shaq-001

The New York Knicks: It's bad - but sort of expected - when the Madison Square Garden crowd starts chanting for James Dolan to finally put Isiah Thomas out of the Knicks' misery. But it goes from "sad" to "tragically sad" when the "Fire Isiah" chant picks up steam on the road. And that's what happened last night in Philadelphia during during the Sixers' 40-point drubbing of Team Dysfunction. Did New York just roll over and die on defense? Well, Philly shoots 45 percent from the field and averages about 94 PPG on the year. Last night, they shot 57 percent and had 102 points by the end of the third quarter. This is how badly things went for the Knicks: Human victory cigar Gordan Giricek played the entire fourth quarter.

Isiah Thomas: The Baby-faced Assassin sunk to a new low, even for him, placing the blame for last night's stink bomb directly on the broad and pudgy shoulders of twin towers Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph. Said Isiah: "My guy's minds were elsewhere."

Dwight Howard: The slam-dunk Superman scored 37 points (13-for-16) and grabbed 15 rebounds. So why's he being included in Worst of the Night? Because Chris Bosh freaking ate his lunch. Bosh made 11 of his first 12 shots, including a three-pointer - only his third of the season - on his way to hitting 14 of 16 shots and scoring 40 points. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy even said that Bosh "destroyed" Howard. I'm not a professional athlete, but when your coach tells the press your man destroyed you, well, I'm pretty sure that's not a good thing.

The Orlando Magic defense: In all fairness to Dwight, he wasn't the only defenseless magician. The Raptors scored a season-high 127 points on 58 percent shooting. In addition to Bosh's 14-for-16 line, Jose Calderon was 8-for-10 and Carlos Delfino was 7-for-11. By the way, that 127 points was only two off of the Raptor's all-time franchise high for points in a game.

Andrea Bargnani: The Magic might have surrendered a gob of points on an impossibly high shooting percentage, but at least they shut down Bargnani (4 points, 1-for-8 shooting). That's gotta count for something, right?

Travis Diener: I can't blame Dick Diener's nephew for all of the Pacers' woes, but I can bust on him for shooting 1-for-7 last night. Guards are supposed to be able to shoot, right?

The Chicago Bulls: According to the scouting report, the Nets have owned the Bulls over the last few years because the Bullies have trouble defending big guards like Jason Kidd. So why did Marcus Williams - Kidd's six-foot three-inch replacement - light them up for a season-high 25 points? Well, because the Bulls suck, of course! Ben "I'm their best player" Gordan and Luol "Why oh why didn't I sign that $50 million extension" Deng were both back in the Chicago lineup, but it didn't make much of a difference as the Bulls shot 38 percent from the field and dropped a 110-102 overtime decision to the Kidd-less Nets.

Yahoo box scores: According to Yahoo, Jason Kidd started for the Dallas Mavericks and came off the bench for the New Jersey Nets. I knew Kidd was amazing, but I had no idea he was that amazing. (Thanks to all the astute readers who picked up on this and emailed me about it.)

Kidd box DAL
He's a Maverick...

Kidd box  NJ
...no, he's a Net. Wait, what?!

The Detroit Pistons: I certainly don't think it's time to hit the panic button or anything, but the Pistons followed up an embarrassing homecourt blowout at the hands of the Magic by getting beaten by a team that was, at the time, 15 games below .500. That's not a good sign when your goal is to compete for an NBA title. Detroit trailed by as many as 21 points in the third quarter and it took a flurry of three-pointers by Rasheed Wallace in the final two minutes of the fourth just to make a game of it.

The Dallas Mavericks: The team hasn't had good ball movement since Steve Nash left the team a few years ago, which is a big reason that Mark Cuban was willing to mortgage the team's future to rescue Jason Kidd from hell. Well, if last night's game against the Hornets was any indication, it's going to take more than a future Hall of Fame point guard to change the status quo. Dallas had only 13 assists and committed 17 turnovers, and, even worse, Chris Paul flayed Kidd and then ate him alive, going for 31 points, 11 assists, and a career-high 9 steals. Not coincidentally, Kidd had a game-high 6 turnovers.

