Denver Nuggets

Around the Rim: Denver’s unlikely hero

1. Anthony hits the game winner, Carter not Carmelo
The Rockets and Nuggets played late into the night on Thursday, but the double-overtime thriller ended when Anthony Carter hit the last of his three buckets to give Denver a 112-111 home victory. Carter only scored six points in the contest, but he dished out eight assists, helping Allen Iverson get his 36 points and Carmelo Anthony to a game-high 37. The Rockets were playing without Tracy McGrady, but still looked good in the loss as Yao Ming finished with 26 points and 19 rebounds. But the NBA isn’t about looking good, it’s about wins and losses and, right now, the Rockets have lost three in a row and five of their last six, falling two games under .500. Denver, on the other hand is sitting atop the Northwest Division with Portland and Utah nipping at their heels.

2. Dwyane Wade still believes in Santa too

Dwyane Wade has been on fire for the Heat lately, but it just doesn’t matter in Miami. Wade followed up his 37-point effort on Wednesday with a 41-point explosion on Thursday against the Nets, but the outcomes were identical – a pair of overtime losses. Vince Carter poured in 31 points for Jersey while teammate Richard Jefferson scored 29 in the 107-103 extra innings win. With the loss, Miami falls to 7-19 on the year, the worst record in the East and second worst in the entire Association. But have no fear; D-Wade isn’t giving up all hope for the Heat just yet.

You’ve got to keep believing,” Wade said. “You’ve got to keep playing until you can’t play any more. I hope everyone continues to believe. I know I do.

We’ll cut you some slack because of the holidays, but once the new year rolls around you might as well throw that Christmas miracle mentality right out the window because you guys are cooked.

3. LeBron vs. Kobe
In the battle of the league’s top point producers, LeBron James used his homecourt advantage to squeak out a 94-90 win over Kobe Bryant and his Lakers. James finished the game 33 points, 10 rebounds and five assists while Bryant had 21 points on an eight-of-22 shooting performance. The Cavaliers trailed by five points entering the final period, but opened the quarter with a 13-4 run en route to holding the Lakers to just 12 points in 12 minutes. Cleveland is 3-3 since James returned from an injury that kept him sidelined for five games, all losses, but the King seems to be 110 percent again, scoring 30 points in three consecutive games.

Thursday’s Player of the Day: Carmelo Anthony vs. Houston 51 min, 37 pts (FG: 13-32, FT: 11-17), 16 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk

Friday’s Game to Watch: Denver (15-10) @ Portland (14-12)
No team is hotter than the Portland Trailblazers and no player is hotter than Brandon Roy. The Western Conference player of the week for the second consecutive week has his team on a nine-game winning streak, bringing the Blazers to within 1 ½ games of the Northwest Division’s leader Denver. In addition to Roy’s spectacular play of late, LaMarcus Aldridge returned to the Blazers lineup against Toronto after missing five games with a foot injury. Denver will look to avenge a 116-105 home loss to Portland on the 16th by returning the favor in the Rose Garden where the Blazers are 11-4 on the year. The Iverson/Anthony duo is coming off one of their best games together, combining for 73 points against the Rockets.

Buzzer Beater: Jerry Sloan took it upon himself to eject Gordan Giricek from a game on Wednesday night after the two got into a spat on the sidelines. So was that the last we’ll see of Giricek in a Jazz uniform?

No. I don’t know,” Giricek said after being asked if he wants out of Utah — and before he was informed he would not be permitted to travel with the team to play the Orlando Magic on Friday.

“My agent (Marc Fleisher),” Giricek added, “is going to talk to Kevin (O’Connor, the Jazz’s general manager). … It’s actually gonna be taken care of, right? Everything can be fixed, right? So, we’ll see.

Probably should have asked coach Sloan that question.

Phoenix Suns

Around the Rim: Amare Stoudemire shines in a fight to the finish

1. Sun-sational finish
The Suns were supposedly shopping Amare Stoudemire over the summer in hopes of winning the Kevin Garnett lottery. Well, losing out never felt so good. Stoudemire, who was rumored to be an eyelash away from landing in Atlanta, went off in Indy last night, netting 42 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in Phoenix’s 121-117 victory. Of course, with Steve Nash getting the ball to any open player in a purple jersey, even Kwame Brown could thrive in this system. Nashty was on fire, torching the Pacers for an 18-point, 17-rebound double-double. Not enough fat numbers for you? Shawn Marion had 14 points and 12 boards in the win. On the other side of the floor, home fans were thrilled to have a Jermaine O’Neal sighting during the contest as the former All-Star had a big man double-double of 30 and 11, but they could have gone with out the game-high six turnovers.

