Back in the Mix

By: 11.19.09  •  67 Comments

Antawn Jamison

You know what you’re going to get when the Cavs and Wizards play on national TV: Plenty of talk about LeBron‘s “rivalry” with DeShawn Stevenson, LeBron’s rivalry with the Wizards, Mike Miller wearing LeBron’s shoes, maybe Washington’s injury problems … And then there was the story line for last night’s game that nobody wanted to talk about: The gossip-page reports saying Shaq got caught messing around with Gilbert Arenas‘ girl. Anyone think there’s a slight chance that’s really why Shaq sat out? Say what you want about being a professional and focusing on the game, but that’s grounds for any grown man to get punched in the face at any random moment. … Speaking of, the crowd was booing LeBron (34 pts, 9 asts) whenever he got the ball, while the Wizards were crowding him with multiple defenders. It wasn’t working early on, as ‘Bron found open teammates and racked up assists. Toward the end of the first quarter the crowd really laid into LeBron as he brought the ball up slow, then spun off Andray Blatche and threw down a monster dunk to silence the building … But playing with a fully healthy roster for the first time since like 1984, the Wizards found a rhythm in the second half and actually played a little defense, pulling off a convincing win to snap their six-game losing streak and prove they can hang with the Eastern Conference’s elite. Antawn Jamison was jacking like usual in his season debut, dropping 31 points, while Caron Butler added 19 and Gilbert scored 18 (6-22 FG) with eight assists … Does anybody not love watching Earl Boykins play? One time Boykins used a pass-fake to lose his defender like Magic did to Sprewell in his comeback game, then later he floated a shot about one half-millimeter over LeBron’s outstretched hand when ‘Bron got as high as possible trying for the block … The announcers were talking about how the D.C. fans booing LeBron inspires him to torch their team even more. “They should throw rose petals at LeBron’s feet,” Mark Jones joked. Actually, that 15-minute segment they did on SportsCenter yesterday about LBJ potentially playing in the NFL should suffice. Even King Jaffee Joffer thought that was over the top … The Hawks look more like a legit East contender every day. Playing in front of their first sellout crowd of the season, ATL’s swagger was on 100,000 from jump as they knocked off the Heat. A few minutes in, Jamal Crawford took a three in front of the Hawks bench and spun around to nod at his teammates even before the ball went in … Your nightly Josh Smith highlight reel: (1) Catching and finishing an underhand flip ‘oop from Mike Bibby while still rising, (2) Eating up a Mike Beasley layup and going coast-to-coast for a layup, and (3) Trailing a fast break and taking an over-the-shoulder pass from Joe Johnson that he finished with another dunk … Spurs/Mavs ended like every big-time game should, with the franchise players taking turns making franchise plays. With 30 seconds left in the fourth, Tim Duncan (22 pts, 14 rebs, 6 asts, 4 blks) hit two free throws to tie it up, followed by Dirk Nowitzki (41 pts, 12 rebs) tipping in a Jason Terry miss on the next possession to put Dallas back up — one of the most athletic plays you’ll ever see Dirk make. Duncan responded with a bucket in the post, and on Dallas’ last chance in regulation, swatted Terry’s jumper when it appeared Jet had a clean look … In overtime it was all Dirk: He got the go-ahead score on a layup plus-one, hit a three that almost broke San Antonio’s will, then iced it with free throws. Playoff atmosphere for this one … Other big stat lines from Wednesday: Rajon Rondo had 18 points and 12 assists in a blowout of the Warriors; Elton Brand posted 19 points, 11 boards, six blocks and three steals to beat the Bobcats; Rashard Lewis had 17 points, 10 boards and nine assists in a win over OKC; Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay scored 21 apiece as Memphis beat the Clippers; Andrew Bogut had 21 points and 11 rebounds to keep the Nets winless; Larry Hughes had 22 points, 10 boards, seven dimes and three steals in New York’s win over Indiana; Carlos Boozer put up 22 points and 18 boards in a win over the Raptors; and Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 20 apiece to lead Portland past the Pistons … Somebody had said that T-Mac was going to play last night when the Rockets visited the Wolves. Then somebody said he wasn’t. Then somebody reportedly saw McGrady in the locker room in full uniform minutes before tip-off. Turns out McGrady didn’t play, but it’s not like the Rockets needed him … Some mistakes are forgivable, and then there’s this: After Corey Brewer got a dunk off a Houston turnover, the Minnesota broadcast waited until a stoppage in play to show the replay. Standard fare, only this time they made us miss Chuck Hayes shooting a free throw. We don’t care if Brewer did a backflip and cooked Prince some pancakes in mid-air, you don’t rob people of the chance to see Chuck Hayes shoot free throws … We’re out like McGrady. Still …

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