Amare Stoudemire: From Basketbawful reader Josh: "I was at the Pacers/Suns game when Amare went off for 49. However, Amare, as well as everyone else at the game, believed that he had scored 51, breaking the 50-point barrier along with his career high of 50. This is because the giant player statistics screen at Conseco Fieldhouse showed that Amare had scored 51. At this point, Amare began passing every time he got the ball, seemingly going for a triple-double. He had to be a little disappointed when he go to the locker room and was told that he didn't break 50."
Stat padding? From a guy who once nicknamed himself STAT?! Never! After the game, Sun Tzu said: "You guys here in Indiana cheated me." Now, supposedly he made the comment jokingly, but I'm guessing his laughter was about as sincere as McCain's concession speech.
Steve Blake: Yesterday, Basketbawful reader Austen left the following comment: "Heh, I'm surprised you didn't note that funny moment during the Jazz-Blazers game where one of the players was trying to catch an inbound pass and stuck his right foot out behind him...into Brevin Knight's crotch area. Knight decided to clamp his knees together, so hilarity ensued when that player tried to run in a different direction to catch the inbounds pass. They ended up having to rush the inbound passer back inbonds after the pass just to keep the play going." Austen later added: "It was Blazers player [Steve] Blake who stuck his foot out into Brevin Knight's man region, and got caught with his foot in the cookie jar at 5:19 in the 4th quarter of last night's game." And here's the pictorial evidence:
Elton Brand: Shortly after the Philadelphia 76ers signed Brand to that $80 million contract last summer, Elton said: "I'm prepared to do some big things this year." Last night, those "big things" included scoring 6 points on 3-for-8 shooting in 35 minutes. Brand has been in an offensive slump so far this season. He's scored 20+ points and hit at least half of his shots only once, and it's no coincidence that it happened against the Knicks and Mike D'Antoni's "We play defense for :07 seconds or less" system. Now, mind you, it's not Brand's fault. Part of the reason for his struggles are the fault of...
The Philadelphia 76ers' offense: The Sixers, as a team, are shooting 44 percent as a team this season. And that number would be far worse if the Sixers hadn't hit 60 percent of their shots against both the Knicks and the Kings...two utterly defenseless teams. Philly shot 34 percent in their season opener against Toronto, 41 percent at Atlanta, 37 percent versus Miami and 38 percent last night against Orlando. Right now, the team's spacing is horrible. Brand is getting harrassed by double-teams and nobody seems to know where to position themselves for the kickout. When you have a dominant low post player, you have to provide him with passing angles and capable shooters. Right now, Brand is getting neither.
Andre Miller: I guess he's been watching too much Derrick Rose. Last night, Miller took 24 shots -- and hit only 7 of them -- while dishing for only 2 assists. That's six more shot attempts than the next closest guy (Thaddeus Young was 7-for-18), and 12 more shots than the guy after that (Andre Iguodala was 4-for-12). As I've said before, a 10-to-1 ratio of shots-to-assists is not what you want from your starting point guard.
Dwight Howard: He was limited to only four first-half minutes due to foul trouble and still finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. And 7 of those points and 2 of the blocks came during the fourth quarter, when the Magic where holding off the Sixers' rally. But man, I would feel a lot better about Superman if he could develop a low post move or two. And if he could hit a free throw (he was 2-for-8 last night and is currently at 44 percent for the season).
J.J. Redick: Earned his second consecutive DNP-CD. Remember, he was the sixth man about a week ago.
"Let's finish this up guys. I really gotta pee!"
The Houston Rockets' end-of-game defense: You'd think that a team built on defense would be able to hold a one-point lead with 0.8 seconds left, right? Well, then, you'd be wrong. Brandon Roy dropped a 30-foot atom bomb on the Rockets as time expired to give the Blazers a 101-99 overtime win. Said Rockets coach Rick Adelman: "I don’t know why he got so wide open. We should have had somebody on him. We made a mistake." Yeah, I'd call that a mistake. Man, where's Shane Battier when you need him?
Of course, Roy had to hit that shot to avoid getting a WotN mention himself, since on the previous possession he fouled Yao on a score, which allowed Ming the Merciless (after hitting the free throw) to put Houston up by one point with less than a second on the clock. Actually, you know what...
