Boston Celtics

Around the Rim: Kevin Garnett is almost ready for his close up

1. Welcome back?
Kevin Garnett cares about one thing and one thing only – winning. The Big Ticket missed the Celtics last nine games in addition to sitting out the All-Star game with an abdominal strain, but he appears to be almost back to his normal self which makes Boston far above average once again.

I’m trying to play Tuesday,” Garnett said from NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, according to The Boston Globe. “It’s been miserable. To be honest, miserable. But I’m in a good place mentally. I’m dealing with it.

The Celtics are in Denver tonight and Garnett said how he felt after Monday’s practice would play a big role in whether he takes the court or not. While the entire franchise is dying for Garnett to get back on the floor, they’re not stupid enough to rush it at this point. After all, they’ve won five consecutive games and own a 7-2 record since losing the big fella.

2. Agent 0 to the rescue

The Wizards got some terrific news on Monday, learning star guard Gilbert Arenas was cleared to participate in light, non-contact drills after having knee surgery last season. Arenas proved to be one of the most explosive scorers in the league, racking up 50 and 60 point games like clockwork. There’s no timetable for his return, but just hearing of his comeback has to energize Caron Butler and Antwan Jamison who have been carrying the load since Gilbo went down. Another piece of good news for the Wizards came in the form of Etan Thomas getting the nod to practice for the first time since undergoing open-heart surgery. Again, no definite timetable, but definitely good news.

3. Dare we say it? Jason Kidd is on his way to Big D
After a little tweaking, it appears that the Jason Kidd to Dallas trade will go through. However, before we go off analyzing the nuances of this trade, we’re going to wait for the official word to get dropped from NBA headquarters. Until then, we’ll stick with the major player – Kidd. Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard are going to love having this guy around and Mark Cuban isn’t even going to know who to cry over anymore. Not only will he have the sweetest shooting big man in the game on his roster, but he’ll also own the only player in the league who can completely change a game without scoring a single point. The only immediate drawback we can think of for Dallas is that the city is going to get sick of seeing Kidd’s big-headed kid on the tube every five minutes.

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Orlando (33-21) @ Detroit (39-13)
Now that the All-Star festivities are over and behind us, it’s time to forget all about Dwight Howard’s spectacular collage of throw-downs and start focusing on what’s important which is the race to the playoffs. Before the break, Stan Van Gundy `motivated’ Howard back to peak performance and with the wave of momentum currently underneath him, the Pistons might end up facing a snarling beast tonight. Of course, the Pistons have several proud All-Stars on its squad who will look to end Superman’s high flying act. And if you’re lucky, Rasheed Wallace might just jack up another lefty trey.

Buzzer Beater: Cedric Ceballos finally did something more embarrassing than his ridiculous blindfold slam dunk from a bunch of years back. The former Sun and current Suns on-court announcer was arrested on Sunday for driving with a suspended license. Turns out California had a warrant out for Ceballos and he got caught at a Cali gas station after an attendant called the cops because he tried to pay for gas with a bunk credit card. It was a quick in-and-out of the pokey for Cedric whose hearing is scheduled for March 18.

Boston Celtics

Around the Rim: Kevin Garnett carries his club into the record books

1. Big Three hit the big two-seven

Kevin Garnett needed four stitches to close a gash over his right eye sustained against the Lakers on Sunday, but the cut wasn’t enough to stop the Big Ticket from punching Boston’s ticket into history. Scoring 11 of his 26 points in the final seven minutes, Garnett lifted Boston to their 27th win of the season in just 30 games with a 97-93 victory over Houston. The 27-3 mark matches five other squads, including the 1995-96 Bulls that went 72-10, as the only teams to accomplish the feat. The Rockets sorely missed their leading scorer down the stretch as Tracy McGrady missed his fourth consecutive game with an injury to his left a knee. Unfortunately, McGrady is expected to miss about three weeks with a “deep bone bruise,” leaving Houston rapidly sliding down the standings out West.

2. On again, off again

The Orlando Magic looked poised to join Boston, Detroit and Cleveland as one of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams after they rushed out to a 14-3 start. But as quickly as they rose to contender status, they quickly rejoined the mass of mediocrity by dropping eight of their next 12, and just when the Magic men looked to be climbing back to their feet, putting together a four-game winning streak, the Nets come to town and demoralize Orlando with a fourth quarter knockout. New Jersey trailed by 10 points after 36 minutes, but outscored Orlando 30-18 in the final period and squeaked out a 96-95 victory. Dwight Howard scored 13 points in the loss, marking the fourth time in five games that the superstar has failed to reach 20 points.

