By Dave McMenamin
SCOREBOARD: Jan. 29, 2006 | AROUND THE ASSOCIATION ARCHIVE
PLAY OF THE DAY
LeBron starts the break with a swat and ends it with a stuff:
Video: NBA TV Top 10

Bron Bron burned the Suns for 44 points and a win in Cleveland.
David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty Images
NBA Photo Exhibit: Jan. 29, 2006

SHOOTING STUDS
LeBron James, Cavaliers
113-106 win vs. Suns
44 pts, 17-33 FG

Mike Bibby, Kings
124-123 loss at Raptors
42 pts, 15-32 FG, 6-6 FT

Samuel Dalembert, Sixers
89-81 win at Magic
15 pts, 6-8 FG

SHOOTING DUDS
Raef LaFrentz, Celtics
83-79 loss at Bucks
2-8 FG, 0-5 3-pt FG, 6 pts

Chauncey Billups, Pistons
102-93 win vs. Lakers
2-10 FG, 1-5 3-pt FG, 10 pts

Kyle Korver, Sixers
89-81 win at Magic
1-8 FG, 1-4 3-pt FG, 7 pts

STAT SHEET STUFFER
It's been a pretty good three-game stretch for Orlando's Steve Francis. Stevie Franchise set up a career-high 15 assists on Thursday, scored a season-high 36 points on Friday and notched his seventh career triple-double in Sunday's 89-81 home loss to the Sixers. Francis, whose play has vastly improved since being suspended for conduct detrimental to the team on Jan. 12, finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on the evening.

RICK KAMLA'S FANTASY TAKE
"Wally's arrival in Boston has not been good news for Delonte West, who has 16 points on 6-of-21 shooting in the games with his new teammate. However, I do not see this slump lasting for Delonte, so hang in there with him."

SIXTH MAN OF THE NIGHT
Charlie Bell scored a career-high 12 points, playing a career-high 29 minutes in Milwaukee's
83-79 home win over Boston. The 6-foot, 3-inch guard out of Michigan State, who was out of the league since the 2001-02 season until the Bucks picked him up this year, also had three assists and two steals.


GAME OF THE NIGHT
The Kings trailed the Raptors by 11 points with 5:30 to go in the fourth quarter before Ron Artest really started to assert himself. Artest was Sacramento's go-to guy down the stretch as the Kings climbed all the way back into the game, taking a one-point lead on two Artest free throws with 47 seconds left. He wasn't finished. Artest found the bucket after a nifty hesitation dribble followed by a driving lefty layup on Toronto's D-League call-up Pape Sow (proving that the "D" in D-League stands for development and not defense) to tie the game at 112 with three seconds left. Mike James missed a jumper and the game went to overtime where the Kings had control thanks to the strong play of Mike Bibby (42 points) who hit a jumpshot with 11 seconds left to put Sacramento up one. James got the ball in crunch time again and this time assisted Jalen Rose, who hit a 15-footer with 0.4 seconds left, to secure the 124-123 home victory for the Raptors.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"I thought we just went through the motions tonight. It was disgusting to watch."

-- Orlando head coach Brian Hill on his team's play against the Allen Iverson-less 76ers. The Magic could not capitalize in their 89-81 home loss to Philly.

STORYLINES OF THE NIGHT
1. Rough Time for Rockets
Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming and the Rockets may look back on this season much like Marlon Brando did in the 1954 classic On the Waterfront and reflect with a twinge of regret, "I coulda been a contender." Houston, a team that pundits had penciled in as a potential Western Conference Finals team at the beginning of the season, dropped to 15-28 and a dreadful 4-15 at the Toyota Center after Sunday's 101-95 home loss to the Heat. Yao is out six weeks with a foot injury while McGrady is battling a bad back and it's showing (13-of-37 from the field vs. Miami). "This isn't new," said Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy. "It's the same old, same old." The Rockets currently sit a half-game behind Portland, good enough for sole possession of last place in the West.

2. Could Have Been 64
Much has been made about Kobe Bryant scoring 81 points on this page and around the NBA, and rightfully so. The number, although fresh in our minds, seems unattainable already. But if LeBron James could have put together back-to-back halves like the second half he had on Sunday, we might be talking about King James' 64 and Kobe's outburst would seem slightly more reachable. James scored a prolific 32 points in the second half and 44 for the game as the Cavs outgunned the Suns 113-106 at home. "In the first half, we couldn't miss," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Then we couldn't hold LeBron. He just went off." At least LeBron can claim bragging rights over Kobe for one night, Bryant only scored 39 in the Lakers' 102-93 loss at Detroit.

3. Four 40s for Bibby
Mike Bibby played the first seven and a half seasons of his career in the NBA without scoring 40 points in a game. He broke that streak on Jan. 15 with 42 in a win against the Magic, and since then the Kings' point guard and captain has reached the 40-point plateau three other times. Bibby hit 40 in a win against the Lakers Jan. 19, add a career-high 44 in a loss to the Sixers on Jan. 24 and 42 on Sunday in Sacramento's 124-123 OT loss in Toronto. That's four 40-point games in his last nine games played after playing the first 546 games of his career without eclipsing 38 points. "I would rather get a win than anything," said Bibby after Sacramento fell to 2-2 in his 40-plus specialties.

ROOKIE WATCH
Maybe we should start calling Toronto rookie Charlie Villanueva, "Chuck," because he is certainly not shy about shooting it. Villanueva connected on 8-of-15 shots in the Raptors' 124-123 OT win over the Kings. The 6-foot, 11-inch forward even went 2-for-3 on 3-pointers in scoring 18 points to accompany his seven rebounds.

COOL/CLUTCH PERFORMANCE
One of the leading candidates for Most Improved Player this year, Mike James showed the resiliency needed to hold said title. James missed a potential game-winner at the end of regulation. Instead of getting discouraged, he hit three baskets in OT, and set up the clinching bucket when he penetrated and dished to Jalen Rose who stuck a corner J to a give the Raptors a 124-123 home victory over the Kings.

D-LEAGUE STAR OF THE NIGHT
Albuquerque's Tierre Brown knows what it takes to play in the NBA. Brown had stints as a Rocket, Warrior, and Laker between the years 2001-2005. If he keeps having games like he had on Sunday, he'll be back there soon enough. The Thunderbird guard garnered a triple-double with 17 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds , leading his team to a 93-85 home win over Fort Worth.