The Phoenix Suns defense: Last night's game taught us a few things. First, Shaq can run and gun in the Suns offense (15 points, 6-for-9 shooting). He can still rebound (he had 9) and intimidate (2 blocked shots, lots of pushing and shoving, and he damn near killed Raja Bell with an inadvertent elbow). And he obviously didn't spend his early-season vacation practicing his touch from the line (3-for-8). We also learned that Shaq is tres motivated; the Big Road Runner was sprinting up and down the court and going after loose balls, including one crazy dive that took out referee David Guthrie. Now, Shaq had no chance of saving that ball, and he knew it. But he dove after it to show people 1. that he means business and 2. that he's still healthy enough to go all out in order to win. These are all very good signs for the Suns. Unfortunately, their team defense is still terrible. The Lakers scored 130 points on 57 percent shooting. Moreover, it seemed like they could get whatever shot they wanted, whenever they wanted, even when their second unit was on the floor. What kind of surprised me was that Phoenix didn't learn anything from their win in L.A. earlier this season. In that game, the Suns were the aggressors. They played physical defense and roughed the Lakers up at every opportunity. The Lakers, outside of Kobe, can still be rattled and intimidated by physical play. It happened both times they played the Celtics, and it happened in Atlanta a week or so ago. So my advice to the Suns, and anybody else playing against Team Supreme, is that you have to play mean.

Shaq: The big guy played really well, considering the facts that he hasn't played in a couple months and this was his first game in a new (and very different) offensive system. But...why, oh why did he shave his Fu-Manchu 'stache?! That's like Superman eating Kryptonite, or Pamela Anderson getting boob reduction surgery. Seeing The Big Cactus's naked upper lip sucked all the awesome out of me. I will be spending most of the rest of the day mourning the loss of that beautiful tuft of facial hair. (Hat tip to Ben Q. Rock from The Third Quarter Collapse for his sympathy and commiseration.)

Raja Bell: I know that he almost died after Shaq's elbow caved in his skull, but that happened late in the game. Bell still managed to play 36 minutes, but scored zero points on 0-for-3 shooting. Raja's scoring and - more importantly - outside shooting is a vital component of the Suns' offense, especially now that Shaq's in town.

Darko Milicic: In his continuing battle for the "Worst Draft Pick of All Time" crown, Darko scored 2 points (0-for-7) in 19 minutes). But since my therapist has suggested I try to be more positive, I'll go ahead and point out that Darko had 8 rebounds, 3 steals, and a winning smile. Still, it's pretty bad when you're in danger of losing your starting job to Jason Collins. Speaking of which...

Jason Collins: Due largely to Darko's offensive ineptitude, Collins played 24 minutes but totally failed to reward his team in any way whatsoever. The human telephone pole scored zero points (0-for-0) and had 1 lonely rebound. So Darko's starting job is safe. For now.

The Boston Celtics defense: Another shootout, another loss for the Green and White. It might be time for Doc Rivers to start coaching and remind his squad that they're a defensive team, not the second coming of the Phoenix Suns. One night after giving up 124 points to the Nuggets, the Celtics watched the Warriors drop in 119. Next stop: Phoenix. This could get ugly. Well, ugly-er.

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23 Comments:
Anonymous Anonymous said...
hey don't forget Malik Allen and Antoine Wright. They just as amazin as JKidd!! and they almost got trillion a piece

Blogger Wild Yams said...
I think Darko's bid for the "Worst Draft Pick of All Time" crown is in serious jeopardy, due to another backup of his: Kwame Brown picked up yet another DNP-CD last night.

Anonymous manic said...
I need Boris Diaw on Worst of The Night. This guy seriously makes me want to vomit everytime he plays. What a joke of an NBA player. First, he gets his weak-ass dunk attempt blocked by Kobe, then allows Kobe a free pass to the basket at the end of the quarter without even thinking of stepping in and challenging, or fouling, the shot attempt. What was the icing on the cake though was right after Kobe's dunk, Boris inbounds the ball to none of his teamates and almost to the hands of a Laker defender. Last time I checked, You want to keep the ball away from the defenders, not throw it right at them.

