Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Toronto 116, Portland 109, 2OT

Chris Bosh has enjoyed these sorts of games (38 points, 14 rebounds) over the last few years, and it's what keeps him among the NBA's elite big men in spite of the fact that he can't take over a game defensively, and sometimes disappears on the boards.

Bosh is an out-and-out scorer, which cannot be said for Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, and Andrew Bynum. Each of those three might be better than Bosh (or, in Bynum's case, will be better than Bosh) in terms of all-around play, but the Raptors can ride Chris to 40-some points in some games, and that's a huge benefit for a team that relies so much on perimeter play to do its damage.

C-dash-B turned the ball over just twice in over 55 minutes of play in the Raptor win, blocked three shots, pulled in 14 rebounds, and generally made a good team great in the face of a white hot Trail Blazer team. Both squads combined for just 17 turnovers in a double overtime game, which is truly impressive; though the Trail Blazers have to work on getting to the line more, LaMarcus Aldridge I'm looking in your direction, and shoot more than 14 in 58 minutes.

Atlanta 105, Chicago 84

About 13 months ago, in the midst of his sixth 30-point game in seven tries, Joe Johnson strained his right calf. And, though his big minutes and many shot attempts keep the scoring averages solid upon first glance, Johnson hasn't looked the same until just recently.

Unable to gather himself to get tough fadeaways off or shots in traffic, Johnson's scoring touch has dwindled in spite of his plus-20 per game average. Against the Cavs, Wizards, and Bulls this week, however, Johnson averaged close to 30 per game while making over half his shots as the Hawks won two of three.

JJ has seen himself a little overrated in Atlanta because of his big minutes (compare his per 40 numbers to, say, Manu Ginobili), but he's a hell of a player who deserves credit for trying to play through a nagging injury that has obviously turned his game on its ear. The Arkansas product also chipped in with nine rebounds and six assists in almost 43 minutes over the 21-point win.

New York 89, Detroit 65

The NBA's preeminent "bad NBA stereotype" teams met up at MSG last night, and the Pistons held up their end of the predictable angle by showing nothing in the team's fourth game in five nights.

The Pistons gave token effort in the first quarter, but fell behind after a listless second quarter, and decided to pack it in after a few jumpers declined to fall early in the third period.

Detroit's mindset ... eh, it was pretty obvious. They were hoping to shoot themselves back into it; the looks didn't fall, so the Pistons passed on getting out on New York's shooters. After the starters earned their rest with pitiful play, the Knicks took advantage. Even with the starters out there, Zach Randolph (in the first half) and Jamal Crawford (in the second) played terrific offensive games.

New Orleans 87, Houston 82

Two days after dominating the Miami Heat, the Hornets had a little tougher time of things in taking down the Rockets. Peja Stojakovic had his butt handed to him by Shane Battier, failing to make a field goal in five tries, adding just two points and zero rebounds in almost 27 minutes. Luckily for the Hornets, David West can ball, throwing in 26 and 12 rebounds with just one turnover in 39 minutes.

Yao Ming (30 and 16) had his third 30-point effort of the new year in the Houston loss.

Golden State 106, Indiana 101

I was blacked out of this one, I'll have to head down to Indy for a better look at the Pacers once they return from the road trip, and the boxscore returns were pretty encouraging for Warrior fans.

In two games since he dropped a stinker up in Portland, Baron Davis has averaged 23.5 points (on 18-33 shooting) with 12.5 assists, 2.5 turnovers, a block, 6.5 rebounds and two steals a game. Monta Ellis appeared to put together a great floor game with 27 points (on 22 shots), eight rebounds, four assists, and one turnover in 42 minutes.

Los Angeles Lakers 100, Memphis 99

Pau Gasol (21 points, eight assists, 18 rebounds, four blocks) continues to play brilliantly, and Mike Miller played well early on (finishing with 27 points on 16 shots), but the Lakers and Kobe Bryant were too much for a tired Grizzlies team.

Rookie Javaris Crittenton (seven points in seven minutes) did his part to keep the Grizz at bay in the fourth quarter, but a third quarter left knee injury to Andrew Bynum cast a pall on the Staples Center crowd that was pretty hard to lift.

Bynum swears that he didn't hear a pop, and that the pain in his knee responded to ice after the game, but this stuff doesn't mean anything until he undergoes an MRI on Monday.

Players have played on torn ACLs without significant pain - Qyntel Woods played high school basketball on one, former NBA forward Eric Williams and NFL running back Curtis Enis played on torn ligaments for an entire half at a time before the knee swelled beyond repair - so pain that subsides directly after the sprain isn't really an indication of much. We'll just have to hold our breath and hope that this special talent won't have to take to the pine.

Before the injury, Bynum was playing terrific basketball: offering ten points and nine rebounds in under 20 minutes, with three assists and no turnovers, while showcasing a soft touch with either hand.

The game had an unfortunate ending, as well. Grizzlies guard Kyle Lowry was clearly fouled (and not in the, "I'm going to throw myself into the defender"-way) in the lane by Kwame Brown in the game's final seconds, but the referees passed on giving him what would have been the game's deciding free throws.

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