Note: The steaming portrait of man love displayed above was provided by J Men.
Darko Milicic: I was a little late getting to last night's games, and when I finally got to the computer I had two Darko-related emails. The first, from Brian S., said: "One minute, 24 seconds into the game, WHILE THE ANNOUNCERS ARE SAYING HOW WELL HE GUARDS YAO, Darko has committed 2 fouls and is now out of the game. He can't even do well during the 1 minute and 24 seconds people are talking nicely about him." This was almost immediately followed by a very excited email from Quinton A., which said: "DUDE!!!! MILICIC!!!! JERSEY!!!! Just coming out of halftime, Darko picked up his fourth foul gaurding Yao, which he responded to by promptly getting a tech then going to the bench and ripping his jersey straight down the middle, Serbian Superman style." Oh yes he most certainly did.
Darko finished with 5 points, 5 rebounds, 5 fouls, and two jersey halves in 10 minutes. Although Victor correctly pointed out that: "Poor Darko. That's 15 and 15 if you extrapolate to 30 minutes!" He only needed more time. Alas. Also, Trev provided the following graphic, which he found on SpursTalk.com: The Incredible Darko. You wouldn't like him when he's angry. Or, frankly, any other time.
The Houston Rockets: They were down 32-19 after one quarter. To the Memphis Grizzlies. From that point forward, it was an uphill battle...which they lost, mostly on the defensive end, where they gave up 51 percent shooting and 109 points while forcing only 6 turnovers (only one more than Dwyane Wade had by himself against the Bobcats).
Said Rockets coach Rick Adelman: "They were the aggressors all the way. They got the rebounds and got to the basket. They just outworked us. They came out much more aggressive to start the game." True enough.
Mind you, there were some circumstances. Ron Artest missed the game with a sore right foot. Tracy McGrady, of course, is still out with that sore left knee. Oh, and Brent Barry was in civvies due to a right leg injury. In total, the Rockets had only 10 players in uniform...including Steve Francis, who hasn't played all year but still managed to have his picture taken last night. Here it is:
Steve Francis: More jerseys chewed on (1) than minutes played (0) this season.
Luther Head: With all the missing peeps, Head got what was, for him, some extended PT last night (24 minutes). His response: 2 points on 1-for-8 shooting, an assist and a foul. Oh, and one of his shots was stuffed. Glad to see you making the most of the opportunity, Luther.
Jason Richardson: He led his team with 24 points and hit four of his five three-point attempts. Here's the "but": He missed two free throws that would have tied the game with 32.3 seconds left. Said J-Rich: "Anything could have happened had I made those free throws." True. Sort of like how I could be playing in the NBA right now...if I was Dwyane Wade. Or, to be fair, even if I was Mark Blount (who was 0-for-1 and finished with a rebound in just under three minutes of lack-tion last night).
I should also point out that, late in the game, with his team in the midst of six straight misses, Yakhouba Diawara covered Richardson like a 10-ton blanket, forcing him into an uuuuugly shot as the shot clock buzzed. And, uh, it didn't go in.
Emeka Okafor: Toll the bells! Throw some confetti! Emeka registered his 7th assist of the season last night! The numbers now read: 21 games started, 712 minutes played, 172 field goals attempted, 90 free throws attempted, 43 turnovers committed and 7 assists dished out. And, according to Basketball-Reference.com, Okafor easily has the fewest assists of any player who has logged at least 600 minutes this season. The next guy is Luc Mbah a Moute Jean Luc Richard, who has 20 assists in 602 minutes. He also has the lowest Assist Percentage -- which measures the percentage of teammate field goals assisted while on the court -- by a lot: Okafor is at 1.9 percent and the next guy, Udonis Haslem, is at 5.2 percent. (Haslem has 24 assists in 740 minutes.)
And Yinka Dare's soul rests peacefully.
Update! In the spirit of dissing Emeka, Murcy nominated last night's posterization by Dwyane Wade. Initially, I left this out because D-Wade has been posterizing the entire league lately. However, I changed my mind both because of how helpless Okafor looked during the play and because Murcy knows how to rock the pirate hook.
Daequan Cook: Got this email from Tom of Clutch City Hoops: "Daequan Cook: nine trillion. Killed my fantasy team." I don't know what mystifies me more: How Cook managed to do nothing in nine minutes of PT or why Tom has Daequan on his fantasy team.
Michael Beasley: My preseason pick for ROY had his second straight single-figure scoring game with 9 points on 4-for-13 shooting to go along with 6 rebounds and an assist. My contention that the Bulls should have taken Beasley over Rose is looking more laughable by the game. Speaking of Rose...
Derrick Rose: He didn't play yesterday (the Bulls had no game) and, in fact, he didn't practice either. Why, you ask? Because, as many of you have pointed out in comments, emails, and smoke signals, Rose cut himself under the elbow on his left forearm. In bed. From a knife he used to slice an apple. Said Rose: "Silly accident this morning. I went to get a bottle of water, forgot the knife was there and sat down and sliced my arm. I panicked when it first happened. I called [Bulls trainer Fred Tedeschi]. We got it stitched up about 8 [a.m.]. It was a large wound, but they healed it up. I'm good. I could have practiced, but they told me to wait until [today]. I can still dribble, shoot, do all that stuff. I'm hoping they'll let me play."
Of course, a lot of people are already questioning what "really" happened, since Rose's story sounds too bizarre to be true (kind of like the time I got run over by a horse while riding my bike). But, in my experience, it's the weird stories that totally ARE true. And Rose isn't worried about what other people think. "It's the truth, so I'm not worried about [people not believing him]. I called my mom, and she was like, what are you doing? It was just a freak accident. I was very scared. I'm going to get somebody else to cut [the apple]. I'm not cutting it no more." Ah, to live in a world where, after a freak apple-cutting accident, you can respond not by simply being more careful next time, but by hiring someone to peel apples for you for the rest of your life. Awesome.
The Klahma City Thunder: Holy rusted metal, Batman. The Golden State Warriors, losers of nine straight games, stumbled into the Thunder's home arena without their two leading scorers -- Stephen Jackson (20.1 PPG) and Corey Maggette (19.1) both sat out with injuries -- and it didn't matter. They won anyway. The Thunder are just that bad. The Warriors played eight guys, seven of which scored in double figures...and the eighth guy, Ronny Turiaf, finished with 9. The Thunder were down by as many as 21 in the second quarter and by 19 at halftime. They tried to rally, but of course that rally came up short. Kevin Durant, who played great (41 points, 10 rebounds) against the Warriors non-defense, said: "In this league, when you get down by 20 it's hard to come back." Wow! His basketball IQ is off the charts!
Meanwhile, Golden State's sad season was best summed up by Don Nelson, who had this to say after his team beat the 2-20 Thunder: "We didn't win the world championship but it sure felt like it." And that's what we call "lowered expectations," folks.
Animal stylin': Basketbawful reader Josh wrote in about Dwight Howard using what will soon become a Word of the Day: "Dwight Howard sent the Los Angeles Clippers home with another L tonight courtesy of one of his patented "Double-Double Animal Styles": 23 points, 22 boards and for the F of it he tossed in 6 blocked shots. He's starting to make this routine..." You heard it here first, people. 20/20 aren't just MAN-type games, anymore. They're Animal Styles! Rowr! Speaking of the Clips...
The Los Angeles Clippers: Meh. They are who we thought they were.
Kobe Bryant: Mamba forced his daughters to sing a self-penned song until their little voices were hoarse and raspy. The lyrics? "Ko-BE, if I could BE Ko-BE! Gotta BE gotta BE Ko-BE! Ko-BE, if I could BE Ko-BE!"