As a follow up to yesterday's Ron Artest video blog post, here's a stinging mouthful of Ron-Ron's latest song and video: "In Da Hood." But beware: If you find horrible and poorly performed rap music particularly grueling, you should skip this.
(But not really. It is, as always, completely and unintentionally hilarious, especially when Ron is cluelessly tapping away at the buttons on his mix machine, which itself looks like something off the original Starship Enterprise. A kitten walking across a computer keyboard would have a better idea of what its doing. Thanks to Dunpizzle for the link.)
Lawrence Frank owes his career to one spectacular dead
coach bounce. And his ability to bake a mean quiche.
dead coach bounce (ded koch bouns) noun. The burst of inspired play a team experiences immediately following an in-season coaching change.
Usage example:The Washington Wizards benefited from a dead coach bounce last night, beating the Golden State Warriors 124-100.
Word history: I've been using this term since 2004 (more on that below). It's a simple takeoff on the phrase dead cat bounce, which is defined as follows:
"A dead cat bounce is a figurative term used by traders in the finance industry to describe a pattern wherein a spectacular decline in the price of a stock is immediately followed by a moderate and temporary rise before resuming its downward movement, with the connotation that the rise was not an indication of improving circumstances in the fundamentals of the stock. It is derived from the notion that 'even a dead cat will bounce if it falls from a great height.'"
I coined the term in response to what might be the most famous example of a dead coach bounce in NBA history: When Lawrence Frank took over for Byron Scott in New Jersey. What's very well known is this. Frank's ascension to the coaching throne ignited a 13-game winning streak that ran from January 27 to February 24, 2004. The streak set an NBA record for the most consecutive wins by a head coach to begin a coaching career. It was also the longest winning streak of any coach in any of the four major professional sports to begin a career. During the streak, the Nets won six consecutive games on the road, which also gave Frank the record for most wins by a head coach on the road at the start of his coaching career.
What's less well known is this: After starting out 13-0 under Frank, the Nets went 12-15 the rest of the way. And, in fact, since winning his first 13 games, Frank has gone .500 since (184-184). Yet every season I read or hear about that career-opening streak...which means even almost five years later, Frank is still benefitting from the dead coach bounce.
Another notable dead coach bounce happened in 1994 when Magic Johnson took over the head coaching job in L.A. The Lakers -- who were 28-38 when Johnson took over -- won their first Magic-coached game 110-101 against the Milwaukee Bucks and even managed to win five of six (including a 101-88 victory over the soon-to-be NBA champion Houston Rockets) before ending the season on a 10-game losing streak...after which Magic wisely stepped down.
Jim O'Brien also enjoyed something of a dead coach bounce in 2000-01, when he helped a terrible Celtics team (who were 12-22 when Rick Pitino finally resigned) go 24-24 over their final 48 games. He lost his first game as the C's head man, but he won on his second try against a 50-win Miami Heat team. He also presided over 6-game and 4-game wining streaks, which was something that Pitino (102-146 in his four seasons in Boston) could only dream of.
The Golden State Warriors: They crumbled in the face of what I like to call "dead coach bounce." It's that temporary burst of inspired play a lousy team experiences immediately following an in-season coaching change. The Wizards, heretofore lifeless and largely hopeless, had season highs in shot attempts (105), points (124), rebounds (54, including 23 on the offensive end), assists (27) and forced turnovers (20). Caron Butler scored a season-high 35 points, Andray Blatche had season highs in points (25) and rebounds (11) while tying his career highs in blocks and steals (5 each), rookie center JaVale McGee kicked in a season-high 14 points, and Antawn Jamison added 25 points and 11 rebounds.
Warriors coach Don Nelson, who's seen this kind of thing once or twice before, said: "We played an inspired team tonight. They outworked us, outhustled us, outplayed us. They did everything well and we didn't do very much well at all. Pretty disappointed with the way that my team played, especially the young players that got an opportunity to play. They all played very poorly." Don't feel bad. You guys had probably lost this one before the team plane even hit the tarmac.
Energy and inspiration. That's what the dead coach bounce will give a team. How long it'll last? I have no idea. But keep in mind that the Wizards were 1-10 for a whole mess of reasons, and Eddie Jordan was, at most, only one of those reasons.
Caron Butler, quote machine: Think Tough Juice supports the coaching change in Washington? Here's what he said after the game: "Now that we got 'Obama' on the sideline with us, we're going to ride with it. Tap, he's light-skinned, he stands for change, he's got a law degree, he uses big words, and he's new in the district, and he's in control now, so shout out to Obama. We won tonight; he brought a lot of hope. And he's good with numbers, so hopefully he'll change the economy as well."
The Knicks and the New York crowd: If they were staging an audition for LeBron, then the King's agent will probably tell them, "Don't call us. We'll call you." They stunk it up both offensively (41 percent shooting, 24 missed three-pointers, 17 turnovers) and defensively (they let the Cavs shoot 53 percent, forced only 8 turnovers and blocked one measly shot).
Meanwhile, the "fans" spent more time cheering for James and dreaming of 2010 than rooting for the home team. Nobody ran out of the stands to congratulate him or anything, but one guy screamed "Two more years!" at James as he was heading to the bench at the start of the second quarter. How's that for home court disadvantage?
LeBron James: On the one hand, the King tried to say all the right things. To wit: "We hear it every day, we see it every day on TV about 2010 all the time, we still go out and take care of business. We don't worry about what's going on. Me the leader, I can't let that faze me because I'm leading these guys onto something that we want to accomplish, and that's win an NBA championship."
But on the other hand, he also made comments suggesting that he's looking ahead just as much as anybody else. "If you guys want to go to sleep right now and not wake up until July 1, 2010, then go ahead because it's going to be a big day. July 1, 2010 is going to be a very, very big day."
He also let the NBA world know that he'll be willing to listen to anybody with the money to pursue him. "It's not just New York and Brooklyn. It's not just a two-team race." Presumably, his own team will be allowed to join in the LeBron Lottery...but that's quite a bit different than saying "I'm a Cavalier for life." I'm sure that's got to make the people of Cleveland feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
A textbook case of self-delusion.
One last note: Considering his immense talent and the attention being showered on him by the ongoing LeBron-a-thon, it's not all that surprising that there's a little megalomania brewing under the chiseled surface, but his ongoing battle with third-person verbosity continues to be my personal favorite King James-related subplot. The latest entry: "No team LeBron James is on will ever be under the radar."
Ben Wallace: Uhm, wtf? I guess he thinks he's a Pharaoh or something. Which would make sense. I mean, he's about as old as one...and he's practically mummified already!
The Klahma City Thunder: They maintained their league-worst team shooting percentage by hitting only 41 percent of their shots on the way to surrendering a double-digit fourth quarter lead to the Shaq-less Suns. (The Big Coffee Break got the night off because the Suns play again tonight in Minnesota, and Terry Porter is trying to avoid using him in back-to-back games.) The Klahmans also let the Suns shoot 53 percent and fell to a league-worst 1-14. But that doesn't have Joe Smith feeling down. After the game, Smith said: "We feel pretty good about where we're going." Really, Joe? Really?!
Kevin Durant: Despite being moved to the small forward spot, the 6'9" Durant grabbed only 4 rebounds. He's averaging 4.1 on the season. Meanwhile, the 5'9" Nate Robinson grabbed 3 last night in limited action (he left the Cavs-Knicks game with a pulled groin) and is averaging 4.5 per. As always, I'm just sayin'.
More internal dissent: Some of the :07 Seconds or Less holdovers on the Suns have made vague but pointed comments about the team's new, Shaq-centric offense, particularly since it's killed their running game and transformed Steve Nash into a hybrid of Brevin Knight and Chris Duhon. Last night, Nash (20 points, 8-for-14, 15 assists, 8 rebounds) transformed back into the Captain Canada we knew and loved during his MVP years, particularly during the Suns' fourth quarter comeback when he went 5-for-5 from the field and used his old pick-and-roll trickery to lead Phoenix on an 11-0 run. And, after Kevin Durant hit a three to give the Thunder a late 95-89, Nash scored the Suns' next 7 points to tie the game at 96-all with 48.5 seconds left.
Matt Barnes, who hit the game-winning three-pointer with 25.7 seconds to go, said: "He looked like old Steve. He took over in every aspect. We need Steve just to play his game for us to be the best team we can be, and tonight he did that."
But why hasn't Steve been "playing his game" lately? Nash has a few ideas on the subject. "It sure looks like we're just a little too reliant on Shaq. We're just not quite comfortable playing without him the way we used to play because we spend so much time trying to incorporate him. Terry's been working with us and trying to get us to get back to doing some of the things we used to do, things that we're good at, when he's not on the floor. We're finally kind of getting back to a rhythm that we had without Shaquille. Terry's been urging us to get back there. We have spent a lot of time working on the other stuff, and we've lost our rhythm there a little bit. We found it a bit tonight."
Huh. Makes you kind of wonder who's coaching who, doesn't it?
Goran Dragic: Remember how he was going to be the answer to the Suns' longstanding problem at the backup point guard position? Well, he earned his second-straight DNP-CD last night (and he played only three minutes the last game in which he appeared). And Nash was forced to play 42 minutes despite the fact that the game was the first of back-to-backs. Seriously, should it really take five-plus years to find a semi-dependable backup PG? Whatever. I guess Steve is going to need a few extra X's in his vitamin water.
The Indiana Pacers: They coughed up a 13-point second-half lead and lost to the Mavericks in Dallas, 109-106. It's part of Indiana's continuing habit of losing leads and then losing the game: The Pacers have led at halftime in 12 of their 13 games...but have only five victories. Said Danny Granger: "We just can't seem to close teams out." The problem is pretty obvious, if you ask me. Go-to guy Mike Dunleavy Jr. hasn't appeared in a single game this season. They might be 12-1 if he'd been playing. Sadly, that bone spur in his knee isn't getting any better...
