal said, “The Kobester. He’s an assassin.”

“With LeBron [James] coming in right behind,” O’Neal added. “After that, I really haven’t been paying attention.”

What about Garnett?

“I’m going to have to go with my guy” — Stoudamire — “before him,” O’Neal said. “All day, every day.

2. West is best

A game of can-you-top-this broke out in the final seconds of New Orleans’ trip to Cleveland last night. It started when LeBron James’ layup put the Cavaliers up by a point with 7.7 seconds remaining which appeared to possibly be the game clincher. However, the play only set the stage for Chris Paul to drive into the paint, collapse the defense and find David West for the midrange game-winning jumper with 0.6 seconds left, giving Nawlins a 100-99 victory. Paul was phenomenal once again, scoring 15 points and dishing out 20 assists while Peja Stojakovic tallied 25 points and West got the highlight of the night and 20 points. The game marked the second time this season Paul reached the 20-assist plateau, joining Deron Williams (twice) and Steve Nash as the only players to do so.

3. Sixers strike again
With a 121-99 win over Chicago on Wednesday, Philadelphia claimed its third consecutive victory and its eighth win out of the last 10 games as they continue to move up the standings in the East. Some guy named Lou Williams led the 76ers with a game-high 23 points while Andre Miller just missed a triple-double with nine points, eight rebounds and a season-high 18 assists. The 18 dimes were just three away from tying the franchise record currently held by Maurice Cheeks and Wilt Chamberlain. Believe it or not, but the victory guaranteed this would be the team’s best month of March since 1984 when they were 13-3. Overall, this was the Sixers 19th win in their last 24 games which brought their miserable record of 18-30 to a respectable 37-35.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Zydrunas Ilgauskas vs. New Orleans 33 min, 29 pts (FG: 13-19, FT: 3-3), 15 reb, 3 ast, 2 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Dallas (45-26) @ Denver (43-28)
It’s a scary, scary time to be a Mavericks fan. With only 10 games left in their season and their superstar out with an ankle injury, the Mavericks are a mere two games away from completely falling out of the playoff picture. The pressure is on for Dallas because if they can’t pull out a win in Denver where the Nuggets are 28-7 then the cushion shrinks to a single game. And it just so happens that Denver has a little added motivation of its own because they are the team currently on the outside looking in. Some unfortunate team is going to miss the postseason this year and the Nuggets are trying hard to make sure it is not them, winning three consecutive games behind the hot hands of Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony.

Buzzer Beater: “Like Mike, if I could be like Mike. I wannabe, wannabe, wannabe like Mike. Like Mike, if I could be like Mike.”

OK, now don’t try to tell us you weren’t singing along. Since the late 80s, kids have been dreaming of being like Michael Jordan and Carmelo Anthony is no different. Anthony has a long way to go before making his dream come true, but the kid is certainly getting paid like Mike after signing another deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand.

Cal Andrews, vice president of BDA Sports Management, declined to give the terms of the extension but one source put it at just over $60 million for seven years. With royalties, the deal would make him the second highest-paid player behind LeBron James among Nike’s NBA clients, just ahead of Sonics rookie Kevin Durant.

Houston Rockets

Around the Rim: Up, up and away!

1. Rockets keep rolling
Despite winning their 20th consecutive game against Atlanta on Wednesday, the Rockets showed signs of slippage along the way. Houston managed to score just 32 points in the first half of last night’s game, but the Hawks couldn’t capitalize on their sorry opening half and lost 83-75. Tracy McGrady led the hottest team in the league with 28 points and nine rebounds as Houston shot just 33 percent from the field, including a pathetic 6-of-29 performance from behind the 3-point line. But regardless of the percentages, the Rockets are now tied for the second-longest win streak in league history. Just to put it into perspective, while Houston has won 20 straight contests, there are five teams (New York, Miami, Seattle, Memphis and Minnesota) who have yet to win 20 games during the entire season.

