- Karan Madhok / @hoopistani
It hasn’t been a good week for the Orlando Magic. After a strong start to the season, Orlando dropped four of their last five games. But what was more heart-breaking than the additional ‘L’ in the Win-Loss column was the manner in which the losses came. The Magic have been struggling on the offensive end, finishing with just 56, 83, 66, and 85 points in each of their four losses.
The only consistent person on the ‘O’ end scoring for Orlando has been Dwight Howard: with free agency looming and trade rumours spiraling, it remains uncertain if they’ll be able to hang on to their only star for much longer.
Four NBA games were on Indian TV this past week, including Orlando’s unbelievable breakdown against Boston. The Lakers had an up-and-down week, beating their inner-city rivals Clippers in a classic but dropping one on the road to Milwaukee.
Thursday: Los Angeles Clippers @ Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant scoffed when asked if the relationship with their ‘little brothers’, the Clippers, was now a rivalry. But the matchup between these two LA sides earlier this week had every ingredient of a feisty new conflict. The game included tough plays, technical fouls, clutch shots by Kobe, Griffin, World Peace, and Paul, a little scuttle between Pau Gasol and Chris Paul, and an electrifying atmosphere at the Staples Center usually reserved for big playoff matchups. When the dust settled, the Lakers had topped the Clippers 97-92. Griffin had 26 points and nine rebounds, but the Laker trio of Kobe (24), Gasol (24) and Bynum (19) was too much for the Clippers to handle.
Friday: Boston Celtics @ Orlando Magic
The Magic had been embarrassingly held by the Celtics to a franchise-low 56 points only a few days ago, and this game was their immediate shot at redemption. Facing Boston without Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen, it seemed that Orlando were right on their way of doing so, dominating the game and even leading by 27 points at one time. But the Celtics turned on their famed defense in the second half to make a memorable comeback: Paul Pierce scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half to bring his side back and post up a 91-83 victory. Howard had 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Magic, who only managed eight points in a miserable final quarter.
Saturday: Phoenix Suns @ Portland Trail Blazers
It’s hard to fathom that a player in the NBA could be called ‘unstoppable’ without scoring a single point. But that is exactly what Marcus Camby of the Blazers did against Phoenix: Camby had zero points but grabbed an incredible 20 rebounds to help shut down the Suns and lead his side to a huge 109-71 victory. It was the ninth win in ten home games for Portland. LaMarcus Aldrdige led all players with 23 points.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Milwaukee Bucks
With the news that their influential Center Andrew Bogut would miss several months due to injury, the Bucks seemed to have no chance against LA’s star inside duo of Gasol and Bynum. In addition, Milwaukee was missing Stephen Jackson to a suspension. But Milwaukee didn’t need their full roster to show heart and hustle: behind 23 points by Drew Gooden, the Bucks surprised the Lakers by dominating most of the game and protecting their home-court with a 100-89 victory. The Lakers continued to be an unpredictable juggernaut on offense, and also continued their road struggles, falling to 1-7 on the road. Kobe Bryant was the lone shining star for LA, nearly recording a triple double with 27 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists.
… And the rest of the weekend
The Lakers improved their woeful road record on Sunday night with a victory versus the Timberwolves in Minnesota. In one of the biggest regular season games so far, the Miami Heat escaped to a close victory over the Bulls in an Eastern Conference Finals rematch on Sunday night. Meanwhile, a clash of two strong Western conference teams went into overdrive as the Mavericks and the Spurs played a classic game decided by a close overtime victory to the champion Mavs, 101-100.
On your TV sets this week:
Wed – Pistons @ Knicks, Thu – Heat @ Bucks, Fri – Bulls @ Knicks, Sat – Grizzlies @ Thunder, Sun – Thunder @ Spurs.