Could LeBron look any more bored on this dunk. It's
like he's thinking about his grocery list or something...
The Toronto Raptors: Well, well, well...maybe Sam Mitchell wasn't the problem after all. Since Toronto management launched Mitchell into low Earth orbit, the Raptors have gone 0-3, losing by a combined 48 points. Their latest 114-94 setback to the Cavaliers -- who apparently, as a team, swallowed one of those glowing Super Mario stars -- apparently illustrates where the dinos are as a team, as brilliantly summed up by interim coach Jay Triano: "We're on the list of teams where LeBron doesn't even have to play in the fourth quarter." Yup. Pretty much.
Jose Calderon (14 points) was the only Toronto starter to score in double figures. Chris Bosh ended his night with 9 points on 4-for-11 shooting, which you'll notice is hauntingly similar to the disappearing act he pulled in L.A. just over a week ago. Jermaine "The Drain" O'Neal was 2-for-6 with 6 turnovers, and he finished the game with fewer rebounds (4) than Calderon (5) despite playing eight more minutes. That's just the kind of night it was.
Quick sidenote on the Cavaliers: "In winning their ninth straight by at least 12 points, the Cavaliers, now 17-1 since Nov. 3, are the first team in league history to win nine consecutive games in a single season so handily. Cleveland came in tied with Portland (1990-91), Chicago (1996-97), Detroit (2003-04) and Houston (2007-08)." Uh, wow? I have to tell you, I did NOT foresee this kind of early dominance by Cleveland. It'll be interesting to see if they can maintain it. After all, two of the four teams mentioned in that quote -- the '90-91 Blazers and last year's Rockets -- didn't make it to the NBA Finals. (And, of course, Houston didn't even make it out of the first round.)
Allen Iverson's Detroit Pistons: That's what I'm callin' 'em from now on, because they've become a classic Iverson team: Soft and sub-.500. And, much to the woe of Pistion fans everwhere, the return of Tony McDyess didn't change a thing. The AIDP's have lost four of five and dropped to 7-9 since sending Mr. Big Shot to Denver for Not The Answer. And it looks like AI's starting to feel a little irritable about the early returns. Said Iverson: "It doesn't have anything to do with one player. It has to do with all of the players. I don't think one player has to do with having a 17-point lead, and then it dissolves like that." Well, snap, girlfriend! That's the most "defense" Allen's played since arriving in Detroit. But I'm sure he's right. I mean, the Pistons have only been winning 50+ games every season for most of the decade. I'm sure replacing their floor leader with a volume shooter who has a history of killing team chemistry has nothing to do with Detroit's seeming demise. Meanwhile, how 'bout those Nuggets...
Note also that Kwame Brown went from starting center to DNP-CD just like that. Amir Johnson and Jason Maxiell didn't play either, and Aaron Afflalo finished with zero points (0-for-2) in almost 18 minute of PT. The Detroit Zoo Crew: RIP.
My damn eyes: The only thing that taints the Wizards' win -- besides three members of the starting lineup combining for 5 points on 2-for-12 shooting -- is this, er, video (from Mr. Irrelevant via Ball Don't Lie): I'm Gay (For Gilbert Arenas). Classic lines include "Me and my penis love Gilbert Arenas" and...you know what, just watch it.
The Minnesota Timberwolves' free throw shooting: McHale's Navy missed 16 in all (27-for-43). Rookie Kevin Love went 2-for-9, including four misses in the final three minutes that left the door wide open for the Jazz to come back. Which, of course, they did.
Still, at least the 'Wolves showed a little spunk last night, and Rashad McCants was make a not-so-subtle dig on his old coach, Randy Wittman, after the game: "When I turned the ball over, I'm so used to coming out of the game. Then I looked over and saw [new coach Kevin McHale] clapping and saying, 'Come on, get the next one.' It gives you confidence." That's the same thing I tell my buddies when they get dissed by a girl when we're out at the bars. Doesn't seem to give them a lot of confidence, though.
Kevin McHale, partial quote machine: McFail noted that his team looked "beaten down" with a "black cloud hanging over it" after losing by a combined 52 points in the previous two games. Which is totally, 100 percent correct...if you replace "the previous two games" with "the previous 14 years." Oh, and black cloud is shaped like a skinny, 6'11" Herman Munster.
