Denver Nuggets 96, at Houston Rockets 108
Tracy McGrady took over the game Tuesday Night, racking up his first triple-double since Dec. 5, 2007. McGrady led the Rockets with 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists while blocking three shots along the way.
McGrady knew he had to facilitate the offense while Rafer Alston was sidelined with a hamstring injury. The Rockets also got a great contribution from second-year guard Aaron Brooks, who played 42 minutes in a starting role. Brooks provided 18 points and six assists in the team effort.
Even without Alston, lineups that included Yao Ming, Ron Artest, Shane Battier, and McGrady contained too much size and defense for the Nuggets.
Yao dominated Nene and Chris Anderson with 32 points, pointing out the Nuggets' weakest link, a link they did not address in the Chauncey Billups trade.
The Nuggets, who sit atop the Northwest Division at 17-8, will continue to win a majority of their regular season matchups, but won't make it out of the first round. They are the textbook case of a team that wins the games they should.
Their only losses have come to Utah, the Lakers twice, Cleveland, New Orleans, Golden State, San Antonio, and now Houston. Six of the seven are playoff teams that will beat them in a series come spring. The Denver Nuggets are not built for the playoffs.
Tuesday night the Rockets looked like the team everyone believed they would be at the beginning of the year. Right now injuries are their biggest hurdle.
Alston, Von Wafer, and Brent Barry are out now. Artest and McGrady are coming back from injury. Yao has missed one game, Scola has missed games, and Battier started the season injured.
Most teams have to endure a fair amount of injuries, but over the past few years the Rockets have been stricken with an unfair amount. Houston has to continue to work through the regular season, while making sure their health is peaking at the right time.
Chicago Bulls 101, at Charlotte Bobcats 110 (OT)
In his third game with the Bobcats, Raja Bell was ejected for insulting referee Eli Roe after playing only eight minutes. Bell was a hindrance for the Bobcats, shooting 0-5 from the field, and Charlotte trailed by nine points after the first quarter.
Is it possible that Bell asked Roe to toss him? Bell was separated from best-bud Steve Nash, and he is clearly depressed. In his first three games, Bell has now shot 3-20 from the field and 0-7 from behind the arc; surprising for a player who was shooting 46.8 percent on the year in Phoenix.
Many assume Gerald Wallace, who did not play due to his father's passing, is next on the Bobcats' trade block. If Bell is going to play like a D-Leaguer, then the Bobcats need to make shipping him their top priority.
Bell's "stellar" performance opened the door for rookie D.J. Augustin to steal the show. Augustin's 29 points not only made fans forget about Bell, but the 5'10" point guard cast a monstrous shadow on opposing rookie Derrick Rose.
In 47 minutes of play, Rose was limited to six points on 3-16 shooting. He did not score in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Aside from Rose's rare off night, the Bulls played very efficient basketball. The rest of the team shot 50.6 percent and limited themselves to seven turnovers.
An especially bright spot for the Bulls was Tyrus Thomas, who broke the 20-point barrier for the first time this season and was one rebound away from a double-double.
The Bulls have been playing .500 basketball in the last 10 games and are currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
New York Knicks 114, at Los Angles Lakers 116
There is no love lost between Mike D'Antoni and Phil Jackson and it showed as D'Antoni tried to bring in his new team and embarrass Jackson on his home court.
Nate Robinson scored 33 points off the bench for the Knicks who got out to a big lead in the first half. The Knicks used great ball movement and their high-paced, attacking offense to gain the lead.
Without Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant showed why he is the league's reigning MVP. He consistently hit shots throughout the second half, and his effort was matched by his teammates.
This was another example of the Lakers taking a lesser opponent too lightly and having to fight back from behind to win.
New Orleans Hornets 91, at Memphis Grizzlies 84
The Hornets put an end to the Grizzlies' four-game win streak thanks to an 18-point, eight-assist, and five-steal performance from Chris Paul. It was the Grizzlies' longest streak since the 2005-06 season, when they won seven in a row.
With the win, the Hornets remain atop the Southwest Division. If they had lost it would have dropped them to third.
Sore-necked center Tyson Chandler started and played 25 minutes, racking up five fouls. Chandler had a career year last season, averaging a double-double, but this year has been less than stellar with an eight and eight average.
Right now the will of Chris Paul is moving the team along, but he needs increased contributions from Chandler and Peja Stojakovic in order for the Hornets to be a championship contender.
Denver Nuggets 96, at Houston Rockets 108