3. LeBron-ckets red glare
LeBron James welcomed in the New Year by giving the Cleveland crowd of 20,562 in attendance his own version of a fireworks celebration. James went out of the first half against Atlanta like a lamb, scoring just four points, but he came roaring out of the locker room like a lion, guiding his cubs to a 98-94 win. LBJ continued to improve as the game went on, scoring 32 of his 36 points in the second half with 19 coming in the fourth quarter and 12 coming in the last 1:50. The Cavs are still sitting two games under .500 (15-17) and are a full 10 games behind Detroit in the Central Division standings after the Pistons won their 10th consecutive game by dismantling the Wizards in D.C. by 13, 106-93. Detroit (25-7) has now won 17 of their last 19 games, climbing to within three games of Boston (27-3) for the league’s top record.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: John Salmons @ New York 43 min, 32 pts (FG: 13-18, 3FG: 1-2, FT: 5-5), 11 reb, 6 ast, 6 stl, 1 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: San Antonio (21-8) @ Denver (18-12)
Despite their recent struggles (5-5 in their last 10 games) and injuries, San Antonio is still sitting atop the Western Conference standings thanks to a rejuvenated Tim Duncan. Known for sacrificing his numbers in exchange for teammate’s productivity, Duncan has been single-handedly taking over games for the Spurs lately, averaging 19.6 points, 14.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 blocks per game over his last five games. However, the Spurs are surprisingly soft on the road this year with a 5-6 record. The Nuggets are 12-5 at home where Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson both average 26.0 points per game. Marcus Camby (14.2 rpg, 3.66 bpg) draws the unappealing assignment of defending Duncan, but perhaps nobody is more prepared for the challenge than the league’s defending Mr. Defense.

Buzzer Beater: The game between the Timberwolves and the Trail Blazers was delayed for over half an hour on Wednesday night when a pair of gaps developed in the Target Center court. So, while the entire arena waited for a couple dollops of putty to harden in the floor, players and fans alike had plenty of time to complain about the delay.

Timberwolves forward Al Jefferson, for one, couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. He walked over to Blazers swingman Travis Outlaw, a fellow native of Mississippi, and said, “We’re from Mississippi man, we play on glass.

Eventually Portland would run all over Minnesota, winning 90-79 for their 14th victory in 15 contests.

General Sports

ESPN just loves being a wisenheimer

You might think that the NBA has a flawless relationship with “The Worldwide Leader in Sports,” but you’d be wrong. Even though the pair have a strong partnership together pumping hoops, as you’d expect, ESPN is basically the wild, bratty little sibling that the big brother NBA must keep in check from time to time. Especially when ESPN is backhandedly trying to promote a season-ending injury to one of the league’s greatest superstars.

The NBA, late last week, was moved to make a phone call to ESPN, one strongly suggesting that “ESPN Attitude” had again gone too far in the pursuit of the young and desensitized.

On Dec. 7, an poll asked what Boston-specific event one would most like to see happen, over the weekend: 1) “Steelers beat the Patriots.” 2) “Johan Santana traded to any team besides the Red Sox.” 3) “Kevin Garnett blow out his knee.”

Following the NBA’s complaint, ESPN removed the question.

In return the NBA has agreed to remove a poll from that asked which SportsCenter anchor would most like to see hung by his toes and beaten like a piñata by a class of fourth-graders: 1) “Stuart Scott.” 2) “Stuart Scott.” 3) “Stuart Scott.”


[]: NBA raps

Detroit Pistons

Around the Rim: Wrestling with the truth

1. Welcome back, Rasheed
The NBA season is rolling, but something just doesn’t feel right. Something is missing. Ah, of course! Rasheed Wallace hasn’t done anything stupid yet. Wait; looks like we can check that off our list. Here’s what Sheed had to say about the Pistons being eliminated from the playoffs by Cleveland in six games last year.

“There’s a lot of people out here who think they really beat us,” Wallace sniffed, apparently ignoring the fact that five close games were followed by a 16-point Cavs blowout in Game 6. “It was ourselves. We beat ourselves. We fell victim to the little, personal NBA thing where they’re trying to make it a world game and get ratings and all that.

