During the ’09 conference finals, Shaq showed up at one of Orlando’s home games against the Cavs, to the chagrin of a lot of people associated with the Magic. Last night Shaq was back in the building; this time wearing a Cavs uniform. Throw in the tension leftover from when Diesel was talking greasy about Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy last year, and you know the fans had a lot of venom toward Big Witness Protection. He played into it, too, doing stuff like leaving his hand in the air extra-long after a free throw. And the crowd was even more pissed when Cleveland walked out with a win … The head-to-head between Dwight and Shaq didn’t really materialize, as Shaq (10 pts, 4 rebs) got Dwight (11 pts, 7 rebs) in foul trouble early into the first quarter, setting the tone for the night. Shaq only played 19 minutes himself, but when he was on the court, he showed why Cleveland picked him up. Since he’s able to guard Dwight one-on-one, the rest of the defense can better guard Orlando’s shooters. Rashard Lewis and Ryan Anderson were out for this one, and the healthy gunners shot 4-of-18 beyond the arc … You see how much better the Cavs are when other guys are scoring and it’s not all about LeBron? In the first half, Mo Williams got on a roll and hit some shots, drawing enough attention to set up LeBron (36 pts, 8 rebs) for easier looks. One time Mo (28 pts, 6 asts) got Dwight to turn his back on a cutting LeBron, leading to a double clutch two-hander … The other Eastern Conference favorite, the Celtics, had little trouble silencing the Jazz. Two quotes and two plays summed it up: (1) Third quarter, Kevin Garnett made eye contact with Rajon Rondo and cut to the rim, where Rondo placed a lob just in the right spot where KG could dunk over Paul Millsap and Kyrylo Fesenko. (2) Jerry Sloan at his sarcastic best: “It wasn’t a lot fun to watch. I wouldn’t mind if they rebounded. There aren’t any rules against rebounding.” (3) Less than four seconds on the clock at the end of the third, Rondo took the inbounds and hit sixth gear to get himself a layup before the buzzer while the Jazz defense was stuck in the mud. (4) Deron Williams, who played through a sore back and bruised calf: “Right now, we’re soft. There’s no way around it. We have to toughen up.” … Months from now, when the Western Conference playoff race is approaching the home stretch, the Mavs are gonna look back on Wednesday’s loss in San Antonio and kick themselves. A team like the Raptors dropping one to the Spurs when Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are out is one thing, but if the Mavs are supposed to be seriously contending, that’s a game they’re supposed to win. Richard Jefferson led the way with 29 points, while Dirk Nowitzki had 29 and 12 boards in the loss … Right before halftime, Manu Ginobili (13 pts, 5-13 FG) was working against Jason Kidd at midcourt. Manu tried to go behind the back right, and got cut off; spin move left, cut off; behind the back right again, cut off again. Kidd was on him like butter on toast until he took a half-step backwards, enough space for Manu to drop a deep three at the buzzer. Kidd did just about everything right, but it goes to show you can’t really stop a professional scorer like that … Classic Zach Randolph moment of the night: Already getting the business from Luis Scola (22 pts, 15 rebs), Z-Bo had Scola posted up when Scola pulled the chair on him. Both guys stumbled and Scola fell down, so after Zach’s off-balance crap shot somehow went in, he took the ball and dropped it on Scola’s chest. Technical. Next time down, Scola gets the ball and scores on Z-Bo easily, so of course Zach starts yelling at his teammates for not helping him out. The Rockets won easily, BTW … Other big stat lines from Wednesday: Chris Bosh put up 28 points and 11 rebounds in a win over the Bulls; Kevin Durant had 30 and 10 in a win over the Clippers; Danny Granger gave the Warriors 31 points and 16 boards in a win; Greg Oden posted 18 points and 11 boards in a win at Minnesota; Amar’e scored 21 to lead Phoenix past the Hornets; Al Horford went for 25 and nine to beat the Knicks; Brook Lopez had 23 points and 13 boards in a loss to the Sixers; and Charlie Villanueva scored 30 in Detroit’s blowout of the Bobcats. Ben Wallace played 30 minutes in that game and didn’t take a single shot, which is strange because that’s the same recurring nightmare Ben Gordon often has … Brandon Jennings dropped 32 points (11-19 FG) and nine assists in an upset win over the Nuggets, looking like he borrowed some of Chauncey Billups‘ Clutch in the process. Jennings hit back-to-back threes in the fourth quarter after Denver had cut the lead to one, then sealed it with free throws at the end … We’ve said before that Ersan Ilyasova might be the most awkward, weird-looking dude in the NBA. Yesterday one of Denver’s announcers said, “[Ilyasova] looks like Hannibal Lecter, but he’s playing like Larry Bird tonight.” … We’re out like Shaq getting #32 retired in Orlando …
Smack / Nov 12, 2009 / 3:46 am
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