James Singleton: He started in place of the missing Josh Howard (right ankle injury) and promptly sunk to the occasion. In his nine minutes of PT, Singleton went 0-for-2 and finished with 2 fouls and one blocked shot. Unfortunately, it was his shot that got blocked. That gives him an impressive suck differential of +5. To think, he was the Eurobasket All-Italian Lega2 Player of the Year in 2004. And Lega2 is the second-highest division of professional club basketball in Italy. It's a shame James can't do more with that level of basketball pedigree.
The New Jersey Nets: Kobe Bryant had another bad shooting night -- 5-for-17, including 1-for-9 in the first half -- and the Nets still lost by 27. But that'll happen when you convert 34 percent of your field goals, give up 51 percent shooting and force only 9 turnovers. Said Devin Harris: "We did not play like the Nets tonight." Uh, I dunno. I've followed this team for a long time, and it seemed to me they played exactly like the Nets.
Phil Jackson, ego masseur: After the game, the Zen Master addressed Kobe's shooting woes. "I think [being 12-1 is] a good sign and it's a healthy sign. But we want Kobe to shoot the ball well and have big games, obviously. That's the focal part of our offense -- to get things through him. We want to have him be the threat, so that everybody has to overplay and always be concerned with him. That makes everybody else have an easier game." Reading between the lines, Phil seems to want his star to know that he will personally make sure Kobe still gets his numbers. Having had plenty of superduperstar experience with Michael Jordan, Phil understands that, in the long term, it probably won't be enough for Kobe to be on the best team in the league if he isn't also playing like the best player in the league. It wasn't enough for Jordan, and it wouldn't satiate Kobe's desire to dominate. And one of the few things that could derail the Laker Train would be the return of the Mamba.
For the record, the Lakers were only +2 with Kobe on the floor, while they were +29 with Lamar Odom, +25 with Sasha Vujacic, +24 with Jordan Farmar and +19 with Trevor Ariza. Can a team's bench win the MVP? Because right now, L.A.'s bench raiders are the best "player" in the league.
Kobe Bryant: While meeting with the sinister Legion of Doom to discuss the best strategy to use against Aqua Man, Black Manta said, "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?" Kobe replied "This." and then killed Black Manta.
Update! Typealyzer: Oded, a reader from the far-off (to me, anyway) land of Jerusalem, wrote in to say the following: "The Typealyzer site accurately deducted that YOU are 'The gentle and compassionate type. They are especially attuned their inner values and what other people need. They are not friends of many words and tend to take the worries of the world on their shoulders.' I think the last sentence is especially on target, don't you? They should probably add a new personality type there -- The Bawful." I feel so naked before the mighty analyzing power of the Typealyzer. They can probably see what I had for dinner last night.
The Philadelphia 76ers: If the Sixers are going to challenge Boston in the East this season, they need to be able to beat the Bobcats on the road. Last night, they did not, falling 93-84 in Charlotte. Mind you, the 'Cats entered the game shooting 43.0 percent as a team (26th in the league) and scoring only 86.7 PPG (last in the league). Yet, against Philly, they shot 55 percent (and 57 from downtown). They also assisted on 21 of their 34 field goals. The biggest problem was that the Deep-Sixers -- who shot 39 percent themselves -- had no answer for the dynamic duo of D.J. Augustin (25 points, 8-for-11, career-high 11 assists) and Raymond Felton (23 points, 8-for-11, 7 rebounds, 5 assists).
Elton Brand, who shot 6-for-13 and fouled out with under a minute left, said: "They outhustled us on a few loose balls and they knocked down timely shots. We expected to be better than that." We all did, Elton. We all did.
Matt Carroll: His two-minute stint was highlighted by...a turnovers. Congrats, Matt. You just earned a +1.
The Orlando Magic's free throw shooting: Admittedly, I didn't watch the Bucks-Magic game, but I will always find a 54-21 advantage in free throw attempts for the home team a little eyebrow-raising. But whatever. Here's the crazy part: The Magic missed 16 foul shots...which they had almost as many misses as the Bucks had attempts. Dwight Howard, of course, had 10 of the gonks (out of 20 attempts). Said Stan Van Gundy: "It's every game, so I do worry about that."
He's right to worry. Howard currently leads the league in FTA (11.6 per game), but he's hitting only 54 percent of them. He's missed 74 free throws (out of 162 attempts) in 14 games. Several teams don't have a single player who has attempted as many 'throws as Dwight has missed. Currently, there are only eight players in the Eastern Conference who have been awarded more than 74 tries: Ben Gordon, Chris Bosh, Devin Harris, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter. And there are only 21 players in the entire league who have more than 74 attempts. That's not just a Kryptonite rock to the Magic. That's a Kryptonite nuke. It's not a matter of "if" it'll cost them games. It's a matter of "when" and "how many."
J.J. Redick, quote machine: "I'm starting to feel more comfortable. I missed some shots [against Houston]. ... If my shot starts going in, I'm going to go from playing solid to playing great." Oh yes. Oh yes he most certainly did. I really think J.J. needs to check his game log or else explain how shooting 27 percent on the season is "solid." (Thanks to the anonymous tipster for the head's up.)
Mark Blount: Despite the fact that the Heat were getting dismantled by Dr. Yao last night (28 points, 9-for-15, 12 rebounds, 4 assists), Heat coach Erik Spoelstra stuck with Udonis Haslem on defense. Haslem, for the record, is almost a full foot shorter. Meanwhile, Blount -- the only seven-footer on Miami's roster -- didn't even get off the bench. You know you really suck when...
Michael Beasley, quote machine: The Beasemeister -- who's still listed as 6-10 even though we all know he's not -- said: "We did all right, but Yao's Yao. He's 8 feet tall. Ain't much we can do." Things we've learned so far this season: LeBron's LeBron and Yao's Yao. Glad that's all cleared up.
Yao Watch: Okay. I guess we have to officially call off the Yao Watch. After having his shot stuffed 17 times in Houston's first nine games, Yao has only been stuffed once in his last five games. And dude has been on fire since the Watch started: 21.6 PPG (on 64 percent shooting) and a shade under 10 RPG. And the Rockets won all of those games. (They lost the game he missed against Dallas.) So, Houston fans, feel free to thank me for lighting a fire under your big man.
Dwyane Wade: Despite Yao's big game, the Heat could have won if Wade had played like Wade. Pookie scored 23 points, but it took him 23 shots to get there. He also missed five of six three-pointers and committed 5 turnovers. Said Ron Artest: "He played really bad tonight. He didn't play like I'm used to seeing him play." True dat.
The Memphis Grizzlies: The scary bears lost for the seventh time in their last eight games and dropped to 4-10 overall thanks to 39 percent shooting. Much of that was attributable to Rudy Gay (6-for-19, 1-for-7 from distance). Way to waste a surprise double-double from Darko Milicic, Rudy. Speaking of which...
Tim Duncan: The Griz started Darko Milicic on Duncan...and it worked. Darko's lumbering defense helped harass TD into 6-for-18 shooting. I guess we can officially label Darko "The Duncan Stopper."
The Utah Jazz: As if all the injuries (Williams, Boozer, Korver, Harpring) weren't bad enough, the Jazz suffered their first home loss since last March on a last-second jumper from Larry Hughes. The worst part: It was a junk shot off a long rebound.
Of the win, Junokasm said: "Derrick Rose had another solid night (10-18, 25 points, 9 assists), but if he ever puts me through a Larry Hughes 20-footer to win again, I may throw up." No kidding. I'm sure plenty of Jazz fans tossed their cookies after that shot.
C.J. Miles: I know he tried to get there. But still...dotted.
Luol Deng: He's back! Bad groin and all. But he could have stayed away. The final line: 2 points, 1-for-5, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 3 turnovers, a steal and 2 fouls. Chicago fans continue to rejoice that John Paxson didn't at least take a shot at that Kobe-for-Loul and friends trade last season. And by "rejoice" I mean "pray that Paxson develops a terrible rash on his genitals."
EnergySolutions Arena: For some reason, the shot clocks on top of the baskets weren't working, so temporary clocks were put on the floor in the second half. How does that happen? As important as those clocks are, you'd think they'd, you know, test them before the games and stuff.
Greg Oden: Basketbawful reader Sassman was quick to provide a statistical comparison between Oden and our boy the Vanilla Godzilla: "Starter Greg Oden: +/- of -22 in 19 min with 4 TOs. Back-up Vanilla Gorilla: +/- of +23 in 28 minutes to go with a double-double, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 5-6 shooting, and only 1 TO." AK Dave went so far as to suggested that Greg is the new Joel Pryzbilla: "Looks like Greg Oden finally took over the starting spot from Joel Pryzbilla. He took over Joel's production as well: 3 points, 6 boards, zero blocks, 4 turnovers and a -22 +/- rating. Whoah. Meanwhile, the Vanilla Godzilla scored 10, pulled down 12 boards, blocked 2 shots, had a +23 rating, and said very mean things about Beno Udrih's mother, causing him to turn the ball over 6 times. I guess Oden hasn't 'arrived' yet." Tough crowd, tough crowd. Look, while I agree that Oden isn't burning up the nets just yet, I'm just happy he's playing. Every time he jumps or pivots without shattering something inside his prematurely aging body, that's a victory.
NBA.com: From Basketbawful reader Alexis: "Here you can see the box score from tonight's Blazers game versus the Kings. I attempted to highlight where NBA.com noted with an X a missed shot, taken out of bounds, with 0.00.1 seconds left on the clock at the end of the second quarter. I'm not sure who can claim ownership of this fail, whether it would be Steve Blake for taking a shot from out of bounds, or NBA.com for noting this as a 'missed shot.' While I can't claim to know what exactly the point of considering this a shot attempt would be, or whether Blake truly was going for a ninety four footer, I do know there is a fail somewhere in this image."
I'm sure this was just a mistake. Unless, of course, Steve was channeling the spirit of Antoine Walker.
The Los Angeles Clippers: Well, let's see: 38 percent shooting, a double-digit home loss, a 2-10 record, and a trade that's being held up by a player physical. Yep. They are who we thought they were.