“They wanted to put their darling (LeBron James) in there, and they did put him in there. Look what ended up happening.”

“So this game, this ain’t basketball no more, it’s entertainment. It’s like WWF. Ain’t no more real (than) wrestling. All the days of Ric Flair and Rick Rude and Jake the Snake. … It’s so fake.”

That’s more like it, we feel much better now.

2. Seeing green

So far, so good for the green clovers. Sure, they’re just two games into their season, but the Boston Celtics tremendous trio is looking pretty intimidating at the moment. After spanking Washing by 20 points on Friday, the Celtics returned to action on Sunday against Washington and when it came time for someone to step up for the game winning shot, Ray Allen made a 3-pointer to give Boston a 98-95 victory over Toronto in overtime. Allen led the way with 33 points, including seven treys, and Kevin Garnett followed up his double-double debut with 23 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals. Celtics senior Paul Pierce dished in 13 points, five rebounds six assists and a pair of steals. So far, the green’s big three have Boston fans feeling like kings of the sports universe with the Celtics joining the Red Sox, Patriots and Eagles atop their respective sports.

3. No Stoudemire, no sweat
Despite missing their star big man Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix rolled over Cleveland in the second half and sent the Cavaliers on to Golden State with a 103-92 defeat. The defending Eastern Conference champs are now 1-2 on the young season, getting handled by the pair of western big boys they’ve faced. LeBron James had a great game, leading the team in every major stat except for rebounds, and the Cavs out-rebounded Phoenix by 11 (51-40), but the team’s 18 turnovers proved too much to overcome. Steve Nash played like Steve Nash (30 pts, 10 ast), Shawn Marion did his thing (23 pts, 12 reb, 2 stl, 2 blk) and before you know it, BAM, the Suns have 103 points off an eight man rotation, seven if you exclude Marcus Banks’ five minutes of play.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James @ Phoenix 43 min, 27 pts (FG: 11-26, 3FG: 3-5, FT: 2-2), 5 reb, 8 ast, 2 stl, 4 blk

Monday’s Game to Watch: Houston (3-0) @ Dallas (2-1)
It’s easy to call this our “Game to Watch” because it’s the only contest on the calendar. But even if they weren’t flying solo on Monday night, they’d still have a legitimate claim for the NBA’s top billing. Dallas bounced back from an embarrassing loss to Atlanta on Friday to pop a hapless Sacramento team in the mouth on Saturday. The Mavericks looked good in their 123-102 spanking of the Kings, but Kevin Martin, Francisco Garcia and Brad Miller really don’t compare to in-state rival Houston’s lineup of Tracy McGrady, Shane Battier and Yao Ming. The Rockets are finally starting to look like the team everybody expected to see when McGrady first joined the crew in 2004. Luis Scola is shaping up to be a steal from the Spurs based on his effort alone. It should be another 1,2,3 finish for the three Texas teams in the Southwest division, but this year could be the year Houston escapes the bronze medal.

Buzzer Beater: It was discovered over the weekend that a pair of NBA notables recently turned up their noses to a pair of different offers. First, Phil Jackson said that Grant Hill wouldn’t return his phone call over the summer while he was deciding on his future as a free agent. “I figured he didn’t entertain the idea very much if he didn’t return that call,” said Jackson. We can understand that considering that Hill actually wants to win a title and not just be Kobe’s shadow in the midst of a storm of uncertainty. Then comes the bad news for Philly fanatics. It appears that Andre Iguodala has declined the team’s final offer of a contract extension. Apparently, $57 million just isn’t enough to keep him settled in Philadelphia for the next five years. Again, we can’t blame him; have you seen the freaks that live in that dump? Not to mention he’d still be on the Sixers.

Overtime Buzzer Beater: Dirk Nowitzki loves him some NASCAR-Nextel Cup. Herren, fangen Sie Ihre Motoren an!

Boston Celtics

Kevin Garnett might be skinny, but he’s strong as an ox

Kevin Garnett spent 12 seasons with the Timberwolves before the Celtics came along and plucked him from the land of futility. Now that he’s in a much better place, KG is able to take a deep breath and just relax knowing that he’s not alone any more. You’d never expect his wiry frame to support the dead weight of a franchise for that long, but he did.

The Kid might not have a ring, but you’d never catch Kobe Bryant carrying the hopes of Hollywood to a losing record every year with a smile on his face.

