The Los Angeles Clippers: Yeah, they beat the Pacers in Indiana, but they had to go to overtime to do it...and the Pacers were severely shorthanded. Danny Granger, Troy Murphy and Marquis Daniels were in the hospital with viral infections and T.J. Ford was unable to start due to a sore left groin. (Ford did play, however, and finished with 17 points, 5 turnovers and 4 fouls). So sure, they won, but it shouldn't have been that hard. Said Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy: "I'm happy we won. I'm disappointed in a sense because we were playing a team that has a lot of guys out, and it took us until way late in the game where we were competitive and we could really win it."
The Indiana Pacers: They could have won despite the missing bodies, but they committed 26 turnovers that became 29 points for the Clips. Giving your opponent 29 extra points usually leads to bad things. Meanwhile, the "We like to lose the close ones!" Pacers dropped to 0-4 in overtime games this season.
Jeff Foster: Uh, Jeff...what are you...you know what? Never mind.
The Washington Generals Wizards: The Istari fell to 3-10 under interim coach Ed Tapscott by losing at home to the Elton Brand-less 76ers. Washington had a 43-34 rebounding advantage as well as a fourth-quarter lead, but as the AP recap put it: "...no obstacle is too big to overcome when facing a Wizards team that is 4-20 and has its third five-game losing streak of the season." The Wiz were outscored 25-17 in the final period thanks to a steady diet of clunky jumpers. Tapscott didn't turn to Antawn Jamison or Caron Butler down the stretch, and Butler used a little passive-aggressivity to let everybody know he wasn't happy about it. "I'm an observer on the court saying the same thing. I execute the offense that's drawn up in the huddle."
Tapscott, for his part, blamed his team for crumbling under pressure and funking out by shooting from the outside instead of taking it hard to the cup. "When you're under stress, under pressure, you tend to revert to things that you've done before. Now if you have enough pain doing those things it'll alter what you do, and we're going through that pain right now."
So, the players are blaming the coach and the coach is blaming the players. Oh this is going to work out just swell...
Update! Wizards' starting lineup announcer: Kaan from Turkey wrote in to point out this juicy morsel from the AP game recap: "The Wizards starting lineup announcer remains in a slump as bad as the team's. He announced Jamison as being from 'UConn' instead of the University of North Carolina. A few games ago, he had Jamison coming from 'North Carolina University.'" Dude. You have ONE JOB. Get it right.
The Dallas Mavericks and Mark Cuban: The cowboys fell victim to a classic "See what you lost" revenge game. Devin Harris typed in IDDQD and went off for 41 points, 13 assists, and 3 steals as his new team beat his old team 121-97. Here's video of the New Jersey fans chanting "Thank you Cuban!" when Harris was removed with 2:11 remaining.
And here, courtesy of Stephanie G, is a beautiful animated .gif of Mark's reaction:
Of course, in true Mark Cuban fashion, he had to try and get the last word: "I guess when you don't care about your own team you talk about someone on the other team, right? I guess that's what Nets fans are all about. I think the goal of everybody in New Jersey is to be a general manager. So I can understand why they want to share their expertise." Gee, Mark, that's pretty glib for a guy who ditched Steve Nash right before his back-to-back MVP seasons, then used the Nash money to give Erick Dampier a $73 million contract, traded Harris for the rapidly aging Jason Kidd, committed $32 million to DeSagana Diop this summer, etc. I'm just sayin'...
The New York Knicks: This is what happens when a team with an obvious talent deficit runs the D'Antoni "Outscore the other guys" system: Some nights they win, some nights they lose...very, very badly. This was one of the latter cases. At home, against the sub-.500 Bucks, the Knicks shot 38 percent, committed 23 turnovers and got crushed 105-81. New York scored a season-low 15 points in the first quarter and finished the first half with only 37 points. In other words, they wouldn't have outscored the Klahma City Thunder. Said D'Antoni: "I definitely think we weren't ready to play. It is inexcusable to not be ready. I don't care what happens. We haven't obviously grasped that totally." Hey, who's responsibility is it again to get the team ready? Oh yeah...
Al Harrington: Big Al got stuck in traffic on his way to Madison Square Garden...and wasn't available until seven minutes into the first quarter. Said Harrington: "It was crazy. It took me 3-1/2 hours to get here. I was just sitting in the car all that time." Here's a hint, Al. Check the traffic report and leave extra early when the weather is bad. Didn't your mom teach you anything? Thanks to Dr. Hank Pym for the tipoff.
