Mario West: From Ben Q. Rock of the Third Quarter Collapse. "West posted 2 points and 1 rebound in two minutes of action (not lacktion, for once!), but pointlessly extended the game by poking the ball out-of-bounds on two occasions with under 20 seconds left, when all the Magic were trying to do was inbound the ball so they could run the clock out. Dude, everyone in the arena wants to go home! Give up! Of course, if I were an NBA player struggling to earn more than 40 seconds of playing time a night for the Atlanta freaking Hawks, I'd probably do everything I could to stay on the floor, too."
Dwight Howard: More from Mr. Rock. "Dwight lead the Magic with 26 points and 16 rebounds, but he padded his rebound total by snatching balls away from his teammates, including Hedo Turkoglu, who at the time of one Dwight-swipe was just one rebound away from his second career triple-double. Turk eventually got that elusive tenth rebound, but he shouldn't have had to wait that long." Ben even provided this image of Superman bogarting a board from his frontcourt mate. Even Hedo didn't think he was going to get the last rebound he needed for the triple-double. "Not when you've got to battle Dwight Howard to get it. I kept telling Dwight I only needed one, but he's the No. 1 rebounder in the league and it's hard to get one off him."
One last note: Howard almost killed Zaza Pachulia during one rebound battle. That dude is serious about rebounding.
John Hollinger: In his review of the Bulls/Cavs/Sonics trade, Hollinger made it seem as if Cleveland GM Danny Ferry was making off like some kind of cartoon bandit: "This one works, big time. Answer me this: Would you rather have Hughes (12.0 player efficiency rating) or Szczerbiak (16.0)? Brown (8.5) or West (10.1)? Marshall (8.5) or Wallace (12.1)? Gooden (12.8) or Smith (17.4)?"
I thought this assessment was a wee bit bogus, mostly because Hollinger fiddled somewhat with the comparisons. After all, juxtaposing the PER of Shannon Brown and Delonte West didn't seem particularly fair, considering that Brown had appeared - and briefly - in only 15 games while West had played in 35 and gotten more minutes. Furthermore, Marshall was a seldom-used reserve who had made a mere 11 cameo appearances for the Cavs, whereas Ben Wallace was a starter who had played 50 games at a rate of more than 32 minutes per. And wouldn't Wallace versus Drew Gooden had make a better one-for-one comparison anyway? I guess what I'm saying is that, at the time, if felt as though Hollinger arranged the player matchoffs so he could use his PER numbers to support his "Cleveland won this one" argument.
But here's a little post-script to Hollinger's "This one works, big time" declaration. Wally's PER has plummetted from 15.8 to 9.1 while Larry Hughes' has soared from 11.8 to 15.3. Wallace's has dropped from 12.0 to 10.9 while Drew Gooden's has gone from 12.7 to 15.0. So, based solely on the PER numbers, does this mean that Hollinger was wrong, big time? I'll be interested to see whether he has anything to say on the subject.
Ben Wallace and Wally Szczerbiak: Big Ben - or "Big Bum" if you follow the Chicago newspapers - scored zero points (0-for-4) and grabbed 5 rebounds before leaving the game with back spasms, a common malady among the elderly. Meanwhile, Wally World played 27 sizzling minutes, scoring 8 points (2-for-5) to go along with 2 rebounds and an assist. Szczerbiak is now shooting 32 percent since the trade, which is roughly equal to Larry Hughes' post-trade shooting numbers.
Jarrett Jack and James Jones: The play of these two guys, Jones especially, is absolutely critical to the Blazers' success. So it's not surprising - considering their combination of 6 points on 1-for-12 shooting - that Portland scored only 80 points in a tough loss.
Sam Cassell's Boston debut: This is what the Celtics have been waiting all season for? Sam-I-Am went scoreless (0-for-2), committed a couple of turnovers, and got whistled for 4 fouls in 5 entirely unimpressive minutes. But Sam's not sweating it. "My timing is off. Not knowing the sets, not knowing where to go on the court is tough. I know I’ll play more than 5 minutes. I'm not even worried about it."
Josh Powell and Quinton Ross: These guys started last night for the Clippers, and they both with scoreless (0-for-8) in a combined 42 minutes of lacktion. And Mario West is pissed about it.
Pat Riley: Why did it take Riles so long to shut Wade down for the year? Seriously, he should have done it 10 or 15 games ago, at least. Of course, Heat fans - assuming there are any left - can't be all that excited about the prospect of watching Ricky Davis get 15-to-20 shots a game for the rest of the season. But hey, maybe Shawn Marion will actually learn how to create his own shot over that time.
New Jersey Nets: Yeah, I know they caught the wrong team at the wrong time. The Rockets are clearly peaking right now. But still: 30 percent field goal shooting, zero percent three-point shooting, only 12 assists. Ugly. Very, very ugly.
Vince Carter and Devin Harris: These two men are the future of the franchise. And that might be a big problem. Vince scored 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting. Harris scored 10 on 3-for-10 shooting and dished out one lonely assist. I feel the need to point these things out again: Vince is not a franchise player, and Harris is not a point guard - he's a two-guard trapped in a point guard's body.
Nate Robinson: Last night's 2-for-14 shooting performance is a sure sign that he won't be scoring 45 again any time soon. Unless, you know, he shows up to my Wednesday night pickup league. And maybe not even then.
Isiah Thomas: Dude is so ready to be fired. Not only did he get booed on the road again, he answered only one question in his postgame press conference - and it was about Jason Kidd - before running out the door without a word. Here is the full text of Isiah's postgame commentary, in case you're interested: "[Kidd] gets them out in transition. He gets them a lot of easy baskets. In that first quarter, every time we missed a shot - we came out cold - and every time we missed a shot, it was a fast-break layup, and everything was initiated by Kidd. He's a great player." This transcript does not include the sound of footsteps or a slamming door, but it could.
Chris Duhon: Remember how Duhon got fined and suspended for one game for missing the Bulls' Sunday morning shootaround and then basically said he didn't care? And then we all found out that he'd overslept because he'd flown to North Carolina on Saturday night to attend the Duke/North Carolina game? You might wonder why a professional basketball player who's already on the verge of being out of the league in a couple of months would do something so stupid. Well, now we know: "I wanted to go to a place where I felt comfortable and be around people who can boost my self-esteem." Wow. Hey Chris, I hope that little ego-boost is worth standing in an unemployment line this summer. For the record, Duhon is making $3.2 million this season. I don't know about you, but making that kind of green in a single year would go a long way toward raising this man's self-esteem. So John Paxson, if you're reading this, not only am I available but I also know how to set an alarm clock. Call me.
Mark Cuban: He has banned "bloggers" from the Mavericks' locker room. Ironically enough, the announcement was made on his blog. This is, of course, a response to the "Fire Avery Johnson" campaign. A petulant and immature response, but a response nonetheless. And this isn't the first time Cuban has given the stink-eye to a blogger. Why does Cuban hate bloggers so much, when he, himself, is a blogger? Is this a sign of some festering self-hatred? Let's hope so.
Now you face Doom! Dr. Doom took over my NBA Closer column today. Read it. Or else Doom won't be happy. And you really want him to be happy.