Kobe Bryant: Señor Black Mamba scored 39 points (a team high) and grabbed 10 boards (another team high). Brilliant game, right? Sure, if you overlook his severe case of fumbleitis. For much of the game, Kobe handled the rock like somebody had replaced his hands with two honeybaked hams. He coughed up the ball a career-high 11 times -- 7 of which came in the first half -- on his way to his first career triple bumble. He also unleashed some of his trademark "subtle" criticism of his teammates: ""What are you going to do when guys are open? If I catch the ball, what am I going to do, go one on three? We made the right play, we just didn't complete it." I ran this one through the Kobe-to-English translator in my Batcomputer, and apparently that comment means, "Hey, not my fault. Go talk to Lamar. He airballed the final shot." But this also begs the question: When has Kobe ever shied away from going one-on-three?
The Kobe-aires: Kwame Brown, Lamar Odom, and Sasha Vujacic all shot 1-for-5. Vlad the Rad hit 2-for-6, and Jordan Farmar was 2-for-5. Don't bother pulling out your calculator, I'll just go ahead and tell you that adds up to 7-for-26 shooting (26 percent) from the Lakers not-so-supportive cast.
Rasheed Wallace's shooting eye: He shot 3-for-13 even though the Lakers don't really have anybody who can guard him. Yo, 'Sheed, you need to stop practicing those trick shots and focus on the fundamentals: Position your feet side-by-side about shoulder width apart, focus on the rim, keep your knees bent and your elbows in, and always follow through. Now go out there and practice, big guy!
Eddie Jones: He is old, and he is lame. Last night's line: 2 points (1-for-5), 2 rebounds, and 2 fouls in 23 minutes. Seriously, shouldn't he be playing for the Spurs?
DeSegana Diop: He played 1 minute and 55 seconds, contributing naught but a single turnover. To put this into perspective, Juwan Howard got almost twice as much PT, and I bet you didn't even know he was still in the league! (Also, at least Howard grabbed a rebound.)
Dirk Nowitzki: He was the star for Dallas last night, going for 31, 11, and 6. But Rajon Rondo -- who's approximately 50 percent Dirk's size -- tore a rebound out of Nowitzki's hands and then went under him for a reverse layup with 42 seconds that put the Celtics ahead for good. Said Rondo: "He didn't block me out, so I went up under and got the ball." When you're seven feet of gangly manbeef, how do you not block out a pint-sized point guard like Rondo? It's also worth noting that the last two Maverick possessions were "Jason Terry missed jump shot" and "Jason Terry turnover." Der Herr may be the league's reigning MVP, but the ball never seems to be in his hands at the end of close games.
Brian Scalabrine: He went scoreless in 16 minutes of graceless action. In the absence of Kevin Garnett, Secaucus Red has started three games and has three total points. Hey, one point per start! That's...not...that bad...right?
Cleveland Cavaliers minus Lebron James: Damn, those guys are helpless without Lebron. I'm sure everybody figured Cleveland could still beat a miserable, 10-win team without their leader, who was nursing a sprained ankle. Well, "everybody" needs to take a second look at the Cavs' roster. First off, Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao are out. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who supposedly got snubbed off the All-Star team, shot 3-for-13. (Although the rest of Z's game was in order: 11-for-11 from the line, 9 boards, 5 assists, 3 blocks.) Drew Gooden continued to suck, shooting 3-for-8 and grabbing only 3 rebounds (4 fewer than Dwayne Jones). I could go on, but hey, just trust me on this: Cleveland sans Lebron is a very bad team.
Donyell Marshall: Marshall amused his teammates and horrified fans in attendance late in the first quarter when he took off both his warm-up shirt and jersey while subbing into the game. Good times. Now watch Lebron go absolutely bonkers over it. I mean, sweet breakdancing Jesus, he was laughing so hard you'd think that Marshall had just gotten a pie in the face and then slipped comically on a banana peel.
Seattle Supersonics: Sure, they beat the "Cavaliers," but without Lebron (and the other missing starters), they might as well have been playing the Bakersfield Jam. The Sonics wasted 56 percent shooting and a 20-point halftime bulge and barely held on to win this ugly dogfight. Said Seattle coach P.J. Carlesimo: "The next time we have a 20-point lead, we'll close out better." That's a safe enough promise, since I don't see this team building that kind of lead again any time soon. And by "soon" I mean "this season."
San Antonio versus Phoenix: Okay, David Stern needs to pass some kind of legislation prohibiting these teams from playing each other ever again. The Spurs always manage to drag the Suns down to their level, transforming what should be a titanic clash of two great teams into something so ugly, so foul, that I honest-to-god almost chose to watch The Santa Claus 3 on cable instead. Both teams shot 38 percent and combined to commit 32 turnovers. The final score -- 84-81 -- might remind you of the old Knicks/Heat games from the late 90s, and the game would have too, assuming you had a strong enough stomach to sit through that crapfest. The most entertaining part of this game was when Craig Sager interviewed Gregg Popovich, and Pop stole Sagar's hanky and wiped his oily nose on it. And, even though it cracked my shit up, a Gregg Popovich interview should never be the highlight of a game between these two teams.
Francisco Elson: This guy has all but disappeared from Gregg Popovich's rotation, and last night's three trillion sort of explains why.
Matt Bonner: The line: 2 minutes, 3 fouls, zero everything else.
Manu Ginobili: There are certain rules of life that men are expected to uphold. One of those is that, unless you are being threatened with imminent and inescapable bodily harm, you do not hit, nudge, poke, slap, or otherwise abuse another man's nuts. You. Just. Don't. Do. It. Unless you're Manu Ginobili. (Thanks to Basketbawful reader sonofjorel for the link to the video, and props to Reggie Miller for coining the term "Man Region," a future Word of the Day.)
Leandro Barbosa: This dude should have been the X-Factor against the Spurs, because, without Tony Parker, nobody on San Antonio's roster has a prayer of staying with him. Yet he scored only 5 points on 2-for-10 shooting. And let me break this down for you: He was 0-for-5 on jumpers, and only 2-for-5 on layups. That's right. Three missed layups.
Amare Stoudemire: He couldn't keep Tim Duncan off the glass (TD had 17 rebounds). But even worse, he missed four freethrows in the fourth quarter, the last of which would have tied the game with 15.6 seconds left. Instead, the Suns were forced to foul and that was pretty much Game Over. Look, Amare, everybody knows you want to be The Man in Phoenix. Well, part of that is hitting your foul shots. I mean, vicious dunks are nice, high-percentage shots, and they'll get you on SportsCenter, but blocking out and hitting clutch freethrows wins games.
If you love giant robots...go check out my NBA Closer column at Deadspin. Actually, check it out even if you don't like giant robots.