Jerry Sloan, quote machine: Is it just me or has anybody else noticed that Sloan's attitude is strangely similar to Eeyore, the perpetually gloomy donkey from Winnie the Pooh? (Yes, I just made a Winnie the Pooh reference. So what?) After celebrating his 20th year as coach of the Jazz, Sloan was asked if he might be around for another double decade. "Twenty more years? I don't know about 20 more minutes." He was in much the same mood before the game, when somebody inquired about how long he was planning to continue coaching. "How do you know? I might wake up tomorrow morning and not feel very good, say, 'This is time for me to get out.' I have no idea. As far as the future's concerned, I've always taken it day by day. They might want to fire me. Even though they haven't thus far, who's to say they might come up and say, 'Well, it's time for us to go a different direction.' I would not have a problem with that. I just don't want to read about it in the paper." Well, thanks for that, Mr. Grumpy McGrumpenstein. Chase any "durn kids" off your property lately?
Deron Williams, quote machine: It's pretty clear Sloan's crochety attitude has rubbed off on his players. When asked whether it was important for the team to win on Sloan's anniversary, Deron Williams said: "We need a win regardless of anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, Hannukah. We just need wins and road wins. We know he doesn't care, so we don't care." Saucer or milk, table two, please.
Brian Cardinal: Almost four minutes and 1 turnover for The Custodian. (Suck differential +1.) I thought custodians were supposed to clean up messes, not make them.
Brevin Knight: I noticed this in the AP game notes: "Jazz G Brevin Knight played after being listed as questionable with a bruised right vocal chord." And I was like, eh? So I looked into it. Here's the skinny: "Brevin Knight was back at practice Monday, though his voice sounded more like a croak. Knight spent Saturday night in a Phoenix hospital for observation after he was elbowed in the windpipe by Goran Dragic in the first quarter of the Jazz's loss. Knight said it was the first time he had ridden in an ambulance, the first time he'd been to the emergency room and the first time he'd spent the night in an intensive care unit. 'It was a little nerve-wracking, especially when they tell you you can't fly for the risk that it'll fully close up,' Knight said." Yikes. Who knew? (Well, besides probably thousands of doctors and the patients who have suffered a bruised vocal cord...)
New York versus Chicago: I don't know what was worse: Spending two-plus hours watching the Knicks and Bulls engage in an alternating battle of Sloppy Offense versus Indifferent Defense or spending two-plus hours listening to Neil Funk and Stacy King talk about said battle. The whole "you score then we'll score then you score then..." mentality led to a near triple-double for Chris Duhon (15 points, 14 assists, 9 rebounds) and almost 200 combined shots between both teams. And even the refs got caught up in the general laziness of the night: Ben Gordon committed two faily obvious double-dribble violations that went uncalled despite the fact that both happened right in front of an official...and one of them allowed him to blow right past Duhon for an easy layup. Duhon complained, of course, but you know how well that works. Anyway, Drew Gooden scored a season-high 22 points on mostly uncontested shots and Larry Hughes put the Knicks down for good with a dagger three late in the game. Said Hughes: "I'm not going to turn them down. It's going to be one of two things. It's going to go in or it's not. As long as it's a good look and one of my teammates finds me, I'm definitely willing to take the shot." So Hughes is willing to take shots?! I can't believe it!
By the way, King is now referring to Hughes as "Big Shot Larry." Yeah.
The Atlanta Hawks: The dirty birds coughed up an 8-point fourth quarter lead, thanks in part to poor shooting (39 percent) and the beating they took on the boards (57-40). Said coach Mike Woodson: "It was like we went up by eight, and we got very happy -- like the game was already over. They came back and we had no answer for them." Whoa. It's like Mike's suggesting that the team's past problems -- specifically focus, maturity, and possibly coaching -- are still, you know, problems. Or something.
Mario West and Solomon Jones: The two men were Mario Brothers -- which I guess makes Solomon "Luigi" -- since they each logged a 46-second Mario last night. However, whereas Solomon simply went zero-for-everything, Mario finished 0-for-1 with an assist. And that missed shot was blocked. As Bret LaGree put it: "Given the chance to stretch his legs for 46 whole consecutive seconds, Mario West's lone, blocked shot attempt was a wild, out-of-nowhere dunk attempt. Futile, but no less so than the Hawks' offense once Ron Artest re-entered the game in the fourth quarter." On the subject of that block on Mario...
Update! Carl Landry: As Chuck DeBruce said: "Carl Landry is a heartless man. Blocking poor Mario 'The Mario' West with 38 seconds left, being up by 10?! Come on, Carl, he's Mario West! Have mercy!" Indeed. CBS Sportsline felt so much pity they didn't even mention the block in their "full" play-by-play. Or their shot chart.
Why, Carl? Why?! Hasn't Mario suffered enough?
