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.