2. Hornets deliver against the champs

The Spurs fell out of the Southwest Division’s driver seat last night thanks to a 100-75 pounding from the Hornets. Chris Paul was unstoppable with 26 points and 17 assists in the game, pulling his team within ½ of a game of Houston and SA for the division title – the Rockets are now in first via a tiebreaker with the Spurs. San Antonio got 24 points from both Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, but the Spurs only scored eight points as a team in the final quarter as Nawlins pulled away. Hornets All-Star forward David West missed three games prior to the victory, but he didn’t miss a beat against Duncan. West finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds.

3. Sixers shocker
Despite going scoreless during the final 2:27 of the game, Philadelphia somehow managed to steal a victory in Detroit. Chauncey Billups had an opportunity to win the game, but his buzzer-beater bounced off the rim, giving the Sixers an improbable 83-82 victory. Andre Iguodala finished with a game-high 22 points as Philly won its seventh game in nine tries, bringing their record to 31-34 which is seventh best in the East.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James @ New Jersey 46 min, 42 pts (FG: 12-23, 3FG: 2-7, FT: 16-23), 11 reb, 7 ast, 1 stl, 2 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Golden State (40-23) @ Phoenix (42-22)
While this game pits the league’s two top-scoring clubs against each other, there’s more on the line than offensive supremacy. The Warriors are fighting to catch the Suns in the standings and a win tonight would bring them within ½ game of their division rivals while also putting a little bit of breathing room between themselves and the Nuggets who are trying to grab the last playoff spot currently occupied by Golden State. For Phoenix, a win would mean gaining ground on the Lakers in the division. This could be a game where Shaquille O’Neal proves to be a detriment to the team as the Warriors will try to beat the big fella down the court every single possession.

Buzzer Beater: Greg Oden finally practiced with his teammates on Wednesday, putting in 45 minutes of work after missing the entire season with a knee injury. While he wasn’t going full speed, he tested the knee as he ran a few offensive sets. All in all, it’s a great sign for the Portland faithful.

It was fun,” Oden said afterwards, according to The Oregonian. “It felt good to get out there … and I wasn’t hurting at all.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Around the Rim: Flying high in the fourth

1. “It’s your fault.”
Scoring 39 points for LeBron James isn’t really that big of a deal. Nowadays, we pretty much expect the King to get at least 30 on a nightly basis. But 39 points takes on a whole new meaning when LBJ scores 24 of `em in the fourth quarter. James scored two-thirds of the Cavs points in the final period, helping Cleveland break even on the season (17-17) with a 93-90 win in Toronto. James also finished with 11 rebounds and eight assists, citing some front-row hecklers for his late outburst. The Raptors got 23 points out of Chris Bosh and 16 points and 11 assists out of Jose Calderon, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the opposition’s one-man heroics as Toronto lost their second consecutive game, falling to third in the Atlantic Division.

2. San Antonio’s revolving door

The Spurs rollercoaster ride of a season went for another `up and down’ on Sunday when Manu Ginobili returned to the defending champs’ lineup following a five-game absence, putting in 23 points in 29 minutes off the bench. But in the final minutes of the Spurs 88-82 road victory, the stomachs of San Antonio fans quickly relocated to their throats as Tim Duncan and Corey Maggette banged knees, sending Duncan to floor where he clutched his leg. Luckily for Gregg Popovich’s crew, Duncan seems to have escaped without a major or even minor injury and isn’t expected to miss any time after finishing with 17 points and 17 rebounds against the Clippers. Then again, Pop is known to be conservative in these types of situations, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Tim sit a game or two.

3. Remember me?
The 76ers took a cross country trip to see their old running mate, but Allen Iverson didn’t exactly play the role of gracious host. A.I. lit up his former squad for 38 points and eight assists, giving Denver its third consecutive win and control of the Northwest Division. This was just Iverson’s second game against the Sixers since being traded in 2006 with both contests being played in Denver. On March 19, the Answer will make his first trip back to Philly and even Iverson doesn’t know what to expect.

