For the second night in a row, Cavs/Hawks played out with postseason-type intensity, ratcheted up a notch because it came 24 hours after their last physical down-to-the-wire contest, and with an extra spotlight due to it being LeBron‘s birthday … The Hawks led by as much as 17 in the third quarter, but midway through the fourth, Cleveland cut it to three on Anthony Parker‘s Wade-esque spinning no-look layup where the replay showed he tapped the ball in from waist-level rather than release an actual shot. “Wow, no foul!” cried Cavs announcer Austin Carr, forgetting that LeBron pretty much manhandled Josh Smith while going for the loose ball that set up AP’s shot. LeBron (48 pts, 15-23 FG, 14-16 FT, 10 rebs) would give the Cavs the lead on a layup with 4:30 remaining, and the teams traded buckets until the controversial sequence that Atlanta fans will someday talk about with the same bitterness with which they talk about the Braves/Marlins Livan Hernandez/Eric Gregg game in ’97 … Two minutes to go, ATL up one, Mo Williams misses a wild shot with 19 seconds left on the shot clock. Hawks ball, but nobody realizes that the shot clock never reset on the change of possession. So with the shot clock all of a sudden about to expire sooner than expected, Mike Bibby and Smith run a hurried pick-and-roll, resulting in a turnover. Anderson Varejao‘s putback on the other end gave Cleveland the lead, after which Mike Woodson called timeout and seemed like he might actually punch one of the refs in the face. (“You could fry an egg on Woodson’s forehead right now!” said the Cavs’ play-by-play guy.) But the refs weren’t going to take Cleveland’s points off the board and have a do-over, so the Hawks just had to eat it … LeBron then split a pair of free throws and goal-tended on a Joe Johnson (35 pts) layup, tying the game with 40 seconds left. Cavs ball, and the offense begins to disintegrate before Varejao winds up with the rock and has to throw up a three-pointer. It goes in — the first of Sideshow Bob’s career — and the Cavs lead with 17 seconds left. Bibby misses a three, and even as Jamario Moon was hitting the free throws to ice it, Woodson was still glaring at the scorer’s table … While D-Wade was oddly passive (by superstar standards) down the stretch of Heat/Hornets — he really didn’t seem to trust his jumper by that point — Chris Paul was a beast in crunch time. CP (18 pts, 9 asts, 4 stls) banked in a deep triple with the shot clock running out that could’ve been the dagger with five minutes left, but when Miami kept coming back, CP kept hitting shots or setting up David West (21 pts, 10 rebs) for buckets to keep the Hornets ahead until the end … On a key possession late, Wade (22 pts, 7-13 FG) gave it up to Udonis Haslem, who went up and got swatted by Emeka Okafor. On their way back the other way, D-West got a little too pumped and smacked Okafor on the back of the head hard enough that it would’ve knocked Drew Brees out … One time CP and Haslem went for a loose ball, and some incidental contact led to CP going airborne. Although it happened right in front of a ref, it wasn’t until after Paul hit the ground hard and rolled about five full rotations that they blew the whistle on Haslem. So if the landing hadn’t been that bad, would it have not been a foul? … Forget being able to outshoot the Suns minus Paul Pierce; the Celtics’ biggest problem was not being able to stop anybody minus Kevin Garnett. Right off the bat Amar’e was beasting inside, scoring 18 in the first quarter and finishing with 26 points. And for good measure, Channing Frye rained murder outside, dropping 26 points on six threes … Put it this way: If Eddie House is Boston’s leading scorer, they’re probably not getting out of there with a W. That’s three straight losses now for the Celts. Time to panic, or no problem seeing as they’ve had guys injured? … Other big stat lines from Wednesday: Brook Lopez posted 21 points, 14 boards and four blocks as the Nets beat the Knicks; Deron Williams put up 21 points and 12 dimes to beat the Wolves; Chris Bosh hung 33 and 13 boards on the Bobcats; (Hold up a sec: Does that say the Nets won a game? Believe it.) Rudy Gay scored 31 to lead Memphis past Indiana; Brandon Roy put up 25 points to lead the Blazers past the Clippers; Allen Iverson stamped 20 and three steals on the Kings; and Vince Carter scored 25 to get the Magic past Milwaukee … Flashback from Orlando: Fourth quarter, White Chocolate brought the ball up on Luke Ridnour, cross him left, went back right, then went back left again as Ridnour’s knees dislocated somewhere in the process and J-Will drained a three on him. Right before the turn of the decade, it was nice to re-live a memory from the beginning of the decade … We’re out like Varejao’s shooting stroke …
Smack / Dec 31, 2009 / 7:22 am
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