1. Chicago shocker
Chris Webber made his return to Golden State on Thursday evening, but the beleaguered Bulls somehow managed to ruin his second debut. It was Chris Duhon, not Webber, who stole the show, scoring a career-high 34 points, lifting the Bulls to 114-108 road victory. Duhon’s previous season-high was just 13 points. Joe Smith was smoking hot as well, finishing with 27 points on 7-of-11 field goals while making it to the charity stripe a whopping 14 times (13-14 FT). Webber started the game for the Warriors, but found himself on the bench for most of the contest. In 13 minutes of action, C-Webb was rustier than Madonna’s nether regions, totaling four points and two assists. Luckily, Golden State has plenty of offense. Stephen Jackson (19 pts), Al Harrington (20 pts), Baron Davis (22 pts, 8 ast) and Monta Ellis (25 pts) all scored at least 19 to keep the game close until the final minutes. Andris Biedrins was all over the glass for Golden State, collecting 18 rebounds to go with 12 points in the loss.
2. Rockets are immune to the Cavs
Tracy McGrady was sick all day long on Thursday, spending time in the hospital before showing up the Rockets/Cavaliers game just in time to change and hit the court. But it didn’t long for McGrady to transfer his nausea over to LeBron James. Houston took the game over in the third quarter, outscoring the Cavs 32-20, and never looked back as they cruised to an easy 92-77 win. McGrady was awful in the game, scoring eight points on 3-of-11 shooting, but Yao Ming had his back, finishing with 22 points and 12 boards. James had yet another MVPesque game with 32 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but it didn’t matter as the Cavs slipped in the standings. Toronto is now just half a game behind Cleveland in the East.
3. Steve Francis done for the year
In today’s “not a surprise to anyone” news, Steve Francis will undergo season-ending surgery to fix his bum knee. And, of course, he says he’ll be back next year. We say, why? The last time this guy was any good he was on the Orlando Magic’s roster. That’s a long time ago! Since rejoining the Rockets, Francis has played in only 10 games, the last being on Dec. 15. We’d like to see Francis get back to his glory days with the Rockets because he used to be something special, but the odds are he’ll never even be a glimmer of his old self ever again. Then again, we could have told you that two years ago, which is exactly our point.
Thursday’s Player of the Day: LeBron James @ Houston 41 min, 32 pts (FG: 12-23, 3FG: 2-5, FT: 6-11), 7 reb, 6 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk
Friday’s Game to Watch: Los Angeles Lakers (31-17) @ Orlando (32-19)
The Lakers are starting to scare some teams out west now that Pau Gasol is on the roster and Andrew Bynum is rounding out into legit starting center shape. Steve Kerr can say all he wants about the landscape of the conference, but we feel certain the Suns acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal was at least partially a tit-for-tat with the Lakers. But we all know Shaq isn’t the most dominant center in the league anymore and tonight Los Angeles will get an up close look with the man-child filling his shoes. Dwight Howard is averaging 21.8 points and 14.6 boards on the season, but his team is rather mundane in the Magic Kingdom (13-9). Luckily, Orlando has Hedo Turkoglu who is known for bailing them out in a bind.
Buzzer Beater: Shaq is one of the funniest guys in the league. Normally, he slays people with his humor and yesterday at his press conference was no exception. That is, until he laid out his clever idea for a marketing campaign. Apparently, it’s not just his play that is in decline.
Start selling the t-shirts now. All the marketing people, I’m giving you this one for free. The sun will rise in Phoenix. Start selling them now. $9.99.