The Chicago Bulls: The Bullies where the latest hunk of flesh to get tossed into the Boston Celtic meat grinder. And while there's no shame in losing, there is some shame in letting a team shoot 60 percent from the field. And, mind you, the C's were shooting around 70 percent before Doc Rivers cleared the bench and allowed garbage time to ensue. Now, granted, Drew Gooden left the game for good after spraining his ankle in the first quarter and Tyrus Thomas did not make the trip after sustaining a concussion against the Clippers on Wednesday. But were the Bulls really a Gooden/Thomas combo away from competing? Ben Gordon seemed to think so. "Playing against a team like this, you need all your guys. Drew's a big part of what we do. We tried to give them a little resistance but we just didn't have enough manpower." Whatever helps you sleep at night, Ben.
The Golden State Warriors: After watching the Hawks ring up 115 points on 52 percent shooting and falling victim to a blitzkrieg by Flip Murry (14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter), Don Nelson's will finally broke a little: He announced that he's putting assistant coaches Keith Smart and Sidney Moncrief in charge of the team's defense. Said Nellie: "I'm not tough enough anymore. I'm getting soft as I get older and I feel like I haven't done a very good job defensively this year." Nelson named Smart his "defensive coordinator" and Moncrief the "assistant defensive coordinator."
Naturally, Nelson hadn't mentioned any of this to his players. Said Jamal Crawford: "This is the first I've heard of it. I hope it works. We need to get better." Well, that's true.
Daequan Cook and Mario Chalmers: Each of them had a three-pointers waved off in the first half of Miami's win over the Lakers because they stepped out of bounds before shooting. Keep an eye on the sidelines, guys.
Vladimir Radmanovic: He was stunned when he lost his starting spot to Luke Walton -- and he wasn't the only one -- but his less-than-five-minute stint against the Heat sort of showed why: He missed his only shot (a three) and finished with 2 turnovers and zero-for-everything-else. He was so frustrated that he reportedly required a pep talk from Phil Jackson. You know, the guy who recently benched him and once referred to him as a space cadet. You know you're confidence is low when...
The Toronto Raptors: They lost. To the Klahma City Thunder. The Thundercats had lost 8 in a row overall and 11 straight at home. And this was their third win of the season. What more can I say? Nothing, really. So, again courtesy of Stephanie G, here's Raptors Fan Bingo!
Bonus quote from Jose Calderon: "This wasn't our best game. It was one of our worst." Huh. What's Canadian for "Thank you, Captain Obvious"?
Here's a little extra vitriol from Shayan, who covers the Raptors at Time Intact: "Stick in a fork in me, I'm pretty much done. The Raptors lost to the Thunder. The lowly, NBA worst Thunder. OKC was so happy to get a win that Desmond Mason said after the game: "It felt like we won a championship." There was even confetti falling from the rafters. So I guess you could stick them in the WotW too. But you have to put my Raptors in there. This is rock bottom. And downright embarrassing." Fans giving up. It's never pretty.
Marc Gasol: Uh, I don't know if anybody's noticed, but Pau's baby bro lost his starting job to, gulp, Hulko Milicic. But he sure showed whoever's-coaching-the-Grizzlies-these-days by shooting 3-for-10. So, you know, suck it, coach guy!
The Memphis Grizzlies: Well, let's see...they're STARTING Hulko Milicic, they let Boris Diaw score a season-high 26 points, and they lost 113-83 at home to the Charlotte Bobcats. So, uhm, yeah.
The Detroit Pistons: They dropped a double-overtime home game to the still Carlos Boozer-less Utah Jazz. Mehmet Okur got in the night's second-best revenge game by finishing with 26 points and 12 rebounds. (He's now 8-1 against the Pistons since leaving Detroit after the 2004 NBA Finals.) Paul Milsap looked like, well, Carlos Boozer with 24 points and 12 rebounds as Utah pounded Detroit's small ball lineup. Not that Pistons coach Michael Curry was conceding anything after the game. Except the game itself, that is. Said Curry: "I thought we won that battle. Yes, they posted us up a few times, but we were able to get Allen and Rip free. AI had 38 and Rip scored 30, and I'll take that." Uh, yeah, Mike...BUT YOU LOST. I'm just sayin'.