San Antonio versus Dallas: Most compelling evidence that the Mavs weren't playing any defense? As Basketbawful reader Garron pointed out: "In 58 minutes of action, the Spurs comitted only 6 turnovers." Most compelling evidence the Spurs weren't playing any defense? Jason Kidd scored a season-high 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting. The two teams combined to score 259 points on 50 percent shooting (97-for-193). Sure, the double-overtime thing padded those numbers, but still. I mean, Matt Bonner went 5-for-5 -- including 3-for-3 from downtown -- for 13 points, which I'm assuming is a career-high. (Don't bother to correct me. It's Matt Bonner. I don't care.)
HOWEVER...I know I'm putting this in Worst of the Night, but I can tell you this: I would much rather see Spurs game that ends 133-126 than 82-79. So by all means, guys, please continue not playing defense.
Tony Parker, back-handed compliment machine: Regarding J.J. Barea, who scored 21 points (8-for-16) and had a fourth-quarter stretch of 11 straight points created, eight by himself -- including a drive at Duncan and another around Parker -- and a drive-and-dish feed to Kidd for a three-pointer: "It was weird for us. We never saw them play like that. (Barea's) a little like Steve Nash, dribbling 100 times. Sometimes it's tough to guard him because you don't know what he's going to do." Oh, so THAT'S why he burned you, Tony? Thanks for the explanation. I thought it was because you were playing "French Surrender" defense. My bad. Speaking of bad defense...
The Milwaukee Bucks: Not only did Shaq score 30+ points for the first time since the 2006-07 season, the Suns scored 125 points on 59 percent shooting...including 74 points on almost 70 percent sniping in the first half. When asked about his team's defense, Bucks coach Scott Skiles said: "Terrible is the first word that comes to mind, but it wasn't that good. So come up with something else." Well, how about terrifying, frightening, appalling, fearful, awesome, horrifying, ghastly, awe-inspiring, petrifying, revolting, gruesome, shocking, unnerving; see also frightful.
Shaq, deluded quote machine: Shaq scored a season-high 35 points against the Bucks, which only served to fuel the flames of the ego fire raging in the forest of his mind. Said the Big Gimme The Ball: "They keep feeding me like that, those are the type of numbers that they can expect out of me. But sometimes I get those shots and sometimes I don't." He just really doesn't get it, does he? But hey, I can't talk. After all, as Shaq said yesterday on his Twitter: "If you have done less than what i have done, how can u comment on what more needs 2 happen Shaquille oneal."
Leandro Barbosa's defense: As Basketbawful reader Sturla said: "Shouldn't Barbosa have his hand in the OTHER guys face, or have I been playing defence wrong all those years." Wait, Sturla. You've been playing defense? See, that's your problem. Remember, in pickup ball (because that's what I assume you're talking about), it's the first team to 11 points, not 11 steals/blocks/etc.
No, no, no, Leandro. That hand goes in the OTHER guy's face.
Tyronn Lue: He played just over two minutes and finished with a rebound. That's it. The performance, such as it was, illicited the following comment from Clifton:
"Oft-forgotten fact: Before the Suns committed to buying out Dragic's Euro contract and bringing him into camp this season, earlier in the summer they actively pursued Tyronn Lue as Nash's backup, seeming incredibly disappointed when he signed with Milwaukee. To be honest, I'm not sure if he would have been an improvement over Dragic at this point. A season chock-full of lack-tion so far continues for Lue, who played two blowout minutes for the Bucks and picked up a rebound to avoid trillionation. On Sunday versus the Lakers, he picked up 21 minutes of garbage time (also after that one was clearly decided -- remember Sun Yue getting in the game?), and Lue went 3-11 from the floor, scoirng 10, and 'contributing' 2 boards and 3 ASTs -- most of this while the Lakers were not playing defense.
"'Course, Draggy played 8 minutes tonight and contributed 0 points (0-2 FG) and 1 of everything else (rebound, asist, steal, turnover, foul). So tomorrow night, a tired Nash and no Shaq (not only the second of a back-to-back, but he'll be attending a family funeral) versus the Lake Show...hmm. And guess who gets to listen at work again? It'll be you and me, Al McCoy."
Yup. That promises to be an ugly one. Especially since L.A. dropped a shocker to the Kings last night. More on that below.
Garbage shots: The Orlando Magic's miraculous 109-108 comeback win over the Trail Blazers in Portland was aided and abbetted by a trio of three-pointers in the last two minutes...the last of which was a 25-footer that Hedo "The Turkish Assassin" Turkoglu banked in with 0.3 seconds left. Here it is:
Let me just point out the obvious here: Nobody ever intends to bank a three from straight away. Nobody. Never. It's an accident 100 percent of the time, unless you're attempting a trick shot in HORSE. Losing on a banked triple from the top of the key -- and trust me, it's happened to me countless times in pickup ball -- is one of the most agonizing ways to drop a ballgame. And Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who's always quick with a quip, knows it: "That was just brilliant, brilliant coaching down the stretch. If you're [the Blazers], you've got to roll your eyes, because we threw one in." Of course...