I am so sick of this guy. The Suns should either trade him, but that wont happen because he makes 9 MILLION a year (Good call D'Antoni), or just buy out his contract and tell this guy to beat it! What a loser.

Anyway, an entertaining game last night between the Suns and Lakers, but it wouldnt be a stretch to put the Lakers' defense on the worst too.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
anonymous - True enough...

wild yams - You're absolutely right. And the sad thing is, no matter how badly Darko sucks, the presence of KB means that Darko can't even be the worst "taken way too high in the draft" player on his own team. That's the kind of helpless mediocrity that leads to suicide and Dustin Diamond.

manic - The funny thing is, Based on his stat line - 12 points (5-for-11), 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 blocked shot - you wouldn't think that he'd played that badly. Unless you actually watched the game. Everybody was so worried about whether Shaq would be able to keep up with the Suns pace...has anybody noticed that Boris hasn't been able to for months now?

Another funny thing is that, last year, several Lakers fans used the example of how good Boris Diaw is as "proof" that Steve Nash is overrated. In truth, the fact that Nash could make that useless stiff look good enough to earn $9 million a year shows how otherworldly valuable Steve-O really is.

Anonymous SonOfJorel said...
Good win for the Lakers, but with everyone jumping on the lake show bandwagon, I just have to say that I'm not entirely convinced. Each of the last two years, the Lakers have looked strong early in the season only to have the wheels fall off down the stretch (granted, this is a different team now, but I still can't shake the feeling that they are fragile).

They did manage to pull out the win last night, but it required Kobe shooting a scorching 64% from the field, nearly 20% over his season average. You can say that was just Kobe doing whatever it takes to win, but the Lakers as a whole have been playing at a ridiculously high level for the past few weeks, and I just can't see them sustaining this over the whole rest of the season and through the playoffs.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
You know what the truly awful play of the day may have been last night? When Shaq got that defensive 3 second call against him at the end of the first quarter when Kobe was dribbling the clock down out near the halfcourt line. I don't think I've ever seen that before. Not only did the Lakers get the extra point on Kobe's made FT, but let the Lakers get the last shot because it reset the shot clock (and there were only 13 seconds left). Then Kobe finished that sequence with that dunk manic is talking about, after he blew past Goose Egg (for the 0-fer and the knot on his head) Bell.

The Lakers' D was awful last night as well, but that will probably change once Bynum and his absurdly long wingspan returns to the lineup next month. Bynum, Gasol and Odom - that's like a knuckledraggers convention or something.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
sonofjorel - Agreed. This "Team of the Week" crap really needs to stop. Everybody was raving about the Pistons a couple years ago when they were cruising to 64 wins...then they went bellyup in the playoffs. Last year, people were hopping back and forth between the Dallas and Phoenix bandwagons...and we all know how that turned out.

From a broader perspective, I think a lot of the media types need the Lakers to be good so that the last four years of of their "Kobe's the best player in the world and he only needs the right teammates" claims can finally be proven true.

The Lakers are good, no question, but they've been on an emotional high since the Gasol trade. Personally, I think they're peaking too soon. I still think they have a lot of young, unproven players, many of which are - no offense - foreign. And foreign players tend to get pushed around and disappear come playoff time (I submit the early 2000s Kings as evidence).

Blogger starang said...
Definately a good game (Suns/Fakers) going basket for basket...but overall I think it was a mediocre showing for the Suns.

They never seemed to click last night, everything looked a little off. Maybe due to Shaq...but maybe not.

Shaq did very well, I feel, for all the hating that has been going on. Give him a few games and I think he'll come around. He influenced a lot of possesions last night, and is partly responsible for Amare's huge game.

Only time will tell. As for you homosexual elephant walkers that cheer for the Fakers...We'll see you in the playoffs butt pirates.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
You forgot to mention Kobe lighting up Raja Bell left and right and all night. Notice the contradiction with your assessment of Howard's night. But then again, that would be an implicit recognition of Kobe doing something positive, and we all know that is not permitted round these parts.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
I think the Lakers' recent run of success is mostly due to inferior competition. I don't think they're just "pumped up" from getting Gasol (that probably would have worn off by now), and don't really buy the idea that they're peaking too early, just cause they've only had this lineup for 3 weeks now, and they're still missing their 2nd or 3rd best player in Bynum.

