By Teri Berg

December 10, 2007: SCOREBOARD | IN FOCUS GALLERY | AROUND THE ASSOCIATION ARCHIVE

PHOTO OF THE NIGHT
Dallas center Eric Dampier sells the pump fake to two buyers from New York during the Mavericks' 99-89 win Monday night over the Knicks.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"This win is real big -- just for us to get to .500. I have been on this team since day one, when we won 13 games (in 2004-05).''

-- Hawks F Josh Smith on what he hopes is Atlanta's turnaround.
THE DAY'S TOP VIDEO
NBA.COM'S FANTASY TAKE
Uneasy lives the fantasy player who owns Zach Randolph. He's a double threat -- but he's also a Knick. After a scorching start to the season, during which Randolph reeled off seven straight double-doubles, his rebounding fell off. Then he struggled from the field. In two games last week Randolph totaled just six points and seven boards. But take heart! The Knicks PF returned to form Monday against the Mavs, recording 25 points and 11 rebounds. Fantasy Index.
SHOOTING STUDS
Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks
99-89 win at Knicks
36 pts, 14-23 FG, 3-5 3-pt FG

Dwyane Wade, Heat
117-113 win at Suns
31 pts, 13-21 FG, 5-5 FT

Shawn Marion, Suns
117-113 loss vs. Heat
19 pts, 8-11 FG, 3-6 3-pt FG

STAT SHEET STUFFER
Josh Smith must believe his press clippings. Before tip-off Monday, NBA.com's "Value Meter" lifted the Hawks small forward to the No. 1 No. 3. At game-time, Smith didn't disappoint. In Atlanta's 98-87 sideswipe of the Magic, the 22-year-old stole the show, scoring a game-high 25 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, his season high. Smith also notched five assists, four steals and, for good measure, four big blocked shots -- .30 more than he's known for.
SHOOTING DUDS
Leandro Barbosa, Suns
123-113 loss vs. Heat
11 pts, 4-17 FG, 2-10 3-pt FG

Dwight Howard, Magic
98-87 loss vs. Hawks
14 pts, 4-7 FG, 6-14 FT

Jamal Crawford, Knicks
99-89 loss vs. Mavericks
19 pts, 6-22 FG, 2-7 3-pt FG

IS ORLANDO LOSING ITS MAGIC?
In losing to the Hawks, the Magic have dropped consecutive games for the first time this season. Atlanta may think it has the magic touch against its division rival -- and why not? The Hawks have bested Orlando in four of their last five meetings, and they've contained Dwight Howard, who's averaged just 14 points for the series -- nine fewer than his season numbers. Turns out, though, that the origins of the Magic's kryptonite isn't Atlanta. In these two losses the Magic have coughed up 43 turnovers. The team's defense has also turned over. Orlando allowed 109.8 points in four of its last five games after yielding 89.8 in winning the previous four. The Magic travel next to Milwaukee. Will their lackluster defensive efforts continue, or will they stop the Bucks there?
HOW HOT CAN THE HEAT GET?
Dwyane Wade reeled off seven straight buckets to start the Heat's 117-113 win over the Suns. And 10 of his 31 points came in the final four minutes as Miami tried to fend off a Suns burst. Then Wade made a crucial steal that sealed the win. Whew! What a night for Miami's main man. But Wade wasn't the only story of this game. Only seven players entered the game for the Heat tonight, and six scored in double figures. And three Heat copped double-figure rebounds -- Shaq, Udonis Haslem and Dorell Wright -- as Miami ruled the boards, 46-29. And talk about pitching in: the Heat's nine blocked shots came from five different stuffers. If the Heat rise in the East, it'll be because more than one superstar or another is hot.
CLUTCH PERFORMANCE OF THE NIGHT
John Salmons started for the third time Monday night, replacing the Kings' leading scorer, Kevin Martin, who's out for four to six weeks with a strained groin. King Salmons was key at both ends in Sacramento's 93-90 win. He finished with 22 points, scoring seven of them in the fourth quarter, and chipped in five assists and two steals. On defense, the six-year veteran put the brakes on Bucks sharpshooter Michael Redd enough for the Kings to eke out the W. Redd scored 24 points, but missed a clutch 3-pointer at the close. Sac head coach Reggie Theus praised his man's grit, saying, "Salmons' defense was about as tough as it can get -- you can't guard anybody any tougher than that without fouling."
SIXTH MAN OF THE NIGHT
Fear The Beard! Brian Skinner got more court time tonight -- 20.21 minutes -- than he's seen since Nov. 2, when the Suns lost to the Lakers. In that game the nine-year veteran went 1-for-5 from the floor and finished with three points. But Skinner didn't squander Monday night's minutes, even though the Suns ended up losing. Averaging just four points on the season, Skinner unleashed for 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting. The 30-year-old journeyman out of Baylor also grabbed five rebounds, one better than his usual mark, and provided a spark off the bench for Phoenix. Up to this point Skinner has averaged 12 minutes per game. But having a hot hand could help him crack open the Suns' door for more.
ROOKIE WATCH
Thaddeus Young gave Yao Ming a shock Monday, stripping the ball from Houston's big man and lasering the outlet pass for what turned into a quick Kyle Korver trey. The rookie was one of the jolts the Sixers zapped the Rockets with in their 100-88 upset. Philadelphia jumped out to a 14-point lead by the half, limited Yao to three buckets on 11 shots and outhustled the Rockets through every quarter. (It didn't help Houston that Tracy McGrady left in the third with a sprained ankle.) Playing with a lead -- rare for Philly this season -- meant the rookie out of Georgia Tech logged nearly 14 minutes. Young scored four points and provided a defensive spark for the Sixers, who earned their first three-game winning streak of the season.