Shaq goes Wack
In one of the most mind-boggling games of the season, the Chicago Bulls pulled out an overtime win against the L.A. Lakers. Allow me to repeat myself. The Chicago Bulls pulled out an overtime win against the L.A. Lakers. I’m talking about the 26-7, two-time defending NBA champion, Shaquille O’ Neal- and Kobe Bryant-led L.A. Lakers, against the 7-29, worst-record-in-the-league, Ron Artest- and Brad Miller-led Bulls.
One can point to the fact that Shaq was ejected in this game after throwing a punch at Brad Miller. However, this event did not happen until late in the fourth quarter. The game was tight at the time and should have been over about three quarters earlier. At the same time, one has to feel for Shaq. The Bulls’ strategy to put O’ Neal on the line as often as possible looked like Hack-a-Shaq on crack.
The Old Man and the Three
Since ripping his own team, Michael Jordan has started to play better basketball and has led the Wizards to 18 wins, which is just one shy of their total wins a year ago. At the end of December Jordan scored 51, 45, and 29 points in consecutive games. His 51-point performance came at Charlotte, where he shot 23-38 while leading the Wizards to a 17-point win. Don’t look now but as of Sunday night, the Wizards would have the sixth seed in the playoff race.
The other two surprises in the East, Boston and New Jersey, are still surprisingly playing like legitimate contenders. Both Paul Pierce and Jason Kidd are playing like MVPs. Pierce is leading the Celtics in almost every offensive category, including a 26.7 points per game average. Likewise, Kidd is in his usual triple-double form, averaging 14.1 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds a game. Boston, who was 36-46 last year, is 22-14 and fighting for the top seed in the East. New Jersey, who managed just 26 all season last year, is 24-11, and as of Sunday night are atop the East.
Zoning Out in Minneapolis
As we move across the country, the story of the West is the Minnesota Timberwolves. Winners of eight straight, the Kevin Garnett-powered T-Wolves were back atop the Midwest. The Wolves, who arguably have used the defensive rule changes to their advantage better than any other team in the league, have raced past the star-studded Spurs and the screamin’ Mark Cuban Mavericks.
Since getting Webber back from injury, the Kings have won 11 of 15 games while they watch their star work his way back to shape. The Kings have won their last eight games and have pulled even with the Lakers for the lead in the Pacific division. The highlight of the streak occurred on December 26 when the fans actually booed Webber as he struggled through a 6-20 shooting performance in only his eighth game back from injury.
“People are fickle. I had to laugh but the thing that ticked me off was I was coming off the injury,” Webber said while laughing, “I’m putting it behind me, but it’s something I won’t forget.”
The fans may have been a little tough on Webber at the time, but he still made out better than Brad Miller, who became the victim of two Shaq roundhouse punches Saturday night. Who knew Kazaam had it in him?
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