Larry Brown: His Bobcats fell to 2-5 -- and 1-2 on their current six-game home stand -- and you can already see the first signs of the patented Larry Brown Discontent (TM). Said Brown: "I have never been with a team where you're trying to figure out whether we drive the ball, whether we post the ball, whether we run pick and roll. It's a real puzzle right now." Larry did, however, take a break from his puzzling to crack on Sean May, who had been on the inactive list since Charlotte's first game due to unsightly fatness (seriously, take a look at his player profile picture). Regarding May's two-minute, 27-second stint -- in which he went 0-for-1 and had an assist -- Brown said: "It took him four seconds to shoot a jump shot." Aw, cheer up, Larry. At least Adam Morrison's shooting a career-high 39 percent! In all seriousness, I think Brown might set a personal record for growing weary and leaving a team this season. And if he does indeed dump the 'Cats, I would like Larry to know that, based on these and other comments he's made over the years, that he'll always have a job at Basketbawful. Only it will be unpaid and he'll have to fetch me my morning coffee. Café latte. Twist of lemon. Sweet 'n' low.
J.R. Smith: He's supposed to be instant offense -- just add water!! -- but I guess somebody forgot to add the water yesterday. Smith finished with 3 points on 1-for-7 shooting (0-for-3 from downtown) and a couple turnovers in 17 minutes. It's the third time in the last four games that he's scored 5 or fewer points. On the season, he's hitting a career-low 36 percent of his shots. But at least his defense has been...never mind.
Emeka Okafor: I sure do love to watching guys underachieve after signing huge offseason contract extensions! Okafor scored 2 points on 1-for-5 shooting and had three of his shots returned to sender. He's almost averaging a double-double (10.1 PPG and 9.9 RPG), which is good I guess. Just not six-year, $72 million good. Man, if only there was someplace I could go to discuss how much I don't like this guy...hey, it's the Emeka Okafor Sucks Forum! Perfect!
Ben Wallace: He had his fourth scoreless game (out of eight) of the season last night. He shot 0-for-3 and had only 4 rebounds. And get this: He's Cleveland's highest paid player this season at $14,500,000. Yes, you read that correctly. He makes more money than teammate LeBron James. [Insert maniacal laughter here.] Oh, and here's a little retroactive WotN: Two games ago, against the Pacers, Big Ben had zero points and zero rebounds in 19 minutes of lack-tion. It becomes increasingly unbelievable that, only two seasons ago, he was the hottest free agent acquisition in the league. Pretty soon, the sound technicians at Quicken Loans Arena are going to be ringing that gong for things like "sitting down to rest aching knees" and "rubbing Icy Hot on back to reduce spasms."
Wally Szczerbiak and Boobie Gibson: They combined to score zero points on 0-for-11 shooting (and 0-for-8 from beyond the arc). But they did contribute 3 rebounds and 6 fouls in almost 50 minutes of composite PT. You've gotta love one-dimensional shooters who can't shoot the ball. It's like having a garbage man who leaves trash instead of picking it up.
Mike Brown, quote machine: After the game, the Cleveland coach showed off his acute perceptiveness by observing that: "LeBron is LeBron." You know, in case you didn't realize who LeBron was. He's LeBron. Got that?
Mo Williams, quote machine: After a successful game against his old team, Williams said: "I had fun...and 'Bron was 'Bron." Has everybody got that? Lebron James was and still is LeBron James. I hope this finally clears up all the confusion.
The Philadelphia 76ers: After watching his team score 80 points and shoot only 38 percent at home -- falling to a very disappointing 2-5 in the process -- Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said: "I just think our offense is out of sync." Well, thanks for that penetrating insight, Captain Obvious. Here are the raw numbers, in case you keep track of these things: Philly currently ranks 17th in shooting (43.9) and 22nd in scoring (94.9), which isn't what everybody expected when the team broke their giant piggy bank to sign Elton Brand over the summer. I mean, Brand was supposed to hit a high percentage of his shots and create easy buckets for everybody else wasn't he? Yet they scored more and shot better last season without him. This is a sign that, Boston's success last year notwithstanding, you can't always dump an All-Star onto a decent team and expect immediate success.
Kyle Korver: Speaking of shooters who can't shoot, Korver was 1-for-7 from the field last night. I guess he should spend more time practicing and less time signing autographs. Congrats on the successful coat drive though, Kyle.
