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Recap | Box score
MVP: Carmelo Anthony hit a career-high nine 3-pointers, finished with 42 points, and completed the game-winning three-point play with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The nine threes also tie a Knicks record, held by Latrell Sprewell, John Starks and Toney Douglas.
LVP: The Hawks' ball handling abilities. Atlanta did shoot 60 percent, but it could have easily won this game if it didn't turn the ball over 19 times.
Defining moment: Happened in the first quarter, actually. Jannero Pargo was called for a clear-path foul on J.R. Smith in a situation where he was clearly ahead of Smith. Then Smith hit both of the free throws, and knocked down an open jumper to give the Knicks a critical four-point swing.
Recap | Box score
MVP: Brandon Knight had 31 points on 12-of-16 shooting. He also contested a late three from the similarly hot-shooting J.J. Redick that would have tied the game.
X factor: The Pistons won the turnover battle, 12 to 15, and scored 16 points off the Magic's mistakes. Eight of Orlando's turnovers came in the second quarter, when the Pistons opened up a 10-point lead.
Defining moment: With six seconds remaining, Jameer Nelson missed the third of three free throws and the Magic blew several second-chance opportunities that would have sent the game to overtime.
Recap | Box score
MVP: Ryan Anderson. Last season's Most Improved Player shot a middling 7 of 13 from the field. Well, middling except for the fact that all of those shots came from 3-point range. Anderson ended with 22 points, including a shot-clock-beating-step-back dagger 3.
LVP: Rudy Gay. The Grizzlies' star scorer failed to show up on Sunday night, shooting 3 for 17 with four turnovers for a gruesome and frustrating 10-point performance.
X factor: Memphis managed 22 offensive rebounds for its trouble, but couldn't overcome its dreadful shooting: 36 percent from the field and 19 percent from three. New Orleans' pedestrian 43 percent mark (including 9 for 20 from deep) looked like Showtime by comparison.
Recap | Box score
MVP: Kobe Bryant, who finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and 14 assists. This victory should jump start the Lakers' year of magical thinking, and if Kobe can be this kind of facilitator consistently, anything can happen.
Defining moment: A few moments, actually. Kobe made some brilliant passes to Pau Gasol, who finished with 16 points. It was a reminder of what we expected coming into the season, and how good Gasol still is.
That was ... so Westbrook: It's easy to lay blame on Russell Westbrook's woeful shooting, but his near triple-double outing shouldn't be ignored -- he ran the team well. It was another polarizing game from perhaps the league's most polarizing player.
Recap | Box score
That was ... a mixed reaction: Celtics fans initially booed Ray Allen in his return to Boston, then cheered his highlight montage, and then booed Allen whenever he touched the ball. News breaking mid-game that Rajon Rondo had been lost for the season only added to an emotional game.
MVP: LeBron James. The Heat came up short, but it was not the fault of James, who kept Miami afloat with 34 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. Plus he nailed a huge 3 at the end of regulation to send the game into its first overtime. A spectacular effort.
X factor: Paul Pierce delivered a sloppy triple double with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists and was big down the stretch. He made huge jumpers, grabbed tough rebounds and helped force Miami into a bad possession on the game's final play.
Scene Of The Climb: LeBron Back In Boston
BOSTON -- The greatest referendum on LeBron James' career didn't take place during an NBA Finals, during a national television special or at an Olympic Games.
In 2008, James shed tears in the visitor's locker room at TD Garden when his season ended, and it led him to complain about his supporting cast. In 2010, he brayed with what seemed like inappropriate laughter after his season ended on a team stocked with veterans who were jolted by his behavior as he immediately started to talk about his free-agency plans.
In 2012, James came to the "new Garden" with his season and his reputation on the line again. Only this time there was a frightening absence of emotion. No tears, no laughter, no complaints -- just a ruthless display of controlled aggression.
James' journey from man-child to champion has come in Boston. The trophies may not have been awarded here, but trust that for years James' darkest memories were born on the battered parquet floor. And now, so is his greatest triumph.
The performance James gave in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals last season -- 45 points, 15 rebounds, 19-for-26 shooting and a game-long glare that became the trademark for it all -- is far and away the greatest achievement to this point. Considering all the baggage he carried into it and the stakes -- the Celtics were up 3-2 and looked poised to pull off a devastating upset -- that game has no peer.
"It was like a no-lose, no-way, not-tonight mentality; I wasn't going down without a fight," James said, thinking back to last June. "Now, I mean, did I know the numbers I was going to put up, and if we were going to win? You don't know that. But you can control how hard you play. And I told [coach Erik Spoelstra] before the game, 'You're not going to take me out. I'm ready to play the full 48.' That was my mindset."