Brandon Roy: I'm happy for the kid. I am. He hit some clutch shots. But I don't want to see him posing like this unless he's in the middle of some kind of gamma ray-induced transformation.
Yao Ming: When I watched Yao's first shot of the game get blocked by Joel Przybilla -- and it was a smother chicken, no less -- I knew I'd be hearing about Yao from somebody. Sure enough, I received the following e-mail from Basketbawful reader Vinny Gorgeous a few minutes later: "I am writing this with 9:40 left in the first quarter of the Blazers-Rockets game, and I'm ready to nominate Yao for WotN, because DAY-UMN -- the Vanilla Gorilla with a huge rejection. And now Joel's been added to the list of things Yao Ming can't dunk on (along with the rim.) I mean, it's 2 minutes in! His legs can't be tired at this point! And he's getting stuffed by JOEL PRZYBILLA? I don't care if he goes off for 30/20/5 tonight, that's awful."
It's even more awful than you think, Vinny, since -- as I pointed out -- the block you're talking about was the second time Joel had stuffed another brick into the Great Wall of Yao. Oh, and Yao didn't go off for 30/20/5. More like 13/6/1 on 4-for-13 shooting. Oh, and for future reference, Joel is referred to as the Vanilla Godzilla around these parts.
Bonus footage! It's a few days delayed, but here's a mashup of Yao's performance against the Celtics a few days ago:
Ron Artest: He was supposed to help ease the Rockets' scoring woes, but last night he scored a "meh" 9 points on 3-for-9 shooting. He's shooting 34 percent on the season...and only 31 percent from inside the arc.
Update! Tracy McGrady: Basketbawful reader Andrei said: "You have to give T-mac a Worst of the Night for his defense on the last play of the game. He was supposed to guard Roy, but once the play started and Roy bolted towards the ball, T-mac just pointed at him and then casually jogged in that direction just in time to see the a-bomb go off in his face. At 1:08 in these highlightsm just keep an eye on McGrady. Way to delegate Mr. All-Star." Good points, one and all.
John Paxson: Hey, John. I just wanted to let you know that LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points on 12-for-20 shooting last night. He also grabbed 9 boards, dished out a pair of assists and blocked two shots. And you swapped him for Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa. Yeah...how's that workin' out for you again? On the subject of the Bulls...
Chicago Bulls drama: One of the reasons the Bulls fell from grace last season was that many of the players had their own agendas and therefore tuned out Scott Skiles. And even after Skiles was canned (on Christmas eve), they didn't exactly kill themselves for interim head coach Jim Boylan. All that stuff was supposed to be ancient history...but it's not: Ben Gordon and Luol Deng are already making subtle criticisms to the press. "Starters have to get off to a good start; that's their responsibility," Gordon said after Sefolosha went scoreless and starting forward Tyrus Thomas had one point against the Cavaliers. "They have to step it up. Maybe Coach needs to mix something up a little bit." Translation: Coach needs to start me.
Deng, on the other hand, seems to think his slow start is the fault of the team's offense. "I still don't feel I'm playing how I want to play. We have to find sets that we're productive from and try to give teams different looks. We stayed with similar sets, especially in the fourth quarter. We have to switch it up a little bit." Translation: Coach needs to call more plays for me.
But Vinny D isn't changing for nobody, nohow: "No, no, no; they're the players, I'm the coach," Del Negro said. "The easiest thing is to look from the outside in and say we should do this or that. But when you go through it, it's a lot different. We're trying to put everybody in the most successful area we can. Sometimes it's not the system; sometimes it is. Sometimes it's the familiarity of everything."
Del Negro then put the onus right back on his players. "It's probably frustration talking. [Deng] got good looks [Wednesday], just like a few other guys. At times I thought we played pretty well moving the ball, but [we're] still shooting the ball too quick. Guys [are] a little bit unsure and thinking too much instead of playing. What happens is, sometimes [players] get a little bit out of sync and they start forcing things and try to do things they're not comfortable with. That hurts them even more. You just have to be patient and understand where you're going to get your shots."
So glad to see that everybody's on the same page...
Update! Kobe Bryant: He cheated to beat his daughters at Candyland. And then he talked trash to them for the rest of the night.