Monday Morning Point Guard
How good is Christmas? Not only did I have two delicious meals that made my belt buckle burst, I was treated to a healthy helping of NBA games fresh out of the oven.
The NBA served up five marquee match-ups for Xmas to start the lockout-shortened season. The distractions of friends, family, and food deterred me from staying glued to the television all day, but I was able to watch each game in some capacity. Here are my some of my first impressions.
Boston Celtics at New York Knicks, Knicks win 106-104
Madison Square Garden was rocking as these two Atlantic division rivals squared off to kick-off this NBA season. The Knicks led big early, but the Celtics clawed back into the game behind a 31 point performance by Rajon Rondo. Carmelo out dueled his counterpart, however, dropping a cool 37 points, 17 coming in the 4th quarter alone. He nailed various tough shots down the stretch, living up to his reputation as a clutch closer. Tyson Chandler did not have a standout performance, but he is a crucial acquisition for New York, bolstering a very strong Knicks frontcourt. Chandler allows Amare to play power forward instead of center, a role the suits Stoudemire much better. If a healthy Baron Davis (another free agent pick-up) can inject himself into the Knicks rotation, their starting lineup will be very formidable.
Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks, Heat win 105-94
The Heat absolutely crushed the Mavs, exacting some serious revenge from their finals loss from a year ago. Lebron effortlessly scored 37 points while snatching 10 rebounds, and dishing out 6 assists. He also had a pretty ridiculous put-back slam with one hand. The 11-point victory did not represent how lopsided this contest actually was. The Heat were up by as much as 35 points, running the current champs out of their own building.
Did losing the aforementioned Tyson Chandler affect the champs that much? Was J.J. Barea, who left via free agency, that crucial of a piece to the Mavericks puzzle? Time will tell, but this was not a good way to start the year. Lamar Odom, the Mavs main pickup in the off-season, was ejected. The home fans, who witnessed an absolute schlaking, were dejected.
Chicago Bulls at Los Angeles Lakers, Bulls win 88-87
It absolutely blew my mind that Devin Ebanks and Josh McRoberts were in the starting lineup for the Lake show. Despite Andrew Bynum missing the game due to his suspension from brutally elbowing J.J. Barea to the floor to end last season, the Lakers held their own. Kobe was Kobe, hitting tough shots and leading his team down the stretch. The Lakers were up ten with three minutes left. But a late Bulls surge coupled with an ill-fated Lakers turnover opened the door for the Chicago, and Derrick Rose took full advantage. Last year’s MVP sliced to the lane and nailed a gorgeous running tear drop over the outstretched arms of Pau Gasol to go up by one. Kobe’s buzzer beating attempt was blocked and the Lakers fell at home. It was a great game between two storied franchises to start off the season.
Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City, Thunder win 97-89.
The Thunder led early, led in the middle, and led late. Powered by Kevin Durant’s 30 points, the Thunder won this ball game with ease, holding the Magic’s Dwight Howard to only 11 points. Watch out for the Thunder this season. They have all the ingredients for a championship run. The Magic, on the other hand, look to be headed in the other direction. They will probably still be a playoff team in the East, but their championship window is closing fast. With Dwight Howard already hinting he wants out, it could be a long and awkward season for the Magic.
Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors. Clippers win 105-86.
This was a display of two exciting up and coming teams in the Western Conference. The Warriors have a new coach in ex-point guard Mark Jackson. The Clippers have two new current point guards, acquiring Chauncey Billups and Chris Paul. That’s a pretty good off-season haul, adding two veterans into the mix with Blake Griffin, one of the league’s most explosive young talents. Chauncey shined in his debut, scoring 19 points dishing out 4 assists and grabbing 5 rebounds. The Clippers might be the most intriguing team in the NBA this season, and will have the whole city of Denver pulling for the King of Park Hill. Why was he involved in the Melo trade again?
Remember, first impressions can sometimes be very deceiving. There are plenty of games to be played and plenty of impressions to be made. This is merely the first piece of the pie that is the NBA season. But the first bites were delicious, and will keep me coming back for seconds.
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