DeShawn Stevenson: "I warned you, but did you listen to me? Oh, no, you knew it all, didn't you? Oh, it's just a harmless little bunny, isn't it? Well, it's always the same. I always tell them...." Oops. Sorry. Wrong story. But for the record, I did warn Stevenson. Who in their right mind would want to rile up LeBron James? Would you spit on a cop? Would you kick a rabid dog in the snout? Would you show up on Mother's Day and tell your mom to bake you a pot pie? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then congratulations: You're officially as stupid as the Locksmith.
According to the Wizards' medical staff, it's going to take five to six weeks for Stevenson's eyebrows to grow back after the way LeBron torched him last night: 30 points, 9 rebounds, 12 assists, and 2 blocked shots in the Cavaliers' 116-86 atomic blasting of the Wizards. That 30-point margin represents Cleveland's biggest margin of victory in 112 playoff games. Stevenson played okay -- 12 points (4-for-7), 2 assists -- but King James ate his lunch. The defining moment of this "rivalry" happened last night when Stevenson hit a three to reduce Cleveland's lead to 16 points and blew on his "hot hand." LeBron responded with a three of his own with Stevenson in the poster. Watch for yourself. [From Odenized.]
Gilbert Arenas: Agent Zero! Now...plain zero!! It's not enough that Gil had a bad game -- 7 points, 2-for-10 shooting, 3 turnovers, 4 fouls -- he further humiliated himself by getting an exceptionally stupid technical foul by giving Wally Szczerbiak a needless post-foul shove. I kind of expected better of Arenas. And don't forget that his "I think everybody wants Cleveland in that first round" and "We don't think they can beat us in the playoffs three years straight" comments provided plenty of bullentin board material for last night's beating.
Brendan Haywood: Just when we all thought that the Wizards couldn't possibly light a bigger fire under LeBron, Haywood proved us wrong by getting ejected for shoving James out of bounds to prevent a dunk. As fouls go, it wasn't that hard -- certainly not a "Kevin McHale clotheslines Kurt Rambis" or a Bill Laimbeer special -- but it was the kind of player-in-the-air hit that could have caused LeBron to fall and possibly injure himself. So it was dangerous and stupid. Great work, Brendan. Top notch. Update! Basketbawful reader Tonewise would like to remind everybody about Haywood's summer job.
Oleksiy Pecherov: The Ukrainian Nightmare rounded out Washington's night of woe by putting up a three trillion. Seems fitting.
Tracy McGrady: It's not that T-Mac didn't play well -- 23 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocked shots -- it's that he pulled off yet another of his infamous four quarter disappearing acts, scoring only 1 point on 0-for-4 shooting. McGrady is now 0-for-7 in the fourth quarter in this series. It's deja vu all over again. It's deja vu all over again. It's...oh, you get it.
After the game, McGrady explained that it was exhaustion, and not clutchshotitis, that caused his latest fourth quarter collapse. "I had no legs. I was on empty. Banging with Matt Harpring, trying to rebound, trying to make plays for my team, trying to score, playing 43 minutes. That's a lot."
That's true. It was a lot. And I watched the game: T-Mac really was tired. But his post-game analysis felt like just another McGrady excuse. I did everything I could, but my team couldn't win. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think great players make those kind of excuses. I remember after a bone-tired Larry Bird played almost every minute of the 1985 NBA Finals, somebody asked him why the Celtics lost. His reply? "We wanted to win. [The Lakers] just played better." He could have blamed exhaustion, or the fact that he had a chronic elbow injury (he did), or explained that he injured his shooting hand in a bar fight during the Eastern Conference Finals (it's true). But Bird wasn't an excuse maker. Neither was Magic. Or Jordan (during his pre-Washington days, anyway).
McGrady really is on the same level of Kobe and LeBron...through three quarters. But he is and seemingly will always be 12 minutes away from true greatness.
Doug Collins and (I think) Kevin Harlan: I don't know if it was a studio edict or they just feel sorry for the guy, but Collins and Harlan spent most of the first three quarters making excuses for McGrady's inevitable failure. They repeatedly said that McGrady was having a great game -- which he did, until the fourth quarter -- and stated unequivocally that a Rockets' loss would not be T-Mac's fault. It's like they knew what was going to happen so they needed to start the excuse-making early. Well, at any rate, it's nice to know that McGrady is the one superstar who can't be faulted for his team's losses. According to these guys, anyway.
Update! Magic Johnson: From JustinS: "Magic must have received the memo, too, because he couldn't shut the hell up about McGrady during the half-time and post-game shows. I loved Magic as a player, but he's one of the worst commentators ever. He's in the Reggie Miller/Jon Barry League of Bad." Thanks, Justin. I had meant to include Magic the first time around. And speaking of Reggie Miller...
Update! Reggie Miller: Reg continues to mangle the English language during live broadcasts, to regularly amusing effect. Nothing so far has been any more hilarious than what he said last night, as pointed out by Ronald Mexico Sr. in my NBA Closer column today: "Did anyone else hear Reggie Miller proclaim that LeBron James was 'coming at the basket with a full steam of head!' in the first half of the game last night? Honestly the best line of any announcer ever. Period. Even Emmitt Smith giggled after that one."
Luther Head: Poor Luther. While his former U of I teammate Deron Williams was kicking the Rockets' collective butt -- despite a sore butt of his own -- Head was having a not-so-good game: zero points, 0-for-4, 1 rebound, and a bunch of Cheerios in almost 12 minutes of lack-tion. I bet he really misses college.
Andre Kirilenko's offense: The Russian Rifle's barrel got jammed last night; he scored only 3 points on 1-for-8 shooting. But he played some pretty mean D on McGrady, especially in the third and fourth quarters. And I just love it when the broadcasters talk about how long he is.
Update! Bad officiating: I've gotten several emails and comments about the offensive foul that got called on Luis Scola near the end of the Jazz-Rockets game. And yeah: It was bad. Real bad. Extra shame on Andre Kirilenko and his phony flop. As dunpizzle said: "The Stern Button made its playoff debut in Houston. Kirilenko showing us what happens after a Ric Flair chop sealed the deal for Utah and discredited a huge game-tying three from Bobby Jackson." Actually, I don't think it was The Stern Button, because the league would have benefitted from Houston winning. More games = Bigger television revenues. But it sure was one lousy piece of shit officiating. You can see it at the 1:15 mark.
This is what a bitter T-Mac had to say after the game: "You can’t call that. I like (referee) Tony Brothers, but that was a bad call. Very, very bad call. Three points down, crucial point in the game and Kirilenko flops. He flops and you call a foul on that? It was a bad call." You're not wrong, Tracy.
Also, from quick at Deadspin: "In T-Mac's defense, the refs gave Utah that game. AK-47 looked like an extra in a Jet Li movie, the way he flew when Scola brushed him with a hand. It was absurd. Somebody needs to take that guy out back and shoot him with his own gun."