1. J-Rich cashes in
The Boston Celtics are making a run at history and the Charlotte Bobcats with a 1-11 road record were supposed to be another notch on the belt of the Leprechauns. Well, what was supposed to be an easy win for Boston turned into a 12-point loss, 95-83, at the hands of one of the conference’s worst teams. Guess that is why they actually play the game. Jason Richardson blew up for 34 points and nine rebounds, sticking the dagger in the Cs hearts and twisting it several times during Boston’s attempts to make a comeback. “The Boston Three Party” was a man short on Wednesday as Ray Allen rode the pine with a pinched nerve in his neck, leaving Kevin Garnett (24 pts) and Paul Pierce (13 pts) with all the heavy lifting. So far, Charlotte practically has the Celtics number in their back pocket, winning in Boston and coming one last-second shot away from winning at home. Game three comes in late February in Beantown.
2. Portland’s prosperity
Brandon Roy fell to the court in the second quarter with an apparent knee injury, followed by Steve Blake’s calf clutching on the hardwood in the second half. But the good times kept on rolling as both players’ injuries turned out to be minor and the Trail Blazers picked up their 17th win in 18 games, downing Golden State 109-91. However, the biggest reason to celebrate in Portland wasn’t the victory or the victories or even the successful injury scare. Nope, the real reason for the Blazers smiles is because for the first time since 2001, Portland is atop their division. The Blaze currently owns a ½ game lead over Denver in the Northwest Division, but holding the position won’t be easy with a seven-game, East coast road trip on tap.
3. Suns win a track meet against Pacers
Indiana and Phoenix played five extra minutes and scored a whopping 251 combined points. Unfortunately for the Pacers, Phoenix ended with a majority of the points scored – 129 to be exact. Without Grant Hill who will miss some time (2-3 weeks) after undergoing an appendectomy, the Suns received a lift from Raja Bell (27 pts, 9 reb) and Leandro Barbosa. The Brazilian Blur finished with 27 points off the bench to compliment the double-doubles from starters Shawn Marion (23 pts, 12 reb) and Amare Stoudemire (25 pts, 11 reb). Led by Danny Granger and Shawne Williams who each scored 22 points, six players reached double-digits offensively for Indiana, but it just wasn’t enough against the short-handed Suns. In addition to Hill’s absence, Steve Nash departed from the game early due to a stomach flu, playing just 24 minutes.
Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Yao Ming @ New York 42 min, 36 pts (FG: 14-21, FT: 8-9), 11 reb, 3 ast, 2 blk
Thursday’s Game to Watch: Detroit (26-9) @ San Antonio (23-10)
It wasn’t that long ago when these two teams were hooking up to see who would be the NBA champions. Now, both clubs are just playing to get off the schnide. The Pistons own the East’s second best record, but are losers of their previous two games against Boston and Dallas. In order to avoid their first three-game slide of the season, the Bad Boys must win in San Antonio against a Spurs team bitter about another road loss. The Spurs are a league-best 17-2 at home and know they have to take care of business in San Antonio considering their sorry 6-8 road record.
Buzzer Beater: Good news in Clipper land. Looks like Shaun Livingston could be returning to the other L.A. team’s lineup at some point this year.
The medical team feels he’s going to make a full recovery,” team president Andy Roeser said at halftime of Wednesday night’s game against the Orlando Magic. “There’s a pretty good chance he’ll be on the court before the end of the season.
“The most significant thing is whether he makes a full recovery. It’s significant that we think he can make a full recovery.
Pretty amazing stuff considering it looked like Livingston was going to be made into glue after turning stomachs in late February of 2007.