Mike Dunleavy, quote machine: You'd think Dunleavy Sr. would be a little skittish after Eddie Jordan got the ax, but he sounded downright pleasant after his team's 10th loss in 12 games. "I thought there were a lot of good things in the game for us. We had some good ball movement and our energy was really strong through stretches of the game." Way to accentuate the positive there, Mike. By the way, Dunleavy is now the third most-tenured head coach in the NBA behind Utah's Jerry Sloan and San Antonio's Gregg Popovich. Notice how one of these things is not like the others...?
Kobe Bryant: He borrowed Sasha Vujacic's favorite pen but didn't return it. And it was a clicky-top. Sasha loved that pen.
The American legal system (again): A 12-year-old boy was arrested for farting in class. I am being deadly serious. According to The Smoking Gun, police were called when the boy became disruptive, shutting off the computers of classmates and "deliberately passing gas" at his school in Florida. I'm sure the people of Florida are pleased as punch that their tax dollars are being used to wage a war against middle school flatulence.
Congratulations, C.J. You've been dotted...by Larry Hughes.
dot (daht) verb. Describes those situations in which a players attempts and converts a jump shot over the outstretched arm of his defender.
Usage example:Larry Hughes dotted C.J. Miles with a game-winner last night.
Word history: A reader named Nate from Purdue University discovered that a trio of ballers on the Ohio State men's basketball team started a blog called Club Trillion. Loyal Basketbawful readers already know what that means...but here's their introduction:
"We named ourselves 'Club Trillion' because as athletically limited white folk, we found ourselves riding the bench for the Buckeyes. When the time came for us to get in, there would usually only be 1 minute remaining in the game and after sitting down for 39 minutes, we really had no interest in trying to be all that productive. So we devised the plan of trying to get the 'trillion' which occurs when we play 1 minute and do absolutely nothing that would appear in the box score, thus making our stat line say 1 minute played followed by a bunch of zeroes."
That's right. Not only are local NBA broadcasters all over the country now mentioning the trillion during games, there are college basketball players -- bench jockeys, but still -- who have dedicated their very existence to earning one. I would like to think that my exhaustive attempts to promote the trillion these last few years is partly (or even mostly) responsible for this and many other cool things, like toasted subs and the techno privacy scarf.
But I digress. One of the blog authors, who has plenty of time at the end of the Buckeye bench to devise side projects, came up with a "People To Dot" list. Here's how he explained it:
"We have a saying around the program that when someone shoots a jumper over a defender's outstretched arms, said defender just got 'dotted.' This phrase comes from the notion that the defender makes up the long part of the letter 'i' and the ball serves as the dot. We would call it 'dotting the i,' but apparently some other group at Ohio State came up with that phrase just a few days before we did. I suggested calling it 'tittling the i,' but the coaches refused to believe that the dot of an 'i' is actually called a tittle. Plus, that sounds incredibly inappropriate to say out loud. So we stuck with 'dotting.'"
There are a handful of hard and fast rules to the dotting process. They are as follows (note that I revised the author's original list):
1. The defender has to be making an attempt to challenge/block the shot.
2. The shot must go in.
3. The dot must occur in a live game situation.
4. (Optional) The defender must be informed that he was "dotted."
This not only provides something new to watch for when you're chilling out with NBA League Pass, but it provides new trash talk fodder for your pickup games. Of course, since most pickup ballers think "defense" is just "waiting to get back on offense," it might be a while to before you encounter an outstretched arm to shoot over.
The New York Knicks: The Knicks have spent more time above .500 this season than they have for the past seven years. I didn't do the research to back that up, but it sure FEELS right, doesn't it? Anyway, their mini-renaissance has been nearly miraculous. It might also be over, for this season anyway, because Donnie Walsh traded the team's top two scorers (Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph) for Al Harrington, Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas. Bottom line: Walsh was not trying to make the team better. He was clearing payroll. As the moment, the Knicks are committed to only four players and $18 million in salary for 2010. Which is, of course, when LeBron becomes a free agent.
What a way to stick it to the fans, huh?
But Mike 'Antoni is willing to lie about the whole situation if it'll get people off his back. "I really want to dispel the notion that we did it to clear [cap space], which we did. Obviously, we have a long-term plan and that was the plan the very first day. But we're not throwing this year away or thinking that we're not going to make the playoffs, that we're waiting for three years. We're going to go out and develop this team and really fight hard to make the playoffs."
So...you guys didn't do it to clear cap space, Mike? What do you have to say, Donnie? "Opening up cap space down the road for us is a big plus on our side, and I hope our fans understand that can give us an opportunity to make the team better according to the plan that I've outlined. And so I'm trying to be true to what I've said from Day 1." Okay. So they didn't do it to clear cap space. Except they did. Well, that clears things up.
The drama didn't end their, however. 'Antoni claimed that, with Crawford gone, he extended an olive branch to Stephon Marbury. "When the trades went down this afternoon, I said, 'Look Steph, one of the principals are gone, Jamal Crawford. There's 30 to 35 minutes out there, and they're yours if you want them. Are you ready to go?'" According to 'Antoni, Marbury said he "wasn't comfortable with the situation, and he did not want to play. So at that point, I go, 'O.K., that's your decision, and that's fine.' That's it."
Marbury, who taped his ankles for Friday night's game and was on the bench, took the contrarian view: "The only thing I'm at liberty to say is that I was told that they were moving forward, and I'm not the person who chooses who plays or doesn't. Refusing to play is when the coach tries to put you in the game and you say you're not going in. If he asked me to go into the game, I was going into the game. That's why I taped my ankles."
So did he refuse to play or not? Can you clear this up, Mike? "He was in a tough situation. I'm not mad at Steph. But that's enough of the talk because it is a distraction and we need to go forward and we have a new team coming in and we're going to get this done." Oh. Guess not. Whatever, then. As a side note, the shorthanded Knicks lost to the still Michael Redd-less Bucks 104-87. They shot 34 percent and missed 23 three-pointers. Said 'Antioni: "We kind of got down, felt a little sorry for ourselves, probably, and kind of gave in. Our wills gave in a little bit."
I love New York!
Washington Wizards: Their 12-point home loss to the Rockets sent them wildly careening to a woeful record of 1-9 and led to Eddie Jordan's double-facepalm, shown above in all it's Technicolor brilliance.
Brent Barry: Basketbawful reader Jamesjen, uhm, isn't happy with the youngest Barry: "Okay, I'm a Houston Rockets fan, and I was quite accepting of the Brent Barry trade. I'm even very understanding of his wrist injury at the moment. But he's been ZERO for 10 on his three pointers over his last seven games! Over the past three games, he's had a suck differential of -5!! HELP. STOP PLAYING BRENT BARRY, PLEASE."
The Indiana Pacers: They let a winnable home game -- in which they led for over three quarters -- slip away thanks to the decision to go directly at Dwight Howard (24 points, 17 rebounds, 5 blocked shots) for a potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation AND a potential game-tying shot at the end of overtime. Superman blocked both shots. Game over.
The Los Angeles Clippers: They very nearly pulled off a big road win against the 76ers in Philly, but they not only lost a 1-point heartbreaker, they were beaten by a 15-foot jumper launched by prodigal son Elton Brand. But never fear, Clippers fans. Zach Randolph is on the way! He's just like Elton Brand, only fatter and worse on D...a perfect pickup for the Clips (who fell to 2-10).
The Toronto Raptors: From Shayan of Time Intact: "I live in Toronto, am a hoops junkie and therefore a die-hard Raptors fans. But the frustration that last night's heartbreaking loss left me with has pushed me to demand that you include the Raps for your 'Worst of the weekend' edition. We blew an 18-point lead to the lowly Nets. And the icing on the cake? We let Vince Carter, our former love-affair-turned-lithium, stick not one but two daggers down our throats (a 3 bomb to take the game to OT, then an alley-oop dunk in an inbound play to win the game)." Ouch. Almost makes me pity the Canadians. Can their health care system cure...a broken heart?
Shayan also directed my attention to the Fire Sam Mitchell site. With Eddie Jordan gone, I think Sam's got next in the NBA Coaches Unemployment Line.
Vince Carter: Talk about twisting the knife. Carter scored 39 points against the team he screwed the hell over, helping the Nets rally from an 18-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Raptors 129-127 in overtime on Friday. But it wasn't just the points, it was how he scored them. Carter scored NJ's last 12 points in regulation, including a 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds that forced overtime. Carter then won the game with a reverse dunk on Bobby Simmons' inbounds pass with 2.1 seconds left in overtime.
Andrea Bargnani: From Dr. Henry Pym: "When doing your "Worst of the Weekend" post, make sure to point out how not only did the Raptors blow a double digit lead to the Nets tonight, but also make sure to mention how Andrea Bargnani gagged up the game for the Raptors in the final minutes. While he did have a career night, the big idiot committed a horrible foul in the final stretch, AND blew two wide open three pointers in the span of 12 seconds, one was an airball! That takes a special kind of suck." It does. But Bargs is that special kind of sucker.
Sean Williams: The Raptors had their share of defensive lapses in the fourth quarter, which allowed the Nets to come back for the W. A big part of that was because Jermaine O'Neal missed almost the entire final stanza (and overtime). With 11:37 left in the fourth, O'Neal fell backward when Williams yanked O'Neal's jersey while trying to block The Drain's shot. O'Neal landed awkwardly, clutching at his left thigh, above a brace he wears on the knee. Williams was hit with a flagrant, but the damage was done. Here's the tape.
Eric Lewis: File this one under "Whistle Happy Refs." During the Bobcats-Hawks game, Charlotte coach Larry Brown was called for a technical by Lewis after he said "Hey, ref." Seriously. That's it. Joey Crawford would be proud.
Big Baby Davis: Lost amidst the many "KG returns to Minnesota" stories was Big Baby's line: 22 minutes, 0-for-3, 2 rebounds, a steal and 5 fouls. Rumor has it Doc Rivers punished Davis by limiting him to only five post-game Big Macs (which Baby covers in gravy and chocolate sauce, by the way).