You don’t know what the environment’s going to be like,” Iverson said. “I know it’s going to be strange because I played there so many years and I fell in love with the fans there. I was a part of them, they were a part of me. It’s obviously going to be different.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James @ Toronto 46 min, 39 pts (FG: 14-29, 3FG: 4-8, FT: 7-12), 11 reb, 8 ast

Monday’s Game to Watch: Denver (21-12) @ Phoenix (23-10)
It’s not too often that one can say the second best team in the Western Conference is in desperate need of a win, but the Suns are in desperate need of a win. Phoenix is just 6-4 in their previous 10 games with the loses coming to quality teams and the wins coming against a bunch of scrubs, minus a win in San Antonio and one against the Raptors. The result is that the Lakers are now knocking on the division door [1 ½ games separate the two], ready to cross the threshold into first place. Winning a home shootout against the Nuggets would be a big confidence booster for the Suns, but the highest-scoring duo in the league will have something to say about that. Allen Iverson (26.9 ppg) and Carmelo Anthony (25.3 ppg) look to take Denver to their fourth consecutive win, but yet another injury to Kenyon Martin could prove costly on defense as Amare Stoudemire is torching opponents with regularity this season.

Buzzer Beater: Don’t pencil in Stoudemire’s 22 points and nine rebounds per game just yet because there is a small chance the All-Star center/forward could miss tonight’s game against the Nuggets. Turns out Stoudemire missed the Suns’ Sunday practice for “personal reasons.” General manager Steve Kerr will discuss the issue with Stoudemire sometime today and depending on the outcome of the meeting, there could be possible disciplinary actions handed out in the form of a fine or suspension.

LA Lakers

Odds and Ends: Isiah Thomas to offer next 10 first round picks for Kobe

Now that Kobe Bryant has officially asked to be traded from the Lakers, the multi-million dollar question is: where to? It’s fairly amusing the fan reaction to the Kobe demand. On on hand, you have Bright Side of the Sun which basically says no way. On the other, you have which is trying to figure out how many players they’d need to ship to LA to even out Kobe’s value/salary. And then you have The 700 Level which is asking whether Philly fans want the prodigal son to return.

Nowitzki for Kobe seems to be the most logical trade. You get superstar for superstar and you could move some minor pieces to make the contracts work out. The only problem is that Mark Cuban is hopelessly in love with Dirk. Kobe just made the pre-draft period 100x more interesting.

In other news…

[Enquirer]: Odds on when Barry will hit 756*…

[Sac Bee]: But when he does, Barry Bonds might not give any memorabilia to the hall of fame. No wonder why everyone hates him.

[Sports By Brooks]: Getting knocked out and practically ruining UFC didn’t stop Chuck Liddell from partying

[AdFreak]: Is ballpark advertising still effective if an outfielder is lying unconscious in front of it?

[Our Book of Scrap]: You can party in Cozumel with the Broncos cheerleaders

NBA General

Around the Rim: Playoff Picture Begins To Come Into Focus

1. One Down, 15 to Go
With a 13 point victory over the Nets, the Mavericks not only extended their current winning streak to 16 (23 straight at home), but they tied 1982-83 76ers and the 1971-72 Lakers with the fourth best record after 60 games (51-9). And while it was only a matter of time, the Mavs also became the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot. And sitting in the front row during the game was a trophy hungry Scottie Pippen who seems more than willing to provide his services to the Mavericks during their postseason run. But how much more talent does Mark Cuban need on one roster? In last night’s game, all five starters finished with double digits in points while two more players came off the bench to score at least ten.