2. Even nauseous, Kobe’s better 95% of the league

Kobe Bryant spent his Tuesday feeling sicker than a dog. Then on Tuesday night, he took to the court against Minnesota and threw up 20 points, 13 in the first quarter, and a sick 360 dunk as the Lakers killed the T-Wolves 116-95. Andrew Bynum had the same stomach ailment as Kobe, but unlike the team’s sole superstar, the youngster went to the hospital and missed the game. Kobe takes a lot of flack for being selfish, but he’s got more heart and will to win in his pinky finger than most players have in their whole body. We hate when anybody gets compared to Michael Jordan, but we gotta agree with Jerry Sichting on this one.

How are you going to tell if he’s got the flu?” acting Wolves head coach Sichting said. “He’s a lot like Jordan. It doesn’t matter with guys like that. He made ME sick.

Don’t worry coach, he makes opposing coaches ill on a nightly basis.

3. Chalk up another upset for the Kings
The Sacramento Kings don’t exactly instill the same level of fear in their opponents that they once did, but maybe they should. Nobody is expecting the Kings to make it to the Finals or even to get out of the first round, but they have some solid wins over playoff-bound squads of late and they might not be done yet. On Tuesday, Sacramento was clutch down the stretch, scoring 43 points in the fourth quarter to knock off the Jazz by 10, 117-107. Despite being just half a game away from sitting in their division’s cellar, Sactown has wins over the Pistons, Spurs, Rockets and now the Jazz. But Sacramento’s trek is about to become even more of an uphill battle as Kevin Martin, the league’s seventh best scorer (24.5 ppg), is out for the next four to six weeks with a groin tear. Ouch.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Amare Stoudemire @ Indiana 36 min, 42 pts (FG: 15-24, FT: 12-13), 13 reb, 4 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Los Angeles Lakers (10-8) @ Denver (11-7)
One game currently separates the Lakers and the Nuggets in the standings out west, but nobody cares about teams anymore. We’re a superstar society and we want points, points and more points when we tune into the Association. Well, there are three players in this game who are capable of dropping 50 on anyone’s head at any time, so that should satisfy the masses. Bryant is sitting at second in the league in scoring with 27.2 points per contest while Carmelo Anthony is fifth (25.3 ppg) and Allen Iverson comes in at eighth with 23.5 points. And you can expect the Denver duo to be looking for some revenge after the Lakers routed the Nuggets 127-99 on Nov. 29 in L.A.

Buzzer Beater: For a minute there it looked like the NBA’s version of Sideshow Bob was going to quit his gig as sidekick to one of the league’s biggest attractions to waste away in Charlotte. According to Cavs GM Danny Ferry, that isn’t going to be happening. Terms of the contract haven’t been disclosed, but Ferry said on Wednesday morning that the team has matched the Bobcats’ offer, meaning Anderson Varejao and his hair aren’t going anywhere. Unfortunately, is appears the Cavs aren’t going anywhere either until LeBron James gets over his finger injury. James was injured in a loss at Detroit on Nov. 28 and has missed the last three games, all loses, with a sprained left index finger.

Denver Nuggets

Tiger Woods and Carmelo Anthony top charitable athletes

The Giving Back Fund released the 2006 Giving Back 30, which lists the top 30 most charitable individuals in sports and entertainment. Tiger Woods was the top athlete on the list, with $9.5M in donations but the next most charitable athlete had most people surprised — Carmelo Anthony sits at #8 with his donations to CAF Youth Center in Baltimore, AAU
Basketball, Syracuse University Recreational Center, and other charities, totalling $4.3M.

This comes as somewhat of a surprise because Carmelo Anthony seems to be such a punk, with that sucker punch in the Knicks-Nuggets brawl, and especially because he appeared in that Stop Snitchin video. While a lot of people will cynically think that all the charitable donations are meant to repair his image, we’re going to give Melo the benefit of the doubt and give him his kudos for helping out. If you want to donate money just for the PR, you donate something like $10,000, not $4.2M. It doesn’t matter how big his contract it, that’s a lot of scratch.

Other athletes on the list are: The Rock ($2M), Andre Agassi ($1M), Tiki and Ronde barber ($1M), Tony Stewart ($1M), Mike Sexton ($560k), and Lance Armstrong ($500k). These figures are only the publicly announced donations. There might be athletes who donated privately.