Kevin Love's pants: Basketbawful reader Garron thinks Love needs to address the droop in his draws: "Both the commentators of the Celtics-Wolves game on Friday kept harping on about this, but they are right; Kevin Love needs pants that fit. At least once every possession, Kevin Love has to pull up his pants, and in the third quarter, the Celtics caught on to this and kept waiting for Kevin to make his adjustment before driving passed him. There have been worse wardrobe malfunctions (Donyell Marshall anyone?) but this has been the only one I've seen that affects play." What do you think guys? Examples here, here, and here. But the best one's here.
The Utah Jazz: Against the Spurs, Utah was without Carlos Boozer (strained his left quadriceps), Deron Williams (left ankle sprain), Kyle Korver (inflamed right wrist) and Jarron Collins (inflamed right elbow). Which sort of explains the 119-94 loss. Doesn't make it any easier to swallow, though.
Erick Dampier, Gerald Green and James Singleton: All three of these men started for the Mavs...and that's pretty much where their "contributions" ended. Damp grabbed 8 boards, but he scored only 1 point and committed 4 fouls and 2 turnovers. Green had a suck differential of +7 in only five minutes. Singleton logged 30 minutes, scoring 5 points on 1-for-7 (and two of his shots were stuffed). Did I mention these guys STARTED for Dallas? Because they totally did.
Klahma City Thunder: The Thundercats fell to 1-12. Feels more like 1-112. They shot 36 percent and committed 25 turnovers. Nick Collison, who said his team has a "very long" list of issues, said: "No one should feel sorry for us. We’re in a good situation. We've just got to try to play the best we can. That's all we can really do. We can't control much else." Apparently the list of things they can't control includes their bowels, since they keep taking a huge, steaming dump on their fans every time they take the court.
Kevin Durant: Against the Hornets, Durant shot 5-for-13, grabbed only 2 rebounds, had zero assists, turned the ball over thrice, and got two of his shots stuffed. And his team lost by 25. Not a superstar.
The Denver Nuggets: Despite the glittering Won-Loss record since trading for Chauncey Billups, the Nuggets were still casually swatted aside by the Lakers in L.A., proving they're not quite ready to contend for anything than a first or second-round playoff loss. Said Mr. Big Shot: "This team taught us a lesson tonight, and they beat us in every aspect. When you come out against a team like this and don't give 100 percent, it shows." It sure does.
Sasha Vujacic: Loved the 2-for-11 against the Nuggets. Hate the hair, though. The hair's gotta go. When was the last time he washed it, anyway?
The Golden State Warriors: The Bulls haven't won on their Circus trip for 100 years -- okay, that's an exaggeration, but still -- yet they managed to pull out a victory in Golden State behind and offensive explosion from Larry Hughes (26 points,8-for-16, 5 three-pointers). When you allow an offensive explosion from Larry Hughes, you aren't very good.
Dwight Howard: He got a lesson in Post Play 101, courtesy of Dr. Yao Ming, who torched Howard for 22 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a blocked shot. Meanwhile, Superman was held in check (13 points, 9 rebounds, a couple blocks). Said Dwight: "He's a tough guy to guard. He's very gifted, he shoots the ball extremely well and that sets up everything else in his game. I learn a lot every time I play him." I seriously hope he's being serious, because learning one post move -- JUST ONE!! -- would make him so much better.
Rashard Lewis: He was 6-for-21, including 1-for-9 inside the arc. Were his hands cryogenically frozen before the game?
The Los Angeles Clippers: They put the finishing touches on their winless weekend, a true masterpiece of suck, by suffering a 17-point ball-busting in New Jersey. Yi Jianlian scored a season-high 27 points despite going up against a Clipper frontcourt that includes Al Thornton, Chris Kaman and former Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby. Said coach Mike Dunleavy: "Their big guys, especially Yi, were able to follow as a trailer and get some great shots. They shot the ball really well." He then broke down into tears when he realized that defensive "help" in the form of Zach Randolph is on the way.
Joe Johnson: Memo to Joe Cool: If you want to be considered one of the best players in the league, you can't be held to 4 points and shoot 1-for-8 against one of the best teams in the league. That is all. Actually, it's not. Your defense sucked too.
Zaza Pachulia: He was awful for two straight nights but didn't deserve two entries. Atlanta's starting center managed 4 points (0-for-3), 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers and 3 fouls in two games. Can we deport him back to Tbilisi?
The Indiana Pacers: They capped a winless weekend by losing a second consecutive game in which they built an early double-digit lead before falling asleep. And Danny Granger has no idea what's going on. "I couldn't tell you what it is. I don't know if we should let the other teams start winning first, so we can come back in the end." Uh...not a good plan, Danny. Nice try, though. Anyway, Danny might be boggled, but Pacers coach Jim O'Brien -- who watched his team fumble the ball away 21 times -- has an idea. "When we don't turn the ball over, we win. When we turn it over, we lose. It's that simple." Well, then, stop turning the ball over. Problem solved!
The Washington Wizards: They dropped to 1-10 after losing to a shorthanded Knicks team that played only seven guys on the second night of back-to-backs. Said David Lee: "We had seven guys basically running on fumes today from playing 40-plus minutes yesterday." Apparently, "fumes" are all that's necessary to beat the Wiz these days. But despite that, Washington coach Eddie Jordan remained positive, saying: "So even though we've lost and we're 1-10, we don't have losing habits and that’s a good thing." Then he got fired.
The Memphis Grizzlies: The Jazz -- still sans Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver -- still managed to beat the Grizzlies in Memphis, thanks to 55 percent shooting and 23 points from Mehmet Okur. The Griz also committed 18 turnovers and provided many a SAD FACE to their fans. Said Mike Conley: "It's like they are all little pests out there, slapping at the ball. I think we just got a little too carried away. We started crying to the refs a little bit too much, looking for fouls, instead of staying aggressive." Winning. Attitude.
The Klahma City Thunder: The Good news? They shot 53 percent and got a big-time game out of Kevin Durant (30 points, 11-for-16). The bad news? It didn't matter. They still lost by 12 to the Hornets. The Thunder are now an NBA-worst 1-13, but Earl Watson is still full of the rah-rah-rah: "We played the right way. We've had games where we were close but didn't play the right way most of the game. This time, you could see a different flow." Different flow. Same results. But enjoy the moral victory, Earl.
Greg Oden: He got gobbled up by a man who's almost twice his age (even if he looks half his age). Shaq showed Oden what it means to be The Big Man by going off for 19 points (8-for-12) and 17 rebounds (7 of which were offensive). On the subject of the Big Quote Machine...
Shaq, quote machine: Basketbawful reader SD pointed out that Shaq The Big Shogun now thinks he is the Final Boss in the NBA: "I'm the shogun. And before you get to the shogun, you've got to go through a lot of ninjas. He has to go through Dwight Howard and Yao Ming and by that time, I'll be out of here."
Goran Dragic: The guy who was supposed to help reduce Steve Nash's minutes and thus keep Captain Canada fresh for the playoffs played all of zero minutes against the Blazers. Meanwhile, Nash logged 40. Oh, and speaking of Steve...
Steve Nash: The 16 points (6-for-7) and 7 assists were good. The 8 turnovers? [Holds nose] That's Nashty. Better stop swimming with sharks, Steve.
The Toronto Raptors: Okay. I'm officially removing the "D" from Canada -- it will hereafter be referred to as the Land of Canaa -- because of the Raptor's performance against the Celtics yesterday. Boston reenacted the meteor strike that killed the dinosaurs ("inosaurs"?) by shooting 61 percent from the field (45-for-73) and almost 60 from downtown (10-for-17), thus routing the Raptors. In Toronto. Hand. In. The. Face.
The Return of The Drain: The big question when the Raptors acquired Jermaine O'Neal from the Pacers this summer was "Can he stay healthy?" The answer, dear readers, is "no." I know. shocker. The Drain -- playing despite having strained his surgically-repaired left knee on Friday -- left the game in the second quarter after falling down following a missed jumper. He spent the second half in the locker room getting treatment. "I tried to gauge it and see if I could help the team, but I didn't really have any stability, it was becoming too painful." I promise I didn't cut-and-paste that quote from one of his last three seasons with the Pacers. But I could have.
The Golden State Warriors: They played something resembling defense in Philadelphia, holding the Sixers to 39 percent shooting, and lost 89-81 anyway. But that's what happens when you get abused on the glass (54-38) and give up 22 offensive rebounds. Blocking out: It's not just for prep schoolers anymore.
The Detroit Pistons: Losing by 18 to the Celtics in Boston is bad but understandable. However, losing by 26 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in Detroit is almost a horror beyond imagining. Good Gods, at one point Brian Cardinal and Mark Madsen were in the game AT THE SAME TIME. That's the ultra-dreaded double human victory cigar. PistonsGirl4Life, where ever you are, I'm sorry. Detroit coach Michael Curry, who had no recourse since the NBA doesn't allow you to trade players during a game, said: "My top three guards were 5-for-27, but they've played enough basketball that they know they can't get frustrated. Add in Rasheed Wallace, and it is 8-for-37. You aren't going to win many games like that." Part of that 8-for-37 was Allen Iverson, who scored only 9 points on 3-for-11 shooting. Said AI: "I stunk up the gym tonight. I couldn't do anything right on the offensive end. It was one of the nights you wish you never have, but they happen. It will be tough to sleep tonight." I'm sure nodding off is a lot easier when you're resting your head on a pillow of $100 bills.
The Chicago Bulls: This Circus Trip of Horror continues for the Bullies, who let the Nuggets shoot 54 percent, including a career-best 10-for-10 for Kenyon Martin. Said Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro: "We made some defensive mistakes and gave them some easy baskets." Sure, Vinny. Kind of like how the captain of the Titanic made some navigational errors. Martin, for his part, couldn't remember the last time he'd gone 10-for-10 in a game. "Probably never have—unless it was 1-for-1." he said, smiling. Lots of opposing players smile after playing the Bulls in November.
"D"rew Gooden: Alex D. from Mexico wrote in asking for me to remove the "D" from Gooden's first name: "Rew Gooden let K-Mart have a 10-10 shooting night and grab two important offensive rebounds with less than a minute to play. Also, his three-point attempt with 5.8 seconds left was blocked by Nene." Okay. Done. Anybody need a "D"?
The Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakeshow has apparently decided that, due to their impressive array of offensive talent, their games are now "defense optional." Which would explain why the Kings shot 53 percent against them (including over 60 percent from inside the arc) in L.A. "I thought we were poor, defensively," said Phil Jackson, proving he still has a way with understatements. The Lakers also committed 17 turnovers which turned into 30 points for Sacramento. But don't worry, Laker fans. They still got their Hollywood ending. I mean, the Kings are still the Kings. Speaking of which...
The Sacramento Kings: Despite making their game against the Lakers semi-pseudo competitive, they still suffered through a winless weekend that saw them get give up 117 and 118 points (respectively) and get outscored by a combined total of 31 points. GO KINGS!!
Update! Vladimir Radmanovic: From "Radman" to RAD, MAN! Love the glasses, Vlad. Or should I call you Moon Unit Alpha? (From Lakerhead Daily via TrueHoop.)
Brad Miller: Ever notice how Miller almost kills one or two people a season on flagrant fouls? Last night's victim was Trevor Ariza, who dashed by Brad the Mad en route to the hoop and got clotheslined to the floor for his troubles. If Brad wasn't so pasty and shapeless, I'd accuse him of 'roid rage. It's worth noting that, amazingly, no flagrant was called...despite the fact the we live in a world where Kenyon Martin can get ejected for setting a pick. The NBA at it's consistent best.
Update! Kobe Bryant: Mamba took the last ice cube from the tray without refilling it and then uttered an evil chuckle under his breath as he walked away. (Submitted by Wild Yams.)
Suck differentialists: Marko Jaric (Grizzlies) +1 against the Spurs; Gerald Green (Mavericks) +7 against the Grizzlies; Louis Williams (Sixers) +4 against the Clippers; Gabe Pruitt (Celtics) +3 against the Raptors; Chris Mihm (Lakers) +2 against the Nuggets.
Trillionaire Club: Javaris Crittenton (Grizzlies) had a one trillion against the Spurs; Ike Diogu (Trail Blazers) had a four trillion against the Kings; Will Solomon (Raptors) had a one trillion against the Celtics; Mark Madsen (Timberwolves) had a two trillion against both the Celtics AND the Pistons; Quincy Douby (Kings) had a two trillion against the Lakers; Tarence Kinsey (Cavaliers) had a one trillion against the Hawks.
Mario Brothers: Jacque Vaughn (Spurs) had a seven-second Super Mario against the Jazz; Von Wafer (Rockets) had a nine-second Super Mario against the Magic; DeAndre Jordan (Clippers) had a 23-second Mario against the Nets.
I know. It seems like a rather modest gain for almost two and a half months worth of three-days-a-week workouts. But it's a gain nonetheless. And I have to tell you, even though I'm only jumping a couple inches higher, the training has improved my game in ways that I didn't originally anticipate. I haven't measured my foot speed, but I can tell you that my first step is faster and I'm breaking to the hoop with greater force and authority. Some of that is psychological -- I've become more aggressive off the dribble to test the results of my training -- but some of it is physical as well. I'm getting by and around people easier than I was. I'm finishing stronger.
The funny thing is, my game had been regressing for some time without me realizing it. That is, I had been shooting from distance more and more and driving less and less. Naturally, I had been making excuses for the change in style -- the lane was too clogged, the floor was too dusty, my defender was just going to foul me anyway, etc. -- but in reality I had lost a step and simply had no idea. I wasn't really choosing not to drive. I couldn't. Not as often or as easily, anyway. But now I'm getting that quickness back. I have to admit, that has me pretty juiced up. (Conversely, realizing my physical skills had been deteriorating without notice was somewhat alarming. I definitely had an "Oh my God I've become Antoine Walker!" moment. And let me tell you, that's a terrible moment to have.)
There are, however, some downsides I should probably mention. Technically speaking, I'm overtraining. The program suggests at least a full day (24 hours) of rest between each workout, but I've been lifting, running, biking and/or playing basketball on my "off days" (except Friday). I can't help it; I just don't want to give those things up. The side-effect is that my legs are sore and tired pretty much all the time. I've tried to address this by hydrating, eating right (most of the time), hitting the hot tub at my gym, bathing with Epsom salts, rigorous stretching, self-massage...I've even gotten a handful of actual massages from a professional masseuse (no happy endings, though, so don't ask). These measures help, to be sure, but not so much so that I can feel totally recovered without taking a couple days off from any kind of intense physical activity. This has introduced a rather interesting paradox: I feel both great AND like crap at the same time. Weird, huh?
There's another downside to the overtraining: Based on everything I've read, it's likely retarding my overall progress. It's possible, even probable, that I might have gained even more than two inches of increased leaping ability had I strictly adhered to the program's rest guidelines. But what can I do? I'm not going to stop living my life and pursuing my other goals just so I can jump higher. Maybe the pros have recovery secretes I haven't heard of. Who knows.
I call this photo "The Joy of the Human Victory Cigar."
The Detroit Pistons: There aren't any Bad Boys on this Pistons team. Heck, there aren't even any Moderately Rude Boys. (Okay, okay. Rasheed Wallace probably falls into the "moderately rude" category.) Basically, Detroit got pushed around and beaten up by the Celtics last night. You won't see it in the box score, but that's what happened. There was very little defensive toughness and even less in the way of interior defense. The need for Antonio Keithflen McDyess -- yes, his middle name really is Keithflen -- hadn't yet been so obvious and glaring. Rajon Rondo got to the cup at will. Boston got to the boards whenever they wanted. None of the Pistons were able to fight their way through a pick...and Allen Iverson kept getting knocked around like a ping pong ball by them (particularly when KG's butt was involved). Doug Collins said it best: Detroit is now a finesse team. I'm not saying it can't work -- it did against the Lakers and Cavaliers -- but it sure hasn't worked against the Celtics (as two losses by a combined 30 points can attest).
Honestly, I could probably write an entry for most of the Pistons (Rip Hamilton was 4-for-9, Tayshaun Prince was 2-for-9, Walter Hermann looked like Fabio's evil, greasy twin, etc.) But let's just focus in on...
Allen Iverson: He was torched so badly by Rajon Rondo (game-high 18 points, 7-for-11, 8 assists, 3 steals) that he'll probably be penciling in his eyebrows for the next six to eight weeks. It was stunning to see someone as quick as Iverson get beaten so badly off the dribble. He also made several unfortunate gambles for steals that aided and abetted some of the Celtics fast breaks. The 5-for-13 shooting and 4 turnovers didn't help either.
Rodney Stuckey: From AnacondaHL: "Rodney Stuckey was 1 rebound and 2 assists away from a 15 minute +11 suck differential (0-2, 5 TO, 1 BA, 3 PF)! DAMN IT!" Yeah. Remember, Joe Dumars expects Stuckey to be The Next Big Thing in Detroit. I guess the key word there is "Next"...as in "Not Yet."
I don't care. I'm saying it: Om nom nom nom
Kevin Harlan: During the game, Harlan was presiding over a 'Sheed Watch, trying desperately to predict when Wallace was going to receive a technical foul...even though it never happened. After one call that didn't go his way, Wallace was calmly discussing the situation with an official when that official signaled that Boston had called a timeout. Harlan then exploded with giddy excitement: "Oh! He just got T'd up!" He sounded quite dejected when he had to explain that the ref had simply been signaling for a timeout.
Robert Sarver, Steve Kerr and Terry Porter: I've tried to be patient. I've tried really hard not to overreact. But last night, watching the "Suns" play the Lakers, I became filled with a white-hot rage over what these three men have done to a team I used to love. In their desire to remake the Suns into the Phoenix branch of the San Antonio Spurs (a.k.a. Spurs: Part II), they have transformed something magical into something painfully, achingly ordinary. Apparently, they believe that a Shaq-centric offense is still the foundation upon which championships are built. It is not. And I guess they want Steve Nash to become a latter-day Brevin Knight, dutifully distributing the ball to the team's big men, spotting up, and shooting only when necessary or as a last resort. That's like only using your Lamborghini to do the grocery shopping.
Mind you, Porter claims his team is free to run. Selectively. But that's not how he's calling the shots, so when the Suns do run nobody is filling the lanes or spotting up the way they need to. Nash can't drive baseline or get anywhere near the basket -- which used to be the go-to maneuver from which he found many an open shooter or cutter -- because the paint is now chock-full of Shaq (and often times Amare too). Furthermore, Porter has, amazingly, managed to do something no opposing coach has been able to do for four years: Stop the Nash-to-Stoudemire pick-and-roll. Seriously, Sun Tzu used to get four or five dunks/alley-oops per game. Now it feels like ages between slick pass-and-dunks.
I'm officially living a nightmare...watching a once-beautiful thing suddenly become monstrous and ugly. It's like falling asleep next to Scarlett Johansson but waking up next to Alan Greenspan. Do not try to comfort me. I cannot be consoled. Not only is one of my all-time favorite teams dead, I only just realized that I missed the funeral.
By the way, watching the devolution of Nash -- which, make no mistake, has more to do with how the team is being forced to play than his relative athletic senescence -- made something pop into my head. During Steve's second MVP season, I got into a series of rather heated debates with the Kobe-4-MVP crowd. One of the main arguments that kept getting thrown in my face was Kobe's higher PER (28.0 to 23.3). This was supposedly an indicator that Kobe was making a greater overall contribution to his team's success than was Nash. But I've always argued that a player's PER can be deceiving because it is lowered by the increased productivity of a player's teammates. To wit: Do you know what Kobe's PER is this season? It's 23.3 -- the same as Nash's in '06 -- which puts him at 14th in the league...right behind Al Jefferson. Yet I would be willing to bet my collection of brass Larry Bird door knockers that the same people who used the PER argument against me would totally ignore the fact that Dwyane Wade (33.2), LeBron James (33.1), and Chris Paul (32.3) are light years ahead of Kobe in terms of PER this season.
Don't mistake me, here. I'm not even remotely trying to start an MVP debate this early. In fact, I'd punch myself in the groin if I were. I'm just expressing my continued annoyance at the people, and there are still plenty of them, who use PER without context or perspective.