2. Melo Mopes as the Nuggets Nosedive
Allen Iverson seems to be happy in his new Rocky Mountain surroundings but his fellow All-Star is probably not as cheery about his current situation. Denver coach George Karl has been critical of Carmelo Anthony’s selfishness and says that he fails to play smart, team basketball. In fact, Karl is so tired of Melo’s self-centered antics that benching the league’s top scorer is the coach’s next step. As expected, Anthony has been the team’s top scorer for almost every game since returning from his 15 game suspension, but the Nuggets have only won nine of their last 21 games and are in serious jeopardy of falling out of the playoff picture. All the pieces are there but Anthony just hasn’t developed the ability to lead his team, which is exactly what Karl is desperately trying to draw out of his superstar. It would be a ballsy move by Karl, but maybe riding the pine will pain Melo to the point of maturity.

3. Yes, We’re Talking About Practice
So, what do you do when as one of the worst teams in the NBA you suddenly rip off a four game winning streak? Well, if you’re a member of the Philadelphia 76ers then you take in a game of paintball at the local field. Much like a group of ten year olds at a birthday party, the Sixers were running, jumping, diving and hiding from each other on Tuesday as they currently sit six games out of the final playoff spot. Not to be a buzzkill, but shouldn’t these guys be practicing? After all, a four game win streak doesn’t exactly cancel out the team’s 18-38 start to the season.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Kobe Bryant @ Minnesota 53 min, 40 pts (FG: 13-30, 3FG: 3-10, FT: 11-13), 13 reb, 8 ast, 2 stl, 3 blk

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Cleveland (35-25) @ Detroit (37-21) It’s a division battle, a budding rivalry and a showdown between the East’s two best teams all wrapped into one. The Pistons are three games ahead of the Cavs for the conference crown but it’s Cleveland who has won three of their last four games. Nobody has been hotter than LeBron James over the past few weeks but the Pistons notorious defense could put an end to James’ streak. Detroit seems to finally be cooling down (1-2 in their last three games) after going on a run of 15 wins in the team’s first 19 games with Chris Webber. The modern day Bad Boys need to make the remainder of this season count because Chauncey Billups has said that he will consider joining the Grizzlies when he becomes a free agent in the offseason.

Buzzer Beater: Dammit! Kobe did it again, and I’m not referring to his 40 point effort. In last night’s game against the Timberwolves, Bryant delivered a blatant forearm to the head of Marko Jaric on the follow-through of a jumper with under a minute remaining in the fourth quarter. The scene was eerily similar to the one in LA about five weeks ago when Manu Ginobili took an “unintentional” elbow from the Mamba. Both the players spent significant time crumpled on the hardwood after being hit by the supposedly legitimate release. Bryant might think his cheap shot tactic is smooth, but his intent is obvious and malicious and the scenario is becoming far too frequent. Go get him Stern!

NBA General

Around the Rim: Divorce Court

It’s over?

1. Gold Digger Alert
By this point, everyone is familiar with the unusual circumstances surrounding the divorce proceedings between Jason Kidd and his wife Joumana. But did you know that Kidd isn’t the only Net who is going through a split. In a far less entertaining manner, Vince Carter and his wife, Ellen Rucker, have initiated the paperwork to dissolve their relationship as well. So far, “Half-Man, Half-A Commitment” has not publicly admitted to quitting on the marriage, but the breakup could be the leading factor in a move from New Jersey. Rucker will most likely move to Orlando or her hometown of Charlotte and take the couple’s daughter with her. Carter will become a free agent at the end of the year, making these very tempting destinations as they might be able to offer Vince, the dad, an incentive that no other team could. By the way, the Nets have finally moved into first place in their division thanks to a 15-19 record that management would like to annul.

2. Sixers buyout Chris Webber
Speaking of divorces, the Sixers are getting rid of all their big contracts this year. The latest is a buyout of Chris Webber’s contract. Scheduled to make $45M combined this year and next, Webber is expected to only give back less than $5M and becomes a free agent. This is a win-win because Webber potentially gets to make more money or goes to a contending team for less than his usual asking price while the Sixers get salary cap and luxury tax relief — not to mention no-defense-playing relief.

