Jaime loves the holidays but it has nothing to do with any gifts under the tree.
It must be the holiday season because basketball is back.
For the diehards gritting their teeth during the lockout this had to be the best Christmas gift of all, no big shiny bow required. Actually for most sports fans the holidays always bring with them the best gifts unwrapped. This year we had 13 football games on Saturday, another one on Sunday, five basketball games to go along with them and today we've got Monday night football and the start of the World Junior hockey tournament. For me (and I dare say I am not alone) it has been the perfect escape from the holiday madness.
But back to basketball. This has become a Christmas tradition with the league ensuring that the matchups are top notch and this year was no different. And so, in no particular order:
Durant, Durant: Thunder 97 Magic 89
The Thunder made easy work of Dwight Howard and the Magic. This game did not even come close to close with Kevin Durant doing what he does best which is just about everything. I can't help but like these guys; they have a great young core with Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, the later of whom played like a man possessed off the bench for the full game. I'll call it now and say this will be a breakout year for the young guard and basketball in Oklahoma in general. They got a taste of it last season but with such a young team and a short season, this is gonna be a good year.
The Seesaw Celtics Get Knicks'ed: Knicks 106 Celtics 104
Fireworks are guarenteed in the NBA when rivalries are concerned and the Celtics/Knicks are one of the best ones around. This seesaw affair might have been the new-look Knicks coming out party. They've always struggled to take down the Celtics and it looked like they'd get beat again when Kevin Garnett lined up one of those last second jumpers that have so typically buried New York but he missed. He missed and that is rare. Garnett and Ray Allen seemed to struggle, showing signs of age and their counterpart Paul Pierce was absent due to injury. The Celtics might be a little to seasoned (I'm being polite, they're old) to compete with the young guns on a short preseason and a 66-game schedule.
New Kobe, Meet Old Kobe: Bulls 88 Lakers 87
With a Lakers game on the line we're used to seeing Kobe come up big with a last-second feild goal and we weren't surprised this year when he did. Oh wait. Yes we were. Because he didn't. Derrick Rose did. The reigning MVP looks like a vintage version of the Black Mamba and the Lakers are feeling the loss. The loss of the game, the loss of Chris Paul, the loss of their coach, the loss of Shannon Brown, Lamar Odom and maybe the title of the best team in L.A.
Lob City: Clippers 105 Warriors 86
Which brings us to the team that may very well take that title, the Clippers. Lob City. The new big-3, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Chauncey Billups beat Golden State handidly on Christmas signalling a changing of the guard in Los Angeles. Which got me thinking that same thing is happening in baseball with the Angels signing Albert Pujols and Craig Wilson to long-term contracts and stealing the favorite child status from the Dodgers.
The Rematch: Heat 105 Mavericks 94
And finally my favorite game of the day, my hometown Heat versus the Mavericks in a Finals rematch. May I say LeBron looked like he was in fine form and did something for us he could not do for us in the fourth quarter last year: SCORE! Not that he had to. The Heat had this game in the bag by the third and never looked back. I'm going to get bold like Babe Ruth calling his shot and say right now that the Heat and the Bulls will be battling it out this season for the Eastern Crown.