Amare Stoudemire: I don't know whether he's Standing Tall And Talented after scoring 21 points on 21 shots, but he probably shouldn't be. He would be so much better if he could develop one post move. Just one.
The Phoenix "home crowd": Late in the game, the crowd was cheering for the Lakers and somebody tells me that there was an "M-V-P!" chant for Kobe. Dear God.
Pau Gasol: From Basketbawful reader Jordan G: "My eyes are burning out of my sockets, now oozing down my skin. WHAT THE HELL WAS PAU GASOL DOING?! Was I the only person in the entire world who saw Pau Gasol push Matt Barnes face-first into the hardwood while Stoudamire was at at free throw line? Straight up. Fourth grade bully status. And as he ran down the floor you could hear someone yelling out from the crowd "You pushed him!" and he just gave a shoulder shrug like "Yo no do nada, senor." You could almost read Gasol's mind as if he said, "Dude...you're arguing with the guy that got away with the Chinaman face...didn't you see the Chinaman face?" Yeah, I noticed. But I was too busy hating Terry Porter at the time to care.
Kobe Bryant: His final line looked pretty decent (24 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists), but he shot 8-for-23 (and 1-for-5 from distance). And, frankly, that percentage was only partly due to the Suns' defense (such as it was). I don't know if Mamba wanted to prove something to Shaq or whether he was having flashbacks to the 2006 playoffs, but he forced up some really TURRIBLE shots last night. Even the broadcast team noticed it. Kobe is currently shooting 44 percent from the field...his worst percentage since 2004-05 (the Lakers' first post-Shaq season). That strikes me as more than a little odd considering how talented the team is. Based on his level of skill and abilities, I would think Kobe should be shooting a much better than that. But, as has always been the case with him, that percentage is often an extension of the kind of shots he takes (read that: forces). Yes, I know he draws a lot of defensive attention, but what superstar doesn't? Even guys without jumpers -- D-Wade (48 percent), LeBron (49 percent) and Chris Paul (50 percent) -- are doing better than that. I'm just sayin'.
Sasha Vujacic: This is belated by a couple days. It's Sasha boning a breakaway layup during the Bulls-Lakers game. Many thanks to the Anonymous commenter who left the link.
Another stupid fan: From Basketbawful reader Alexis: "It's only the first quarter, but I'd like to vote for the guy sitting courtside wearing a Lakers' Shaq jersey. Maybe sit one row back and spend the remaining cash on a current jersey. Get it together." Agreed. He and the "Iverson Who?" fan should get together and have a pajama party. Update! I didn't recognize the fan, but Clifton did: "The guy wearing the Shaq #34 Lakers jersey courtside was Michael Clarke Duncan (picture there). And as far as I'm concerned, if Michael Clarke Duncan wants to wear a two-teams-outdated Shaq jersey, Michael Clarke Duncan can wear a two-teams-outdated Shaq jersey. Sir." Uh, totally agreed.
Awesome jersey! Love it! Wear it often, sir!
Gilbert Arenas, quote machine: Don't worry, Wizard fans! Gilbert will be back soon to save the day! Or...will he? From Basketbawful's faithful Romanian reader Alex B: "Not sure if you've seen this one yet, but here goes. From Gilbert Arenas' new book, Tanking 101 (via the nba.com website): 'I don't want to see them struggle,' Arenas said Thursday at Madame Tussauds, where his wax figure was unveiled, "but if this is one of those years where we don't make the playoffs or we finish in last place...that's what happened to San Antonio and that's how they got Tim Duncan and look at them now...and that's for the better." Uh, Gil, isn't it a little early to start thinking about tanking? Geez.
You might remember Clutch the Bear, Houston's adorable inflatable mascot (one of them anyway), who once gobbled up and then regurgitated an entire cheerleader. Well, Clutch's continuing misadventures had him scaring people...with hilarious results that included a violent nutshot (from a little girl no less) and a mean right hook. Your funny bone is sure to find this video...unBEARable. And yes, I'm going to say that every time Clutch is mentioned on this site.
All of the pictures used in today's post are courtesy of Shayan from Time Intact.
The Washington Wizards: The latest chapter in Washington's 1-8 saga was even more depressing than the previous chapters. The Hawks -- who were without starters Al Horford (sprained right ankle) and Josh Smith (sprained left ankle) -- broke their four-game losing streak despite the missing personnel, 39 percent shooting and 16 turnovers. Atlanta did it by dominating the boards 58-40 [!!] despite, as I mentioned, missing 66.6 percent of their starting frontcourt. The Wiz...they couldn't keep Zaza Pachulia (career-high 18 rebounds, 8 of which were offensive) off the glass. It's called a boxout, guys. Might want to try it some time.
Sadly, Washington had a 4-point lead going into the final minute, but Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams hit back-to-back threes...and Williams' triple was set up by a shot clock violation Washington committed with 32 seconds left. Even Antawn Jamison's post-game diatribe/motivational speech had a feeling of perfunctory helplessness to it. "It’s the same situation. We're just not closing games out. We're making the same mistakes. We've played it over and over again. We can't lose games like we did tonight. We have to stop the bleeding. We have to find a way to win." Good luck with that, Antawn.
Mario Brothers: Last night's Marios include Othella Hunter of the Hawks (25 seconds) and...no one else. Sorry, Othella. You sucked worse than anybody else who played. Your prize -- a bag of flaming poo -- is on its way. Via carrier pigeon.
The Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade had season highs in both points (40) and assists (11) AND he had a career-best 5 blocked shots. Oh yeah, he is back. And how! For the record, since blocks became an official stat, the only other player to have a 40-10-5 game was Alvan Adams of the Phoenix Suns, who had 47 points, 12 assists and 5 blocks against the Buffalo Braves on February 22, 1977. And he only had 3 turnovers. Yet, despite Wade's historic effort, and Shawn Marion's best game of the season (20 points, 10-for-17, 14 rebounds), and the fact that they were playing at home, the Heat lost to the Toronto Raptors.
What happened? Well, they let the regularly disappointing Andrea Bargnani score a season-high 25 points. They also failed to get their hands in the mugs of Toronto's three-point shooters: The dinos were 8-for-8 in the second half, including 5-for-5 from Anthony Parker. Said Parker: "I had a good feel for the shots." Uh, yeah, I guess so.
It also didn't help Miami's cause that they let the Raptors get them down by 17 in the third quarter before yet another comeback attempt...which the Heat have been doing a lot of this season. Wade, who has been promoted to Senior Captain Obvious, said: "You waste a lot of energy when you come back from 10 or more. You don't really want to do that." You also don't want to stick a pencil in your nose. Trust me on that.
Jermaine O'Neal, quote machine: Said The Drain: "We knew they were going to make a run. Of what magnitude we didn't know." This quote just made me think of Admiral Ackbar in Return of the Jedi lisping out "We can't repel fire power of that magnitude!" Thanks, Jermaine.
LeBron James: The King shot 8-for-21 and missed all four of his three-point attempts. Said James: "That happens in this league. You have good games and bad games." You know, it doesn't surprise me that the Pistons figured out that if you keep LeBron out of the paint, you have a much better chance of holding him down and beating his team. File that one under "Lessons Painfully Learned."
Ben Wallace: 23 minutes, 3 points, 5 boards, a steal and 2 blocked shots. And only one more season -- after this one -- at $15 million!
Daniel Gibson: Another stellar night for Cleveland's sniping specialist: 1-for-7 and 0-for-4 from downtown. He's hitting only 37 percent of his shots this season, 31 from distance. It makes me wonder what would happen at my Clark Kent job if I suddenly lost the ability to write. Think they'd keep asking me to do it?
Mike Brown, quote machine: "It was like a bunch of their players got together at halftime and said 'Let's bear down and take this game away from the Cavaliers.'" Well, golly gee, Mike. IMAGINE THAT.
Wally Szczerbiak: The Cavs put Wally World on the inactive list so that he can address a personal matter. Which makes me wonder if "address a personal matter" is going to become the new NBA euphemism for "you need to stop sucking, dude." Seriously, though, I hope it's nothing serious. Like maybe he got traumatized when somebody on the team mussed his strangely perfect hair.
The Philadelphia 76ers: Boy, just when it looked like the Sixers had climbed out of the hole, they fall right back in...dropping back to a game below .500 after losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was 'Sota's second win of the year. Said Philly sixth man Willy Green: "They were desperate. They had a sense of urgency all game long. They wanted it more than us. It was obvious." What was also obvious is that the Sixers didn't want to play any defense last night. They let a T-Wolves team that's shooting 43 percent from the field on the season hit more than half of their shots (38-for-74). Wolfman Craig Smith scored a season-high 21 points on 7-for-9 shooting and freaking Sebastian Telfair had 8 assists. C'mon, Philly. You're better than that. Or not.
The 'klahoma City Thunder: The latest stop on their odyssey of awful includes a 20-point home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. It was win number two for the Clips. The Thunder -- currently the league's worst shooting team (40.7 percent) -- hit their average by clanking 60 percent of their field goal attempts and committing 20 turnovers.
Ricky Davis and Tim Thomas: Despite a the fact that the Clips had what was probably their best game of the season -- even if it was against the Thunder -- these two men still managed to suck. Davis scored zero points (0-for-5) in 21 minutes. Thomas was 1-for-7 in 17 minutes. Mind you, these guys were both free agent pickups; L.A. didn't wasn't forced to take on their contracts in order to complete a blockbuster trade or anything. I'm just sayin'.
Baron Davis, team leader: Following his team's incredible defeat of the Thunder, Cuttino Mobley confided the following: "Baron said before the game, 'You've got to get focused.' He told the whole team that. I was going to try to play as hard as I can and see what happens." If the team needs a motivational speech to get up for the Thunder...it's going to be a long season. But we all kind of knew that already, didn't we?
The New Orleans Hornets: What in the name of Odin is going on in New Orleans? The Hornets were supposed to make The Leap this season. Yet last night, they lost at home -- their third loss in New Orleans Arena already this season -- to the still Kevin Martin-less Sacramento Kings. The Hornets are now 5-5. It's the first time they've been .500 since the end of the 2006-07 season. Said David West: "This is a bad loss for us. We definitely have taken steps back as a team. We're going to have to come together and make a push because right now teams are just walking over us." The Kings sure did. Sacramento shot almost 55 percent from the field. Apparently, the Hornets are employing the vaunted Mike 'Antoni method of stopping people. Which is to not.