Boston Celtics

Kevin Garnett finally finds his pot of gold in Boston

After 12 years in Minnesota, Kevin Garnett finally became the last person on the face of the planet to realize that the Timberwolves aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon in a deep, deep Western Conference. And instead of being a conference AND division cellar dweller once again, it appears that KG will finally have his time to shine in the postseason as he teams up with a pair of superstars in Boston. The move sends The Big Ticket to the Celtics for Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair (good luck with that one) and two future 1st-round picks.

Sure, it might sound like a lot, but we’re talking about Kevin Garnett here. Considering that he’s easily one of the greatest players to ever lace up a pair of sneakers, we’re going to say it’s a steal and break away slam dunk for the leprechauns. And talk about breathing new life into the dead! Not only is Garnett getting resurrected for a second shot at NBA immortality and hopefully a couple of playoff wins, but the Celtics are looking at making one of the greatest turn-arounds in league history.

After enduring a stomach turning season that consisted of some comical losing streaks, followed up by David Stern’s punch to the gut at the NBA Draft, the Celtics can finally grin from ear to ear as they have since acquired the sweet shooting touch of Ray Allen and the unquantifiable talents of KG. Throw in a healthy dose of a healthy Paul Pierce and you’ve got a big batch of conference contenders brewing in Beantown. The only problem imaginable is that there might not be enough ball to go around for all those All-Stars. But, then again, considering that none of the big three have been to the NBA Finals, we’re guessing they’ll be more than willing to share for the common cause. And for the faithful fans of the men in green, it’s been a really, really, really long time since they could actually consider too much talent to be a problem, so we doubt we hear any complaints from them either.


[]: Ticketed for Boston

NBA General

Around the Rim: The month long first round has begun

NBA playoff action is fantastic!

1. Home-court disadvantage
Most teams won their home games when the opening round of the playoffs began this weekend, but there was a trio of teams who failed to please the fans inside their own gym and they are now looking to crawl out of a 1-0 hole. New Jersey grabbed a victory from a very inexperienced Raptors team in Toronto, but that wasn’t all that surprising. What was really shocking was that Denver and Golden State took advantage of a couple of Texas powerhouses by utilizing some great games from their stars. Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson combined for 61 of the Nuggets 95 points against SA, while Baron Davis, Jason Richardson and Stephen Jackson hooked up for 69 of the Warriors 97. These series aren’t even close to being over but for the clubs that dropped game 1 at home, their next game is pretty darn close to a must win.

2. The Big Ticket’s possible big mistake

Nobody in Minnesota is talking, but rumor has it that Kevin Garnett is talking with the Timberwolves management about getting a contract extension. Why, KG, why?! Garnett seems to be the only person, besides the organization and their fans, who is content with him simply wasting away the remaining years of an incredible career as the big brother for a revolving door of lottery picks. Open your eyes Garnett; you might want to think that you can turn this team around but you can only do so much with the garbage that Kevin McHale surrounds you with. Garnett is signed through next year, then he’ll become a free agent, but we suggest that he faces the truth and forces a trade. He might not even have to go very far; the high-priced Jermaine O’Neal is need of a change of scenery as well.

3. Suns are too hot to handle for LA
Kobe Bryant tried to carry the Lakers on in game one of their series against the Suns, and it worked for about three quarters. That’s when the weight became too much, and Phoenix’s team ball offered too many solutions for problem posed by Bryant’s one man show. Bryant had 28 points in the first half but was then limited to just 11 in the second and, if that’s not devastating enough for LA, the team only scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. Phil Jackson said that his superstar “ran out of gas” down the stretch as he went 1-for-10 during the final 12 minutes. The odds are already stacked against the Lakers, but if Bryant can’t be stellar in this series then they won’t make it back to Phoenix.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Baron Davis @ Dallas 44 min, 33 pts (FG: 11-20, 3FG: 4-7, FT: 7-8), 14 reb, 8 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk

Buzzer Beater: Just one game into the post season and Shaquille O’Neal is already complaining about the refs. And he’s not doing it quietly either. “My intention was to come out and be myself, until Eddie Rush derailed me,” said O’Neal. Shaq seems to feel that Ben Wallace was dropping like the flop king Vlade Divac and so he’s going to retaliate in the only way he knows how; by crying. Considering that he’s the biggest, baddest kid on the block, the Daddy sure does whine like a spoiled brat every time he doesn’t get a call. Sad thing is that his rant will probably change the way things get called in the next game. Now it is going to be up to Wallace to adjust his game accordingly or he’ll be the one watching the end of game 2 from the bench, instead of O’Neal.

