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News » Court Awareness: Monday review 2008-12-30

Court Awareness: Monday review 2008-12-30

Court Awareness: Monday review 2008-12-30
This year, more than most, will have teams just working out their roster problems on the court. Some are just giving experience to young lineups. Others are trying to figure where to go from here. And a few have the hope of a true contender. Monday night had all but the very best of the NBA.

Atlanta 109, Denver 91

A battle of two probable playoff teams made this an interesting match up. Final Decision: Denver needs a heart transplant.

Bleacher Report

Tuesday's action

  • Knicks top Bobcats to end 6-game skid
  • Heat beat Cavs, spoil LeBron's birthday
  • Hawks defeat Pacers behind Johnson
  • Paul lifts Hornets over Wizards
  • Suns rally to defeat Grizzlies
  • Visiting Bucks stun Spurs
  • Mavs struggle to beat T-wolves
  • Blazers top Celtics without Roy
  • Martin, Kings edge Clippers analysis

    • Rosen: LeBron or D-Wade?
    • Rosen: Is Toronto set for a surge?
    • Kriegel: Pau comes through for Lakers
    • Galinsky: NBA Power Rankings

Luol Deng and Drew Gooden were out with injuries and the Bulls won't take a step forward until they are both incorporated more into the offense.

Larry Hughes continues to complain about needing more minutes to be effective, but played a solid game with 7 rebounds and 5 assists to go with his 17 points in 31 minutes.

Phoenix 110, Oklahoma City 102

Despite the record, OKC has a few solid young players on the roster in Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook. Their own inexperience and totally unremarkable support are going to make this year a long one and there is little they can do about it.

Durant you know, Green is solid if unspectacular, but Westbrook shows signs of eye opening play with his quickness. He just has to reduce the turnovers as he goes forward.

Adding center Nenad Krystic will help, if New Jersey doesn't counter, but it's not going to turn things around.

Joe Smith will have interest with most contending teams and a few non-contending teams whether he is bought out or traded, to make room for Krystic. A buy out is expected to send him back to Cleveland, which will definitely up the ante for the Celtics to get past them this year.

With Steve Nash out with back spasms, 35-year-old Shaq became the point center, scoring 28 points himself, with 12 rebounds, 3 blocks and dishing off for two assists.

Minnesota 108, Memphis 98

Memphis ties Sacramento for second worst road team at 2-13, by losing to Minnesota in overtime for just its 6th win this year.

Lone Timberwolves star Al Jefferson exploded for 38 points and 16 rebounds, while the Grizzlies were led by O.J. Mayo's 23 points.

Minnesota scored a single field goal in the second quarter, and came back to win.

Make no mistake, Minnesota is not a good team. But I believe that a good coach could do much better with this squad. They absolutely need some height. But even as is, a more competitive team could be created, utilizing Mike Miller, Kevin Love, Kevin Ollie, Ryan Gomes, and Randy Foye around Al Jefferson better. I would give up the Foye at point guard experiment.

Adding interest was that O.J. Mayo was traded for Kevin Love and Mike Miller before the season started.

Memphis is young, talented and inexperienced. In a few years, their time will come.

Washington 89, Houston 87

A squeak is better than another loss, and Houston is a contender even. This Washington team is a few votes away from the D-league.

Another of the league's bottomless pits, Washington actually has a two-game winning streak now, as they stop the Rockets' seven-game streak. The old adage must true about, "on any given night." The Wizards were without Caron Butler, but managed to beat one of the league's top teams.

Antawn Jamison led both team with 30 points while Ron Artest came off the bench for 20 for Houston.

Many think Eddie Jordan was unfairly dumped as coach of Washington. It is true that 2/5ths of his starting five were out with injury, but there was little semblance of team play, defense, or effort from the remaining players.

But one bad turn deserved another by not having a solid replacement coach in the wings. It has been a league epidemic. This is what you get.

Houston continues to juggle its lineup over injuries, and continues to play winning basketball anyway. Remarkably, Yao Ming has missed only two games so far.

Utah 112, Philadelphia 95

Yet another league surprise "coach firing" continues to try to right their ship, but the Utah Jazz keep them losing. Tony Dileo, interim head coach of the 76ers after the firing of Maurice Cheeks loses his 5th straight game.

They are trying to recreate last season's success, now that Elton Brand is out long term with a separated shoulder. That means a return to fast break basketball (26 points), but it hasn't meant a return to winning yet. Andre Iguodala should benefit from the changes, as he and Thaddeus Young both garnered 17 points for the 76ers.

Utah's Deron Williams took up the scoring slack left by losing both Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap, by dropping 27 points. Mehmet Okur returned to add 19 points.

Even with all the injuries, the Jazz are just a game and a half in back of Denver in the Northwest Division.

Golden State 117, Toronto 111

While machinations go on behind closed doors in Golden State in a power struggle between Chris Mullin and Don Nelson, the Warriors win yet another game in a battle of teams going nowhere.

They do it while showcasing a player that is rumored to be desired by Bryan Colangelo of the Raptors.

Marco Belinelli contributed 23 points and 6 assists while making 5 3-pointers for the victorious Warriors. Andris Biedrins added 15 rebounds, 13 points, and 5 blocked shots to the Golden State win. Colangelo favors Euro players, and it has been intimated that Belinelli might fit in well with the Raptors.

Jermaine O'Neal left the game with flu-like symptoms, leaving Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon to try to eke out a win in their final road game. Bosh tied Warrior Stephen Jackson for game honors with 30 points, while Calderon had 21 points and 16 assists.

Toronto was another team expected to be in the playoff picture with the acquisition of Jermaine O'Neal. Their season still could go either way. A resurgent O'Neal would be important to any turnaround this season.

For more from this Bleacher Report writer, click here.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 30, 2008


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