Yao Ming: The good news: Dr. Yao didn't have any of his shots blocked last night. The bad news: It's because he sat out of Houston's game against the Dallas Mavericks with a sore left foot, ending his consecutive games played streak at...11. Yao was held out "for precautionary reasons" after leaving Monday's game at Oklahoma City with a left ankle injury. He underwent tests on Tuesday that supposedly revealed no structural damage.
The Houston Rockets: They looked nearly helpless without Yao, scoring only 86 points on 37 percent shooting. AT HOME. Said Rick Adelman: "When you don't have Yao, you've got to move the ball and you have to create situations. We don’t have a lot of guys who can break you down off the dribble." No kidding. The Big Other Two, T-Mac and Ron Artest, were both an identical 5-for-14 from the field.
Brent Barry: I received an email from Basketbawful reader Daniel K with a subject line of "If a washed up Brent Barry isn't in the worsties tomorrow, then I don't know what I'll do." So, to prevent anything dire from happening, here's the rest of what Dan had to say: "With 7:13 left in the second quarter, Brent Barry's corpse has missed two open three's (the only reason he's in the league), and two terrible turnovers." For the sake of posterity, Barry finished 0-for-3 (all from three-point range) with 2 rebounds, an assist, 2 turnovers and a steal.
Luther Head: Gott im Himmel! Will he ever see action again? Head logged his 8th DNP-CD of the season last night, despite the fact that the Rockets were playing short-footed.
Luis Scola: Hands. On. Defense.
The San Antonio Spurs: After several days worth of "They're really pulling together!" stories, the Spurs fell back apart in a tough home loss to the Nuggets in which they scored only 81 points and shot a cold-as-the-girl-who-broke-your-heart-in-high-school 38 percent. Gregg Popovich provided stunning insight into the loss when he said: "Denver played well enough to beat us." Thanks for opening our eyes, Gregg.
Keyon Martin, quote machine: The tough guy with girl lips tattooed on his neck held Tim Duncan to 12 points on stinky 4-for-13 shooting. Said Martin: "I don't let Tim do what he wants to do. Never have and never will." Just then, Duncan bent over to take a drink from the water fountain and Martin ran over and chop-blocked him. Note: According to Basketball-reference.com's Head2Head Finder, TD has averaged 22.8 PPG (on 50 percent shooting) and 12.6 RPG against Kenyon Martin.
Jerry Sloan, coaching genius: What did Sloan tell his players to do when they fell into an third-quarter hole against the Bucks? Ronnie Price said: "Coach told us to pick it up, push the ball up the court and make some plays on defense." I know it sounds simple, but...no, it's actually pretty simple.
Andrei Kirilenko, four-star General Obvious: "It's good to keep winning, but we need to stop losing people. We won, but if we keep losing people that's not good. Other things that aren't good include: Nuclear war, dead puppies and Andrei's hair.
Kosta Koufos: Basketbawful reader Justin T. writes in that: "Koufos played nine minutes and had a rebound. And a foul. And also, he had a rebound. That is all." Fun fact: Justin has a fantasy team named "A.C. Green's Virginity." Which, somewhat ironically, is more fantasy than the real A.C. ever had in his life. Speaking of which, visit the A.C. Green Youth Foundation Web site to learn more about the joy of not making nookie. Not having sex worked for A.C., and it will work for you too! (Example: Reason number 18 to abstain is "You begin to compare sexual experiences, leading to lots of disappointments." Actually, that's just a sign you're having the WRONG experiences. Any lovely ladies out there who are laboring under this misconception are encouraged to contact me directly for more information.)
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute: He shot 2-for-10, but whatever. The real reason I brought him up is to announce his official Basketbawful nickname: Jean Luc Richard. Which is a Star Trek: The Next Generation reference in case you don't get it. However, I still reserve the right to refer to him by "Labia mud charm toucher" or "I'm a dumb, urethral coach."
From Junokasm: "The circus was not in Chicago tonight, it was in Portland, where the Bulls turned the ball over 21 times. Just plain embarrassing. I see one player in the Bulls future that is currently on this team. How does a roster just forget to play defense? Joel Pryzbilla 6 for 6??! Ike Digou more than tripled his total season scoring in one night. That's right, Ike Digou. Do Kirk Hinrich, Chris Duhon, and P.J. Brown strike you as defensive stoppers? Maybe Malik Allen or Adrian Griffin? Viktor Khryapa? Because that's the difference between this Bulls team and the 2006 team that was supposed to lead to a Post-Jordan Bulls renaissance. That and a coach who wouldn't take crap from his players. Am I missing something? Too late and too tired." Ouch.
Speaking of coaches, Sami wrote in to say the following: "Can I cast my vote for 'Worst Coach of the Year'? Is there even one? Well, there should be. 'Cause Vinny Del Negro would freaking run away with it. I came to this conclusion after watching the first quarter of the Bulls-Blazers game. 13 first-quarter points scored, and they trail by 21. That's 1.1 points per minute. Seriously, watching the Chicago offense is like trying to watch a short, fat kid jumping for a Twinkie. It's disheartening. Drew Gooden taking shots from 21 feet, Tyrus Thomas (or should I say Torus) chucking up a lot of 'what the hell was that' shots. Some ball movement, little player movement. They just pass until one of them drives or pulls up for a crappy contested jumper. All of this while Vinny watches from the sideline, with a look on face that says, 'I really shouldn't have been drinking when I accepted this job.' Yeah, they horrible." Okay. Consider your vote cast.
Finally, Caseta wrote in with a note on Luol Deng (known by the Chicago Sun-Times as Lull Dens), who missed last night's game with a groin injury:
Speaking of deng, i was playing NBA 2K9 with the Bulls against Deng's team (I traded his soft butt ASAP) and at one point he made a layup. The two commentators then had the following exchange:
Commentator A: He lays it softly of the glass.
Commentator B: He really has a soft touch, doesn't he?
Commentator A: Some people like to take it hard to the rim, but not him. He prefers to use his soft touch around the rim.
(Not 100% accurate, but this was the idea) This got me thinking, "Damn, this game is soooo realistic. Not only is Deng made soft, but he gets picked on because of it. I can't wait to see if they call Shaq "fat" or Marbury "retarded."
Kobe Bryant: The Mega Powers EXPLODED last night when, during their match against The Twin Towers, Kobe not only refused to tag Hulk Hogan out, he SLAPPED Hogan in the face, took the Hulkster's World Title belt, and stormed back to the locker room. Fortunately, Hulkamania still ran wild and Hogan managed to defeat the Twin Towers by himself. After the match, Kobe accused Hogan of trying to steal manager Miss Elizabeth from him. Hogan implored Elizabeth to try and talk some sense into Kobe. Then out of nowhere, Kobe attacked Hogan by hitting him in the face with the title belt, sealing the end to their partnership.
I just received the following email from Basketbawful reader Greg:
"I decided to vote for the All-Star Game on NBA.com. I voted for Aldridge, Amare, Roy, Nash, and Oden in the West and Bosh, LeBron, Calderon, Wade, and Howard in the East. After I finished, the page showed my picks and they were completely wrong. The headshots were right, but the names didn't match who I voted for at all. Have a look and you will see what I mean. Nice job NBA. It's like like the refs from last night's Blazers/Warriors game made the site."
Here's the shot. It's actually pretty funny.
Whoa. You're looking a little leathery there, Brad. Better stop spending so much time at the tanning bed. It's obviously aging you prematurely. Peja's looking pretty suave, though...
Is it just me, or does it look like he's pooping out
Yi Jianlian? Please tell me I'm not the only one.
Today's picture was provided by Geert.
The Orlando Magic's "defense" on Chris Bosh: It's not just the 40 points or the 18 rebounds -- 7 of which were nabbed off the offensive glass, by the way -- it's also the fact that he shot a near-perfect 14-for-19 from the field AND went to the line 16 times. And lest you think last night's eruption was a fluke, allow me to turn your attention to February 20, 2008, when Bosh also dropped 40 points on the Magic...by shooting 14-for-16 from the field and 11-for-11 from the line. He also had a 39-pointer against the magicians in last year's playoffs.
The Toronto Raptors: Bad Sign #127 -- Your star player completely and totally dominates and yet you still lose by double-digits. Although, to be fair, the absence of starting PG Jose Calderon (strained right hammy) might have had something to do with it: The mighty dinos turned the ball over 21 times (including 7 for Calderon's replacement Will Solomon) while registering only 12 assists. Oh, and speaking of Solomon...
Courtney Lee and Marcin Gortat: They COMBINED to play eight minutes, finishing with 0-for-2 shooting and 1 personal foul BETWEEN them. That's a two-man suck differential of +3 off the bench.
Hassan Adams: Turned in his third trillion performance of the season with a one trillion against the Magic. He is still averaging a one trillion, by the way. That's right. AVERAGING.
The Atlanta Hawks: Yup. They are who we thought they were. The dirty birds lost their fourth straight game (following the 6-0 start) by letting the Pacers shoot 55 percent against them (including 61 percent from downtown). I don't even have it in me to detail all the crappy performances Mike Woodson got out of his team...except for Randolph Morris, who sounds like an unfiltered cigarette. He finished with 3 personals and 0-for-1 shooting in almost eight minutes of PT.
The Charlotte Bobcats' starting lineup: They COMBINED to score 26 points, 6 fewer than Dirk Nowitzki had against them (and only 5 more than D.J. Augustin had off their bench). They shot 9-for-39 and committed 9 turnovers (compared to only 6 assists). The 'Cats started the game 0-for-9 from the field 0-for-2 from the foul line with three turnovers -- at one point, Raymond Felton stepped on the sideline with nobody within 10 feet of him -- before Augustin scored Charlotte's first two points...with 5:20 left in the first quarter. "It looked basically like the varsity scripting plays against a rec team out there," said Gerald Wallace, who finished with 8 points on 3-of-13 shooting. "They did whatever they wanted to do." You aren't wrong, Gerald.