NBA General

Around the Rim: The Big Ticket punches out early

1. Could KG be moving on?
Kevin Garnett’s season is probably over after injuring his right quadriceps. The former MVP could be done with his Timberwolves club for good if Minnesota can parlay this move into few extra loses and a possible shot at a high draft pick. With only five games left on the schedule for Minnesota, the move probably won’t make a big difference in final standings but when Kevin Durant, and possibly Greg Oden, is available, it’s worth a shot. And even if the T-Wolves don’t pull out a No. 1 or No. 2 pick, they could always package Garnett with a top five draft pick and get a whole bunch of talent in return. The one thing that is clear is that KG’s body simply can’t carry the weight of an entire franchise anymore.

2. Celtics’ hide the Truth

But KG wasn’t the only superstar to have a late season injury bring about an early vacation. However, unlike Garnett, Paul Pierce will definitely not return to the Celtics lineup this year. After a sore left elbow had bounced Pierce back and forth between the active roster and the DNP designation in the box score, Boston management has decided to put an end to the on-again, off-again relationship and throw Pierce onto the shelf. Sure, Pierce could probably use the extra rest but don’t think Danny Ainge isn’t thinking about the extra ping-pong balls that could be coming his way. After all, Ainge was the one caught buddying up with Durant’s mom a while back.

3. Best draft ever?
David Stern came out and said that this upcoming class of college newcomers could make up the greatest draft class in history. Actually he said that “this may be the No. 1 or 2 draft of all time.” That’s a pretty lofty statement by the commish; which got us thinking if he could be right. Only time will tell if this year’s kids pan out, but it’s going to be awfully hard to top the classes of 1984 or 1996. Here are some of the ballers from those talent rich crops and their overall selections.

1984 – Hakeem Olajuwon (1), Michael Jordan (3), Sam Perkins (4), Charles Barkley (5), Alvin Robertson (7), Otis Thorpe (9), Kevin Willis (11), Michael Cage (14), John Stockton (16)

1996 – Allen Iverson (1), Marcus Camby (2), Shareef Abdur-Rahim (3), Stephon Marbury (4), Ray Allen (5), Antoine Walker (6), Kobe Bryant (13), Steve Nash (15), Jermaine O’Neal (17), and it should also be noted that Ben Wallace was available but went undrafted

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Tim Duncan vs. Sacramento 35 min, 26 pts (FG: 11-14, FT: 4-9), 13 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl, 4 blk

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Los Angeles Clippers (37-40) @ Los Angeles Lakers (40-38) The Lakers and the Clippers both have a lot to prove in their gym. Of course, there’s the whole battle of Los Angeles thing and the bragging rights that come along with the victory, but more importantly there’s a possible playoff spot on the line. Currently the Lakers have it, but not by much as they have spent the last few weeks slip-sliding down the rankings and now sit just 2 ½ games ahead of the Clippers who are sitting just outside (½ game) of the playoff picture. Unfortunately the Clippers have been struggling just as much as their LA counterparts. But somebody has to win this game and when they do they will be standing on much firmer post season ground.

Buzzer Beater: This is the time of the season when the good teams get rolling and the crappy teams start folding. While we wouldn’t exactly call the Utah Jazz a crappy team, they are certainly folding like a house of cards down the stretch. The Jazz have now lost five games in a row and six of their last ten and they have basically handed the Rockets home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. But you can’t blame the point guard/power forward combo for the team’s latest loss. Carlos Boozer (19 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists) and Deron Williams (18 points, 6 rebounds, 14 assists) both flirted with triple-doubles last night but couldn’t overcome a 54 point outburst by Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson as the Nuggets showed the Jazz the proper way to get into playoff form. Denver has now won seven straight games to make up for dropping three in a row.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Should I stay or should I go?

KG or DMX?

There has been more speculation surrounding the future of Minnesota’s Kevin Garnett this season than ever before. Probably because the team is once again in jeopardy of missing the playoffs and they passed on the Allen Iverson trade which would have provided the Big Ticket with his best opportunity to win a championship since Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell left town.