3. We’re Going Streaking!
Believe it or not, but teams other than Dallas can string together consecutive wins. And since the Mavs latest streak is currently only at one, there’s an opportunity to recognize them as well. Phoenix is no stranger to great spurts of play, and owns the longest active win streak at seven. This comes after the Suns ripped off 15 in a row earlier in the year. The Cavs can take credit as the hottest team in the East after winning their last five games. On the other side of the coin, New Orleans and Seattle get to share the humiliation of being the leagues reigning bottom feeders since both teams have dropped their previous five contests.

4. Five Times the Pain
Nobody has every questioned Bobby Jackson’s work ethic in the past, and now we know why. Jackson was injured during a game in late November against Toronto and it was determined that he had a cracked rib. The painful injury kept him sidelined until January 4th when he returned to play for ten minutes against Detroit. On Tuesday, a CT scan showed that Jackson had played with not one, but five cracked ribs. And the former sixth man of the year is only listed as day to day! Talk about a pain threshold. Luckily, no additional damage was sustained in his brief return to the court, but Jackson might want to reconsider his choice of medical practitioners before his next annual checkup.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Nick Collison @ Phoenix 44 min, 29 pts (FG: 12-18, FT: 5-9), 21 reb, 4 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Chicago (20-15) @ Washington (19-14) Chicago has struggled recently by losing three of their last four games, but they remain one of the strongest teams in the Eastern Conference behind a solid starting five and one of the best sixth men the league has ever witnessed. Ben Gordon leads the Bulls in scoring despite being fourth on the team in minutes. But when it comes to scoring, it’s Washington that has the obvious advantage with MVP candidate Gilbert Arenas. Arenas is second in the league scoring and has been collecting 40 point games like stamps all year long. The Bulls will have to step up their pathetic play on the road against a Wiz team that is 13-3 in D.C. if they plan to escape the Verizon Center with a win.

Buzzer Beater: T.J. Ford had one of the worst games of his career last night against the Nets. In 18 minutes, Ford missed all of his shots (0-8) and finished with zero points and one assist. After being wheeled off the court on a stretcher, this is no big deal for Ford, but Toronto has got to be worried about the recent play from their point guard. An ankle injury has benched Ford in three of the last five games after he averaged 17 points and nine assists with five double-doubles in December.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Washington’s Wizard

1. Accolades and Injuries
Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas was named the Eastern Conference player of the month for his performances during December. Arenas averaged a league high 34.1 points and scored 30 or more in 12 of 16 games, including a career-high 60 point game and a 54 point game. Unfortunately, the Wizards might have to play without their star after he injured his shoulder on Saturday in a game versus Milwaukee. Tonight, the Bucks will travel to Washington where Arenas has excelled this season. Arenas has yet to miss a game this year and head coach Eddie Jordan sure hope this isn’t his first.

2. Francis Returns to Houston
It’s a new year, but some things just never change for the Knicks. Steve Francis’ knee has been a chronic problem since he arrived in New York and now he’s left the team to undergo rehabilitation on the plagued right knee in Houston. N.Y. knows how this story can go since it was just a year ago that Penny Hardaway left for rehab in Houston and never returned. Stevie Franchise will probably not return this season and he will likely never be the same player he once was. So, New York will be left holding his unmovable rights that include three years and $48.5 million left on his current contract. It’s just another bruising blow to Isiah Thomas as he attempts to turn around his team before the end of the year.

3. Hole Down Low
As shocking as it might sound, the Lakers are going to miss not have Kwame Brown in the lineup. Feels weird writing it, but it’s true. With Chris Mihm out for the year and Lamar Odom out until mid-month, the ankle injury to Brown couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Lakers are two games behind Phoenix in the Pacific Division and have a tough schedule ahead of them. Brown will never live up to the hype that he received as a number one draft pick but he is the Lakers best interior defender without Mihm around. But interior defense is obviously not L.A.’s number one concern. How could it be when Mihm is your most dominant enforcer?