Rasheed Wallace: I guess the Free Darko guys must have stat cursed him with that whole "He plays better after picking up his first technical" thing, because 'Sheed shot 4-for-10 and fouled out after picking up his 10th tech of the season. Dude! It's a contract year! It might be time to zip it, you know?
Here are a couple bonus fun facts about Mikki: His real name is Clinton Renard. He got the nickname "Mikki" because he because he loved to eat "Life" cereal as a kid. (Anybody want to tell him it was "Mikey" and not "Mikki"? Yeah, me neither.) His mother's name is Clynta Spear. No, she is not a professional wrestler. Or a porn star. As far as I know.
Carmelo Anthony: A few years ago, people were hailing 'Melo-verus-LeBron as the next Magic-versus-Bird. Turns out it's more like Kent Benson versus Larry Bird. While LeBron (33 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists) was leading his team to a 105-88 win over the Anthony's nuggets, Carmelo was scoring 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting, committing 5 turnovers and fouling out with five minutes to go. Sorry, 'Melo. You're not a Jedi yet.
Gerald Wallace, bitter machine: His team (the Bobcats) lost at home to the Golden State Warriors due mostly to a 50-point tantrum by Jamal Crawford. It snapped Charlotte's two-game winning streak, and, yeah, Wallace was a little bitter. So, natch, he took a few parting shots at Crawford. "Basically you've got a guy out there with his confidence as high as the sky and he's only playing one end. He's only playing offense, so what can you say?" I can say: Meow! Saucer of milk, table two, please!
The Los Angeles Lakers: They lost back-to-back games against the Heat and Magic. Sure, they had a chance to win both games at the end, but it's still a winless weekend for a team many people consider the best in the league. In other news, the Magic have made it to 21-6 without many people noticing...
The Philadelphia 76ers: The Pacers were without Danny Granger (viral infection), Troy Murphy (ditto), Marquis Daniels (also ditto) and Maceo Baston (lower back strain) and therefore dressed only nine players. Didn't matter. They still beat the Elton Brand-less Sixers in Philly. Said Andrea Iguodala: "It's tough. We're short-handed, too, but it's a game we should have had. It was one of our tougher losses this year and the games you've got to get." Regrets and excuses. That's the 2008-09 Sixers for you.
Tony DiLeo, "Huh"? machine: Regarding the Pacers-Sixers game, Philly's interim coach said: "I think it was a heartfelt game by both teams." Aw! That's so cully-wulligans!
The Minnesota Timberwolves: Their 109-102 home loss to the Rockets was their 12th consecutive defeat. For historical perspective, the last time the 'Wolves dropped 12 in a row was at the end of the 1992-93 season (and not the 1993-94 season as the Associated Press reported). Minny is now 0-7 since Kevin McHale assumed command of the ship. Which be sinking, by the way.
The Yao Watch: Yao "only" had one shot blocked, but he was manhandled all night by Al Jefferson (34 points, 13 rebounds)...despite the fact that Al gives up 8 inches and 55 pounds to Shaquie Chan. In fact, Jefferson posterized Yao twice. Brutally. Here's one of 'em.
Shane Battier, Rick Pitino machine: After beating the Timberwolves, Battier said: "Listen, the Boston Celtics are not giving that lead back. The Lakers are not giving that lead back. And Cleveland is not giving that lead back. Those are the three teams we're chasing right now and if we ever want to get on their level, we need to do what they do." I dunno, but that sure reminds me of Pitino's famous "Larry Bird is not walking through that door..." speech.
The New Jersey Nets: Their loss to the Heat dropped them to 1-2 on the current four-game home stand...and 5-9 at home overall. It's "Home Suck Home" for the Nets this season.
The Sacramento Kings: They had a pretty decent chance to beat the Hornets in New Orleans, but they crowned themselves by turning the ball over 18 times, which led to 25 points for the buzzing bugs. And 8 of those TOs were steals handed off to Chris Paul. Memo to the Kings: You need to be careful with the ball around that guy. Sacto also got outscored in the paint 48-28, and that usually says something about which team was being the aggressor.
The Toronto Raptors: Make it five losses in a row for the 10-14 Raptors. It's their second five-game skid this season. And they're 2-10 in their last 12 games. You can, in part, blame the current loser's streak on...
