Jameer Nelson and Maurice Evans: I've said over and over this season that guard play was going to doom. Well, after the first two games of the Raptors-Magic series, I was left enjoying the salty taste of my own foot. But no more. Nelson (6 points, 2-for-8, 5 fouls) and Evans (zero points, 0-for-3, zero assists, 3 turnovers) finally lived back down to my expectations. Even worse, they got burned by T.J. Ford (21 points, 7-for-11) and Jose Calderon (18 points, 7 rebounds, 13 assists).
Rasho Nesterovic: The Yugoslavian Terror has been on fire since March -- and I have proof -- but he still got exiled to the bench and played only 10 minutes last night. His line: 2 points, 1-for-3 shooting, 1 turnovers, 4 fouls. Why the reduced role? Some say that putting Jamario Moon back in the starting lineup rejuvenated a listless Raptors team. Me? I think Bryan Colangelo got Rasho's Contract Year Phenomenon vibe and told Sam Mitchell to sit him. That way he'll be cheaper in the offseason. See, as a GM, you've always got to be thinking ahead...
The Cavaliers' butterfingeritis: The Wizards put the pressure on Cleveland, and the Cavs responded by turning the ball over 23 times. Those turnovers translated to 30 points for Washington. Ouch.
LeBron James: With the Washington crowd chearing "OVER-RATED," LeBron chuckled and then boned a freethrow. If I was a Cleveland fan, I would have preferred to see King James adopt a look of steely-eyed determination, sink the freethrow, and then go off on the Wizards. But that didn't happen, which kind of surprised me. Maybe the presence of an angry Soulja Boy took LeBron out of his game.
Wally Szczerbiak: The line: 6 points, 3-for-9 shooting, no three-pointers, 2 rebounds, 3 assists. And while Wally World struggles, the Cavaliers are still waiting for the guy who was supposed to be such a big upgrade from Larry Hughes to show up.
Ben Wallace: Can somebody -- anybody -- tell me how having Big Ben (5 points, 2-for-4, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnovers, 2 blocked shots) for $15.5 million is better than having Drew Gooden for $6.4 million? Since I haven't picked on him in a while, I am morally obligated to once again point out that John Hollinger said of the Chicago-Cleveland trade "This one works, big time (for Cleveland)."
Daniel Gibson: I said he was going to need to step up and hit some big threes for the Cavs. He didn't (0-for-3).
Devin Brown: Amazingly, he was Cleveland's second-best player last night (10 points, 8 rebounds), yet he shot 2-for-8 from the field. That's the kind of night it was for the Cavaliers. Speaking of which...
Dwayne Jones: He was a mere two seconds shy of achieving a seven trillion. Even at six, it's still the highest trillion of the playoffs so far.
Gilbert Arenas: On a night in which almost everything went Washington's way, there was one little cause for concern: Agent Zero reinjured his surgically-repaired left knee. The Wizards claim that Arenas only has a bone bruise and he's listed as day-to-day. But still...it feels a little ominous, doesn't it?
But here's a question. What exactly is up with Stevenson's hand gesture? Caseta said: "Here's some material for your WotN: the announcers of the Cavs-Wizards game. Stevenson kept doing the 'can't feel my face' thing, and they kept talking about how no one can see him. They were thinking his gesture meant he was hiding or something. Quite annoying. especially after all the talk during the past couple of weeks. I wonder what they think Mutombo's wagging finger means...perhaps 'do you want to smell my finger ?'"
And this was Mike's response: "Actually, and I'm getting quite annoyed at this, the Hand-Waving-Infront-Of-The-Face gesture is 'You Can't See Me' started by one John Cena of WWE and The Marine fame. He started using it as part of his gimmick about two, two and a half years ago now. Those announcers were actually spot on. Everyone else who thinks that it means that he can't feel his face or he's cooling off his hot hand is just plain wrong."
Can we get a ruling on this? Has Stevenson ever explained it? Does anybody know?
Mehmet Okur: He had a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds), but he also missed 10 of his 13 shot attempts. And his bricklaying did not help Utah's cause.
Andre Kirilenko: He is Utah's X-Factor. When the Russian Rifle is on his game -- scoring, rebounding, passing, playing defense, doing all the little things -- the Jazz seem unstoppable. The only problem is, you never know which Kirilenko is going to show up: The do-everything defensive ace, or the can't-to-anything moper? Last night he was more or less the latter: 5 points, 2-for-7, 2 rebounds, zero assists, 2 turnovers, 1 blocked shot, and 4 fouls. How can such a useful guy be so useless in such a big game? Update! Dunpizzle had this to add: "More AK47 WotN - he had the audacity to try to win a 2nd straight game with a flop." Oh my stars and garters, he did. How did I miss that?! Have...have I become desensitized to Andre's flopping??
Some random Jazz fan: Memo to front row spectators everywhere: Bob Delaney will not tolerate your potty mouth. [From Odenized.]
However, another anonymous reader begged very much to differ: "Uh, not based on what I see. Sure he brought the Rockets close, but he almost bricked the game at the end as well. It was Carl Landry's drawn foul that gave the Rockets a 93-86 lead (opposed to 92-86). Tracy's screwup offensive foul allowed the Jazz to to pull within 93-92 (opposed to 92-92). Then Landry's block saved the lead for the win (no OT). It's annoying that most media members just blindly give McGrady a free pass, other than maybe Tony Kornheiser on Pardon The Interruption. That's 'why y'all hatin' on T-mac so much,' because at some point seven first round exits has to mean something."
It should be noted that McGrady scored 7 points in the final 3:29 of the fourth, and those were very important points. However, the win wasn't all Tracy, as Lipsome123 pointed out: "I keep seeing things about T-mac being great in the 4th quarter...really?! 2-8 shooting, bad fouls, leaving Okur wide open for a three is good? He was saved by his teammates." Keep in mind too that the win hardly absolves McGrady of several seasons worth of big game disappearances. As JR commented -- fairly or unfairly -- "T-Mac is just a real life exhibition of learned helplessness. I think its gotten to the point where we have to recognise T-Mac as the bizarro Kobe." Personally? I'd like to see Tracy put an end to all that. Just not against my Jazz, please.
ESPN caption writers: Basketbawful reader Quinton sent this in an email: "Big Q here, lover, fighter, die hard rockets fan. Thought you'd be interested in ESPN mislabeling not one of our role players, but our star shooting guard as a center." He's not wrong. Here's ESPN's caption for the lead picture of today's WotN post: "Houston Rockets center Tracy McGrady loses the ball as he heads against Utah Jazz guard Ronnie Brewer (9) during the first quarter of Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, April 24, 2008, in Salt Lake City." Center? So what, does that mean Yao is out of a job when his foot heals?