Howard Magical, Rip Returns to Detroit

Wednesday night was a busy night in the NBA, and no team walked out looking more impressive then the Orlando Magic. Their record is setting at 5-2, and they are shaping out to be a solid team in the Eastern Conference. Dwight Howard finished with yet another dominant game,  featuring 28 points and 20 rebounds, which is becoming the norm. But the key to the Magic’s success seems to be coming from Ryan Anderson. Anderson finished with 23 points, and has been shooting lights out from 3-point range. If he keeps this up, and the rest of the team can stay moderately healthy, this is a team be reckoned with down the road; that is, unless Dwight gets traded.

Chicago stayed strong as well, moving to 6-1 after beating Detroit Wednesday night. Nobody questions whether or not this team is a potential NBA Finals contender. Derrick Rose is a superstar, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah are great under the hoop, and Luol Deng continues to impress. But health and depth will be the determining factor down the road, especially from Richard Hamilton, their newest acquisition. Taj Gibson had a nice night, scoring 12 points, and he may be a key component for the Bulls off the bench if they plan to have success deep into the playoffs.

On another note, the Knicks lost again, this time to the Bobcats. Scoring is not a problem with the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony scored 32, Amare Stoudemire had 25, and the team scored 110. But allowing 118 to the Bobcats is simply unacceptable, and if they continue to play defense like this then they might as well quit now. Nobody is sure where to point the finger here, whether its lack of effort, motivation, or just the way teams under Mike D’Antoni play. But either way, it needs to be addressed immediately before its too late. It seems early, but the panic button seems awfully close. 

From Marc Berman of the New York Post: “What a disaster. During the preseason, Mike D’Antoni said the Knicks had “the ability to win it all.’’ This week, the Knicks look like they can’t beat anybody, dominated last night by the Bobcats, one of the NBA’s worst teams, at the boo-infested Garden. That makes it back-to-back home losses to Eastern Conference dregs. But this was so much worse than Monday’s blowout to Toronto , when the Knicks had excuses of California jetlag and being without Amar’e Stoudemire and new Garden folk hero Iman Shumpert. Those two players were back, but the pitiful defense gave up 118 points. The Knicks fell behind 16 points with 6:47 left on a runner by Bronx native Kemba Walker and they suffered a horrifying 118-110 loss to Charlotte. “That hurt, it hurts to lose games like that,’’ said Carmelo Anthony, who scored 22 of his quiet 32 points in the fourth quarter when it was too late. “The good thing is it’s over.’’ Stoudemire said he hoped his return would get the Knicks “back on track.’’ Instead, this was one of the worst railroad wrecks of the past few years, factoring in their big expectations.

The season is now 11 days old, and the Philadelphia 76ers have spent all of it on the road.

Were they tired last night in their fifth consecutive road game?

Far from it, as Jrue Holiday applied the finishing kick with 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter of a 101-93 victory, outscoring the New Orleans Hornets 34-20 in the fourth quarter. Philadelphia now will play four straight winnable home games _ a back-to-back set Friday and Saturday against Detroit and Toronto, then another back-to-back Monday and Tuesday against Indiana and Sacramento. Win ’em all, and they’ll have a 7-2 record.

From John Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer: “”Jrue was magnificent coming down the stretch,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said. “He hit some huge shots for us. And at the end, our defense stiffened and we were able to get their guards under control.” Holiday added eight assists, but on this night it was his scoring late that stung the Hornets. In a stretch that lasted a little less than four minutes, Holiday had back-to-back three-pointers, a running floater, and a 23-footer just shy of being another three-pointer. The stretch enabled the Sixers, who got great, all-around efforts from a number of players, to turn what had been an 86-83 lead in a nip-and-tuck fourth quarter into a comfortable, 98-89 advantage with 46.7 seconds to play. “I was hot like Pistol,” Holiday said, referencing a mention made by Collins of legendary shooter “Pistol” Pete Maravich, the Hall of Famer who is from these parts. “I guess I just looked to be aggressive tonight in the fourth quarter.”

There were 12 NBA games, but only one of them was decided by four points or less.

The Memphis Grizzlies, after learning they would be without Zach Randolph for up to two months with a torn MCL, went into Minnesota and defeated the Timberwolves 90-86 behind 20 points on 8-for-8 shooting from new starter Tony Allen.

From Ron Tillery of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal: “If Randolph is inactive for eight weeks, he will have missed 31 games. That would leave 31 games remaining on the regular-season schedule, starting March 2 at Toronto. Griz coach Lionel Hollins said he has no choice but to mentally prepare his squad the same as he did when Rudy Gay went down with a shoulder injury at the middle of last season. The team will miss Randolph’s strength and production but there are games to be played and won. “That’s life,” Hollins said. “You have to go and play. He’s not going to be here. We can’t worry about what ifs and what we should do to get him back. This is where we are.” The Griz originally believed that Randolph’s status was day-to-day. But a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed the slight ligament tear. The injury will not require surgery. Team doctors want Randolph to heal naturally. He will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Randolph suffered the injury after teammate O.J. Mayo inadvertently fell into his legs during the Grizzlies’ 40-point loss Sunday at Chicago. Randolph left the game with a minute left in the first quarter and he didn’t return. Randolph led the Griz in scoring (14.8 points per game) and rebounding (7.5 per game) through the first four games of the season.

The Miami Heat were without Dwyane Wade as the Indiana Pacers brought their gaudy 4-1 record to South Beach, and then they saw LeBron James play through a twisted ankle. As for the game? Not competitive in the least as the Heat won by 35, 118-83. 

From Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “No Wade? No problem, just a 118-83 rout of the emerging Indiana Pacers, a parting gift from the Heat to the AmericanAirlines Arena faithful before a five-game, nine-day trip that starts Thursday against the Atlanta Hawks. “That was a very good, focused effort against a very good basketball team,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. The only concern coming out of the game was the left ankle James twisted late in the third quarter, an injury he played through. “It’s been better, but it feels OK right now,” he said after the game. “It’s always the next day. That’s how you can tell how it will be going forward.” As for the game, it was a victory fueled by one of the finest defensive hours in the franchise’s 24 seasons, when the Heat limited the Pacers to 1-of-15 shooting in the second quarter. It was the first time the Heat had limited an opponent to a single basket in a period. The Heat also forced 10 Indiana turnovers in the period. “It was about time for us to stick up for our defensive principles,” Chris Bosh said.

The final score of the Warriors-Spurs game was a bit deceiving. San Antonio won by six, but they were down by eight midway through the fourth quarter.

From Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: In the first of what likely will be dozens of games without injured All-Star Manu Ginobili, the Spurs on Wednesday night needed a lift from someone, anyone, when the Warriors took an eight-point lead with 6:46 remaining at the AT&T Center. They got it from point guard Tony Parker, with an animated assist from coach Gregg Popovich. The result was a 101-95 victory that was tonic for the Spurs’ confidence and proof that Popovich can still get from the bench to midcourt in just a few excitable seconds. Parker scored 10 of his 21 points in the final 3:41 after Popovich had spent all of the previous Warriors possessions screaming at him to continue attacking on offense. When Parker followed with an aggressive move to the basket for a 10-foot teardrop bucket that gave the Spurs a 91-88 lead, Warriors coach Mark Jackson called a timeout, and Popovich ran briskly to midcourt to greet Parker. “That’s what I want,” the coach yelled on his way to meet Parker, who got a hug and a playful slap on the cheek, laughing at his coach as they headed to the Spurs’ bench. “Everybody needs to be in attack mode all the time, and Tony’s no different,” Popovich said. “Tony’s a great player, and when he’s in attack mode, he’s an even better player.”


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