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Amare Stoudemire @ Chicago 36 min, 24 pts (FG: 10-20, FT: 4-4), 18 reb, 2 ast, 4 stl, 1 blk

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: San Antonio (23-9) @ Minnesota (14-15) San Antonio will take one of the leagues best road records into Minnesota as Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett add another chapter into their great rivalry. The former MVP’s continue to post impressive numbers as they lead their teams in points and rebounds, but the Timberwolves have lacked consistency as a team as they maintain the search for an elusive winning record. The Spurs, on the other hand, have been amongst the leagues elite for the entire season as Duncan’s supporting cast continues to grow and produce.

Buzzer Beater: Allen Iverson gave his old coach the cold shoulder when he ignored him before the game between the Nuggets and Sixers last night. Understandable considering the way Maurice Cheeks and owner Billie King handled the situation leading up to Iverson’s trade, but what’s up with Andre Miller blowing off George Karl. Surely he’s not upset that Karl traded him for one of the greatest players in the history of the game. There was only one untouchable player on the Nuggets and his name was Anthony, not Andre. Get over yourself Miller.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Happy New Year!

1. Kevin Likes It! He Really Likes It!
Well, at long last, the leather ball has returned and it has already been approved by Kevin Garnett. The Minnesota forward put up a season high 32 points against Charlotte in the NBA’s first game with the new old ball. “There is a God,” said Garnett. And K.G. wasn’t the only one feeling the magic of the rock. Four other players scored 20 or more points in the contest. The Celtics seemed to enjoy the change as well. After losing to Seattle on New Year’s Eve with the synthetic ball, Boston opened 2007 with a win over Portland, shooting 44 percent and snapping a six game losing streak in the process.

2. Philly Comes to Town
It wasn’t that long ago when Allen Iverson wore a Sixers uniform. Now, after over a decade of hoops, Iverson will play his first game against Philadelphia. Philly has been a joke all year long and A.I. would love nothing more than to make this reunion a memorable one. Obviously, he could do so by leading his new team to a victory over his old team but, he can also etch his name into the record books with a high scoring performance. If Iverson can drop 40 on his old franchise then he will move into fourth place on the list of players with the most games of 40 or more. The Answer is currently tied with Oscar Robertson with 77 such games. Only Wilt Chamberlain (271), Michael Jordan (173) and Elgin Baylor (88) are ahead of Iverson on the list.

3. Shaq’s Back?
Coaches around the league are searching for a team schedule as they are looking to see when they have to play Miami next. That’s because Shaquille O’Neal is expected to return to the Heat’s lineup on January 15. And what a surprise, if all goes according to plan then Shaq first game back will be against his old Los Angeles Lakers team. Consider it a late Christmas present since Shaq missed the now traditional L.A. versus Miami X-Mas match-up. But late is better than never as Miami has struggled this season and they are currently sitting in third place in their division.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Kevin Garnett @ Charlotte 42 min, 32 pts (FG: 12-18, FT: 8-10), 14 reb, 3 ast, 1 blk

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Phoenix (21-8) @ Chicago (19-12) Chicago has the best home record in the league and they will need to take full advantage of their crowd’s support as the Suns come to town. Phoenix is only 9-5 on the road but most of their road woes came early in the season. Steve Nash and Co. has won nine of their last ten away from home. No team has hotter than the Bulls recently and a four-time Defensive Player of the Year might be the only person that can slow down a now healthy Amare Stoudemire.

Buzzer Beater: Denver is not the safest place to live if you are a professional athlete. Just ask Nuggets guard Julius Hodge who was shot four times on April 8, 2006. Hodge considers himself lucky to be alive after the drive-by shooting. Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was not so fortunate after he was gunned down inside of his limousine. Oddly enough, Williams was killed in the same neighborhood where Hodge currently lives.

