Dwight Howard: He had a man-sized game (29 points, 8-for-11 from the field, 19 rebounds, 8 offensive boards). But -- and you knew there was a "but" coming -- he missed seven free throws and went 2-for-6 in the fourth quarter. This gets mentioned a lot here and elsewhere, but Dwight's shoddy stroke from the line kills the Magic in comeback and end-of-game situations. Anyway, he also committed a game-high 4 turnovers (tying Jameer Nelson) while dishing no assists. Speaking of which...
Fun fact: Through the Magic's first seven games, Howard has 20 turnovers and only 9 assists. Huh. I thought Superman was supposed to help people.
Rashard Lewis: The $100 Million Dollar Man scored a measly 6 points on 3-for-11 shooting. He also missed all five of his three-point attempts. Over the last two games, Rashard mustered 11 points on 5-for-22 shooting (including 0-for-10 from distance). On the season, he's shooting 38 percent from the field and 26 from downtown. This is particularly damning since his primary -- and some would say his only -- duty is to shoot and score. If he's not doing that, he might as well be serving Gatorade on the bench. On the subject of benches...
The Orlando bench: They contributed only 12 points to their team's cause (as compared to 40 from the Portland bench). And when I say "they," I actually mean Keith Boogers Bogans. Nobody else from the Pine Club could offer up a single point. Which brings us to...
Anthony Johnson: Our buddy Ben Q. Rock from the Third Quarter Collapse sent us a Lack-tion Alert on Mr. Johnson: 17 minutes, 1 assist, 2 fouls, 0-for-everything-else. The Magic might as well have subbed in a banana peel for those 17 minutes. At least it might have caused somebody to slip or something.
Update! Keith Bogans, basketball guru: Basketbawful reader Anfernee sent in the following wise words from Mr. Bogans: "With a victory tonight against Portland, the Orlando Magic can rebound from their shocking 0-2 start to the season in a historical way. Having already toppled Sacramento, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington during the past eight nights at Amway Arena, the Magic can close out the first 5-0 homestand in the 20-year history of the franchise by beating the Blazers. ... 'Winning all five at home would be really big for us,' said Keith Bogans, Orlando's top reserve all season. 'We lost that first one at home, but since then we've realized how important that it is to win at home. I always think that you should win them all at home and get as many as you can on the road.'" In other news, since drinking an entire bottle of Mr. Bubble brand bubble bath, I realize that drinking bubble bath probably isn't a good idea. Nor is sticking this fork into that electrical outle...ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZTTT!!!
Schedule makers: The Portland Trail Blazers may be "only" 4-3, but they've played six of their first seven games against teams that had won at least 52 games last season (Lakers, Spurs, Suns, Jazz, Rockets and Magic). That would be a rough start for anybody. Kudos to them for hanging tough in the face of being Odenless yet again.
The Thunder's shooting: The Oklahoma City kiddies shot 38 percent as a team, led by Earl Watson (2-for-11), Russell Westbrook (1-for-10) and Desmond Mason (0-for-5). A lot of the damage took place during the second quarter, when the Thunder shot 25 percent. In fact, during one particularly brutal five-minute stretch, they missed 10 consecutive shots.
The Pacers' rebounding: From the AP game recap: "[T.J. Ford's] teammates are having fun with the fact that the shortest player on the team has somehow been among its top rebounders the past two games. 'That’s pretty good for a 5-7 guy,' forward Danny Granger joked." It's all fun and games until rebounding costs your team a victory. And make no mistake, that's almost what happened to Indiana last night. The Thunder nearly overcame their shooting woes by grabbing 19 offensive rebounds.
Jermaine O'Neal: The Drain had his best game of the season -- 23 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists -- but he made two critical mistakes in the last two minutes. First, with the game knotted at 84-all, he got his patented turnaround jumper stuffed by Kendrick Perkins. Paul Pierce then hit a shot on the other end to give the Celtics a two-point lead. On the following possession, O'Neal bumbled the ball our of bounds, which led to another jumper from Pierce to pretty much seal the deal. So, you know, Jermaine giveth and Jermaine taketh away.
