1. Rockets win game, but lose in the long run
Yao Ming was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his foot yesterday, rendering him useless for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. This is just about the worst news possible for Tracy McGrady as he will most likely go another season without tasting the second round. The Rockets were the hottest team in the league before Yao went down, winning 12 consecutive games. Guess what; they are still the hottest team in the league. Houston crushed the Wizards on Tuesday, winning by 25 points, 94-69, against the Wizards. Washington scored a pathetic 23 points during the opening half with old man Dikembe Mutombo patrolling the paint. Mutombo finished with just four point and six rebounds, but he had four finger-wagging blocks in the contest. A bummed out McGrady shot just 4-of-15 from the field, missed half his free throws and finished with a mere 11 points. Luckily, Luis Scola was on fire, connecting on all seven of his attempts for 14 points.
2. Phoenix finally plays like Phoenix again
Shaquille O’Neal finally got himself a double-double in a Phoenix uniform, going for 13 points and 11 rebounds in a 127-113 win in Memphis. The big fella got plenty of help from his friends in this game as Steve Nash (13 ast) and Amare Stoudemire put up 25 points apiece while Grant Hill tallied 23. In all, six of the seven Suns players to get significant minutes got double-digits in scoring. Memphis had a pretty impressive outing in the loss with all five starters going for 15 points or more, led by Rudy Gay’s game-high 36. The Suns 127 points were a welcome sight after putting up 85 and 86 in their previous two contests.
3. Lakers roll, still best in the West
Kobe Bryant is playing out of his mind right now. The Lakers superstar scored 30 points, grabbed nine rebounds, dished out seven assists and poked free two steals to led the his club past an undermanned Portland crew. Bryant got 11 of his 30 points in the final period, lifting Los Angeles to a 96-83 win while maintaining the buffer zone between first place L.A. and the rest of the surging Western Conference. Pau Gasol added 15 points and 10 rebounds and Jordan Farmar came off the bench to put in 21 points, helping the Lakers grab their ninth consecutive victory. Without Brandon Roy in the lineup, it was an uphill battle for the Blazers, but sophomore LaMarcus Aldridge filled in nicely, producing 24 points. Portland can look for revenge this Friday when the Lakers head to the Rose Garden for a rematch.
Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Steve Nash @ Memphis 40 min, 25 pts (FG: 8-11, 3FG: 3-5, FT: 6-6), 2 reb, 13 ast
Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Cleveland (32-25) @ Boston (43-12)
The new-look Cavaliers are going to get the biggest challenge since acquiring Ben Wallace tonight when they head to Beantown for a game against the league’s top dogs. Cleveland is just 15-15 on the road this season, but with LeBron James in the lineup, a win in Boston isn’t all that farfetched. James is unstoppable at the moment, averaging 30.0 points, 10.6 rebounds and 9.6 assists per game over his last five contests with two triple-doubles in the same span. Of course, he hasn’t been lining up across from the best triple-threat in the game either. With a healthy Kevin Garnett back, Boston is back to being the scary squad from earlier in the season, even if their record doesn’t indicate it. The Cs are 2-3 since KG’s return.
Buzzer Beater: Pat Riley has been a cantankerous old fart all season long. Frankly, we can’t blame him. But on Tuesday, he finally had reason to smile as the Heat snapped an 11-game losing streak by spanking the Kings 107-86. Heck, Riley even joked around after the game:
I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony,” Riley added. “I know what to do. I just don’t know where to start.