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12.12 The Cooler

Extreme Makeover

By 12.12.09
Amar'e Stoudemire (photo. King Lawrence)

Amar'e Stoudemire (photo. King Lawrence)

Count us among those who loved Amar’e Stoudemire‘s scruffy-face-‘fro-and-goggles look, but if being lined up with a fresh cut means STAT will play the rest of the year like he did last night, we can live without the Moses Malone tribute. Amar’e was a beast, dropping 28 points and 10 boards on Orlando and helping hold Dwight Howard to just 10 points (8-17 FT) on ONE field goal attempt. Of course he got some easy buckets off the pick-and-roll, but his jumper was smooth as well, and his offensive rebound and dunk in the final seconds was vital in helping PHX stay undefeated at home … After a wild sequence late in the fourth that included Anthony Johnson getting clutch buckets, Steve Nash missing free throws, and some what-are-the-odds turnovers (e.g. Johnson dribbling the ball off Mickael Pietrus‘ foot), the Suns were up one when Stoudemire’s board and Hulk-Smash made it three with six seconds left, and Rashard Lewis missed a trey on Orlando’s last good opportunity. Dwight had been owning the glass (18 rebs), but on that particular play he was on the perimeter trying to block Jared Dudley‘s jumper, and you know the Magic can’t get a rebound if Dwight isn’t involved … The Suns initially looked like they would dominate, going on a 17-0 run in the first quarter sparked by Nash (20 pts, 18 asts), but give the Magic credit for coming back even though they couldn’t get anything from Dwight offensively, Vince Carter got hurt in the third quarter and never returned, and Johnson was logging the crunch-time minutes at PG … It’s still hard to say whether these Suns are a legit title contender, but apparently we’ll find out on Jan. 15 when they play the Hawks. Joe Johnson and Co. have been exposing fake contenders all season: ATL has swept the Blazers already, blown out Miami, shut down the Mavs last week, destroyed the Bulls earlier this week, and beat the crap out of the Raptors again on Friday. Whoever Toronto put on Johnson (20 pts) had no chance. Jarrett Jack, Antoine Wright, Andrea Bargnani — they all got worked over while Joe looked like somebody practicing Isomotion moves on NBA 2K10 just for the hell of it … You don’t have to be a LeBron hater to realize some of LBJ’s work — especially his blocked shots — get a little too much hype on the nightly highlight shows. ‘Bron will do something that makes the studio guys fall out of the chairs, but if Gerald Wallace did the exact same thing, you might not even see it. That said, there was no over-hyping the swat LeBron (33 pts, 7 rebs, 7 asts) had on Brandon Roy. Portland was down five with 30 seconds left when B-Roy got into the lane and put up a floater with a little too much “float” on it. Appearing from under the rim, LeBron got WAY above the rim — like, take-quarters-off-the-backboard style — and sent a gift to the cotton candy man. The game wasn’t technically over then, but the Blazers didn’t have much left … Other notable stat lines from Friday: Dirk Nowitzki dropped 25 points on Miami in a win; Joakim Noah posted 18 points, 14 boards and three blocks as the Bulls knocked off Golden State; Manu Ginobili scored 22 to beat the Bobcats; Al Harrington dropped 28 in the Knicks’ win at New Orleans; Roy Hibbert had 20 points, nine boards and three blocks as the Pacers beat the Nets; Kevin Durant scored 32 in OKC’s win over Memphis, while Zach Randolph went for 19 points and 20 boards in the loss; and Pau Gasol had 17 points, 20 rebounds and seven assists in L.A.’s blowout of Minnesota, in which Kobe basically played with his left hand after fracturing another finger on his right hand, and Corey Brewer took Derek Fisher‘s heart and ate his children on a dunk that would’ve made Vince proud … Dime’s in-house Sixers fanatic predicted a “mini-breakout” for Allen Iverson against the Rockets, although the rest of us were mostly worried for A.I.’s ankles as he lined up across from Aaron Brooks. Iverson did score a season-high 20 points (7-18 FG) and dimed Andre Iguodala with a couple of sick passes — including one full-court sidearm rope that hit A.I.2 in stride for a dunk — but Brooks (19 pts) nailed the dagger in Iverson’s mug as the Sixers lost their 12th straight … Remember that exchange the other night between Philly announcer Ed Pinckney and his broadcast partner over the term “Euro Step”? Pinckney used it again when Iguodala broke out a Euro Step on his way to a layup, and the play-by-play guy said, “OK, you’ve gotta explain that.” So all Pinckney did during the replay was say, “Well, here it is: He Euro Stepped on him.” Great analysis, Ed … We’re out like Kobe’s right hand …


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