As with any Celtics-Heat meeting in this era, what's happened in the near past hangs over each game. Of course, it isn't just about James returning to the scene. It is Ray Allen's first game in Boston since leaving to sign with the Heat during the summer, an event that led to a series of snipes from both sides during the preseason leading up to the opener, when several of Allen's former teammates declined to even acknowledge him.
Meanwhile, the Celtics are going through a miserable several weeks, scrambling for rock bottom. They have lost six straight games to slide to eighth place in the Eastern Conference, three games under .500 at 20-23. Friday night, they blew a 27-point lead in Atlanta, turning what looked like a streakbuster into a disastrous double-overtime defeat.
Coach Doc Rivers has gone from threatening to trade players last week to shaming his veterans for what he believes is living in the past.
"Who do we think we are?" Rivers said. "We're under .500. We get a lead, we start acting like we're the 2008 [championship] team. We're not. We haven't earned that right. So disappointing."
Sunday crowd's reaction to Allen -- most expect boos despite his successful five-year run there -- should be intriguing when he enters the game, probably in the first quarter. But with the Celtics struggling so much, the desire to dole out a form of vengeance may have been dampened somewhat.
In the warmup act Thursday night when the New York Knicks came to town, the Celtic crowd was surprisingly gentle on Carmelo Anthony just two weeks after his run-in with Kevin Garnett. The Allen situation is certainly more personal to New Englanders and the rivalry with the Heat currently hotter, but it was a window into the general mood in Boston about its team.
Allen will certainly be feeling the pinch of expectations. He set records in his old home arena, but this season has been a poor shooter on the road, and he's now very much on the road. He's shooting just 40 percent away and 54 percent at home.
"Regardless of how they [the Boston crowd] respond towards me, I have great memories," Allen said. "I'll always cherish those moments. It won't change how I feel."
The Heat, though, are expecting the normal hostility. They won the last game in TD Garden that truly mattered, but they still haven't won a regular-season game in the city since 2007, a stretch of nine straight losses.
Miami has strung together some good performances recently and Dwyane Wade is on a hot streak, averaging 30.3 points and shooting 61 percent over the past three games. Still unproven on the road this season at 10-9, the Heat are riding a four-game win streak and hoping to carry it over to a four-game road trip that starts Sunday and includes stops against East rivals Brooklyn and Indiana.
"It's always been a hostile environment for me," James said. "Knowing we have Ray on our side now, that's a bit more motivation."
Turning The Corner?
NBA Video Channel
Do Lakers Have Choice To Make?
ESPN Los Angeles
Dwight Howard and Mike D'Antoni arrived in Los Angeles a few months apart but under remarkably similar circumstances -- in physical pain, in a hurry to undo the past year of their lives and in dire need of an image makeover.
They may part, just a few months later, under similar but troubling circumstances, neither having solved any of the issues they brought with them.
Of all the strange subplots in this Greek tragedy of a Lakers season, the parallel character arcs of Howard and D'Antoni might be the most fascinating and, in the end, the most devastating.
Forget for a moment whether Howard and Kobe Bryant can coexist. On the list of Lakers problems, that doesn't even make the cut. Bryant is trying to mentor Howard, who is somewhat grudgingly accepting the advice. They're not friends, but they're not enemies either. That's it. There are no flames, just smoke.
Forget, too, whether Howard and Pau Gasol can play together. It's a little awkward at times. They get frustrated with each other. But there's no tension. Over time they'll figure out a working relationship.
No, the relationship dynamic that has gone the most wrong for the Lakers this season is the one between D'Antoni and Howard. And the uglier this season gets, the more this relationship seems destined to break.
Break as in break up. Dwight or Mike? It may come down to that choice.
D-Wade's Old Trick
MIAMI -- As the saying goes, you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
But when it comes to Dwyane Wade's defenders, you apparently can't teach a young dog old tricks, either.
Wade's old trick is the pump fake on a jump shot, and he's been fooling young defenders with it for more than a decade now. During Wednesday night's win over Toronto, three separate defenders fell victim to Wade's signature move, and it may have even cost the Raptors the game.
Here's how it typically goes down: Wade attacks from the perimeter, abruptly picks up his dribble around the 3-point line and slowly rises as if he's going to take a long jumper. But before he leaves the ground, Wade hits the pause button on his shooting motion. And seemingly without fail, his defender bites on the pump fake and launches into Wade's space, prompting Wade to restart his shooting motion right into the helpless airborne defender.
Contact. Whistle. Free throws.