[The Giving Back Fund]: The Giving Back 30

NBA General

Around the Rim: That’s all she wrote, folks

1. Bye Bye AI (and the rest of you guys)
Tim Duncan put on quite a show during Wednesday’s Game 5 against the Nuggets, but it was Michael Finley who lit up the scoreboard and put an end to Denver’s dreams of advancing to the second round. Finley hit 8-of-9 from downtown en route to a game-high 26 points as the Spurs swept the Nuggets out of the first round, 93-78. Oh, SA lost Game 1? We forgot all about that opening loss after Robert Horry reminded us why they call him “Big Shot” in the final minute of Game 4. But Denver gave it the good ol’ college try and George Karl will get another shot next year to make his Carmelo Anthony/Allen Iverson two-headed monster become one of the beasts in the league. But Denver was just 2-23 when they didn’t score 100 points during the regular season and unfortunately they ran into a team that thrives on keeping teams below 90.

2. See ya in the fall Kobe

Kobe Bryant might be the best basketball player on the face of the planet but it doesn’t matter when you’re playing one on five. Even when the Lakers finally get a big time game out of their second best player as Lamar Odom put in a career playoff-high 33 points to go along with Bryant’s 34 point performance, Phoenix still had more firepower. The Suns’ big three of Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire combined for 70 points in the 119-110 Game 5 victory to eliminate Los Angeles from the post season. The losing has got to be becoming more than Phil Jackson can take. He’s been bumped in the first round in each of the past two years and still has another year left on his contract. Guess he should’ve stay retired after splitting up the greatest one-two punch in the history of the game.

3. Spurs + Suns = fun, fun, fun
If you’re enjoying the Mavericks/Warriors series or the Rockets/Jazz series, just wait until you get a load of Phoenix vs. San Antonio. You’ve got five All-Stars; you’ve got sixth men, MVPs galore, and lots of defense to go along with lots of offense. It’s gonna be a whirlwind of fantastic match-ups at every position on the floor with Tim Duncan and Amare Stoudemire highlighting the series. And if you remember back to the 2005 Western Conference Finals when these two teams hooked up, Stoudemire averaged 37 points per game and had a pair of games in which he topped 40 against SA. Too bad the plethora of points was in vain as the Spurs took the series in five games before winning their third trophy against the Pistons in the Finals. This year’s winner only gets to face the Mavs, Jazz, Rockets or Warriors in the finals out west. But can you say “battle tested?” Whoever emerges from this war will be able to.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Shawn Marion vs. Los Angeles Lakers 38 min, 26 pts (FG: 11-21, 3FG: 1-5, FT: 3-3), 10 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk

Buzzer Beater: Well, Pat Riley came out and said it. He said that his team had a severe case of being too big for their britches or, in his words, thinking they could “turn it on” whenever they wanted. Riley went on to add that it “will never be uttered again or though again.” We’d hope not, because that appears to be a reoccurring problem for the Big Broom. Shaquille O’Neal might have four rings on his humongous fingers but he has also been swept out of the playoffs six times during his career. Shaq literally and figuratively has a big head, but we just never expected his coach to call him on it.

Denver Nuggets

Melo continues the trend of disrespect between athletes and fans

Don’t let the nice smile
fool ya.

When did being a professional athlete become so stressful and difficult that a common response to their fans has become one of bitterness and violence? We’re not too sure when the exact point in time was, but it has become obvious that a disrespect of fans is now quite common.

The most recent example of this involves Carmelo Anthony’s hoodlum buddy who punched one of Melo’s fans after he asked for an autograph in front of a Denver 7-11 last month. Sure, the guy was totally out of line to get pissed because of the denial but when you’re the face of a franchise there are some things that players just have to let roll of their backs. First off, Anthony has to expect that people are going to walk up to him and ask for a picture or autograph if he’s just walking down the street. Is it really too hard to just take five seconds out of your freaking day to oblige the fan. He’ll probably rush out and buy your jersey and poster if you do.

But it’s not just Melo. Other basketball players like Zach Randolph have been flipping the bird to the crowd at rival stadiums and even an NBA referee was busted giving the one finger salute to an arena full of fans. Michael Vick showed Atlanta fans his personal interpretation of the “dirty bird” last season after being booed for a piss poor performance. Pitchers Randy Johnson and Kenny Rogers both attacked members of the media when they didn’t want to bothered. And soccer fans and players seem to have a mutual disrespect issue of their own.

