Tuesday Night Tip-Dunk: Lakers and Celtics Win on Way to Christmas Matchup

John LorgeSenior Writer IDecember 24, 2008

Cleveland Cavaliers 99, Houston Rockets 90

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavilers are out to prove that they can beat any team in the Eastern or Western Conference. After a decisive 105-88 win over the Nuggets on Dec. 19, the Cavilers out-shot and out-hustled the visiting Rockets down the stretch Tuesday Night.

Ron Artest attempted to get inside LeBron's head with overly physical play and flopping for cheap fouls. Instead of going tit-for-tat, James answered by being the Cavs statistical leader in points, rebounds, assists, steals and he registered a team high plus 14 on the plus/minus scale. 

James put an exclamation mark on the night when he pinned Yao Ming's lay-in against the backboard in the final minute of the game. The moment ignited M-V-P chants from the hometown fans.

An MVP Award I have been calling for since the opening weeks of the season.

The block seemed to be the tipping point for Artest, who was charged for a technical foul in a tie-up with James with 19 seconds left in the game. James' unwavering play exposed the best way to throw Artest off his game. Ron wants to be the alpha dog, if you don’t play with him he implodes.

Rocket's point guard Rafer Alston seemed to thrive in his matchup with fellow street baller Mo Williams. Skip to my Lou finished the game a team high 20 points on 8-11 shooting. 

The Rockets are struggling to get consistent production from their superstars. Yao was on, but played only 23 minutes due to foul trouble.  Tracey McGrady was limited to an abysmal four points. 

The Cavs should be able to ride December out strong into a tough January that includes matchups with Boston, New Orleans, the LA Lakers, Portland, and Utah in a 15 day span.

Cleveland knows it can beat the Jazz, Blazers, and Hornets; but it needs to show itself it can take down the Lakers and Celtics.

Los Angles Lakers 100, New Orleans Hornets 87

Despite an "A+" effort from Chris Paul, the Lakers out-paced New Orleans in a methodical beat-down. New Orleans cannot seem to rally around their leader, and the absence of Peja Stojakovic is not a good enough reason for the way they played.

Early in the game, Hornets' Center Tyson Chandler tried to set the tone by throwing Sasha Vujacic an elbow in the back after he was fouled on a shot attempt. Chandler then proceeded to miss a field goal while Vujacic answered with a three.

Tyson Chandler plays like the Jeremy Stevens of the NBA. He hasn't had the off-court troubles that Stevens has, but he has all of the size and potential in the world and will be forever-underachieving. At 7'1" with great leaping ability, his career 8.2 points and 1.4 blocks per game are a joke.

Chandler is all bark and no bite—he needs to watch the way the source of all of his point (Chris Paul) plays the game. While Chandler was psyching-himself-out, Paul was busy getting five steals in the first quarter!

The team defense of the Lakers corralled Paul to 6-of-16 shooting, but they won't be able to focus all of their attention on one player when they play the Celtics on Dec. 25. Los Angles will have to extend its D to shut down the three-point shooting of Boston while not ignoring its dominant inside players.

New Jersey Nets 108, at Indiana Pacers 107

The Nets' penetrating backcourt duo, Vince Carter and Devin Harris, finished with 67 points to edge New Jersey past the Pacers. Carter and Harris made 19-of-21 free-throw attempts, which has been the key to the Nets' success this season. 

The scrappy Pacers did give the nets a scare, and New Jersey had to rely on a last-second jumper from Harris to seal the deal. 

The Nets sit at 5-10 at home and 9-4 on the road. If they could start winning more in front of the fans, it would solidify their playoff hopes.

Chicago Bulls 98, at Detroit Pistons 104

Second-year guard Rodney Stuckey has strived to improve since entering the starting lineup Dec. 9 and took his game one step further Tuesday night with a career-high 40 points. Allen Iverson only played 24 minutes due to a hamstring injury, opening up the door for Stuckey's performance.

The combo guard out of Eastern Washington proved to be too big for the Bulls backcourt. Both Derrick Rose and Ben Gordon fouled out, and Rose only played 21 minutes.

Boston Celtics 110, Philadelphia 76ers 91

Sixers' interim Coach Tony DiLeo was dealt his first loss at the hands of the host Celtics.  Boston is riding an amazing, franchise-record 19-game winning-streak and tied for the best record through 29 games (27-2) in NBA history with the victory.

Will the streak be beaten on Christmas day by the Lakers? Not if the Celtics play team basketball like they did Tuesday Night. 

Portland Trail Blazers 101, Denver Nuggets 92

The Nuggets continue to struggle against the better teams in the NBA, as the Blazers tied Denver for the Northwest Division lead at 18-11. 

Greg Oden was present but absent once again, racking up zero pints, two rebounds and five fouls in eight minutes of play. On queue, Joel Przybilla, once again, stepped up by scoring 10 points and grabbing 19 rebounds in 40 minutes.

Przybilla is not yet eligible for the NBA’s lead in field goal percentage, but his 76.5 percent shooting is tops amongst those who play regularly.