1. Phoenix sharp
Everybody knows that Steve Nash is a passing machine, but this is getting to be plain silly. In his last four games, all wins, Nashty dished out a whopping 64 assists! The pass fest began on Nov. 30 when he had 14 assists at home against the Magic. Then the Suns began their current five-game, east coast road trip and the two-time MVP went off for 15 on the Knicks, followed by a 17-assist display against Indiana and culminating with Wednesday’s season-high 18 dimes against the Raptors. Of course, Sebastian Telfair could probably pick up 18 assists if he had scorers like Grant Hill (15.7 ppg), Shawn Marion (16.3), Amare Stoudemire (21.1), Raja Bell (11.7), Boris Diaw (7.4) and Leandro Barbosoa (17.7) running the floor with him. Okay, so maybe Se-Bass couldn’t do it, but a good point guard could.
2. Old friends?
Wednesday’s game between the Bull and the Bobcats served as a reunion of sorts for a pair of former teammates. Not on the floor, but on the sidelines. Chicago coach Scott Skiles and Charlotte big cheese Sam Vincent played ball together in college at Michigan State and then again in the pros when they both landed in the Orlando. Skiles’ Bulls took the game in Charlotte and afterwards the two reminisced on their initial memories of one another.
Skiles said he didn’t think Vincent would end up a coach when he was leading the Spartans in scoring. “I thought he was going to end up being an actor,” Skiles said.
“I thought he was a little [expletive] who couldn’t play basketball,” Vincent joked.
3. Guard-ian angles
Despite playing at home, the Spurs were facing an uphill battle against Dallas as Tim Duncan sat on the sidelines with an injury. But what probably should have been a loss turned into a welcomed W, 97-95, thanks to some outstanding backcourt play by the silver and black. Manu Ginobili was unstoppable as he found himself in the starting lineup for the first time this year, scoring a season-high 37 points (50% FG) to go with four rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block. Tony Parker chipped in 23, but struggled offensively, while Michael Finley came off the bench to score 14 on his former squad. All together, the trio of Spurs guards scored 74 of San Antonio’s 97 points. The Mavericks shot the ball very well, out rebounded the Spurs and scored 23 points off turnovers, but Dirk Nowitzki’s last-second trey from the corner didn’t connect and Dallas went down for the second time in three games.
Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Allen Iverson vs. Los Angeles Lakers 48 min, 51 pts (FG: 18-27, 3FG: 0-1, FT: 15-18), 2 reb, 8 ast, 1 stl
Thursday’s Game to Watch: Denver (11-8) @ Dallas (12-7)
Both of these teams are coming off Wednesday losses in which some significant truths were revealed. The Nuggets were fortunate to learn that Allen Iverson has still got it. The Answer blew up against the Lakers for a mile-high game-high 51 points, the most he’s scored as a Nugget and the most by any Denver player since Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf scored an identical amount in 1995. Unfortunately for the Mavs, their revelation is a lot more depressing. Dirk Nowitzki must reinvent himself if he is ever going to lead his team to a championship. His skills are incredible, but his style of play is incredibly soft. The seven-foot jump-shooter has a phobia of the lane and continues to be shut down by smaller players, as he was by Bruce Bowen on Wednesday. Granted, Bowen is a tremendous defender, but he is also giving up five inches and 45 pounds to the German MVP. Nowitzki shot four-of-11 for 15 points in the loss while Tim Duncan’s absence left a huge hole in the lane.
Buzzer Beater: Believe it or not, but Tracy McGrady only had two career triple-doubles before hitting Memphis up for 17 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists on Wednesday. The last time he accomplished the feat was nearly five ago when he had 46, 13 and 10 against the Nets on Feb. 23, 2003. Last night was certainly a good time to give an all around effort because his normally reliable shooting motion was out of order. T-Mac opened the game by going three-of-15 from the field before finishing with a less than respectable seven-of-22 performance.