The Dallas Mavericks: Sure they were without Josh Howard, and yeah they gave it their all last night, but they squandered a great opportunity to hand the Lakers their first loss of the season. (They also wasted a turn-back-the-clock performance by Jerry Stackhouse, who not only lit it up offensively but put the locks on Kobe over the last couple minutes of the game.) Their biggest bust: Letting L.A. erase a 10-point deficit and take a small lead while Kobe Bryant was on the bench.
And, actually, it's like Wild Yams has been saying in the comments: The Lakers are beating people with their bench. I mean, check out all the +/- scores. All the Laker starters (except Andrew Bynum) were down, while all the bench players (except Luke Walton) were up: Trevor Ariza was +16, Lamar Odom and The Machine were +13, and Jordan Farmar was +9. The L.A. Pine Riders scored 36 points, grabbed 18 rebounds, dished 4 assists, stole the ball 7 times and had 2 blocked shots. But even more important than those numbers were the energy and defensive tenacity they brought (particularly Ariza, who's starting to look like as much of a steal as Pau Gasol).
The Mavericks' bench: Outside of Jerry Stackhouse, the Dallas Bench Raiders pulled a collective no-show. Most disappointing, though, was (and has been) the play of Brandon Bass, who was nearly transparent in 11 minutes. He had an assist. That's it. How does that happen? Even Jose Juan Barea had a rebound in his limited PT (four minutes). I had Bass tagged as a breakout player at best and, at worst, one of those energy/intangible players. I have no idea what happened to him.
Jason Kidd: His triple-double (16 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) was mitigated by his 1-for-7 three-point shooting. Uh, Jas, they're leaving you open out there for a reason. I would like to point out, though, that Kidd is having a mini-renaissance this season. He's shooting a career-high 47 percent and looks much more comfortable running the Mavs' offense than he did last season. In fact, they look kind of lost without him when he's out of the game. In fact, Dallas is starting to develop one of those "Steve Nash and the Suns" sort of deals where the offense grinds to a halt when Kidd is out of the game...and there's no serviceable backup in sight.
Dirk Nowitzki: He didn't just miss a late three-pointer that could have tied the game, he launched a shot that hit nothing but air. And he was wide open. So in case you were wondering, the answer is: Dirk still cannot be trusted in clutch situations.
Dirk Nowitzki versus Pau Gasol: It was a real joy watching these to marshmallows go head-to-head. I've never witnessed a more diverse display of arm flails, pissy looks, pained expressions and verbal flops in all my years of watching basketball. The weird thing was, Gasol was getting more love from the refs. At one point, Gasol used a particularly aggressive verbal flop to draw a delayed whistle even though it looked like Dirk had slapped all ball. Meanwhile, Dirk received only four FTAs despite the fact that the Lakers were roughing him up all night.
Andrew Bynum: He got his numbers -- 11 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocked shots -- but his post game was "meh" and he had some ugly misses. But worse than that was the seeming lack of fire in his belly. He loped up and down the floor. He let Erick Dampier (12 offensive rebounds) push him around. Watching the game, I kept thinking, "Man, if this kid played with Trevor Ariza's passion, there'd be no stopping him." But I'm not sure Bynum has that passion. And he's already been extended, so you probably can't expect any Contract Year Phenomenon-style play out of him. Remember, he was supposed to be The Story of L.A.'s predicted early season success. Instead, it's been their bench.
Derek Fisher: Last night's 1-for-8 shooting performance is part of a larger trend: Fish is shooting 32 percent from the field and has yet to hit 50 percent of his shots in a game this season. It's taking all the veteran leadership he can muster to keep his spot in the rotation. That and the compromising pictures he has of Phil Jackson modeling a Native American headdress...and nothing else.
Update! Sasha Vujacic: Taken out by a chest bump. Congrats, Sasha. You've supplanted Pau as the biggest wuss on the team. You must be proud. (Thanks to Jodial and the anonymous poster for the link.)
Joakim Noah: He got his first start of the season and responded with a lackluster 2-point, 8-rebound performance. More distressing than his stat line, though, was the lack of energy he brought to the floor...since, you know, he's supposed to be Chicago's energy guy and all that. I don't know if Noah's out of shape or what -- how is that even possible? -- but he did a lot of loping up and down the floor last night. And Al Horford, his old college teammate, ate his lunch (27 points, 17 rebounds).