Chris Bosh: Bosh started out the game 1-for-7 and finished with 17 points on 6-for-14 shooting. He's now 22-for-70 over the last four games. So much for all that early-season "Bosh for MVP" talk. Right now I'm not sure he's even CMVP (Canada's Most Valuable Player.)
The Los Angeles Clippers: Just when you think things are looking up for The Other L.A. Team...you discover that they are, indeed, who we thought they were. The Clips concluded their winless weekend by 34 to the Bucks in Milwaukee. The Team of Sour Destiny shot 34 percent and fell behind 62-32 by halftime. So, you know, if you were waiting for a Clippers Renaissance, you'll have to wait a wee bit longer.
The Utah Jazz: After their 106-98 loss to the Bulls, everybody was talking about their inability to stop Ben Gordon (26 points, 8-for-17) and Derrick Rose (24 points, 10-for-17), but the real story was turnovers. The Jazz committed 20 of 'em, which gave the Bulls an extra 29 points. Kind of a difference maker, wouldn't you say? Said Jerry Sloan: "They just outworked us. Twenty turnovers for 29 points. That pretty much is the difference in the ballgame. We got a little bit 3-point happy shooting the basketball coming down the stretch."
Meanwhile, Carlos "I'm opting out. No matter what, I'm going to get a raise regardless. I am going to opt out, I don't see why I wouldn't." Boozer had a third MRI on a quadriceps tendon injury that had forced him to miss the last 17 games. And Jazz owner Larry Miller, in his weekly radio appearance on KFNZ 1320 AM, said that Boozer's comments were "one of the top 10 stupidest things I've ever heard." And, dear readers, this is a guy who put up with almost 20 years worth of Karl Malone's bipolar behavior...so that's really saying something. Miller also added that: "Carlos knows better," Miller added. "He told [Jazz general manager] Kevin [O'Connor] he just screwed up, but that doesn't fix it, so what do the fans think now?" Well, for starters, they're probably thinking, "So THAT'S why the people in Cleveland hate him so much..."
The Denver Nuggets: Their winless weekend ended less-than-mercifully in Phoenix, where the Suns got 8 straight points from Steve Nash in the final three minutes to seal the deal. Is that popping noise the sound of the Chauncey Billups bubble bursting? (Speaking of which, Mr. Big Shot was 6-for-16 and committed 7 turnovers. But he wasn't the Nuggets' biggest problem...)
Carmelo Anthony: As bad as he looked against Cleveland, he looked even worse against Phoenix...and Grant Hill's bulldog defense. Said Suns coach Terry Porter: "Old man Grant did a heck of a job on that young fellow Melo, really making him work for a lot of things tonight and didn't give him anything easy." No kidding. Anthony finished the night with 10 points on 3-for-13 shooting and had more turnovers (4) than rebounds (1) and assists (2) combined. He also had two of his shots blocked.
The Phoenix Suns defense: Check it: Denver's 101 points were the fewest allowed by Phoenix in 12 games. No, really. Imagine what they'd be giving up if Terry Porter wasn't so committed to defense.
Pic provided by Sturla.
The Detroit Pistons: The Genteel Boys slipped ever closer to the dreaded .500 mark after a loss to the Hawks in which Mike Bibby caught fire like he was shooting around by himself in a high school gym: The Hawks guard was 10-for-13 and 6-for-6 from downtown. And Pistons coach Michael Curry was, you know, quick to blame his players. He noted that Allen Iverson lost Bibby on four of his three-pointers and added: "It was just mental lapses. You can't ball-watch and Allen struggles ball-watching sometimes. Bibby made him pay." He's right, of course, but calling AI out to the press is a good way to lose AI. In other news, Detroit is now 0-6 on Sundays...and 14-5 on Monday through Saturday.
Richard Hamilton: The Phantom of Auburn Hills got the bronze boot with 1:14 remaining when he cussed out an official for not calling a foul on Mike Bibby, who elbowed Rip in the head. Said Hamilton: "I don't deserve to get kicked out of the game for that. There's a lot worse stuff being said out on the floor. I was in the wrong for saying what I said, but not by any means do you get kicked out of the game for that." Only, uh, you DID get kicked out of the game. Which hopefully serves as a lesson to you.
