1. Celtics cruise to victory
The Suns were tied with the Celtics at halftime of Wednesday night’s game, but then Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce got nasty. K.G. ripped off 30 points in the contest and Pierce racked up 12 of his 27 points in the final period to give Boston a 117-97 victory. The Cs snapped a two-game losing streak with the win and simultaneously ended Phoenix’s seven-game win streak. Amare Stoudemire finished with a game-high 32 points and Shaquille O’Neal tallied 16 points and seven rebounds, but afterwards reporters only seemed to care about who the big fella favored in the MVP race.
O’Neal won the award in 2000 with Los Angeles before a well-publicized rift with Bryant led the Lakers to split the pair up. Asked who he liked in the MVP race, though, O’Neal said, “The Kobester. He’s an assassin.”
“With LeBron [James] coming in right behind,” O’Neal added. “After that, I really haven’t been paying attention.”
What about Garnett?
“I’m going to have to go with my guy” — Stoudamire — “before him,” O’Neal said. “All day, every day.
2. West is best
A game of can-you-top-this broke out in the final seconds of New Orleans’ trip to Cleveland last night. It started when LeBron James’ layup put the Cavaliers up by a point with 7.7 seconds remaining which appeared to possibly be the game clincher. However, the play only set the stage for Chris Paul to drive into the paint, collapse the defense and find David West for the midrange game-winning jumper with 0.6 seconds left, giving Nawlins a 100-99 victory. Paul was phenomenal once again, scoring 15 points and dishing out 20 assists while Peja Stojakovic tallied 25 points and West got the highlight of the night and 20 points. The game marked the second time this season Paul reached the 20-assist plateau, joining Deron Williams (twice) and Steve Nash as the only players to do so.
3. Sixers strike again
With a 121-99 win over Chicago on Wednesday, Philadelphia claimed its third consecutive victory and its eighth win out of the last 10 games as they continue to move up the standings in the East. Some guy named Lou Williams led the 76ers with a game-high 23 points while Andre Miller just missed a triple-double with nine points, eight rebounds and a season-high 18 assists. The 18 dimes were just three away from tying the franchise record currently held by Maurice Cheeks and Wilt Chamberlain. Believe it or not, but the victory guaranteed this would be the team’s best month of March since 1984 when they were 13-3. Overall, this was the Sixers 19th win in their last 24 games which brought their miserable record of 18-30 to a respectable 37-35.
Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Zydrunas Ilgauskas vs. New Orleans 33 min, 29 pts (FG: 13-19, FT: 3-3), 15 reb, 3 ast, 2 blk
Thursday’s Game to Watch: Dallas (45-26) @ Denver (43-28)
It’s a scary, scary time to be a Mavericks fan. With only 10 games left in their season and their superstar out with an ankle injury, the Mavericks are a mere two games away from completely falling out of the playoff picture. The pressure is on for Dallas because if they can’t pull out a win in Denver where the Nuggets are 28-7 then the cushion shrinks to a single game. And it just so happens that Denver has a little added motivation of its own because they are the team currently on the outside looking in. Some unfortunate team is going to miss the postseason this year and the Nuggets are trying hard to make sure it is not them, winning three consecutive games behind the hot hands of Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony.
Buzzer Beater: “Like Mike, if I could be like Mike. I wannabe, wannabe, wannabe like Mike. Like Mike, if I could be like Mike.”
OK, now don’t try to tell us you weren’t singing along. Since the late 80s, kids have been dreaming of being like Michael Jordan and Carmelo Anthony is no different. Anthony has a long way to go before making his dream come true, but the kid is certainly getting paid like Mike after signing another deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand.
Cal Andrews, vice president of BDA Sports Management, declined to give the terms of the extension but one source put it at just over $60 million for seven years. With royalties, the deal would make him the second highest-paid player behind LeBron James among Nike’s NBA clients, just ahead of Sonics rookie Kevin Durant.