Update! Jermaine O'Neil's disappearing act: From Alex Athans: "19 points in the first half, 4 in the second...and only 2 of those were from a field goal. I pronounce him David Copperfield, except instead of making the Statue of Liberty vanish, he whisks himself away."
Chris Bosh: The line: 9 points, 3-for-8, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, zero blocks and 4 fouls. Has anybody noticed that he and O'Neal can't seem to both have a good game at the same time?
Update! Sam Mitchell:Lord Kerrance pointed out that Bosh had zero shot attempts in the fourth quarter, and then Czernobog stepped up with the following information: "How about subbing Sam Mitchell for Chris Bosh? Apparently Bosh's disappearance was premeditated, the plan was to use him as a 'decoy' in his own words. Brilliant game-plan, Sam. Going away from your best player on what has been his best season so far." Yeah. And not too many great players want to be used as decoys and then watch their team lose because of it (or give up 16-point leads on the road, as the Raptors did last night.)
Update! Kevin Garnett: I pronounce you guilty...of superdickery. Seriously, KG, is it really necessary to pick on Jose Calderon? Seriously? (Dunpizzle on the head's up.)
Scintillating copy: From the AP game recap: "Dwyane Wade was mildly surprised midway through the final quarter to see the Miami Heat trailed by only 10." In other news, I was mildly surprised to find a small wad of lint in my belly button.
More scintillating copy: From the same game recap: "Where there's a Wade, there's a way." Please. Stop this man before he writes again.
Meaningless stats: From the same recap: "[The Heat] improved to 3-0 at home for the first time since the 1999-2000 season." Don't you feel enriched? Personally, I will never forget the Heat's 3-0 home start of '08.
Lame justifications: Dwyane Wade was 0-for-9 on threes before going 4-for-7 last night. And this was Pookie's explanation of his previously frigid shooting: "I didn't need to use them yet. But tonight, I brought them out." Sure. And I have bionic arms that can crush cars and dispense beer. I just haven't needed to use them yet. See what I mean? Both statements are impossible.
Dwyane Wade: He led the Heat to a comeback win by scoring 19 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter...but it's still worth noting that he had more turnovers (6) than assists (5). Oh, and that was a game-high in TOs.
Shawn Marion: He missed last night's game. Groin strain. [Insert joke here] Actually, this news report says he has a strained RIGHT groin. A single groin is, apparently, for mortal men. Marion has both a right and a left groin. Bow before his groinal awesomeness. (Note: The previous statements were made for the comic purposes only. I do not need an anatomy lesson. And besides, sharing your knowledge of the groin will only make people look at you funny.)
Eduardo Najera: Slow Eddy contributed more fouls (2) than rebounds (1) in his nine minutes of near nothingness. Also, his face looks like it was molded out of day-old nacho cheese. That is all.
Hack-a-Boone: The Heat intentionally fouled Josh Boone -- a career 47 percent foul shooter -- with just over three minutes remaining. He probably could have avoided that treatment if he hadn't airballed earlier in the game.
Vince Carter: Vinsanity cost his team a chance to tie the game when he got tooted for traveling with 6.7 seconds left. It was Carter's fourth turnover of the game and his team's 19th. Wah-waaaaaaaah.
The Phoenix Suns: They almost got gunned down by rookie O.J. Mayo (19 of his game-high 33 points in the fourth quarter) last night. In Phoenix. And it took a scoring explosion from Leandro Barbosa to do it. Not a good sign.
Steve Nash: In case nobody noticed, Captain Canada has transformed into the 2003-04 Dallas Mavericks version of himself. He's averaging 13.8 points and 8.0 assists and shooting only 46 percent from the field, which would be a career-high for Allen Iverson but is quite a dip from the 51 percent shooting he's averaged since arriving in Phoenix. In fact, Steve's in a bit of a slump. Here are the numbers from his last four games: 3-for-11, 3-for-9, 2-for-7, and 2-for-5. Age: It catches up. Speaking of which...
Shaq: He shot 3-for-8 from the field and finished with more fouls (6) than rebounds (5). I think it might be time for Shaq to start hitting the All Sport.
Update! Kobe Bryant: He didn't put the cap back on the tube of toothpaste.