The Boston Celtics: By winning their 18th straight game, the Celtics are flirting with a dangerous (potential) repeat of history. As most media outlets have noted, the 1981-82 Celtics also won 18 consecutive games. What I haven't seen noted is this: That was the season immediately following the first title of the Larry Bird era. And the Celtics, despite the streak and the fact that they finished with the best record in the league, did not repeat thanks to an injury to Tiny Archibald (separated shoulder) in the Eastern Conference Finals. This is, of course, the season immediately following the first title of the Garnett era in Boston. Chi-chi-chi ah-ah-ah...
Glen Davis: Big Baby missed Boston's thrashing of the Knicks due to whiplash and a concussion suffered during a mid-afternoon car crash on the Mass Pike while on his way to the game. Details are scant at the moment, so it might not be his fault. Still, it's just been that kinda season for Baby, you know?
The Washington Wizards: They've lost six straight, nine of 10, and 21 of 25. And they tied a 42-year-old franchise record for worst start: The 1966-67 Baltimore Bullets also began the season 4-21. Historic fail.
Ed Tapscott, quote machine: Regarding his team's extreme suckability: "Problems compound themselves. When you've got a bad streak going it's almost like instead of finding the lucky penny, you find the slug." Oooookay.
The Jason Kidd circle-you-know-what: After Kidd led the Mavericks to a win over the hapless Wizards by 6 assists in the final six minutes, everybody in the Dallas locker room was lining up to provide him with some, ahem, oral service. Said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle: "The something that was going on was Jason Kidd. It was beautiful basketball to watch." Added Jason Terry: "The greatest point guard in the world. The best who's ever done it. He can always impact the game even if he doesn't score any points. He had so many assists. In the last four minutes of the game, he totally controlled the game." Wow. He controlled the game against a historically lousy team. I'm impressed. No, really. So impressed I was almost able to overlook the 1 point he scored on 0-for-7 shooting (including 0-for-4 from beyond the arc and 1-for-2 at the line).
Look, I know the Mavericks all want Kidd's ego to recover from that whole "Devin Harris totally destroyed him in his New Jersey homecoming game" and all, but come on.
Mike Brown, identification machine: After his Cavs throttled the Thunder, he waxed romantic on his star player: "LeBron is just LeBron. He has been marvelous this whole trip. He has been marvelous the whole year. He's leading this team the right way, more importantly than scoring. I don't even know what he scored tonight. I thought his composure and his leadership was key throughout the entire game, especially in the second half." Schlurp, schlurp, schlurp. Hey, thanks for letting me know who LeBron is, Mike. He's LeBron! Speaking of which...
LeBron James: The King has graciously informed the world that he would be willing to "consider" signing an extension with his team this summer. "I definitely want to keep an open mind; I will look at everything. [The extension] is a good point. I think me and my group have pretty much made good decisions so far and we'll look at the options and go from there." It certainly took him long enough to let us all know that Cleveland may (or may not be) in the future plans of him and his group. Bet that announcement shriveled the testes of Mike D'Antoni and Donnie Walsh though, huh?
Kobe Bryant: Basketbawful reader Zimmerman wrote in with a little behind-the-scenes info on Mamba's continuing torment of The Son of Walton: "Kobe gave Luke Walton DVDs for Christman...but they were rentals. And there were late fees on them." Worse yet? This was one of them:
Mario Brothers: Mario "The Mario" West (Hawks) had a 48-second Mario against the Warriors (which followed up his four-second Super Mario of four days prior); DeAndre Jordan (Clippers) had a six-second Super Mario against the Pacers; Sean Singletary (Bobcats) had a 28-second Mario against the Warriors; Kosta Koufos and Ronnie Price (Jazz) both had 45-second Marios against the Bulls, making them Mario Brothers; Darnell Jackson, J.J. Hickson and Tarence Kinsey (Cavaliers) all had 38-second Marios against the Thunder, making them Mario Triplets.
Suck Differentialists: Javaris Crittenton (Wizards) +1 against the Sixers; Vladimir Radmanovic (Lakers) +3 against the Heat; Yakhouba Diawara (Heat) +1 against the Lakers; Kris Humphries (Raptors) +3 against the Thunder; Adam Morrison (Bobcats) +3 against the Grizzlies; Jawad Williams (Cavaliers) +1 against the Nuggets; Royal Ivey (Sixers) +3 against the Pacers.
Trillionaires: Darnell Jackson (Cavaliers) had a one trillion against the Nuggets; DeMarcus Nelson (Warriors) had a one trillion against the Bobcats.