The Lakers are going to have to adjust in a big way when Bynum returns to the team, and it's very possible that could be something that takes till next season to get right. If the Lakers are really going to win this year, they're going to need to play about 1000x more defense than they did last night and they're going to have to jell as a team once everyone is back playing. There's no way to know what that team's gonna look like till they're all playing together though: they could run everyone off the floor and play the best defense ever, or it could be a mess and they all hate each other.

I'm really fascinated by the change the Suns are in the process of going through though. When was the last time you saw Phoenix score 120+ points while only making five 3s? Phoenix didn't look like a fastbreaking team at all last night, and was getting most of their points on interior scores and off of 2nd chance rebounds, rather than the usual run-n-gun or penetration and dish by Nash. This is a more traditional, more playoff-proven formula and it may work great for Phoenix in the postseason this year.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
anonymous - There's a significant difference, which would be obvious if you'd watched both games. Raja was working his ass off, but Kobe was just having one of those hot nights. Howard was giving Bosh the greenlight to shoot, and continued to do so, as if he was just waiting for him to start missing. It wasn't just the fact that Dwight got lit up; it's that he kind of let it happen.

wild yams - I dunno. The Lakers have played some decent teams during this stretch, including the Magic and the Suns. And I didn't mean peaking in terms of talent and the ability to play together; I meant in terms of emotional intensity. It's more than just being pumped up; it's excitement, and confidence, and a belief in each other and their individual talents. But a team can only ride it high for so long. Look at the Blazers. They're the same team that won, what, 19 of 20 games. They were playing every game with playoff level intensity. They were bound to let up a little. Likewise, the Lakers have been going all out since the Gasol trade. They'll probably cool off.

Yeah, the Suns definitely made the Shaq trade with the playoffs in mind. And while they certainly were trying to win last night, they didn't have the same level of all-out desperation/hunger that you would associate with a playoff-level game (although they were definitely juiced). They were trying to figure things out last night against a top-tier team. There were some danger signs, but don't forget that the Lakers lost to Atlanta right after the Gasol trade...

Anonymous Farfa said...
Man... gimme some thoughts on the utterly absurd trade Ben Wallace-Joe Smith-Wally Szczerbiak for Drew Gooden-Larry Hughes-I don't remember who else for Donyell Marshall-Adrian Griffin-I don't remember who else!

Now, the only sense I see in this trade was to send away both Wallace and Griffin (who we all know being responsible for the Noah ostracism - oh, Paxson, my compliments for the Wallace signing).

What the hell are the Bulls gonna do with Larry Hughes? Come on! Isn't he a slight downgrade from Ben Gordon (although his D can be useful)? Drew Gooden is a good move. Too bad he gets in Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah's way...

And how is Wallace supposed to contribute alongside the King? The only fitting piece for Cleveland, as I can see, is Delonte West. Maybe Wally.

I love the suckiness the Seattle team has become. It makes sense, seen from a Clay Bennett point of view.

Where ugly blockbuster trade happens.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
The Lakers did play the Magic and Suns, but they didn't exactly steamroll either one of them the way they have with the plethora of bottom-dwelling opponents lately (they beat Orlando by 4). In addition to those two teams, since the Lakers learned they had traded for Gasol on Feb. 1st they've played Toronto, Washington, New Jersey, Atlanta (twice), Miami, Charlotte, and Minnesota. To quote Kobe, "not exactly Murder's Row." The Lakers have a pretty cake schedule for the next three weeks as well, so they may continue to put up some gaudy performances against teams like the Sonics and Clippers (the next two Laker opponents).

The Lakers may be peaking emotionally right now due to the acquisition of Gasol, but if that's true then there's a very real possibility they could go through another similar emotional upswing once Bynum returns next month for the last dozen or so games of the year. Could this leave them emotionally drained heading into the postseason? It's possible, but with Phil at the helm of the team, I suspect he may have a mind game or two to try to get them ready for the postseason. Kobe's intensity (or insanity) might help push them through the last month plus of the season as well, unless he pushes them over the edge, of course.