The Washington Wizards: Coach Eddie Jordan said: "We don't have rhythm, we don't have harmony, we're trying to incorporate chemistry." And that was BEFORE his Wiz lost to the Heat at home to drop to 1-7 on the season. Afterwards, he had this to say: "This team is built a certain way, fellas. This team is built for Gilbert Arenas to lead us. This team is built for our All-Star forwards to carry the wings for us, and for Brendan Haywood to have a career year manning the middle for us. We don't have those things. And this team, you're asking people to do things that they're not capable of doing. They're not capable of carrying the load for us like a Dwyane Wade, like a Gilbert Arenas. You've got young guys who aren't going to make veteran plays night-in and night-out. You put all those things together, and to be in the game is a credit to everybody in this organization right now. You've got to stay positive, but you've got to be realistic about things." Ooooookay. At least Eddie can finally fall back on the "We don't have Gilbert Arenas" excuse. He's been sitting on that one for a while. It's going to be a long season in Washington, folks.
Update! Andray Blatche: Bulletproof (real nickname) released a foul wind on the Washington bench...from which there was NO ESCAPE. People in Chicago are always doing that on the elevator. Just FYI. I found this at Ball Don't Lie, but you can see stills of the entire odorous incident as it went down at Truth About It.
The New York Knicks: They were within 4 points with 1:14 left when Brian Scalabrine -- oh yeah, you read that correctly -- hit a dagger three-pointer to pretty much close the deal. I'm pretty sure "not setting Brian Scalabrine beat you" is a prerequisite for winning in the NBA. I'd say that the Knicks weren't guarding him because, you know, he's Brian Scalabrine. But Mike 'Antoni teams don't guard anybody, which would explain why Boston (shooting 44 percent on the season) hit 53 percent of their field goals last night.
Quentin Richardson: From Basketbawful reader RM: "I'm a long time reader who's never posted a comment, but you HAVE to put this in your WotN. After the Knicks-Celtics game, Quentin Richardson said: 'I'm just real curious to see what those guys will be saying if we weren't in a basketball league and didn't have referees. I mean, it wouldn't be the same story. I mean, they are the world champions and rah, rah, rah, but the tough part I don't factor. I come from a neighborhood where you can say what you want to say, but until you do something, it don't mean nothing.' What the hell?! A championship isn't considered doing something in the NBA anymore? And I'm pretty sure that toughness and defense is exactly how they did it. Besides, toughness comments coming from someone on a team that has teerrrrribbbbllleeee defense is just damned retarded." Seriously. Put the dumb pills down, Quentin.
A few more if Q's choice words: "I think a few of those guys know they can’t just say anything to us.... Some of those guys are happy to get a ring, but you ain't been in the league long enough to talk to people like that. I don't have a lot of respect for that. Like I said, I'd be curious to hear what they have to say in a different setting. I'd be very curious to see that." I'm sorry, but really, when did Quentin Richardson become a "tough guy"? Did I miss something? Does he suddenly think he's all manly and stuff because he plays in New York?
The New Jersey Nets: They shot 36 percent from the field and had more turnovers (13) than assists (12). Which makes sense when you consider their shoot-first PG did the same thing (5 TOs to only 4 ASTs). Speaking of Devin...
Devin Harris, excuse machine: He had breakaway dunk attempt blocked by LeBron James and was quick to try and explain it away after the game. "He's 6-9 and 260. You try to quick dunk him if you can. If not, hey, he got a piece of it. He came back and he played it. If I had a good ankle, now that would be something to think about." That's right, people. It was just the bad ankle. And he would have totally schooled that British guy in the sweater if only he'd known the guy could ball. Blah, blah, blah. Here's the block. Sorry the previous video was wrong.
LeBron James: Before Cleveland's game against the Nets, King James let everybody -- and by "everybody" I mean the Cavs management -- that he won't hesitate to leave Cleveland if another franchise offers him a better chance to win championships (and, presumably, bags and bags of money plus a secret volcano lair carved in his likeness). Said the King: "I think you do what is best for you and you do what is best for your career." Feeling the love yet, Cleveland? Mind you, this is the same guy who complained (bitterly) about his home crowd wanting free chalupas the other night. I guess you can only do what's best for you if you're LeBron James, huh?
Bizarre injuries: From the AP recap's game notes: "Cavs coach Mike Brown seemed to pull a hamstring retrieving a loose ball in the game." Wow.
Lorenzen Wright and Trenton Hassell: Trenton saw Lorenzen's one trillion and raised him a four-minute, 1-foul stint that earned him a +1 suck differential. Anything Wright can suck, Hassell can suck better.
The Sacramento Kings: Last night made it official: The Kings are worse than the Memphis Grizzlies. They let the teddy bears shoot 54 percent (62 from beyond the arc) and outrebound them 46-33...a solid effort on the Suck Fail Scale (I give it a 7.6). Rookie forward Jason Thompson, who had two of his shots blocked (a game high!), said: "Some of the stuff [the Grizzlies] were doing, it happened so fast that we weren't reading our coverages, and guys were missing assignments." When the Grizzlies are moving faster than your senses can accurately perceive, you really need to have those senses checked by a licensed medical practitioner. They did hold O.J. Mayo to only 11 points, though. Sometimes it's the little victories that count, even though they aren't real victories. Oh, and a special callout goes to Quincy Douby, who went 0-for-9 off of Sactown's bench.
The Milwaukee Bucks: When Austin Croshere is your second-leading scorer on the night, you know something has gone terribly, horribly wrong.
Andrew Bogut: The line: 2 points, 3 rebounds, 4 turnovers and 4 fouls in 16 minutes. I'm sorry, Milwaukee Bucks. You can't take that $60 million extension back.
Here's a fun little extra: Bogut quotes from when he got that extension: "I don't feel comfortable talking about $60 million, whatever I'm making a year. At the end of the day, you're putting a ball in the hoop and making a very good living for it. It's very humbling in that sense. I've got some people, my trainer (Sinisa Markovic) for one, he'll slap me around if I change. I've got some friends that are pretty hard on me in a way. I don't just have 'yes' people around me. I need people around me to tell me how it is. You never know what can happen in the future, but I don't see myself changing too much. I think I'm just a regular guy that plays basketball." Yup. Just a regular guy who plays basketball, earns $10+ million per year (starting next season) and high fives invisible teammates. You know, just like you and me.
A stupid Nuggets fan: Our buddy Ben Q. Rock of The Third Quarter Collapse provided the following write-in: "It's pretty ridiculous for a guy to hold a sign saying 'Iverson Who?' while wearing an Iverson jersey. It's like, dude, just check your own clothing if you've forgotten who the guy is. God." And here's the idiot in question:
Pssst. You might wanna look at the back of your jersey...
The Chicago Bulls: They might have actually had a chance to beat the Lakers last night...if not for those 22 turnovers. They also got 11 of their shots stuffed. Said Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro: "I thought we forced some things inside, and their guys are so long that they're going to block some shots. We made a couple of bad judgments going up, and you're not going to go over those guys very often because they're so long. You've got to get into their body and be physical. It was kind of an up-tempo game at times and we got a little sloppy with the basketball." They're so long, you gotta get into their body. No comment.
Luol Deng: He was 4-for-11...and only 2-for-8 on his jumpers. Man, remember when Deng had that sweet midrange stroke? Maybe you don't, because it's been missing for a year and a half. But trust me, at one time, a Deng jumper felt like an automatic. Now it's only an automatic miss and a potential fast break for the opposing team.
Luke Walton: His season of woe continues: 3 minutes, 0-for-2, 1 rebound, 1 foul. At this point, even his former stalker wants nothing to do with him.
Sasha Vujacic and Trevor Ariza: Did anybody else notice their little lovers' spat last night? I think Sasha must still be upset about that chest bump...
The Portland Trail Blazers: I'm sure Blazers Nation is heaving a deep, shuddering sigh of relief over Greg Oden's performance (22 points, 8-for-12, 10 rebounds, 2 blocked shots), but their team lost a very winnable game due to 21 turnovers and 9 missed free throws. And 5 of those TOs belonged to Mr. Oden...and he had the ball knocked out of his hands twice in the last few minutes while he was winding up for the slam. Said Oden: "I want to put that loss on me. We were scrapping, trying to get it back, and it just didn't seem to go our way. We've got to take care of the ball. You can't expect to beat somebody in their home gym by giving them 21 extra possessions." Pretty much, yeah.
LaMarcus Aldridge: For one night he actually played like Tyrus Thomas: LaMarcus finished with more fouls (6) than points (4) or rebounds (4). He also shot 2-for-7 and had 3 turnovers.
The team formerly known as the SuperSonics: I got the following email from Basketbawful reader Samahn that I had to share: "You should also call the Thunder the 'klahoma City Thunder since they have no Offense at all...besides Durant dribbling and chucking up contested jumpers that clank off the rim. That whole 1-10 record isn’t by accident." Done. The 'klahoma City Thunder they shall be.
The American Legal System (again): Prepare for a jolt to your hate bone: The city of Attleboro, Massachusetts, sent Eileen Wilbur -- a 74-year-old blind woman -- a letter threatening to put a lien on her home...because of a one-cent overdue water bill. Oh yes they did. I'm so glad that our government, which has been paying billions of dollars to bail out rich guys, found time in its busy kitten-drowning and orphan-baking schedule to bully an old, disabled woman over a piece of currency that 100 percent of elected officials wouldn't even bend over to pick up if it was laying on the sidewalk. Antonio Viveiros, a former city councilor, paid Wilbur's bill in full.
NBA attendance:Ball Don't Lie has an interesting post about how lousy fan attendance has been at NBA games this season. I have my own thoughts on this, but I'm curious about what you folks think. Are you lovin' it live? Why or why not?
Kobe Bryant: He called a friend on the East Coast from the Lakers locker room even though he has a cell phone plan with free long distance and unlimited minutes. THAT'S A LONG DISTANCE CALL, KOBE!!!