Christmas Day NBA

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 29, 2008

That was a really nice slate of Christmas Day NBA games, no? Pity the Hornets decided not to show up — a matchup of Chris Paul/Dwight Howard-led teams seemed like money in the bank.

But every other game was pretty good, providing some nice background for Christmas lunch (and dinner!) with the family. The Suns may be better defensively than a year ago, but I think it’s still clear that in the clutch, defense isn’t their calling card. You’re up two…so how do you leave Roger Mason alone? He’s shooting 47 percent from behind the arc…I don’t care how clutch Manu Ginobili or Tim Duncan are, you have to take Mason away!

Ugh…at least Phoenix was fun to watch last year. Now…bleh. Can’t see these guys getting out of the first round, even after an otherwise solid performance against the Spurs.

Celtics/Lakers lived up to the billing. Just too many options for Los Angeles at home, but I think the Celtics will get them back in Boston.

Cleveland/Washington EXCEEDED the billing. Well done by the Cavs, too, to hold back juuuuuust long enough for us to think a Christmas upset was brewing. Through the entire second half, I really had no doubt that King James would best Mike James (Did I really type that?) in the end, but when Washington jumped by seven with less than three minutes left, they actually had me.

Then LeBron gets fouled shooting a three, Mo Williams hits another, Anderson Varajao nails two more foul shots to take the lead, Cleveland ends on an 11-0 run and the Wizards are 4-23. Whatever the word is for “the opposite of clutch,” I’d expect a 4-23 team to be, and the Wizards exceeded my greatest expectations.

The best part of that game was LeBron taking only four first-half shots, and 13 overall. It was as if he gave his teammates a Christmas present — you guys shine on the big stage. I’ll take over if I need to. He did. I’m not sure the Cavs are quite on the Lakers and Celtics level, but they’re probably on a short list — of one — that could break into that level this year.

The little I saw of Blazers/Mavs was pretty entertaining as well, though I didn’t see the conclusion. Brandon Roy’s the real deal, though. He’s probably destined to be “the guy nobody talks about that’s really, really good” for awhile, playing out in Portland which doesn’t get a ton of media attention. Kind of like what David West was referred to by announcers all throughout last year’s playoffs. Portland’s got a good young team, though, so it won’t be long until he gets to step onto the big stage.