Part of the job description when it comes to making a living as a professional athlete involves the ability to take criticism. Whether from the fans or the media, the majority of today’s athletes are simply not equipped with the people skills necessary to handle the pressures that come along with being permanently forced into the spotlight. Either that or there are just a lot of jerks who happen to be gifted in sports.


[]: Friend of Nugget Anthony ticketed in fight with fan
[]: Carmelo: Witness to crime?


Inter Milan – Valencia brawl video

Well, it looks like we’ve found the soccer version of Carmelo Anthony. Notice how he sucker punches an opposing player and then runs away like a little bitch.

(via The Offside)

[BBC Sport]: Uefa charges Inter and Valencia

NBA General

Around the Rim: Playoff Picture Begins To Come Into Focus

1. One Down, 15 to Go
With a 13 point victory over the Nets, the Mavericks not only extended their current winning streak to 16 (23 straight at home), but they tied 1982-83 76ers and the 1971-72 Lakers with the fourth best record after 60 games (51-9). And while it was only a matter of time, the Mavs also became the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot. And sitting in the front row during the game was a trophy hungry Scottie Pippen who seems more than willing to provide his services to the Mavericks during their postseason run. But how much more talent does Mark Cuban need on one roster? In last night’s game, all five starters finished with double digits in points while two more players came off the bench to score at least ten.

2. Melo Mopes as the Nuggets Nosedive
Allen Iverson seems to be happy in his new Rocky Mountain surroundings but his fellow All-Star is probably not as cheery about his current situation. Denver coach George Karl has been critical of Carmelo Anthony’s selfishness and says that he fails to play smart, team basketball. In fact, Karl is so tired of Melo’s self-centered antics that benching the league’s top scorer is the coach’s next step. As expected, Anthony has been the team’s top scorer for almost every game since returning from his 15 game suspension, but the Nuggets have only won nine of their last 21 games and are in serious jeopardy of falling out of the playoff picture. All the pieces are there but Anthony just hasn’t developed the ability to lead his team, which is exactly what Karl is desperately trying to draw out of his superstar. It would be a ballsy move by Karl, but maybe riding the pine will pain Melo to the point of maturity.

3. Yes, We’re Talking About Practice
So, what do you do when as one of the worst teams in the NBA you suddenly rip off a four game winning streak? Well, if you’re a member of the Philadelphia 76ers then you take in a game of paintball at the local field. Much like a group of ten year olds at a birthday party, the Sixers were running, jumping, diving and hiding from each other on Tuesday as they currently sit six games out of the final playoff spot. Not to be a buzzkill, but shouldn’t these guys be practicing? After all, a four game win streak doesn’t exactly cancel out the team’s 18-38 start to the season.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Kobe Bryant @ Minnesota 53 min, 40 pts (FG: 13-30, 3FG: 3-10, FT: 11-13), 13 reb, 8 ast, 2 stl, 3 blk

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Cleveland (35-25) @ Detroit (37-21) It’s a division battle, a budding rivalry and a showdown between the East’s two best teams all wrapped into one. The Pistons are three games ahead of the Cavs for the conference crown but it’s Cleveland who has won three of their last four games. Nobody has been hotter than LeBron James over the past few weeks but the Pistons notorious defense could put an end to James’ streak. Detroit seems to finally be cooling down (1-2 in their last three games) after going on a run of 15 wins in the team’s first 19 games with Chris Webber. The modern day Bad Boys need to make the remainder of this season count because Chauncey Billups has said that he will consider joining the Grizzlies when he becomes a free agent in the offseason.

Buzzer Beater: Dammit! Kobe did it again, and I’m not referring to his 40 point effort. In last night’s game against the Timberwolves, Bryant delivered a blatant forearm to the head of Marko Jaric on the follow-through of a jumper with under a minute remaining in the fourth quarter. The scene was eerily similar to the one in LA about five weeks ago when Manu Ginobili took an “unintentional” elbow from the Mamba. Both the players spent significant time crumpled on the hardwood after being hit by the supposedly legitimate release. Bryant might think his cheap shot tactic is smooth, but his intent is obvious and malicious and the scenario is becoming far too frequent. Go get him Stern!

