By Ben Hubner

December 19, 2007: SCOREBOARD | IN FOCUS GALLERY | AROUND THE ASSOCIATION ARCHIVE

PHOTO OF THE NIGHT
LeBron James spots his homeslice courtside and promises to call his next playoff run 'The Takeover.' Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"The lads decided at halftime that they didn't want to lose this game tonight. There was determination with the guys that were out there. It was just terrific."
Don Nelson, on his team's resolve, referring to NBA players as "lads" for what has to be the first time ever.
NBA.COM'S FANTASY TAKE
Wednesday's take will blow your mind even more than usual because, this time, it comes courtesy of Rick Kamla. He urges apprehensive Ray Allen owners to chill out. (...I'm paraphrasing...) Though Allen did miss two games, it was just so his ankle would be rested for the Celtics' big stretch ahead. Two things to ease your mind. 1. Rick owns Allen in two of his own fantasy leagues, which should be good enough for all of you. 2. Rick would like to note the following: Allen's ankle is clearly fine did you not witness his dunk on the baseline? Check out Fantasy Index for more.
SHOOTING STUDS
Dwyane Wade, Heat
117-111 loss at Hawks
36 pts, 8-17 FG, 20-22 FT

Morris Peterson, Hornets
107-93 win at Sonics
25 pts, 9-14 FG, 7-10 3-pt FG

Ron Artest, Kings
102-89 win at Bucks
26 pts, 8-12 FG, 8-8 FT

STAT SHEET STUFFER
When Gil's around, the Wizards use Caron Butler like his surname means something. Constrained by his role which, considering his ability, is a surprisingly limited one he only shines on occasion. But ever since Arenas has gone down, Butler has rediscovered his raison d'etre. He's carrying the Wizards, and even though they lost for the first time in five games, he got his second triple-double of the season: 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
SHOOTING DUDS
Nick Young, Wizards
95-84 loss vs Bulls
3 pts, 1-10 FG

Tayshaun Prince, Pistons
87-85 win at Celtics
2 pts, 1-10 FG

Andre Iguodala, Sixers
102-85 loss at Pacers
16 pts, 3-12 FG

BILLUPS BREAKS BOSTON'S BACK
Celtics GM Danny Ainge is responsible for the grand assembly that is this year's Boston team, but it's worth noting that his creation has become distinguished by its defense and driven by its chemistry. Joe Dumars probably just smiles at the thought of this because, after all, it is the sincerest form of flattery. The Celtics and Pistons entered Wednesday's game first and second, respectively, in defense, so that's square, but if mastering chemistry is the difference, Dumars is still the Anders Celsius to Ainge's Henry Cavendish (a lesser chemist, feel me?)!

And this is why: With 18.9 seconds left, the Celtics tied the game when a prayer went in though, maybe not a prayer, per se, considering Jesus (Shuttlesworth) himself put it up. Either way Ray should have taken the next shot, the one that would have won the game. Instead, Paul Pierce demanded the ball, on a night when he was 5-for-16. Ray was 9-for-13. Tony Allen and his impetuous defensive energy will be blamed for the loss, and for ruining a perfectly exciting game. But when Chauncey Billups perceptibly up-faked and anticlimactically stepped to the line, he was doing what was best for the Pistons. Only incidentally was it best for him, too.
NO CHANTING 'RUDY! RUDY!' GAY'S GOT GIFTS
Rudy Gay is serious. He sinks almost everything when it matters. Let that sink in. If it isn't premature, maybe it's just downright unnatural to lionize a Grizzly, but lately he has been untouchable in the clutch. On Wednesday night, as time expired, with the Grizzlies and Spurs tied at 85, he did this. It went in, and he knew it all along so, stoically, he did this. Game. 88-85.

If his recent late-game history escapes you, allow me: In an overtime loss to the Hornets on November 16, he did the most incredible thing any player has done in the clutch this season, making two 3-pointers in the final seven seconds to force OT. The first from 24 feet, the second from 28! In another overtime loss to the Hornets, this time on December 7, he hit a three to tie the game in OT with 23.6 seconds left. The Grizzlies lost when Chris Paul hit the game-winner on the next possession. And just four days before that, on December 3, Gay flew to the basket for a tip-in that gave Memphis a 105-104 lead over Portland with just 2.8 seconds left. Incredibly, Travis Outlaw hit a game-winner and, yet again, Gay's efforts were in vain. On Wednesday night, though, for once, his game-winner finally won the game.
ROOKIE WATCH
Al Horford is now on top of this week's Rookie Rankings. This season his production has been Ludacris, so how perfect that a dude posting up in Atlanta would be coming for that number one spot! Unfortunately, Wednesday was a very quiet night for rookies. Horford, for instance, was in foul trouble and played only 17 minutes, and the most productive rookie of the night, Yi Jianlian, scored eight points and grabbed 12 rebounds, but shot just 2-of-10 from the floor.
SIXTH MEN OF THE NIGHT
Two stood out. The first was Gerald Green, who made the most of his minutes, scoring 18 points and grabbing eight rebounds. "Look at me now, Boston!" he was heard yelling in the locker room after game.* The second was Manu Ginobili, the big bench scorer on Wednesday, who also led the Spurs in scoring. He finished with 20 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals in 33 minutes.
* = Not really
D-LEAGUE STAR OF THE NIGHT
Come on down, Elton Brown! The Colorado 14ers forward came in averaging 20 points per game, but broke the non-existent Law of Averages on Wednesday, popping off for 33 points in a win over the Austin Toros, 113-97. He also collected 17 rebounds, an astounding eight of which came on the offensive end. No big surprise, though, since he's doubling up every night, averaging better than 21 points and 11 rebounds per game.