Tyrus Thomas: In 21 minutes, he scored 3 points on 1-for-8 shooting and had almost as many turnovers (3) as rebounds (5). He also had more blocks against (3) than blocks (1). He's not shooting 28 percent on the season. Meanwhile, here's how the player the Bulls could have had is doing...
Officiating: It wasn't so much the 36-25 advantage in free throw attempts that got my attention -- the Hawks were the more aggressive team, after all -- but there was one play Zaza Pachulia received a pass and took three long steps without a dribble before laying it in. And there was a ref right there to see it. How do you blow that call? It's not like that was LeBron James or anything. It was Zaza Pachulia!
Basketbawful: Okay. I have to admit. Derrick Rose is looking pretty impressive.
Acie Law IV: Nominated by Bret of Peachtree Hoops: "-17 in just over 8 minutes of playing time, 0-1 FGA (that shot was blocked) and a personal foul. It's not his fault that Woodson too often last year played him alongside Tyronn Lue and this year alongside Flip Murray rather than letting him run pick-and-roll with the second unit but he's been impressively ineffective thus far." Hm, 1.5 PPG on 23 percent shooting and 1.5 RPG over six games. I'd say "ineffective" is being pretty generous.
Mario West: His 14-second stint earned Mario his first Mario of the season. And there was much rejoicing.
Mike D'Antoni: He still can't figure out a way to stop Tim Duncan or score against the Spurs. Last night, his team scored 80 points and shot only 38 percent. I can only hope that, for D'Antoni's sake, that money does indeed buy happiness. I wouldn't know myself.
Kurt Thomas: He played almost 10 minutes and didn't grab a single rebound. Did he shrink? It's the second time this season he failed to snare a board.
Matt Bonner: He managed a 28-second Mario against the Knicks. Which, to be honest, was 28 more seconds than I thought he'd get.
The Sacramento Kings: They pressed the fourth quarter self-destruct button last night, thus squandering an early 15-point lead and missing out on the chance to reach .500 for the first time since December 4, 2006. As Reggie Theuss screamed and fumed on the sidelines, the Kings committed 5 turnovers in four minutes, which allowed the Pistons to go on a 12-6 run to ice the game. Theuss -- who yelled "NO!" during one doomed possession -- said: "None of [the turnovers] were caused by the other team. [It was] just carelessness on our part. Our guys -- give them credit -- I really felt like they outplayed (Detroit) for 42 minutes." Sadly, NBA games are still 48-minute affairs. Theuss was also upset about the free throw disparity. "Thirty-six free throws to our 17 is ridiculous. Their stars got the calls down the stretch." Mmmm. Sour grapes.
Brad Miller: Prepare to throw up in your mouth a little: Brad scored 7 points on 16 shot attempts and have five of his shots blocked. Uh, he's still seven feet tall, right? Was he shooting the ball while sitting down or something? Said Miller: "That was one of the worst games I've had since high school, college, pros, summer league...[while playing] PlayStation, [Nintendo] Wii, you name it." Well, at least he's self-aware.
Jason Maxiell: Am I missing something? I figured he was due for some extended PT and an expanded role after 'Tony McDyess got shipped to Denver. But he's played 14, 17 and 11 minutes since the trade, scoring zero, 2 and 3 points on 1-for-9 shooting. He's also snatched only 7 rebounds in those three games. Is he hurt? Dying of some rare Mediterranean disease? What happened?
Rasheed Wallace: Last night's 7-point, 7-rebound, 3-for-8 shooting performance is indicative of the 2008-09 'Sheed thus far. He's currently averaging only 11.4 PPG on a career-low 39 percent shooting. In a contract year.
Kevin McHale: It looks like Kevin Love (9.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.4 APG) is going to be a solid (if unspectacular) pro. But O.J. Mayo (21 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.4 APG) is already an awesome pro. So, you know, wrong again, Kevin. But at least you got Antoine Walker off the payroll. So you've got that going for you.
Big, flapping vaginas: Al Harrington missed his third straight game with a strained lower back and Corey Maggette sat out his fourth consecutive game wtih a strained left hamstring. Once again: Money well spent, Chris Mullin. Money well spent.
Kobe Bryant: He used the last of the toilet paper and didn't replace the roll.