NBA General

Around the Rim: Jordan Judges and Kobe Critiques

1. Dunking Royalty
Finally, the league has brought together the best of the best for the slam dunk competition. Too bad they’re only there to repeatedly hold up placards with the number 10 on them. Michael Jordan, Jul ius Erving, Dominique Wilkins, Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter make up the list of superstar judges who will grade an all new group of mediocre dunkers. But this year, the league has decided to spice things up by throwing in a couple of big fellas into the competition as Dwight Howard and Tyrus Thomas join Nate Robinson and Gerald Green. And thanks to Robinson’s time consuming performance last year that lulled the audience to sleep after 14 attempts, there is a two minute time limit placed on each player.

2. Money Hungry
Most players will tell you they simply love playing the game, it’s their childhood passion and it’s a privilege to make a career out of a game. Then there are the players that will tell you the truth, like Chicago’s Tyrus Thomas. When asked how it felt to be a part of the All-Star experience, Thomas replied, “I’m just going to go out there, get my check and call it a day.” He was then asked if it’s beneficial for a rookie to take part in such an event. “I’m just into the free money,” said Thomas. At least he’s honest.

3. All-Star Performance?
Carmelo Anthony did something last night that most people would assume he had done numerous times before. While everyone is aware of Melo’s scoring abilities, last night was the first time he ever displayed his complete array of talents by racking up his first triple-double. Could this performance help convince David Stern to put Melo on the All-Star team?

Melo’s triple dip marks the 17th time someone has gotten a triple-double this season. Only Jason Kidd with eight and Andre Igoudala (two) have pulled off the feat more than once. The other players on this season’s list include LeBron James, Boris Diaw, Ryan Gomes, Andre Miller, Chris Paul and John Salmons.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Carmelo Anthony vs. Phoenix 40 min, 31 pts (FG: 12-27, 3FG: 0-2, FT: 7-8), 10 reb, 10 ast

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Phoenix (38-10) @ Portland (20-29) Phoenix is always just one win away from ripping off another massive win streak, and chances are tonight will be one of those wins. The Suns won their last game against Denver, so a win tonight would officially begin another streak. Amare Stoudemire has an interesting matchup with Zach Randolph who is looking to sneak onto the Western Conference All-Star team. A big performance against one of the league’s best teams could go a long way in helping David Stern come to a conclusion.

Buzzer Beater: Caron Butler did a lot to quiet his critics last night when he dropped a career-high 38 points on the Sonics. The young journeyman is en route to his first All-Star Game, where he will join up with the Wizard’s main man, Gilbert Arenas. And while he is having a solid season, if you want to get picky about it, he’s the most questionable Eastern Conference All-Star. But when the coaches are forced to choose between Joe Johnson on a pathetic Atlanta squad or Butler who plays for one of the conference’s best squads; unfortunately, they’re gonna automatically take the winner every time.

Overtime Buzzer Beater: Read yesterday’s Buzzer Beater and simply replace the words “three” with “four,” “Sunday’s” with “Monday’s” and “Hawks” with “76ers” in the next to last sentence.

NBA General

Around the Rim: David’s Dilemma

1. Save Face or Send a Message?
In an ironic twist of fate, commissioner David Stern now holds Carmelo Anthony’s All-Star future in his hands. Earlier in the season, Stern dished out a 15 game suspension to Melo for his involvement in the New York brawl. Now, the commish is responsible for assigning two players to the west’s team to replace the injured Yao Ming and Carlos Boozer. Anthony got snubbed by the coaches and the fans this year despite leading the league in scoring. Stern backed off the synthetic ball issue after player complaints continued to mount; will he be able to forgive and forget when it comes to Melo? If Anthony doesn’t make the squad, he would become the first player ever to miss the All-Star game while leading the league in scoring.

2. Wade’s Way
Dwyane Wade carried the weight of his entire team during the fourth quarter of last night’s game against the Cavs as he single-handedly outscored the entire Cleveland team. In the final 12 minutes, Wade went off for 24 points while LeBron’s boys could only muster 23. Making matters worse for Cleveland is that they held a 12 point lead with less than eight minutes remaining. The 24 points were also a Heat record for points scored in the final quarter. Wade finished with a fat 41 point game to go along with five assists, three steals and two blocks.

