Dwight Howard's first three quarters: Thanks to a plague of fouls, Superman finished the third quarter with 3 points on 1-for-3 shooting. Which makes the fact that he finished the game with 19 points and 14 rebounds pretty incredible.
Maurice Evans: The Magic have such an imposing frontcourt that it's easy to overlook how shaky their backcourt situation is. Last night, Evans scored 2 points on 1-for-7 shooting and had only 1 assist.
Joey Graham and Maceo Baston: From Basketbawful reader BranGor: "The dynamic duo of Joey Graham and Maceo Baston recorded 2 one trillions on a Tuesday night showdown with the Magic. As if in synchronization, they both played 1:21." One small correction, though. Baston committed a personal foul, thus defiling his trillion.
T.J. Ford: Also from BranGor: "T.J Ford had a great game with 20 points (8-for-13) in 16 minutes; however, he also recorded 7 turnovers." As an additional note, Ford dished out only 2 assists, and I'm guessing that a 2:7 assist to turnover ratio isn't what Sam Mitchell was hoping for. Edit: Reader dinosty added this: "You missed out on something magical in your TJ Ford paragraph. Maybe he's still rocking a concussion, but Ford decided to channel early 90's MJ last night, taking the first 13 POSSESSIONS of the 4th quarter himself. I'm talking no passes, 13 one-and-done trips down the court. Stats are 9 shots and 4 turnovers in that stretch. He hit four of those shots, turning a close game into a one-on-five that got out of hand, quickly. I liked him better when he had the stinger."
The Atlanta Hawks: Okay. Simple lesson. Getting into a shootout with the Golden State Warriors? Never a good idea. Never.
Jeremy Richardson: Even more from BranGor, who seems to be as into this as I am: "As if envious of Wafer's innate abilities, Richardson vowed to double his achievements (zero-for-everything in 8 minutes) against the "iron-wall" of Golden State, no less. When Mario West (1 point in 7 minutes) scores more than you, you know you're in trouble." Sadly, Richardson ruined what would have been a beautiful eight trillion by taking (and missing) a shot attempt.
The Detroit Pistons: They let the Seattle 16-win SuperSonics score 41 points on 82 percent shooting in the first quarter. They dug in after that -- holding them to 13 points in the third -- but come on, Pistons. Getting into a dogfight with the Sonics when you're playing at home? You're better than that.
The Minnesota Timberwolves: I actually thought this game would be a gimme for the T-Wolves, particularly since they were playing at home against a bad road team (4-22 at the time) and the Bobcat's leading scorer, Gerald Wallace, was still out with a concussion. But, of course, there's no such thing as a gimme game for a 12-win team. Hence the 109-89 drubbing.
The Grizzlies' starting backcourt: Juan Carlos Navarro must have had Llobregat on the mind last night. Maybe that would explain his 4-point (1-for-7), 2-assist performance against the Bulls. Still, he was twice the man Mike Conley was (zero points, 0-for-6, 1-rebound, 1 assist). I guess what I'm saying is that the Grizzlies' problems aren't limited to their three-headed frontcourt hydra. Speaking fo which...
Kwame Brown: Kwame once again showed what Brown can do for the Grizzlies -- absolutely nothing -- by scoring zero points (0-for-1) and grabbing 1 rebound in 7 minutes of lack-tion.
The San Antonio Spurs: They win, and they win ugly -- I'm talking Kelly Ripa without makeup ugly -- employing what Statbuster likes to refer to as the "two rabid dogs just chewing on each other for 48 minutes" strategy. What a brick fiesta! The Spurs held the Nets to 37 percent shooting but only shot 33 percent themselves. I hope the Izod Center facilities manager equipped the first four or five rows with a blast shield of some sort. Oh, wait, that presumes that there were actually fans attending a Nets game. Never mind.
Kurt Thomas and Damon Stoudemire: The Spurs "beefed up" their roster with these late season pickups. Well, they combined to score 2 points on 1-for-9 shooting. Thomas did have 6 rebounds and a block in limited action.
DeSagana Diop: The Mavericks shouldn't have let him go, right? (He scored zero points on 0-for-2 shooting in 9 minutes.) He's a defensive stopper, right? (Zero blocked shots, zero steals, two fouls.) He's the only guy Dallas had to stand up to Tim Duncan, right? (Timmah had 29 points on 11-for-21 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds.) Okay. Just checking. Diop has yet to supplant Josh Boone (8 PPG and 7 RPG), or even take any of his minutes.
The Media: I'll admit that Kobe has been playing very well lately, and he's been fantastic in the last two games: Mamba scored 52 points against Dallas on Sunday (thanks in part to a generous 27 freethrow attempts) and he dropped 17 points in the last 6 minutes of the fourth quarter last night against the Kings (thanks in part to his 12 fourth quarter freethrow attempts...he is the new Dwyane Wade!). And the "Kobe for MVP" fervor is starting to reach a fever pitch. But, of course, the media is conveniently overlooking just how important Pau Gasol has been to the Lakers' resurgence. Picasso has been averaging 20 points on 59 percent shooting to go along with 8 rebounds and 3 assists per game. Last night he scored 31 on 10-for-15 shooting, which was much more efficient than Kobe's 34 on 10-for-26 shooting. My point is this: I think Kobe is great. He's playing really well and trusting his teammates. But he's not making them better; they've gotten better around him. That's why, for my money, LeBron is the MVP right now, with Chris Paul coming in second.
The Phoenix Suns: Basketbawful reader flohtingPoint doesn't believe what the box score is telling him: "Phoenix didn't win. I don't care what that scoreboard says, the second half of that game was godawful." He's not wrong. The first two quarters were some vintage Run-'n-Suns action, as Phoenix raced out to a 60-41 halftime lead. Then they played the rest of the game with their foot on the breaks, because the Suns scored only 37 points in the second half and ended up shooting 41 percent for the game. There's obviously something wrong with the Suns' offense, which begins and ends with Steve Nash. Only Nash isn't playing like Nash. As Basketbawful reader farfa said: "Suns won. Still, I guess that Shaq has become a giant lifesucker...come on, Steve Nash had 4 assists?! How is it possible? This dude used to dish 5 assist per night while asleep." It was Stevie's fourth single-digit assist game in the seven the team has played since The Big Slowpoke shambled into the Suns' starting lineup.
Shaq: The Big Creaky grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked 3 shots, but he got pushed around by Joel Przybilla and his offense has calcified (6 points on 1-for-5 shooting). Worse, though, is the effect he seems to have on the Suns offense. The first half of last night's game showed the promise of what this team could be, while the second half showed what the team seemingly is. To be continued.
Joel Przybilla: Ouch. And ouch again. Just call Joel the Poster Boy from now on. (Thanks to manic for the heads up and the link.)
Martel Webster: From Basketbawful reader Nick: "Check out Martel Webster's awesome 9 trilion in the first half of what I hope will be a Blazers cornholing at the hands of Phoenix. I think Emmanuel Lewis would have been a more effective Webster." Wow. Webster got a couple more minutes in the second half to finish with zero points (0-for-0), 2 rebounds, and 1 turnover. Mind you, he started. Here's the first half box score.
More NBA News...and Ron Artest flexing in my NBA Closer column.