The Suns are definitely going to get better, I think. It's unrealistic to expect them to switch playing styles so drastically after acquiring Shaq and to have it go flawlessly on the first try. They did do a very credible job of making things work in stretches out there last night, but odds are they'll figure that out a lot more as things progress and they get more familiar with each other. I really think Phoenix is in the process of switching styles from a fast-break team to a half-court, interior team, and that's gonna take a little while to do.

Finally, I don't really consider that first Lakers-Hawks game to be indicative of any real danger signs, other than Kobe's injury. That was on the 2nd night of a back-to-back game in which Kobe had torn the tendon in his pinkie (the NJ game); and for that Atlanta game he went with a different taping job than he's been using since then, and it clearly affected his shooting. In that game he was 4-16 (25%) with 11 points, and the Lakers lost a game at the end that they had led for most of the way. Since then he's gone to the taping that Lisa Salters gave that inane sideline report on last night, and in the 6 games since he's shot 61-117 (52%) and has averaged 32 ppg. Maybe the poor shooting in the Atlanta game wasn't a result of the tape job, but the only other times he's shot worse than he did in that game this season were in the previous game at NJ (the one he hurt his hand in) and the late December game against Boston. If Kobe had shot even 30-35% against Atlanta that game, odds are it would have been enough to overcome the 3 pts the Hawks won by.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
farfa - I am completely, absolutely, and utterly stunned by this trade. Just stunned. I guess that after watching every worthwhile player get gobbled up by somebody else, Paxson felt like he had to do something, anything, to make it look like, well, that he was doing something. But this is an atrocious trade. God-fucking-awful. More to come...

wild yams - You make good points. But I can't discuss now. Still stunned about the Ben Wallace trade.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Regarding the big trade, I'll just say this: I think that for all three teams involved this is just a stepping-stone deal to try to help them get closer to their eventual goals. This is not the kind of deal where anyone involved with the teams would stand back, cross his arms and say "the pieces are all there, now they just have to make it work." I think instead they're all looking at what they just did and they're thinking "that'll hold for now, we'll try to make a real move this summer or next season."

Blogger Tonewise said...
Hey the raps got Primoz! ...practice fuel for Andrea? Dont get me wrong I don't mind the trade, plus u have to feel that the Raps are confident that TJ will be as close to %100 as he ever will be again come playoff time in order to send off Juan... even though I don't think he had any place on this Raps team anymore... his PT should back that up, even during TJ's long injy time.

Primoz-Rasho connection too, cant hurt...
Seriously tho, it stinks like a good move stuck in the back of the fridge that everyone overlooks as it's about to expire... Still it can feed the needy! (Dr.Drea)


hahaha Cleavland... hahaha... The NBA store in NY just began a floor plan for 2010 including the LBJ knicks apparel section.

Blogger Alex(andra) Cavnar said...
Guess what basketbawful?!?!?! Jordan Farmar's mother is a nice woman, and she does not smell like Shaq's SACK!!!!!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
The Cavs willingly acquired a guy that makes 15.5 million per year and who frequently airballs freethrows.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Basketbawful,

I see your point about Howard and Raja's defensive effort. Saying Raja played bad defense would not accurately describe what happened. I didn't see the Magic game, but I take your point.

Well said.

Anonymous Shrugz said...
oh btw shouldn't it be the 20th not the 19th?

Anonymous James said...
What do you have against Jordan Farmar's mom!?

Blogger Basketbawful said...
shrugz - Yeah. I boned that one. I need to get off the crack.

james - That she brought Jordan into the world? No, I keed. When I was sitting up late one night thinking about a caption I could add to that Lakers "fart" picture a couple posts ago, the whole "It smells like my mom!" word balloon for Jordan popped into my head and then subsequently cracked me up. I wanted to add a word balloon for Pau, who was in the front of the line, saying that he thought it smelled like Jordan's mom, but there wasn't any room. I figured that, at some future point, I'd have him say that a fart smelled like Jordan's mom...and there you have it: The frightening logic train of my fart humor. It amuses me, although it doesn't necessarily make me feel good about myself...

Anonymous james said...
As long as Jordan Farmar keeps producing like toooNIGHT, I don't care what his mom smells like ya hearrrrrd?

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