Ahh, it’s good to be back in the driver’s seat here at Damn Lies, Where Amazing Happens. As my esteemed colleague Tom mentioned yesterday, I am returning from right shoulder surgery and my rehab is going better than expected. As a matter of fact, scouts saw me throw a two-seamer the other day and pronounced me the next Sid Finch.
I’ve watched very little basketball the past two weeks and I consider that a good thing as the guys I’ve started in the weekly Damn Lies league have suffered crippling injuries on Monday nights, while the guys I’ve benched miraculously returned from the dead (see Harris, Devin). There has been no reason and very little rhyme to my season. I’ve had more tsuris this year than the previous 11 seasons combined.
I have found solace watching the Oak City Thunder on NBA TV as I truly enjoy their style of play. This is one of the most athletic teams in the league and here is what many are missing when summing up their incredible turnaround: They are a terrific defensive unit. Kevin Durant is clearly an incredible offensive talent who could erupt for 40 points in his sleep, but his length on the other end of the court gives opponents fits. Throw in Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefalosha, two of the premier defenders at their positions in the league, and you have an athletic team with a passion for defense that competes every night – a recipe for success if ever I’ve seen one.
And now on to Wednesday’s damn games
Atlanta 103 LA Clippers 97
The Hawks needed a monster shooting night from Joe Johnson (34 pts, 11-21 fg, 3-4 3 fg, 9-10 ft) to come-from-behind and eclipse the Clips. Josh Smith registered 15 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and two steals, numbers that are a nightly occurrence. Al Horford, who has shown signs of life lately, added 16 points and 10 boards. El Lay was led by Marcus Camby‘s six points, 20 rebounds and six assists. Henchman Chris Kaman contributed 17 points, 10 caroms and three blocks, but was just 7-of-21 from the floor.
Philadelphia 106 Chicago 103 (OT)
Playing without ‘Son of Iver’ the Sixers got past the streaking Bulls, 106-103, in overtime. Philly was led by Elton Brand‘s 26 points, nine rebounds and three blocks and he seems cemented in the starting lineup. Andre Iguodala busted out of his funk with 25 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals and Sammy Dalembert contributed 10 points, 13 caroms and three blocked shots. Thaddeus Young, who I traded for about six weeksd ago, poured in two points and corralled the same number of bounds. Derrick Rose, who I traded away six weeks ago, led the Bulls with 30 points and nine assists. Luol Deng added 17 points, 11 rebound and three steals.
Boston 107 Miami 102
With Paul Pierce and his injured hoof on the sideline, the Celts squeaked by the Heat last night. Rajon Rondo was the mango, registering 22 points, six rebounds and 14 assists. Ray Allen added 23 points and three steals and Bill Walker saw two minutes of daylight and did not score. Ever notice that no one in the NBA is named Bill anymore except for Mr. Walker? Dwyane Wade paced six Heat players in double figures with 30 points on 11-of-16 from the field and added a cool 13 assists.
Toronto 108 New Jersey 99
The Nets have now covered five straight with last night’s loss to Toronto. The Raptors should be ashamed of themselves. Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani recorded 20 points apiece, but shot a combined 14-for-37 to do so. Sonny Weems started, played 39 minutes and contributed 14 points (7-11 fg), 11 rebounds and four assists. Looks like we’ll need to keep a eye on him for at least another game. Yi Jianlian bounced back from his dreadful 1-for-12 shooting performance on Tuesday against Detroit to total 15 points, seven boards and a block last night. Devin Harris jacked up 17 shots to tally his 15 points (4-17 fg) and Jarvis Hayes got the start at small forward and posted 11 points and five boards.
New York 107 Washington 85
Nate Robinson may have finally supplanted Chris Duhon as the starting point guard in this one as he erupted for 23 points, six rebounds and eight assists in 35 minutes off the bench. In Chris Duhon’s 13 minutes of flailing around the court as the starter he dropped a triple deuce on us. The Wizards were led by nobody as they decided not to show up for the second half.
Oklahoma City 103 New Orleans 99
We’ve spoken enough about the Thunder for one day, but Westbrook did drop a 26, 8 and 10 in this one. Marcus Thornton (22 pts, 6 ast) is playing big minutes (38 mpg over last 6) for the Hornets and should not be available under any circumstance.
Dallas 110 Golden St. 101
It took a lion tamer to hold off Monta Ellis light night, who exploded for 46 points on a ridiculous 17-of-23 from the floor as the Mavs held off the Warriors. Shawn Marion sparked Dallas with one of his better efforts of the year (18 pts, 9-11 fg, 9 reb, 2 bk) and he was supported by Josh Howard‘s 19 points (9-15 fg) off the bench.
Utah 118 Portland 105
The Jazz won for the seventh time in a row as Mehmet Okur led the offensive assault with 28 points on 11-of-13 from the field. Okur has been miserable for the most part in ’09-10, but with Carlos Boozer nursing an injury, he could be in store for some big games. Speaking of such, Maria Kirilenko’s big brother harkened the mid-aughts with 22 points (8-9 fg) six rebounds, eight assists, two blocks and two steals.
San Antonio 115 Sacramento 113
Playing in place of injured Tony Parker, George Hill posted 23 points, nine assists and knocked down four free throws in the final seconds to hold off a Kings rally. Hill played with confidence yesterday and would make for a solid short-term pickup. Tyreke Evans returned from a hip injury for Sacramento and led all scorers with 32 points and added seven boards and eight assists. This team has not been able to get it going since the return of Kevin Martin (15 pts, 6-17 fg) three weeks ago. Omri Casspi returned to the starting lineup (8 pts, 6 reb) and if he remains there could be a nice source of across-the-board production.
Phoenix 109 Denver 97
Carmelo Anthony has now missed six straight games, the last five of which he was a gametime decision. Freaking have surgery already, will you? How annoying! Good god, 17 rebounds fell into Amare Stoudemire‘s lap last night. Will wonders never cease?
LA Lakers 99 Charlotte 97
Those pesky Bobcats held the best player in the world in any sport, hobby or board game to just five points (2-12 fg), but Lamar Odom converted a couple of big plays down the stretch en route to 19 points to key the LA win. Andrew Bynum tallied 17 points and 14 boards in the victory. The Bobcats were led by Stephen Jackson‘s 30 points on a mind-bending 10-of-16 from the field. And a man named Nazr recorded his second double-double in his last three contests with season highs of 23 points and 17 rebounds.