NBA General

Around The Rim: The Big Uneasy

1. New Orleans Hor-nots
The Hornets started off the year looking like a team that was determined to make the playoffs. Now, they look more like a team that is simply determined to get off the trainers table. Chris Paul twisted his ankle on Tuesday against Seattle and is expected to miss two more games. Paul is just the latest Hornet to be bitten by the injury bug. Peja Stojakovic is scheduled to miss at least two months after having surgery on his back and David West is expected to miss anywhere from two to eight weeks after surgery on his shoulder. But losing three starters just isn’t enough for this team. Sixth man Bobby Jackson is out until next month due to a cracked rib. The problems continue to mount for the team with no home as they have lost three in a row and eight of their last ten.

2. The Waiting Is the Hardest Part
Now that Allen Iverson has been traded to Denver, who is going to be the next big star to don a new uniform? The answer might be in California where it appears Corey Maggette is ready to leave the Clippers. Recently, Maggette was quoted as saying, “Me and coach Dunleavy, we don’t see eye to eye.” Apparently the team is talking with Sacramento about a trade involving Ron Artest. It is certain that Maggette’s days are done in L.A. but finding a proper trade has been difficult for the team. The Kings want more for Artest and the Clippers don’t want to lose too much of their current squad. This could turn into another waiting game as the Clippers continue to search for a reasonable trade. But at 12-16 and sitting at the bottom of their division, time is definitely not on L.A.’s side.

3. 20/20 Vision
Jason Kidd was fined $20,000 after referring to the referees in New Jersey’s game versus Detroit as “three blind mice.” The comments came after a questionable no-call at the end of the game when Vince Carter and Rasheed Wallace made contact as Carter took what could have been a game-winning shot. Net’s coach Lawrence Frank was not fined after he yelled at the referees after the game. Kidd did not back down from his comments after being fined by the league. Perhaps he had yet to review the tape as it appeared that Carter was more responsible for the contact as he pushed-off of Wallace. Maybe Kidd should be the one to schedule an appointment with an optometrist.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Gerald Wallace vs. Washington 42 min, 40 pts (FG: 15-27, 3FG: 0-2, FT: 10-11), 14 reb, 6 stl, 4 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Phoenix (19-7) @ Dallas (21-7) It’s a battle between up-tempo and really up-tempo. Dallas is 12-3 at home and has won seven in row while the Suns are attempting to start a new streak after having their 15 game win streak snapped by Washington. Steve Nash returns to Dallas with two consecutive MVP awards as former teammate Dirk Nowitzki is hoping to take the trophy away from his buddy this season. Expect a barn-burner tonight in Big D.

Buzzer Beater: Chris Webber returned to Sacramento last night but there was certainly no home-coming party. Webber struggled throughout the game and ended the night with a pathetic four points on 2-9 shooting in 26 minutes. It seems like Webber would be motivated to step-up his game with A.I. gone and his old team on the schedule. But the poor performances just continue to mount for the former double-double King.

Denver Nuggets

Iverson traded to the Nuggets

Iverson Nuggets jersey will be #1

Well folks, it’s done. Iverson has been traded to the Nuggets for Andrew Miller, the expiring contract of Joe Smith, and two No. 1 draft picks in the 2007 draft. By NBA rules, the name Joe Smith must always be preceded by “the expiring contract” so that people can understand why anyone would trade for him.

The Sixers get the Nuggets first rounder and the Dallas first rounder and it’s likely neither will be a lottery pick. However, with the way they’re playing, the Sixers will absolutely get a high lottery pick. Of course, the prize pick should he decide to come out would be Ohio State’s Greg Oden. The Sixers also get some cap relief in the next two years as Joe Smith and Chris Webber come off the books and they can focus on rebuilding.

The Nuggets, well, they get Allen Iverson to score 31 points per game while Carmelo Anthony is out for his 15 game suspension and hope that when Melo gets back, the two will mesh their #1 and #2 league scoring averages. George Karl must think he can control Iverson after speaking to his buddy Larry Brown.

Here’s some analysis of the deal from around the web:

[]: Another great athlete leaving Phila. too soon

[Denver Post]: Woody Paige: This gift will keep on giving

[Yahoo]: Steve Kerr: A win-win situation

[Sportsline]: King didn’t get his men, but Miller’s not bad trade filler