The Portland Trail Blazers: They sort of have nobody to blame but themselves. The Blazers went 0-for-4 and committed two turnovers in the final two minutes, including a 24-second violation with five seconds left that set up Hedo's Miracle.
Dwight Howard: As Basketbawful reader Inverno pointed out, Superman couldn't contain LaMarcus Aldridge (25 points, 12-for-17, 13 rebounds) and even had a baby hook attempt stuffed by Aldridge in the fourth. (That was one of three blocks against Howard on the night.) He was also held to a season-low 7 rebounds. (Whoa. That's a season LOW?!) I wonder how he'll look against Shaq on Friday.
The Los Angeles Lakers: So I was perusing the NBA Power Rankings at Ball Don't Lie yesterday when I read the following blurb: "To be completely honest, this team is probably ranked too high. Kobe's such a ballhog, Phil Jackson's never had to coach a team without stars, and Andrew Bynum's real age is 34. Also, the Lakers might not lose again for the rest of the year." Before I could even consider the tired use of the "Kobe's a ballhog/Jackson's never had to blah, blah, blah" reverse sarcasm, I immediately thought: "Huh. Stat curse. Bet the Lakers lose their next game." Then I checked the schedule and saw they were playing the Kings. But I was confident: The stat curse rarely lets me down. And it came through yet again last night.
Just like when L.A. dropped on to the Pacers, their 113-101 loss to the Kings -- Sactown's first win in the last nine games -- was a classic case of a really good team overlooking a lesser opponent. And Lamar Odom knows it. "We came in here thinking we were going to win, and we didn't respect our opponent. You've got to play with a certain energy. If you don't you could lose to Westchester High School." Probably an overstatement, but I agree with his sentiment.
Luke Walton: The Son of Walton logged another rugged DNP-CD during a game in which even Chris Mihm and Josh Powell played a couple of minutes. Did he slash Phil Jackson's tires or something? Sleep with Jeannie Buss? What happened?!
Kobe Bryant: After shooting 9-for-25 and taking way too many threes (as he always seems to do in a Lakers loss), Mamba was feeling extra surley in the L.A. locker room. After several minutes of intense silence, he finally said: "You know what? I need an Ahmad Rashad. Who wants to be my Ahmad Rashad? What about you, Luke? You ain't doing anything. Wanna start putting together Inside Stuff: Part II?" Then Luke began to cry.
NBA.com: Basketbawful reader Dan was quick to point out a snark-inducing snafu after last night's Lakers-Kings game: "At the end of the 113-101 Sacto win over the Lakers, NBA.com has its usual team names, logos, and final score posted as well as a list of players who produced, but in Sacramento's case, you can clearly see the Dallas Mavericks logo. Apparently the Sacramento Kings also underwent a name change after their victory as they were incorrectly labelled as Sacto Rockets." Ryan G. Ryan M. also noticed this. "Not only do they get the team name wrong, but then they get the logo wrong, but with a different team than the first error. Sacramento has decided to change their name to the Rockets, but then change their colors and uniforms to match the Mavs. They need to pick one Texas team and stick with it! (Side note: if you take out Brad Miller and maybe Bobby Jackson, I'd be willing to bet the casual NBA fan would have no idea who the Lakers played!)" Here's the faux pas, in all its glory:
The Sacramento Dallas Rockets. Wait...what?!
Note: You'll notice based on the strikethrough above that I accidentally mis-attributed a quote from Ryan M. to a "Ryan G." That was a typo. My bad. So this message is to Ryan's friends, who apparently didn't believe that quote belonged to him. Why would he lie to you? Don't taze him, bros.
Marc Gasol, unintentionally dirty quote machine: This is a day late, but well worth it. Here are some words about that Rockets-Grizzlies game from Marc's Yahoo! Player Profile: "Marc Gasol's assignment is to bang with opposing big bodies in the paint. In this case, Gasol hammered on Yao Ming all night, holding him to 14 points and four rebounds. 'It's hard to ride him all the time, but that was the game plan,' said Gasol, who had 10 points, eight rebounds, three blocked shots, three steals and three aasists. 'I got him a little tired.'" I wonder how Yao's wife feels about that. Maybe she gave him one of those "once a year" deals like AK-47 has.