Don’t Stop Believing

02.06.10 9 years ago 41 Comments

Less than a minute to go in Orlando, the Wizards were up one with the ball. And as one of the Magic announcers put it, “Their body language is such that they don’t believe they’re really here.” In other words, the Wizards were acting like they knew they were going to somehow blow the game. As if on cue, they committed a turnover, and a couple possessions later, Rashard Lewis stuck a corner three to put Orlando up one with four seconds left. Given all that’s happened to the Wizards this year, you’d think they might as well just go home at that point, but this time they had one reason to stay optimistic: Caron Butler After scoring two points in the first half while the Wizards were getting 20-pieced, Tough Juice went berserker in the second, dropping 29 of his 31 points (11-22 FG) on a combo of Matt Barnes and Vince Carter. Caron dominated the fourth quarter, including one play where he faked a shot over Vince, lost him on a give-and-go and skied for a dunk where all Dwight Howard (20 pts, 18 rebs, 3 blks) could do was step out of the way. After Rashard’s go-ahead shot, Caron got the rock along the baseline and hit Barnes with a step-back move before draining the game-winning jumper in his grill … When he wasn’t picking pieces of his face up off the floor, Vince (21 pts, 5-17 FG, 10-10 FT) kinda broke out of his recent slump. But even the Orlando announcers were getting on his case for taking too many “degree of difficulty” jumpers and not attacking the rim … Speaking of guys getting their faces shot off, Chauncey Billups was like El Mariachi against the Lakers. Whether it was Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar or Kobe, Chauncey (39 pts, 9-13 3PA, 8 asts) was handing out buckets like nightclub fliers. Playing on a hurt ankle, his 21 points in the third quarter alone was the most given up by the Lakers in one quarter since Wilt Chamberlain scored 23 on ’em back in the day … Kobe finished with 33 points, but as his critics will gladly point out for you, he had zero assists. Not to mention Kobe’s major damage was done in the first quarter, when he dropped 20. After that, the Nuggets sent multiple defenders and were more aggressive with him, to the point where late in the third Phil Jackson had to sit Kobe because he was getting too frustrated with the refs and was about to get himself T’d up … There really aren’t too many “upsets” in the NBA — all of these guys are pros, and the talent differential is typically close even from the best team to the worst — but the Wolves beating the Mavs in Dallas has to register as one of the bigger upsets of this season. Midway through the fourth quarter Minnesota was up 10, before Jason Kidd (17 pts, 7 asts, 4 stls) and Dirk (21 pts) went on a free throw barrage that put the Mavs ahead. It was tied with two minutes left, but then the Wolves closed it out with a 10-1 run led by Jonny Flynn (19 pts, 7 asts) … On Wayne Ellington‘s dagger three right in front of Dallas’ bench, Drew Gooden hopped out of his chair and yelled just as Ellington was shooting. Not sure if Ellington’s smile after the shot was because the Wolves were about to win, or if he was laughing at Gooden’s bush-league move … Other stat lines from Friday: Josh Smith posted an 18-point, 14-rebound, 10-assist triple-double as Atlanta beat Chicago; Amar’e put up 30 points and nine boards to beat Sacramento; Aaron Brooks had 19 points in Houston’s win at Memphis; Sam Dalmebert‘s 16 boards and three blocks helped Philly knock off New Orleans and their disgusting Mardi Gras uniforms (purple on the front, green on the back); Ray Allen scored 26 in a win over the Nets; Brandon Jennings had 22 points and eight dimes to beat the Knicks; and Danny Granger scored 25 as the Pacers smashed the Pistons … After a solid month in the DNP doghouse, T.J. Ford was dusted off for that Indy/Detroit game since Earl Watson had a death in the family. Ford played like a dude desperate to get back in the rotation, putting up 11 points, five dimes and two steals off the bench. And he actually hit a three. Ford had been 1-for-28 beyond the arc going into the game. Sticking a triple for him was about as likely as Avery Johnson correctly pronouncing Pau Gasol‘s name … Funniest moment of the night: Gen. Larry Platt — a.k.a. the “Pants on the Ground” guy — performed during the Hawks game … We’re out like N.O.’s unis …

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