Boston Celtics

Around the Rim: The streak snappers

1. It’s over!
Despite reeling off a 22-game win streak, questions regarding the Rocket’s legitimacy amongst the league’s elite are still floating around. There are no such questions surrounding Boston. The Celtics put an end to Houston’s record-chasing run in remarkable fashion on Tuesday night, pounding the Rockets in their own gym by 20 points, 94-74. Kevin Garnett finished with a 22-point, 11-rebound double-double while Paul Pierce tallied 20 points as Boston ripped the heart out of its second Texas team in two days. There’s no doubt the Rockets are a lot better off now than they were two months ago, but all it takes now is a little slipup and their two-month tear becomes meaningless as eighth place Golden States sits a mere four games behind. This is indeed the wild, wild West.

2. Detroit outfoxes the fox

We knew the Nuggets were capable of scoring 120 points, but we had no clue Detroit could post 136 in a regulation game! We would say the Pistons had a horrible defensive outing by giving up so many points at home, but, frankly, we can’t get over the fact they blew past the century mark, recording 73 points in the opening half. Richard Hamilton was responsible for 24 while Rasheed Wallace added 21. In all, seven players reached double-digits in the highest four quarter outburst since 1990 when Detroit spanked Orlando 140-109. Of course, Flip Saunders wasn’t surprised by his club’s strange change of pace. He knows first hand how good the Pistons really are.

That’s the thing — we don’t have to play one style,” said Saunders. “We went out and played San Antonio in a grind-it-out game, and this was a little different. We’re not afraid to get out and run. We had 42 assists tonight. That’s a lot of assists.

You’re flipping right it is, Flip! In fact, Denver recorded just two more assists in its 168-116 pounding of Seattle just one game ago.

3. Lakers hold on by their fingernails
The Lakers almost let a 25-point third quarter lead disappear into a puff of smoke, but they held on for a 102-100 victory in Big D. Kobe Bryant finished with 29 points, but only posted nine in the entire second half, allowing the Mavericks to make their dramatic comeback. Dirk Nowitzki recorded 35 points,11 rebounds and five blocks and was crucial down the stretch while Jason Kidd laid an egg with one point on 0-of-3 shooting and seven assists. Los Angeles tied Houston for the conference’s best record by snapping Dallas five-game win streak. Next up for the Mavs is a contest against the Celtics on Thursday night.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Los Angeles Lakers 43 min, 35 pts (FG: 11-23, 3FG: 3-6, FT: 10-12), 11 reb, 1 ast, 5 blk

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Denver (40-27) @ Philadelphia (33-34)
Normally we reserve this space for the day’s best matchup, but not today. Today we’re talking about practice, uh, we mean Allen Iverson’s return to the city where he became a superstar. For the first time since being traded back in December of 2006, the Answer is heading into Philadelphia wearing a different jersey. Simply seeing Iverson in a Nuggets jersey is still rather shocking, even after all this time, but to see him wear it on the court where he used to electrify the world is going to be odd to say the least. Hopefully you have your earplugs ready because A.I.’s ovation should shake the rafters.

Buzzer Beater: You’d think after all his loyal years of service in Detroit the franchise could at least remember how to spell Rip Hamilton’s name correctly.

Hamilton started the game wearing a jersey that had his last name spelled “Hamiltion,” but changed it during the first quarter.

Detroit Pistons

Flip Saunders was just 20 yards from bridge as it collapsed

Detroit Pistons coach Flip Saunders revealed on Thursday that he was about 20 yards form the I-35W bridge that collapsed on Wednesday in Minneapolis. Amazingly, it was construction that saved his life as the entrance ramp to his normal route was closed, forcing the Minnesota native to take a detour.

I usually take the 35W bridge, but the ramp was closed,” Saunders said Thursday from Minneapolis in a telephone interview with the AP. “My daughter was driving in a car right behind me when the bridge collapsed — about 20 yards away from us. It
sounded like a bomb when it dropped.

“I got out of my car, and the first thing I heard was the kids screaming on the bus. I called 911. I didn’t really know what else I could do.

Saunders was driving to his home after making an appearance at Tubby Smith’s basketball camp which was being held at his alma matter, the University of Minnesota.

A day later, I’m still in a surreal state of mind,” he said. “I can still see what happened. It’s kind of like having flashbacks.


[]: Saunders avoids bridge collapse

NBA General

Around the Rim: It’s just the beginning for LBJ

1. MJ says that LeBron is a’ight
If you’re a Spurs or Cavaliers fan then you are having trouble sleeping at night as you anxiously await the tip-off of Game 1 Thursday night. And if you’re not a Spurs or Cavs fan then you probably don’t give two craps about the finals but you’ll be rooting for LeBron James and Cleveland because San Antonio is “boring.” Well, hating on the Spurs is your own personal issue but we can’t blame anyone for getting behind LeBron. Heck, Michael Jordan is even giving the young King some dap. “Making ‘The Leap’ is where you do it every single night,” Jordan said. “It’s expected of you, and you do it. … Not one game, not two games. It’s consistent. Every defense comes in and they focus on you and you still impact the game. I think he’s shown signs of that.” Leave it to MJ to say that James has “shown signs” of making “The Leap.” But his Airness is about the only person on the planet that has the ability to criticize Bron-Bron’s game at the moment. You’re certainly not going to hear Flip Saunders saying LeBron hasn’t made “The Leap.”

2. And speaking of Flip

In case you didn’t know, that’s called a cheesy transition kids. But it’s not without merit because we actually have news on Saunders. Turns out that despite getting swept out of the playoffs after taking a 2-0 lead in the East finals, Flip has reportedly agreed to return the Pistons next year. On Monday, in an AP interview, Saunders said in regards to his return: “That’s never been a question.” That’s good news for Detroit because there will probably be some retooling going on with this organization during the off-season. At least they have their head coach in place. Well, that’s only if you believe he’s not gonna pull a “Billy Donovan”; which oddly enough was called a “Kobe Bryant” just days before Donovan crushed the spirits of millions of Mouseketeers.

Buzzer Beater: So, everyone knows by now that Boston got totally shafted at the lottery, therefore putting themselves in perfect position for another draft day nightmare. But there might be a way out of the fifth pick horror slot. Looks like Seattle might be willing to trade away a superstar in the making in Rashard Lewis for the Celtics’ first round selection. Of course there would be some other pieces involved in the trade but that’s the gist of it. Now, everyone knows that Lewis will probably never be the franchise changing player that Greg Oden or Kevin Durant will most likely be for their future squads, but a Lewis/Paul Pierce combination could be the key to a postseason return. Hey, if they can stay healthy for the majority of the season there certainly won’t be any 18 game losing streaks. And that’s pretty good if you’re Boston.