But any concern of Garnett hitting the bricks himself might have been squashed with the purchase of a $6.5 million dollar home in Minnesota. The two story house was built in 1998 and is equipped with ten bathrooms for those moments of nausea when KG realizes he’s could be stuck with the Timberwolves for the rest of his career.

Here are some of the other notable statistics of the dwelling; it has 11 bedrooms, 16 “other rooms,” and two living rooms. In square footage terms, the garage area has 2,265; the ground floor 8,263; the second floor 2,790; the porch 3,375, and the basement 826.

Now that’s a lot of house! MTV’s Cribs is on their way.


[]: Is KG leaving? Not if you read between the real estate lines

NBA General

Around the Rim: Knucklehead Nelson’s Short Fuse Blows It

1. Geez, Thanks Coach
With under a second remaining in yesterday’s game between the Wizards and the Warriors, Don Nelson picked up a technical foul after a questionable call gave Gilbert Arenas a pair of free throws with Washington down by two. But thanks to Nellie’s tech, Agent 0 went to the line and drained three consecutive freebies with 0.1 seconds remaining on the clock. Arenas was 12 for 12 from the free throw line as he went off for 32 points, six assists and five rebounds in the home win. By sinking the clutch free throws, Arenas has joined a pretty elite club. In the last two seasons only three players have hit game-winning free throws in the final second of play (Channing Frye, Darrell Armstrong and Zach Randolph). However, Arenas became the first player since Karl Malone against the Suns in 1999 to give his team a one point victory on three free throws with under a second remaining in the game.

2. Garnett Seeing Green
As unbelievable as it may sound, the Boston Celtics are NOT the worst team in the NBA. The combination of a Boston four game winning streak and a Memphis four game losing streak has given the Celtics a three game cushion over the grisly Grizzlies. Yesterday, the C’s beat the Timberwolves in a double overtime marathon despite another big day from the Big Ticket. Kevin Garnett seems to like playing Boston as he picked up his second triple-double of the season against the men in green. But the last time these two hooked up, Boston fell to KG and crew for their 18th consecutive loss. Seems like Garnett could use a little help in Minny, but, yet again, the entire weight of a franchise is riding completely on his shoulders. You don’t think Allen Iverson, Ben Gordon or Ray Allen could have helped to distribute the burden; do you?

3. Altitude Agrees With The Answer
He hasn’t even been in Denver for a year yet but Allen Iverson has already said that he wants to remain a Nugget for the remainder of his career. Sounds familiar, didn’t he say the same thing in Philadelphia? But things change and you can’t blame AI for wanting to leave the Sixers, considering their current condition. And Iverson is probably truthful about staying in Denver. The Nuggets have a bright future with Iverson and Carmelo Anthony leading the way. When Iverson was traded to the Nuggets, the duo was ranked number one and two in scoring; now they are first and fifth with AI’s numbers dropping a bit. But that was expected; what wasn’t expected was that the Nuggets would be clinging to the eighth playoff spot with only 25 games left in the season.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Kevin Garnett @ Boston 51 min, 33 pts (FG: 14-28, 3FG: 1-1, FT: 4-5), 13 reb, 10 ast, 2 stl, 3 blk

Monday’s Game to Watch: Houston (36-23) @ Cleveland (34-25) He’s back and he’s not hard to spot. The 7-6 Yao Ming is expected to hit the court for the first time in 32 games after breaking his right leg on December 23. Tracy McGrady is going to have to get use to sharing the load again after making a late MVP push as he carried the Rockets during Yao’s absence. But before Houston can celebrate the return of Yao, they will have to pick up a win in Cleveland where the Cavs are 22-8 this season. And if T-Mac has been hot of late, then LeBron James has been scorching. James has scored between 29 and 39 points in each of his last seven games. This could become a scoring duel between two of the game’s most explosive superstars.

Buzzer Beater: Hitting the century mark has typically been the benchmark of a good offensive game for NBA teams. But what makes a game great is when two players combine for a hundred. That’s what Ben Gordon (48 points) and Michael Redd (52 points) did during the Bulls’ 126-121 victory over the Bucks on Sunday. In the last 30 years, only eight games have seen a duo combine for 100 points and this is the first time since the 1989-90 season that the game didn’t involve Kobe Bryant or Tracy McGrady. For comparison sake, the feat is one of the rarest in all of sports. In the same 30 year span there have been eight perfect games thrown in the MLB, seven 500-yard passing games in the NFL, and five baseball games with four homeruns from a single player.