3. Low Blow
After writhing around on the floor because of an allegedly inadvertent pop to the face by Kobe Bryant on Sunday, Manu Ginobili decided to dish out a little “unintentional” punishment of his own last night. With about nine minutes remaining in the game, Ginobili drove to the hoop and delivered a running knee shot right to Amare Stoudemire’s unborn children. As most men would do, Stoudemire crumpled to the ground before jumping up and looking to throw down. After the game, Stoudemire said that he thought the knee was on purpose and called Ginobili a flopper; he was right on both counts. (We also want to point you to this hilarious video of Avery Johnson getting too excited and hitting Josh Howard in the nuts by accident.)

Thursday’s Player of the Day: Amare Stoudemire vs. San Antonio 43 min, 24 pts (FG: 9-18, FT: 6-7), 23 reb, 1 stl

Friday’s Game to Watch: Los Angeles Lakers (28-18) @ Indiana (24-21) The Kobe Show has hit the road, and it’s going to be a while before the performance returns to Hollywood. Tonight’s game is the third in an eight game road trip for the Lakers; so far they’re 1-1. The Pacers have only lost seven games at home this year behind the great play from Jermaine O’Neal, who was named an All-Star last night. Indiana has also won four of their last five with the last win coming at the expense of the pathetic Celtics. The same Celtics that Kobe scored 43 against on Wednesday.

Buzzer Beater: How did the fans get the West so wrong? Steve Nash has won the last two MVP’s and his biggest competition for this year’s award seems to be Dirk Nowitzki, yet both players were forced to make the team via a coach’s vote. The fan vote has become a pathetic popularity contest where performance is apparently irrelevant. Heck, health doesn’t even matter to the fans; Shaq got voted in despite playing in only four games by the time the votes were due. To borrow a phrase from Bill Walton; “How sad.”

NBA General

Around the Rim: Agent Zero calls his shot

1. He Said It
Like Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali and Joe Namath did before him; Gilbert Arenas has called his shot. While it might not have the same dramatics as a Super Bowl guarantee, Agent 0 did prophetically predict he’d drop fity’ on the Trailblazers when they hook up on February 11. “Well, it’s not the most important, but that’s the game I’m going to say is my next 50-pointer,” wrote Arenas on his blog. “Tune in. I think ESPN or TNT needs to pick that game up.” Arenas already has three 50 point games this season and that number could grow in the next three weeks. So far, Arenas has been able to back up any talking he might want to do as he has the Wizards on top of the Eastern Conference for the first time in a long time.

2. The Answer is Carmelo
Who said that Melo and A.I. couldn’t share the rock? Well, maybe it’s a bit early to call this experiment a success but Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson did manage to handle their scoring roles quite nicely in Melo’s return to action against Memphis. By halftime, both had reached double figures in scoring. Granted it’s only the Grizzlies, but Denver looked sharp with their new lineup. Anthony led the way, scoring a game-high 28 points, as Iverson played second fiddle with 23. But regardless of who gets the majority of the points, it’s going to be tough for any team to match up with a backcourt that can put up 51.

3. Hot Heat Streak
Miami was down 3-2 early against New York last night, but that would be the last time they trailed in the game. That’s because it was at that point that the Heat ripped off a franchise record 27-0 run, giving themselves a 26 point cushion at 29-3. That’s a pretty impressive feat in itself but then you realize that the Heat were missing both team superheroes as Superman and Flash nursed injuries on the bench. The Knicks missed ten consecutive shots over the miserable span; even the Miami faithful cheered when New York finally hit a field goal.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Deron Williams vs. Minnesota 38 min, 21 pts (FG: 9-16, 3FG: 1-3, FT: 2-2), 3 reb, 15 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Phoenix (32-8) @ Washington (24-16) They did it once, now let’s see if they can pull off another stunner. It was way back on December 22 when the Wizards went into Phoenix and promptly ended the Suns 15 game winning streak behind 54 points from Gilbert Arenas. Since then, the Suns have lost one game and are riding a 13 game winning streak into Washington, where the Wizards are 17-3. Both teams are sitting at the top of their conference and they currently rank one and two in points per game (Phoenix: 111.5 ppg; Washington: 107.5 ppg). If this game even closely resembles their first meeting, then it’s definitely must see T.V.

Buzzer Beater: George Karl appears to think that Carmelo Anthony’s punishment was a bit severe after Kevin Garnett’s actions got the former M.V.P. a mere one game suspension. Karl references how similar the two incidents were, except for the fact that Melo’s punch landed. Sure, Karl has to stick up for his players but, Hello!, one situation ended with a some pushing and trash talk while the other ended with superstar sucker punches and players spilling into the crowd. Image is everything in today’s NBA. If you make the league look bad, David Stern will make you pay.