1. No Answer for Iverson
The race for the Northwest Division crown reached a fever pitch with the recent reemergence of the Utah Jazz. But right behind Utah in the standings sits the Nuggets and the Blazers who just happened to be in action against one another on Monday night. It took overtime and 53 points between Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, but the Nuggets snuck out of the Rose Garden with a two-point victory, increasing their lead over Portland to two games. The Answer’s 14-footer sealed the deal for Denver and broke the heart of Brandon Roy who spearheaded the Portland attack, scoring 26 points to go with seven rebounds and eight assists. Utah’s one game lead over Denver could evaporate into thin air on Wednesday when the team’s get together for the second of four meetings this season. On Jan. 17, Linas Kleiza dropped 41 points on Utah while Marcus Camby grabbed 24 rebounds and blocked 11 shots in a Denver victory.
Hedo Turkoglu is doing an awfully good job at make Eastern Conference coaches look like fools. Since being left off the list of All-Star reserves last Thursday, Turkoglu shot a combined 19-of-31 from the field, including 4-of-7 behind the arc, going into Monday night’s game against the Mavericks. Dallas kept Hedo in check offensively, but he recorded his first triple-double with 13 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds. Too bad it was in defeat. Josh Howard scored 28 points, helping the Mavericks to a 107-98 victor after letting a 19-point lead shrink to three in the fourth quarter. Dirk Nowitzki finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists as Dallas snapped a two-game losing skid.
3. Canadian celebration
The Raptors rocked the Heat last night by 32 points, but blowouts are as common as bikinis in South Beach these days. As usual, there were no highlights for Heat fans, but Toronto fans on the other hand were like fat kids in a candy store. Chris Bosh scored 24 points, Andrea Bargnani had 22, Anthony Parker finished with 18 and Jose Calderon went off for a double-double. But the cherry on top of the sundae came in the beginning of the second quarter when T.J. Ford stepped on the court for the first time since taking a nasty fall on Dec. 11. The little guy had a decent return with four points and four assists in 18 minutes of action.
Monday’s Player of the Day: Al Jefferson vs. Houston 38 min, 33 pts (FG: 14-26, FT: 5-5), 16 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl, 3 blk
Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Boston (36-8) @ Cleveland (26-20)
If the Cavs plan on making it back to the NBA Finals, they better get prepared to run into Boston along the way. So far, the home team has dominated the series this year with Cleveland grabbing a five point victory on their home court and the Celtics winning by 10 in Beantown. Tonight the Cavaliers will have more than home court advantage to benefit from because Boston will likely be without Kevin Garnett agains. Sounds like a lot for Boston to overcome considering the Cavs are 8-2 in their last ten games, but, so far, the Cs are doing all right being Ticket free. Boston is on a two-game roll, coming off a big win against Dallas last Thursday with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen scoring 26 points apiece.
Buzzer Beater: If chicks really do dig the long ball then Kyle Korver is getting some mad love from the Salt Lake City groupies right about now. Korver knocked down six 3-pointers, leading the Jazz to a team record for treys in a game, converting 14-of-22 in a 110-88 defeat of New Orleans. Mehmet Okur hit four while Deron Williams nailed three 3-pointers in the record-setter. The Hornets weren’t bad from downtown either, making 10-of-18.